Tuesday, 4 December 2018

I Have Quit My Job To Go Travelling



I have an announcement…I have quit my job and I am going to travel around the world.

Well, South East Asia for the foreseeable future, but the rest of the world is hopefully in the pipeline.

Since I was in high school I have wanted to go travelling. The lure of the great unknown has always captivated me. And the sunny weather.

Over the years I have built myself up to packing it all in and jetting off somewhere exotic, especially during one of those rough, never ending weeks at work. Also most mornings when my alarm goes off or when I’m sat waiting for another delayed train.

But the timing was never right. And by timing, I of course mean money.

Initially I toyed with the idea of doing TEFL - teaching english as a foreign language. I would be able to earn money while I was abroad. Perfect for the rubbish savers amongst us.

I think I would have loved teaching, but I would have to be rooted in one place at a school and ideally I want to see everywhere. 

I love that travel quote - I haven’t been everywhere yet, but it’s on my list.

That played on my mind so much that I never actually finished the TEFL course I purchased from Groupon. 

Eventually I landed on freelancing. 

I had thought about it before, a few years ago, but I didn’t have the experience or contacts that I currently have. I am now in a position where it is a viable option.

I also had to think about who I would go with.

Do I go with my boyfriend? A friend? Alas, no one else was looking to go where I wanted to at this particular point in time.

I am nearing 30 and I kept worrying that if I don’t travel before I’m 30 then I would never get around to doing it. I know this is not necessarily the case, there are tonnes of people above 30 who are travelling the world, but I just couldn’t get it out of my head.

If I waited for someone to be at the point in their life they can go travelling at the same time as me, then I may never go. 

What if in a few years they decide they no longer want to travel? What if my circumstances meant I could no longer travel? What if Brexit fucks the world up so bad I will never be able to travel outside the UK post 2019?

I had to decide, should I wait for someone to go with or should I go Jason Derulo style.

I decided to go solo.

After a few weeks of thinking almost non-stop about it, I sat down with the HR manager at my work and handed in my notice.

Shit was getting real.

In my industry notice periods tend to be long, so I had a while to get my affairs in order. Three months to be exact. 

It has flown by, of course, but I am almost ready to go.

The main thing I have to do is get injections, which I am scared to death of, and confirm a couple of freelance opportunities.

I am equal parts nervous and excited.

Nervous because I am going on my own. I don’t know if I’m going to love it or hate it (although I suspect I know which). I have never done anything like this before. I have to leave my boyfriend back home, so hello long distance.

Excited because, well, travel. I will get to explore beautiful countries, experience new culture and, I cannot stress enough how much I am looking forward to this, I will not have to worry about a Monday morning for a long time. Goodbye 6am alarm.


Have you travelled for a long period before? Do you have any tips? Or are you hoping to one day? Let me know in the comment section below :)
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Saturday, 1 December 2018

6 Places To Eat In Copenhagen


There are a million and one places to eat in Copenhagen, from small cafes selling freshly made pastries to juicy burgers at the bustling meatpacking district.

So I feel I need to begin this post by saying I am only going to talk about just a small sample of the delicious eating establishments there are on offer.

But boy were they good eating establishments.

Tommi’s Burger Joint

Okay, so confession corner. 

I am a vegetarian…95% of the time. I miss meat a lot, especially burgers. Everyone said I’d miss bacon the most, but for me it’s burgers and sausages.

I tend to slip up when I’m on holiday, partly because it can be hard to find vegetarian food and partly because everyone likes to let loose a bit on holiday.

Tommi’s Burger Joint is in the meat packing district, a hot spot in Copenhagen brimming with restaurants and bars, and all the cool kids, obvs.

The burgers are delicious. I particularly liked the topping section, where you can pile your burger with as many toppings as you like.

The price is fairly standard, around 89DK for burger and fries, and the drinks being especially cheap.



Conditori La Glace

When visiting Copenhagen it is essential you source somewhere to get your hot chocolate fix, especially if you visit in Autumn/Winter.

After a quick Google search I saw this cafe had some good reviews, so we headed straight over. 

I realised how popular the cafe when we arrived and saw the queue to get through the doors. If I’m going to queue up for anything, food, especially chocolate, would be at the top of the list, so I happily lined up.

A cup of hot chocolate will set you back 90DK, a little painful if truth be told, especially for my bargain loving boyfriend.
But in all fairness that did include a refill, so you do get plenty for you danish krone, and the hot chocolate was sublime. 

We also shared a slice of a very rich chocolate-y cake, for about 45DK. I still dream about that cake, delicious. 



Mad & Kaffe’s

This was another place I didn’t realise we’d have to queue for.

Mad & Kaffe is a very popular brunch spot in the vibrant Vestebro area. We got there around 10:30 and had to queue for about 20-30 mins to get a table inside.

One of the staff recommended getting there as early as possible to avoid queues, which usually start forming around 9am.

I love the formatting of the menu here. You get to build the brunch you want by choosing 3, 5 or 7 items from a list consisting of greens, dairy, bakery, meat and fish and desserts.

Depending how many items you choose the prices range from 89DK to 154DK. 

I had a hot chocolate here too and it arrived in a big milkshake style glass with chocolate sauce drizzled on the inside of the glass, it was immense.



Bagerdygtigt

One of the reasons I was so keen to visit Copenhagen in autumn was down to reading ‘This Little Book Of Hygge’ by Meik Wiking.

Hygge is in my blood, I am convinced of it. 

I was really looking forward to sitting in a dimly lit hyggeligt cafe, and Bagerdygtigt delivered.

We ordered a pastry each (yes, I had another hot chocolate) and sat in a corner darkly lit corner, soaking up all the higgle.



Pizzeria MaMeMi & Wine Bar

After a long day of walking thousand of steps, the last thing we wanted to do was spend ages wandering the streets looking for somewhere to eat.

We chose this place because a) it was proper italian style pizza, my favourite, b) it looked very hygge and c) it was within a 5 minute walk from our Air BnB. 

If you ever go to Copenhagen I highly recommend staying in the Vestebro area. There will be tonnes of restaurants, cafes and pubs on your doorstep and everywhere else is within walking distance, or a short bike ride away #whenincopenhagen.

Apparently it can get busy here so it is best to book a table, which we did before we went. 

MaMeMi’s pizza is delicious, the wine is good and the staff are friendly. I can see why it’s a popular choice.



Nemoland Cafe

Nemoland cafe is in the heart of Christiania, an alternative freetown full of creativity and, well, weed. 

My first piece of advice on visiting Christiania is - do not take pictures. If you do decide to rebel and take a picture, which is tempting as the place is so colourful and vibrant, a drug dealer will come over and demand you delete it.

Other than that, everyone is very chill there.

The food was basic but still tasty. I had the vegetarian lasagne and the boyfriend had the burger, which he assure me was good.

The lasagne came with a salad and some bread, so it was very filling. And very inexpensive.


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Thursday, 29 November 2018

Losing My First Pet


I would like to tell you, strangers on the internet, the story of my first pet, Jay Jay.

By first pet I don’t mean the first pet I ever had in my life, I had lots of family pets growing up. An array of kittens, stray cats (much to my mum's annoyance) and an incredible rescue dog. Plus eleven goldfish, can you believe you could just win them at the fair?

What I mean is the first pet that was just mine

Have you ever seen the film Along Came Polly? Jennifer Aniston is some care-free, commitment-phobic girl who starts dating over analysing, extreme worrier Reuben. Well, in the film Jennifer’s character has an adorable blind ferret, named Rodolfo.

Ever since I saw that film I just had to get a ferret. I was looking for one over the summer after my first year at university, when my friend, who I hadn’t spoken with in a while, called me up out of the blue and said she knew someone who had a litter of ferrets and would I want one.

Fate?

The next day I was stood in a strangers cold backyard, being shown a business of ferrets and trying to decide which one I wanted.

It had been raining that day and there was one particular ferret that would put his head in a small puddle on top of the wooden cage, look surprised and shake the water out of hi whiskers. Then repeat the whole thing again. And again and again.

Obviously that tiny idiot was the ferret for me.

I picked him up, looked deep into his small black eyes and realised that, wow, I knew bugger all about ferrets.

So I took him home, stopping off to pick up a book on ferrets on the way back.

I fell in love with his cute furry face straight away, though I was totally scared I’d do the wrong thing and screw him up.

I named him Jay Jay because in a Lorelei Gilmore moment I thought why shouldn’t I name him after myself. My middle name is Jayne and my sister often calls me Jay Jay.

He was my favourite thing in my world.

I took him to university with me, much to the displeasure of my housemates. Spoiler alert, not everyone wants a smelly ferret in their house (they don’t smell that bad...sort of).

He was so loving towards me, following me around and giving me kisses, we had a great bond. 

After university I moved straight into rented accommodation with my partner, which meant I had to get a job, any job, and quick.

Unlucky for me and thousands of other students, I left university during the recession, so jobs were few and far between.

I ended up doing pain inducing shift work for the next two years. That meant early starts, late nights and working almost every weekend. 

As a result, I was hardly home at the same time as my partner, and with most of my friends having moved back home after university I now had a lot of free time  with nobody to spend it with. It was during one of these fun, lonely days that I set up an Instagram account for Jay Jay. After all, I was spending the majority of my free time with him. 

I’m extremely glad I started his instagram, it made me capture many memories.

A couple years later my partner and I made the move to Manchester. Since we had a lovely new flat we decided we should get Jay Jay a lovely new three storey cage as well.

We were a happy little family.

A few months after we moved we noticed Jay Jay had started to slump a little. It didn’t happen often, so we didn’t think anything of it, especially as ferrets tend to flop themselves on the floor whenever they’re tired.

One day we were taking him on a walk around Salford Quays. Usually he was hyperactive on walks but this time he kept slumping all the way, his back legs would just drop to the floor.

We got worried and started looking up vets as soon as we were back at the flat. Not all vets are specialists in small animals so we had to find one that was. 

What followed was a lot of tests, surgery and uncertainty.

For a while they couldn’t figure out what was wrong with him. He got some antibiotics, but they didn’t work. He got other medication, but that didn’t work either.

Eventually they did exploratory surgery and discovered he had a cyst around one of his veins, which was restricting the blood flow to his legs, hence why he couldn’t use them and kept slumping. 

They reckon it was probably caused by him falling over, and some dead cells clustering.

It was too close to the spine for the vet to operate on, so they gave us some more medication to try and help.

But things just got worse. Eventually end Jay Jay lost control of his bladder. He would poo in his bed, but we had to squeeze his swollen bladder to make him wee. 

It was then that we realised, after weeks of hope, tears and vet bills, there was nothing more that we could do.

It wasn’t an easy decision. In fact, it’s one of the hardest decisions I have ever made in my life.

I looked online and read many articles on ‘how to know when it is time to let go of a pet’ to seek confirmation.

We knew it was the right decision, there were several signs, but it all amounted to the fact that Jay Jay’s quality of life was no longer there.

He soiled himself, we had to help him wee, he struggled to move around, he could no longer do the things he used to enjoy, medication was not helping him. We made one last call to the vets. 

When we took him there they told us that there was nothing more they could do and they advised putting him down.

It was time to say a very tearful goodbye.

We passed him between us several times, showering him with hugs and kisses. I made sure I had the last hug and kiss, before handing him to the vet.

Handing him over was the most painful thing I have ever done. 

Once I let him go that would be the last time I held him, the last time I kissed him and the last time I saw him.

I knew what was about to happen to him.

I can’t fully describe the guilt I felt. He was my first pet, I was responsible for him. I was supposed to look after him and make sure no harm came to him. 

By handing him over it was almost as if I was administering the injection myself. 

Thankfully the vets don’t ask for you to pay straight away, they let you go home and pay later, so I got to run out of there before the major crying started.

That evening I decorated a shoe box and filled it with things, like his favourite blanket and favourite cat teddy.

In fact, it was the only teddy he would ever play with. My mum got him a few throughout the years but he would drop them all in his litter tray, saving the spot in his bed for the cat. 

The next day I called in sick for work and took Jay Jay back to my home town to bury him. We chose a spot in the beautiful woods near my dads house. 

I spent the next few days racked with guilt and overflowing with tears.

In the morning I’d go to check on him before remembering what had happened. Or I would dream about him and wake up thinking about what happened.

Whenever I saw his empty cage I would feel a stabbing pain in my heart, I started to avoid going near it.

As with all things like this, time is the only healer. With every week that passed the pain ebbed away a little bit more. 

I could think of him without turning into a human horse pipe and share his stories without choking up. 

A while later, on a dark rainy morning, the kind of morning where everything went wrong, my boyfriend told me he had seen an advertisement for ferrets for sale.

Initially I felt very guilty for even thinking about getting another ferret. That would be disrespectful to Jay Jay. If I got another ferret, did that mean I didn't love Jay Jay?

I decided to just go for it, and that evening we went to pick up two gorgeous chocolate brown ferrets, which we named Fudge and Brownie (after my favourite Ben & Jerry's flavour).

I instantly fell in love with them, just like with Jay Jay, they were so flipping adorable.

Eventually the guilt dissolved as I realised I could love these new ferrets and Jay Jay at the same time.

I still miss him a great deal, and I always will.
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Sunday, 21 October 2018

I'm In Love With Hygge



I know I’m a bit late to the game, but…I am in love with Hygge. 

I was familiar with the concept and knew it sounded exactly like something I would like, but I just never got around to properly looking into it before.

I’ve almost finished reading the The Little Book Of Hygge by Meik Wiking and I feel like it could have been called All Of The Things Laura Loves, by Laura.

Meik works at the Happiness Research Institute in Denmark, which just sounds like the absolute dream job. Being paid to figure out what makes you happy, yes please.

It’s very fitting that the institute is in Denmark as the Danes are often voted the happiest people in the world. And that’s even with paying some of the highest taxes.

A lot of this happiness comes from their focus on Hygge, a word that was added to the Oxford dictionary in June 2017.

Don’t ask me how to pronounce it, because I’m still not certain and everyone I know says it differently. I say it like ‘high-gee’ and I’m going to stick with it.

Hygge can be hard to explain, but it’s associated with coziness and a feeling of intimacy. 

Recently the rain was pouring down outside on a Saturday, but I was not upset. Instead I put on the heating, wrapped up under a blanket and watch a few movies, while eating chocolate of course.

This is Hygge, and I was in my element.

Building a nook to read in, building a fireplace, eating cake, lighting candles, reading a good book, cosy-ing up under blankets, all of these are hygge.

Hygge is built into the Danish way of life, but it really kicked off world wide towards the end of 2016, according to Google trends. 

In The Little Book Of Hygge, Meik delves into what makes life hygge. 

It covers light, togetherness, food, drink, clothing, home and Christmas, amongst a few other things.

According to the book lighting should include lots of candles and lamps, low pockets of light scattered around the room instead of one big bright light. 


Since reading this I have purchased two new lamps for the living room (and I am going to go on another candle spree very soon, any excuse to get more candles) and it feels so cosy.

Autumn is my favourite season of the year, I have a list as long as my arm as to why. And I’m quite tall, so that’s a long arm.

Turns out this is the Danes favourite season too as it fits in perfectly with hygge.

Autumn walks and warming up by the fire are very hyggelig. 

If you’re an Autumn lover then I recommend you pick up a copy of this book, or one of the other 900 books on Hygge currently sold on Amazon. 

After reading the book I became a little fixated on visiting Denmark in Autumn, so I have now booked a trip to Copenhagen in November. I am so excited!


Have you heard of Hygge before? What’s your favourite hygge moment?
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Wednesday, 17 October 2018

Gin Tasting In Liverpool & The Baltic Triangle


Over the weekend I went to one of my favourite cities to drink one of my favourite drinks.

I went to Liverpool for a gin tasting experience.

This was a present I bought for my sister, with the caveat that she has to take me, of course.

I booked it through Groupon, from Liquor & All Sorts, and it was £37 for two people.

I chose Liverpool because it is easy for my sister to get to from Chester, and myself to get to from Manchester, but I think they do it in a few other cities.

Also I am low key getting obsessed with Liverpool. It’s so much fun, have you been lately? I’ll talk more about other places we went later on.

The whole booking process was really simple. We had to change our original booking very last minute, just one or to nights before. They were very good about it and let us change to a later date.

Originally it was supposed to be at Ma Boyles, Tower Gardens but it got changed to Hannah’s Bar, so not too far away. And the view was beautiful, it’s the picture from this post.

So the actual experience.

There was about 30 guests in total, which was much bigger than I was expecting, but not an issue. We all got served a gin punch while we waited for everyone to arrive.

The host was relaxed, friendly, knowledgable and funny.

He taught us the difference between liquor and spirits, how to drink them straight without having the burning taste and, most importantly of all, how to drink without getting a hangover.

That’s right, no hangover.

Basically you just need to stick to drinks and mixers with no chemicals, all natural ingredients.

I’ve always wondered why I rarely got hangovers from gin, anyone else?

As well as more gin we got sandwiches and cakes, which I completely forgot about until they were served. I had a cheese wraps, a couple of pieces of brownie, some other sweet treat and a scone with cream and jam. Cream then jam….

Some of the gins were not as exotic as I was thinking they would be, but the experience overall was really good. The whole event lasted for two hours. I enjoyed it and would recommend it to any gin lovers out there.

After the event we headed to the Baltic Triangle area, aka my favourite area.

There are so many cool bars hidden there.

First we went to Hobo Kiosk, an underground bar that would be really easy to miss if you weren’t looking for it. Luckily my sister knew it was there.

There are dolls and toys all over the show, and after talking to the owner he told us a few of the stories behind them.

Next we went to a lovely little wine bar called Alhambra, hidden behind a red velvet cloth. There was a Spanish guy playing the guitar and singing, just perfect.

Just a few doors down is one of the most instagrammable bars I have seen - Hippie Chic. There are flowers everywhere. Flower walls, flower swings and flowers dangling from the ceiling. It is so beautiful.

I couldn’t leave Liverpool with popping to the Peaky Blinders bar. I missed it last time I was there and I wasn’t prepared to miss it again. So many people were dressed up, it was so cool.

So after a quick stop for food in the Peaky Blinders food hall, I headed back home to Manchester.

It was lovely day out, the gin tasting was great and there are so many cools bars to discover.

Have you been to Liverpool lately? 
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Monday, 15 October 2018

How To Spend 3 Days In Budapest




This month I went to Budapest with my sister, our first holiday together just the two of us. 

I went to Budapest in May last year with my partner, as part of a little tour around Europe. As we were trying to squeeze as many cities as possible into two weeks we only got 36 hours in Budapest, nowhere near enough time to explore.

I fell in love with the city as soon as I arrived, so I was really excited to get back out there, especially for a longer stretch of time and especially with my sister.

So here is what I got up to in Budapest…






Day One

My sister and I arrived in Budapest around 1.30 in the afternoon. To get into the centre we jumped on the bus from right outside the airport, easy peasy.

The Air BnB we stayed in was two doors down from Szimpla Kert, which is one of the most famous bars in Budapest. I was a little worried about noise pollution, but luckily I couldn’t hear a thing from inside the apartment.

Street Food Karavan is an outside street food alley next door to Simple Kert, seriously our apartments location was just ideal. So much food within a few metres, amazing.

