2020 travel plans!

2020, goals, travel

Hello!

One thing I’ve always wanted to do since I first signed up to go on a charity expedition to Tanzania in 2012 was travel – I’ve always wanted to see the world and different cultures and all the beautiful things humanity has to offer. In 2019, I was incredibly optimistic about how much travelling I’d do – setting a goal to do a trip every month with my boyfriend (local, not necessarily international, but I managed maybe 6 or 7? But not really?) and planning to have trips abroad four times in one year on my part-time income? It was never going to happen!

But having learnt from that mistake, I have much more solid (potentially as unrealistic, tbh) goals for 2020 so I thought I’d share them!

1) Center Parcs with my boyfriend, mum, god-mother and her children

It’s become somewhat of a tradition that my god-mother takes her kids to the British holiday park that is Center Parcs for their birthdays and my mum, boyfriend and I tag along for the adventure. This year we’re hopefully looking at June and I’d really like to not put the pressure on my mum to be the only one paying for it!

Center Parcs is an expensive rip off, but they’re such lovely holidays, they have the most amazing swimming pools and it’s so lovely to just be surrounded by woodlands for a few days. I’m already really looking forward to this one.

2) MCM Comic Con London

2020 will be my fourth time at MCM and every year it just gets better and better. It reminds me that I’m nowhere near as nerdy as I thought I was and that my sister and my boyfriend are five times as nerdy as I thought they were and it’s amazing. The cosplay, the panels, the shopping, it’s just an amazing weekend and I’m really hoping to be able to afford a ticket, the hotel and maybe even pulling a cosplay together… Stay tuned.

3) A week in Spain by the beach!

My boyfriend and I had it on our radar to think about a holiday this year but with him being the only one with income and my masters not finishing till September, it was all seeming very far away. But for Christmas he said he’d put some money aside and we could go wherever I wanted (within budget) so we’d have an international holiday and I can’t wait. I was thinking about all the amazing places I want to visit but then I realised that actually? I just want a week by a beach to read, relax, walk by the water and not be a tourist – I loved New York and Paris but those weren’t relaxing holidays, we crammed in as much as we possibly could to those trips and I want something calmer.

Currently we’re looking at all-inclusive resorts in Spain but I’m a little baffled and overwhelmed about the concept of booking an international holiday so any advice, tips or tricks are more than welcome!

*BONUS POTENTIAL TRIP* A few days in Rome!

My boyfriend works in live television broadcast (I know, it sounds well fancy!) and he found out before Christmas that in June/July he’ll be flying between London and Rome for the Euros (football… big football tournament… neither of us are into sport okay?) and we’re really hoping that at some point or even after it’s done there’ll be a few days where we can make the most of the fact he’s working in Rome! I will have just started the final months of my dissertation so having a few days in the Italian sun with Italian food and my international TV working boyfriend sounds perfect. But we’re not sure on this one yet so it will be a bonus if it happens!

Even learning from my ridiculous plans for 2019, these plans for 2020 are still pretty optimistic but with hard work and determination (also getting a job) I think I can make all of these work.

Let me know if you have any beach holiday recommendations and if you’ve got any trips planned for 2020! I’d love to hear them.

Thank you so much for reading,

Sophie xx

YouTube | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

2020 Goals + January Goals

2020, career, goals, lifestyle, organisation, student

Hello!

really want to start this post with a joke about ‘I’ve not written a post since last decade’ because really I’m the closet King of Dad Jokes but instead I thought I’d just tell you about it. I think that might be worse.

Either way! If you’re a close followed of this blog, you’ll know that I love goal setting, organisation and planning. If you’re new, hello! Join the party – I love goal setting, organisation and planning. To the extent that I lull myself into this false sense of security thinking I’m getting stuff done but I’m actually just writing lots of to do lists and not doing very much.

This is something I actually got better at in 2019 – I really reevaluated how I was productive with my time and I’m still figuring out what works best for me. This time last year I thought I was embarking on this amazing freelance digital media career (which fell through pretty much immediately) and now I’m working towards a masters degree, I have my own place with my boyfriend, I had a job and now I’m looking for a new one, I’m spinning a lot of plates and somehow they’re just about not falling.

Having looked back on my 2019 goals (I was going to write a blog post but I think personal reflection was more appropriate), I’m actually really excited about my 2020 Goals because I was inspired by videos by Doctor Mike and Hannah Witton to make SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound) goals that are actually going to be relevant to me over the whole year.

So let’s try and keep this succinct – please do let me know your thoughts on goal setting! Do you like setting goals as they become relevant? Are you a fan of New Years, Fresh Starts? Do you make SMART goals or more ‘bucket list’ style goals? I’d love to hear all about it.

My goals are split into two different types – I have three categories (Professional, Personal and Home) each with three goals as well as 9 stand-alone ‘bucket list’ style goals. Here goes!

