Wednesday, 20 February 2019

How to explore on holiday

The main thing separating a great holiday from a complete waste of money is whether or not you think it was ‘worth it’. There’s no easy way to define what ‘worth it’ is, since it’s different from person to person, but most people will agree that doing the same thing year after year will eventually spoil the magic and adventure.  If you want to do something really different this year, why not try something different that you normally would?


Exploring on vacation

After coping with a long haul flight more travel is probably the last thing on your mind but it's really the best way to explore and there's so many ways to make it fun 

Explore with a taxi
They can be dangerous in certain parts of the world, but most countries have very competent taxi drivers that can take you anywhere you need to do – if you’re lost or don’t have a good map of the nearby area, you can ask them to drive you to the nearest attraction, hotel, restaurant or whatever service you need most at the time.
Taxis are also useful even if you’re still in your own country. They’ll know the area better than you and might point out areas of the city that don’t have a great reputation, as well as any tourist spots that you might have overlooked.

Take a train
Train Tracks

Trains can be an expensive way to travel if they’re part of your daily routine, but they can be great for holidays. They can rocket to a destination that would normally take multiple hours to reach in a car, and you don’t need to worry about getting lost or stuck in heavy traffic. You could even make the train ride part of the holiday – some countries still have old steam trains running that you use to take a tour of the countryside, sometimes with a restaurant-quality meal or drink straight from an onboard kitchen or bar.

Hire some bikes
Bikes are no match for a fast family car, but they can be a good way to exercise, bond and explore all at the same time. A lot of tourist spots will have nature paths and mountain trails that are carefully planned to accept bikes, so you can even use them to get away from the hustle and bustle of a big city if you’re feeling overwhelmed.
Hiring them also means that you can return them at any time – if something comes up and you won’t be able to use them anymore, you can head right back and turn them in early, sometimes getting a discount or cheaper deal as a result.

Take a campervan
Yellow Campervan

Campervans are great for low cost holidays*, since they combine the comfort of a small cabin with the speed of a large car. You don’t need to spend money on accommodation and cooked meals if you’ve got your own beds and oven on board, and some countries might even let you set up camp in the wilderness for a really isolated experience.
Having more room means more possessions, too, so you won’t run into the problem of “we can’t bring this with us/take this home, it’s too big”. They’re far more comfortable than a tent, but any camping purists you’re bringing with you can always bring their own tent with them to pitch up near you, saving even more space!


Tell me about your best holiday adventures

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Tuesday, 19 February 2019

A checklist for starting to exercise in 2019

You’ve probably heard “Exercise more often” and “go to the gym” as New Years’ resolutions dozens of times, but a lot of people give up when they realise how hard it can be to get started but the benefits are there if not for losing weight and getting fitter you'll genuinely feel more energised too. 

If you’re worried about failing your resolution or not living up to a New Year’s promise, you might find this checklist helpful for tracking down the gear, memberships and clothing you’ll probably need for a serious workout schedule.

Checklist for exercise


Clothes
You don’t need to buy top-of-the-line exercise gear to get fit, but you still need to wear appropriate clothing if you want to make it easier for yourself. Things like comfortable and stretchy pants that won’t tear if you’re squatting and stretching, or armless shirts and vests that make it easier to sweat without staining your clothes.
If you’re aiming to build up muscle mass or lose weight, remember that your clothes might get tighter or baggier as your exercise more. You should always have something that fits properly, so there’s no harm in buying a cheap temporary outfit if you know you won’t fit it for long.

Shoes
Exercise requires a lot of footwork, even if you’re doing something stationary like sit-ups or squats. A strong grip and breathable materials are ideal for most kinds of workout, especially if you’re going to be working out for an hour or more without a break.
Leg and cardio exercises can put them under a lot more stress than weightlifting and upper body exercise, so if you’re more concerned about toning your chest and arm muscles, then you won’t need something quite as durable. Brands like Marco Tozzi shoes* make trainers that can double as stylish footwear, so you won’t need to bring two pairs of shoes to the gym each time you go there for a workout.

Breakfast food

Food and drink
The food you eat before and after a workout should be very carefully planned. A lot of people like to ‘reward’ themselves for exercising with some very unhealthy treats, which can undo some of the progress you’ve made and eventually build up into a habit you can’t break. Your body will need food and water to keep itself running, so make sure you’re bringing something very light yet full of nutrition. Snack bars can be ideal for this, even those with some sugar and chocolate in them.
If you have allergies or intolerance's to certain foods, don’t force yourself to eat them because they’re healthy. A good exercise routine is based on you at your average level of health and wellness, so making yourself sick will completely break your schedule.

Supplements
If you take any supplements, either for your exercise routine, for a medical condition or as something to boost the vitamins you’re getting, make sure you take them at the right times. Some pills and powders have health warnings and suggestions about whether or not they should be taken before, during or after a workout, and others shouldn’t be taken before physical exercise at all. 

What's your top exercise tip?

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Tuesday, 12 February 2019

1 Year as a Driver!

On my facebook memories last week popped up my post from when I passed my test last year, I can't believe I've been on the roads for a whole year it's changed so many things, I've now got complete freedom to go and do whatever I want without having to rely on public transport

First year as a driver

Back last February when I was buying my car I decided to get a second hand car due to the lower cost and increased options. A reputable dealer will offer lots of different models such as Nissan, VW, Toyota to name a few. I decided on a VW Up which is a little 1ltr car perfect for a little run around.

When you're looking at getting a second hand car, don't be rushed into making a decision at all, test drive a few different ones, get a good feel for the road in the cars, ask lots of questions such as how many owners has the car had? What's the service history like, what were the last MOT results etc. If you're visiting a reputable dealer they'll be more than happy to help you with all your questions.Why not get your MOT done in Brighton today!

As it's been a year I've had to retax the car which was a whole £20 for the full year which is absolutely brilliant! And get it MOT'd for the upcoming year, my little brum brum managed to get through completely unscathed without even an advisory. In fact the guy that completed my MOT asked me if I even drive it because it's in such great condition

I think it always plays in the back of your mind when buying a second car that you don't really know it's history and could end up with a nasty shock come MOT time. But I'm so glad I did! It's really been the best decision and because I went to a recognised dealer it meant I know the entire service history of my car and know there wasn't any nasties hiding under the bonnet 

The freedom of being able to drive anywhere has meant that we have a lot more road trips and I can't recommend passing your test more!

How long have you been driving?
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Monday, 11 February 2019

What Happened When I got my Tarot Cards Read

I'm normally such a cynical person, but I do like to remain open minded about everything even if I might not always necessarily believe it. I'm the kind of person that will read a horoscope but not rule my life by it, so when I was given the opportunity to have my tarot cards read I thought why the hell not?

If anything it's just a really great experience for delving a little deeper inside your head and feelings. I spoke to Laura who guided me through the process and explained how the cards work. I picked a 'theme' which was Relationships and Love and I then asked a question of the cards

Tarot Card Reading
My cards were the queen of crystals, the three of swords and the sun. In the reading Laura provided a little overview of what the card means, a summary of how that could currently be affecting me, or how it could in the future and what questions I could ask myself in reflection after the reading. I found the content really interesting, and Laura was completely at hand to answer questions after the reading and work through some of the reflections with me.

Do I believe in tarot card readings? Potentially. I found my first reading really helpful and thought provoking, I feel like it's a good way to get in the right headspace to really look at particular areas of your life that you may not normally reflect on. It really helped me get into a space for mindfulness and tackle some tougher issues 

I can't recommend Laura enough, she offers a number of Tarot readings starting at £5 ! which is incredibly affordable if it's something you're interested in. It's definitely something I'll consider doing again in times when I feel like I need to reconnect with myself and understand my mind a little more

Have you ever had your tarot cards read?
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Sunday, 10 February 2019

Fair Trade Chocolate - A complete guide

I'm a complete chocoholic and love it in any form from dark to white to chocolate chips to chocolatey recipes I've never found chocolate I don't get on with, but I do think it's really important we pay attention to our chocolate, where it comes from, how it got here and the history behind it all

Fairtrade Chocolate Guide

The Fairtrade System currently works with more than 1.65 million farmers across 74 different countries around the world to bring us some of the most delicious treats known to man — one being chocolate. There is a lot to consider when it comes to determining what type of chocolate person you are; do you opt for a magnificent milk chocolate or a delicious dark chocolate bar? I personally as I said love all chocolate and like to mix it up a bit 

Research has suggested that, each year, Britain consumes 660,900 tonnes of chocolate, which calculates to 11kg per person — or three bars each week which is crazy right? But where does it come from?

Cocoa from Bolivia: El Celibo
The creation of chocolate requires very specific environmental conditions with every bar that is produced — which makes Bolivia a great place for production. However, there are six million growers, farmers and processors across Africa, Asia and Latin America to meet the demands of the rest of the world.

Chocolate is the result of hard workers from one of the world’s poorest country; Bolivia. The nation has an estimated population of 10.89 million people and sits alongside Brazil, Paraguay, Argentina, Chile, and Peru. 

The entire country has a history of cultivating cocoa, which started in the 1960s, but most growers tend to be from the Alto Beni region. Although many farmers grow cocoa, some have started to grow organic bananas, citrus fruits and vegetables, too.
El Ceibo, which was established in 1977, works with 50 co-operatives across Bolivia and reaches out to around 1,106 men and 194 women farmers from different ethnic groups. 

As well as this, the majority of the additional money earnt from their own fair-trade cocoa is used to fund technical agricultural support, which is a programme that replaces cocoa plants and deforestation. 
Fair Trade Bolivia

History of Chocolate
Located on the west coast of Africa, São Tomé is made up of two main islands, as well as several islets, and is often referred to as ‘Chocolate Island’. With a small population of 200,000 people, many residents’ incomes come from cocoa and the island’s signature bean — criollo bean — which has been farmed there since the 1700s. 
However, chocolate has a lot more history than you might think as demonstrated in this graphic from Traidcraft:
History of Chocolate
Learning about the history of chocolate really got me thinking about chocolate and there's so many cool facts about all the different types and methods of making

What are the main differences between traditional and raw chocolate?
Raw chocolate usually contains fewer ingredients than traditional chocolate — such as cocoa powder, cocoa butter, coconut blossom sugar, and raw fruit or seeds. Traditional chocolate can contain milk, soya, sugars, sweeteners, soya, and a host of artificial flavourings and preservatives. While Traidcraft’s fair trade vegan chocolate* may not be raw chocolate, it’s kept its recipe as natural as possible — fair trade, organic, and free from GMOs, cheap emulsifiers, cheap oils, artificial colours or preservatives.

Not only that, did you know that cocoa beans that are used for raw chocolate are never heated above 42 degrees? In commercial chocolate, the cocoa beans are roasted at a temperature between 130 and 400 degrees. When drying cocoa beans for raw chocolate, some cocoa growers just leave their beans outdoors to dry naturally in the sunlight!

What are the main differences between cocoa and cacao?
Cocoa and cacao are technically the same plant. Though the words cocoa and cacao are often used interchangeably, generally cocoa is the term used for cacao that’s been fermented, dried, and roasted at high temperatures. It’s then pressed until all the oils are separated and the solids that remain can be turned into a dry powder — cocoa powder. Cacao powder is made in a very similar way, but at a far lower temperature.

Where is cocoa originally grown?
The Theobroma Cacao has been used throughout time for nutritional and medicinal benefits and is native to Central America. This scientific name for the tree actually translates as ‘food of the gods’. These trees produce pods which contain 20-40 cacao beans — and it’s these beans that eventually get turned into chocolate. Theobroma Cacao trees grow most successfully in a narrow band called the Cocoa Belt or the Chocolate Belt. This band extends up to 20 degrees north and south of the equator.

Was chocolate worth more than gold?
Back in the Mayan period, cocoa beans were worth more than gold and were even used as currency! The Mayans maintained the value of cocoa beans by restricting the harvesting of the beans.

Have cocoa farmers ever tasted chocolate?
The majority of cocoa farmers have never tasted chocolate. Beans are shipped almost instantly, as if chocolate was created in these typically warm countries, it would melt! Many cocoa farmers will have never tasted chocolate in their lives. In 2017, Traidcraft hosted Linda, a cocoa farmer from the co-operative Kuapa Kokoo (and who grows fair trade cocoa for the Divine Chocolate Company), and she reminded us that any chocolate left lying around in Ghana would just melt anyway!

So there you go, next time you have a chocolate fix make sure it's Fair Trade and think about the journey it's taken to get to you

What's your favourite chocolate?



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Saturday, 9 February 2019

3 Course Valentines Meal Ideas

It's 5 days until Valentines day so I imagine plans are now in full swing, whether you're heading out for a fancy meal or doing something a little different I imagine as it's on a Thursday a lot of you will be celebrating at the weekend - that doesn't mean that Thursday has to pass without note! A nice home cooked meal can be even more special than heading out together I've put together some of my favourite ideas for a 3 course meal (and drinks!) so you don't have to

Drinks
Cranes Cranberry & Blood Orange Liqueur

I'm a sucker for a cocktail and making new creations. I've been trying out the Cranes Cranberry and Blood Orange Liqueur* and I'm literally obsessed it's such a perfect drink for Valentines so my drink choices all incorporate the tangy orange and crisp cranberry tastes

Valentines Cocktails

Starters
Everyone loves cheese right? Valentines should definitely be indulgent so here's three cheesy ways to start your meal
Valentines Day Starters

Mains
I'm a pretty simple kind of girl, you won't get me in fancy pants restaurants with 10 courses of 1 bite meals so my main choices are classics but delicious
Valentines Day Mains

Dessert
Apart from cocktails this is definitely my favourite part of any meal I could devour all 3 of these choices one after the other
Valentines Day Desserts

What are your valentines day plans?
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Sunday, 3 February 2019

Valentine's Gift Guide

It's official! We're 11 days away from that day in the calender where we have to demonstrate our love for one another because it's only legit if it happens on valentines day!
I'm not going to lie I'm not usually one to love Valentines day but for the first time ever I've got myself a damn amazing boy and any excuse to show him how much I love him is ok with me. I've been browsing around finding the best ideas so you don't have to so here's my gift guide

Valentines Gift Guide 2019


Something for the both of you
Valentine's is all about celebrating together right? So why not pick a gift that you can both enjoy together an experience you can enjoy doing like a chocolate making workshop (£100 - Red Letter Days)* where you can come away with some yummy goodies to share and have lots of fun making it together. Why not top it off with a night away in a National Park Hotel (£89 - Buyagift)* to make it really special

Something Practical
Just because it's Valentines day doesn't mean the gift has to be cutesy, red and covered in roses. Why not use it to get something practical for your other half like a new Superdry bag* for work, my other half always has a practical laptop / rucksack bag so a new stylish one is something he'd really appreciate

Something Cute 
If you're of a soppy nature and your other half appreciates heartfelt presents then definitely get something like this personalised heart postcode jigsaw map (£34.95 - Notonthehighstreet) you can pick somewhere you met, where you got married, the first place you said I love you or even where you first started living together. It's a cute item that your other half will slowly realise makes sense as they build the jigsaw

Something for the long distance love
Not everyone's relationship is the same, and sometimes it's distance that proves the barrier around valentines. Maybe your other half is travelling or working away? Why not treat them to a bakerdays letterbox cake (£14.99 - bakerdays)* they don't even need to be home as this will fit through their letterbox. It's a gorgeous 5" cake with a completely personalised design and a choice of 6 different flavours including gluten free and dairy free options. It's such a cute way to let them know you're thinking of them - I personally recommend the lemon drizzle it's delicious 

Something for the singletons
Valentines sucks if you're single am I right? Trust me I did it, it sucked. Just because you're single doesn't mean you shouldn't get a present. Team up with your besties and do a gift swap or just splurge yourself because in the words of Ru Paul 'If you can't love yourself, how in the hell are you gonna love somebody else?' I recommend something delicious like pink champagne truffles and something relaxing like the gorge Unicorn Horn bubble bar

Something cheeky
Let's face it, Valentines day is such a cheesefest, it's so slushy it's sometimes unbearable. If you're not that couple then something a bit cheekier might be a better fit for a present. I've gotta say me and Connor are probably a fine line between ultra cheese and cheekiness we like to do both. Why not get something to make them giggle such as Penis Pasta or a Candy Bra (£2.99 / £5.99 - Findmeagift)* it's bound to make you laugh, extra points for making a valentines meal with these funny products and not telling your other half and seeing if they notice 

What are you getting your other half this Valentine's?
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