Wednesday, 30 November 2016

November Favourites | 2016


The last of the favourites before Christmas! Here's what I've been loving this month...

Festive drinks


Every year I make sure to find out when Costa's festive drinks range comes out, and every year I try my best to take full advantage of it. Christmas is my favourite time of year, and so I love feeling festive on my trip to work with a snowman/reindeer/penguin etc on my cup! It's just a little thing that really cheers me up!

Biscoff Cheesecake


My friend Annie and I made this cheesecake a couple of weeks ago, and oh my god was it incredible. If you're not aware of Biscoff, it's essentially a caramelised biscuit spread that tastes divine. We used a recipe from Jane's Patisserie, which you can find here! It's a really easy recipe that everyone can use - I absolutely recommend this!

Cosy coffee shops

Highness Tea Rooms, Islington
Autumn and Winter are the colder, cosy seasons, so it's the perfect time to warm up with a hot drink in a cosy little tea or coffee shop. Fortunately both Oxford and London have a fair few of these places - I personally prefer individual boutique-style cafes over chains - and recently I've been indulging probably a bit too much...it's been excellent.

City walks

Holywell Street, Oxford
Recently I've been out in Oxford a lot more than usual, so I've taken the opportunity to explore the city a bit more. I do this in London at the weekends too; I love exploring cities, both new and old. It's especially nice at this time of year as the sun sets earlier, and more Christmas lights are popping out everywhere. It's so relaxing to walk around too and helps to clear my mind, particularly when I've got some good music on my spotify too.

Planet Earth 2


Well worth a watch. I've learnt so much watching this show, and if anything, it's just making me want to see more and more of the world! David Attenborough has done it again.

What have you been loving in November?

M x
Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Afternoon Tea at The Fan Museum, Greenwich | London


In a really lovely gesture from Paddy's parents, they gave him vouchers to redeem for an afternoon tea at The Fan Museum in Greenwich, so he brought me along! Greenwich is one of my favourite areas of London, so I was very excited to be able to go back.

The museum is located just down the road from the main high street and the famous Cutty Sark ship. We sat and had afternoon tea which included a hot drink - tea, coffee or hot chocolate which we both chose - with scones fresh from the oven (!) with jam and clotted cream, a slice of Victoria Sponge cake and a small slice of another cake - you could choose either a chocolate & salted caramel brownie or a piece of lemon drizzle cake, which we both chose.

It was pretty good, but very very rich! I really regretted not getting tea to break up the sugary-ness of everything, as the sponge cake was incredibly sweet and rich and it was such a big slice! The lemon drizzle was also good too, though it was quite sharp. The scones were amazing!

I'd recommend it to anyone who fancies an afternoon tea when exploring Greenwich. The setting is gorgeous and the walls in the tea room were painted with huge murals all over the walls. It's got great reviews and for good reason!








Sunday, 27 November 2016

Edinburgh Bucket List


This Christmas, I'll finally be exploring Edinburgh and I can't wait! I've visited the city before as my twin actually goes to uni there, but I've never been at Christmas time and he's told me so many times how amazing it is, so I'm very excited to go!

I thought I'd put together a little bucket list for all the things I'd like to do while I'm there - we're staying for 3 nights, and I want to get as much done as possible!

Visit the Edinburgh Christmas Markets
I've heard these are amazing - and that's coming from my brother who isn't as into Christmas as I am, so I am SO EXCITED to see them finally! From a quick google, they look amazing and have so much going on - all the lights! There seems to be a lot of rides too, with the famous Big Wheel, rollercoasters and carousels for everyone to have a go on, as well as plenty of opportunities to ice skate!

It appears they have both a European Christmas Market as well as the Scottish Market, which sounds really good. I've been to a fair few Christmas markets in the past, and I really like when I find items that are unique to the area, so this should be good indeed!


See the Street of Light
I dunno about you, but this sounds EXCELLENT to me! One of my favourite parts about this time of year is the amount of beautiful lights everywhere, so I am very keen to see this! It's taking place on George Street, with over 60,000 lights all lit up - it sounds soooo magical...