Professional:

  • Finish my Masters in Digital Media Production at Oxford Brookes University
  • Start my career – have a full time job by the end of October
  • Learn website design

I don’t think there’ll be any barriers stopping me from finishing my masters (and the end of 2019 really gave it a good shot!) but this first semester has been a massive learning curve and I want to really make the most of my time in Oxford so next semester is going to be a bit more level headed.

Finishing what will be my third degree (BA Hons Multimedia Journalism, PG Cert Professional Development Planning and MSc Digital Media Production, thank you) should lead to being able to get a job and starting my career journey! I’m a bit nervous about this one, because this is what I anticipated when I graduated from my undergrad and I’m still struggling with incredibly low self-esteem about my worth in the workplace, but by the end of October I want to be working full time, even if it’s not in the industry I want to stay in forever yet.

And I want to learn website design! 2020 is my fifth year of blogging and I still don’t know anything about code, hosting or designing a pretty blog and that’s a skill I think will really benefit me. So if you know of any good courses or online tutorials please do let me know!

Personal:

  • Work on making a savings plan for my personal bank account when I’m in a position to afford to save
  • Develop my knowledge of film photography
  • Learn more about vegetarian cooking and aim to eat veggie 3 nights a week

I made some amazing progress with saving in 2019 and I was so, so proud of myself but moving, starting a masters and a personal crisis of sorts led to me using most of those savings just to pay bills so once I’ve figured out my financial situation, I want to get back on the savings wagon because it’s so satisfying.

Film photography is something that’s intrigued me for a little while – just before Christmas my dad revealed he had a bunch of film cameras that he was willing to let me have and after spending £10 on one roll of film I’ve been studying the manual and experimenting with lenses as much as I can. It’ll take the film being developed for me to know if I’ve actually learnt anything but I’m really excited to take this little camera on adventures this year.

And eating veggie has been on my radar for a while – last year when I was doing really well with healthy eating I was ‘veggie till dinner’ and when my boyfriend and I moved out of my mum’s house and he started being away a lot with work, I tend to eat veggie when I’m on my own because it’s cheaper and I love vegetables. But I want to learn to cook more veggie meals and experiment with more ingredients this year.

Home:

  • Don’t move house! Stay put for a whole year (please)
  • Travel! A European holiday with my boyfriend, also Centre Parcs with family friends and MCM ComicCon
  • Save £500 in Help To Buy ISA account

Pretty simple – I don’t want to move in 2020. It will be the first year since I moved to uni in 2015 that I haven’t put all my stuff in boxes and had to settle somewhere new. But obviously it depends on income, whether they want to put the rent up after the first year and if the location is still relevant to what we need.

Travelling is always a goal and last year I got way too excited and overambitious about where I thought I could go. For Christmas, my boyfriend has said he’ll take me on holiday and I’m thinking a beach holiday in the first week of October just to CHILL after my dissertation is handed in but I’m a little blown away by the whole thing so advice please.

Lastly, I know I said I want to make a plan for my personal savings account but I actually have three (personal, joint with the boyf and a help to buy ISA). I think this amount might be a tiny bit optimistic but smart goals have to be measurable – I currently have £10 in there so only £490 to go? But for real, I really want to start saving for a house this year and any amount is a good amount to start.

And onto…

9 ‘Bucket List’ Goals:

  • Read 12 books
  • Do 6 writing challenges (January, March, May, July, September, November NaNoWriMo)
  • Keep adding to 5 year plan
  • Register at the doctors and dentist and actually go
  • Figure out a fitness routine and reach weight goal (not confident enough to share this on the internet yet, soz lads)
  • Get another tattoo!
  • Listen to new music and podcasts
  • Have monthly date nights with the boy
  • Actually start making my t-shirt blanket

Also maybe figure out a blogging and YouTube schedule but tbh, I want to keep it chill this year so we’ll see how that goes.

And that’s what I’m aiming for this year! I was going to do my January Goals in a separate post but I figured most of it will stem directly from these goals so I’m going to tag them on the end here.

January Goals:

  1. Write 9000 Words for Writing Challenge (I’ll be real, I didn’t twig that I wanted to do a writing challenge this month until the 3rd when writing this so that was a nice realisation)
  2. Register at the doctors – I’ve been collecting my anti-depressants from my home doctors at my mum’s house since I moved nearly four months ago so I really need to get onto this
  3. Find carb-alternatives for lunch food – a sandwich is so easy and what worked for me last year was not eating carbs or meat until dinner and I want to find a way to make this less boring. I don’t really like salads that much, I love couscous and roast veg but I can’t heat it up at uni. Need to do some research!
  4. Launch new blog…
  5. Spending ban – except food, bills and my boyfriend’s birthday

And so I don’t forget my two monthly ‘bucket list’ goals…

  • Read 1 book
  • Have a date night!

Now that is a long ass, self-indulgent post about what I’m hoping to achieve this year! But I find reading and hearing other peoples goals is so inspirational so let me know all about your goals in the comments!

