July 10, 2018

Four Days in Venice

One of the many canals in Burano

Last September, we took ourselves off to the beautiful island of Venice. Venice is made up of 118 small islands, linked with bridges. It has no roads ... just canals! And I fell in love with it whilst we were there. So incase you are interested, this is what we did on our four days in Venice!

Day 1
We landed around midday, and within about half an hour of landing at Marco Polo airport, we were on a boat to central Venice. The Water Taxi (Vaparetto) was around €15, we bought tickets at the airport, and takes about an hour to Venice. We booked a hotel near the Rialto Bridge in San Marco, so got off at the Rialto Vaparetto stop.

We checked in to the hotel, then R had researched ‘free’ walking tour of Venice which lasted around two hours. It was intense to do this once we arrived, with a lot of information, although it meant we could get a ‘lay of the land’, and figure out what we wanted to do with our time. (The tour we took, met at 3:45 at the Camp Della Fava, and although it was free, you give the tour guide a tip).

Once the tour had finished, we went for a little wander around Cannareggio (to the North of the island). And stopped at a lovely little bar on the canal for an Aperol Spritz Of course! After this, (and a few snacks!), we wandered back to the hotel, through lots of little canals, getting lost along the way and just soaking it all in. One of the best things in Venice is just to get lost, you never know what gem you will stumble across As we wandered back, we crossed the Rialto Bridge, and watched the Sunset across the Grand Canal. (Watch out for all of the tourist elbowing you out of the way for the perfect shot. To be honest this hardly happened the whole time we were in Venice).

Then, after freshening up at the hotel, we then went for a lovely dinner of fresh fish, with obviously a lot of wine.

R looking over to the Rialto BridgeOne of the many beautiful canals in VeniceSunset over the Grand Canal from the Rialto Bridge

Day 2
On our second day, we started early with breakfast at the hotel. Then a stroll to Piazza San Marco (St Marks Square) to marvel at St Mark’s Basilica, the Clock Tower, Doge’s Palace and of course to look down the Piazetta through the columns, such a beautiful view! 
We went inside St Mark’s Basilica, we had booked our tickets online, which I highly recommend, as the queues are huge! The Basilica is incredible to be inside, and just overwhelming, it is such a beautiful building inside and out!

Just to be in the square and soak up everything here is incredible, then taking a little wander around the corner by the columns to the Bridge of Sighs. This is where a lot of people will sit and have coffee in ‘the first coffee house’, for us visiting at this time of year, there was a lot of building works and scaffolding, so for us, it was not worth the £25 price tag ... each!

Of course we couldn’t leave the square without squeezing in a delicious gelato, before taking a wander down to Dorsodoro, in the South, across the Grand Canal. This area is the quietest area that we walked around, just so peaceful! We had a meander around some of the shops, and then all the way back along Fondamenta Nani and found some lovely places for some Cicchetti’s and Ombres.

Cicchetti is essentially Italian tapas. There are so many different types, a lot of the ones we had were slices of baguettes topped with deliciousness. There are lots of bars that you can stumble across and grab a couple of Cicchettis, and some Ombres (Small €1 glasses of wine). This was  one of my favourite things to do, and for me this completely sums up Venice!

Making our way back to the hotel, we had a little snooze, get changed and then off out for dinner. We just meandered around and went to another lovely place near the hotel. One of the best things about Venice, is just the wandering and stumbling across bars, or restaurants, and that was the case with this one

The Bridge Of Sighs


View over the Grand Canal


One of the beautiful streets around Dorsodoro

Day 3
We left early, to catch a boat over to the beautiful islands of Murano and Burano. Murano, if you haven’t heard of it, is famous for it’s glass making. We arrived on the island, and took our time looking in and out of all of the beautiful glass shops. We were on the hunt for a long glass turquoise pendant for R’s Mum. Having this on our minds meant that we went in and out of a lot of stores that we wouldn’t ordinarily walk around, and was just so indulgent to just have a look in them all. Of course I ended up buying myself a beautiful cobalt blue glass ring, and some earrings for my sister and the Mums. 

