14 things to do, eat, drink and see in Brighton


Brighton is my boyfriend’s home town so I’ve spent a lot of time there over the past five years and it’s one of my favourite places.  It makes the seaside seem effortlessly cool and there’s endless amounts to do, not just a pier and pubs- though take a good amount of time for the glorious pub scene, you won’t find much else to rival it. Here’s some stuff you should find time for:

1) Visit the famous Lanes and look at all the pretty jewels in shop windows. There’s also loads of little independent shops, sweet shops, craft shops and plenty of pubs. It’s also an Instagram dream if you’re that way inclined.

2) Also go the The Lanes for dinner- particularly if it’s warm enough to sit outside.  I recommend the Giggling Squid for killer Thai food.

3) Eat the best vegetarian food imaginable at Terre A Terre. I’m not veggie but this place is a foodie dream, as are the churros.

4) Take artsy photos of the West Pier ruin.

5) Go to many, many pubs. Brighton has more pubs per square mile than anywhere in the country, so no excuse. My faves are The Mash Tun, Fishbowl and I once spent a good six hours loving life in The Evening Star.

6) Eat all manner of bad-for-you food on the pier. It’s kind of compulsory to go to the pier even just for five minutes. The doughnuts make it worth while.

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7) Get brunch at Kensingtons Balcony Cafe then go shopping in the streets around it. These little streets are lined with vintage shops, second hand clothes sales, stalls selling weird and wonderful jewellery and plenty of seriously good cake and coffee.There’s also a place called Snooper’s Paradise that you should check out just for the experience.

8) Walk around the gardens of the Royal Pavillion. Also prime picnic location if you snag a nice day. You can get a tour of the inside too if it’s not so much of a nice day.

9) Visit Beyond Retro and buy something much cooler than you really are.

10) Go street art spotting.

11) Eat fish and chips in OHSO and watch the sun go down.

12) Go to Choccywoccydoodah and look at chocolate sculptures and probably gain weight through your eyes.


13) Get tea, cake or breakfast at Blackbird Tea Rooms. I like it here because it’s decorated like a Victorian child’s bedroom and because the cake slices are like triple portions.

14) Head into Hove if you get the time, mostly to just admire all the beautiful houses really.

 

Fitness overhaul- How much do you really want to change?

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 Two weeks ago I was more determined than ever that my latest attempt at overhauling my health and fitness was going to last. This is the longest I’ve ever stuck to a serious exercise regime. It’s the fittest I’ve ever felt. It’s also the longest my various health problems have gone into some sort of remission,  which has let me get to this point. 

It’s just amazing how quickly it can feel like it’s slipping away. I see so many public announcements of lifestyle changes. Declarations on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and in blogs from people who swear that this time, it’s going to last. They’re going to succeed. This time it’s for real and by posting it online it makes it official. Often though it doesn’t last, the attemp fails and the cycle is repeated few months later. I’ve been that person so many times. 

For the past couple of weeks I haven’t been able to stick to my preferred exercise/diet regime because I hurt my hip and I’ve been much busier than usual. I’ve still been able to fit some quick exercise in but it’s not been at the pace of the past five months. It’s made me so behind, so fast. 

It’s only two weeks. Two weeks doesn’t sound that long when you’re looking at the bigger picture, but this is where I fail. In fact, this is where we fail. We fall down because it’s hard to bounce back when you have a little break right?Motivation starts to wane and all the inspiration you felt just days before isn’t there anymore. It’s amazing (and bloody annoying) how quick and easy it is to slip into old habits.

The last two weeks have brought it home to me how much you need to want to change. You can’t want it a little bit. You can’t want it in waves. You have to want it to the point where there’s no alternative. I thought I’d always wanted it enough but clearly I haven’t, because I’ve never succeeded long term and now that bugs the life out of me. Why can’t I just do it? 

This irritation at myself has been stronger than ever and it’s driven me to this current attemp at reaching my goals.

I want to be physically fit- like really fit. I want it for the good of my weak body, my joints that struggle badly for my age and I want it to feel and look good. There’s no point denying the body image part- I want a flat muscly stomach, toned legs and arms and I want to feel really well and strong. I’ve wanted all of this for a long time but all the years of yearning and faddy attempts haven’t amounted to a real changes until now. 

I haven’t totally turned my life around and I’m vets inky not sporting a six pack, but I’ve never lasted this long or made this much progress- hence the frustration at feeling like I’ve taken a step back. 