Thank you so much for reading,

Sophie xx

YouTube | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

York & Bournemouth photo diary | mini trips

2019, photography, travel

Hello!

Since passing our driving tests my boyfriend and I have been everywhere – we drove down to Basingstoke, via Reading, in and our of our local city and in the last week we’ve done well over 500 miles to York and Bournemouth to see family friends and my sister.

I love talking about travel on my blog and I love talking about the process of travelling and documenting my adventures to new places, but York and Bournemouth are places I’ve been before and they weren’t really sightseeing trips. So instead, with the magic of Huji, I’ve taken loads of pictures that I thought I’d share.

So my godmother’s kids wanted me to watch their swimming lesson so can I just acknowledge how difficult it is to do a photo diary AND not get any children in swimming costumes in? Very challenging, but I actually quite like this photo in the end!

Trying to be artsy while the boyfriend makes sure I don’t walk into anyone…

And from York, to Bournemouth!

Harry Ramsden’s for dinner!

my silly boy!

the BEST arcade in Bournemouth

my favourite dominos is the veggie one, if you’re offering

this place had the potential to be really cool, but the service was above and beyond crap tbh!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I’m a WALKING stereotype

And after this walk on the pier, we drove to my sister’s new house to go have pancakes and drove home!

My blog has always been about authenticity for me and a lot of these photos aren’t groundbreaking, but they’re personal memories and that’s what I love them for – most of our lives are mundane, so why isn’t that worth documenting too?

Thank you so much for reading,

Sophie xx

YouTube | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

making more local travel plans

2019, travel

Hello!

One of my goals for this year was to take a little trip somewhere new with my boyfriend every month – this hasn’t worked out because I prioritised life things like saving to upgrade my car and now saving to move out, but since passing my driving test this week (it still feels so surreal just to say it!) I’ve got a whole new lease of inspiration that I thought I’d share.

Now that I’m not bound by trains or being too far to walk or anywhere, the whole country feels so much more accessible. Next week, the boy and I are going to see his family in Basingstoke then going up to Reading to view some properties for moving, then a couple of weeks later we’re going up to York to see my god-mother and her kids.

I had so many elaborate (and expensive) plans for the year – I wanted to go to Amsterdam in July, Santorini in September and Berlin in December and I don’t even think if I hadn’t bought a car or moved I’d have been able to do that. But there’s still so many places I’ve never seen in the UK that I feel even more excited to see.

Being new to driving, I’m obviously not going to be doing trips right down South to Cornwall or all the way up to Scotland, but places within a couple of hours drive and not too many hundreds of miles is definitely achievable!

The first place that springs to mind is Brighton – my main experience of the city is from the YouTubers I follow that live there but it seems like such a vibrant and quirky city and I really want to go and experience it myself.

I definitely want to spend more time in Bournemouth – with my sister at uni there I really have no excuse but there’s an arcade just off the beach front that is somewhere I could spend literally hours and Bournemouth beach is the nicest beach on the South Coast (I think anyway! I’ve not been to that many).

And there are other places that aren’t beach towns on the South Coast that start with B – I want to go to the National Space Centre in Leicester, I want to visit Bath, I’d love to see places like the Stone Henge and go back to Hadrian’s Wall and learn more about it. Britain is a country steeped in history and there’s so much to learn and I genuinely can’t wait to go see more of it in my little Hyundai.

That’s not to say I don’t want to travel further afoot – I really do want to see everything this world has to offer. I still want to go to Amsterdam, Santorini and Berlin, I want to visit my friend Emma in Texas, go see my family friends and cousin in New Zealand, I want to go to the Pokemon Centre in Japan with my boyfriend and more than anything I want to go back to New York and spend more time enjoying the city rather than rushing round trying to fit in as much as we could (though that was great too).

Travelling has been something that has been one of my main life ambitions since I first decided to go to Tanzania with Camps International in 2012 – spending a month there in 2013 showed me a small glimpse of what the world looks like and I’m going to spend the rest of my life seeing more and more.

But not right now. Travelling is more than long-haul flights to countries thousands of miles away. It’s about making memories with people you love and me, my boy and my little car are going to make so many memories.

Thank you so much for reading,

Sophie xx

YouTube | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

2019 Goals – Mid Year Review

2019, goals

Hello!

love goal setting and the end of June is always somewhat momentous for me because I know it marks the halfway point to the year, so it’s the best time to check in on my goals, adapt if necessary and see how much progress I’m making!

Quick context – I have three categories that I set goals in (personal, career, creative) and each of those categories has three goals and then I tried something new this year in setting some ‘bucket list’ style goals.

I’ll try to keep this brief but I do love a ramble about goals and progress so tuck yourself in lads! Grab a cuppa and tell me all about your goals in the comments please!

Personal Goals:

1. work towards my weight goals – eat well, build workout routine

I feel like I mention it in every blog post, YouTube video and Instagram caption but I’ve been trying to lose weird basically forever now. Progress has been slow over the last three months or so but I’m trying to eat much more intuitively and I’ve been running three times a week (or thereabout) for nearly 10 weeks now and I feel like it’s the longest I’ve ever stuck to something and I’m really proud of myself!