When we got to the Ponte Longo Bridge, we stopped on the other side along the canal for a coffee, and obviously a little people watching! We found a lovely glass making workshop, where we watched a incredible glass making demonstration, then we of course had to buy what they had demonstrated as a souvenir! (A lovely glass horse!)

As we waited to get on our boat to Burano, we scoffed our faces with the most delicious Pizza (as all of it is!!), we then hopped on the boat to Burano. Burano is the island of lace, so there is a lot to lace to be bought, and also lace among demonstrations. Literally the only thing we did in Burbano is wander. It is the most incredible island, with the most beautifully painted houses, we wandered into a little bar for some wine and prosecco as we were just strolling along the canals, and was just the most chilled time. It was such a shame to leave this beautiful, quiet and relaxed place. 

Late afternoon, we got the boat back to Burano and wandered back down to San Marco. A little tip that we learnt from our lovely tour, was to use Traghetti’s. Traghetti’s are essentially gondolas, but you don’t have to pay the ridiculous €80 price tag, and share the waterways with so many other tourists doing the same thing. (I would not recommend a gondola from what I saw, they are everywhere! Which takes away from it being to special, and soooo overpriced!). You will find the traghetti’s all across the canal, as you can only cross the canal over the bridges (sounds quite obvious, but there aren’t many of them!), and they’re priced at around €2! A cannot recommend them enough.

One of the Tragetti’s crossed the Grand Canal right next to the art installation ‘Support’, by Lorenzo Quinn, which I was very excited to see. It was a sculpture of large hands, that appear to be pulling away at the hotel and into the Canal. It was designed to show the impact that climate change has, and that we have the power to change it. Unfortunately the sculpture has now been removed, but it was incredible!

On the walk back to the hotel we walked through the touristy market stalls and saw a man who was hand machining names onto towelling items, so we picked one up for our friends newborn with his name on it. Then dinner was booked for a lovely tiny intimate restaurant in the Dorsodoro region.

View from the Ponte Longo Bridge in Murano
Images from many of the canals in Burano
Looking over the canal at one of the Traghetti stops
‘Support’ by Lorenzo Quinn

Day 4
On our final day in Venice, we had already seen everything we wanted to see. So we had a wander through the Rialto food market, it was incredible seeing this whole beautiful market with the most incredible foods. We of course then picked up some more Cicchetti’s and Ombres, and sat on the canal by the Rialto bridge just relaxing and watching the world go by, before collecting our suitcases and jumping on the boat to the airport then home!

Rialto Food Market

Venice is the most beautiful place, and one of my favourite places I have been for a short visit. You wouldn’t need to visit there for any longer, so is also perfect to be tagged into an Italy tour. My absolute highlights were;
  1. Just wandering around and getting lost in the canals, and finding some lovely places so for Cicchetti.
  2. The island of Burano, was one of my favourite places. It is so unique and just beautiful!
What are your favourite things in Venice? Is there anything you think we missed?

July 05, 2018

6 Of The Best // Audiobooks


Image from here

Audiobooks are incredible. I know that lots of people think they’re ‘cheating’, and it’s ‘not the same as holding an actual book’. But for me, when I’m already carrying the world, and the kitchen sink in my handbag, I’d rather not also add in a book. For me, there are many reasons to listen to audiobooks. One of which is that I don’t have to carry a book, and also I can get distracted and procrastinate quite easily, so if I find myself doing that, then I will stop listening to that one audiobook, and I will swap to something else. It’s also a way that I can actually ‘read’ on the train. As I travel a lot for work, I utilise the journey to do work. Sometimes I will listen to music, but I find myself feeling like I’ve achieved more, and learnt more, if I listen to a book. Plugging in my headphones, and getting lost seems so really work for me. I think it might be that I can work on autopilot and not think too much into that email I need to send, or filling in a tracker. So I thought I would pull together my personal Audiobook favourites for you ...

