Review: Grant’s Bakery, Corbridge

Hey, loves!

Okay so I was originally planning to share a Weekend In My Life from this past weekend today, but I just forgot to take many photos and it would have been way too ‘wordy’… oops. We actually did tons this weekend so it would have been so fun to re-cap but maybe I’ll record next weekend instead?!

One thing we did do was visit Corbridge; this has been on our list of places to go for SO long but we just always had other things that we’d like to do more. We drove up late Saturday morning and it was so lovely, even if it was freezing. I’m not sure if North East England has got the memo that it’s July yet but seriously… where is the hot Summer weather!? We explored the quaint streets, admired the beautiful views along the river, visited the cutest antique shops and of course ate at Grant’s bakery! We LOVE a good bakery and a croissant is usually my go-to order; if a bakery makes a good croissant I know it’s my kinda place. Unfortunately they were out (it was around 1pm when we got there) but there was SO many other fun things to try!

Also… Matt and I learned a long time ago that we can try more food at new places if we split what we get. This seems like a ton of food but we did split it all, and ate some later that night! This is just a mini review but if you like these kind of posts for food places in the North East I’d love to share more… eating out is one of our favourite things to do and we’re so happy we can go grab takeaway food from our favourite places 🙂

Sausage Roll | Steak Pie

Starting with the savory foods we picked up, they were both incredible! The pastry was fluffy, flakey and the perfect golden brown, we literally had no complaints. Matt’s review of the sausage roll was “like Greggs, but better” LOL. Seriously, the sausage roll was FULL; I’m not too sure how to best explain this but you know sometimes if you bite into a sausage roll it’s half sausage meat half pastry? This was equal measures of both, and delicious. It also wasn’t at all greasy which I loved! The steak pie was filled with huge pieces of steak and thick gravy, and again not greasy. We highly recommend both of these! We also wanted to pick up the pork pie as Matt loves those, but we though that might be a little much.

Mars Bar Krispy Cake | Carrot Cake | Chocolate Brownie

Honestly… we struggled to pick a favourite. ALL of these were so good! The Mars Bar krispy cake was super syrupy and chocolatey; although it might have been 500 calories per bite we couldn’t get enough. The chocolate on the top was pretty thin but it was SUPER sweet! My auntie makes a bloody good Mars Bar cake, but I’m sorry to say this might have just beat it. Matt chose the carrot cake as he thinks it’s a good all-rounder that everyone likes, although honestly I’m not the biggest fan of carrot cake. This one might have changed my mind. It tasted gingery and almost like pumpkin, it was so moist and indulgent! The cream cheese icing was hands down the best I’ve ever tasted in my life, I could have literally ate it by the spoonful out of a tub. We ate this late evening when we got home and it still tasted amazing! Last but certainly not least… just look at that chocolate brownie. This was actually the first treat we ate and we both rated this 10/10 after our first bite, it was the best brownie we’ve ever eaten! I shared it on my Instagram stories and got a bunch of messages from people telling me they thought they were amazing too. The brownie was HUGE – I don’t think the size comes across quite so clearly in photos but you really get what you pay for. Next time I want to try the peach melba and maybe a strawberry filled cream cake!

It’s safe to say that we were HUGE fans of everything we tried. The smell coming out of the bakery was the most buttery, sweet, vanilla-y, delicious smell you can imagine and just thinking about it now has me wanting to grab Matt, jump in my car and drive back! We always try to support small and local businesses, and right now they need that support more than ever.

Also, in the post-Covid world that we now live in, I’m sure you’re wondering what the social distancing was like. Honestly, it was great! We waited in line for a good 20 – 25 minutes to get into the bakery as only two people were allowed in at the same time. As you can probably tell from my review, the food was worth the wait. The staff were so kind and sweet, there was plenty of baked goods to choose from and it felt really safe. Oh and I also found out after we visited that they deliver all across the North East… we’ll definitely have to order for a treat some time! Have you visited Corbridge before? What’s your go-to bakery food to try?

-G x

What’s What! I Almost Quit Blogging…

Hey, loves! Happy Friday 🙂 there’s a lot to catch you guys up on, so I’m just going to jump right into it…

We celebrated Matt’s sweet grandma’s 80th birthday this weekend!

Where I’ve been:
Okay so I’ve only missed two upload dates, but behind the scenes I’ve been very close to quitting blogging. I’m not even sure why but I had a real crisis of confidence that spilled over into my blog and I just felt like the content I was creating wasn’t worth uploading. I figured people were getting bored of what I was writing and I doubted myself a ton. I wrote a blog post essentially saying goodbye to my blog and thank you to everyone who’s read here over the past two years, but when it came to Tuesday (the day I was going to upload it) I just couldn’t. I deleted the draft and in that moment I knew I wanted to continue. I love my blog and although I don’t think it’s anything amazing I am truly so proud of it. I don’t ever want to lose sight of that!

I started this blog two years ago, I was super shy, introverted and looking for a creative outlet. I found it! My happy little corner of the internet. But, like so many of us do I started playing the comparison game and feeling a little bit ‘meh’ about everything. Thankfully I picked myself up, and I’ve got a bunch of blog posts in the works. I really want to create blog posts that I love to write, and you guys enjoy reading. I feel a little like I’ve ‘lost’ myself recently, so I’m really hoping this will help me to ‘find’ myself again. If you’re still sticking around here with me, I’m so grateful for that!

What Content I’m Planning:
I really love sharing the ‘real life’ stuff with you because that’s what I like to read from other people. I love skincare, slow fashion, makeup, beauty products, cooking, exploring the North East with my boyfriend, self care, yoga and just writing like I’m talking to a friend. You might have already noticed but I’m changing how my blog looks too, www.gillianfinn.com is getting a mini makeover 🙂 

What new habit I’m trying to create:
Despite the fact I make Matt’s breakfast every morning, I got into a really bad routine of skipping breakfast and snacking on junk food until lunch time during the work week. The past month or so I’ve been trying to eat things like overnight oats, porridge, cereal or yogurt with granola and berries each day, just simple and super quick options! It has made SUCH a difference. I don’t snack anywhere near as much as I used to, and I feel like I have tons more energy through the day. I also started drinking Actimel shots each morning and I love them! Matt is debating if he should get on board with this habit, and I really think he should. These Actimel shots support normal function of the immune system, and contain vitamins D and B6. I’ve had random health issues (hopefully nothing serious, I’m waiting for tests!) for a while that have got worse the past couple months, and I’m really hoping even small changes to look after myself will make a huge difference.  