I’m not going to let the past two weeks lead me down the road to failure. I refuse to lose the progress running my first 10k has made. I can’t deal with starting again, after more than five months of trying so hard, sweating so much, sacrificing so much time and overcoming many mental blocks and health barriers. 

I want this change to last. I want it to stay and to improve my life and give me the satisfaction that I’ve finally done it. It’s just taken so long to realise how much you’ve really got to want a lifestyle change to make it come about. 

Any inspiration to get me through the rest of this wobble and to keep me motivated is welcome. As are puppies, if you can arrange it. 

Why Ireland must be on your travel list

 

Last year I went away in September to do something that’s been on my travel list for years- the west coast of Ireland or The Wild Atlantic Way, as you might have heard it called. I wanted to go partly because of the beautiful scenery and also because I have Irish family. My grandparents are Irish and I wanted to go and spend some time there, especially since my grandad passed away, to get a feel for their lives. I actually went back to the tiny village my nan was born in, tucked away in Country Clare- where the post office and church have been exactly the same since when she was a child 75 years ago.

It was really nice to go and experience all the things they’d both told us about over the years- mostly the wildlife, the coastal scenery and the many pubs. It turned out to be much more beautiful than I imagined. It was actually quite spellbinding, like walking around in a fairy tale. We didn’t have a week of sunshine which was no surprise given Ireland is famed for its wet weather, but it didn’t matter. You don’t need blue skies to appreciate the beauty.

Ireland has a charm like no other place I’ve ever been. I can’t describe it any  way other than gentle. The villages we stumbled upon while driving through Clare, with their colourful thatched roof cottages and gardens full of flowers almost didn’t look real.

We basically spent the week driving around, stopping off at beaches, cliffs, walking through country lanes, drinking tea and eating cake and of course sampling Guinness and wathcing Hurling. We visited Dublin, Clare and Galway. It’s one of the most laid back trips I’ve ever been on. If you need to rejuvenate I couldn’t recommend it more.

We also paid such a reasonable price for such a nice holiday, using both small b&bs, Airbnb and hiring a car in Dublin. My boyfriend’s Ireland photography does a good job at explaining through pictures why you need to go, but here’s some more proof:

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8 readjusted adult life goals

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Remember being a teenager and thinking that you would have nailed life by age 24? When you’re sixteen your twenties feel a million years away. Back then it was totally reasonable to think you’d probably have bought a house, be engaged, have a nice little job that involved regular long lunches and post-work cocktails, maybe you’d even have a kid and some sort of small fluffy dog to walk at weekends.

Well, how completely hilarious. Can you even imagine having life sorted in your early twenties? If you do, you’re amazing and you go Glenn Coco. I’ve bypassed my early twenties now and I’m still trying to scrape some sort of passable life plan together and I’m pretty thankful for it. I’ve enjoyed my haphazard early adult years so far with all the learning curves, house sharing, adventure having and career carving. My life goals when I was a teenager in sixth form, where main activities involved spending my weekend job wages in Pilot and on phone credit were to have a house in a little village, a job as a novelist and a husband and probably a child. I’m not sure how I planned to fit all this in or where I would have got the inspiration for my bestselling novel, but whatever.

These are readjusted, actual real adult goals for the next year

1) Finish this year with more furniture than just a bed, two bedside tables, a lamp and a mirror. With moving looming in the not-so distant future and no more ‘comes furnished’ promises, I should probably at least buy a chair to sit on.

2) Insure everything I own. Ultimate adulting, but it’s obviously important.

3) Learn how to paint walls properly. My past attempts at painting with friends have always mostly been okay, if you stand quite far away and don’t shine any natural light on the walls. I don’t want to have to pay other people to do my DIY forever and you can bet your last penny there’s a YouTube tutorial on it.

4) Start foreign language lessons. I’ve been meaning to do this for about, erm, eight years. Safe to say procrastination doesn’t even cover it. I hate how lazy travel makes me feel when it comes to languages. My sister used Beyonce songs in Spanish to help her conquer a language, so it can’t be all bad.

5) Tick Budapest off my travel list. I’ve wanted to go for so long and I always sideline it for other places for some reason. Once we’ve got through the trials and tribulations of moving and mortgaging, I’m treating myself to this.

6) Get on top of my health. As someone with more complex health needs than your average human, I need to get a proper handle on all the symptoms, tests, routine visits and check-ups I need once and for all.

7) Keep up my fitness levels. I’ve worked hard to be the fittest I’ve ever been right now. It’s helping my mental and physical health and I don’t want to let it slip away through laziness or bad time management.

