Thursday, 28 September 2017

Edinburgh: Things To Do, Where To Eat & Harry Potter



Once upon a time I picked out the cutest Air BnB, embarked upon a 4 hour train ride with a hot chocolate in hand and arrived in the beautiful and magical city of Edinburgh.

I know I say this about a lot of cities, but this really was one of those cities I fell in love with the moment I stepped off the train. I want to move there, I need to move there, please, someone, take me back there, please!

I stayed there for three nights, which was just enough for a little trip away. I got to do a lot, drink a lot and eat a lot.

So here’s a little, or actually a somewhat large, round up of everything I got up to. I’ve split it into three sections - What I Did, Where I Ate and Harry Potter.

What I Did

Old Town

Old towns are usually my favourite part of a city break and Edinburgh did not disappoint. I could wander those cobbled streets for hours and I did, several times. There’s so many winding streets, charming shops, independent cafes and hidden alleyways.

Royal Mile

This sits within the old town and is impossible to miss. It stretches all the way from Holyrood Palace to Edinburgh Castle, with a million and one things to do and see in between. There’s plenty of shops, pubs, street performers, museums and, of course, tourists. Have your camera ready because you’ll be taking a lot of pics along here.

Underground Spooky Tour

Along the Royal Mile you will see lots of guided tour groups moving around. We went with Mercats Ghostly Underground Tour after reading some good reviews online. It is a little overpriced for what it is, but still lots of fun and I’m glad we did it. The tour guide stayed in his spooky character the entire time and engaged well with the group, getting everyone laughing. It was also really interesting to learn the dark history of Edinburgh’s underground system.

Grass Market

Another thing I like to check out when visiting a city are the local markets. Grass Market is in the old town at the end of Victoria Street. The space is lined with even more shops, places to eat and pubs. In the middle there’s market stalls and live music. You can also get a really great view of the castle from down here!

Greyfriars Bobby

I had no idea who this little guy was before I went. I was looking for a Graveyard when i saw a small crowd around a statue of a dog. The story goes that in the 19th century Bobby spent 14 years guarding his owners grave until he too died. What have we done to deserve dogs?!

Botanical Gardens

The botanical gardens was one of my favourite parts of Edinburgh. It’s located in Stockbridge which is just a short walk from the old town. My Air BnB was actually in the beautiful Stockbridge. I’d highly recommend staying there, it’s just a 20 min walk to the old town or like a £5 uber. Anyways, the stunning and spacious gardens are free to explore, you’ll just have to pay to go into the Glasshouses. I went in the glasshouse, they’re very hot so wear layers! 


Where I Ate

Civerinos

A tasty pizza place just off the Royal mile. The pizza bases are thin and crispy and there’s a decent amount of choice. I think I read that this place stays open quite late, so it’s a good one when you need a pick me up after a couple at the pub. They sell whole pizzas as well as slices. I find some pizza places can let you down when it comes to chips but they were cooked perfectly here and had lots of seasoning and flavour.

Pantry

What holiday is complete without a little brunch, am I right? As I said we stayed in Stockbridge, which apparently is a big brunch loving area. The Pantry was so good, I had the Bennys with kale and the boyfriend had LA Eggs, both were scrumptious. They make a mean hot chocolate too!

Mary’s Milk Bar

Before I went somebody told me that I had to find this place, it does the best ice cream ever. It’s in the Grass Market area, so you can enjoy your ice cream and the views of the castle simultaneously. I’m a big ice cream fan and I loved this. It’s more creamy than ice and packed full of flavour. I went for a double scoop, one chocolate and one raspberry.

Eat Something (I can’t remember the name but it has ‘eat’ in it somewhere and is on the edge of Grass Market)

Just as I was in the middle of a vegetarian rant (I was getting hangry and had just been somewhere where they ran out of the only veggie option I liked, which happens a lot as there’s usually like only 3 choices) the boyfriend pointed as this place and said let’s check it out before going home and cooking our own food. They have the biggest selection of veggie panini I have ever seen, with just as much meat options too. 

Soderberg

As well as brunch you have to have at least one pastry per holiday, thems the rules. Soderberg is a cute little cafe on the Stockbridge high street with a delicious array of pastries available. I got a jam and cream pastry with a hot chocolate, both were delicious.

Stockbridge Food Market

Thanks to the boyfriend for finding out this was on. Another reason to stay in Stockbridge is the lovely food markets it hosts on Sundays. It seemed like everyone there was queueing up for the paella stall!

Chaophraya

There is no shortage of Thai restaurants in Edinburgh, they’re everywhere! We booked a table at Chaophraya after it was recommended to us by a friend. They have a glass rooms seating area where you can get great views of the city. It’s a little pricey but perfect if you want to splash out on a romantic or celebratory meal.


Harry Potter

(yes I am watching Harry Potter whilst writing this and yes I watched two of the movies while in Edinburgh)

Greyfriars Kirkyard

It has been said JK Rowling took inspiration for characters names from many places, including graveyards! In Greyfriars Kirkyard you will find Riddles and McGonagalls graves, if you’re prepared to do a bit of searching! Cue flashbacks to Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.

