Monday, 20 January 2020

My Somerset Staycation with Airbnb

Even though I really love living in London, I always like having little staycation breaks booked throughout the year to get a nice bit of country air in my lungs. It also feels nice to have a break from blowing my nose and filling the tissue with black air pollution. (soz) I always book my accommodation using Airbnb, which I was really sceptical about at first because I thought the idea of turning up to someone’s family home while they were still there was so weird, until I realised you can book entire places to yourself. (People do still rent out individual rooms in their homes, but there are options to book either the whole place or just a single room and these are really clear when filtering your options) The thing I love the most is that you can get some REALLY cool places- windmills, boats, teeny little converted shepherds huts in the middle of nowhere, huge mansions that sleep 24- you name it!

The last couple of breaks I’ve booked with my boyfriend it’s been really easy to find somewhere because we book way in advance to get a ‘Rare Find’. A Rare Find is an amazing place that’s usually booked out- so you have to be quick! The main things I look for are cleanliness and distance to things like bars/restaurants/cafes (and then I’ll check these out and try and book some beforehand). ALWAYS read the reviews too, because people go into so much detail when leaving them, so it makes making a decision super easy. Anyway, enough about the Airbnb booking system now cos this ain’t an #ad, #gifted or a #spon! (But it can be Airbnb! PLEASE slide into my DM’s!)

I actually booked this little break for Mike’s Christmas present, so the pressure was on for it to be a good weekend! I always get so nervous turning up to the accommodation when it’s something I’ve booked, because I don’t have anyone to blame if we turn up and it’s an absolute dive. I wanted somewhere just outside of London but not too far, so we didn’t have to spend half a day on the train beforehand. Castle Cary was 2 hours away, and the flat was a 10-minute bike ride from the train station.

OF COURSE we took our bikes (Mike got me one for Christmas and I am fully obsessed) which was a good thing really as a lot of places out in the sticks require a car to actually get to anywhere with any civilisation. The first night we spent in The George, which was the local pub right outside out doorstep! They had a huuuuuge roaring fire and a massive gin bar so it was perfect! The second day we had a lazy morning then rode up to a pub that was recommended to us for the views over Somerset. It was about an hours’ ride (UPHILL which was absolutely minging) but we stopped off half-way to have a walk up the hill to find South Cadbury Castle. After wandering around a flat bit of ground for a while, we were told that this was where they THOUGHT it MIGHT have been, it wasn’t actually there  Brilliant. But the weather was absolutely glorious, so it was a day well spent regardless.

When I was doing a bit of research about restaurants in the area, Matt’s Kitchen was recommended on loads of websites as a must-visit. It’s a tiny restaurant which seats just 20 people, so booking in advance is a must! He releases the menu at the start of the week, which consists of a choice of 3 starters, a single dish-of-the-day main and two desserts. The menu depends on which produce is in season at the time, so everything is locally made and super fresh! We had an incredible pork belly with roasted cauliflower, feta and mint for main, and then we shared the desserts, chocolate torte and bread and butter pudding- so good! It’s BYOB as well, and fortunately for us, our flat was next to ‘The Wine Wizzard’, so we went in beforehand to pick up a bottle of something that would go nicely with the pork belly. (I felt like such a grown up doing this lol)

As always with rented accommodation, check out was 11 so we were back in London by 2, giving me plenty of time to get back, unpack and scream into my pillow for a couple of hours at the thought of going back to work the next day after such a perfect weekend.

Have you done many UK staycations? Where would you recommend?
Use my Airbnb code HERE to get £34 off your first trip!

Monday, 6 January 2020

My 2020 New Year’s Resolutions

I’ve actually thought long and hard about my resolutions this year (mostly because I haven’t had time to write up this post yet because I’ve been too busy drowning in Lindt balls) because I wanted to make them as specific as possible, instead of the obvious ‘lose weight’ or ‘save money’ which I attempt, and fail, every year. I feel if you have smaller goals that have more substance, then they will be easier to achieve. And if not, there’s always next year!!!!! (kidding)

Use up my beauty/skincare/hair products first before buying more
I worked in beauty PR for just under 2 years, so I have a hell of a lot of all of the above stashed in my VERY small bedroom. A mix of work freebies, goody bags from events and PR gifting means I’ve got my hands on some pretty sweet brands, so this year I’m going to force myself to use every dry shampoo, every hair mask, every lip gloss and every moisturiser (unless it starts giving me severe acne then it’s getting dashed asap) before buying a fresh one. This way I will clear up some much-needed space in my bedroom (especially when I’m planning on moving to a new flat soon) save money AND rediscover some of my favourite products.

See more of the friends I have seen in ages
Ok, so the subheading of this resolution doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, I know, but I didn’t know how else to word it! As a woman of strict routine, I fall into the trap of seeing the same friends week in week out, so when I’m trying to make plans with someone I haven’t seen in a while, both our diaries have zero availability for the foreseeable and we end up forgetting, then before you know it 6 months has passed. This year I want to see a different long-lost friend every month, whether it’s for a coffee, dinner, workout- anything just to make sure we stay in touch over something other than liking each others photos on Instagram (but still do that as well plz.)