What I’m reading:
I just finished Love You, Love You Not by Jo Watson last week and I highly recommend, it’s so funny! There were a few raunchy (…? does anyone use that word?) parts so just be warned if that’s not your thing! Yesterday I just finished reading The Spare Bedroom by Elizabeth Neep and I absolutely LOVED this book. It’s laugh out loud funny, heartbreaking, made me cry like three times and involves a once very loved up couple being reunited, with a storyline you’d not expect. This is one of the best books I’ve read recently, I’d love to watch a movie of this! I’m starting a new book this morning but I have SO MANY books on my ‘to read’ list I don’t actually know what I’m going to pick. I am going to be sharing a bunch of these with you in a couple weeks time so keep an eye out, alllll the book recommendations are coming your way!

What I’m buying:
I got new glasses! I mean, it’s not exactly the most fun purchase ever but there’s always something exciting about it as you only get new glasses every few years. And, they cost me a small large fortune so I’m showing them off! LOL! I knew my prescription needed updating as I couldn’t see as well anymore (turns out it had actually changed MUCH more than I expected!) so I was very grateful my opticians had opened back up. I picked up my new glasses this week and I’m so excited about them, I really love the shape of the frames and I can see sooo much better. My new contacts just arrived too… I swear everything looks like you just changed the settings on YouTube from 360p to 1080p…. 

What I’m looking forward to:
This weekend! Matt and I don’t really have any plans except to eat pastries, explore the countryside and visit with my godparents. Honestly, the weekends we don’t have too many plans always turn out to be some of our favourite! We had a great time last weekend celebrating Matt’s grandma turning 80, but I was poorly from thurssay night through to Monday morning so kinda felt like I missed out on those #weekendvibes. Today though, I’m feeling GREAT! I’m also going to be sharing a Weekend In My Life with you on Monday 🙂 I love taking you along on our weekends! 

What I’m obsessing over:
I am sooo happy with the immediate results I see every time I use the Glycol Lactic Radiance Renewal mask from Ren, it is just incredible. I have combination skin that is super sensitive so I have to be careful with what I use on my skin. These days I’m much more careful of which brands/ingredients I purchase, and Ren is always a winner for me. This mask literally leaves my skin soft as a baby’s butt! As my skin type is combination I deal with both dry and oily patches, and this somehow helps to even that out. My dry patches are non-existent the next morning, and my skin is way less oily under makeup. This is a very gentle exfoliator – those scrubby cleansers with ‘exfoliating beads’ etc are NOT good, it makes my face hurt at just the thought – but it really leaves beautiful fresh skin. I sometimes follow up with The Body Shop’s Mediterranean Almond Milk With Oats Instant Soothing Mask (why do they give face mask such LONG names?) and those together are my ultimate pamper night duo! 

What I’m watching:
I finally watched season two of Selling Sunset and thought it was better than the first. I just love crappy ‘reality’ TV, and their makeup/hair/outfits are a world away from anything I ever wear, but are just to die for! Crishelle is my favourite. I just started Sweet Magnolias so I’m excited to see what I think about that 🙂 Matt and I are boring AF and are watching… The Office. We like what we like, guys! But… tonight we are finally watching Hamilton on Disney+! I’m giddy with excitement! We have been meaning to watch it every evening since it came out but y’know… #lifegotintheway. I’m soooo excited. We have popcorn, we have European Haribo (they get all the best flavours) and we are going to have the BEST movie night!

Phew! What a post. So, to summarize… I nearly left blogging for good, my immune system needs all the help it can get and I’m hoping yogurt drinks will cure it, and I’m dreaming of a life being a realtor in LA. LOL! I hope you have a wonderful weekend, see you Monday! I pinky promise 😉 

-G x

Weekend In My Life: WFH, First Weekend Of Summer, Exploring In The North

Happy MONDAY, my loves! 

Matt and I had a heck of a week last week, Matt’s auntie Hilary sadly lost her battle with cancer. We spent the week grieving and reminiscing on happy memories. It was pretty unexpected, but we are grateful she is out of pain and at peace. If you pray, we’d so appreciate if you kept Matt’s family in your prayers 🙂 

We picked ourselves up and packed so much fun, love and joy into this weekend. We were super grateful for a little sunshine and warm weather, and we’re so excited the next week is going to be filled with sunny days, we’re going to make the most of those after work! Let’s throw it back to Friday…

Friday

Friday’s are my favourite days of the week 🙂 I love the anticipation of the weekend coming and I 100% believe the weekend starts on Friday. Matt and I slept in a little and didn’t wake up until around 7.30am which was great! I start late and finish early on Friday’s, and on this particular day Matt had a breakfast meeting (via Zoom) so wasn’t in a hurry to get ready and head into work.

I made us breakfast and cups of tea, showered and got ready for the day. I love sitting at my vanity table each morning! I watched a couple of Bonnie Hoellein’s old vlogs whilst I got ready – I can’t stop re-watching old vlogs from my favorite YouTuber’s – and got ready to head out to M&S. We’re super happy the Dine in for £10 pizza deal is back so I had gone to grab those for dinner that evening. If you go, make sure to get the loaded potato skins, they’re one of our fave things M&S makes! Also, this mug makes me so happy, Disney + yellow = happiness.

I was in and out of M&S within twenty minutes and I was so happy to get a bunch of our favourite things. Strange thing: I don’t know if anyone else has experienced this recently but I cannot find nice strawberries ANYWHERE. Matt doesn’t like strawberries but I love them and could happily eat a whole packet per day. Half the time when I do our weekly grocery run I can’t get them, and when I have been able to get them they’re super sour and gooey inside. If you’re having this problem… head to Marks & Spencer. They’re the same price as any other supermarket but they’re the only ones I’ve found that taste really good right now. Matt had headed out whilst I was shopping for an in-person meeting – I can’t remember what they feel like! – so I put away our groceries, changed into sweats and sat down to start my work day. I was half way through our office quiz when he got back home (yep, best job ever) so he set up his little work station in our office at the dining table and we worked for a few hours together.