Fiction


1. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline - Narrated by Will Wheaton

So, I initially started this list alphabetically. But it felt wrong to not start with this book! It is my favourite ever book that I have listened to. It kept me on the the edge of my seat the whole time, and I completed this book within about four or five days. I was completely lost in this fictional world, and really connected with the main character,  really wanted him to succeed! I saw this film when it originally came out in the cinema, and I loved it. But ... I 100% prefer the book! And would recommend it to anyone, especially those into SciFi. I am also so down with the fact that it is narrated by the one and only Will Wheaton, which for me just adds to how amazing this audiobook is! I cannot recommend this highly enough!!

Synopsis: In the 2040’s, the world has been gripped by an energy crisis from the depletion of fossil fuels and the consequences of global warming and overpopulation, causing widespread social problems and economic stagnatiom. To escape the decline their world is facing, people turn to the OASIS, a virtual reality simulator accessible by players using visors and haptic technology such as gloves. It functions both as an MMORPG and as a virtual society, with its currency being the most stable in the real world. It was created by James Halliday who, when he died, had announced in his will to the public that he had left an Easter egg inside OASIS, and the first person to find it would inherit his entire fortune and the corporation. The story follows the adventures of Wade Watts, starting about five years after the announcement, when he discovers one of the three keys pointing to the treasure.



2. Harry Potter Series by JK Rowling - Narrated by Stephen Fry

How can any audible list not incude the Harry Potter series?! This is just my go to audiobook, it makes me feel so cosy! It feels like coffee with a friend, or a warm hug. Stephen Fry is amazing, and through his voices I can tell exactly which character he is. If I need a little cheering up, or just want to get lost in something this is what I put on. I feel like this is all I need to say about this ... a must listen.

Synopsis: Harry Potter is a series of fantasy novels written by British author J.K. Rowling. The novels chronicle the life of a young wizard, Harry Potter, and his friends Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley, all of whom are students at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The main story arc concerns Harry's struggle against Lord Voldemort, a dark wizard who intends to become immortal, overthrow the wizard governing body known as the Ministry Of Magic, and subjugate all wizards and muggles (non-magical people).



3. The President Is Missing by Bill Clinton & James Patterson - Narrated by Dennis Quaid with January LaVoy, Jeremy Davidson and Mozhan MarnĂ²

This book is so intense! It completely kept me on my toes, and I loved it. It is something a little different for me, and thoroughly enjoyed it. It is more intense then the other two, and needs you to listen a bit more intently.

Synopsis: The President Is Missing is a political thriller novel by former US President Bill Clinton and James Patterson. It is about the disappearance of the U.S. President, Jonathon Lincoln Duncan, a former Army Ranger, comes as a cybercrime attack jeapardises Secret Service protection.


Fact

4. #GirlBoss by Sophia Amoruso - Narrated by Sarah Jes Austell

This is just an easy listening audiobook, nothing too serious. It has some inspirational words of wisdom, showing you that with a lot of hard work and passion (mixed with a little luck), you can achieve success. I did not like the Netflix version of this book, but would love to listen to this again.

Synopsis: Amoruso spent her teens hitchhiking, committing petty theft, and scrounging in dumpsters for leftover bagels. By age twenty-two she had dropped out of school, and was broke, directionless, and checking IDs in the lobby of an art school--a job she'd taken for the health insurance. It was in that lobby that Sophia decided to start selling vintage clothes on eBay. 
Flash forward to today, and she's the founder of Nasty Gal and the founder and CEO of Girlboss. Sophia was never a typical CEO, or a typical anything, and she's written #GIRLBOSS for other girls like her: outsiders (and insiders) seeking a unique path to success, even when that path is windy as all hell and lined with naysayers. 
#GIRLBOSS proves that being successful isn't about where you went to college or how popular you were in high school. It's about trusting your instincts and following your gut; knowing which rules to follow and which to break; when to button up and when to let your freak flag fly.