George Heriot’s School

You can’t actually go in the grounds of this school but it is right next to the graveyard and visible from the Elephant House cafe. It is said to be the inspiration behind the structure of Hogwarts and the four school houses.

Diagon House

There are actually two Diagon Houses’, one on Victoria Street and one on Cockburn Street. if you are a Harry Potter fan you will absolutely love them, it sort of reminded me of being in Weasley Wizard Wheezes. Although it was fun to look around I didn’t end up buying anything, the products were way too overpriced. 

Victoria Street

This winding street is thought to be the inspiration behind the famous Diagon Alley, and it’s not hard to see why. It’s bright and colourful and full of all sorts of shops selling all sorts of things, including the Diagon House I mentioned above. 

Elephant House

I saved the best until last, in my opinion at least. The Elephant House is where the talented JK Rowling wrote much of her first Harry Potter book. Naturally it has now become a big tourist attraction and we had to queue a little bit to get a table, but in my biased opinion it is well worth the wait. I sat down at a table in the back room, looked at the castle from out of the window and almost burst into tears. No joke. I was so emotional, I couldn’t believe I was sat where JK Rowling once sat writing the book I love so much. Then there’s the famous toilets, where almost every inch of the wall is covered in graffiti from fans of the series. I loved it so much I visited it twice!







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Sunday, 24 September 2017

Be A Priority, Not An Option


Don’t make someone a priority when to them you’re just an option.

I first heard this quote some time ago and it is one that has stuck with me. It has been freeing, liberating and, quite frankly, time saving.

There have been many times in my life where I felt like I have made somebody else a priority. I have moved around plans to accommodate them, gone to them first if I’m planning something exciting or just made sure they were kept in the loop.

This is all completely fine and great when people reciprocate, but when you're constantly doing this for someone else and getting the opposite in return it can be a little frustrating.

Some people have persistently rearranged or cancelled plans at the last minute simply because they have a better option available.

When I was younger this use to make me so angry and quite sad. 

Now I have learnt to recognise when someone is a user and abuser and how to deal with them.

It’s hard because you can have a lot fun with these people when you do see them and you don’t want to cut them out of your life entirely, but you also don’t want to keep prioritising their life over your own.

So I have come up with a few ways to deal with them.

I will not rearrange my plans at the last minute unless they have a reasonable excuse. Even if all I end up doing instead is watching Netflix on my own, I will tell them I have other plans so that’s really the only day I can make it that week.

I will not hang around waiting for their decision. If they don’t message back in a reasonable time frame then I’m going to assume it’s a no and I’ll make other plans.

Finally I am less likely to initiate making plans with them in the first place, I will let them come to me instead. Then at east they’re more likely to stick to them!

Following these has made me less disappointed when they inevitably rearrange or cancel, and it gives me back a little control over my life.

Okay so I hope I didn’t come across as too bitter, maybe I am just a little.

But life is too short to deal with time wasters. Sometimes you got to prioritise yourself!
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Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Anxiety At Work

At home anxiety is a bitch.

At work anxiety is a mega bitch.

There is ever an ideal place to get an anxiety attack, but the silver linings to getting anxiety attacks at home are that you’re able to take the time to address them, you can do whatever it is you need to do to get through them and you can do all of this in private.

However, anxiety does’t always take the time to consider where you are, it just pops up whenever the hell it feels like it. Yay.

When I get anxiety out in public it is usually in an overcrowded place and I can just quickly run somewhere quieter to take a few deep breaths.

And I mean run. I set my eyes on the exit and I get there as quickly as possible. If you have ever been in my path during one of these sprints then I apologise.

When I get anxiety at home I have multiple ways to calm myself, from sitting on my own in a peaceful room to getting the boyfriend to distract me with stories.

In all honesty, I don’t feel like I have come up with a great way to deal with anxiety at work, or know if there even is one.

At work I am not able to drop everything and deal with what’s happening. I can’t go hide under my duvet or the desk, I have to carry on and pretend all is well.

There are a few things I do to try and prevent me feeling anxious. 

One of them is to be super organised. I make lists of everything - what I need to do in the long run, what I need to do that week, what I need to do that day. I am a list obsessed woman. Keeping track of everything that I need to do keeps me calm, there are no nasty surprises and I feel on top of everything. 

I also like to keep my workspace clutter free. Tidy house, tidy mind and all that.

Furthermore I spend time double and triple checking the work I do to make sure it’s good and that I haven’t missed anything. I absolutely hate it when I have to pick something up quickly at the last minute and I don’t get chance to sense check it before I send it on. There have been many times when I have overly agonised what I have written in an email, but I’d rather do that than rush through it.

I also make sure I have regular breaks. Whether it’s a little break from my desk to go get some water or a few days out of the office, breaks help me to clear my head and get perspective on things.

But all the precautions in the world are not always enough to stop me feeling anxious, and inevitably there will be times when anxiety strikes.

I guess what bugs me the most when it hits is it makes me feel trapped, because it’s not like I can just get up and leave work. Feeling trapped is a major trigger for me!

