18 Instant mood lifters

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1) Pizza Express email you to let you know there’s 25% off. Perfect, because all you really want in life is a pizza and their divine salad dressing.

2) Going past really pretty scenery as the sun is going down and a good song like Craig David- Fill me in (yep) comes on your ipod.

3) Being able to fill the chip in your nail varnish without it looking all gloopy and layered.

4) Getting to the till and something scanning waaaaay cheaper than the label says. Resounding HOORAY.

5) Making your squash perfect, like actually the best squash ever. Bonus points if it’s Ribena.

6) Someone holding a door for you. That does not happen enough anymore.

7) Waking up, realising it’s mother fucking Saturday, going back to sleep immediately.

8) Being bought a coffee at work. Not a crappy kitchen instant coffee, a nice, coffee shop coffee with caramel and frothy milk and internal happiness.

9) Walking onto the train platform as the train pulls in.

10) Remembering you HAVE shaved your legs and you CAN wear a dress without tights under the glorious blue sky and channel Beyonce all day long at work.

11) Someone else suggesting Mcdonald’s on a brutal hangover, making the whole sordid affair slightly more acceptable.

12) Sorting many belongings into a new handbag and feeling like an organised goddess for a short period of time (until you get to the station and can’t find your Oyster card, keys or phone)

13) Channel 4 showing a film you love on a Sunday night.

14) Being ravenous to the point inanimate objects start to look tasty, looking in your bag and finding a snack. Satsuma. Cereal bar. Crisps. YES.

15) Making a start on a cup of tea at optimum drinking temperature.

16) Finding matching underwear in the morning. A rare and luxurious event that makes you feel like a supermodel.

17) Someone whipping out a lunchbox of homemade brownies in the office during that lull between breakfast and lunch.

18) Being invited to an event on payday. Cocktail list, please, one has some dollar bills to spend.

Unraveling travelling: Egypt with a twist

 When I booked to go to Egypt it was all quite last minute and done without much research. I wanted winter sun and loads of friends recommended it to me for a November jaunt. I didn’t fancy Sharm El Sheik, as I heard it was a bit over-commercialised, so went for another option. In my mind I imagined busy markets, shisha, hot sandy beaches and some desert activities like quad biking. However, I got something ENTIRELY different, because I went to Taba.

Now, I’ve only met one other person that’s been to Taba, and the research I’ve done since I got back (which should have happened before but screw it) points to the fact it isn’t the most popular tourist area of Egypt and there are plenty of obvious reasons. It’s generally near NOTHING. You can’t really walk to anywhere from a hotel unless you are in a big complex, so if you want bustling nightlife then this isn’t for you. It’s also about an 8 hour drive from the pyramids so you’re unlikely to swan off to Cairo for the day. You might find yourself limited in daytime activities too if you aren’t into excursions and boat trips (they don’t cost much from locals but the big companies charge a fair amount) so it definitely won’t be everyone’s cup of tea.

However, I think these things are actually what make it such a great place to go. It’s totally different to the usual Egyptian experience. For a start, when you land it looks like you have just arrived on mars, so try land in daylight because it’s quite spectacular. All you see is sand dunes, the occasional palm tree and a few empty roads; it looks like a totally different world. No building, no lights, nothing. It’s definitely a place to go all inclusive, so a package holiday is ideal. You also don’t find yourself hassled and pressurised into buying things when you step foot into a shop or ask about trips. Everything is really chilled out and refreshingly slow paced.

When we were driven to our hotel we were told to look out to sea, because you can see both Jordan, Israel and Saudi Arabia at the same time. Oh yeah, that’s the other thing, this part of Egypt, on the Bay of Aqaba, is actually in Asia, not Africa, so you’re sharing waters with middle eastern countries. Something to be aware of also.

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One thing that became immediately apparent was the spectacular sunrise over Saudi Arabia. So beautiful and the perfect way to kick start a day. The hotels have amazing beaches to relax on, which we did a bit of, but one thing you cannot miss out on is the snorkelling. It. Is. Spectacular. Seriously, so amazing. I saw fish that looked like underwater flashing pink discos, blue jellyfish, electric eels, a manta ray the size of a grand dining table and the most amazing reefs. I also repeatedly found Nemo.

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I recommend a boat trip to Pharaoh’s Island to snorkel around, because you make multiple stops and the local guides are great, but if there are small little beach huts offering private snorkelling, take the chance. That was when we really saw the most amazing little creatures. Except they weren’t so little. In fact, everything was pretty big.

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It’s also the perfect place to go on a Bedouin experience , drink endless cups of Egyptian tea and get massages whenever you can. They do amazing seaweed scrubs and because it’s not a busy, buzzing town you get long, luxurious spa treatments in the hotels and on the beaches for very little money. Probably the biggest advantage if you are a true traveler, is that you can get day trips to Jerusalem, Israel and Petra, Jordan. These might not always be available due to the situation in the middle east, but the opportunity is there and it’s all well monitored.

The food is pretty hit and miss especially the all inclusive, and if you want a chance to try different cuisines and stay in a bigger resort, try Softel Taba Heights. I stayed in the Swiss Inn Dream Resort which was NICE, not perfect due to a kind of limited menu, but so chilled and with a lush beach area. The beach hut also offers really good private little trips out to snorkel, and the owner is well worth befriending, even for the free tea.

So essentially, if you want a different kinda experience to the norm, fancy some winter fun and are big on snorkelling, GO TO TABA.

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Long haul flight survival guide

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I used to love flying when I was a child. It was all about waking up ridiculously early and seeing how many colouring pencils my sister and I could shove in our neon backpacks before getting herded off to the airport in a ball of excitement. Now though, I spend most of my time failing to sleep and worrying how much my skin will dry out or how badly my feet are swelling. Oh and also it gets boring. No matter how many films there are, I just want to get where I’m going.

I used to basically pack a book, some sweets and some magazines that told me who had cellulite this week along with my official documents. Now however, it’s all about not stepping off the plane feeling a wreck with cracked lips, forehead spots, puffy feet and a massive headache. As a fairly frequent flyer, I reckon I’ve finally got my travel essentials down. Especially the long haul. It’s hard to travel for 18 hours and not look like a dishevelled marshmallow, so it’s best to be prepared.

Sweets- VERY important. For ear popping and general yum.

Moisturiser- Loccitane especially. The ultra rich body cream is to die for.

Olay essentials spf 30 moisturiser- I always wash and moisturise my face on really long flights, and since suncream gives me hideous spots, this is the perfect cream for protection and silkiness.

Hand cream- Planes make my hands dry up horrendously for some reason. The cute little Clarins tube in the picture is my plane hand cream. It has nearly run out though. Poor little thing.

Heat pad- 16 hours on a plane is a back ache guarantee.

Kindle- Reading, duh. Oh and they like NEVER run out of battery. It’s amazing.

Notebook- Because I am lists and lists are me.

Eyeliner- Just to make you look a bit more like a human when you get to the other side.

Oh and FYI, I’m getting on a long haul flight in about four hours, so all of these things are crammed in my rucksack now.

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Let’s talk about face wash: La Roche-Posay

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I spend a lot of time thinking about face wash. Written down that seems even more lame than it did in my head but it’s true. Also since I have had a world of skin troubles, I feel compelled to share when I find something good. The skin on my face is a very delicate, hard to handle, intricate operation. My beloved Elemis Tri-Enzyme ran out last week, which gives me the best skin of my life and is a dream. BUT it is a resurfacing wash, so you can’t use it indefinitely and my skin needs a break. TRAUMATIC.

I was ready to part with a lot of money at the Clinique counter to get myself some new make up remover and wash, but put it all back and went with something new. (I also remembered I’m not exactly rolling in it right now.) I read about it online and had never heard about it before I googled ‘face wash for people who get spots and have oily skin and sometimes dry skin HELP ME PLZ’. Something like that anyway.

So I went with La Roche-Posay Effaclar, which is a ‘purifying, foaming gel for sensitive skin.’

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it’s a french brand and markets itself as being great for sensitive skin, and good at keeping breakouts at bay, which is what I need. Most of the time I use a new face wash and nervously wait for the spots to appear. However, a week in and so far so good. I still have a couple spots because I currently have ALL of the hormones, but we seem to get along.

It’s alcohol-free, colourant free, parabens-free (they are preservatives) and soap-free. Which is dandy for a sensitive soul like me.

