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

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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

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so no one told ya (post-grad) life was gonna be this way…

2019, career, lifestyle, student

Hello!

I thought today I’d have a little rambly chat about what’s going on re life post graduation! It’s been nearly a year since I finished my degree and 9 months since I officially graduated and if anyone wants any reassurance that you’re not the only one in the universe that still hasn’t got a career job since then this is what this post is for.

It’s that darn social media again isn’t it – you scroll through instagram and see people talking about cool projects they’re taking on or even that they’ve been promoted to another role and it’s so isolating – to feel like you’re the only person who hasn’t been able to start their career, it starts to make you’re not good enough, maybe it’s because you can’t do the job you want and all these other thoughts start floating around.

I know in my heart of hearts that isn’t true, but I start getting to this point where I’m saying things like ‘I just need someone to give me a chance’ – no I don’t! I don’t need ‘a chance’ because that makes it sound like someone’s taking a risk on hiring me and I’m not a risk.

So, this ‘introductory paragraph’ I wanted to open this post with has turned into a nice little summary about the spiral of thoughts I’m having regarding my career! I’m looking into going back to uni, I’m thinking maybe I just give up and work in retail for the rest of my life but then, I’m a very ambitious person. I have life goals, I have places I want to go and see and that doesn’t make me special or different in any way, but then the insecurity fizzles into frustration – how have so many other people I graduated with managed to find jobs in the field I want to go in but I’m sat at home sending out application after application and getting nothing back?

And then we cycle round to insecurity and how they’re all better than me and so on and so on.

To be honest, I don’t know how to fix it other than getting a job. I trawl through job sites and I look at all these jobs and I start to pick out things that I can’t do. This time last year I had the approach that no, I don’t know how to do that thing but I’m a fast learner and I really want to be good at these things so hopefully that won’t be an issue but now? Those things are still true but I’ve given up on thinking that anyone will let me try. I don’t know what to do anymore.

But let’s have a look at the positives – I’m in a very fortunate position that my mum owns a business that she can give me a part time job and I’m working so it’s not like I’m literally living off nothing. I’m gaining lots of skills in office admin, being a PA and databasing that I didn’t know before and I wouldn’t have learnt if I’d gone straight into a graduate job.

I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to volunteer at my old dance school and contribute to the place that kept me sane while I was a teenager – from there I’ve also learnt more about being a receptionist (and pretty much conquered my fear of talking on the phone!) and gone back to doing a couple of dance classes (always wishing I could do more) which I definitely wouldn’t have had the opportunity to do if I’d gone straight into work.

And I definitely wouldn’t have had the time to learn to drive if I didn’t have the flexibility of part time work – I’ve been learning for 8 months now and I’m about to book my test for late June so hopefully (if I pass first time!) I will have gone from knowing literally nothing about a car to taking my test in 10 months and I’m so excited about having the freedom to go wherever I want whenever I want and not be bound by public transport for the first time in my life, I literally can’t wait.

And that’s just three things – alongside having the time to keep up with my blog and YouTube channel, working on more of my hobbies like learning to knit and playing the piano, spending so much time with my boyfriend before he starts work and getting to live at home with my mum for a little bit, these are all things I wouldn’t have been able to do if I’d got a job straight away.

It’s all swings and roundabouts – on the one hand, I feel like maybe this is just my path and my next step is yet to come. On the other hand, I’m still toying with the idea that maybe I’m completely useless and I just need to reevaluate my entire life. Who knows?!

Conclusion – right now, it’s tough, being rejected for so many jobs it’s disheartening and it’s taking it’s toll but letting it totally destroy any self confidence I may or may not have is not going to help anything. So I’ve got to keep truckin’ – get my driving license, work on expanding my skillset, self learning. There’s a career for me out there, somewhere (hopefully).

Thank you so much for reading,

Sophie xx

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5 tips for packing a weekend bag | Travel

2019, lifestyle, travel

Hello!

Remember when I used to write about travel on this blog? Well she’s bringing it back lads – between having a few trips planned this year and wanting to travel more, I want to write about it more too!

Already confirmed this year I’ve got a little holiday to Centre Parcs with a close family friend, a trip to Paris with my boyfriend and lots of ideas for the rest of the weekend but the purpose of this blog post is packing for a family wedding down in Devon this weekend.

Now though I’m going to be talking about packing as light as possible, I am going for 5 days (kind of by accident, it’s a very long story!) so bare that in mind!

Whenever I’m packing, I want to make sure that I use every single thing I take but, on the flipside, don’t leave myself short – if I’m going for one night and I’m only taking a backpack that I’m going to be carrying the whole time I need to make sure I’m only taking the bare minimum. Whereas if I’m going for a few days, staying in a hotel and driving there and back I know I can take a suitcase and not worry too much about it being heavy.