8) Polish my photography skills. I have a photographer boyfriend and an expensive, flashy camera at home so I have no excuse. This is also sometime I see more and more in job specs for future roles I’d like to take on, so it’s about career development as well as an impressive Instagram.

5 perfect lazy Sunday reads

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I spent Thursday evening this week having a mammoth catch up of what I just call ‘internet reading’- mostly stuff I find through Twitter and of course my favourite blogs. The sudden arrival of actual, real summer meant I had some much needed separation from staring at my phone this week, so I haven’t read anywhere near as much as usual, but here are a few gems to occupy your Sunday:

When did the media turn against Taylor Swift? This is such an interesting read from Vulture. Hate or love Taylor Swift, her relationship with the media and the way she has suddenly come under fire and faced criticism amid the whole Kimye thing is compelling stuff. I hadn’t ever thought or read much into the history of her career and her life in the spotlight but this outlines it all. This is the longest read in this pick, so settle in.

Hello Giggles posted about why baby bumps don’t just disappear after giving birth and while this isn’t one my usual reading topics, I clicked immediately. I’ve obviously always known this is the case that we don’t snap back into shape, but it’s an interesting little read. You never see much about the science behind the baby bump- we usually just get hounded by photos of celebs who have lost it miraculously fast. A short, snappy and scientific little read.

Jane’s Patisserie is a blog that will make you hungry. Like, the kind of hungry where you just stand in front of open cupboards shovelling in anything and feeling sad that you don’t have anything made by her. This recipe of Terry’s chocolate orange brownies looks insanely good.

Standard Issue is one of my favourite websites and my favourite read from there lately, is this on one of my childhood true loves- The Famous Five. It talks about the irresponsible parenting in the books and is guaranteed to make you smile if you read the series as a youngster.

Oslo has been on my travel list forever and I caught up on reading Queen Beady and found a really good piece all about what to do, eat and where to go on a trip there. My need to go is now about 100 times stronger, so beware if you are inclined to get strong wanderlust.

Three products that have saved my skin this summer

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I feel weirdly passionate about promoting stuff I’ve found that helps my skin. As someone who grew up plagued by bad skin, I know how it feels to have your confidence knocked by  a blemished face. I’ve never had really obvious acne or suffered with bouts of large spots, it’s always been small, lump, under-the-skin spots, that almost look like rashes and have made my face look like I’ve recently suffered an allergic reaction. I’ve also always struggled to get rid of blackheads and to this day the little buggers remain happily settled on my nose and chin.

Like most people, summer changes my skin completely. Even summers like this year which up until, well, this week, have been pretty awful and mostly a grey, rainy nightmare.  I suffer more with oily red spots and I feel like I need to scrub my skin way more than in winter, which is obviously down to sweat and all that darling pollution that London kicks up for your face to absorb. Really lush.

Since June I’ve been using three different things on my face almost continually, and this is probably the clearest skin I’ve had during hot weather for several years. This isn’t a fancy skin routine and it certainly isn’t hard to stick to.

As my skin is quite oily, I can use foaming products that would be too drying in the winter, and my favourite is La Roche Posay Effaclar cleansing gel. I’ve posted about this before, because it’s been one of my greatest ever skin finds and I love it. It’s affordable, you can get it in most bigger Boots stores and it comes in big bottles which last weeks and weeks. It also makes me feel really, really, REALLY clean.

My other go-to ‘please scrub all the sweat and dirt and woe off my face’ product is Soap and Glory’s No Clogs Allowed self-heating mask. This is really good for sensitive souls. I have skin that hates, well, most things, and has always loathed masks, but this has never caused issues. I use it in the bath usually, which probably isn’t best practice, but it still gets the job done. My skin never feels as good as it does after using this. The hear feeling can be a little strange at first, but stick with it. I cannot recommend it enough. I’ve re-purchased it five times now.

Lastly is the only other mask besides the Soap and Glory I’ve ever managed to tolerate. Elemis Tri-Enzyme Resurfacing Face Mask essentially works to resurface your face and make the surface of your skin clearer and softer. If you stick with this, it makes you feel like you’ve got new skin entirely. It’s more of a splurge but worth it if you feel like you need to start again on a skin routine. I haven’t used this for a couple of weeks as it isn’t advised to use it in periods where you’re exposed to lots of sun, but apart from that it’s a total gem and I really, really recommend it.