2. prioritise tasks and make time for hobbies – stop caring about ‘productivity’ so much

I’ve been refining how I make my to do lists and generally I am finding ways to make the most of every day as much as I can. I definitely haven’t been making time for hobbies but I have been more efficient with my productivity. I still care about productivity much more than I want to, but with how the rest of the year is going to go I think the time for hobbies will come. But in a way writing blog posts and YouTube videos are my hobbies so I guess that counts?

3. self esteem, I need some

This was a way of wording ‘fix my mental health’ whilst being a bit kinder to myself about it. I’ve tried my best to get to know each other and build better habits and I’m much better at recognising the triggers of when I’m not doing so good. I’ve had a bunch of doctors appointments, I’m on anti-depressants now and I’m on a waiting list for computerised CBT, which I’m hesitant about but know it’ll probably be for the best. This is the most progress I’ve made with my mental health in the ten years I’ve been internally battling with myself so whilst I don’t really have any self-esteem yet, the whole process is a work in progress.

Career Goals:

1. build freelance career – make my own work, be my own boss, superhero woman (essentially)

I set this goal in the beginning of the year when I had freelance work and that fell through within a few weeks (which was horrible, ngl) so now this goal is just about working hard for me. How this year has gone so far hasn’t been to plan for me, but I’ve gotten over myself and made my situation work and I’ve earned enough many to make a big purchase recently so it’s going okay! I’m making it all work.

2. build my own media kit (save for a camera/refine my skills)

This one is something I know exactly what I want but I’ve justified that I’m not going to spend the money on something as big as a camera and lenses etc when I’m not certain I’m going to use them or they’re going to be a cost-effective purchase. If I spend the second half of the year glued to a camera, then I can justify it, if I don’t then I’m not going to spend that much money on a camera. All justified!

3. make a future plan with work goals, house/relationship aspirations etc

I’ve done this! Not set in stone kind of 5 year plan because that just doesn’t work for me but I have the framework in my bullet journal and that I add to a change and adapt occasionally. It’s all flexible because I think life is too unpredictable to really make a solid 5 year plan.

Creative Goals:

1. continue towards making the most genuine ‘me’ content on my blog and youtube channel

Actually really pleased with this one – I’m really happy with the attitude I have towards my blog and my channel at the moment and cutting myself some slack when I don’t upload exactly at the right time or anything. I feel more genuine than I’ve felt in a long time and I’m really happy with it.

2. write a book? finish something? write more than I did in 2018 (may be some freelance writing?)

I’ve been planning little writing challenges all through this year in the build up to writing 50,000 words in November for NaNoWriMo and it’s been going semi-decently! I’ve not always hit word counts but I’ve been writing consistently for the first time since before I went to uni. This month I’m hoping to write 35,000 words but I’m significantly behind and it’s day 6 so I’m hoping to get a couple of really good catch up days in before the month is out.

3. work on photography – need to solidify basic knowledge and then work with better equipment

I spent a lot of time at the beginning of this year teaching myself the basics of photography – what all the settings really mean, getting to know my camera, figuring out how the core skills of photography really work. It’s something I want to develop further with more experience when I go back to uni in September but for now I’m pleased with the progress I’ve made so far.

10 ‘bucket list’ goals:

1. have a PT session

This one is centred around driving for me – I can’t walk to a gym locally and I’m moving soon so getting professional help with working out will come when either I can drive or I move. Another work in progress!

2. get another tattoo

Done! Got a series of tattoos to start my travel sleeve this week and I love them so much.

(photos)

3. read a book a month

I’m currently on 7 out of 12 books for the year! I haven’t read for a few weeks but because I was a little bit ahead it was a bit of pressure off and I’m going to get back to it soon, when I’ve fixed my sleeping pattern (lol).

4. do a grid drawing every month

For context – the premise of this is this is that I print off a line drawing, draw a 30 square grid over the top and colour in one square each day of the month. This is something I’m really enjoying – sometimes I find colouring books a bit daunting because I don’t know where to start or they’re so intricate but this one has been really good for my mental health and for my creativity.

5. listen to more music, use Spotify playlists

I’ve been writing my monthly mixtape posts for a few months now and I listen to my discover weekly playlist every week!

6. save for a canon 80d, 50mm lens and a 75-300mm lens

See previous photography goals – if I don’t do this one it’s a financial choice.

7. have a little trip away with my boyfriend every month

I wrote a blog post about how I’ve already broken this one for the year but finances and work have disrupted this one a little, but that’s alright – it was pretty ambitious anyway.

8. take my driving test + upgrade my car

I have taken my driving test once and failed but next one is booked and I feel so much better about it. And I bought a new car at the weekend! I’m genuinely so excited about it all, I can’t wait to see where my little H R Wheels and I will go in the latter half of this year.