Wander down the Royal Mile
When I last visited the city, this was definitely my favourite part. The buildings are beautiful, and don't feel a million miles away from Oxford (my hometown) so it does feel quite homey to me. There are lots of really nice boutiques and cafes to pop into, so you're bound to find something nice to eat and take home with you. Cannot wait to visit again!


Get a sneak peek behind Edinburgh's closed doors
From December 1st, 24 doors across the city will be open to the public for free, allowing them into some of the most exciting and beautiful places across the capital. This year, you can see into Murrayfield Stadium, the Royal Lyceum theatre, and St Giles' Cathedral. I'll be sure to check some of these out if possible!

Take a hike...up to Arthur's Seat
It's pretty cool to think that there is an extinct volcano here in the UK - even more so to think it's on the doorsteps of Edinburgh! Arthur's Seat gives one of the most gorgeous views of this city, and you can walk there from Holyrood Park, just off the Royal Mile. I'd love to give this a try, but it all depends on the weather!


Check out the castle
Perhaps the most famous landmark in the city, the castle really is something to see. I've visited briefly before, but didn't have the chance to go in (I've heard mixed reviews about whether it is worth the entry fee). However, it is worth the walk up to see it, as it really is amazing, and has a rich history. Plus the views aren't bad either!


Have you got any must-dos or must-sees for Edinburgh? Let me know!

M x
Thursday, 24 November 2016

Falling in Love With Toronto & Niagara Falls


As part of the road trip that Paddy and I did whilst I was travelling, we decided that since we were exploring New England, why not head to Canada too? Toronto was one of the places that had been on my list for a good while, having met several people from there and hearing how cool a place it was - and I really really liked it.

A lot of people think it's the capital of Canada (it's not, that's Ottawa), but it's got a big city vibe with plenty to do so you can kind of understand why. There are plenty of things to see and do: from the various museums, ice hockey and baseball games, to the famous CN tower and of course, a day out to see the incredible Niagara Falls.

We explored all over the city; we stayed at the Planet Traveler Hostel near Chinatown, which was very good for the price - modern and clean, plus free breakfasts, computers, TVs, maps, and even events on every night too. From there, we visited the entertainment district, where of course we went up the CN tower! The views were absolutely incredible even if it was a little foggy, and there's a section with a glass floor that looks out over Rogers Centre below - so we happened to see the Toronto Blue Jays play!

Not too far away from there, right by the lakefront near Liberty Village, is the Molson Canadian Amphitheatre, where we saw Zac Brown Band play live. I surprised Paddy with these tickets for his birthday as we both love them and had seen them before (they're really good, I recommend checking them out). If you fancy catching a concert while you're there, I really would consider this place if possible - being from the UK, we don't have the weather for amphitheatres really, so being able to sit out on the grass with a few drinks listening to good music was really special and had such a nice atmosphere to it!

We also explored more of downtown Toronto, where I had the BEST Philly Cheesesteak of my life (doesn't add up I know, but it really was amazing), as well as where we saw the Hockey HOF (Paddy is a hockey fan), and also visited St Lawrence Market - full of individual restaurants, boutiques and cafes. I really loved it there and came out with so many presents to take home!

We were only in Toronto for about 3 nights, so we made sure to fit in a day trip to Niagara too. Luckily, our hostel helped point us in a direction of a tour company that did day trips for not too extortionate a price, and so we headed over to the meeting point, grabbed an iced coffee from Tim Hortons (you've got to go if you're in Canada, you really do), and got on a coach. It was about an hour's drive to Niagara-on-the-lake, where we stopped for wine tasting (we felt so grown up) which was pretty cool and in the most gorgeous setting, before exploring the town. It's one of the most charming little places I've ever been, and since I live right by the edge of the Cotswolds, that's saying something!

The falls themselves were amazing. It's another bucket list moment ticked off for me! We took the boat cruise from the Canadian side down into the falls and got absolutely soaked, but the views were just stunning and worth every bit! Paddy had previously been from the American side, but said the view from Canada was better - so bear that in mind if you're planning a trip! :)

Toronto and Niagara really did serve us well and everybody was SO friendly and sweet - it made us feel very welcome!



