5. The Four Tendencies by Gretchen Rubin - Narrated by Gretchen Rubin

Anything that Gretchen Rubin touches, or writes, I love. The Four Tendancies is my favourite of all of her books, but her other books are definitely also up there, The Happiness Project, Better than Before, and her podcast Happier. I find it so incredible interesting, and I have learnt so much more about myself. About what makes me tick, what makes me work (and doesn’t!). It doesn’t mean I can make myself do anything, but that I have more knowledge about myself, which is nothing to complain about!

Synopsis: During my multibook investigation into human nature, I realized that by asking the suspiciously simple question “How do I respond to expectations?” we gain explosive self-knowledge. I discovered that people fit into Four Tendencies: Upholders, Questioners, Obligers, and Rebels. Our Tendency shapes every aspect of our behavior, so understanding this framework lets us make better decisions, meet deadlines, suffer less stress and burnout, and engage more effectively. The Four Tendencies explain why we act and why we don’t act.


6. The Multi Hyphen Method by Emma Gannon - Narrated by Emma Gannon

I thoroughly enjoy do this book, it just opened my eyes. It’s one of those books that I first thought, ‘Yeah I already know that’, but just reminds you that it is ok to follow different routes to your version of success. And makes yo feel like there are other people that think the same as you! I now don’t feel guilty when all is achieve in a day is ticking off my to do list, and be home by 6pm, or even just to make a meal from scratch.

Synopsis: The internet and our phones mean we can work wherever, whenever and allow us to design our own working lives. In The Multi-Hyphen MethodEmma Gannon teaches that it doesn't matter if you're a part-time PA with a blog, or a physio who runs an online jewellery store in the evenings - whatever your ratio, whatever your mixture, we can all channel the entrepreneurial spirit. Today, the stigma of being a jack of all trades is being dispelled and having more strings to your bow is essential to getting ahead in the modern working world and Emma Gannon's book is the ultimate guide in helping us navigate our way towards success.

What do you think of Audiobooks?

July 03, 2018

A Guide to Sun Protection



In case some of you haven’t noticed, we are in the middle of our first heatwave this summer, and I don’t know about you, but I am absolutely loving it! But with this beautiful weather, something that we all need to take very seriously is Sun Protection! There is so much information out there, so I have done my research and thought I would pull together a short guide:

The sun creates 2 types of rays, UVA and UVB. Both of which are harmful to us and our skin, so ensure you buy sun protection with both UVA and UVB protection.

UVA rays are the main cause of wrinkles and skin ageing as they penetrates deeper then UVB rays. They penetrate the skin even when you are not on direct sunlight, so ensure you are always wearing some kind if sun protection. UVA rays can cause depleted collagen, skin pigmentation, eye damage, DNA damage and skin cancers. UVA protection on sun protection is rated using a star system, from 0 stars to 5 stars, the higher the star rating, the lower the percentage of rays that make their way through the sun protection. You should be using a suncream with a minimum of 4 stars.

UVB rays are the burning and tanning rays, and are also cancer inducing. SPF (Sun Protection Factor) and their numbers relate to the amount of UVB protection they can give. SPF15 blocks around 93% of rays, SPF 30 blocks 97% and SPF 50 blocks 98%.

Tips
  • Apply your sun cream 20 minutes before planning to go outside (You also still need to apply SPF if you are planning to sit in the shade.
  • Ensure you sit in the shade during the sun’s hottest hours (11am and 3pm).
  • You should apply a 10p coins worth of cream to your face, and a large shot glass amount for your body.
  • Reapply your sun cream every 2hours.
  • Ensure you are drinking a lot of water, dehydrated skin is more prone to sun damage.
  • Reapply sun cream after swimming.
  • SPF in foundation is only enough if you aren’t spending a lot of time outside. (It is spread too thinly and you do not use enough).
  • Do not layer SPF’s on top of each other, they will cancel each other out and start to breakdown.
  • Perfume also breaks down SPF so do not spray after applying sun protection.
  • Ensure you wear sunglasses to protect your eyes from UV rays.
  • Check your suncream has not expired. Look at the back, if there isn’t anything then it means 3 years. Ingredients become ineffective, inactiv and start to decompose after their exiry date and will not protect you any more.

My absolute favourite suncream ever is the UltraSun Sport. It is a gentle, fast absorbing, non greasy and non sticky sun protection gel.

It is a once a day sun protection gel. Depending on how fair your skin is, and what the sun is like where you are, the gel can last up to 10 hours. I have personally used this any time I have been in the sun over the last 3years or so, and can categorically say that I have not been burnt at all whilst using this. I would usually put this on in the morning, then reapplying usually halfway through the day to top up, and also after any swimming.

Although UltraSun do not use the star rating. Their gels protect you from 93% of the sun’s UVA rays, which makes it 5stars. They also come in SPF20, SPF30 & SPF50. I have added their tinted face protection to my next order, as this is make up reversed! You never use the right amount of foundation with SPF, so how about SPF with colour?!

It is a little pricy, but you cannot put a price on your skin’s safety. It also has a shelf life of two years, and if you buy the larger bottle it works out cheaper and can last for a number or holidays. My boyfriend and I took a new bottle to Mexico for 10 days and didn’t make out way through the whole thing. 

What are your favourite sun protection products?

March 22, 2018

Lounge // Spring Update

Spring Styled Room from Etsy

So it was the first official day of Spring on Tuesday! Yes that's right, we are two days into Spring. And as usual, no one has told the weather. But even if the weather doesn't want to play ball, lets just pretend it's getting sunny outside, and on the plus side, at least it's lighter in the evenings!

So here are five super quick ways to bring Spring inside, and to pretend that it's sunny and warm. So throw open your windows, pretend there's a little family of birds just outside and follow a couple of points from below to welcome Spring.

Gorgeous lounge from Decorenvy
1. Plants
The quickest, easiest and simplest way to brighten up your lounge is to add in some greenery! Pop to your local garden centre for the afternoon, and take your Mum or your Nan. Spending some time with your loved one, getting some tea and cake and then shopping for some plants seems like the perfect afternoon to me. One larger plant to sit next to your sofa, and one or two smaller to chill on a table or two is the perfect addition to any room, not just your lounge.

Floral Coffee Table by Alex Dagmar
2. Flowers
In the same way that plants add in a gorgeous bit of greenery into your life, flowers do too! But they also bring some colour, and a gorgeous smell too. Grab a bunch of tulips (Ranunculus, Roses and Sunflowers are also all in season at the moment) from a local farmers market, pop them in a beautiful vase and you're done! (Side note: it also makes you look super grown up and like you've got your life together).

Prints from eBay (£2.59 each!)
3. Art Work
Artwork is an amazing way to update your lounge. Swap out a few prints around your home at the beginning of the season, or add a couple more to your walls can completely update your room and give it a totally different feel. Jump onto Etsy or even eBay, have a browse around and buy a couple of brighter, lighter coloured prints. Something with a leaf motif, with lots of pastel colours or maybe a water scene. If you don't have a frame then maybe a bit of washi tape on each corner of the print, or a couple of bulldog clips tacked into the wall. It will change it in no time!

Beautiful Minimal House from Cate St Hill
4. Soft Furnishings
It is the perfect time of year to update some of your cushions, to generally lighten things up. Swap out heavier wool, velvet or silk covers with some lighter fabric like linen or a printed or tumbled cotton. You could even go as far as to swap out your curtains! Personally I love a super light 100% linen all year round, as I love having the sunlight. If you have a heavier weight fabric, or blackout curtains then changing these over for a lightweight fabric really changes the whole feel of the room when you walk into it first thing.