9. improve my posture

A silly one, but one I’m trying to integrate into my day to day life.

10. find somewhere to live/get our own place

And following the brief mention of going back to uni, my boyfriend and I will be moving somewhere close to Oxford (probably Aylesbury because there doesn’t seem to property available anywhere else). We’ll be moving in the next couple of months!

And that’s a check in with all of my goals for 2019! I think checking in on goals like this is really important because if you’re on track and making progress it inspires you to keep going and if you feel like you’ve not made as much progress as you’d like it gives you the kick up the bum to focus!! Here’s to the home straight of 2019!

Thank you so much for reading,

Sophie xx

YouTube | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

breaking my 2019 travel plans…

2019, goals, travel

Hello!

I’m a hugely ‘goal’ orientated person – I write monthly goals to motivate myself, I frequently check in with my ‘New Year’s Resolutions’ and 2019 goals and sticking to them is really important to me.

But let’s talk about this travel goal – my aim was to go on a little trip with my boyfriend every month. Not a huge holiday, not going abroad every time but taking a night or two away just to see somewhere new and have a day off every month.

In January we went to Devon, in February we had a Centre Parcs holiday, in March we had a weekend in Paris, in April we went to Cambridge and in May we went to London MCM ComicCon and explored Stratford and Canning Town.

And June? I’ve got nothing booked, I’ve got no ideas and I don’t think we’re going to have time.

The biggest factor is money – I can’t afford to spend too much on picking somewhere, paying for a hotel, paying for trains and transport and food, whilst I really want to… I just can’t justify it. The second thing is location – we live in the middle of nowhere at the moment, getting anywhere by train largely involves going through London which makes journeys long and fairly expensive. And the third thing is time – we have plans this weekend, next weekend is going to be stressful for reasons I’m not going to disclose (nothing dodgy or dark, just not gonna go into it), the following weekend we have a family gathering and the weekend after that we have potential plans.

So I think I’m going to have to break the 2019 Goal for a month and I kind of hate it.

I’m someone who likes patterns – setting myself a 30 day challenge or a once-a-month challenge I’m someone who likes to tick boxes and missing a day or a month really bothers me, but on the other hand – forcing myself not to be bound by those types of things is probably good for warding off potential OCD and I don’t want to force a trip somewhere I’m not excited about a spend money for the sake of it. I’d rather take a month off and go somewhere really exciting in July (I’ve got lots of ‘last minute’ trip ideas… stay tuned).

Part of the reason I wanted to write this post is that amongst travel bloggers, travel instagrammers and feeling like every single person you know on Facebook is going somewhere sunny by the sea in the Mediterranean, sometimes it feels like being stuck at home is the worst thing in the world. There’s a whole world out there to see and right now it’s not on your path to go see any of it, for one reason or another.

So it’s a reminder to myself on two fronts – one, that I will go see the world at some stage, I will see everything it has to offer and really properly enjoy it because I won’t have rushed it. And two, that not sticking to every single letter on my 2019 goals is okay too. A year is a long time and things change and different priorities arise, everything works out for a reason and just because it doesn’t happen when you hope it will doesn’t mean it won’t happen.

Thank you so much for reading,

Sophie xx

YouTube | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

a night in Cambridge | travel

2019, travel

Hello!

I can’t believe it’s May and I’m about to start talking about New Year’s Resolutions but I had three resolutions that I wanted to complete every month – read a book, do a ‘one square every day’ drawing and go on a little trip. I never meant like a full on holiday but just seeing somewhere new every month with my boyfriend.

In January, we went to Newton Abbott in Devon for my cousin’s wedding, in February we went to Centre Parcs in the Lake District (didn’t see much of the Lake District… but I’m counting it!) and March we went to Paris.

Obviously, I’ve made a vague plan/list of ideas for each month for the rest of the year and my plan for April was to go to Cambridge – it’s just down the road from where I live on the train, it’s a beautiful city with so much history and architecture so it just made sense.

So I booked a little ‘last minute’ trip just six days in advance – booked a Premier Inn, booked the train tickets and we were ready to go! So last week, we hopped on a train and visited somewhere we’ve never been before!

The thing that was a little bit different for me on this trip, is that I didn’t really plan in advance – I had a little google of things to do and tried to get some ideas but everything cost money and we didn’t have any money to spend really.

So we hopped off the train and picked a direction to just walk in – we saw a food place called ‘Big Ass Burritos’, we passed the coolest Wetherspoons with a cinema attached, we passed botanical gardens and so many stunning churches and it was so lovely to just walk with literally no plans.

We found a shopping centre called Grand Arcade that was lovely for a browse (a Typo shop and a Disney store for me and a Raspberry Pi workshop for my boyfriend) and by then we were starting to get a bit peckish and tired so we searched on maps and started to follow the route to the hotel.