Twitter health communities- the negatives and making them better

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Twitter is my one of my favourite and at times least favourite things. I look at it more than most people because I use it for work and throughout the day for my own personal benefit too. I use it for news, for laughs, for reading material, for travel and fashion inspiration and also for support or information about health issues.

A lot of the accounts I follow are owned by people who have similar health struggles to me, or accounts that support people like us. In the past few weeks I’ve seen lots of stuff about abled and disabled people, the difference between those who live with chronic illness and those who don’t and tweets about the ignorance towards mental health. I usually like seeing conversations online about this, because people with struggles such as these get to have a voice and can talk to others they would never get support from in person, because they would never have known they existed. I like seeing positive engagement and I like it that Twitter is such a good platform for allowing communities to join together and have a voice. But it’s really not been all good lately.

This is probably nothing new. I don’t have the time or the social media energy to keep up with everything on my timeline and through personal choice I don’t often join in on health debates because a recent good run in health for me has given me respite from constantly worrying and thinking about symptoms and doctors. For me, the problem with making a voice for those who have invisible conditions like I do is that it’s so hard to get people to remember, accept, believe or sympathise with something they can’t see. People need to see medication, or see that you’re bed-bound or stuck at home to accept you’re unwell.

Illness comes in many different forms- both mental and physical. Just because someone gets up and goes to work day in and day out, doesn’t mean they can’t possibly be unwell. Just because someone socialises, goes on holiday, has a social media presence and gets stuff done, doesn’t mean they aren’t unwell. I sometimes think it would be easier if I was visibly seen to be popping pills, as it’s something that people relate to illness, but I don’t need to. Of course you can’t expect everyone to understand your health issues- mine are so complicated highly qualified doctors struggle to understand them, but it’s not about accepting the medical science, it’s just about remembering that there can be stuff happening below the surface of normal looking facade.

It’s one of the biggest issues facing people who suffer with chronic conditions that leave no mark or show no obvious signs- people don’t buy it, and I see  frustration anger, and even arguments happening on Twitter  because of this . Why should someone who battles with illness have to justify the need to take a step back, miss an event or defend the fact they’re out and about getting on with life? “But you don’t look sick…” is a common theme. Newsflash- people with long term health problems can wear make up and nice clothes and hang out on beaches in bikinis. They can have lives. It’s really bloody hard to battle chronic illness. Really, really hard.

I’ve stopped expecting people to remember I’m not the same as everyone else. I don’t get angry about it, I just get tired of it mostly, because I don’t like to bring up my health issues or show signs of weakness, which isn’t how it should be. I go to work, go on holiday, go to the gym and keep up with my social life, but at a cost. I spend plenty of time nursing pain, limping, attending doctor appointments and blood tests, peeing into test tubes and having body parts scanned- mostly in the evenings, at weekends or at the crack of dawn, because I’m lucky. Not everyone has the luxury of getting appointments like these. Maybe if I advertised that a bit more, people might remember, or even ask how I am.

I’ll still always credit Twitter with being the biggest help in getting to the bottom of my health issues, and eventually getting the right care, but there’s definitely work to be done in making it a better place for these communities.

Why nostalgia gave me the best weekend 


If you’re like me, and you let the news get to you, you’re probably not having the greatest time ever. Me and my boyfriend were discussing our shock at not having received a BBC breaking news notification involving something tragic, scary or worrying in about 12 hours on Sunday night night. That didn’t last much longer. That’s current bedtime chat these days. Oh 2016.

Last weekend though was a welcome break from feeling disillusioned and worried and I would like to thank nostalgia. I love nostalgia. I love 90s films and quotes from the noughties and lists of stuff that we all used to obsess over in high school or games we used to fill our time with before smart phones and the internet consumed us all (I’m looking at you Dream Phone).

Harry Potter was a big part of my childhood. I started reading the books at some point in primary school and then stayed with them as they were released, then moved onto the films and basically became a full on Hogwarts obsessive. I happened to meet like-minded people at uni to talk about my love for all things Gryffindor and Snape over pineapple VKs with, so I’ve never really left HP behind.

When I saw the announcement of the Cursed Child plays I was deep in the middle of saving to move and decided I couldn’t justify the tickets, but the stars and planets and Dumbledore aligned and I ended up getting tickets from a friend who, for varying circumstances, had some spares.

That is what filled my Saturday last weekend. We saw both plays in one day and chucked in a jolly old trip to Wahaca in the middle to discuss part one, drink margaritas and catch Pokemon.