One of my most favourite things about at-home work days is that Matt works from home once or twice per week too and we get to enjoy our lunch breaks together! A mid-week lunch date? We’re so lucky. We had soup (Tarka Dahl is THE BEST, even if the photo below doesn’t do it justice) with fresh sourdough and it was the perfect lunch. We had planned to eat outside but it suddenly got super dark and windy – I swear we’re experiencing all four seasons in one day recently. We got back to work for a few more hours…

Sneaking a peek at this handsome chap between my monitors… 🙂

…ate an afternoon snack and before we knew it 4.30pm had rolled around, our work day was done! Matt popped out to the post office whilst I finished up a couple things, and then we had an accidental nap. We literally lay down to watch a little TV to unwind then woke up 45 minutes later. OOPS! Matt had been whinging at asking me to cut his hair again for a couple of days so we grabbed ten minutes before the rain started and I played barber. I see girls so excited about cutting their partner’s hair and I don’t get it. I hate cutting Matt’s hair! I find it really stressful and I know that I’m really not good (lol) so I can’t freaking wait until his barber is back at work. I really need my hair done but I know I won’t feel comfortable heading to the salon for a long time yet. I think it’s going to take me a very long time to feel comfortable doing ‘normal’ life things again! Does anyone else feel like that or am I crazy?!

Check out that post-nap hair. I also slept with MAKEUP ON! Euuurggghh! I would never sleep with makeup on (even for 45 minutes) so I felt extra gross when we woke up!

Post hair cut, we showered up and spent the majority of our evening relaxing, eating dinner, and watching football. Man U were playing (my family are HUGE Man U supporters) so we watched the game with the fam and it was so nice, even if they didn’t win! Also… have you tried honey on a pepperoni pizza? It’s literally the only way I can eat pepperoni pizza now, I swear it’s the most delicious thing ever! We ended our evening snuggled in bed watching The Office, which is truly our happiest place.

Saturday

Saturday morning rolled around a little too quickly for my liking… I was EXHAUSTED. We wanted something quick and easy to eat, and cinnamon rolls are our go-to weekend breakfast so I made a beeline to the kitchen to bake them. I always use the Jus Rol pack and they’re soooo delicious. I never use the icing they provide though, we get this one in bulk at Costco. Pro tip!

We ate breakfast together, drank huge cups of tea, got ready and headed out to our very favourite place…

…the beach! We loveeee the beach so much. I have been feeling kinda down, on edge and anxious recently (probably because things are opening back up/people are completely ignoring social distancing rules and it’s making me very nervous) but literally an hour by the sea and I felt like a whole new person. I just feel so relaxed and happy there; we go at least once per week but we decided during Summer we really want to go more often. This week we’re going to go late one evening to watch the sunset, I’m so excited!

I love you so much 🙂
pure happiness ❤️

We walked along the coast for a little while – it was pretty busy but it’s a big enough space that you never really felt ‘too’ close to people. I think if the weather had been a little better I would have hated how busy it was, tbh. We walked back to the car and headed back home, via the Number One Ice Cream Spot in the North East*. Seriously though for us, nothing beats Arrighi’s ice cream. NOTHING! We always get vanilla/original flavour because it’s the best. If you live here I would guess you’re as big a fan as we are, but if you’re ever visiting Up North you need to try it! We sat in the sun and ate our ice cream, it was a truly perfect, serene ten minutes 🙂

*not official information 😉

We were only out for a little while as Matt had golf booked in with the boys at 3pm. He had to get sorted for that and drive to the golf course around 45 minutes away, so we didn’t want to be pushed for time. He headed out to golf (and had the best time!) whilst I jumped in my car and went grocery shopping. I’m pretty sure some people might think I well and truly drew the short straw here, but I really enjoy grocery shopping (I mean, I like it much more pre-COVID but y’know). I love planning our meals out for the week and picking up everything we need. I also love putting in my headphones and listening to Shagged, Married, Annoyed and laughing my way through the store!

Matt was out for a good four/five hours so when I got back I cleaned, changed our bed sheets and did a yoga workout. I really really really want to get back into a good routine with yoga, I used to be so good with practicing at least four times per week but now it’s once or twice, and even then I have to push myself. I only set out to do this practice, but I enjoyed it so much I also did this one. Adrienne is by far my favourite virtual teacher! I had a new hair treatment to use from Aussie – spoiler: I really enjoyed it – so I was super excited for a nice long bath. There’s nothing quite like a post yoga bubble bath; I grabbed a Diet Coke and started a new book on my Kindle, it was the perfect start to my evening.

Matt arrived home from golf with Chinese food and I cannot tell you how excited I was, we were so hungry! Sorry that so many of the photos in this post are food… LOL! This was the best takeaway we’ve had in a really long time, we ate sooo much and had no regrets. Matt took a long bath, I watched a bunch of my favourite YouTube subscriptions and then we ended the night watching… The Office. Obviously!

Sunday

We both woke up much later than planned, we didn’t get out of bed until after 9am which is just not like us! I jumped out of bed to shower, do my makeup, clean up our room and get dressed. Matt usually takes longer than me to get ready (he’ll totally dispute this) but he got ready pretty quickly and popped out to get petrol whilst I packed us a picnic for later in the day. I love picnics so much, they’re my favourite! He got back just as I was finishing up so we left my dad’s Father’s Day gifts for him to open when he woke up, packed up the car and headed to our new favourite countryside location… Stocksfield!

We found the most incredible place a few weeks back that we’ve decided is going to be our Summer spot. We typically spend so much time at the beach but with all the social distancing guidelines sunny weekend days at the beach will be few and far between. We do have tons of places we want to spend time at this Summer (there may be a Summer bucket list coming up very soon with lots of fun ideas…) but there are so many beautiful countryside spots around this area and we just can’t wait to explore more. We went on a small easy hike and enjoyed a couple hours out in the countryside.

We played ‘hide from the rain under the big trees’ at least four times, but the sun even came out a couple times too! It was mostly grey and cloudy but that was perfect, some of those hills are really steep so we appreciated it being a little cooler.

We saw so many squirrels! 🙂
Checking if Matt liked butter… he does. I know this because I’ve made approx 99% of his food for the past (almost!) three years, but it was good to have it confirmed. LOL! Did anyone else do this as a kid?!