On the way we found another shopping complex, The Grafton Centre, which had CEX, Game and a Cafe Nero across the road so we did a bit of browsing (I resisted buying a Nintendo Switch), had lunch in Nero (the best cheese and tomato toastie on the market, in my opinion) and then walked towards Premier Inn to check in for the night.

We stayed in the hotel room for an hour or so just to get our energy back a little bit, then we headed to a Tesco’s superstore across the road for evening supplies, then there was a big retail park complex across the road that had the Frankie & Benny’s we wanted to go to for dinner at the end, so we had a really domestic-couple’s trip to Currys PC World to look at Magic Fridge’s and talk about what our dream vacuum cleaner is, a browse in Argos’ sale section and a stalling look around the Homebase garden centre before heading to F&B’s for food.

And wow the food didn’t disappoint – my boyfriend has an absolutely huge pizza, I had an amazing lasagne from the ‘FeelGood’ menu (so I didn’t feel too guilty about treating myself!) and we treated ourselves to two sides – garlic bread pizza (very disappointing, literally 1/10) and cheese and bacon fries (exceeded expectations, 8/10). The best bit – restaurant dining doesn’t have to break the bank, it wasn’t the most expensive restaurant anyway but it doesn’t take much to find vouchers or discounts so definitely worth looking around if you’re going on a trip and don’t have a huge budget to work with.

The most surprising thing about the whole trip is that the food from our dinner was so filling, neither of us wanted to eat any of the Tesco’s snacks we’d bought before in the evening, so packing it all to come home the next day was a bit of a challenge.

We took it really slowly the next day – we didn’t check out of the hotel till half 10, maybe nearer 11am and then we just walked again. We wanted to explore Forbidden Planet and I had a couple of bits I wanted to pick up in Primark and they were both near the Grafton Centre, so we took a slow waddle back via lots of charity shops (gotta love a charity shop!).

For lunch we headed to the Wetherspoons we’d spotted the day before and spent the best part of a couple of hours killing time – our train was 5 or 6 hours away at this point and we weren’t that far from the train station. We didn’t really have any plans, didn’t have anywhere we particularly wanted to see so we really weren’t sure how we were going to kill this time.

After we left Spoons, we wondered into the University Botanical Gardens but unless we missed something huge, there wasn’t much to see and we felt like we were actually trespassing the whole time. It was a very nice garden with actual ‘don’t walk on the grass’ signs, but other than a nice lawn and amazing buildings there wasn’t too much to see.

So after a quick wonder and getting a little bit lost, we settled in the Cafe Nero by the train station for the best part of two hours, just talking and scrolling and enjoying the atmosphere of the city.

Then we hopped on the train home already thinking about where we want to go next. In May, we’re going to London for MCM ComicCon and that’s our trip for the month – we’ve been to this area of London a few times now but I’m hoping to find some new places to explore this year then it’s all about where we’re going to go in June – there’s a few university open days I want to attend so I might tie a trip in with one of these but I think I prefer doing it all a bit more last minute and feeling a bit more spontaneous.

Any recommendations? I’m thinking Bath or Brighton but please do let me know if you’ve got any suggestions!

Thank you so much for reading,

Sophie xx

YouTube | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

first time traveller – reviewing Paris

2019, travel

Hello!

Yes, I promise, after this post I’ll stop with the Paris spam (or at least, maybe stop mentioning it as often!) but I thought I’d do a little review post talking about the city from a travellers perspective, a tourists perspective and the perspective of my first trip abroad as a lead traveller!

Going from just going on a holiday and my only responsibilities being making sure I bring enough pairs of socks, to being the one booking the train tickets, finding a suitable hotel, planning a sort of itinerary is quite a big leap and it’s daunting when someone turns to you in a foreign country!

It was a weirdly adult feeling and on the one hand, it was cool because I proved to myself that I had the freedom to go anywhere but on the other hand ew does that mean I’m an adult?

I’ve picked a few key things that I was nervous about or felt were a barrier whilst I was there and I’ll just have a little natter about each one, if you have any tips or advice for any of these let me know in the comments below or send me a message on Instagram!

t h e   m e t r o

I was worried about transport around the city – I knew there was an underground-like system but having been to New York last year and gone the wrong way on the Subway, I wasn’t too sure how I would handle the metro. But I can’t speak more highly of it – using Google maps, it told me my final destination and what direction to be going in and we didn’t go the wrong way at all!

It’s definitely nicer and easier to understand than the London underground but would probably be much more difficult if I didn’t have Google maps on my phone.

It’s really reasonably priced, surprisingly easy to use (well, if you’re only wanting to buy single tickets and have Google maps!) and the ticket machines have lots of different languages to choose from!

And with that in mind…

t h e   l a n g u a g e

Before going on this trip, I felt confident in my minimal English – if nothing else, I knew how to say “sorry, I only speak a little French, I am English!”. But we got out there and I froze – I suddenly felt like everyone was judging me and I didn’t want to get anything wrong so I didn’t feel confident enough to try.