That was the other trip down memory lane, but with a futuristic twist. Bloody Pokemon Go. I can not claim in any way, shape or form to know much about Pokemon. I asked my boyfriend if Chazard and Rockaway were Pokemon names, so that sums up my knowledge. I did however have the cards as a kid and I did collect them and get really excited about the shiny ones and put them in an album. I really like this game. Despite myself and my normal disdain I just love the idea of something that makes me feel like a child again being suddenly so relevant.

I went to bed pretty happy on Saturday night. A full day of reliving the most carefree years of my life was needed, even if I didn’t know it. There’s a reason why nostalgia does so well as vital content and my contented feeling after a day of dementors, quidditch, JK Rowling fan girling and Squirtle chasing sums up why. It’s just nice to visit the stuff that made you happy once upon a time and nice to be reminded of things that continue to make you happy today.

The theatre was Crammed with people from all walks of life, different ages and from all over the world getting another slice of a story that’s enchanted so many people and it was really rather lovely. As is watching a group of suit-clad grown ups scurrying down London streets on their lunch break collecting Pokemon. It might seem stupid or immature or ridiculous to some, but nostalgia isn’t any of those things. It’s just a really good way of reclaiming a happy time and dragging it into current life.

Take that 2016. You are not all doom and gloom.

 

Online sale shopping made delightfully easy

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This has been the ultimate year of thrift in my life. Six months of relentless saving and bank balance checking and cutting back has not exactly been the best news for my wardrobe. Clothes were the top of the list on things that had to go from monthly spending which was obviously sad times, but thank the garment gods for black skinny jeans. I love those dark clingy things more than anything and they have been my best friends during these adulting times.

Anyway, it’s been a bit hot for black skinny jeans lately and I am taking off with my family for two weeks of immense heat very soon, so I decided it was acceptable to buy some clothes that won’t make me look like a sad beetroot after walking 10 steps in the sun. I discovered Love The Sales at the start of the year after seeing someone talk about getting jeans from there on Twitter and had a little nosey. It’s  pretty much your best friend if you want to shop on a budget. It basically lists all sale items from a whole load of stores including TopShop, Misguided, Boohoo, Mango, French Connection, Roxy, ASOS, New Look… and take a look at their Phase Eight sale for wedding guest style dresses especially. I don’t have the time or the patience to list them all, but you name it, you’ll most likely find it.

Oh and it’s not just clothes- it’s all manner of beauty, electronics, homeware and stuff for kids.

It bypasses all the other stuff you’d buy if you were rolling in it, and leaves you with a realistic page of shopping options and is completely up to date. You can do all your usual price filtering, item type, brand etc and I love it quite a lot. It’s seriously worth checking out for bargain hunting. Once you’ve found what you want, it transfers you to the retail site to buy it. If you need swimwear right now, get involved. It does high end and high street priced sale items, so whatever the hell you need or just feel the urge to own, you’re covered.

Dress- Mango- via Love The Sales

New York photo diary

It’s been well over a week now since I got home from New York and my holiday blues are still going strong. I didn’t know what to expect from the city despite how much I’d read about it and been told about it before I departed to see for myself. I took my boyfriend for his 30th birthday as surprise so I had to do all my research in secret and so we arrived with very few plans and just got to work with City Passes and a street map.

We absolutely bloody loved it- every single second. We were out every single day for 12 or 13 hours and walked over 60 miles, so we did fit a lot in, but actually barely scratched the surface. This is fine by me as it’s a legitimate reason to go back as soon as possible. We got completely sucked up into the New York vacuum of joy as I am calling it, and I now completely get why people go back again and again. We did touristy stuff obviously, but we also did a lot of wondering and stumbling upon things which made for the perfect mixture. I wrote something about tips for your first trip– just practical, helpful things that people fail to mention because OMG YOU’RE GOING TO NYC YOU HAVE TO EAT HERE, HERE AND HERE AND DO THIS AND GO HERE. I will now be one of those people. But anyway- here be photos- shout out to my boyfriend who takes photos a million times better than me and did a whole post full of beautiful New York photography.

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We spent a night in a bar called Don’t Tell Mama, which I think is up there with Top of the Rock and  a boat trip on the ‘must do’ list. The staff while they work which when I first heard about it made me cringe, but it was actually also just as much a comedy show and was genuinely brilliant. The staff are all singers who aspire to appear on Broadway, so if you ever go expect some show tunes and also try a ‘Wicked Margarita’.


  
    

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