With all that in mind, here are a few of my top tips for packing efficiently for short trips!

1 – make a list!

Shock horror, isn’t my first suggestion always a list? I know, but what I mean is make something visual – whether it’s putting pen to paper and planning outfits for the trip, making a note on your phone of how many items of clothing or any essentials you need to remember or even if it’s laying everything out on the floor so you can see it all! Personally, I find it so much easier to think about what could be missing or what I’ve over packed when I can see it all.

2 – get everything before you start packing

Again, going to sound incredibly obvious but lay out everything you need (and I mean everything) before you start folding it all up and putting it in your suitcase or pack. Just so you know exactly what you’re working with and can figure out whether your bag is too big or too small. So much easier than rushing around everywhere collecting the bits you’ve forgotten!

3 – using packing cubes / freezer bags to separate things if it helps!

Whether it’s separating each outfit by day, separating items of clothing or even just putting all your toiletries and beauty bits in different freezer bags (or whatever your bag of choice is!) having some organisation within your travel bag can make finding what you want while you’re away so much easier.

Packing cubes can be a great long term investment but if you’re not sure if they’ll work for you yet, either use bags you already own or freezer bags, carrier bags, anything really! Whatever you can think of to separate out what you’re taking in whatever way suits you best.

4 – what toiletries do you really need?

It’s so easy to take every dry shampoo, moisturiser and face mask under the sun but realistically, what are you actually going to use? It’s so easy to feel like you’ll suddenly need everything but on some shorter trips you might not even need to do a hair wash, so why lug bottles of shampoo, conditioner and shower gel when you don’t need them.

If you’re wanting to bring lots but don’t want to bring full size bottles, either buy travel versions or alternatively (cheaper but more effort) buy those little empty bottles you can get at Boots or Superdrug (or the like) and bring a little bit of each product rather than the full bottles.

5 – don’t bring entertainment you don’t need

A weekend away can mean such a variety of things – using public transport for a one night stay, driving somewhere for a 4 night stay or flying somewhere short haul for a three night stay (or any amalgamation of the three!) and consequently, different forms of entertainment may be necessary.

For a train journey, I tend to bring my laptop or use my phone to pass the time, in the car I can’t do anything but listen to music and sleep and if you’re flying anywhere you’re probably going to spend hours in an airport so it might even be worth bringing a back of cards or Uno!

But on the other hand, you don’t want to take your laptop, three hard drives and a full set of coloured pens (for bullet journal stuff, or colouring, whatever floats your boat) if you’re not going to have time to use them! Really think about what you’re going to be doing while you’re away, whether you’re going to have time to use them or if you’ll need them (for work or, let’s say, writing blog posts!) so you don’t have to carry anything you’re not using!

With all of that in mind, I’m off to pack! I hope this has helped, if there are any travel related blog posts (or anything related blog posts!) you’d like to see please do let me know in the comments below!

Thank you so much for reading,

Sophie xx

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a night out in Weymouth

2017, travel, Uncategorized

Hello!

When I talk about travelling on this blog, I often talk about it not having to be a ‘big foreign’ trip to write about it – I went to Weymouth for the first time over New Years and it was a gorgeous sea side town so I wanted to write about it here.

Two of my friends and their bands were playing in Weymouth (where they’re from) for New Years and my boyfriend and I joked about going… and then we did.

We arrived in the afternoon and basically went straight to the sea and I loved it – it was full of little blue and white seaside benches and the pier is gorgeous and it was just so cutesy. I definitely need to go and spend more time at Weymouth beach.

After meeting my friends at the beach, we went for lunch at McDonalds (lol) and back to my friend’s house to chill out, watch Doctor Who and have dinner. It was such a lovely area – the house was on a big hill and you could see the sea from his drive and his garden and I just loved it, I just feel like I could live there – it was a big, seaside version of my home town.

In the evening we had sparklers and we let off a few fireworks and it was so much fun – I was so excited to have my first proper New Years that wasn’t sat in front of a TV watching fireworks in London and to bring the New Year in with such amazing friends I felt so privileged, so lucky and so grateful.

After the sparklers we went to our first venue for the evening – Finns, where my friend Dan’s band Coyote were playing and then went on to The Lazy Lizard to see my friend Pete’s band Under the Carousel. There was a nice break in the middle to sit on a bench and stare at the sea and talk about the New Year and how things change.

I mean, that was after I nearly got dragged into a fight and got kicked in the leg and had a minor panic attack about being in a new place and not knowing my surroundings – things like that happen, but I’m working on it and it didn’t ruin my night. Didn’t mean to include a ‘mental health’ update in those post but there it is!