Stop being so selfish
This pains me to type, but it’s something I’ve been guilty of my whole life. I don’t even know how to explain it really, but I always just get this horrible overwhelming sense of selfishness in certain circumstances. Even when the circumstance has nothing to do with me. So this is something I really need to work on for my mental health and for my own peace of mind really. It links with my horrible habit over overthinking which makes me anxiety kick in, which makes me get stressed more easily, which means I grind my teeth more. Horrible vicious circle. If anyone can actually decipher what the hell I’m talking about here then all advice welcome!  (Apart from the Calm app cos I’ve tried it and it didn’t do anything for me.)

Save money
I had to throw at least one cliché in, didn’t I! This has a really clear goal though, as I’m planning on going travelling later this year, and if I don’t have at least £3k then I’m not gonna get much further than Ireland, so I actually need to buckle down and start saying ‘no’ to things. And unsubscribe the Facetune app that I use to smooth out the skin on my nose. And stop buying £9 glasses on wine in the pub next door to my house…

What are you going to try and do differently this year?

Wednesday, 1 January 2020

My 2019 Personal Highlights

I was on First Dates! I actually filmed my episode over a year ago(!!!), but they film so many dates that you aren’t guaranteed that yours will be shown on TV, so when I got a phone call earlier this year to say they were currently editing my episode and that it will be aired on Channel 4 later on in the year I was absolutely over the moon. Partly because there is still something inside me that’s dying to be famous (anything that doesn’t involve working), and partly because my number 1 fan, aka my mum had told every man and his dog about it so for the last 18 months I had been bombarded with ‘Hey Claudia when is your First Dates episode on?’ at LEAST once a week from random neighbours and family friends and there is only so many time you can reply with ‘soon I think!!’ before it starts getting embarrassing. Anyway, it was on TV on December 10th, and I was absolutely howling the whole way through- it’s a brilliant episode (I may be slightly biased here though)

I started a new job! God, I swear it sounds like I’m just going through every cliché here and ticking them off one by one, but it’s been a pretty pivotal year for me. I’ve moved completely out of beauty PR, which to be honest is a massive breath of fresh air! I’m still working in social media, but on commercial property and retail locations, so it’s a massive challenge but I’m really enjoying being in a totally new environment with some lovely new colleagues and a nice new office in the city. I mean, it sounds fancy to say I work in central, but when I’m forcing myself into the sardine tin that is the Northern Line at Bank station twice a day- not so glam! Another benefit of having a career change and a bit more of a lengthy commute is that I’ve started reading! This year I’ve read 6 books- which to most people will sound like absolute peanuts, but for a girl who hasn’t read anything more than Heat magazine for the last 5 years it’s pretty big! I’ve just finished the Tattooist of Auschwitz (sob!) so I’m onto the next in the sequel – Cilka’s Journey. (So if you see me bawling on the tube you know why)

I GOT A BOYFRIEND! I realise that the fact I’m writing it in capitals makes me look like an absolute virgin but I can honestly say that I’ve not felt this happy for a loooong time, and a tiny bit (a lot) is down to meeting Mike. For all those who aren’t aware, we met on HINGE (Dating app for those still living under a stone) Mike’s actually mortified every time I tell people that this is how we met, but he lives in EdGy East London and is therefore way too cool for anything that becomes even slightly mainstream. Like Hinge. And Lovebox Festival. And Domino’s cheeseburger pizza. Also, who even meets IRL anymore, it’s 2019! *eye roll* We’ve been together for 8 months now, and I was actually looking through my photo album on my iPhone the other day and smiling at alllll the fun stuff we’ve done and the places we’ve been this year, which is making me even more excited for next year when we will hopefully be moving in together and looking at doing some travelling over late Summer/Christmas/as long as he can make me stay out of the UK for! (He’s from New Zealand and hates cold weather so he can't cope with another British winter.)

I finally got comfortable with my body! I am sure you are all bored to the back teeth of me banging on about F45 but it really has changed my life. Not only have a met a really amazing new group of friends who motivate and inspire me daily, but I’ve also learnt so much about fitness and nutrition. The main thing being, no matter how hard I smash the workouts, if I’m still inhaling family sized lasagnes every weekend then I AM going to put on weight. and body fat. (As highlighted by my lovely friend Jack who got me a ‘WHALE DONE’ card for being the only person who gained weight after the summer 8-week challenge.) Regardless, I’ve finally found a workout that I actually love to do. It challenges me and sometimes I wanna leave after the warm-up, but I absolutely love it, and I’ve seen some really great results in my body and my positive mind set.

My braces came off! It’s very rare to have a 27-year-old woman with full on train track braces, but that was me! I got my braces earlier this year in February, with the presumption that I would only need them on for a couple of months. That was the case with my top teeth (thank god) but I had one annoying little snaggletooth on the bottom row that just would not move! Fast forward to December, and I was actually supposed to get them off on the 10th but my appointment got pushed back to January. Which makes this highlight not exaccctly true cos it will now be a v. early 2020 highlight. But it’s close. Also, how crazy that Mike met me WITH the braces!? And it’s not just the fact I had tinfoil teeth blinding him all summer, it’s the daily spinach stuck on my front tooth, or herbs stuck in the bottom bracket or me constantly sucking food out of the back teeth (soz guys it’s grim but true) He really has started from the bottom now he’s here!! What a guy!!

What are your 2019 highlights?