One thing we really need to get is hiking gear. We’ve been thinking about it for a couple weeks but we need to really need to get some bits soon. I’d like a couple pairs of new leggings to rotate through, a pair of shorts and a few ‘workout’ tops. Matt wants some nice shorts and a few t-shirts that he can wear too. We also both desperately need hiking shoes/boots as we have so many hikes and adventures we want to do this Summer and really don’t have the appropriate footwear. Omg we’re 70 years old I swear. I’ve found a couple brands that look really good but if you have any suggestions please let me know?!

We followed a bunch of trails and ended up on the other side of the valley from where we parked. All of the country lanes look so alike it’s really hard to differentiate from where you are, so I had dropped a pin on Google maps in case we got lost and needed to find our way back. Great thinking, right?! Not so much, once we got out of the woods (on the other side) we had zero service. You can’t easily walk back through the woods because there’s so many tracks this way and that, and who knows which turns we took?!

Matt somehow managed to get us back to where we parked the car pretty quickly, even though we were nowhere near where we started! I have no idea how he does it but he has this incredible internal geography. Like, we’ll visit somewhere one time, or even just drive through it, and then we’ll be there again maybe even years later and he knows exactly where to go. I however barely know my left from right. Thank God opposites attract or we’d still be out there looking for our car! We made it back to the car for a picnic whilst sitting on the edge of the boot, we were so hungry as we’d not even ate breakfast. There’s something about picnics that will always remind me of reading Famous Five books when I was a kid, I so wanted to be part of the gang. I wanted my own Timmy!

We headed to visit with Matt’s parents in their garden and give Matt’s dad his Father’s Day presents. He is the best person to give gifts to, he is always so excited it melts my heart 🙂 after we went home to chill out, work on a couple things and of course… to watch the game! Newcastle United were playing, Matt is SO EXCITED football is back and I kinda am too, we’re both really missing going to the games. We snuggled up on the couch and it was so nice to win, the final score was 3-0! It’s really weird that there’s no fans in the stadium but they’re playing the sound effects of a crowd. We popped out at half time to the Co-Op to pick up a few things and Matt grabbed custard donuts (one of my favourite things). He also go me a Milky Way (another of my favourite things) and I’m already thinking about how good it will be to eat it during my work day one day this week…

We finally got to spend a little time with my dad, then I got roped into fixing Matt’s hair (it needed a little more blending from Friday), Matt watched his Formula 1 show on Netflix that he’s become obsessed with, and I worked on planning more blog content. It’s super hard to plan everything in advance but I feel much happier when I know what I need to write/take photos of etc. I have so many fun things planned and I really am so excited to share more of the beautiful North of England with you this Summer 🙂 we also had a freak Summer rainstorm that was so peaceful and calming, I love the rain. We could see the most beautiful rainbow right from our window!

I picked up this candle from Sainsbury’s and I need you all to know how gorgeous it is! It was only five pounds and is the best dupe I’ve ever smelled for Jo Malone’s Peony & Blush Suede. It’s almost 10pm as I’m writing this, we’ve had it burning for over three hours now and it’s barely gone down at all. I don’t like dupes of things that are direct rip offs off high end brands – Peony & Blush Suede is my favourite Jo Malone scent (I always have the perfume in my collection and I have the candle on my bedside table that Matt bought me almost two years ago and I don’t want to burn because it’s so expensive – but this is marketed in it’s own way and smells so incredible. Our whole room smells incredible!

I made us a late dinner; we had a chicken & veggie dish with rice, I just made it up as I went which tends to be how we find our favourite meals! Whilst I was cooking I watched Kristin & Marcus’ video all about their accident. I’ve watched Kristin on YouTube for years and I was so shocked/saddened by their horrendous accident last month, you can watch it here if you don’t know what I’m talking about. I cried watching the video but I’m SO GLAD they’re okay. We washed up, we’ve been watching The Office for a couple hours since dinner, and now I’m writing up this post. For real, I know I talk about The Office so much but it’s seriously the best show ever, we love it and it makes us so happy!

Oversized t-shirts are my favourite thing to wear!

Thank you so much for coming along on our weekend 🙂 how was your weekend? Have the best Monday!

-G x

Weekend In My Life: Celebrating My 26th Birthday In Lockdown

Hi, loves! I’m so excited to have taken a bunch of photos to document my 26th birthday by, because it’s my first (and hopefully last) lockdown birthday! What a weird season of life, right? We couldn’t celebrate in our usual way; Matt and I normally go on a trip – we’d actually hoped earlier in the year to visit Krakow around my birthday weekend, we’d celebrate with family dinner and we’d go out for drinks with friends. But, I still had such an amazing birthday weekend, and I’m so grateful to Matt and my family for making my birthday so special 🙂

F R I D A Y

I LOVE Friday’s. It’s the start of the weekend, I work a much shorter day (I start late and finish early, what could be better!?) and I have the Friday feeling from the second I open my eyes that morning. Matt had to start at 8am (sucks to be him, hehe) so I got up with him to make his breakfast and finish up my blog post. I enjoyed a cup of tea, made my post live and got ready for the day. I’ve really took the extra time I have in the mornings on a Friday to get ready slowly; I spend way more time on my skincare routine and my makeup and it just makes me so happy.

How flipping cute is my tie dye tee?! I am actually obsessed with it and have an urge to try tie-dying myself but I know I won’t make anything as cute as this. I had to run a few errands; I went grocery shopping, picked up a parcel and sent some of Matt and I’s returns back to the post office. We’ve been online shopping kinda often recently, although I’ve decided throughout June I’m going to have a No Spend month because there’s honestly nothing I need (or really even want) right now. I always get so excited to hop in my car and drive these days, it actually feels like a treat because I’m getting so used to spending my days inside. I turned the AC up, played Shagged, Married, Annoyed on Spotify and totally enjoyed driving around running errands.