When anxiety does hit I take some deep breaths, I pop away from the desk if I can and I tell myself it will all be fine. I tell myself that in a few hours time I will be back home with my boys and this will just be a faded memory.

This helps, some days more effectively and quickly than others.

I wanted to write this down because it's easy tp feel like I am the only one feeling like this at work, even though I know there are many more people feeling the same way. It’s just not something people always talk about.

It can be a bit scary to admit you feel anxious at work. I don’t want it to look like I am incompetent, because I am not. I just get anxious some times. 

So if anyone else feels like this then hello, hi, me too. We’re in this together!

What do you do to deal with anxiety in the work place?


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Tuesday, 12 September 2017

28 Things I Want To Do This Autumn


1. Chop my hair off. This one I have already done after months and months of eagerly waiting, it’s becoming a little autumn tradition.

2. Buy a new coat. I’m feeling a red one this year, there is one in Primark I have my eye on, as soon as they have it in my size it’s mine. 

3. Go to a farm and pick up a pumpkin. Every year my Instagram is filled with pretty pictures of people pumpkin picking and I want to join in the fun. And yes, partly just to do a cute autumn shoot!

4. After I’ve picked a few I also want to carve a few. I tried my hand at it a few years ago and it was big messy fun.

5. Watch some really scary movies. I’m thinking some oldies like Silence of the Lambs, Jeepers Creepers and Carrie. But also some new ones like It and Mother. Now I just need to find someone to watch them with as the boyfriend is a big old scaredy cat.

6. Got to a bonfire for Guy Fawkes night. This is one of my most favourite traditions of the whole year and I never miss it!

7. Collect some conkers and play a game. If I still remember how to, I might have to look this one up.

8. Go pick up some new scarves, hats and gloves. I cannot resist the £5 scarves in Primark which is probably why I have about a dozen! I’m gonna need a wardrobe just for my scarves after this year is up!

9. Cook a few batches of homemade soup. It’s fun, it’s healthy and I feel like a super chef for doing it, even though it’s just chucking a few ingredients into a blender.

10. Kick a big piles of leaves, then quickly look around to see if there’s anyone watching a grown adult kick a pile of leaves.

11. Also stand on some crunchy leaves. SO SATISFYING!!!

12. Spend lots of guilt free nights staying in watching movies. Bonus points if it’s chucking it down outside.

13. Make lots of hot chocolate. I got given a good hot chocolate recipe book for Christmas last year and I’m dying to try a few of them out!

14. Buy all of the autumnal homeware. The boyfriend thinks we have enough, he’s wrong. Mini ornamental pumpkins and lanterns everywhere!

15. Create a den. Who didn’t love creating dens when they were younger? Except this time I’ll do it up more jazzy with some fairy lights and maybe some wine.

16. Get all wrapped up and go on a long walk in the countryside, and take lots more autumnal pics for insta! Lucky for me I live in a village with plenty of big parks to choose from.

17. Eat a pub meal. I love big hearty meals during autumn and the windows are all steamed up cos it’s so chilly outside but toasty warm inside, making a bit of a magical atmosphere.

18. Pick up a new scented candle. I’m going Yankee this year, I’ve picked up too many cheaper alternatives that smell good but after you light them they don’t smell out the whole room like I’d hoped. Yankee always delivers, but any suggestions for others welcome please?

19. Play some board games. I have an unused box of scrabble, I’m awful, I know! I also want to pick up Cluedo and Monopoly. Have you actually tried to buy a board game yourself though? They’re so bloody expensive!

20. Wear all of my thick jumpers again. I just packed up a bunch of summer dresses and pulled out all of my jumpers I forgot I had. I have a small wardrobe right now so it’s one season at a time!

21. While we’re on it, top up my autumn wardrobe. I have been waiting and waiting for the AW17 collections to hit the shops, I’m so excited to buy all things yellow, red and orange.

21. Buy some autumn scented air freshness and diffusers, bring on the pumpkin and cinnamon.

22. Pick up some new cosy blankets to snuggle up under. It seems like every shop out there is stepping up it’s homeware game. I was in H&M the other day and I saw 3 blankets that I just have to have.

23. Do a bit of boot shopping. I have already picked up a lovely new pair of dark maroon ankle boots, but a girl can never have too many boots right?

24. Is it too early to say it? It might be, but I have already started doing a bit of christmas shopping. You need to get in there early to miss the rush and spread the cost!

25. Learn to knit. I would absolutely love a Harry Potter Gryffindor scarf but they cost like £35 from the official shops!! That’s way too much for a scarf so I’m gonna learn to knit my own! Or at least try to.

26. There are so many cute autumn DIY projects on pinterest and I will also be trying these. They never turn out they way they look in the pics though.

27. Get some autumnal make up and beauty products. I’m thinking smokey eyeshadow pallets, dark lipstick and red nail varnish.

28. Get all dressed up for halloween. Do I do the easy but classic and cute cat, something really creepy or something hilariously punny. Either way it’s gonna be fricking fun, I just love halloween!!!


So those are the things I cannot wait to tick off this Autumn. It really is my fave season! What things are you looking forward to doing this Autumn?
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