Weymouth is a gorgeous place and I’d love to go back, maybe for a little weekend seaside holiday in the summer!

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

 

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Going to uni so far from home

2016, travel

Hello!

Writing about travel and new places for me right now is difficult because I haven’t done masses of travelling, but I want to practise travel writing so when I travel I then feel ready and that I already have some experience to write about it!

Part of going to university for me was being far enough away from home that I had to be fully independent and getting to see a part of the country I hadn’t been to before, and that involved moving 170 miles away to a new end of the country and from that, I get to visit lots of new places and towns and cities I’ve never been to all the time because it’s all so new to me.

I also get called “Northern” a lot but that’s not the point. (#DefendtheMidlands)

Travel blogging doesn’t have to be exotic (though if you want to be a ‘successful’ travel blogger you’ll probably have to leave the country, let’s be honest) – big trips to other countries are really fun to write about but it can be a new town or a pretty spot that you found on a walk. I’m hoping to do a few more of these as the summer months approach and hopefully money will be more on my side.

Going home this semester has been a no go with the amount of deadlines I’ve had and how they’ve been spaced out to every couple of weeks, meaning one weekend I’d be working on the deadline and the next weekend I’d be making sure the assignment was ready to hand in and this has been going on since October.

At one point the plan was that I was going to spend Christmas in Basingstoke with my boyfriend but we’ve decided we’re going to spend Christmas apart – I’m so excited to be going home. At this point even it’s still undecided when I’m going home or how long I’ll be home for but I’m hoping everything works out in my favour and I get to spend as much time at home as I can.

I’m so excited to be back somewhere the feels so familiar and I’m excited for the New Year and 2017, especially in terms for what I have planned with blogging and my YouTube channel.

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

 

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24 Hours In… Nottingham

2016, travel

Hello!

When I lived in Lincolnshire, Nottingham was somewhere I used to go fairly regularly for concerts, shows and shopping trips.

AccorHotels are running a competition called ‘24 Hours In…‘ where you make a blog post or vlog about what you would do with 24 hours in your favourite city with a chance to win a 9 night stay for two in Paris, Amsterdam and Berlin and a GoPro to vlog the whole trip! You can read more about the competition here but I thought I’d talk about what I’d do with 24 hours in Nottingham.

I’ve been to Nottingham on a variety of occasions – shopping trips and theatre visits with my mum, concert nights and Primark trips with my friends and even a dance competition at the same arena I’ve been to so many concerts earlier this year! I feel like I know the city fairly well (as someone who doesn’t live there, that is!) and I could easily spend 24 hours there.

Assuming my trip starts at about 12pm, the first stop would have to be lunch – there are so many good places to eat around Nottingham but I love Frankie and Bennies. It’s always been a family favourite of mine, especially when ‘Tell Laura I love Her’ comes on the soundtrack and my mum and I serenade my sister.

Her name’s Laura, there’s a reason for singing to her!

After that it would have to be a trip to Long Tall Sally – a shop full of gorgeous clothes that are all well fitting on me! Really reasonably sized (as in, I wear a small in most clothes!) and all of the clothes are long enough for my 5’10” frame! I could spend hours in there but with only 24 hours, time is of the essence! The rest of the afternoon would almost certainly be devoted to shopping, maybe not in shops quite as expensive as Long Tall Sally but a trip to Primark and New Look never comes amiss! A bit of retail therapy is the best part of a little getaway.

Once we’ve spent all the money in our purses, it would probably be time to check into the hotel and go for dinner before a trip to the theatre! I love going to see shows – musical theatre, classic plays and especially when bands are on tour. Whatever was on at the time, I’d definitely try to get some tickets and spent the night out that way, with a drink or two afterwards to discuss whatever it is I’d seen with whoever it was I went with.

From there I think it would be back to the hotel to get some sleep before hotel breakfast the following morning – making the most of croissants and buffet breakfast galore!

And what to do with the little time before my 24 hours is up?

Kitty Cafe.

I’ve never been to a cat cafe but it just sounds like a perfect morning to me – cake, a hot chocolate in a room surrounded by kitties? I think this would be the perfect way to spend the last of my time in Nottingham before my 24 hours is up and heading back to the train station.

Assuming I got the train there on my hypothetically trip to Nottingham.

Writing this post has just made me want to go back to Nottingham! I’ve been there to see Fidler on the Roof (one of my favourite stage viewings ever, the cast played the musical instruments it was so cool!), Cats, The Overtones and McBusted there, I think I saw Michael Buble there too but that might have been Sheffield. Nottingham is definitely one of my favourites, Mum we need another trip there soon!

Go check out the AccorHotels competition if you haven’t already and good luck to anyone else who enters!

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

 

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