…does anyone else always catch 11:11? It makes me smile every time 🙂 also those little marks aren’t dust. I’m SO Type A and dust my car interior down every time I get in with a microfibre cloth. I used a new one and it shedded. Yes this is very important to know…

My usual Friday work day is 12pm – 5.30pm (when we’re in the office living a normal life!) but working from home I’ve been working 11am – 4.30pm most weeks. I didn’t get home until around 11.30am so I put all our groceries away, quickly picked up and tidied our bedroom (I didn’t have time before I left) then headed to the dining room to start work at 12pm. Around 1.30pm I was flagging and needed a little pick me up (my sleeping pattern is still SO out of sorts. I truly have insomnia, I can be awake up to three hours during the night) so I grabbed a red bull and some lunch. I don’t drink them often but oh my goodness I really love them! I had a really great work day, I felt productive and I was able to get so many things ticked off my to do list for the day. Before I knew it, it was 5.30pm. I turned off my computer, made my to-do list for Monday (HIGHLY recommend doing this, especially if you’re working from home. All of the tasks and things to follow up are fresh in your mind at the end of your work day, makes it so much easier to remember everything when you next sit down) and then my dad told me a delivery had arrived for me…

Surprisingly, I hadn’t ordered anything this day. Haha! The parcel was the best surprise from Matt’s family; Adam & Laura are seriously the sweetest, most thoughtful people you’ll ever meet. I was so shocked, they sent the most beautiful bouquet filled with roses, wildflowers and, my very favourite, peonies! I had a blast arranging the flowers – Bloom & Wild send a card that directs you how to make your bouquet look pretty – and I think I’ve changed it around maybe four times since, LOL. I took a nice hot shower, did my skincare routine, got cosy in my pj’s and lit this cute candle. It’s from a small business Dole Wicks Candle Co. (they used to be called Tiki Candle Company hence the label)… Disney and candles? Come on, that’s two of my very favourite things in the whole world! I’d been saving it for this weekend and it smelled so good.

Matt arrived home from work just in time for me prepping dinner. It was Burger Night! We’ve been trying to have ‘fun’ dinners on Friday’s because typically we’d either go out or grab a takeaway on these nights, and we are actually really missing fast food. I am so excited for McDonald’s to re-open, it’s been two months and I’m not exaggerating when I say I need a Big Mac. NEED! That being said, I make a pretty good burger 🙂 I always use brioche buns (duh, they’re the best) and we put spicy cheese inside. Add a little tomato, lettuce and a ton of ketchup, and it’s delish. I washed my makeup brushes and re-organised my skincare (I’m sharing all about my cute little vanity soon!) whilst Matt took a bath. We spent the rest of our evening chilling, watching The Office US in bed and I read a little on my Kindle. I don’t know if it’s me but the weeks fly by in lockdown. I couldn’t believe it was already…

S A T U R D A Y

Have you ever in your life seen anything so cute?! I got up for literally a minute and came back to him cuddling the pillow (very tightly). Hahahaha. So cute!

I woke up super early on Saturday, around 7am, and laid reading my Kindle for almost an hour. I typed up a few blog ideas on my phone, caught up on all the social media I’d ‘missed’ overnight, and Matt still was fast asleep. I figured if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em… I cuddled back in, fell asleep and we didn’t wake up until after 10.30am. I kinda felt lazy but I also kinda loved it. Can I use the birthday weekend excuse? We had the laziest morning in bed watching Amazon Prime and just enjoying the fact we didn’t have to be anywhere or do anything. I think the one thing I’m really learning to appreciate most in lockdown is the slower pace of life, I want to write about this in a whole post!

Matt got cosy watching TV whilst I made breakfast lunch burritos! I add sweet potato, sausage, a bell pepper, beans and two eggs to ours. It’s kind of a long process because you have to cook everything separately then add it all together and put it back in the oven, but oh my goodness it’s worth it. This is one of our favourite breakfasts because it’s so filling and it’s the closest we’re going to get to a Mexican breakfast for a little while. We lazed around a little more (…still not feeling guilty!) and Matt watched football whilst I got ready. The German Bundesliga had just come back for the first time since the pandemic and you’ve no idea how GIDDY he was about it, the boy loves sport. I took a shower and got ready, which was even better with freshly cleaned makeup brushes. I have so many makeup brushes but these are the ones I use the most, although usually I’d use a few other eye brushes if I was making an effort with my makeup… like when we were able to socialize!

I love this oversize shirt from Zara. I thrifted it (from Depop, for a grand total of £3.50. Yay for #shoppingsecondhand) and I love how it looks tied at the front with mom jeans. I totally thought I’d get to wear it as a swimsuit coverup this Summer too, but unless I decide to throw on a bikini in the garden I have a feeling that will not be happening. Matt came with me to go back to the post office (again… we had MORE returns!) and whilst he went in I changed from country music to a little bit of Disney. It’s good for the soul. I also popped into Aldi as there was a couple of things I couldn’t get grocery shopping the day before. For the first time since lockdown started I got to go straight into a grocery store without waiting in a huge line outside. It was actually kinda weird!?

We stopped by Matt’s parents to see them through the window (literally the strangest thing, I can’t wait until we can see them properly) and pick up my birthday presents. They’re so sweet to me and always spoil me so so much! We came home to eat Krispy Kreme donuts and get cosy watching TV for a little while. Matt took a bath and I made dinner – chicken and leek pasta bake. It was a total ‘wing it’ dinner and oh wow it might be the best thing we’ve made in a long time. I’ll share it on the blog sometime soon because you need to make it!

Matt had a FaceTime date with the boys and I ended the night drinking a glass of wine in the bath (*cough* two glasses *cough*, Matt may have brought me a refill…), watching Modern Family and having the best little pamper evening. We went to bed pretty late but somehow didn’t struggle to get up the next day!

S U N D A Y

Because it was my birthday! 🙂 we started the day with cups of tea in bed. Matt and I have a tradition of opening our birthday presents and Christmas stockings in bed, it’s one of my favourite things. Matt is literally the most amazing boyfriend ever and I felt so very lucky with all the gifts he got me. He always goes above and beyond, but the best gift I could ask for was spending my birthday with him.

I mean… come on! I am so thankful! (Also Giorgio Armani Si is one of the most beautiful perfumes and has become one of my favorites this year, I highly recommend if you’re looking for something new!)

After we opened presents we went downstairs to open everything from our families. I received so many lovely cards, gifts and money which I am so thankful for. Matt and I’s families are the best 🙂 my mum and dad are crazy (in the best possible way) and bought me AirPods!! I have wanted a pair for so long and I already think they’re the best thing ever. I’d been stealing borrowing Matthew’s for a while so I’m so glad to have my own. I had no idea they’d got them for me, I love them so much. (Jumping in, in real time to say I’m wearing (using?) them right now whilst I type up this post and literally had to just take a five minute break because I was cry laughing at SMA. I frigging love Rosie Ramsey). We had bacon sandwiches, relaxed on the couch and then I took a little extra time to shower, get dressed and ready for the day. I was sooo excited to use my new lipstick, it’s so flipping pretty.

The weather was kinda rubbish – warm but super grey and rainy – but I wanted to wear my pretty new dress so that’s what I did. If you can’t wear a cute dress on your birthday, when can you?! Just as we were getting ready to leave my sweet godmother and her daughter stopped by with my card and gift. We talked out on the driveway for half an hour and it was SO good to see them! Like everyone else, Matt and I miss seeing family and friends so much, but it’s already so apparent how much more we’ll appreciate those times post-lockdown.

We picked up another super generous birthday gift from my aunt and uncle, and headed for the beach! We were planning to go for a little walk along the beach (my happiest place) but once we got closer it was very clearly not safe to get out. Since lockdown has been ever so slightly lifted in the UK people are free to go to the beach, but it was like it was the Summer holidays with no lockdown in place. I was kinda sad because I’ve been looking forward to going back to the beach since lockdown started, but I’d much rather be safe. From what we saw driving along the coast there was very little social distancing happening; people were in big groups, pretty much all of the food places were open and the lines outside were huge. It was so lovely to drive along the coast even just for half an hour though, it lifted our spirits so much and it was nice to see somewhere a little different.

So grey but still oh so pretty!
Two of my very favourite products for double cleansing!

…unfortunately, I got car sick. LOL. I don’t know why this happens but if I’m not driving I’ve started to get really bad car sickness. I had a headache and Matt said I was ‘green’ …delightful. I changed into comfy clothes, got cosy under a blanket and took a twenty minute nap. I woke up feeling so much better and spent a few hours just enjoying time with Matt, my mum and my brother. I also got my birthday present off my brother (he was still asleep when we left because he’d been up until God knows when watching UFC!). He bought me a bottle of Dior Joy, which is another of my favourite perfumes. My perfume collection is now fully stocked again and I’m so happy 🙂 I actually just picked up the cutest mirrored perfume tray that I’m completely obsessed with, I love displaying my perfumes out on my vanity! I took an extra long time to do my evening skincare, shower and then my dad arrived home from work with our favourite takeout…

DELISH!

We literally love our local Indian takeaway! It was as always, so good. I spent a little time with my dad after not seeing him all day, Matt took a bath, I caught up on my YouTube subscriptions for an hour which is one of my favourite things to do, we drank Dole Whip’s (with Malibu in, it was a great choice, I highly recommend!) and got super cosy for the night watching… you guessed it… The Office. We love a lil bit of Michael Scott. We also may have stuffed our faced with my birthday cake (red velvet cake is literally the best thing in the whole world to me) 🙂

Thank you so much for reliving my birthday weekend with me!

-G x

Why Supporting Small Businesses Is Extra Important Right Now & How You Can Help

Hi, loves! I’m so excited to share today’s post with you all because whilst we’re all having a really hard time right now, this pandemic is really hitting small businesses hard. I’m so passionate about supporting the small businesses I love and I really want to share what I’ve been doing recently to help and show support, even in the smallest of ways. I love so many small businesses and I’ve always admired people who can create something from nothing. From your local salon, to online boutiques to florists and everything in between, all of these businesses need your help and support more than ever right now.

Coast Candle from Our Lovely Goods, a fantastic small business; this is is one of my favourite ever candles and I’m so happy to support them!

Shop local
There’s a reason the #shoplocal has over thirty MILLION tags on Instagram… it’s super important to people! I love to browse local shops whenever I can; they often supply goods you’d never find anywhere else, support local artists and have a little bit of that ‘home’ feeling in them. I think local stores also make wonderful gifts, especially if you have family or friends who love where you live but maybe live a little further out. Have a look on social media and maybe a little google search to see if you can support any of your favourite local stores online, or maybe just get some ideas of where you’d like to visit when this is all over and we’re able to explore again.

Talk about small businesses you love!
If you love a company and their products, now is the time to shout it from the rooftops. I love to share small businesses I find, especially on Instagram stories, and I’m so happy to promote products that make me happy. Ask your family members and friends which small businesses they support and branch out to new businesses too! Word of mouth is how a lot of these businesses began and it’s something they’ll always appreciate. 

Buy goods online if services are still running
If there’s one good thing about a pandemic… it’s online shopping has never been more fun. Right?! I honestly haven’t purchased very much since lockdown began, but I have ‘window’ shopped online A LOT; I love adding things to my cart and then making a mental note of things I’d like to buy next time I need another *insert product here*. Websites always appreciate an increase in traffic as it really helps out with SEO – this even works for my little blog too. I love seeing little notifications from WordPress that my stats are ‘booming’ when you guys really love a blog post! Mail services are all running, albeit a little slower than usual, so there’s nothing to stop you ordering online. Be sure to check the company’s social media pages for discount codes too, it kinda seems like every website has some kind of deal on right now. 

Share their social media pages or enter competitions
I’m very aware that not everybody is in a place where they’re able to online shop right now; many people have been laid off or furloughed; and it’s an incredibly sad time for so many people. If you don’t have the means to spend physical cash to show your support, that is just fine. Sharing your favourite brands’ social media pages or entering competitions again drives traffic to their pages, and in turn boosts their SEO. When you’re in a position to purchase from them again you can, but make sure to look after yourself right now! 

Take the night off cooking and order in from your favourite family run restaurant
It’s slightly different than shopping local, but all of those local (often family run) takeaway places, restaurants, cafes, coffee shops etc are going to need your custom more than ever right now. We’ve ordered takeaway food around once per week during lockdown – our go-to is always Moti Jheel, we swear it’s the best Indian food in the North East – and I’m so happy to support a business we love so much. Although drive-thru’s and dine-in restaurants are completely closed in the UK at the moment, lots of takeaway services are running and I really encourage you to take advantage of a delicious meal you don’t have to put the work in for!