After the first few interactions, I did get a bit braver but then in the city it only took my vague attempt at a ‘bonjour’ for anyone to start talking to me in English. What it taught me is that I really should have brushed up on some key phrases before I left, but actually – I remember more French than I thought and my biggest barrier was confidence!

The thing that really helped me was that I thought if I was working in London and someone came up to me and tried to speak English as a second language, I’d be pleased that they’d given it a go rather than them making me speak their language! I’m sure most of the people who worked in Paris felt the same, I just needed the confidence to try.

f o o d

Following the language barrier, the next thing I was more worried about after we got there, was ordering food. I’m quite a fussy eater anyway and I get a little bit anxious about the ingredients that might be used that aren’t necessarily listed on a menu or packaging (mayo in sandwiches is my worst enemy!).

On our first day, we got sandwiches from Lidl, the next day we had lunch at McDonalds and dinner at Hard Rock Cafe (where the menu was in English anyway), the next day was a bakery for pastries (we were getting a bit braver), back to McDonalds (because it was easier and we knew we’d like it, we’re both a lil fussy) and another Lidl dinner. It’s something I definitely want to work on for the next time I go to a non-English speaking country because I didn’t feel immersed in the culture and I did feel a little like I was cheating.

But it’s intimidating on so many fronts – the language, worrying about having to eat something I don’t like (or going hungry) and wondering whether the places we were going were commercial enough to have English speaking staff or if it was too rural. Granted, most of this is in my head but it was something that I now know bothers me and I need to be aware of and face if I want to try more authentic food.

So in conclusion – I think in terms of first time lead traveller, I’d probably have been better off picking somewhere that is predominantly English speaking for my first trip, however I feel marginally more prepared to go to other non-English speaking countries, especially as most people we had to interact with in Paris spoke English to a service level.

I’m already looking to book a trip to Amsterdam in July so any recommendations and top tips on learning key phrases in Dutch would be welcome please!

Thank you so much for reading,

Sophie xx

YouTube | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

let me show you: Paris

2019, photography, travel

Hello!

If you haven’t seen all my Instagram posts, blog posts and YouTube videos… I went to Paris last weekend!

It was just magical – it was my boyfriend and I’s first real trip away (after over 3 years together!), it was his first time out of the country, it was my first time really taking the lead on booking a trip – it was hugely monumental for us as a couple and because it’s just such a beautiful city.

I decided when I went to New York last year that I wanted to start a travel series called ‘let me show you’ and when I first started that I intended to travel much more in 2018 – that didn’t happen! But I still want to carry on writing this series so as the title says, let me show you Paris!

Our first view of the Eiffel Tower – just breathtaking

a backlit Eiffel Tower, I have so many photos of the Eiffel Tower

but even the view opposite the Eiffel Tower was beautiful, the Seine is just stunning

see a cute avenue of trees? Clearly need an outfit photo

just LOOK at it!

It’s not often I actually like a photo with me in it, but this one is such a great summary of the trip, I’m so happy Lucas took it!

credit for this one has to go to the boyfriend – he started using my mum’s old Sumsung S7 before we went and the camera worked out really well for him, absolutely stunning picture

I’m still thinking about this nutella crepe, to be honest

This view is from the metro window!! Absolutely magical to speed past the Eiffel Tower and the Seine – not the most amazing photo but such a beautiful memory

Arc de Triumph, immediately viewable from the second you step out of the metro

the architecture in Paris is just second to none – to think about how this was built and how magnificent it all is? Just amazing

Doing a night cruise of the Seine was my sister’s suggestion – I thought it might not be dark enough and then by the time we were on the boat the sky was this beautiful navy colour and just look at the Eiffel Tower all lit up, it was just amazing

this was halfway through the night tour as we were turning round to head back – I love all the colour reflected in the water and actually? The photo from my phone was better than the one on my camera – really experimented with lots of mediums on this trip

The Eiffel Tower sparkles every hour and it’s the most magical thing, it’s just stunning

on to Day 2 – next step; the Louvre! Getting a picture without anyone stood in the way was actually a mission

I don’t know what this leaf with plants on is meant to be, but I kind of love it and I took a lot more pictures of it than I really should have

Notre Dam – it was just mind blowing, we sat for a long time just looking at it, I definitely want to go inside and up next time

sneaking up on the Pantheon

I think every building in Paris is just astonishing – again, definitely one to go inside next time, just even from the outside it was just stunning

And the original Statue of Liberty in the Jardin de Luxembourg! (I might have spelt that wrong) The gardens around the statue are actually just so beautiful – we sat there for literal hours, partially because we needed our phones to charge but it gave us this time to be disconnected from technology and really talk to each other and really embrace the moment. I’m definitely making more time to be without technology on any other trips we do in the future

This trip has motivated me more than effort to actually making travelling happen this year – I’m hoping to do an overnight trip to Cambridge this month and I’m looking into going to Amsterdam in July so if anyone has any (kinda budget) recommendations for those places (or anywhere else!) please let me know!

