Perfect Staycation Locations UK

The sun is shining and the UK cannot get enough of it! The time for holidaying is upon us and I am super excited to take some time out from working life and really relax. Oh, and spend some time with my other half – of course! We are currently having debating whether to go abroad or not. Mike is wanting to escape to the sun however, why run to the sun when you have it right here? There seems to be so much negativity in the news now with regards to travelling and strength of the pound, that I have been searching a little closer to home for the perfect staycation. But first, I need to work on my persuasiveness, so here is a quick summary of staycations are better than vacations!

  • Smaller travel costs – No catching planes or taxis to hotels when we can simply drive there!
  • Easy planning – We know the language and currency
  • Inexpensive – We can easily find the best deals and take things like food from home

Beach Break: Cornwall

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It seems to be that in Cornwall, everything is in walking distance! Falmouth is a tourist hotspot, with cute cafes, pubs and independent shops. I also found that you can catch a boat from Falmouth to St.Mawes, where you can visit St Mawes Castle and take part in water sports if you fancy it. They have lovely sandy beaches, which there is a lack of here in Brighton, and lots of caves to explore!

City Break: London

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Brighton to London isn’t very far, the only thing we have to worry about here is if there is a strike on. London has tons of attractions, from visiting the queen in Buckingham palace to visiting Harry Styles at Madame Tussauds! There are so many places to stay however, with it being the capital and everything – prices will vary. To solve this, you could stay slightly out of London to cut costs, then travel into the city easily with the tube. However, if you are looking for a relaxing holiday, it may not be ideal, as during the summer there are lots of tourists making it busy and crowded.

Relaxing Break: Cotswolds

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No not the shop, but the 800 square mile area of rolling hills which has loads of lively market towns and historic landmarks buried within them! I can picture a long day of exploring, then retreating to one of the traditional Cotswolds cottages in one of the historic villages! It is such a good excuse to get my bike out the shed as this place has so many walking and cycling routes that I would love to explore with my other half.

Active Break: Lake District

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Did you know there are six National Nature Reserves in these 885 miles of land? What I love about this place, is that there are so many types of accommodation, from glamping to hotels! As with the Cotswolds, there are loads of walking routes for all levels. I especially like the look of Helvellyn, a mountain famous for its twin ridges. However, it seems a little steep but I bet it will be worth it for views! For a more organized adventure activity, you partake in a treetop trek and tree top nets – imagine flying and climbing through the trees. You would have to have some guts to do that!

Spa Break: Snowdonia

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I know what you’re thinking – that there are spas closer to home. However, when you go on holiday you want to feel like you’re away! Snowdonia has a range of spa hotels and with breathtaking views – it definitely makes for a romantic holiday for two. The area is also home to a multitude of heritage sites and outdoor activities – bit of a contrast between the two, but I can see how there would be something for everyone. This one could be on the cards depending on how adventurous we are feeling!

All of these locations look incredible and I certainly wouldn’t have guessed that some of them are in the UK. Armed with this comprehensive list and my persuasive skills – I’m pretty sure I have the upper hand in deciding where we will be going this year!

Five Perfect Tips to Help You Achieve Your Goals

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Sticking to goals can be incredibly troublesome, especially when there are constant distractions in the form of food, friends and alcohol. However, deciding on goals can really help us understand what it is we want to achieve. After a couple of weeks of glorious indulgence, you may find you hit your limit and feel ready to make those vital changes to help reach your goals. There’s no better time than when you get that feeling of change to get stuck into hitting your targets. Here are my tips on how to set manageable goals so you can hit the ground running and be a success!

  1. Do It Early

A lot of people only set their goals at that start of the year and see the new year as a perfect excuse, I know from experience that attempting your resolutions on New Year’s Day is a non-starter. If you’re anything like me, you’ll be tired and/or hungover. In this state, you can only think as far ahead as bacon, so reaching important goals will feel impossible.

Know that it’s okay to not feel ready until the spring months, I personally start to feel the need for change as the weather starts to turn and Spring begins to spring. This leaves ample time to mull over what’s important to you and what you can do without, if you’re giving something up.

  1. Do the Things You Love

Achieving goals is much easier if you enjoy the activity that gets you there. For example, if you want to get fit and you love dancing, then Zumba may be worth trying. The same goes for any task; if you want to be more crafty but don’t like knitting, try your hand at collaging or marbling. Equally, if you do attempt something and aren’t keen on it, stop and find something you do like. It may mean a bit of trial-and-error but you can achieve miracles when you find your happy place.

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If you can find someone to commit to a goal with you, you are significantly more likely to achieve it. At the beginning of last year my husband and I invested in carbon fibre road bikes. We made a pact that if we got them we would cycle at least once a week, whatever the weather. I’ve always loved cycling but my husband is a little more resistant. Despite this, we managed to keep to our promise (except for holidays), and I believe this is because we were both dedicated.

  1. Set a few Achievable Goals

It doesn’t matter how early you plan, how much you love the process, or who’s in it with you, because if you set a goal that’s too time-consuming, you’re more unlikely to accomplish it. Instead of attempting to gain a six-pack by May, try setting a goal of simply feeling more body confident. I read a fascinating study which showed that people felt better after just 20 minutes of exercise. So that’s all it takes! On a similar note, setting too many goals can be just as daunting as having a mammoth one.

  1. Write Them All Down

Once you’ve come up with your manageable and realistic goals, write them down and pin them somewhere you will see daily. This now gives you time to think of fun ways to realise your goals and find someone to do them with.

So, if you’re having an off day and all you want to do is eat a bacon sandwich and drink lots of delicious soft drinks, you can do so, safe in the knowledge that you have a plan and partner to start achieving your goals when you are ready and in your own precious time.

Interior Design For Children’s Bedrooms

My sister and I both love interior design, but when it came to decorating my niece and nephew’s room this week, we were just going to take the generic route. As we were planning, we got to thinking; kids spend so much time in their rooms, shouldn’t their spaces get the same consideration as the rest of the house? Feeling a little sheepish we decided to approach their rooms like we would our own and focused on the following aspects:

Collecting meaningful pieces

It can be tempting to fully furnish a kid’s room all in one go, just to get it finished. We resisted this urge and started out sparse rather than cramming it full with complete sets of furniture. As with any other space, it’s worth waiting and buying high quality and beautiful pieces. These will be more meaningful and add character to a child’s environment. Although it will take a little more time, you will end up with a collection of items that will stand the test of time, as well as looking fabulous.

Maximise storage

There is a physical law that wherever children live, clutter will build up like there’s no tomorrow. The irresistible joy on their faces when they receive birthday and Christmas presents will mean an ever-growing toy collection. Not to mention them growing out of clothes and interests within months! When planning our scheme, we made sure to include lots and lots of storage solutions. Consider the following for inspiration:

  • Keep under-bed storage organised with pull-out drawers or boxes
  • Create a play-table from an old coffee table and add drawers for small toys
  • Attach crates to the walls for storage and keep them cute by wallpapering or painting the back ground
  • Make reading books a feature by placing them in open-front shelves and colour coordinating
  • Finally, Bunk beds for kids are a great way of saving space

Go neutral

If you imagine a generic child’s room it will most probably be bright with shades of pink, blue or yellow. The problem with these colour schemes, is that they are outgrown incredibly quickly. Additionally, lots of colours and patterns make a room feel smaller and more cluttered – not very relaxing. Choosing a neutral pallet will create a calm environment that feels spacious. We decided on mixing a colour palette of earthy greys teamed beautifully with and mood boosting warm yellow.

Children spend so much time playing, relaxing and sleeping in their rooms that it is so worth taking the time to plan their décor. Choosing meaningful pieces, picking a neutral palette and maximising storage will give your little one a relaxing and spacious environment with character for them to relax and be themselves in.

Do you have any tips about interior design for kids? If so, please leave a comment I’d love to hear them!

 

Go the Distance – Making Birthdays Special When You’re Apart

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Friends are so important, both old and new. They celebrate with us when we’re happy and comfort us when we’re down. As we get older, some of them inevitably move away, sometimes to the other side of the planet! But just because they’re not around, it doesn’t mean that we forget about them or their birthdays. In fact, it may be when they’re furthest from home that they most need a reminder that you’re still there.

Schedule a Skype call

When a friend moves abroad, we promise to stay in touch and Skype once a week (at least darling). It seems like it will be the easiest thing in the world to keep up-to-date with their lives, after all it only takes a few seconds to send a text, right? When they’ve actually left though, it can suddenly feel a lot more difficult. Firstly, there’s the time difference to contend with. They’ll be free in the evenings when you’re just getting back from work and desperately in need of food and a shower. Or you’ll be up and fresh and they’ll be busy getting ready for a big night out (we’re not jealous at all).

This is normal, it happens to the best of us. But when it comes to your friend’s birthday, this is the time to make an effort! If they’re far from home, they may not be with their family and could still be making new friends. So, this is when they will need to see a familiar face most. Make sure you book in time in advance if you can. Or at least figure out the time difference and make your best effort (even if means waking up early or delaying bedtime) to have a quick catch-up and let them know you care.

Send them a cute gift

Get your friend’s address as soon as they get to their destination, or even before they leave if you can. This means when it comes to their birthday, you will have it to hand. It may be a little tricky to figure out postal time and cost but I have found a way around this – Etsy! Not only do they have super   but you can also filter through the origin country of the suppliers (eBay and other sites also have country specific sites too). So, if your friend is living in Australia, you can find the perfect gift for them from an outlet that’s already over there. It’s also good because they usually give an estimated delivery date so you can plan your purchase. I did this to surprise a friend and she was over the moon with the thoughtful gift.

Write a card

This is another great way to make a friend feel special on their birthday. It’s an opportunity to tell them how important they are to you and also any life updates you haven’t been able to share with them recently. Hand-written cards are the best as they’re more personal, so make the time to pick one out and pen your message. There are some lovely services for sending handwritten birthday cards online which are perfect if you’re running short on time.

It’s a little more difficult when you’re in different places to show your friends that you care about them. That’s why birthdays are an important time to remind them that even though you haven’t seen each other in a while, you’re still there and always will be.

Wedding Trends To Watch in 2017

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One of the things I love about the holiday season is that it’s so popular for engagements. In amongst the festivities, happy announcements pop up here and there, especially on New Year’s Eve! It’s so romantic and gives everyone something to look forward to after the decorations come down. As the New Year begins, sneak peeks to this year’s wedding trends are already coming out and here are some of my favourites.

Industrial chic

I’ve always been a huge fan of shabby-chic style weddings and I absolutely adore this new twist. Industrial chic takes the unfinished yet luxurious style of its predecessor and adds a sultry edge. Think moody low-lit warehouses made magnificent with over-the-top candelabras, oodles of flowers and lots of metallic (metallics are very ‘in’ this year too).

All in one

There has been a recent trend towards hosting a wedding and after party in the same venue. I love this idea because everyone is so happy at weddings and the general mood is buzzing. By moving to another venue for the after party you risk losing some of this excitement. Keeping everything in one place maintains the wedding atmosphere, allowing everyone to relax and enjoy the drinks and dancing. There is also the bonus of extra time to party and less stress getting everyone to the new location.

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Engaging activities

I find the new trend for interactive food stations really appealing. They provide the opportunity for the happy couple to mingle and meanwhile their guests have a fun talking point and lots of yummy snacks to keep them entertained. The best part is that most luxury wedding caterers will be able to tailor these to suit any wedding style. Going all out? Try a mini oyster bar with ceviche and champagne. Feeling a French theme? How about a Marie Antoinette spread with mini sandwiches and lots of cake!

Detachable skirts

Bridal dresses with removable skirts took the wedding market by storm last year and look set to be a hit in 2017 as well. I was so excited to see this new style because it is a way for brides to have their dream princess dress for the ceremony complete with a gorgeous train. Later, when there’s dancing to be done they can simply remove the skirt and still enjoy their special dress a little longer!

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This is only the start of the year and there are plenty more trends out there to come. I hope you enjoyed these and have a fabulous time planning your wedding.

Let me know if any other great 2017 wedding trends have caught your eye and if you need any other help check out the wedding planning section of my blog or leave me a comment!

How To Match Your Wardrobe With Your Beauty Regime

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In all the excitement in the run up to Christmas, I almost forgot about the winter solstice. I like to pay attention to this day every year as that means that from now on the days are (finally) getting longer!  And as much as I love the festive season, sometimes I feel like the sun has barely risen before we are plunged back in to darkness at 4.30pm in the winter. So in the winter months, I like to do whatever I can to reinvigorate to my beauty regime and wardrobe to keep away those winter blues!

The Natural Look

I like to keep my day to day look reasonably natural. Who doesn’t want a fresh, flawless finish? To perfect the natural feel, it all begins at the exfoliating and cleansing stage. The cold weather can be particularly harsh on your skin, so bringing it back to life takes a little TLC. There is an abundance of naturally sourced and produced gentle exfoliators perfect for all skin types; it’s simply a case of finding one that works and suits you best. The same goes for moisturiser – it’s important to think about your skin type and find a product that suits you, and then moisturise regularly. Nowadays everyone is clued up about the damage that sun can do to your skin, but it’s worth using a moisturiser with SPF protection all year round as UV rays can still damage our skin in winter. If using a tinted moisturiser, you may wish to finish off with a little powder, and providing you conceal any blemishes this combination is sure to leave your skin glowing. The real attention should be focused on your eyes and lips with defined lashes which are essential for this look. You can forfeit eye shadow and eyeliner but never the mascara. Blondes should try using a brown mascara, whereas darker hair should stick to black. Finally, to add a pop of colour pick a lipstick that almost matches your natural lip tone. This will naturally enhance what you already have whilst still creating a rejuvenated feel. Apply with your finger for a less concentrated final look.

What to wear?

Our calendars are often filled with Christmas drinks and parties over the festive season, which for me means coming up with different ways to wear my favourite black dress. But if you’re going for a natural beauty look then your clothes should be both comfortable and stylish.  A personal favourite of mine is a stylish polo neck with plain black jeans and a pair of sophisticated black boots. It’s a look that is both understated and chic, and can be easily adapted if you’re going straight from the office to Christmas drinks with friends.

Glamourous

Whether glamour is your everyday look or you simply want to feel that extra bit special, the glammed up look requires more shimmer and shine. In the winter it feels like it has been so long since we saw the sun, so we do whatever we can to bring a little sunshine back in to our beauty regimes. However this means that there are a lot of disastrous fake tan attempts: you can have the best fake tan and still manage to get it wrong. To pull off the glamourous look from head to toe, you really need to master the art of applying foundation, and bronzer as well as fake tan. You can spend hours watching video tutorials on how to contour or achieve the perfect smoky eye, but fail to get the fake tan bit right and you have an issue on your hands, literally. Always exfoliate beforehand to remove all dead skin, and follow with a good moisturiser. Make sure you don’t forget the elbows and ankles. Beginning at the arms and shoulders, gradually make your way down using circular motions. For best results apply fake tan at night leaving plenty of time for it to develop. Showering should be avoided until the tan has had time to fully develop.

What to wear?

From my experience black works best as well as olive tones. Of course it’s important you show off your new and improved looking skin. Off the shoulder ruffled tops are fast appearing in all major high street shops; the shoulders offer a subtle hint of sexiness without going full out. Paid one of these with a stylish pashmina scarf and a long trench coat to complete your glamourous look. The important thing here is to remember that you want to show off a little skin to embrace your new-found summer glow, but you also need to dress appropriately for the weather outside.

How To Throw The Perfect Party

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Something I really look forward to during the festive season is the parties. The work dos with fun activities, dinner parties with friends, not to mention News Year’s Eve! There’s something about sharing jokes over a few glasses of wine and getting down on the dance floor with old friends and new that makes me feel alive. I also love to host my own, and over the years I have discovered a few tips and tricks that turn a good party into a great one! If you’re planning a shindig, then keep reading for ideas on how to make your event one to remember.

Invites

Firstly, everyone loves receiving something special in the post. Secondly, nothing sets the tone and gets people pumped for a party like a chic invitation! So, if you’ve got the time, get some heavy card and gold or silver pens from a stationer and get crafting. They really don’t have to be too fussy, just pop in the details of the location, date and time and draw on some holly for Christmas, or hearts for Valentine’s Day, etc., and you’re away. If you are pushed for time, there are tons of online services where you can design, print and send invites at the touch of a button.

Social

I don’t know about you but I would probably miss half the events I’m invited to if it weren’t for Facebook! Therefore, in addition to paper invitations, you should create an event page with a relevant image and invite everyone you’ve put down on your guest list. You can also use social media to get people excited before the event. Give people little snippets of information in the run up, post photos of the venue and outfit ideas, etc. Do remember to keep it a private event – you don’t want the whole world turning up!

Theme

As you can probably imagine, I love fancy dress. If you’re a big fan too but are struggling to come up with a concept, there are some fantastic party theme ideas online. We went to a Great Gatsby do the other weekend and it was fabulous! However, as Mike always reminds me, there are lots of people who aren’t so keen. If you decide not to go for a costume party, it’s worth remembering that most people still love an opportunity to dress up a little bit. Setting the dress code to smart/casual gives everyone the chance to put on their glad rags without worrying about going over the top.

Lighting

Make sure it’s not too bright; nothing kills the atmosphere like strip lighting! Equally, going too dark can be unsettling, so you’ll want to be somewhere in the middle. My go-to for any evening event is string/fairy lights – they are sparkly and pretty, and make any location feel special, whether you’re outdoors or indoors. If it’s a daytime event, although the natural light may be beautiful, be sure to keep a few lamps at the ready in case it’s overcast and gloomy.

Decorations

A great party needs a great environment and this applies whatever the theme or nature of the event. If you have tables, they should always have cloths and be styled (I like a shabby-chic table setting, personally). Little details go a long way with decorations; for example, adding ribbons to folding chairs which match your colour scheme will tie everything together beautifully. Also, my policy with any party is that there is never enough glitter.

Music

I cannot stress how important a good playlist is to the success of a party. The right songs will fill the dance floor, and people are, in my opinion, at their happiest when they are so caught up in the music they get lost in the movement. To keep things fresh and exciting, make sure you have a mix of genres and throw in a generous handful of cheesy tunes. You’ll be surprised who you find shaking it to MC Hammer!

Relax

Keeping these tips in mind will ensure that your guests have an incredible night. But don’t forget to relax and enjoy all your hard work too! People will have the best time if their host is.

Please comment with any other tips or stories you have. I always love reading them. And enjoy all your festive parties this year!

5 Top Tips For A Super Organised Christmas

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As I was enjoying a local firework display this weekend, I felt a sudden surge of excitement despite the freezing temperatures. As much as I love fireworks and sparklers, the end of Bonfire Night means that I can FINALLY get excited about Christmas!

Anyone who knows me will know I am a huge fan of the festive period, so keeping my enthusiasm at bay for this long is usually a challenge to say the least! As soon as I start seeing those Christmas ads on TV and chocolate advent calendars in the shops, I know it’s time to start preparing!

Whilst it might be a bit too early to buy the turkey, there are still lots of things I do to prepare myself ahead of time. I usually go over the top on food, decorations and presents, so I’m always glad to have started planning in early November. Then when it gets to mid-December and my social calendar is jam-packed with fun festive activities, I don’t feel stressed about my Christmas To Do list!

I thought it might be useful to share my top Christmas prep tips for the super-organised amongst you. These are all the things you can do in advance to free up more time later, because really, it’s never too early to start planning for Christmas – is it?!
Decide on Your Plans for The Day

One very basic thing you can do now is to decide on your plans for Christmas Day & Boxing Day. If you’re going to be hosting then make sure you have enough dining space, chairs, crockery, and anything else you might need, so that you can buy or borrow any extras ahead of time. And if you’re not going to be at home this year, then you can make the appropriate travel arrangements ahead of time, particularly if you need to book flights or trains.

Set Your Gift Budgets
I have a history of getting a little overexcited when it comes to buying presents for my nearest and dearest, which has cost me substantial sums of money and many sleepless nights come January. These days I have to set myself a budget to make sure I don’t overspend. There are tonnes of ways you can do this, and in the past, I have used the Christmas Money Planner from the Monday Advice Service to help me figure out my budget breakdown!

Update Your Christmas Card List and Shop for Cards

I like to try and keep on top of my address book all year around, but inevitably it often falls low down my list of priorities. I keep a Christmas card list document on my laptop, so I’ll usually spend an hour or so checking through all the names and addresses to make sure it’s all up to date, as well as adding any new ones.

I also buy my Christmas cards early on so I have more options to choose from. Personally, I like to take this opportunity to support a charity close to my heart, so this year I’ll be buying these cancer charity Christmas cards to send to my loved ones!

Start Shopping
I like to get my shopping done as early as possible. Not only does this mean you can spread the cost over 2 or even 3 months, but it means you can make the most of any early flash sales. I will definitely be checking out the Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals this year to make my money go further!

Check your Christmas Decorations
There’s nothing worse than buying your tree and bringing it home ready to decorate, only to find your box of baubles has smashed, or even worse – you’ve spent ages untangling all those fairy lights and half of them don’t work. If you’re like me, then decorating your tree is serious business, and the earlier you shop for decorations, the more choice you’ll have! I like to spend a lot of time researching Christmas tree ideas to visualise how my tree will look.

I hope these tips will help you kick off your super organised Christmas, so you can have a stress-free festive season!