Gorgeous Shelfie from Kate La Vie
5. Add Colour
A simple way to bring in Spring is with colour, traditionally more pastel colours, but yellows, pinks, greens and oranges are all super Spring like. This takes a little more time and effort, as you will go on a little colour treasure hunt. Buying bits and bobs for your lounge like vases, coaster, books or candles are a really easy way to add in the colour. Some of my favourite places for these kind of ornaments are H&M Home, Anthropologie and Oliver Bonas. Even some sueprmarket home department or eBay have some great pieces too.

How do you like to bring Spring inside your home?

November 02, 2017

Top Five Autumn Candles

My second favourite thing about Autumn (after cosy snugly jumpers) is candles and nothing says Autumn more than a good candle! There’s something about them that makes me feel cosy and like I’ve got this adulting stuff down (I don’t, it’s the candle that’s tricking you!). Here are some of my favourites to start the season off right ... 




What could be better in Autumn then a pumpkin scented candle?! With notes of Buttery Pumpkin, Orange, Cinnamon, Clove and Brown Sugar, it makes your room smell like you’ve got your shit together and you’re baking a pumpkin bread on a rainy a Sunday because you happened to have all the ingredients. When really you’ve just about managed to light the candle whilst catching up the GBBO final!




More of a subtle Autumnal scent, this infamous Jo Malone scent has a main note of juicy apple, blended with Jasmine, Rose and Gillyflower. There is something so warming about the lighter suede scent, lightened with the floral scent of the peony, this is definitely one for a chilled weekday evening in, whilst you unwind with a bubble bath.




If you like something a bit more ‘masculine’ then this candle from Molten Brown is the one for you. With Coconut and Sandalwood, but also notes of cinnamon, cedarwood and vetiver. It is a heavier scent, one that when air smell it, it reminds me of my Grandads library, with its handcrafted wooden shelves, and the leather bound books. It is incredible warming and one to curl up and read a book to under a gorgeous tartan blanket.




This candle is something a bit different, and a bit unusual. It is a lot sharper, and lighter then the other scents, which is down to the Bergomot which gives it it’s sharp undertone. With other spicy, and woody notes make this one perfect for in the kitchen.




This fragrance couldn’t be named any better, and this is my personal absolute favourite! The smell of this candle makes me just so happy! The combination of the fruit, pear, quince and apricot, with the heavier notes of musk and Amber, it is exactly what to think Autumn would smell like. I have the diffuser in my hall, and the candle in the lounge, and it is such a gorgeous scent to walk in to!

What are your favourite Autumnal candles?

October 03, 2017

Recipe // Mulled Cider

Image from here

Nothing says Autumn like a warm mug of spiced cider! Something about the warm steam, the spices, the sweetness and of course, the alcohol. So enjoy this simple recipe, in some cosy mugs. Take them outside and watch the fireworks from your own garden!

Ingredients;

- 1ltr cider
¼ Cinnamon Stick
- 3 Cloves
¼ Nutmeg
- Juice of 3x Oranges
- 1 Star Anise
- 2 tbps Caster Sugar

Method;

Pour all of the ingredients into a pan (except the sugar), bring to the boil, then simmer for 3-4 minutes. After this time, taste and add the sugar little by little until you are happy with the sweetness.

What’s your favourite Autumnal drink?

September 23, 2017

Happy Autumn

Happy Second Day of Autumn to all of you Autumnaholics out there! (Yes, new word created for the Autumn obsessed of us out there!) For me, Autumn is my favourite season. There is just something special about throwing on some comfy clothing, with a chill on the air, eating homemade pumpkin pie and drinking hot chocolate. What about that does not sound amazing?

So this is a little heads up for you ... There are a lot of Autumn themed blog posts on their way! This one is already a favourite as I am giving you a look at my Autumn bucket list. I try and do this every season, but this is the first time I have sat down and got through the whole season (they are long!). This is a list of everything Autumnal I want to do. (there is one thing every day from today until the first day of Christmas: which is obviously the 1st of December!) so sit back and enjoy and I hope you tick a few things yourself!


Printable here

Back in 2015 I listed my 'Best Things About Autumn'. What do you like to do each Autumn?