Tell me all about your favourite places to travel in the comments, I want to share the travel love today!

Thank you so much for reading,

Sophie xx

YouTube | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

planning a weekend trip in Europe | travel

2019, lifestyle, travel

Hello!

When I first started blogging, my three topics of choice were lifestyle, music and travel and I really did not show that in what I was writing. I’ve made it a little personal goal of mine to write genuinely relevant travel content this year, not ‘I wish I could travel here’ and ‘one day I’ll go to these places’ but stuff that genuinely reflects where I am in terms of travel at the moment.

Long story short, my boyfriend and I have had a trip to Paris in the works since last January (yes, I mean 2018, 13 months ago) and after mishaps getting my boyfriend’s first passport, spontaneously buying EuroStar tickets in November because they were so cheap (£29 per person each way, £116 total – utter bargain, keep an eye on trainline because it’s so worth it in what you save!) and everything else – we’re going to Paris for 3 nights at the end of March.

Slowly I’ve been ticking off the things I need to do – this week I’m going to book a hotel (because gal’s gotta save) and for my boy’s birthday (one whole year after declaring I would take him to Paris in the first place) I wrote up a kind of mock itinerary and sure, he can scrap it and write a whole new one if he likes but wow, I put so much time into it.

(let’s pretend this screenshot of my laptop screen is edgy and creative and not just a bit weird or lazy, I was aiming for edgy okay)

So I’m going to have a little chat about how I made this itinerary – I got a bit hung up on hotels and stuff but a few people on Instagram said not to worry about finding somewhere too fancy because for our first trip to Paris we should spend as much time as we can in the city and where we stay is just somewhere to sleep. So at present I’m hoping to book this ibis hotel which is near the Gare du Nord train station where we’ll be getting the Eurostar too but a couple of people have told me to have a look on AirBNB as well but I’m kind of skeptical and it scares me a bit so if anyone has any AirBNB advice or where to stay in Paris recommendations please do let me know, probably on Instagram is easiest! Or a comment, whatever floats your boat.

But back to my itinerary! I put a lot of research into this but I also made the most of instagram by blocking my boyfriend from seeing my stories (it was a birthday present surprise, I was trying to be subtle!) and asking for recommendations and writing down everything that people had suggested.

And then, like the basic bitch I am, I googled ‘things to do in Paris’ – but more specifically, my sister recommended getting the Paris pass which gets free access to a bunch of attractions. I haven’t bought this (I’ll explain that in a second) but there is a free 120 page guide to the city that I downloaded and scrolled through and made notes of the things I thought Lucas (the boy) and I would be most interested in doing.

From there, I condensed the list to things I actually thought we would do and then I used Google Maps to be able to visually see where all these attractions were to try and group the things that are in similar areas and plan out our days a little bit. Most of Thursday and Sunday are taken by travel but there’s still two full days that we can fit in as much as we can!

When I grouped things I was looking for morning activities, afternoon activities and maybe one evening thing so there’s time for lots of things! Once I could see them all on the map there was a few things that I ruled out because they were so isolated but I grouped things and popped them on the itinerary.

From there I did a little more research into each potential thing and how much tickets or anything would cost and included that and I could also look around each area we’re in for breakfast/lunch/dinner and list a few options. Finding places to eat in advance I really struggled with – I think we’ll mostly just have a look at what’s around us when we’re ready for food and go where’s convenient and looks good but the one thing I have booked is Hard Rock Cafe Paris because I want to make sure we can get a table on Friday night. I’m so excited about it, ever since I went to Hard Rock Cafe in New York I’ve wanted to try as many as possible and I can’t wait.

I’m very aware that we’re not going to follow this itinerary to the letter (other than trains, we can’t miss those) and I’m so happy to go with the flow but I didn’t want to go into this trip with absolutely no plans because I definitely would have missed something amazing.

So that’s how I made our little itinerary and that’s our plans for Paris so far! I definitely want to have another look and potentially book a few bits in advance but I won’t be buying the aforementioned Paris Pass for a few reasons that I want to be explicit about – firstly, I think it’s incredibly expensive. If you’re going to do everything in the guide, then I’m sure it’s worth the money but for a two-full-days-in-city trip it is almost certainly going to be a waste of money. Secondly, developing on that – doing a quick price up of each activity that costs money that I think we’ll be doing and it costs less to buy them all individually than to buy the pass. Thirdly, I think it’s a bit gimmicky – being a tourist doesn’t have to cost that much money and if I wanted to I could definitely do this whole trip without paying for attractions or activities. The website sucks you in with ‘you’ll waste so much money if you don’t buy this pass!’ but when you add it up, it’s just not the case.

If there’s any recommendations or questions about Paris please do leave them in the comments! Although I’ve been on a few amazing trips, I’m still very new to travelling and being entirely responsible for everything we do so all tips and recommendations are welcome!

Thank you so much for reading,

Sophie xx

YouTube | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram