Date Inspiration

Welcome back, loves!

I hope you are having a wonderful Sunday – I for one am very glad it’s the weekend!

If you’re anything like Matt and I, planning date days/nights to look forward to can really get you through a long week. This weekend we had a lovely double date with my bestie, Jessy and her boyfriend Tom, and we’re spending the rest of it just enjoying our time together. (Apart from the match – I was ditched for that ūüėČ ). We love to plan things for each other, and together. I’d love to share with you some of our favourite dates – some we do often, some we can’t do as much – but they’re all so fun!

Dinner & Drinks

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Going for dinner and drinks with your partner has to be one of the most well-loved dates, but also one of the best. Matt and I eat out a lot, especially for a couple saving up for their first home – oops! We do however eat out at all different price points, and we never go overboard by doing it too often, so it never gets boring. I realise price points are subjective to each couple, so please take this with a pinch of salt. Going out for dinner with Matt makes me so happy, we’re very much a cutesy hold-hands-across-the-table couple (I mean, are you really surprised?) and it’s nice to spend one-on-one time together. We are also adventurous with food options now which is something I’ve never really done before; we try new foods all the time, and 9 times out of 10 we love them!

Ever since Matt and I got together we’ve shared our date nights out evenly; Matt pays one time, I pay the next and so on. We’ve never been a split the bill 50/50 kind of couple; sometimes we get a few cheaper meals in a row, sometimes a few higher – it really doesn’t matter. Whatever you like to do is perfectly fine, although one of the best things about doing it the way we do is it’s much easier to plan date nights to surprise each other. We actually booked the same restaurant to ‘surprise’ each other one Friday night – luckily we can’t keep secrets so I excitedly told Matt about our plans and his face fell; thankfully because he’d done the same thing, not that he didn’t want to go!

There are so many amazing restaurants that are fairly inexpensive, and worth every penny anyway. One of our favourite relaxed places to eat is Lola Jean’s – there is one in Tynemouth and one in Newcastle upon Tyne city centre, and they’re both incredible. Without a doubt the best burgers in the North East, and they also do great cocktails! Our favourite local date night restaurants are hands down Branches, Ora, Fratelli’s and Babucho’s – great atmosphere, great food, great staff! There are so many places to go for drinks we really have too many to share. The few bars in Ponteland, Tynemouth and Grey St, Newcastle our favourite spots; it’s nice to go for chilled date night drinks and not have to yell at each other across a crowded bar. We also love going for a Sunday lunch, as you will see below!

Cosy Sunday

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The Badger, Ponteland

Sundays with Matthew are my favourite days ever. My ideal Sunday is as follows; waking up without an alarm and cuddling back in for another hour or so, leisurely getting ready (this involves Matt staying in bed snoozing while I shower/do my hair/makeup then jumping up as I say I’ll be done in 15 minutes), going for a walk in the country or at the beach followed by Sunday dinner, then spending the evening snuggled up on the sofa watching crap TV with his parents. We spend a lot of Sundays like this, and I am very grateful for that. This is clearly not the most strenuous of days but my god we don’t half sleep well on Sunday nights, it’s a wonder Matt doesn’t have to carry me upstairs to bed. That saying ‘A Sunday well spent brings a week of content’ could not be more true for us; cosy, lazy Sundays make me very happy!

Our Typical Evening

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Matching M&S dressing gowns… I hate us too

Not every date night has to be a planned-out special affair. My favourite kind of nights are the ones that are very minimal effort – our typical weeknights where we laze around the house and just enjoy quality time together are second to none. Any night can be a date night if you make it one; I think just spending time together one-on-one is a date in itself, to be honest. The kind of nights where we both can curl up together in our comfies; no makeup, messy hair, not a care in the world in that moment; that’s love!

Coming home from a long day at work to my boyfriend is, and always will be, the happiest feeling. We love to cook together or for each other, eat dinner and catch up on each other’s days. The way we spend the rest of our night differs day by day but I especially love the nights we spend just snuggling up watching Neflix! It’s really a case of it doesn’t matter what we’re doing, because we’re together. We appreciate our quality time so much – and I’m so thankful for that. The most exciting thing that might happen on these kind of nights is a spontaneous McFlurry run… I’d say we’re living the life!

Going To A Football Match

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Matt is a diehard NUFC fan, and now I’m following suit! I’ve grown up watching football – my mam and brother are football crazy – but they are huge Manchester United fans (my mam is from there so it’s acceptable, ha)! I’d never been to local games until Matt and I started dating. This is especially weird because I worked at St James’ Park for a few years when I was younger, so I did get a sneak peek now and then. The day we went to our first match together was actually the same day we became officially boyfriend and girlfriend – and ever since it’s been something we really love to do. 

My dad’s lovely friend arranged for us to meet some of the players at one of the last matches of the season (one we won 1-0 against Arsenal, yay!) and I don’t think any other match will beat that day. Seeing Matt’s face light up meeting the players was so sweet – like a child seeing their favourite character at Disney World, haha! I had to actually ask if my boyfriend could get a photo and an autograph as he was so shy, would you believe it?! He’s the cutest. We also like to go out for food before or after each match which makes it a really nice afternoon/evening out. I especially like going in the Winter – wrapping up in lots of layers (UGG’s are essential), enjoying a hot chocolate and snuggling in together. Then, going home to warm up and having a cosy night in – perfect!

Shopping

It seems so simple, but shopping dates really can be so much fun. Our favourite place for a shopping date is hands-down Costco! We enjoy our Costco trips a little too much; we spend too much money every time so it’s not exactly cheap but it’s definitely worth it. One of our favourite things is seeing how many samples we can get – the best time to go is always early on a Saturday evening; they have tons of samples still out and they usually give you two! Yes, this really is exciting for me… We really enjoy food shopping together too; it’s even better if we’re trying a new recipe and buying the ingredients for that. Clothes shopping dates are just as good – Matt is worse than me when it comes to buying clothes, and insists on trying everything on! We love a little wander around the Metro Centre, even more-so before we go on a trip or holiday.

A Staycation

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Hotel Du Vin, Quayside, Newcastle

This one is a special one, and definitely not something to take for granted! We love to go away for one or two nights to explore a new place, but you don’t always have to go far to have a good time.

Matt and I have been very lucky to have a lot of staycations already… and I’m very thankful for every one of them. We live just outside of Newcastle upon Tyne and have stayed in the city several times; our favorite hotels are Hotel du Vin and The Vermont Hotel. I’d highly recommend either; although Hotel du Vin is perfect if you’re after a more romantic weekend – there is a bath in the room and enjoying a bath together is quite obviously the best start to any date night. Every Hotel du Vin we’ve stayed in has been perfect, but the Newcastle one was our fave. We’re biased.

We also stayed at Ramside Hall, Durham a few months ago; this is slightly different as you can spend the whole night in those grounds without leaving – so you’re in the little bubble of the hotel for the night. We really enjoyed Ramside; this also had a bath in the room which was lovely. If this is something you’d fancy doing I’d highly recommend signing up to the hotels websites and using booking.com – you’re more likely to get early deals and discounts this way. Also, booking very late can be a good thing, we once booked a night at Hotel du Vin on a Saturday morning for a steal, then went that night! It’s fun and exciting and this is something we probably won’t ever do when we have our own house; so we definitely like to make the most of it while we can. 

The Beach

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We are very lucky to live right by the beach! In fact, we’re extra lucky because 10 minutes one way is the beach, and 10 minutes the other is the countryside. Going to the beach is such a nice way to spend an afternoon; regardless of the weather. To be honest, no matter how hot it is inland, the beaches in the North East seem to be consistently freezing. We really enjoy getting fish and chips at the beach – although my God the seagulls don’t half ruin the romantic vibes!

Sometimes the beach is an even better place in the Autumn/Winter months (can you tell I’m excited for the change of season?) – when it’s cold and fresh and your nose turns Rudolph red! I think being by the sea is very calming; we tend to just walk along the sea front hand in hand, chatting and enjoying the view. It’s a good way to reconnect and spend time together, as well as getting a little exercise. I know this will be ten times more fun when we finally get our little dog – if you have a dog please know I’m very jealous. We’ll also offer to dog walk any time you like, ha!

Well, there you have it – my favourite kind of dates with Matthew. We do so much more; it’s hard to summarise everything!

I’d love to know your thoughts on this post – maybe you have inspiration to take your boyfriend or girlfriend on a different date than you’ve done before? I’d love to know your favourite date ideas, and any date spots if you live in the North East of England! Matt and I are always on the look out for new places – it’s always fun to try new things. 

Thank you so much for reading! 

-G x

Weekend Trip Packing Tips

Hi, loves!

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One of the best trips to plan in my opinion, is a weekend trip! They can be pretty inexpensive if you plan them right, you get to see a large part of a new place in a short space of time and you have lots of travel options – I can guarantee there is a great place to visit one hour from you or ten hours from you! Matt and I have been very lucky to already have gone on so many weekend trips – from staycations to country breaks to city trips – and we have so many more we’d like to plan in. My tips are (as always) pretty personal, and centre around couples weekends away as that is what we like to do, however there is something for everyone in this post. I really have learned to love packing for short trips, and I’d love to share with you how I do it…

Packing for a weekend can be pretty stressful, especially if, like me, you are a serious over-packer! The weather (especially if this is a UK trip) is likely to change throughout a two/three day period, you need to have space to bring back any purchases and you also want to have options! I have started to look at packing for one or two nights away as a challenge to do a mini capsule wardrobe – I love the idea of having a capsule wardrobe IRL but honestly, I could never do it. Matt and I always take individual suitcases but generally share on toiletries like shampoo, shower gel, etc. 

I would really recommend in the weeks, especially the days, leading up to your trip you Tip #1 check the weather. The last thing you want is to be caught out without shorts when it’s boiling hot or an umbrella when it’s pouring rain every day. I am pretty sure if you look at a weather app every half an hour it will show a different forecast for the same place, but it is a good rough indication of what the weather will be like. To be honest, if you’re going anywhere in the UK, it’s probably always a good idea to bring an umbrella and a pac-a-mac. Note to self: buy a pac-a-mac. 

The kind of accomodation you book for your trip is completely dependant on what kind of trip you’re planning. Tip #2 book a hotel/air bnb that suits your needs for that specific trip. If Matt and I are going away for a romantic weekend or a staycation we are looking for something a little more luxurious as we’re likely to spend a little more time in the room. We really love Hotel du Vin hotels and have been fortunate enough to stay in several locations already. These hotels can be a lot more expensive, but we definitely feel that we pay for the quality here. When we’re exploring somewhere further from home or our schedule is jam-packed, a standard hotel will generally do the trick – and by saving money on your hotel you have more to spend during your trip!

One of the most exciting things about taking a romantic trip away with my boyfriend is planning what we’re going to do in the build up before we go. Tip #3 have at least an idea of things you’d both like to do, and options that fit with whatever weather you may face. Matt and I scour Trip Advisor and Instagram location tags a lot for ideas, as well as a good few Google searches. I love to find blogs/vlogs of people visiting cities as you can get a little inside knowledge before you get there. For one of his stocking fillers last Christmas, I bought Matt this book, and we’ve took lots of inspiration from here too – hopefully one day we can work our way through the whole book! It’s also often cheaper to book tickets for any museums/tours etc you’d like to do online before you go, and it saves time queuing when you arrive.

Tip #4 Make a packing list! One thing I cannot stress enough is the importance of writing down everything you need, then the actual packing process is already much easier. I love lists in general; I am such a planner and routine-based person that lists just help to get all the thoughts out of my head and I can then focus on the task at hand. I tend to make a packing list around a week before my trip, then I can add/remove items from it as and when required. For our last break to Belfast, Matt’s mam and I packed his bag literally a few hours before we left for the airport (he’s spoilt), and it’s so much harder to think on the spot of everything you’ll need. 

Obviously the essentials are going to be your clothes, shoes, toiletries and the important miscellaneous items – eg your phone charger! Tip #5 Do not forget your phone charger, or you will spend the first two hours of the trip on a wild goose chase for an Apple shop. Been there, done that. I’d highly recommend investing in a portable charger too, as long days out, excessive Google map usage and lots of photo taking (got to get them Insta’s, am I right?) is more than likely going to leave you with a dead battery. 

Your luggage situation depends on a) the length of your trip, b) the method of travel and c) how much can you (and/or your wonderful amazing boyfriend) physically carry? Enjoy this picture of Matthew hoisting our suitcases up 1000* steps on our first city trip together last September (it was to Edinburgh; one of our favourite cities to visit and somewhere we are hoping to go back to very soon). 

*possibly a slight exaggeration

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For real though, the amount of luggage you take with you is actually very important. Larger luggage bags/suitcases means more room to take crap you probably don’t need, and also means more to drag in/out of the car/plane/bus/taxi/spaceship. Tip #6 for any trip up to three nights/four days; one small cabin sized suitcase each, and a large tote bag is all you need. I have been guilty of taking all but the kitchen sink with me for one night, but seriously packing too many items is just unnecessary and I can guarantee you won’t use them anyway!

I always use a backpack or large tote bag as hand luggage on short haul flights as you can fit in all the necessities (Tip #7 a spare pair of pants is always a necessity!) but they’re not too big that you start sticking in items you really don’t need. You can check out my essentials – and non-essentials – for a flight in this post! Matt also tends to take a backpack if we are flying, or if we are driving/getting the train he’ll put anything he needs in my bag. Girlfriend perks, eh?!

I’d highly recommend Tip #8 packing a small cross body bag (the one linked in this post is my go-to!) and a canvas tote bag in your luggage as these two items can come in incredibly handy. I tend to use my cross body bag day and night on short trips; it goes with any outfit and it’s hands free (let’s be honest, I need my hands to be free for 1: holding Matthew’s hand, and 2: eating any and all of the delicious baked goods we find on our travels). Never has a sentence summed me up more. Canvas bags are great because they can double as a beach bag, a gym bag or a bag to put dirty clothes/shoes in for coming home, as well as many other things! Tip #9 is one I’m sure you’re all aware of: roll, don’t fold! Rolling your clothes means you can fit so much more in, and it’s also really good for ensuring your clothes stay as wrinkle-free as possible.

A sneaky Tip #10 would be if your hotel doesn’t have an iron (or you just can’t be bothered) ‘ironing’ your clothes with your straighteners works a treat! I’ve also hung dresses up in the bathroom after a hot shower which helps to let the wrinkles drop out – both effective methods and both very quick. Matt and I always tend to Tip #11 wear the bulkiest of our items to travel in, although if our journey time is any more than three hours I couldn’t wear jeans! I like to be comfy at all times and will opt for leggings. (Side note: people who sit around the house in jeans genuinely baffle me – how do you do this?!) Tip #12 is no matter the weather, take. a. scarf. They double up as a blanket or a pillow, they’re fashionable, they’ll keep you warm – and they always can jazz up an outfit! In the Autumn/Winter months I’d take a big ol’ thick scarf but in the Spring/Summer a thin one will do. I’d never travel without a scarf, to be honest. 

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Here is a very simple idea of what I would pack for a two night/three day city break:

  • Crossbody bag with all my handbag essentials eg purse, phone etc
  • 1 x coat/jacket (weather dependent)
  • 1 x hoodie/sweatshirt       
  • 1 x scarf
  • 1 x blue high waisted jeans (or possibly shorts)
  • 1 x black high waisted jeans 
  • 1 x comfy trousers 
  • 1 x black leggings – ideally Lululemon or Under Armour as they’re so comfy
  • 4 x t-shirts – it’s nice to have a little bit of an option, and they’re so small they squeeze in easily
  • 1 x shirt/blouse for the evening 
  • 1 x dress for dinner and drinks                  
  • 1 x pair of black heels that go with said dress and jeans
  • 1 x comfy shoes – either Vans or Converse
  • 1 x swimsuit – if you’re planning on going in a pool/hot tub, one is enough!
  • Underwear – and don’t forget socks! Also, been there and done that
  • Toiletries and makeup bag (remember if you’re flying all liquids/creams/gels must be under 100ml and packed in a small clear bag)
  • Comfy clothes/pj’s – I only will pack pj’s if the hotel we are staying at doesn’t have robes as I like to get ready in something comfy and still be warm
  • The miscellaneous: medication, straighteners, hair brush, chargers, laptop/iPad, sunglasses, umbrella etc

Toiletries are a category you can really save space on. Your 100 step skincare routine does not need to be included – you’ll be fine for a few days with just the basics. For me I find that my cleanser, moisturiser, eye cream and serum are more than enough. Tip #13 take mini sizes of everything you possibly can! Feel Unique do minis of a lot of products which is much better than hauling along your full sized everything. Save up any sample sizes you get, buy minis on offer in Boots/Asda etc, buy the Christmas limited edition mini sets of your favourite brands and take any samples you don’t use from hotel stays. Matt and I do stay at Hotel du Vin hotels often – I know we are very lucky to do so – and they always have tons of toiletries in the room, more than we’d need for a week! Their brand of choice is Ren; one of my favourites, and we always take what we don’t use whilst we’re there.

Also, if you’re staying somewhere like Hotel du Vin with a bath in the room (I highly recommend – taking a nice hot bath together is the ultimate start to a couples weekend) don’t forget bubble bath! Also a gift idea for your partner would be the Molton Brown minis set – I got Matthew one of these also as part of his stocking fillers last year and it’s come in so handy.

One thing I cannot stress enough is you need to Tip #14 leave some space in your suitcase. You will more than likely do some shopping, whether that’s souvenirs from your trip, some new clothes or as many of the fancy Haribo you can find (why is all the Haribo you can’t buy in the UK so much nicer?!) you’ll be thankful you didn’t bring that extra pair of trousers or the ski jacket just incase. To be honest, even if you don’t go shopping, there is some weird thing that happens when you’re packing your case to come home – everything seems to double in size and things that fitted perfectly fine before don’t seem to fit in the same space. 

Something I would highly recommend squeezing into your luggage, especially if you’re heading for a romantic weekend away, is a bottle of bubbly. Slightly frivolous, but #Tip 15 take champagne with you! Most hotel rooms have champagne flutes anyway (or you can request them), but why pay the ridiculous prices in the hotel?! When Matt and I are heading for a romantic weekend, eg booking a nicer hotel with a roll top bath, it’s a must-have for us. Priorities.

A bubble bath + champagne + my boyfriend = the happiest you’ll ever see me!

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I’m sure there’s loads more important things to remember when it comes to packing but those are definitely some of the most important from my experience. I hope you’ve found at least some of this post helpful and I’d love know if you have any tips for me?!

Where are you planning to go on your next trip?

Thanks so much for reading!

-G x

Belfast With Bae

Happy Sunday, loves!

Today’s post is a little travel diary from last weekend – Matt and I went for a spontaneous weekend away in Belfast, and we absolutely¬†loved the city. Our favourite city break together so far had been Dublin, but we both liked Belfast even more – it’s such a great city and I highly recommend you add it to your travel bucket list.

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We flew from Newcastle at 7am on Saturday morning, and flew home at 5pm on Sunday evening – so we didn’t even have 48 hours there. We are already planning to go back as there is¬†so much we didn’t get to do/see!

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My handsome boy and his fish

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Once we landed and dropped our bags off at the hotel we went straight out to explore. Unfortunately, the weather was not on our side, and after weeks and weeks of warm, dry, sunny days, a¬†month’s worth of rain fell on the Saturday. Great. (Sunday was a washout as well, but it didn’t ruin our trip at all). Our first stop was the Titanic Museum – a must-do if you’re planning a trip to Belfast! We spent about three hours here, and to be honest, we probably could have spent longer. It was very busy as we got there about 10am – there were school trips and coach trips everywhere – but it was so worth it. The museum is focused mainly on the building of the Titanic, as it brought so much work to Belfast. There is a Disney World-esque ride showing different jobs that the ship building entailed, and this was really interesting. Towards the end of the museum, there is an idea of what the inside of the ship looked like, first hand accounts of what was happening as the ship was sinking, and it got very emotional. One thing that really got me (I may have cried…) was the quotes from people on board, and the transcripts of the Captain from the Titanic talking to nearby ships, asking for help. The story is so well-known but seeing this first hand was very upsetting.

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Right outside of the museum, looking out over the harbour – Matt and I think the view from these flats would be incredible!

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Titanic Museum, Belfast

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There were little snippets of the background of lots of passengers throughout the museum
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A letter wrote by Dr John Simpson whilst on board the ship. He spoke about how good it was going to so far. Unfortunately, John did not survive
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The transcripts of the Titanic talking to other nearby ships really got me. Lots of the boards just said ‘CQ’ (Come Quick)

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Belfast city centre is very big, but everything is within walking distance – we wandered through the streets, popping into shops and looking at the sights (City Hall is¬†beautiful)¬†without the rain really bothering us. It was really cold though – the temperatures at home have been between 20 and 28 degrees, and in Belfast it was 15!!¬†The Victoria Square shopping centre and the streets surrounding it is a really nice area, there was also a lot of shops we don’t have in Newcastle which were fun to look around. I was surprisingly restrained and didn’t actually buy anything whilst shopping except a replacement face powder. Matt is such a jammy bugger – he picked up a coat in Superdry (one he’d tried on/was going to purchase when it was full price) for 70% off!

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There are amazing murals almost everywhere you look in the city

We grabbed lunch then headed into¬†Robinson’s Pub which was a very old fashioned, beautiful pub near our hotel. I took Matt to Dublin in March for his birthday, and ever since our trip he¬†loves a Guinness – of course he got one!¬†When in Ireland. Tim Horton’s was somewhere I really wanted to go as I’ve been to a few in the US – their donuts are incredible and the one in Belfast certainly didn’t disappoint. Matt got a Maple donut and I got a Boston Creme; Matt doesn’t really like donuts but I’m a little bit obsessed! *I know this post is about Belfast, but the best donuts we’ve ever had were from Off Beat in Dublin – I was gutted to learn there wasn’t a store in Belfast.*¬†We were so tired by this point – the 4.30am wake up call¬†really felt like a 4.30am wake up call, and we may have sneaked back to the hotel for a quick power nap before the night…

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Luckily the rain had finally let up after our nap. Once we were ready we headed for dinner, although this was not as straight forward as you may think… Matt booked our reservation and we turned up dot on 7.30pm – only to find out that he actually had booked a different restaurant! Luckily, the waiter was fantastic and managed to squeeze us in – an earlier booking hadn’t showed up – and I’m so thankful we got to eat here. Matt and I found the whole thing hilarious, it’s never happened to us before! We ate at¬†Taylor & Clay, The Bullitt Hotel, and had¬†amazing steaks. The atmosphere in the restaurant was perfect – it was definitely our kind of place. The kitchen was open behind the bar, so you could see the chefs cooking, and the general vibe was just very cosy and welcoming. It was very well priced; we actually found Belfast to be very similar pricing to Newcastle.

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This jumpsuit is so unflattering in photos!
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The love of my life x

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Taylor & Clay, Belfast
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I love you x

We spent a few hours at¬†The Dirty Onion, which is undoubtedly one of the best bars I’ve ever been to. This was recommended to us before the trip and certainly didn’t disappoint – it’s located in the oldest building in Belfast; it’s a fairly small bar with a huge outdoor area. There were heat lamps outside so it wasn’t too cold, and an incredible live singer. The atmosphere was busy and bustling, but it wasn’t crowded – the bar was full of locals so you know it was a good spot! I tried Copeland Rhuberry gin with lemonade; a new favourite. I’ve never seen this brand/flavour before, but I definitely need to get a bottle. We ended the night in Grannie Annie’s – and it was the most quirky, fun little place. The music was amazing, they played so many old school songs, it reminded us of Flares in Newcastle (minus the sticky dance floor and cringey atmosphere we all know and love so much). Matt’s friend – a lovely girl he met on a family holiday around 10 years ago!! – is the manager here, and she was an absolute star. Also, a special thank you to my wonderful boyfriend for piggy-back’ing me through the streets of Belfast because my blisters had blisters. A guy shouted ‘perfect boyfriend’ as Matt was running through the street and I have to agree!!

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…hahaha this is just so funny. It was the gin?!

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On Sunday we had a fairly lazy morning considering we were in the city for less than 48 hours. We surprisingly didn’t have bad heads, and we drank way more than we usually would on a night out at home! It was absolutely pouring down again so we knew our choices of activities was pretty limited. After a quick breakfast, we headed for St George’s Market – an indoor market filled to the brim with Northern Irish heritage. I’d recommend going here even if you’re not hiding from the rain. There was something for everyone in the market; from candles, to paintings, to home-made fudge; you definitely had lots of choices. There was also so much choice of foods from all around the world, but we weren’t hungry enough to get anything. It’s a shame because the Nutella crepes smelt¬†amazing¬†– I’m sure I can get one next time!

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Cute little streets

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Hahaha how can he still look so handsome wearing this?!

We really wanted to visit the Botanical Gardens but there was no way this was possible with the weather, it’s definitely on the list for next time. One thing to note if you are planning a weekend visit, is on Sunday’s a lot of the shops don’t open, or if they do it’s very late – we were passing the Victoria Square shopping centre at around 12pm and¬†it was empty! Northern Ireland are a very religious country and therefore church comes before work on a Sunday. Thank goodness Starbucks was open (I was enjoying that the cold, rainy weather as it was an excuse for a hot chocolate!) I also picked up a Starbucks Belfast mug – I really love buying mugs when we visit places as a little souvenir. Matt has the same addiction but with pint glasses – at this rate we’re going to need at least three cupboards in our house just for mugs/glasses!

It finally stopped raining for a few hours and we visited the Peace Walls which was honestly an indescribable experience.¬†We had already seen images on TV/Instagram etc (my girl, Stacey Dooley, also has filmed a documentary on the DUP in which she visits the Peace Walls – a must-see). Seeing the murals in real life was quite honestly unreal – if you’re not familiar, the walls signify the divide between Catholics and Protestants – and is a very large part of history, and Northern Irish culture. The people living on one side the wall (the Protestant side) consider themselves to be British – the Union Jacks are flying high on most houses, and the murals reflect this feeling. The other side of the wall (the Catholic side) consider themselves Irish – the Irish flags are everywhere you look, and their murals reflect their feelings. Although much of what happened during The Troubles is still very relevant and on people’s’ minds today, there is a general peace between both sides of the wall (hence the name). The murals are very indicative of all the feelings relating to The Troubles, and it was very sombre and surreal to see first hand.

One thing that really shocked Matt and I was the gates along the walls – the walls are around three miles long, and there are several through roads along this stretch. However, all of these through roads/paths have gates in between; and these gates are still locked every single night. Each side of the wall has their own gates, so they each close the gates on either side. As we visited on a Sunday, a day of rest, some of the gates were already locked and we were advised by our taxi driver of where to go if the gates in front of us were locked by the time we were ready to leave. When we visit again we’d really like to do the Black Cab Tour as it is very highly recommended and we’d love to learn more about the walls. Unfortunately we just didn’t have time – we walked along a stretch of the murals instead and took in as much as we could. I think it’s very important to mention we did not feel unsafe or scared at any time being here; it was just a very remarkable place to visit and another one I’d highly recommend.

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As we walked back into the centre of town we talked a lot about the Peace Walls. I feel very grateful Matt and I could experience that together. We¬†only had an hour or so left before we had to¬†head¬†to the airport so we went for a drink at The Crown –¬†another opportunity for¬†Matt to enjoy a Guinness! The Crown is the oldest bar in Belfast and it’s a very cool place – all of the seating areas are in enclosed spaces, with little doors to get in/out. We decided before we went back to the hotel we’d go to Boojum – a burrito bar local to Belfast, which I swear are the best burritos we’ve ever had! The vibe in the restaurant is so cool – there are wooden tables/benches and amazing artwork on the walls. We may have snuck for a Boojum burrito the day before too – oops! It was the perfect way to end our time in the city; eating good food together and talking about our trip.

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I love nothing more than exploring new places with my boyfriend, and I feel so lucky that we get to do this on a regular basis. We definitely value trips and holidays more than material things, so saving up to be able to do these kind of things is a really high priority for us. Matt is the best travel buddy (and hand-holder on flights – I hate flying!) and I’m so grateful for another lovely weekend away together. I hope you enjoyed this post, and I’d love to record more travel diaries from our future trips if it’s something you’d like to see!

Matthew, thank you for being you, I love you!

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-G x

The Women Who Inspire Me

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Photo by Andre Furtado on Pexels.com

Hi, loves!

I really want my blog to have a large focus on female empowerment – of building other women up, of showing off our friends/peers and their talents, and of supporting each other no matter what. I really feel it’s so important that we vocalise our support and love of the women around us; whether that is people we personally know or don’t. I have lots of ideas for content that will surround this topic – I’m so excited to share these with you!

“There is no limit to what we, as women, can accomplish.” – Michelle Obama

As you can probably tell from the title, this post is focused around some of my favourite ladies. I wanted to post this as I feel like often women are accused of pulling each other down, or not being as open and grateful for each other as we maybe should be. I truly believe that to change the stereotype of women being ‘bitchy’ and/or ‘mean girls’ etc, we have to start with ourselves. As I wrote about in my Friendship post, I’ve certainly been mean about other women before and other women have certainly been mean about me; but why? What on earth can we gain from tearing each other down? So many women are doing amazing things for themselves and for each other, and I’d like to celebrate that. This post focuses on actresses, bloggers, presenters and a few incredible women I know in real life – people who I genuinely look up to, admire, and would love to sit down with for a cuppa!

*I’d recommend you sat down with a cuppa too, it’s a long one!*

Stacey Dooley

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Okay, so I could write post after post about Stacey, so *fair warning* this bit is going to be pretty long! Is it possible to be head over heels in love with someone you’ve never met? Because I am. (Sorry, Matthew!) For real, I have been watching Stacey’s documentaries since I was in high school, and I’ve essentially grown up admiring her and being inspired by her. First off, she is absolutely beautiful – inside and out. She has a heart of gold and is so personable, one of the things that makes her a great presenter.

Stacey has created so many incredible documentaries, it’s too hard to pick a favourite. I have learned so many things from her documentaries; there are so many horrible things happening around the world and you really don’t realise how small our little bubble is. If you’ve been living under a rock and haven’t watched them, I’d highly recommend you watch every single one; the Stacey Dooley Investigates series is a bloody good one! She has been to some of the most dangerous places in the world and met all kinds of people, from families who have nothing, to feminists fighting for women’s rights, to people who have committed some of the worst, unthinkable crimes. You name it, she’s probably been right there in the centre of it!

One thing that astounds me in every interview she does, throughout every documentary, is how she shows respect and interest for everyone; no matter their background or her stance on the topic at hand. She is never rude but always tells it like it is and that is a quality I wish I had! As Stacey is an absolute Super Woman, she also wrote a book, called On The Front Line with the Women Who Fight Back and it is a fantastic read – if you haven’t already, I’d pick it up ASAP. She is an incredible story-teller, and she tells stories in writing the same way she does verbally, it’s very fresh and authentic. I’d also like to mention her interior design eye is amazing – I highly recommend a browse of her Instagram to see all the beautiful photos she shows of her house. While I’m at it, her fashion sense is second to none and I am forever wishing I could pull off her style! She is so madly in love with her boyfriend, Sam, and their dog, Bernie (I’m not quite sure who she loves more, to be honest!) it is very admirable. 

Stacey spends so much time traveling and working, and let’s keep in mind that she’s not exactly living the life travelling either – she has visited some of the most dangerous places in the world with her job. It must be so difficult but she does it month after month, year after year, and I’m so thankful that she does because the content she produces with the BBC is incredible. I love that her personality shines no matter what; she is cheeky, funny and so full of life. She has recently been awarded an MBE and hand on heart, I don’t think anyone could deserve it more. It’s weird to say but I genuinely feel proud of her – she has done so much for women around the world, myself included, and it’s an incredible honour. Congratulations, Stacey!

Emma Hill

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My favourite blogger ever! She is hands down the most relatable blogger/YouTuber I have ever come across and I can’t imagine that ever changing. One of the things that drew me to Emma initially was her take on life; she is never one to hide what she’s thinking (good job, because her facial expressions would give her away in an instant). She is so bloody funny, and even funnier because she doesn’t realise! Emma started YouTube just over a year ago and her vlogs are the best… they span over the week and involve lots of footage of her babies (the cutest doggos you’ll ever see), dreamy OOTD’s and a large part of her home life with her husband, Simon. Simon reminds me of Matt in lots of ways – namely his ‘fashion sense’ – if you know, you know!

As much as I love her YouTube channel, I fell in love with her blog first. She writes on all different topics and her photos are always incredibly well shot. (That’s Simon, too!) I think her personality is incredibly refreshing and I have a lot of love and admiration for her and what she has accomplished. Emma is very upfront and I’d love nothing more than to sit down over lunch – I mean, we both love food – and have a good natter. 

Emily Blunt

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My favourite actress and the best talk show guest ever, in my opinion! She could only be beaten on the latter by her husband, John Krasinski, but this is about the best ladies, right!? I, like I’m sure many of you, knew Emily originally from The Devil Wears Prada, and I just think she is one of the most amazing actresses of our generation. She adapts so well to each role – I realise that is the point, but watching her in one movie to the next it’s as if you’ve never seen her in anything else before. She is an amazing example to all women as a working mother, and she just seems like the kind of lady I’d love to go for a drink with, to be honest. Emily and John are my favourite celebrity couple, they are adorable; they clearly have so much love for each other and it radiates between them. They poke fun at themselves and each other, and I really think their relationship is part of their character – the love they have for each other is so beautiful. I especially love how she tells stories during her interviews – I’d love to pick her brains about the industry she’s in and just see how she stays so real about everything. 

Emily Weiss

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Emily is the founder of Glossier – one of my all time favorite brands and possibly the most high-profile Millennial beauty company right now. I have known of Emily for years due to my love of The Hills, she was a ‘Super Intern’ for Teen Vogue and quite clearly a boss back then too. It’s ironic really, because her drive and early success in the show made her an ‘enemy’ and essentially, put her down in contrast to the rest of the cast members. I don’t truly know how much of The Hills was staged, but it’s uncomfortable to think someone was so harshly put down simply for being good at what she did.

This clearly didn’t hold her back as she started her blog, Into The Gloss and the rest happened as a result of this. Emily created Glossier because there was a niche in the market missing – she didn’t like that the makeup and skin care world was so rule-based, so she changed it. Amazing. She is so humble and talks very openly in all of her interviews, another quality I admire! I find often when entrepreneurs are interviewed in magazines, or on YouTube etc, they seem to give very generic answers and almost seem bored – however she is so animated and you can really see the love she has for the brand she created. She also kills it in the fashion department – I’d just about die to raid her wardrobe!

Anna Newton

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The lady behind The Anna Edit, and one of the main reasons I started blogging. I have read Anna’s blog and watched her YouTube videos for years. She is also incredibly relatable and is a planner, just like me. She is extremely ‘normal’ though and I genuinely feel like I know her after all the years I’ve spent reading/watching her content. Anna’s wedding day involved a house party and Domino’s for goodness’ sake – could she be any more down to earth?! I love Anna’s approach to life; she is extremely organised, lives a fairly minimalist lifestyle (seriously – her capsule wardrobe is a thing of dreams, although I could never do it), and focuses her energy around the good things in life – like Glossier pouches and The Office… I love all of her content but my favourite by far is her vlogs, and I wish she would vlog more! Anna and her husband, Mark, are such a sweet couple and she shares lots of their home life and trips, something I find genuinely interesting. I am a huge fan of her podcast with one of her best friends, Lily Pebbles, and I love her attitude towards life. She is so deserving of all her success and I can’t wait to see what she has coming up next.

Family and Friends

Now, I couldn’t write this post without talking about the people closest to me who I admire and look up to every day. My mam; June, and Matt’s mam; Debbie are hands down my favourite ladies for everything. They are so strong and work so flipping hard; they’d do anything for anyone and they both add so much to my life. We can always have a giggle together but no topic is ever off limits; mam’s are just great for being so understanding and knowing what you’re thinking/feeling without you having to say it. My mam and I have always been so close; I feel very lucky to say she’s as much a best friend as she is a mother to me. When Matt and I first began dating, I really hoped we’d build a relationship, but I never expected I’d gain a whole other family! That’s exactly what happened, his family feel like my own and I’m grateful every day for that. Debbie is like a second mam to me, and I am so thankful for her. I adore you both and I’m so grateful for everything you do; for both Matt and I!

Jessy, my dearest Jessy. We go so long without seeing each other (yep, life gets in the way) but nothing ever changes between us. Every time we’re together it’s like no time has passed, and we always have so much fun. Jess and I are about as similar as chalk and cheese, yet we’re also 100% on the same wavelength at all times – weird, I know. She has a quality I don’t think I’ve ever seen in anybody else; she truly wants the best for everyone around her, and can remove herself from any situation to give a different perspective. She is strong, inspiring and smart and an absolute angel in every way. She has an infectious energy around her at all times; she is hilarious and can always spin things to be positive. I look up to Jessy (ironic, she’s about a foot shorter than me!) more than she knows, and I am so stinking grateful for everything she has done for me. When Matt was away recently I was feeling very sad *cringe*, and I genuinely can’t imagine how I would have felt better without her input! She can make me laugh when I don’t feel like it and can always make a bad situation better. Jess also taught me about The Worry Tree – I highly recommend a good google search of this if you’re a worrier when have a spare five minutes, it’s life changing! A good life long friendship is hard to come by, but I know that’s what we have. So much love for you JB, so much love!

Well there you have it; the women I look up to the most. I’d love to know which women inspire you, and for what reason? If it’s someone you know personally, why don’t you tell them? Let’s build each other up, together ūüôā 

-G x

Gin with Gills: #1

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Welcome back, loves!

If you’re a little confused by the title, let me explain…

Since I started my blog I have been trying to work out how I can do a ‘series’. I finally came up with an idea, where each month I will talk about a topic (specifically, one word) and how it affects my life; and then in turn maybe give you a little ‘food for thought’ on how it may affect yours. As with everything on my blog it will be very personal and very much from my perspective. I think topics will vary a lot – I have a few ideas already but I’d love to know if there’s anything specific you’d like me to focus on, feel free to request anything via Instagram or Twitter. Right now the plan is for a new post in this series on the last Sunday of every month. This might be a completely terrible idea and you’ll never see another post like this – but let’s see!

So, as I sit down with a glass of gin (Edinburgh Raspberry gin with lemonade and lots of ice cubes is my tipple of choice) let’s delve in…

HAPPINESS

I really try to find joy in the little things in life. I was recently told by someone I once had a lot of love and time for, that I am a negative person, and it really knocked me for six. I do not believe that to be true, at all, and thankfully neither does anyone I’ve confided in about it. I really try to see the positive side of things even when it’s hard; this is something I have gotten much better at over the past year or so, as my boyfriend is so good at thinking like this! His positive attitude definitely rubs off on everyone around him, and I love that. 

I, as I admitted in this post, worry about everything and get myself upset over the most ridiculous things, but I don’t feel that is me being ‘negative’. I think showing natural emotions – worry, sadness, grief etc – does not necessarily take away from any happiness you have. We don’t have to be happy every second of every day to prove our happiness. We don’t have to prove our happiness at all – I really think this is a common misconception and we always have to be doing The Next Best Thing, just so people know how good we’ve got it. I really like sharing my life on social media, to be honest for nobody but myself; but I don’t hide the bad or showcase the good, I just show what I’m doing/feeling. I admit however, that if I’m having a down day or not feeling good about myself, I’m very unlikely to post that. It’s swings and roundabouts – but social media is definitely not everything in life!

As cheesy as it is, I can truly say right now I’m the happiest I’ve been in my life, and I’m beyond thankful for all of the people and things that make my life so good. I sometimes find it hard to believe how happy I really am – I get a horrible gut feeling that something is going to go wrong; almost like I don’t deserve to be this happy. Obviously, this is ridiculous and I totally believe everyone deserves all the happiness in the world, it’s just sometimes you sit back and really see how good everything is!

I know speaking from personal experience I can play a loop of ‘I’m so worried about X’ and ‘I can’t believe I did X’ over and over – yet I very rarely think ‘I really loved when X did X for me’ or ‘I appreciated X taking time out of his/her day to help with that’ over and over again. I think shifting focus to feel grateful can really make you feel happier; it helps you look at the positives and in turn, that becomes your focus. For example, some mornings I really don’t want to go to work (I mean, I’m sure everyone feels like this!) Instead of whinging that I’d rather be in bed snuggling Matthew – I mean, I always would rather be in bed snuggling Matthew – I try to think how lucky I am to have a job, how lucky I am to work with amazing people and how grateful I am for the life I’m able to have because of my job! Shifting my focus in any train of thought generally always makes me feel happier, and I’d highly recommend doing the same if this is something you struggle with.

So, I invite you to also make a list of 20 little things that make you incredibly happy – literally anything that makes you feel that little spark of joy from the pit of your stomach. 

As I obviously can’t expect you to do something I wouldn’t, I’d like to share with you my list;

  1. Falling asleep and waking up with Matthew – I’ll never take our goodnight/good morning kisses for granted
  2. Walking in fresh snow for the first time
  3. Cashiers at the supermarket saying ‘have a nice day’
  4. When every traffic light on my commute is green 
  5. Fresh gel nails
  6. The feeling of laying on a sun lounger and being so hot you think you might pass out, then a slight breeze just brushes over you and all is right with the world again
  7. That first sip of wine on date night
  8. Seeing a cute dog and going over to pet him/her
  9. Holding Matthew’s hand
  10. When the leaves start to turn to golden shades of yellow, orange and red
  11. Seeing twinkling Christmas lights when it’s super cold and dark
  12. The sound of rain hitting the window or wind whistling through the street when we’re falling asleep
  13. Getting into a hot bubble bath after a long day
  14. Having long chatty phone calls with my besties whilst driving
  15. When food and drink packaging suddenly has Santa Claus’ face all over it… my Christmas spirit is real!
  16. Undoing the top button on my high waisted jeans after I’ve eaten too much food 
  17. Having fresh flowers in my room (Matt recently sent me flowers when he was away and it was hands down the happiest I’d felt the whole time he was gone! Full disclosure: I cried a lot, as you might expect if you’ve read my blog for a while. Happy tears are okay, right?)
  18. Wearing a new pretty underwear set for the first time
  19. A cosy night in with my boyfriend. Ideally with Chinese food, wine, lots of candles and blankets
  20. Receiving lovely comments about a blog post that took a lot of time/effort. Seriously, I appreciate people reading so much, and even more when people take the time to message me and tell me what they liked/how they related – thank you!

So, that’s my list! Of course there are so many other things that make me feel happy, but those were the ones that first came to mind. I’d love for you to compile your own list; you don’t have to share it of course, but it’s a good feeling to look at all the things we sometimes take for granted or overlook. 

Thank you so much for reading! I’d love to know your thoughts on the style of this post?

-G x

Self Care: How I Unwind

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Photo by Cori Rodriguez on Pexels.com

Hi, loves!

I think unwinding from a long day, a bad day, or even a good day is SO important. There are so many ways we can unwind and relax, but it’s not something we always take the time to do. I made a promise to myself at the start of this year that I was going to do more things for me (hence finally creating my blog) and self care has definitely become a priority for me.

To me, self care is looking after yourself and reflecting on your own wants and needs, then nurturing those to make you feel relaxed and, in turn, happier. Of course, there’s a lot more to this than whacking on a face mask and thinking your life is grand, but it’s a start, right?! We’re all so busy in the world of work, spending time with family and friends, running errands etc, I think it’s nice to just take time out for yourself. Of course this can be activities you do alone or with other people – lots of my downtime involves my boyfriend, and that makes me so happy! I’m so grateful for all the time we spend together; we love just relaxing and enjoying being together. I don’t necessarily have any advice or tips, I’d just like to share with you all the different ways I like to unwind. I do however hope this may give you some inspiration and remind you of how important taking time for yourself can be.

Pamper Nights

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One of my favourite things to do in life is to take a bath. I really enjoy treating myself to a Lush bath especially – my favourite bath products are The Comforter bubble bar, Avobath bath bomb and, most recently, the Turtle jelly bomb! I think it’s also nice to take a little time during or after your bath to pamper yourself. I really love using face masks and often rope Matt into it too, I promise he enjoys it! I usually buy ones from Simple or Garnier, typically whatever is on offer in Boots. They feel so good on the skin and there’s something about using a face mask that just makes you feel like your life is together, right?! I also like to take the time to go through my skincare routine fully, and use a nice body butter – this one is my current favourite, it really smells like a spa! 

Reading

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I like to read in the bath on a day-to-day basis, but this is especially good for me if I’m feeling a little worn out or tired. I say this because I can really escape into a good book and even if it’s just temporarily, I can forget whatever is going on around me. It’s so nice to lose yourself in a story, and as much as I love Netflix, I really enjoy reading a book. I recently read The Note by Zoe Folbigg and really enjoyed it; it’s a cheesy love story with a few funny turns, based on a real life story. I also just finished Everything I Know About Love by Dolly Alderton and that was such a good read! She talks through her life – all the ups and downs – and it’s a really insightful, interesting perspective on how we live our lives, and how past experiences shape you into the person you are. If you’re not into books (who isn’t?) magazines are a great alternative. I love Cosmopolitan magazine and have bought it every month since I was a teenager. I also like to catch up on blogs when I have downtime, but not in the bath! I never take my phone/laptop in bath with me as it’s the only time I’m fully disconnected from technology. 

Quality Time With My Boyfriend

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Being with Matt is just the best part of any day for me! If I’m having a bad day he’s the only person that can make me feel better in an instant, and I never take for granted all the time we spend together. He’s so good at making any situation positive, one of the things I admire most about him. Quality time can mean all kinds of things, but on a daily basis this is usually things like cooking and eating dinner together, snuggling up to watch a show or a movie, going to Costco (it’s literally our happy place) etc. Basically, we like to spend as much time together as we can, and we really like to make the most of it. This is definitely self care for me as nurturing our relationship is so important – spending time with my best friend is such a good feeling, and there’s nobody I’d rather be with! Cheesy but true; being curled up in his arms makes the world seem a much better place. 

Make A Beauty Appointment

Similarly to having a pamper night at home, it’s so lovely to make an appointment to go into a salon and, if you can’t get an appointment quickly, you then have that to look forward to. Whether your pick-me-up pamper of choice is a new hairstyle, a manicure or LVL lashes (my next treat to myself, I think!) it’s nice to just spend some time getting pampered professionally. I had an appointment booked to get my nails done today and I felt ten times better leaving the salon. I wasn’t really in a great mood after a long day, but there’s something about having fresh gels that just makes me feel so good! I love the look of them, they last so much longer than regular nail polish; and it’s a nice little treat every 2-3 weeks that I can look forward to. I also find it very calming and relaxing, I could have probably fell asleep today.

Make Future Plans

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One thing I really like to do, even more so when I’m needing a little ‘pick me up’, is look towards good things coming in the future. Whether that’s what’s for dinner tonight, plans for the upcoming weekend or planning our next trip, it’s nice to have something to look forward to. Matt and I are heading to Belfast this weekend so since we booked I’ve spent a little time researching that and finding things to do that aren’t the typical tourist stuff. Don’t get me wrong, we absolutely will be doing the typical tourist stuff, but it’s nice to see things off the beaten track too, right? Although we haven’t got anything booked yet, we’re really hoping to plan a city break to Madrid for September, any tips or recommendations would be much appreciated! 

Go For A Drive

One of my favourite things to do to clear my head is to go for a drive. If I don’t have much time but still want to go for a drive I’ll go the long way home from work, or take a little detour and drive around my town instead of heading straight home. I don’t have any specific places I like to go to, I just really enjoy driving around and not really focusing on anything but the road. Ten minutes in one direction from where I live is the beach, and ten minutes in the other is the countryside; so there’s lovely views wherever I end up. Side note: I am really not the best driver but I tell everyone I drive better when I’m by myself… (anyone else?!)

Retail Therapy

I am the biggest advocate of the whole treat yo’self trend! Depending on where I am (and how far away pay-day is!) this could vary dramatically; sometimes an impulse treat might just be a treat for after dinner that night (I highly recommend M&S’ New York vanilla cheesecake – it’s Matt and I’s favourite!). If I’m waiting a little too impatiently for payday, I often browse my favourite shops online. (Topshop, Zara, & Other Stories, Brandy Melville and Feel Unique tend to be my go-to’s)! Sometimes just browsing is enough to lift my spirits and make me feel calm and relaxed. I am also a big fan of buying myself flowers, and I have no shame in saying that! I like to buy my mam and Matt’s mam flowers (it’s just so nice to receive them, isn’t it?) so why not buy them for myself? I’d personally recommend Aldi’s flowers over any other supermarket – they last so well and they always have so much choice. 

Call/See My Friends/Family

As you may have seen from my Friendships post, I have been having a hard time with friendships recently. That being said, a text or a call to my closest friends can really make a world of difference to my day! Whether you discuss each others’ days’, talk nonsense or just have a good ol’ catchup, it can be a very freeing feeling to chat with your girls. I don’t know about you, but it’s not very often my friends are available at short notice – we all have such busy lives it’s more than understandable – but if you can meet face to face for a bite to eat or a quick drink, that’s even better. My mam and Matt’s mam are always my fave ladies to turn to, they’re angels and always know what to say.

Tidy The Space Around Me

One of the best things I can do to make myself feel better is to spend ‘X’ amount of time cleaning and tidying. If my room or my car is a mess, my head feels equally as messy and I can’t think straight. Sometimes even the thought of doing this seems overwhelming and I feel like I don’t have the energy, so I’ll set a timer on my phone for a specific amount of time – how long depends on how much I need to clean/tidy. I’ll then try to get everything done within that timeframe, I’m kind of competitive so see this as a challenge against myself, LOL! Whilst cleaning and tidying I tend to listen to Spotify or catch up on vlogs, so my mind is doubly occupied, and I’m also being productive. I also apply this same theory at work – if my desk is overly cluttered (it usually is) I take 5 minutes to clear away everything I don’t need, reorganise paperwork etc, then I can start again with a fresh head.

Sleep

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We all know an early night is one of the best little treats, as you always feel much more prepared to take on the day after a good sleep. Matt and I have early nights on an embarrasingly regular basis – but we’re often up early for work so it’s nice to get an extra hour or two of sleep when we can. We always talk about our life when we’re ‘grey and old’ but we’re pretty much there, LOL. My favourite thing is to cuddle into him and just enjoy that nonsense talk before we finally fall asleep – you know when you’re not even making much sense but you’re just aware of each other’s presence? I feel so grateful every night he cuddles in (well, let’s be real, I’m spooning him 99% of the time) and it’s seriously the best feeling in the world. 

Catch Up On My Favourite TV Show

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Catching up on my favourite shows is a very good way to 1: occupy my time and 2: cheer me up. My guilty pleasure TV show is 100% Coronation Street (to be fair, Matt’s dad always watches it and I got hooked… I totally blame him for this one). Shows like Friends, Gilmore Girls, KUWTK, Gossip Girl etc are my favourites to re-watch, even though I’ve seen every episode a ridiculous amount of times. I love typical British comedy sitcoms; things like The Inbetweeners, Gavin & Stacey, Friday Night Dinner and Fresh Meat are right up my street. Matt and I are watching Fresh Meat from the beginning as he’d never seen it, and I seriously forgot how funny it was – we love Jack Whitehall’s character in it especially! Once we’ve finished Fresh Meat we’ll have to start a new series – any recommendations would be appreciated!? We recently watched Peaky Blinders and Narcos and loved them both, and we’re so excited for the new series’ starting soon. We both said we wish we could watch Narcos again from the beginning not knowing the storyline. The dialogue is mostly in Spanish, so it’s heavily subtitled, but it’s SUCH a good watch – we loved every minute! 

Well, that’s it! If you relate to any of the above I’d love to know! How do you spend your time unwinding and relaxing? Also, if you have any other tips or recommendations I’d love to hear them?

-G x

 

What’s In My Bag

Happy Sunday, loves!

I am very excited to share today’s post with you – I am so nosey and find these posts so interesting. ‘What’s in my bag’ videos are part of the reason I started to get into YouTube and the whole community originally – as lame as it sounds I¬†loved¬†watching¬†them, and I still do! Years ago they were one of the most popular videos uploaded by the ‘big’ names in the YouTube world, and I wish they’d come back in popularity! Occasionally when someone gets an amazing new designer bag they will film/post about it but that’s not enough – I need¬†more!¬†

So, I’d love to show you through what’s in my bag! This is typically my weekend or evening bag, although sometimes if I’m having a busy Sunday night I don’t end up changing back to a bigger bag and use this throughout the work week. At the time of writing this/taking the photos, it hadn’t been cleared out for almost two weeks…

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This bag is my favourite crossbody; it’s the Arla from Kate Spade New York and I adore it. It’s the¬†perfect¬†size for during the day or night out – or both! I can fit all my essentials in, plus some non-essentials as you will see. I can also squeeze Matt’s sunglasses case in here – does anyone else’s boyfriend manage to use your bag as theirs?! Good job he’s cute, eh!

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The most important thing in any girl’s bag – my purse! I bought this beautiful cardholder from YSL in September 2016 and I’ve used it every day since. I would love to pick up a new colour but I really can’t justify it when this one is still in perfect condition, and trust me I’ve not always been as careful as I should be with it! I do however love this colour – it’s a lovely taupe and the silver hardware is my favourite; even though my bag has gold accents, I am really a silver girl at heart. I can fit all the essential cards in here – my debit card, driving license, Costco card (the most important, right?!), Boots loyalty card and my M&S Sparks card. Yes, I am 24 going on 54… but those Sparks deals are worth it as Matt and I buy so much food from there!

My car keys are always in my bag as I drive every day. That being said, any time I go anywhere with Matt (which is most days) he tends to drive – he hates being a passenger! I have a little red Viva; she’s called Ruby and she’s super cute; I absolutely love my car. I’m due to upgrade in a few months and I’m genuinely considering getting another Viva, or maybe a new VW polo. All of my keyrings have a little story behind them and they’re pretty cute – they also make it much easier to find my keys in a bigger bag!¬†The pink Katie Loxton was a gift from my mam and dad when I passed my driving test. The dolphin keyring up was something I picked up when Matt and I were in Kos – I really love dolphins, so much so that when I was little I used to want to be a dolphin trainer. I (was very lucky and) visited Florida too much as a kid so thought this was a normal job.¬†Then my favourite keyring is the little rose gold elephant – Matt has a matching one in dark grey, they are ‘kissing elephants’ – I just thought they were too cute!

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The beauty bits, in summary;

  • Nars Radiant Creamy Concealer in Vanilla – my favourite!!
  • MAC Next to Nothing pressed powder – my favourite powder to get rid of any shine that appears throughout the day. Also great if, like me, you cry laugh all the time – your face will look good as new!
  • Tangle Teezer –¬†a must-have for me! I wish this had an in-built handle but nothing smooths my hair like this does
  • Lip products – they’re my favourite! I used to carry at¬†least¬†five to ten lipsticks on a daily basis, but now I really don’t see the need
  • Lip balm and nail file – no explanation needed…
  • Lush Charity Pot – I like to carry a teeny little moisturiser with me just in case
  • ABH brow wiz – I don’t quite know why I take my eyebrow pencil but I’ve done it for years, and why fix something that’s not broken?!
  • MAC Turquatic rollerball – my favourite perfume to top up with throughout the day. It just smells so lovely and fresh, a perfect mid-afternoon pick-me-up
  • Dior Blooming Bouquet rollerball – I wouldn’t usually carry two perfumes in my bag, but it is such a beautiful scent!

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Let’s not forget all the miscellaneous stuff;

  • A pen (this one is from the Grand Canal Hotel in Dublin where Matt and I stayed in March, and it’s¬†the best writer! Maybe I can convince him we need to go back just so I can pick up another…)
  • My pill and Nurofen – I have arthritis so Nurofen is a must-have
  • Too many bobby pins and a spare Invisibobble – if I don’t have one in my hair I always have one on my wrist too
  • Hand sanitizer – the granny in me¬†needs a hand sanitizer in my bag at all times, and this comes in SO handy, Matt is always asking to use it!
  • Hand lotion – just as important as hand sanitizer… I love this one from Bath and Body Works especially, it smells so good and it’s not at all sticky
  • Chewing gum – I never have to buy gum as Matt buys the huge packs at Costco and always shares! He’s a cutie
  • Socks – Okay so I take my shoes off at work¬†very often, and I really don’t like walking around in bare feet (obviously) so I keep a spare pair of socks in my bag just in case! I also have some in my drawer so these aren’t really required, but they’re cute – Matt bought them for me because I’m always stealing his socks, hah! (It didn’t work, I still steal his socks ūüôā )
  • Office keys – I really need to put these on a keyring¬†
  • My loyalty card for my nail salon – a necessity really
  • A tea bag – I took lots of these from our hotel room in Kos (owt for nowt, eh?) and this is one of my favourite flavours¬†
  • Boost bar – erm… LOL. If you know me you know I always carry an emergency chocolate bar, I’m not proud of it but it’s true!

Not pictured: my phone, which is an iPhone 7 Plus in black and I bloody love it! I thought I made a mistake getting the bigger size originally, but after a few days I was so glad I got the bigger version. I would usually have a portable phone charger in my bag too – this is the one I have and it works great – but Matthew currently has it!

I’d seriously¬†like to know what items you have in your bag – yes, I’m so nosey! Hope you enjoyed this post, thankfully my bag wasn’t¬†too messy this time, I just carry a lot of unnecessary stuff!

-G x

My High End Beauty Favourites

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Photo by freestocks.org on Pexels.com

Hi, loves!

Today I’m sharing my all time favourite high-end beauty products with you and a little history on some of my purchases – it just makes it a little more personal, right?

Disclaimer: in this post I’ve classed anything that’s not¬†‘drugstore’ as high-end.

I really enjoy buying high-end beauty products and went through a stage a few years ago of buying¬†way too many. Over the past year or so I’ve cut down on my spending massively – Matt and I are saving for our house after all (ūü§©‚̧ԳŹ)¬†– and now I usually only buy the things I know I like! I do however occasionally treat myself to new products or raved about items – usually things featured within the blogging/YouTube community (damn you, Monthly Favourites posts/videos)!¬†

Estee Lauder Double Wear Light

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My favourite foundation of all time!¬†I have the¬†shade Ecru (I just repurchased and I used to buy the shade 1.0 – I think they have just switched to the same shade range as the regular Double Wear. I’m currently mixing the two as I still have a little bit of a ‘tan’ from Kos!). I genuinely think this is the best formula in a foundation I’ve ever used. I wore the regular Estee Lauder Double Wear for years before this and never thought I’d switch, but I feel like that is too heavy/cakey and often made me breakout. Estee Lauder Double Wear Light wears really well on the skin; it has a medium level of coverage but can definitely be built up to full. I like that my freckles are still visible through this, yet it covers redness and acne scars without a problem. I find the rest of my makeup sits well on top of this foundation and it lasts all day, even in this crazy heat!

Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Wiz

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Okay let’s be honest – I am terrible at doing my eyebrows! I always have been and I always will be, I’ve come to accept that so you should too. That being said, one of my desert island must-have beauty products would hands down be my eyebrow pencil. I use the shade¬†Medium Brown which is a little darker than the colour of my hair, but fills in my eyebrows in the most natural way. I love how thin this pencil is – it makes it so easy to create hair-like strokes, and it definitely lasts all day. The spoolie is equally as good! I have tried several eyebrow pencils at different price points and again, I just feel like nothing compares to this one. Side note: I over-plucked my eyebrows to the extreme when I was younger (I’m never going to forgive my 13-year-old self for that)!¬†I¬†really want to get HD brows but I’m not sure how I feel about it, if anyone has any tips or recommendations based on their experience with HD brows please let me know!

Benefit Hoola Bronzer

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I have worn Benefit Hoola bronzer since I was in high school; I must have repurchased so many over the years but¬†nothing beats it! Even though I am fair-skinned, this never looks muddy or unblended. I use this product to ‘brontour’ – I think I just made this up… basically I don’t contour nor do I bronze my face; I just do something in the middle? I realise I sound like a five-year old playing with their mam’s makeup but I swear it works for me! I’m currently using a little mini I got in a gift set this past Christmas, as when my last full-sized one ran out I had no need to purchase the big one just yet. We’re never going to get that house if I spend all my money on makeup, right?!

Anastasia Beverly Hills Lip Gloss in Kristen

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This is just the most beautiful rosy nude lip gloss you ever did see! I love everything about this – the packaging, the wand, the colour, the consistency! This is my go-to lip gloss, it is a little sticky but not in a hair-stuck-to-your-face-all-day kinda way. It can’t be¬†that bad because Matt kisses me without a fuss when I’m wearing it ūüôā I’d really like to try a few more colours from this lip gloss range in the future. I feel like ABH is such a raved about brand, but where I live there are no counters around to have a browse through, and honestly I don’t like buying beauty products online if I haven’t already tested them in store. Swatches online often look nothing like the product IRL – what a struggle!

MAC Blush in Peachykeen

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My first high-end makeup products were from MAC, and I always will have a soft spot for the brand. Until I was around 19 pretty much my whole makeup collection consisted of MAC products – I’d dash straight there when I’d been paid and spend my weeks wages on a little goody bag of MAC treats. *A goody bag with the WORST designed handle in the world – why have they still not changed this!?* I have always loved MAC’s blushes the most – my favourite being Peachykeen. It is, as the name would suggest, a peach toned blush and gives the perfect wash of colour. It has the finest run of glitter sparkles through it – not in a disco ball way, it just gives a healthy glow – perfect for the Summer weather. I think this works perfectly on my fair-light skin, and never gives a ‘muddy’ look when blended with contour/highlighter.

Beauty Blender

In this case, the original¬†is the best! Now, don’t get me wrong I really do like the Real Techniques sponge (*spoiler* as you will see in a drugstore favourites coming very soon!) but it’s just not the same as using a beauty blender. I use mine for foundation, concealer and, for a special occasion like date night, to bake under my eyes. Baking was life changing when I first learned about it, but honestly¬†who can be bothered to do that every day?! Not me, that’s for sure. As I said in my skin care routine post – I’d much rather have an extra 20 minutes of cuddles in bed than spend ages on my makeup! I especially love when they’re all pink and new – after one use they look really gross, even once cleaned. ¬†I unfortunately don’t have a photo of this as trying to take a photo of a recently used beauty blender and make it look somewhat pretty is¬†beyond my (already very limited) photography/editing skills!

Glossier Boy Brow in Brown

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Glossier is without a doubt the ‘it’ brand of the year among millenials, and it’s only going to get bigger! I just said I don’t like to buy makeup online if I haven’t tried it in store, but this brand is where that thought process goes out of the window. I¬†love Glossier. I love the concept of the brand, I love the design of the products, I love every product I’ve tried, and, most of all, I love Emily Weiss – CEO and founder of the brand. (I will talk about her and what she has achieved more in a post coming soon, all about women who inspire me!) Boy Brow was the first product I purchased from Glossier, and boy am I glad I did. This stuff is¬†magic – it blows any other eyebrow setting gel I’ve ever tried out of the water! My eyebrows are very sparse, and this clings to the few hairs that are there to make my eyebrows look full and¬†much better than they do normally!¬†

*I’m thinking about doing a post all about Glossier – my thoughts on the brand, products I love, hits and misses – please let me know if this something you’d be interested in!*

Nars Radiant Creamy Concealer in Vanilla/Custard

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My one true makeup love. This product is the definition of ‘an oldie but a goodie’ to me. It is just everything I need from a concealer. I usually use this on redness (around my nose), on any blemishes – but I¬†never would use the wand¬†on the blemish – and to cover the few acne scars/hyperpigmentation I have left on my cheeks/jaw. This works perfectly with my Estee Lauder Double Wear Light, or by itself if I’m having a minimal makeup day. I keep one of these in my bag at all times, even though I would never apply on top of powder… it makes no sense but it’s true, ha!

MUFE lip liner in 14C

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This lip liner¬†is a god-send! It works perfectly with the aforementioned ABH lipgloss in Kristen, or my other favourite lip product, Chanel lipstick in Mademoiselle. It is a beautiful ‘your lips but better’ colour (albeit slightly darker and more rosy-toned), and applies so well. I tend to use this more for nighttime makeup as to be honest, my daytime makeup is very simple, quick and easy. I do tend to slightly over line my lips for an evening look as I think it makes my makeup just look a little more pouty and put together. Regardless, this helps the lasting power of my lipglosses/lipsticks a lot – and it also ensures when I’m eating/drinking it’s more likely to stay in place!

Chanel lipstick in Mademoiselle

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My favourite¬†lipstick¬†ever! This is also a beautiful ‘your lips but better’ shade, and goes perfectly with the MUFE 14C lip liner. It wears perfectly well without it; this has such good staying power – and to be fair, for the price so it should! This formula is my favourite of all the Chanel lipsticks, it’s creamy and never sticks to any dry patches. ¬†Story time with Gills: The first time I ever bought this lipstick was in 2014 – I had passed my probation period at work and was¬†so excited. I remember walking into Boots in the Metro Centre and heading for the Chanel counter thinking I deserved a treat (how funny)! Although this is ridiculously expensive, I have since repurchased this shade a few times and I’ll probably buy it forever, I just love it. (Tip: buying expensive lipsticks with your saved up Boots points is not at all painful!)

Lancome La Vie Est Belle

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This is my number one perfume¬†(well, I also have a huge love for Jo Malone – Peony and Blush Suede but I just talked about that in a recent post). I have worn La Vie Est Belle for years now and people often tell me it’s¬†my¬†scent, as in if they smell it they think of me, which is pretty cute! It is a very sweet, vanilla/fruity scent – it’s definitely feminine and girly and the smell just makes me happy. I wear this both day and night; I think the scent works perfectly for both. I really love the bottle, it looks so pretty sitting on my vanity table. (Matt’s mam is always telling me their house smells of this perfume – oops!)

I’d love to know your favourite high-end products, or if you’ve been inspired to pick up a new item or two for your makeup bag (…apologies in advance, if so). There will be a post coming in the next few weeks all about my favourite drug-store products!

Thank you so much for reading!

-G x

 

From Me To You…

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Photo by Jonathan Miksanek on Pexels.com

Hello! 

My name is Gillian, and after years of thinking about it I‚Äôm giving this blogging malarkey a go. I‚Äôm twenty four years old, based in Newcastle upon Tyne and I’m so excited about trying something new!

I have taken the plunge and started my blog because… why the heck not?! I would love this to be a little space I can be creative with, and maybe to even make some new friends. My blog will be focused on my day-to-day life Рmainly focusing on fashion, beauty and lifestyle.

Thank you so much for taking the time to mooch around, don’t forget to come back every Thursday and Sunday for a new post!

-G x