You only need a really little bit as it foams up quite a lot, if you use too much it literally covers your face and you end up with beard of foam dripping all over the place. Beware. You get seriously soft skin after and it’s not really that drying at all, which is a massive bonus. I fell asleep and forgot to moisturise after one use and my skin still felt quite silky 7 hours later.

The only thing I’m not so keen on is the smell. It smells a bit like soap, which is odd as it’s soap-free. But overall, if you’re a sensitive bunny prone to breakouts, this stuff seems like a good bet. My skin feels really nice, and it actually looks pretty even and unblemished now my hormonal skin is easing off.

For the bargain price of £11 you can get a 200ml bottle from Boots that I reckon will last ages. I also don’t find the ingredients massively offensive, which is often the case when I start trying new skin brands. This is probably the best luck I have had with a face wash that isn’t Elemis and I am very happy with our relationship so far. I think we’ll go the distance.

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10 Photos that perfectly sum up what I miss about university

I had a dream last night I was back at uni and had to cook 10 jacket potatoes before a night out for people to take to an exam the next day. Casual. I miss uni. What a babe of a time. (sorry friends)

1) Getting ready for a night out was so much more than pre-drinking and make up

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2) Cleaning was something you made fun, rather than a chore. Best done at night, under the influence slightly

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 3) The gourmet diet

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4) The varying and exciting modes of transport because cars were way to much of a luxury

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5) The strong emotional bonds made with corner shop staff. There wasn’t just tinned meals and Cornettos, there was emotion.

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6) Squats and night out exercise: anytime, any place, and you absolutely did not need a gym membership

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7) Life knew no boundaries. Literally. (apart from money obvs)

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8) Accessories and free things were a bloody great reason to celebrate, just as much, or even more than birthdays and dissertation hand-ins.

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9) Harry Potter high fashion. Because LIFE.

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10) Any surface= nap opportunity.

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The 10 best things I’ve overheard on the tube lately

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Who needs an iPod or a book when you have the dulcet tones of the general public?

1) (on the District line) I’m just at home now, still feeling quite ill. Yeah it’s a bit loud, sorry.

2) My kids are all so good looking, it gives them a real advantage in life and they know it.

3) I have no real purpose, I just wander, like God intended.

4) For reals? Shiiiiiit bruv. That’s deeper than graves.

5) I scuffed the wall and tried to colour it in white, I don’t really know where I would get the paint.

6) Mummy, why are you taller than daddy?

7) It was so warm yesterday my phone got covered in sweat, it was awful. I’ll need to clean it at some point.

8) Simon’s got a pocket watch, did you know about that? Ridiculous.

9) I’m going on holiday tomorrow, so I put my out of office on last night. Screw today. I’m going to kick back and tweet famous arseholes all day.

10) I feel like people don’t eat enough Chewits anymore. Remember those amazing adverts where a dinosaur thing would chew up buildings. So cool. So retro.

How to take on a working day in London and come out winning

Yesterday was a struggle. A busy, smoggy London struggle. And it was Monday, which never helps any situation. I left the house almost an hour before I usually do to get into work and tackle the immense to do list, but of course the tube line I use was suspended, my back up line had severe delays and I swanned into work later than normal. LOVELY. This was all accompanied by the fact I was wheezing from the high air pollution and walked into the back of a tourist photgraphing the pavement. Deep breaths everyone.

I’ve developed a survival method for working and living in London and it goes mostly like this:

-Wake up and immediately check TFL even before you check Twitter. The transport system is a beast that can’t be tamed. You need as much time as possible to plan your alternative route and swear repeatedly at your phone.

-Practice deep breathing while on your way to work. Someone’s elbow in your spine on the tube? Breathe. Several million suitcases blocking the barriers at Paddington? Breathe. Realising your High Cost living allowance doesn’t actually cover more than two months rent? Breathe. Paying around £5 for a sandwich that looks a bit like roadkill? Breathe.

-Start the day at work with something nice. Have a sit down. Have a chat. Don’t think about how much money you spent on a pizza last night. Get a nice coffee. Enjoy your cuppa pre-email checking. Anything you fancy. You need to recover from the commute after all.

