Monday, 27 June 2016

HOW TO STEP OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE (AND WHY YOU SHOULD!)

When it comes to comfort zones, I would say mine is pretty vast. I like to think I'm pretty adventurous, which could be down to a combination of growing up with two big brothers and my inquisitive (is that the right word?!) personality. Basically, I am the type of girl that would rather a 'oh well' than a 'what if?'

When an email dropped into my inbox at work about the Yorkshire Three Peaks challenge, I thought why not?! Hiking can't be THAT hard, and I always see the VS models and Kardashians uploading photos of them hiking up Runyon Canyon on Instagram so I thought I would give it a go. School boy error- I only researched the route AFTER I had signed up, but still, the 26 miles and 12 hour ETA still didn't phase me.

All the gear and no idea springs to mind
The only training I did was when I climbed Mount Snowden with some friends from my gym. It took 5 hours and I hated every second. Little did I know that would be the tip of the iceberg when it came to the Three Peaks...!!!


Literally every path was like this- long, never-ending with uneven ground. The first couple of hours were fine- our group morale was high, the sun was shining, and according to our guide, we had got the hardest part of the challenge out the way. When we reached the summit of Pen-Y-Ghent (peak 2) in record timing of 5 hours, I was on top of the world (literally!)

Ingleborough- DONE
Pen-Y-Ghent- DONE
Little did I know that the hardest part was yet to come. A looooooooooooong, draining, boring walk to peak number 3 started to suck the life out of me, and by hour number 7, I could feel my legs starting to seize up. We were promised a little rest stop where tea, coffee and cake would be provided before we reached the base of Whernside. The way our guide described it I was expecting Betty's Tea Rooms- so you can imagine my face when I saw that it was Tesco basics Swiss Roll in vanilla or chocolate. I'll stick to my sandwich, thanks. And I KNOW that sounds really ungrateful but after 8 hours of constant walking I could have done with something a little more indulgent than a bloody swiss roll.

The last peak was definitely the hardest, most gruelling 4 hours of my life. I felt like I had lost about 6 toenails, my hands had swollen up to Elephant Man status, I was soaked to the core and physically exhausted. The worst part was that even if I wanted to quit, I couldn't, because I would still have to walk back down the mountain. I am genuinely not joking when I say that I was contemplating breaking my own leg so that I could be airlifted back to civilisation and escape the absolute hell on earth that I was currently trapped in. Note the absence of a smiley 'we reached the summit!' photo of peak 3- by this point our mood had rapidly deteriorated and we were on a mission to get to the finish.

11 hours in. At this point I was starting to hallucinate that I could see Jess' car and she was going to drive me home to the warm, safe mountain-free haven that was my bedroom. But no. I had a little cry in the rain and just forced myself to concentrate on putting one foot in front of the other till it was done.

HALLELUJAH

Finishing time: 11 hours 44 mins. 11 hours and 44 minutes of pure hell. Yeah, I am glad I have done it, but I can safely say I never want to see another pair of hiking boots, or hear the rustle of waterproof trousers again for the foreseeable future.

Whilst I was lying in bed on Sunday, feeling as though my whole entire body had turned to concrete and I would never walk again, it really got me thinking. The Three Peaks Challenge really threw me out of my comfort zone, and even though I wanted to, I didn’t give up. It’s inspired me to set myself more challenges, to prove to myself that I can do anything I set my mind to. Yeah, it was an absolute KILLER, but the sense of accomplishment at the finish line was indescribable. In fact, I’m already planning my next challenge- the 10km Total Warrior in September!


Tips for stepping out of your comfort zone:
  • Sign up for an event that you wouldn’t usually take part in
  • Enter with a group so you can motivate each other
  • Challenge yourself- whether it be physically, mentally, or both!
  • Practice makes perfect! Put together a training regime and make sure you stick to it (I learnt this the hard way)
  • Don’t doubt yourself! It’s mind over matter
  • Reward yourself for completing the challenge



When was the last time you stepped out of your comfort zone? I hope this post has inspired you to challenge yourself!