Monday, 21 November 2016

5 Ways I Deal With Unemployment & Mental Health

Here I am once again, unemployed. I left my job about a month ago - nothing bad at all happened and there's no bad blood, but I wanted to balance things more while I'm still doing my Master's degree - partly because the stress of keeping up with my degree plus taking on a full time job was frankly, giving my mental health a bit of a hit.



I like to be pretty open about my mental health - I wrote a post for the first time about it for World Mental Health Day which you can find here - I don't feel ashamed of it anymore and I feel the best way to confront these things is to talk about them openly, but of course, easier said than done.

Some of the more rubbish times I've experienced within the last year have been when I've found myself without a job and therefore without money coming in. It's hard to keep going when you've got a restricted budget meaning (to an extent) a restriction on your freedom, and feeling like you don't have much control over it. Here's what I've learned to help me deal with those times:

1. Keep pushing on.
This is so easy to say but so hard to do. Every time I applied for a job and either received an email saying 'we've decided not to proceed forward with your application' or even worse, NOTHING (come on, it's not hard to send one email!) I have let myself feel so down about it, like it's a reflection of myself and my abilities. It's not true - unfortunately with the way things are at the moment, it is incredibly hard to get a job, but it is not about you as a person. Every job is competitive nowadays. Keep pushing on, and have faith in yourself that it'll work out - it almost always does.

2. Distract yourself.
Again, this isn't the easiest, especially when you're lying in bed feeling like there's no good reason to get up for the day. I found going for runs really gave me a boost when I needed it; and that's coming from someone who is neither good at nor likes exercise! Whatever it is that gives you a boost, keep doing it, and reward yourself for doing so. You deserve to feel happy no matter what; surround yourself with the happy things.

3. Don't be afraid to ask for help.
Talking to people, asking them to help you or read over your application can be really helpful. Lots of times I've been in the mindset where I wanted to prove to myself that I could be successful without any help, but sometimes you have to let another person in. It can teach you so much, particularly about yourself, and you might pick up something you missed at first in your applications. They always say that a problem shared is a problem halved - and if you don't feel comfortable talking about your mental health, just mention it's your frustration at finding a job. We've all been there!

4. Feel free to have a good cry.
It is so bloomin' frustrating to try so hard to write a good application and have nothing to show for it. Let yourself take out your frustrations by crying, doing some exercise...whatever it is that will help you vent. You'll feel a million times better, and maybe even ready to get back in the game and start on some fresh new job applications.

5. If you're not ready to work yet, that's ok too.
I've been in that place where the sheer idea of going to work fills me with anxiety; so much so that I have turned down a job because the thought of it gave me anxiety attacks. Now, I've just applied for and got an interview for the same workplace. Funny how things work out isn't it? I'm so glad I did turn it down though - I wasn't in the right frame of mind at the time and lots of things were going on, so much so that I know I wouldn't have performed at my best, because I wouldn't have felt comfortable. Even if I don't get this job now, I'm still proud of myself for applying and going for an interview and conquering that anxiety. It takes time, and we all work to different speeds - just make sure you're comfortable and you're ok; your mental health takes priority.


(image taken from www.pinterest.com)

I hope this helps, and let me know if you've got any more tips! :)

M x
Thursday, 17 November 2016

A Day in DC


DC is one of those places you just have to go to when in the States, it being the capital and all. It didn't disappoint. We were only there for about a day in the end, and so I'd recommend at least a full weekend there as there's so much to do - the Lincoln Memorial, The White House, the World War II Memorial, various different museums, Capitol Hill...the list goes on.

The city itself is pretty cool; it's got a fairly chilled vibe and seems to be what I think is quite a nice city to live in (politics aside). It's also a short bus ride/car ride to Arlington Cemetery in Virginia, where many war veterans lie buried, as well as JFK and his family. It's an incredible moving place but worth a visit, particularly to the Grave of the Fallen Soldier.

To get around, there's plenty of options on public transport, or obviously you can walk. My friend and I chose to get on a hop-on-hop-off bus as we had a limited amount of time which wasn't too expensive.

It's a city with a lot of choice, and something for everyone.