After filling up on a delicious paneer jalaepno cheeseburger we went on the hunt for the famous ruins bars. There are literally so many to see and they’re all so quirky. However, my sister and I are getting older. After a long day of travelling we only made it until midnight before deciding to call it a night.

Let’s be honest, how great is that moment, the one where you’re out with someone else, and you’re trying to stay out because you don’t want to be boring and you don’t want to let the other person down, but in reality you’re exhausted. Then, after a few “I don’t mind what we do next, what do you want to do?” back and forth, you both realise that all you both want to do is get food and go home. Best moment ever.

So we hit the street food karavan once more, this time picking up a more traditional delicacy - the Langos. Langos is the best drunk food ever. It’s basically deep fried sour dough bread topped with sour cream and cheese. YUM!










Day Two

We started our morning having breakfast by the beautiful river Danube, how idyllic. 

Then we made our way across the Chain Bridge, but not before having a little photoshoot. The bridge is gorgeous, and there’s usually a busker playing an acoustic guitar in the middle. I stopped for a moment to listen to the music and take in the views (Budapest is very pretty).

We decided to make our way up to the castle using the Budapest Castle Hill Funicular. I first saw this on the Travel Man, any other fans of the show?

You can book a ticket in advance, which I would recommend as you get to skip the queue. That being said, we didn’t book in advance and it was a beautiful sunny day, so it wasn’t the worst thing in the world to wait around for 20 minutes. The only annoying thing was the amount of people who tried to sell us a coach ticket up.

The ride in the funicular was short but sweet, and the view from the top was breathtaking.

We didn’t go inside Budapest Castle, we  decided to just walk around the grounds instead. There are plenty more view points of the city, I recommend finding a spot on the wall for a good photo opportunity. you can see the whole city sprawled beneath you.

Just a few minutes away is one of the most beautiful building I have ever seen, the Fisherman’s Bastion, a neo-gothic and neo-romanesque style terrace. Each of the seven towers look like something out of a Disney movie, so pretty and magical.

The surrounding area is the old town, which we explored for an hour or so. The buildings were painted in yellows and oranges, the streets cobbled and there was a path with trees along either side that looked like it would be beautiful in Autumn.

After making a pitt stop at the apartment, we dolled ourselves up, played some drinking games and then headed out for a proper night out.

Some of the bars we made it to were Anker’t, Foghasz, Szimpla Kert, Grandio and a few others that I can’t quite remember the name of. Many drinks were involved.








Day Three

We planned for day three to be relaxing and indulgent, seemed like the perfect way to end the trip.

After waking up a little later and more hungover than planned, we went for lunch at what is known as the most beautiful cafe in the world - the New York Palace Cafe. It is quite famous, so expect to wait a little while to be seated if you just walk in off the street. We waited around 15 to 20 minutes.

The cafe is extremely decadent and and gorgeous, definitely the fanciest looking place I have ever ate at, although that may not be saying much. The menu was a bit underwhelming, not really a lot of options, but the food was delicious. And the hot chocolate, oh my god the hot chocolate was special. The thickest cream I have ever had, it was almost like having a scoop of ice cream on top. 

I got a hot chocolate, an orange juice and a main meal which came to just under £30. Budapest is fairly cheap to eat and drink, so this is the pricier option. 

Net up on our indulgent day was a trip to the baths. Budapest is famous for its many public baths. We walked to Szechenyi Baths, which is supposedly the most popular and is located in the city park. 

It was the perfect cure for my hangover.

For our very last meal we went to Goszdu Court, a strip of restaurants and bars with fairy lights twinkling overhead. 

We ended up eating at Blue Bird Cafe, but I would not recommend as the service was not great. The staff were nice but the organisation was a mess, after an hour of waiting for our food the waiter realised he hadn’t sent the order through to the kitchen, sigh. To  be fair they gave us a drink on the house to apologise, but I still definitely wouldn’t head back. 

And that is how we ended our little trip to Budapest. Well, we actually ended it with a 3am wake up and a sleepy ride to the airport, the true joy behind travelling.

Have you been to Budapest before? Where’s next on your travel list?






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