Friday, 24 June 2016

SAVE VS. SPLURGE: NYX BROW POMADE VS. ANASTASIA BEVERLY HILLS DIPBROW

During the course of the last year or so, Anastasia Beverly Hills has come out of nowhere and taken the world of beauty by storm- and still continues to do so! First it was the almighty Dipbrow Pomade that beauty bloggers everywhere couldn't wait to get their hands on, then the cream contour kit that became like gold dust, the liquid lipsticks, and most recently- the elusive 'Glow Kits'. Can Anastasia do NO wrong?!

Anastasia Beverly Hills Dipbrow Pomade
And in short, no. She can't. In the hundreds of hours I have spent online reading beauty product reviews, I have not seen ONE that slams ABH products. I don;t even care that I am paying £15 for a tiny pot of wax, because it lasts ages and it is SO worth it. The only negative is that they are STILL not available to purchase in UK stores. Hmph. YEAH I know, you can get them online at BeautyBay and Cult Beauty, but when my roots are growing at 50000mph, I'm gonna need a completely different shade of Dipbrow than when I've just had a fresh colour. You feel me?

Naturally, when every woman and her dog are obsessing over eyebrow pomade, other brands are going to follow suit. This brings me to the NYX Tame & Frame Tinted Brow Pomade. I was at the stage with my ABH Dipbrow where I was LITERALLY scraping the barrel, so when I popped into my nearest Boots after work to pick up £40 worth of things I definitely didn't go in for, and more to the point, didn't NEED (we've all been there!) I noticed the NYX version on the stand for an absolute steal at £5.50. I had a night out planned for the following day, so rather than scrape 1mg of ABH out and hope for the best, in true beauty blogger style I picked one up to review. Unfortunately the NYX Pomades only come in five shades, but on the plus side they were physically in front of me so I could try them out. Swings and roundabouts. I ended up going for 'Chocolate'.

NYX Tame & Frame Pomade
And I was surprisingly impressed! Well, when I say surprisingly, I am OBSESSED with the NYX matte lip cremes so I kinda have a soft spot for the brand anyway, but still, they look pretty identical! I applied it with my ABH large synthetic duo brush and although they were a little lighter than usual as you can see in the photo- I was digging it! It isn't as pigmented as ABH so I felt like I need to use the remains of my ABH Pomade in 'medium brown' to line the underneath of my brows to make them a little more defined, but I think I could have easily done this if I had picked up the NYX 'Espresso' or 'Brunette'.

Like every brand, there are pro's and con's. I would say the main competition with these two would be that ABH is available in 11 colours, however a little on the pricier side at £15 and not available in UK stores. NYX- available in UK stores, absolute BARGAIN, however only comes in 5 shades.


For £5.50 though- can you really complain?! ABH, I will always love you, but until I can physically shop your products I think I will be raiding my local NYX stands a lot more frequently.
SaveSave

Thursday, 16 June 2016

CITYBREAK: GHOST HUNTING IN EDINBURGH


I don't spend nearly as much time with my mum as I would like. Especially as I have just moved home from living in Sheffield for the previous five years, so almost every weekend so far has been spent catching up with my friends, or on holidays (lucky me!) I've started taking for granted the fact that I see her all the time because I live with her, but I am always so busy that making each other a green tea in the morning, or rushing past in the hallway to go to bed at the end of the day doesn't reeeeeally count as quality time.

We have both always wanted to visit Edinburgh, so when she suggested booking a weekend mini-break to explore the city together I jumped at the chance! I am obsessed with anything do to with to horror movies/ghosts/paranormal activity, and with Edinburgh having a reputation for being one of the most haunted cities in the UK, I couldn't wait to go ghost hunting!




And here with have the traditional Scottish dish of stuffed vine leaves and baklava! Ok, I know you're thinking wtf does that have to do with Edinburgh? And the answer is nothing! However, my mum is a die-hard Trip Advisor devotee, and she saw how highly rated this little Greek restaurant was and insisted we visit. The place itself- Meze Meze, is down a little side street in the city centre. It's so small, but not long after we sat down, the place filled up and the waiter was actually having to turn people away! So that's always a positive sign. We ordered three dishes each and they were absolutely divine- such fresh, authentic flavours. I'm gutted I didn't get a photo of the chicken skewers- they were a meal in themselves! I never usually allow myself to get a dessert, but as soon as I saw baklava on the menu I HAD to get some, and managed to force my mum to get some too so I didn't look like a pig by myself. Again -amazing. 



My mum had already booked us on a tour of 'The Dark Side of Edinburgh' for later that evening, but it sounded a little too tame for my liking so I managed to persuade her to come on the 'Underground City of the Dead Tour' too. Personally I wanted to go on the 'Double Dead Tour' but it collided with the pre-booked tour. Next time!


The tour guide himself, David, was absolutely brilliant. The way he told the ghostly tales was so theatrical and really engaging. He led us through the most haunted section of the underground vaults, 'Damnation Alley', telling us chilling tales about what life was like back in the day and the paranormal activity that has been seen/heard/FELT. I won't ruin it for anyone who is planning to go, but it was VERY spooky and I would fully recommend it! The only thing I was gutted about was the fact I didn't sense ANY paranormal vibes...not even a creepy footstep...nothing!!! David said you're more likely to sense one of the ghosts that has been sighted before if you are a couple in your 20's or an older woman. Ok so just rub it in a little more that I'm single...CHEERS DAVE. At the end he asked if anybody had any questions about any of the stories he had told, or the history of Edinburgh, and my mum asked if he had studied performing arts :| IRRELEVANT MOTHER.

No idea what this building is but my mum wanted a photo LOL
The second tour- The Dark Side of Edinburgh was a bit of a disappointment if I'm honest. It involved a lot of walking, a tour guide who said 'in respect of' and 'essentially' in EVERY. SINGLE. SENTENCE. and about a million random stories relating to the history of Edinburgh. The only slightly creepy one was about the grave robbers at the very end. Which is great if you want to learn about Edinburgh, but not-so-great if you were hoping for something to send a little chill down your spine.Not to mention it was almost 3 hours long, so I kind of lost concentration towards the end.


We must have walked at LEAST 2384734938 miles on Saturday, so we had a little lie in on Sunday and then spent the day mooching around the centre. We couldn't come to Scotland NOT sample the culinary delight that is haggis, so we were pleased to see our hotel served a vegetarian alternative at breakfast. Yeah I know, it's not real haggis (it was basically a nut roast lol), but there is NO WAY a sheeps/cows/whatever it is' stomach is going anywhere near my mouth thankyou very much.

The city itself is absolutely stunning, from the historic buildings, to the vast, glorious gardens. Certainly puts P-Town to shame I'll tell ya that! It's so funny because almost every shop in and around the Royal Mile is either a Scottish tourist shop selling souvenirs, kilts, cashmere, shortbread and all that, a whiskey/gin shop or a pub! I bought my brother some haggis crisps as a souvenir. Cos nothing says 'love you' more than offal flavour snacks, right?!

Yum!

Such a lush weekend exploring Scotland's capital with my favourite person. Have you been on any ghost tours? I'm already planning my next one!

Friday, 10 June 2016

5 MAJOR LIFE LESSONS I HAVE LEARNT SO FAR..

As I lay here in bed at 3am attempting to sleep with the most messed up body clock in the world (cheers Marbs) I thought I would share some things I have learnt in my life so far. So if you're like me, nearing my quarter-life crisis and starting to question my choices so far, be reassured that we're in this together! It's OK to make mistakes and for life not to run as smoothly as you would like. Cos in all honesty, where's the fun in that?! Here are some valuable/tragic things I have learnt so far..


Me handling life

  I do NOT suit facial piercings of any kind. Bit of back story- I got my CHIN pierced when I was in my first year of uni. WHY?!?! You fucking tell me. I think I was going through that ‘I’m an adult now, I can do whatever I want’ phase. Kind of annoyed that my friends blatantly lied to my face and told me I looked EdGy &&. KEWL when in actual fact I looked like a vicious lesbian and needed to remove it from my face immediately. I also got my nose pierced in LA then took it out the following day on the flight home because it was hurting. LOL.


Couldn't bring myself to upload a full facial- yes, it really is THAT bad.

Experiences are more valuable than material things. This doesn’t mean I don’t love my Louis V or a good pair of Loubs, but let me explain. Although I would change my uni life for the world, there are a few things I wish I had maybe done differently. For example, I could have reigned in my party lifestyle (going out 4/5 nights a week) and used the money towards mini European city breaks. I’m now 24 and I haven’t visited NEARLY as many places as I would have liked to. But I guess the best place to start is now!