Tip the staff who are still working
Tipping food places is pretty common in the UK – although unlike in other countries it’s not mandatory or even expected – but Matt and I always tip our delivery drivers! Those people are possibly working much more hours than usual or could have picked up delivering as an extra job if they’ve been laid off or furloughed during this pandemic. I think the kindness people are showing right now is such an unexpected blessing to come from a horrible season of life.

Leave positive reviews
Similarly to sharing your thoughts and comments on social media, leaving reviews on the brand’s website, TrustPilot, TripAdvisor etc really helps to drive traffic their way and encourage others to purchase, or at least browse too. Make sure to set your reviews to public so you can ensure other people can read them!

Order a gift card for future use or for a gift for a friend/family member
Many small businesses who are unable to offer their services right now – whether they don’t have the means to deliver, they’re a salon that rely on hands-on treatment or any other reason – are offering gift cards to their customers. This is a fantastic way to show your support, and get a little treat in a few months’ time when things are (hopefully) heading back to normal! You could also buy gift cards for any family or friends who love a specific store or salon, and give them a little pick-me-up during this time. 

Thank you so much for reading! Please feel free to share your favourite small businesses in the comments so we can all help to support them too 🙂 do you have any other tips on how we can support small businesses? I’ll see you on Sunday for a super exciting post… my at home pamper routine! It’s perfect for a pick-me-up especially during this time, and I can’t wait to share it with you! 

-G x

Day In My Life: WFH | UK Lockdown

Happy Easter Sunday, my loves! I hope you’re happily eating all of the Easter chocolate, and still doing well throughout this crazy time in the world. How are you doing? I’ve had a pretty good week overall and I’m feeling really grateful for everything I have right now. Whilst I’m very hopeful that this will all be over soon I also want to be realistic, and I’m trying to get used to our ‘new normal’ as much as possible.

I was going to write up a week in my life for this past week but honestly a couple of days in it was SO repetitive and I really just didn’t want to bore you all! I really miss writing week/weekend in my life posts and I’m really going to make a conscious effort to record weekends especially at least once per month. Round ups of what people have been up to are some of my favourite posts to read, when I post them they always get high views (thank you!) and I also love to read them back a while later. Today I’m sharing my new ‘typical’ day in my life with you, and I already know this is going to be SO crazy to look back on in a few months’ time!

On this particular day I woke up pretty late at 7.45am. Matt is a key worker – he’s a Store Manager – so he’s been in work most days, and has been starting at 7am so I’ve been getting up with him around 6am. He wasn’t starting until later so we got to sleep in which was so nice because I was awake for at least two hours during the night. I struggle with insomnia and it seems to be getting worse not better… I’ve no idea why it happens but I’m WIDE awake and unable to sleep for what feels like forever! The mornings I’ve been getting up earlier I’ve either spent an hour reading my Kindle, practicing yoga or just catching up on YouTube. I was grateful to sleep in but I kinda missed that time today. After a quick cuddle with Matt I got up, brushed my teeth and washed my face. This Effaclar Hydrating Cleansing Cream from La Roche Posay is my favourite cleanser for the mornings; it’s so gentle, removes my skincare products from the night before and does not irritate my skin at all. I’ve took my skincare routine ‘back to basics’ for the most part after another really bad breakout and I’m seeing such a difference already. I’m currently waiting for my prescription skincare to arrive from Dermatica but I can’t wait to share my minimalistic skincare routine with you all next month!

Matt stayed in bed and chatted to me whilst I got ready at my vanity table which was SO fun. I got fully ready; I straightened the ends of my hair that had got a little kinked from being tied back when I slept – I cut two inches off my hair last week and dyed it! #quarantinelife eh? I actually think I did a pretty good job *toot toot* then my mum evened up a little at the back. I never thought I’d be giving myself DIY haircuts but I also never thought we’d be in the middle of a pandemic, sooo… I did my makeup which makes SUCH a difference to how my day goes. I feel one hundred times better on the days I’ve made somewhat of an effort, and I really love taking twenty minutes to apply my makeup each morning. I highly recommend getting yourself a little more put together if you’re struggling spending all day in the house. As you can see I’m not wearing ‘real’ clothes, but honestly I couldn’t think of anything worse than sitting around in jeans. I love jeans but I wear them to go outside then the second I get home I put sweats or pj pants on anyway! My Disneyland sweatshirt just makes my heart happy, I live in my Ugg slippers every day anyway and these sweat pants from Abercrombie are the comfiest thing I’ve ever worn. My exact ones are sold out right now but all of their sweats are amazing.

Once I was ready it was time for my commute… to the dining room. AKA my Unofficial Home Office! So for the most part I really enjoy working from home and I am so beyond grateful to still have my job and be getting paid. I can’t wait until we’re all back in the office but really I miss commuting to work SO. MUCH. Never again will I complain about it! I miss getting into my cute car. I miss playing music or a podcast a little too loud. I miss blasting the heat (because I’m always cold). I miss actually physically driving. I’ve only driven once in the past two and a half weeks and I can’t wait until I can drive all the time again! I turned on my computer (I have two monitors and a laptop from my job, but I spend probably 90% of my work day sitting at the table using the monitors. I don’t love working on the laptop as much because the screen is so much smaller and I feel less productive) and wrote out my to-do list for the day. I love a to-do list and it makes me feel so much more motivated. I also have been time-blocking my work days which I’ll talk about in a blog post soon.

Whilst my computer was turning on and everything was opening up (as we’re all working remotely it takes a good five minutes) I made Matt’s breakfast and made myself a cup of tea. I haven’t been fixing myself breakfast most days until around 11am, but Matt and I have both developed a weird obsession with bagels over the past few weeks… we can’t stop eating them! Kissing him goodbye is so sad right now, I never ever thought I’d be worried about him working in a supermarket. Once he’d left I got started with work – around 9am – I made another cup of tea and my morning went SO quickly.

A super sweet Easter card arrived from Matt’s parents, we miss them SO much and can’t wait to spend time with them again when all of this is over! My morning went so quickly I couldn’t believe it was already time for my meeting of the day; we held our office meeting via Microsoft Teams which is always a fun part of the week. I’ve really been focused in the mornings without any noise or distraction, then in the afternoon I tend to bring down my MacBook and play Netflix or Disney+ in the background. I love that I can do that whilst working, it’s definitely a huge perk of working from home! Before I knew it it was almost 3pm and because of our office meeting I’d forgotten to eat breakfast, so I was HUNGRY.

