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?

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? 

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?


Sunday, 14 October 2018

23 Movies You Should Watch On A Sunday

Sundays…Sundays are made for long lie ins, late brunches, slow walks, duvet days, roast potatoes and early nights.

Sundays are the day to take everything at an easy pace.

You have spent the work week making important decisions, being rushed off your feet and dealing with other people. You have dealt with delayed trains, overcrowded commutes and battles with the elements.

You have used your free time to run errands, complete the household chores and maintain your social relationships.

Sunday is my favourite day of the week, because Sunday is my indulgent day.

I may spend the morning finishing off some of the errands I missed earlier in the week, but the afternoon and evening are set aside to have a bit of rest and relaxation.

And that to me means putting together a light snack, grabbing a blanket and watching back-to-back  Sunday movies.

So what are Sunday movies, you may be asking. 

For me the perfect Sunday movie can generally fall into three categories: superhero, feel good and so-bad-they’re-good.

Here are some of my faves….

1. Any of the original Spiderman films

I bloody love the original Spiderman films. After a quick Google search I realise that the original spider man films came out a few decade ago, but to me the original ones are the Tobey Maguire ones. Toby is the perfect spiderman, so much better than The Amazing Spiderman version (sorry Garfield, nothing personal).

2. Mulan

Mulan is a great film, any time, any day, any hour. 

3. Easy A

I love Emma Stone, I love her family in this, I love the overdramatic acting, the storyline is there, perfect Sunday movie.

4. A Knight’s Tale

Anyone else get to watch this in history class? This is a complete feel good movie, the only emotionally fragile scene is when he meets his dad again, but aside from that it’s pure lols.

5. The Mummy

I had such a big crush of Brendan Fraser back in the day, big crush. 

6. Legally Blonde

I definitely thought I’d use the bend and snap more in my adult life, can confirm I have used it zero times so far. Either way, Legally Blonde gave us some iconic scenes and good life lessons.

 7. Stardust

This film is magical and so easy watching, Michelle Pfeiffer is flawless as per.

8. The Dark Knight

One of my all time favourite movies, and there is never a day you shouldn’t watch this.

9. All of the Harry Potter movies

Autumn is amazing for many reasons, one of them is the Sunday showing of Harry Potter. Complete hangover cure.

10. Hook

The older I get the more I wish I was a lost boy, don’t grow up, it’s a trap!

11. The Birdcage

While we’re on Robin Williams, The Birdcage is definitely one to watch to cheer you up.

12. The Man Who Knew Too Little

Any film with Bill Murray in is brilliant, this one has me laughing from start to finish.

13. True Romance

I first watched this at a rooftop cinema in London, cos I’m oh so cultured like that. It’s got more action than the title suggests, but it’s also full of laughs too.

14. Just Friends

Just Friends is one of those so-bad-its-good movies, always makes me laugh.

15. Clue

Based on the brilliant game Cluedo, Clue is a wacky, light hearted, laugh out loud film. Ideal for a Sunday pick-me-up.

16. Any of the Marvel films

Marvel films are just the right amount of action and humour to get me through a Sunday, and the cast are pretty good to look at of course.

17. Mamma Mia

I will not hear a bad word against this film, it’s perfect. Full of cheese and feel good moments.

18. Harvey

James Stewart is a delight in this 50s classic, featuring a much happier version of the big white rabbit than Donnie Darko.

19. Rush Hour

I re-watched this again recently and what a classic.

20. Stepford Wives

I re-discovered this film lately, it's so good!

21. Ella Enchanted

Anne Hathaway does not get the appreciation she deserves.

22. Bad Moms

I love the cast, if you've not seen this already then get watching it.

23. Get Him To The Greek

Just stroke the furry wall and all will be okay.

What are some of your favourite Sunday movies?

Wednesday, 10 October 2018

Day Trip From Naples To Sorrento

When I went to Naples (post on that here) earlier in the year I took a day trip to Sorrento.

Sorrento is a coastal town in southern Italy, very close to the Amalfi coast.

When looking up how to get there from Naples we found that there was two common ways. I mean, if you’re super rich you can probably afford a private town car of private speed boat, or maybe even a private helicopter.

But for the common folk like myself there are two ways - ferry or train.

Ferry is the more expensive of the two, but it does offer some fantastic views of the Italian coast, which is why we decided to go by ferry.

Unfortunately, the boyfriends contact lens fell out of his eye and into the dirt on the floor just as we were about to board the ferry, and I mean literally 10 seconds before. As he is quite blind without them we had to head back to the apartment, big sad face.

So instead of forking out on ferry tickets again we decided to take the train, much cheaper but less pretty views. Not to say the scenery rolling by the train wasn’t pretty, cos it was. Italy just oozes gorgeous all over the place.

Sorrento is well known for being a stunning and beautiful town frequented by the rich and famous, as well as many literary giants such as Dickens and Tolstoy. 

As soon as I got off the train it was easy to see why.

It is so beautiful, I mean crazy beautiful. The only other place on the earth that I have been to so far that compares is Croatia (more on that in another post).

Just walking around Sorrento is an experience in itself. We started by exploring the town centre, strolling through the maze of streets line with market stalls selling lemons and limoncello.

Lemons are available year-round in Sorrento so they are practically everywhere.

After stopping for pizza we then took a small hike to Bagni della Regina Giovanna. I had seen this place in pictures before I went, it was my sole focus for the day (after pizza).

We walked, took in the views, got a little lost, ended up getting a lift of a kind Italian man who found us walking in the street, but there is a bus that can take you up there. if memory serves me right it was around €1.50 (we ended up getting the bus back down).

Bagni della Regine Giovanna is a natural pool with a rock archway leading out into the open sea. It’s a hidden gem and an amazing way to while away an afternoon. 

After getting the bus back into the town, with the sun beating down on us, we decided now was as good a time as any to get some gelato.

We decided to pop into place, this place happened to be Gelateria Primavera, apparently the place the supplied the ice cream for the royal wedding. At least it had something to do with the royal wedding.

We got two large cones which came to an eye watering €20! Be still be anxious heart.

The ice cream was delicious, of course it was, but I had just as good gelato in Rome for €3.

I wish we had longer in Sorrento, I definitely plan on visiting again and actually staying there, rather than taking a day trip. Right now it’s top contender for the answer to the question “if you could retire anywhere in the world, where would you retire?”

Would you like to visit Sorrento? Where on the southern Italian coast would you love to go?


Tuesday, 9 October 2018

Advice - Trying To Give It, Having To Receive It & The Mess In Between

Advice can be an uncomfortable thing to deal with, whether you’re being asked to give it or you’re having to hear it. 

Many of us have been in the position where a friend/family member/colleague is asking for advice on a particularly sensitive topic and you have to make the decision - do I go in blunt but truthful, or do I say what I am pretty sure they want me to say.

It can be a bit of a lose-lose situation. If you’re ‘brutally’ honest you can end up doing more damage than good and maybe damaging a relationship. However, if you just say what you think they want to hear, then are you being a good friend?

But also, let’s be honest, none of us know what the hell we are doing. It’s largely jus a bunch of guesswork and luck. How different did you imagine being an adult? When I was younger and I would see someone who was 30+ years old and think they looked so wise and full of answers. What a load of crock.

So although I can be opinionated on certain things, that does not mean I am qualified to give advice.

It’s so much easier to give advice and say what the right thing to do is when you’re not personally involved in the situation. When you don’t have to live with the repercussions then it’s easy to say “you should definitely do this”, or “oh my god do not do that”.

Then there’s the worst type of advice…unsolicited advice.

Why some people feel the need to reach out and give you unsolicited advice is beyond me, and so bloody irritating.

I have an Instagram account for my pet ferrets, I’m not that active on it anymore but when I was I would get people sending me messages like “I think it’s time to clip their claws” or “you shouldn’t be feeding them that ferret treat, feed them this one instead”.

Excuse me, but did I ask you? No, so shut up Susan!

I understand some people are trying to be nice but most of them would say it so rudely, I think they just wanted to make themselves feel superior.

I don’t have children but i hear parent bloggers get this a lot too, I remember Hannah Gale putting an insta-story up with the messages she regularly receives, it was so ridiculous.

Sure, some of the unsolicited advice I have received I can now get behind, like my mum telling me to “put a jacket on, it’s freezing outside”. 

I’ll never the forget the Friday night just before Christmas, when my sister and I were stranded in the town centre in nothing but our mini dresses, no jackets, no tights, nothing. All the taxis were taken and we had to walk home through the snow, my dolly shoes fell apart halfway home, so I was barefoot for the last part. Sometimes I still get shivers, I wish I listened to the advice.

I’ve recently made a big life decision, and while most people have been very supportive and encouraging, a few others have not. 

At first I was annoyed, if they don’t agree then fine, but keep it to yourself.

Then I realised that there are always going to be people who don’t agree with you, but those people usually live life in a different way than I would, so of course they won’t agree. 

They’re not going to be the ones who live with the decision, so I can’t take it too much to heart.

This quote sums up what I’m trying to say - 

“Before you judge a man, walk a mile in his shoes.”

Use a bit of empathy, understand that while it would not be something you would choose to do, you are not that person. Your experiences and your challenges with the world are not the same as theirs. Try to understand it from their point of view, and it might just start making sense to you.

I feel like I’m rambling a bit right now, and the boyfriend is nudging me as we’re supposed to be going out for lunch as I’m writing this. 

So I’m going to wrap it up here and hope you get me.

I’d love to know about your experiences with giving and receiving advice, let me know in the comments section below.

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