-Take advantage of stuff. Look up if anything’s going on outside at lunchtime, go listen to some cool buskers, see if anyone handing out freebies. It’s London. There’s always SOMETHING you can fill a ten minute break with. It’s not good to stare at your screen all day and listen to that person in the office who talks only about themselves and their cat.

-Excercise. I could go on about how I go swanning round trendy bars after work in Oxford Circus getting merry on cocktails, which DOES happen sometimes, but it’s not the regular end to a day. After commuting home and being exhausted from work, resisting an invitiation to go out drinking or to cash in a Pizza Express deal which isn’t really good value at all, you need to burn off steam. Take your tube delay, money and over-crowding anger out on the rowing machine. THINK ABOUT YOUR THIGHS.

-Appreciate the views. There’s often entire weeks that pass in a blur of stress, deadlines, delayed transport and double G&Ts, so when you see a view like in the photo above (massive credit to my boyfriend @dannyboyjnr insane Instagram skills) you need to take a minute to appreciate it. It’s London after all.

-Reserve an evening treat. You pay over the odds for rent, you work hard, you play hard, you travel to work touching body parts of strangers you would rather not, you deserve it, yo. You SO massively deserve it.

If you happen to be in the market for a new little treat, this drink I discovered yesterday is the absolute dream. You’re welcome. Excuse the chipped nails.

ASOS Outlet Lust List

So I’ve long been obsessed by the ASOS outlet section. I stumbled across it at uni and forever had a virtual basket full of things I wanted but my student loan couldn’t quite cover. Now I can afford clothes, it’s the best bargain stop for clothes, bags, shoes…EVERYTHING. These are the things I most want at the moment. Especially that bag. Everyone needs a good travel bag with colourful embroidery. All of them are found in here, and best of all they just added LOADS of new stuff.

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5 different things to do in London with the girls

So London might have a bit of everything but it can get samey. If you want to try something new in the coming summer months with your gal pals, then I recommend all of these. Indoor, outdoor, shopping, drinking and dress up. GO GO GO.

1) The London Blitz Party

I’ve done this twice and it is SO much fun. War themed, with lots of retro props and always in a cool venue, it’s definitely not your average night out, as you have to dress up in 40s clothes and the music in the venue is live 40s stuff- think swing. The drinks are all based around the theme too, and I strongly recommend going just for the Raspberry Collins cocktails. If you love going all in on the hair and make up then this is seriously worth a try. You can get tickets here and they happen once a month or so.

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2) Judy’s Vintage Fair

If you love a bargain, love vintage, love trawling charity shops and markets and enjoy dressing in clothes from various decades, get yourself to one of these. The vintage kilo sales are amazing. You get a massive basket when you go in and then you pay by the weight of it- genius. Last time I went I came away with 5 things for £15, and you can’t grumble at that. Get there early though, as a queue forms outside and you want to grab the sexiest tie-dye dresses and old man jumpers, don’t you? If you get in when the doors open, you can get out early enough for brunch after to compare purchases. Perfection.  These happen around London and you can check out events here, but the Bethnal Green event in York Hall is my favourite.

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3) XOYO

If you want to do something a bit more on the wild side and are in the mood to go out out all night long, look up events held by XOYO Loves. They usually put on really good DJs in cool as you like venues and you can rely on them to drop glitter or giant balloons on the crowd just to make you all EVEN more excited. The XOYO club in Shoreditch is always a good bet if you want to go on a trendy bar crawl pre-flashing lights and shape throwing (and there’s a place next door to get chips). Get your most comfy shoes, your mates, do some stretches and be prepared to dance.

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4) Bring Your Own Cocktail

perfect for birthday celebrations or just a catch up with the girls accompanied by some seriously delicious drinks. The general idea is you bring the booze, the mixologist makes the cocktail. You can take anything you like along, and if there’s a big enough group you can mix it up nicely, then you hand it over to the skilled staff and they add the extras. More fun and a novel change than just going out for cocktails.

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5) Crazy Golf

Yep. GOLF. Crazy golf has never been on my radar until the last year, but now there are places popping up all the over place in London, particularly the south. It’s fun, it’s something different, and you can have a great time laughing at the person in your group who is generally just HORRENDOUS at the game. For something themed and slightly whacky, try the Jurassic Encounter golf course in New Malden. You can get a nice ice cream or go for a coffee after, or just swing into Kingston and sit by the river.

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