I’ve really been trying to take my lunch break away from my desk the dining table and I was good at it this day. Some days, not so much. Ha! I cleaned up the kitchen, wiped down the counters and cleaned the hob before prepping a really quick and easy lunch. I had avocado on a bagel (told you we’re obsessed) with two boiled eggs and cherry tomatoes. I really don’t like poached eggs very much but I’ve probably eaten boiled eggs more often in the past three weeks than I have in my entire life. They’re just so quick to make, can be paired with pretty much anything and really filling!

I took my lunch upstairs and got cosy on our bed with my Kindle. I love reading so much and really actively try to make time for it each day. Again, some days I’m better at this than others but I notice I feel so much better when I’ve took the time to read a little. If you’re looking for some book recommendations I wrote this post last Sunday! Especially right now I’m trying to limit my time on social media; I barely use Facebook anyway but I’m not really checking Twitter very much, and Instagram for the most part is a pretty safe space which makes me happy. I only read the news once or twice per day, although most days I’ve listened to the 5pm press conference because I’d rather know the actual facts of WHAT is being said, not the scaremongering headlines people keep sharing.

It was my last day of the work week as we were about to have a four day weekend! Honestly I feel like there couldn’t be worse timing for this, bank holidays are normally something we all look forward to so much and we can’t even spend it with our loved ones outside of our home! I washed up, made another cup of tea, turned on Lizzie McGuire (thank you, Disney+ for allowing me to relive my childhood) and finished up my working day. Something that’s really surprised me about being at home all day is how many cups of tea I consume. I’m seriously obsessed! I would say it’s overtaking my love for Diet Coke but nothing can do that!

When I was finished working I switched off my computer and my four day weekend had begun. I went straight into the bathroom because I knew if I sat down in our room I’d get so comfy and not move until after Matt got home from work, hahaha. I removed my makeup (always one of the highlights of my day, why does clean skin feel SO GOOD?) and hopped in the shower. I washed my hair the night before so thankfully I didn’t need to do that, but the second I got out of the shower I really regretted not opting for a bath, ha! Post-shower I lit my favourite candle, took my time applying my skincare, moisturising and getting into comfy pj’s, then settled in to plan my blog posts over the next few weeks. I’m a little bummed because so many of the posts I was writing/had scheduled are just not appropriate for the season of life we’re all in right now, so I’m creating new content and working really hard to bring you positivity! The posts I had planned will still go up at some point, it may just be in a few months time.

My mum arrived home from work (only my brother and I are working from home. My mum, dad and Matthew are all key workers so they’re still getting up and heading out into the world everyday) and we caught up on our day for a little while whilst she sorted out some of her clothes. I swear NOBODY has more clothes than my mum, yet I’m pretty sure she wears the same twenty tops on rotation… she won’t mind me saying that, it’s true, ha! Matt arrived home not long after and he’d only brought home a couple bottles of our favourite wine ever, it’s seriously the best. It’s so inexpensive, you need to try it next time you’re out shopping (for essentials). He showered up and got into comfy clothes for the evening, and as I was just about to start cooking us a bolognese my dad offered to treat us to an Indian takeaway. Umm… YES please! No need to even think about that, Indian food is our favourite.

As they are every time, our meals were incredible – for anyone who lives nearby, we always go to Moti Jheel #shoplocal – and we were so happy and full! We clapped for our carers at 8pm which is honestly one of the highlights of my whole week. I truly think it’s the sweetest thing and I hope all of those key workers know just how important they are not just now but always. We live pretty close to our local hospital and we could hear all of the sirens blaring/noise being made there – this video shows what all of the police officers do every week at the hospital. It makes me cry every time!

After dinner and clapping we snuggled up in bed with a couple of fruity ciders (strawberry and lime cider is one of my favourite ever alcoholic drinks and it just tastes like Summer to me). We turned on Brooklyn 99 which is one of our go-to we-haven’t-got-much-time-but-want-to-watch-something-funny shows! The latest season just went live on Netflix a few weeks back – I think season six? – and we seriously love this show SO much. I just can’t pick a favourite character because I love them all (except Hitchcock, he really gets on our nerves) but I really don’t think it could be a more perfect cast. Our other favourite shows to watch when we don’t have a ton of time are The Office and Friends, but I think we’re going to start Schitt’s Creek soon!

We watched three episodes because we just couldn’t turn it off, then Matt went into the bathroom before me and found a SPIDER on my TOOTHBRUSH. I’m terrified of spiders (except little money spiders, I can deal with them) so I was beside myself haha. Matt killed the spider like a good boyfriend should whilst I jumped around screaming 🙂 not exactly relaxing before bed… After we brushed our teeth – I used my electric toothbrush and threw the other one out, ugh! – I sprayed our pillows and duvet down with this sleep spray. I am a HUGE fan of sleep sprays and I’ve tried quite a few now. I think the This Works one is probably my favourite, it helps so much as I’m a terrible sleeper. Once I get into bed I apply my Laneige lip sleeping mask which is hands down the best lip balm I’ve ever used, my lips still feel so moisturised when I wake up. I really need to order a back up because I don’t ever want to be without this. I then apply Cicaplast on any spots/bumps/pimples I have on my face as it does an incredible job of clearing them up, and apply it to any dry patches on my hands. From constantly washing my hands my hands are so cracked and sore, but this is incredible. I use the SPF50 version because that’s what I have but next time I’ll definitely order without the SPF. I then use my Aveeno hand cream just to lock all of the moisture in, Matt set Alexa to play Waves on Sleep Sounds and that was our day over!

I hope you enjoyed seeing a little look into my life 🙂 what does your every day look like right now? I hope you and your families are all safe and well, and just taking each day at a time! Every day that passes is another day closer to all of this being over, and I think we all really need to acknowledge that even though this is a horrific situation we’re so lucky to be safe in our homes with our loved ones. Thank you to all of our incredible NHS staff, grocery store workers, delivery drivers, warehouse workers and other essential professions keeping our country going right now, you are so loved and we’re all so grateful! Have a happy bank holiday weekend, AT HOME 🙂

I’ll be back on Wednesday, with the weirdest bucket list post I’ll probably ever write!

-G x

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

#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