Well readers, it has been quite some time since I last wrote for you. While 2020 has been an inexplicably difficult year, I was presented with a lot of extra time to read, write and pursue other goals.
Professionally, I’ve been busy with a few commissions and am please to say that you’ll now find my name in publications like Wired, HuffPost and Digital Spy, to name a few. So my first goal for 2021 is to keep up this momentum and land commissions in some other dream publications, like Cosmopolitan, Stylist and The Independent (ssh, I’m manifesting over here).
I’ve also realised that I spend far too much time thinking about what to write here, on my personal blog and website, rather than just simply writing. I’ve got about 16 draft posts that are either outdated or half-finished. So, in my efforts to climb the professional ladder, I’m also making a commitment to write more regularly here (yes, I’ve said it before, but I’m determined this time!).
I moved out just at the end of 2020 (so this piece about living with my parents during lockdown isn’t so relevant to me anymore, but I still hope you enjoy it), so being busy with flat-hunting, furnishing and general life admin is another excuse I’ve come up with. But now that I have a lovely home office space, if a little cold and bare (artwork pending), I’ll make good on my commitment to you, who have stuck with me through this.
As for my non-professional, non-writing-related goals, I’ll be reading more – something I did do in 2020 and have been lucky enough to write about – and I’d like to pick up some more creative hobbies.
Suggestions are welcome, because so far I’ve taken to organising 500+ photographs in a box… And there’s still another thousand or so to print…
If you know anything about me, it’s that I love a good city break. A quick getaway to a new city is an adventure I can never pass up. Most recently, I was in Copenhagen, the capital city of Denmark. I’ve rounded up a few of my recommendations for things to do while in Copenhagen.
I highly recommend purchasing the Copenhagen Card while you’re in the city. It offers unlimited travel and free entry to most of the attractions I’m about to list. Seriously worth it!
Now, I’m a languages girl – studied Spanish, lived abroad, and learning German on Duolingo. But, Danish is completely different to any languages I learned at school, so thank goodness that most people in Denmark speak English. At the airport, I activated my Copenhagen Card, securing me free train travel to our hotel.
This is where Google Maps and EU Data Roaming pretty much saved me. First, I ended up on the wrong platform, and nearly on a train to Sweden! That would have been bad, if not for me double checking Google and then confirming with a guard on the platform.
We stayed at Hotel Loven which was pretty much in the centre of everything – we could see Tivoli Gardens out the window and knew that the city centre was just a short walk away. It was a pretty basic room but the hotel offered communal kitchen facilities, which was perfect for travelling on a budget. Our first few hours were spent drawing up an itinerary, and then off we went to explore the city.
Copenhagen has a rich royal history, and the city is peppered with castles and palaces that each offer a unique story.
Famous for its guards, Amalienborg palace is a must-visit destination for anyone with the slightest interest in royal history. The palace itself houses a museum which takes you back through 150 years of Europe’s royalty, back to the Danish king Christian IX and Queen Louise. They were known as “the in-laws of Europe” because four of their children ascended to the thrones of England, Greece, Russia and Denmark. Entry to the museum is free with the Copenhagen Card.
Plan your trip to coincide with the changing of the guard ceremony, which takes place every day at 12 noon. They march through the streets of Copenhagen and reach the main square at Amalienborg at 12, so make sure you’re there to watch the intricate dance as the new guards take over from the old watch.
Set in the beautiful King’s Garden, Rosenborg castle features over 400 years worth of art, royal regalia and the crown jewels. The splendour of the throne room is a huge attraction, and the interiors of the castle are generally well-preserved, giving you a glimpse into royal life. Down in the vaults, you can see the crown jewels of Denmark. They’re behind glass though, so no trying on allowed!
Now home to the Danish Parliament, Supreme Court and Ministry of State, the stunning Christiansborg palace holds over 800 years of history in its walls. You can walk through the Great Hall where huge tapestries adorn the walls, depicting 1000 years of Danish history. Check out the historical ruins below, too. The Copenhagen Card will get you free entry.
Nyhavn is possibly one of the most iconic spots in Copenhagen. The old commercial port is now a hotspot for tourists to enjoy a cold beverage as the sun sets, or eat at a local restaurant by the waterside. Famous author, Hans Christian Andersen spent over twenty years living in Nyhavn by the port. Many of the buildings are originals that have been refurbished and are now excellent restaurants serving fresh seafood and traditional Danish meals.
Offering fantastic views over the city, Rundetaarn (or, the round tower) is well worth the climb. After a great leg work out, walking in a spiral of about 209m, you’ll find yourself at the top of the still-functioning observatory – the oldest one still in use in Europe. Inside, the library hall is often home to art exhibitions, but it used to be Hans Christian Andersen’s favourite haunt.
Fans of HCA’s fairytales shouldn’t missed the Little Mermaid statue, or Den Lille Havfrau in Danish. The bronze statue has been sitting on a rock at the Langelinie promenade since 1913 and is a popular tourist spot for fans of the story. There is also a museum dedicated to the author, which is ideal for families to visit. Experience a walk-through of Hans Christian Andersen’s life and some of his most popular tales.
Lovers of rollercoasters, rejoice! Tivoli Gardens is one of the world’s oldest theme parks and is open for business so thrill-seekers can enjoy themselves. Plus, they hold a regular fireworks display that you can easily watch from other areas of the city. The Copenhagen Card gets you free entry, but remember to splash out for the rides pass!
Copenhagen was the last trip abroad I took before the Covid-19 pandemic so it holds a special place in my heart. Once things get back to normal and people feel safe about travel again, I’d highly encourage you to visit and taste a crisp beer, smorrebrod and the rich history of Denmark’s capital city.
With the Covid-19 pandemic, air travel seems a distant memory and a faraway pipe dream for many of us. Well, summer is here and if you’re not planning on going abroad for the summer (I know I’m not!) then you’re in luck. I’ve rounded up some of the best beach holidays in the UK for you to snag those insta-worthy snaps.
You’ll never be short of things to do in Blackpool. If you’re looking for excitement, then Blackpool Pleasure Beach’s amusement park will be an alluring attraction.
The vintage wooden rollercoasters will please thrillseekers and the seaside itself is perfect for those looking for a chill holiday. You can also visit Blackpool Tower, which is home to the famous Tower Ballroom (which is probably closed for the moment, but certainly well worth a visit).
The home of Pride, Brighton is where the LGBT+ community can feel at home. It’s edgy, it’s quirky and most importantly, it’s got an awesome nightlife.
And if that’s not your scene, there’s still plenty to do and see in Brighton, like the stunning architecture of Brighton Pavilion. Take a trip to the pier for a fun day out and far reaching views across the Sussex coast.
I spent many summers in Bournemouth as a child so I might be biased, but this beach resort is packed with things to do. It’s probably my favourite UK beach to sit and relax on.
Take a trip to the Isle of Purbeck and explore the Jurassic Coast, or visit Corfe Castle. Or, you can chill on the pier with all its amusements.
It’s a tiny seaside town, but Falmouth is the home to absolutely delicious fish and chips. For an extra dose of history and culture, visit Pendennis Castle, or explore the maritime museum.
Hit up Llandudno Pier, which was built in the 19th century, for a historical stroll and stunning views. The coastal town is famous for its Victorian architecture, but there’s plenty to see and do in Llandudno that doesn’t just revolve around the beach.
If you’re a fan of cliffs, you can take the Great Orme tramway up to the summit. Check out the mining tunnels too for an adventurous day out.
A Cornish gem, St Ives is especially popular with British tourists. It’s chock-full of sandy beaches, where you can relax, rest, or hit the waves and go surfing or on a trip to seal island. There’s no shortage of coastal paths to walk and views for days. Plus, the art scene comes alive in St Ives, with the Barbara Hepworth Sculpture Garden and the Tate gallery.
A beautiful northern beach, Whitby is also home to the famous Captain Cook, and you can visit the museum dedicated to his life. Head to the gothic Whitby Abbey to see Bram Stoker’s inspiration for ‘Dracula’ and enjoy views over the sea.
If you do visit any of these beaches, please remember to leave only footprints – take any litter with you and ensure you keep the beach clean and tidy. Make sure you maintain social distancing and are respectful of other people’s space, too.
Like most non key-workers, these last three months have been a challenge and a holiday simultaneously. I’m not exactly fighting the global pandemic so I can’t complain too much. But, I’ve never been more anxious about the world, or more relaxed during the day. It’s a weird combination to get used to and, naturally, I’ve gotten a bit too used to it. So, now that we’re starting to ease off the lockdown restrictions I’m worried about what will happen when things fall back into our ‘normal’ state.
Picture this: a brisk walk in the cold air to the train station, being packed into the tube like sardines, sweet release as everyone steps off together, followed by the rush to get into the office. And then sat at a desk for 8 hours, laughing and joking with colleagues – perhaps even a tea round is thrown in the mix.
It seems like an illusion, doesn’t it? Or some distant dream. Instead, our new reality could be alternative shift patterns, company-wide zoom meetings and making individual teas. (The horror!)
And faced with this new world, I wonder: will I be too accustomed to the ‘work from home’ lifestyle and forget that my commute takes over an hour? Will I use that time to recoup my lost sleep or will I pick up reading again? Will I come to resent that commute? And what about my fitness routine? I’ve been so used to working out whenever I please that the idea of having to wake up in the small hours to fit in a gym session before work makes me physically sick.
And yes, I know these are small and petty things to be concerned about, but I am genuinely worried. Worried that after all this time at home, revelling in the freedom to do whatever I want, whenever I want (within the parameters of lockdown), I’m no longer fit to rejoin society. I’ve forgotten the expectations of the world. I don’t remember in-person social cues. And meal prepping has gone to hell.
How about you? Are you ready to rejoin the workforce? Or maybe you never left it? Let me know your thoughts – we’re all in this together after all!
The coronavirus pandemic has really put a spanner in the works for most people’s summer holiday plans. Tourism and travel are expecting record low visitors, especially for travel abroad. As a travel blogger, this does have me worried – already I’ve had three trips cancelled. But better safe than sorry!
The UK government is now hoping that our infection rate R will be low enough by the summer for some hospitality services to reopen. So, with that in mind, here are some UK travel ideas, including beauty spots and roadtrips galore.
Cheddar Gorge, Somerset
Set within the Mendip Hills in Somerset, Cheddar Gorge was England’s top road trip according to Click4Reg who found the location was tagged almost 60,000 times on Instagram. At 400 feet deep and nearly three miles long, this collection of cliffs is well worth a visit.
One of the most beautiful lakes in the world, Britain’s largest National Park and World Heritage Site in Cumbria was tagged over 2 million times on Instagram, according to data from Faraway Garden Furniture. It’s a spectacular beauty spot in the UK and makes for an ideal walking holiday or day trip.
Hardknott Pass was rated as one of England’s top road tripping destinations, too. So, kill two birds with one stone by visiting this stunning nature site, while also experiencing an exciting journey.
This National Park spans across Derbyshire, Cheshire, Greater Manchester, Staffordshire and Yorkshire, so if you live in any of these areas count yourself lucky to have such a stunning spot on your doorstep. As well as being a top walking destination, according to data commissioned by Click4Reg, two popular road trips cross through this site.
Snake Pass, was hashtagged over 12,000 times on Instagram. The road links cities in Greater Manchester and North Yorkshire and is often used by commuters. But it still ranks highly as a destination in its own right, especially for cyclists and driving enthusiasts. Woodhead Pass was less popular, with just under 2,000 hashtags. This route is a major A road, but utterly beautiful as it passes through the Pennines.
Home to ponies galore, the New Forest in Hampshire is a nature lover’s dream. Featuring winding forest trails, points of historical interest and rare species of birds and mammals. It’s also one of only three parks in the UK that is still governed by verderers, who keep an eye on the fair usage of the park as a grounds for cattle grazing. If you’re keen to encounter animal life during your nature walks, then this is the perfect place for you.
London to Bristol
The Great West Way is an iconic 125 mile drive that will take you from central London to the vibrant city of Bristol, with tons of historic points of interest along the way. I’ve driven this route myself and it’s difficult to concentrate on the road when you’re faced with such epic scenery, like Windsor Castle and Stonehenge. If you’re not up to driving such a long way in one day, you can plan a short tour with stops in different towns along the way – but perhaps wait until the pandemic subsides a little bit. In the meantime, you can take a virtual tour instead.
Somerset to Cornwall
If you’re based in the South West and looking for a scenic coastal and countryside route, then the Atlantic Highway is ideal. The entire route spans three counties – Somerset, Devon and Cornwall – and would take almost 8 hours. While in lockdown, even though it’s eased slightly, it’s difficult to justify that kind of mileage. So consider taking short day trips along the route. You’ll see the best of British countryside, while being able to visit some major cities and landmarks.
Once the pandemic subsides and tourism picks up again, it’ll be worth travelling the whole route, stopping off in different towns along the way. You’ll get a mixture of stunning rural scenes, like Exmoor National Park, and breezy coastal views, especially once you hit Cornwall. Plus, you can visit the westernmost point of the UK’s mainland: Land’s End.
If being alone with my phone and my thoughts has taught me anything these past few weeks, it’s that my thoughts are not very interesting.
So, rather than spending 8+ hours online, I’m trying to develop some new skills and hobbies so that I can leave lockdown a more well-rounded person. Or just rounder; I’ve been eating a lot…
So if you’re struggling for a new hobby have a look at my list and see what takes your fancy!
1. Self care is high on my list. It’s something I definitely didn’t do enough of before lockdown. Now that I’m feeling powerless and even more stressed than when I was working a full-time job, I, like many others, feel my skin taking the hit. So, I’m making use of the skincare gifts I got for my birthday (in quarantine) and am looking after my skin with different creams and serums.
I’m also taking care of myself by keeping up with my regular exercise routine and healthy eating – although snacking is definitely still happening. I’m trying not to feel too bad every time I eat and entire bag of popcorn though – lockdown is a testing time…
2. I love cocktail hour, so is it any surprise that mixology is a skill I’m learning? I’ve managed to perfect my mojito and pina colada recipes, but the pornstar martini is definitely lacking… If you’ve got any fun drinks recipes, please do share! No more Quarantinis though!
3. Reading is high on my list, too. But only because my goal for 2020 was to read at least 2 books. So far, I’ve read Jini Reddy’s Wanderland which is a travel and nature piece that takes the reader all over the British countryside. I’m now part-way through The Palace of Illusions by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni which is a retelling of an ancient Indian epic, The Mahabharata, but from the point of view of the female protagonist – I’m all about South Asian women’s voices being heard. I fully recommend both as excellent ways to escape the monotony of both lockdown and general life.
Plus, you could try joining or setting up an online book club so that you have a group of people to enjoy your new-found literature with.
4. Adventure is out there, but we’re stuck inside. So, I’ve put together a Dungeons & Dragons campaign, which we play remotely. Now, this is no fleeting hobby so be warned – it takes a lot of work, whether you’re creating the fantasy world or just a player within it. But it’s a great laugh and provides hours of boundless entertainment.
5. I plan on leaving lockdown with at least one new skill (and it’s not going to be baking…) so I’m focusing on the art of threading. Beauty parlours up and down the country are closed, so I’ve been learning how to thread my eyebrows. It’s slow going but I’m getting there, and definitely propelled by all the money I’ll eventually save on salons!
So these are some of the ways I’m keeping busy during quarantine, but do not underestimate the importance of sleep and Netflix.
I know a lot of people are insisting that we all come out of this with amazing new skills and a fully-fledged side hustle, but I’m perfectly content with passing the time doing things I enjoy, and catching up on my sleep.
I’m taking this time to relax and recharge, because once the daily grind comes back, it’ll be a whirlwind. How about you?
My skincare routine is normally pretty varied – depending on how much makeup I’ve been wearing all week. Well, no more! Since March 23rd, I’ve stopped wearing makeup and am taking better care of my skin.
“How?” you ask. Well, water for a start. I’ve been drinking buttloads of water since well before March, but now I’m making an conscious effort to drink good old tap water and keep my skin hydrated. Dr Jina Yooh is sk:n clinics‘ leading dermatologist and she advises a daily intake of 6-8 glasses of water, regular ventilation and application of moisturiser to help improve the hydration in your skin. “Vegetables and fruits are also a good source of antioxidants which can help to boost your immune system,” she says.
But I’ve also taken on board the lessons learned from London Fashion Week (remember, before the pandemic?). The Spring/Summer 2020 show saw Tommy Hilfiger, Victoria Beckham and Burberry, among others, sporting fresh and natural looks. So, naturally, the beauty world is taking note.
So, here’s a rundown of my Lockdown Skincare Routine, for a natural glow, and to give my skin a break.
Morning:I start simply by washing my face in cold water. Then, I use Kiko Milano’s Green Me Facial Cleansing Bar to wake up my face and remove any dirt (and sweat) from the night before. I absolutely love the Green Me range – all products are made up of 98% natural, raw ingredients, cruelty free and suitable for vegans.
To protect my skin from London pollution (less necessary now) I use Sephora’s Super Radiance Serum, which hydrates and protects the skin. It is crucial that you get some fresh air and time outside though. Dr Yooh says, “Fresh, moist air is key for allowing your skin to breathe. Your skin creates a barrier against the environment. The climate created by central heating – a high temperature combined with low humidity – can make your skin drier.” So, I like to add another hydrating moisturiser on top. Namely, the B. Radiant day cream, available at Superdrug. It’s a lightweight formula that keeps my skin hydrated all day, even while I’m spending extra time indoors.
Evening: Before the lockdown, I’d remove makeup with a clay formula, but now I use it every night as a cleanser. I love using liquid or foam formulae over makeup wipes as they’re more environmentally sustainable, and often way better for your skin. The clay formula feels so fresh and hydrating and it honestly helps me sleep better, knowing that my skin is fresh for bed.
I’ve been loving self-care during this time, too, so I’ve been trying to add facemasks to my weekly routine. The most apt one of these was Catastrophe Cosmetic from Lush – honestly, just the name made my Sunday. And it left my skin feeling soft and supple.
Crucially, though, less is more. Dr Yooh reminds us not to overdo it. “You could find that your pores start to clog up with too many products. Instead, I recommend that everyone starts off by making sure they are using the correct products for their skin type when it comes to cleansing and moisturising.”
What products are you loving this lockdown? Have you been taking any extra skincare steps? Let me know in the comments!
From the very beginning, 2020 has been a whirlwind. When we rang in the New Year with our Roaring ’20s themed parties and sophisticated looks, did anyone ever think that World War Three was imminent? Or that bushfires would ravage Australia while we all decidedly didn’t freeze in one of the warmest and wettest winters to date? Did we ever dream that all that would be overshadowed by an even deadlier pandemic?
World-ending events are inevitable. Just as the dinosaurs were wiped out, humans will be too – eventually. And possibly due to events of our own making (global warming really isn’t helping anyone) but this pandemic isn’t something we could have seen coming. Okay, sure – we knew about the novel coronavirus as early as January, but it seems that no government was able to predict how quickly it would spread or how deadly it might be.
And now we’re a quarter of the way into a new year and people around the world are locked in their houses (with some countries placing heavier restrictions than others), many workers now find themselves out of work, and small and big businesses alike find their very existence hanging in the balance.
But what does that mean for the rest of the year? Well, so far we still don’t really know what the global cost will be, in terms of human life and also to the economy. We know that a worldwide recession is likely, and that many people are going to die. But we don’t know how we will cope with these losses just yet.
But I remain hopeful that we’ll emerge victorious from the quagmire and perhaps go back to a better version of our society. Ideally, one where we truly value our key workers and pay them accordingly – and I don’t just mean health workers, but binmen, supermarket staff and transport officers, too.
Let’s become a society that values the little things, too. Like taking a walk outside to hear the birds sing, or making a short phone call to tell someone you love them. Capitalism has consumed us with the search for money and profit in everything we do – enjoy hobbies again, don’t search for the monetary value in everything. Your mental health and happiness should be value enough.
We might also create a more inclusive society. All those jobs where we were told that working from home was impossible? Turns out it’s possible in times of crisis. So let’s demand more flexible working, for mothers and fathers, for less able-bodied people, for when you’re feeling under the weather and could be contagious, but are well enough to work.
And let’s not forget the environment. With each city’s lockdown, pollution levels have dropped and it appears the Earth might be starting to heal. So let’s give her a helping hand. Walk where possible, run if it’s further. Only take long journeys in the car if they’re absolutely necessary – public transport networks connect us all over the country. And maybe airlines will do their bit to reduce emissions or even flights worldwide.
We have the power to make demands, and this crisis makes you wonder if the rest of 2020 will mark a big societal change, from caring only about capital, to actually caring about workers. And caring for our most vulnerable with decisive actions, not just words.
All I know for sure, though, is that I can’t wait to hug my loved ones again ❤
Forget beach holidays and city breaks – a peaceful lakeside trip is exactly what your 2020 holiday plans need to rest and recharge for the new decade. So, with that in mind, here are the most stunning lakes across the world – perfect for your Instagram feed, and your sole. (geddit?)
5. Dead Sea, Jordan/Israel
4. Lake Como, Italy
3. Lake Michigan, USA
2. Lake Tahoe, USA
1. Lake District, UK
Where will you plan your next trip? It’s gotta include a lake!
Back in 2018, I set myself some goals for the new year. I swore off making steadfast resolutions and instead had five things I wanted to be better at… So, how did we do?
1. Travel more Well, I’d say I nailed it. I visited a few countries this year – India, Spain, France, Denmark – and the trips varied in length. It’s safe to say I’ll be doing more of these in the new decade.
2. Read 2 books I didn’t quite hit this quota. I got stuck on a book that wasn’t gripping me and sucked the fun out of reading (unfortunately). I’ll give this one up for 2020 and hope to find something I enjoy for next year.
3. Be healthier By and large I’m doing okay – more consistent gym schedule, and eating better meals. I’m hoping to eat less meat in the new decade and more seasonal fruit and veg.
4. Blog consistently So, I was unemployed for a little while this year and managed to get regular posts out for a few months. Since then, I’ve started a new job and am about to move house so once things settle down, I’ll be coming back to the blog. But I’ve been writing consistently for Brown Girl Magazine this year so definitely check them out!
5. Keep better skincare This one worked to an extent! I certainly took care of my skin, but unhealthy eating over the holiday periods really made good skin a challenge…
And for 2020? My outlook is similar. But with the added goal of furthering my writing career. So, if you’re looking for a versatile freelance writer, drop me a line in the comments 😜