Bitches in Berlin
65 layers of fake tan is not attractive. See Exhibit A. *shudders*


Exhibit A. Fake tan ft. Tanning Injections (HUGE no-no)

 A break-up is not the end of the world. (well, it is for a bit.) My break-up was definitely the lowest part of my entire life so far, and I’m STILL coping with it. I didn’t have that ‘crying into a tub of Ben and Jerrys every night whilst watching chick flicks’ moment, in fact, that sounds like a walk in the park compared to what I’ve been through! It’s not easy trying to move forward and start to find myself again, but I’m concentrating on the things I have got to be happy about! I have an amazing group of friends who make me laugh until I cry, a loving, supportive family and a job that I have worked hard for.
Vintage pic from 2k14

Taking out more than one student overdraft is not big or clever. Yep, I got 2 overdrafts out in my first year of uni. One was £1,400, the other was £2,000. I’ve managed to pay one of them off but the other I kind of just ignored it, hoping it would go away. Until I got a call recently from the bank in question saying that I was getting slapped with a hefty £75 charge for not making regular repayments. After a pathetic sob story and some crocodile tears, (drama school paid off!) I managed to wangle my way out of the charge- but the hefty overdraft still stands. UGH. That’s one more direct debit to add to the list….And my spending still doesn't seem to be curbing...






SO there we have it. Jesus Christ I feel like I'm writing myself some notes before I appear on 'Life Stories with Piers Morgan'! But for me, when something is bothering me, stressing me out or just generally playing on my mind, I feel so much better when I write it down. So yeah- I'm definitely still spending like there's no tomorrow, caning the sunbeds (at least I don't smell of biscuit-y tan though) and being an absolute liability wherever I go, and in time I'll settle down. But for now I will just focus on being 24 AND DEALING WITH IT.


Whatever that means.

Saturday, 4 June 2016

REVIEW: GIN EXPLORER SUBSCRIPTION BOX (PRAISE THE LORD)

Nowadays there is a subscription box for almost eeeeeverything; beauty, healthy snacks, even dog treats(!) but non have really made me want to actually take the plunge and sign up- until I came across the Gin Explorer*.

The concept behind the box is discover more about various gins from around the world by being taken on a journey, each monthly box introducing you to FOUR delicious new gins!


Firstly can we just take a moment to admire this box! I absolutely love the whole 'ahoy-me-hearties-pirate-treasure-map-exploring-the-world' vibe it's got going on. Massive hit and I hadn't even opened it yet!



The box is absolutely bursting with bits and bobs, so I thought I would start with the leaflet and get the DL on what I was about to down in one (joking...kinda)


It explains all about which countries I would be sampling in the May box, which happened to be Tuscany, the Netherlands, Menorca, South Africa and the good old UK. I'm not afraid to admit that, although gin is my absolute go-to spirit of choice, I know absolutely nothing apart from that I love a good Hendrick's and slimline tonic with a slice of cucumber on a warm day. Or any day, for that matter. So I was exciting to start learning!



So what else is included? Well, as well as four individual double bottles of each gin, there is also extra information and discount offers from each brand, tasting notes, mouth-watering gin cocktail recipes. Each box varies with exciting surprises and contents, and with the May edition I also received a Double Dutch gourmet mixer in the flavour 'cucumber and watermelon' which just sounds incredible, and a long bar spoon so I can look the part whilst showing off to my pals with all my new-found gin knowledge. 


It's taking serious willpower not to crack one of these open, but I suppose it is 11am. Follow me on Twitter here and keep an eye out for me tweeting my opinion on each sample!

A one-off box costs £24.99, but if you sign up for 3 months or more the price is discounted. And even better- sign up to their newsletter and receive £5 off your first order! (and what more reason do you need to get tasty gin delivered straight to your door?!)

PLUS. It's almost Father's Day. And if your Dad is anything like mine, then he is the HARDEST person to buy for EVER. So finally I can surprise him with something he will actually love! (And not give me his usual fake smile when I buy him some Echo Falls from the Spar like the last minute Larry I am)

Visit the website HERE for more details.


Enjoy!



*This box was kindly gifted to me by the Ginius' (see what I did there) at Gin Explorer, but all opinions are my own, as ever!