Weekends abroad… they’re never as cheap or relaxing as you think.

Trying to find an Air bnb in a different country is tricky enough, let alone after a Ryanair flight when you’ve spent the whole journey with your knees by your ears and your wallet is fifty euros lighter after an air stewardess decided to take a vendetta on you and your hand-luggage which is a mere few cm’s over the limit.

A lot of people dismiss the UK beaches, but it is not only cheaper but also one of the most environmentally friendly ways to have a little break and explore a new part of the country you live in. No flights= half the emissions and you get to explore somewhere for longer as it usually won’t take you as long to get to these places.  I thought I would write about some of my favourite places for a weekend in the UK starting with the emerging hipster hangout, Margate.

I grew up very close to Margate, and I can tell you that ten years ago (oh god that makes me feel old) Margate was a very different place. There was not a huge amount to do for young people, that’s assuming you would even go out in Margate back then (not advised) and I remember spending most of my time in other neighboring towns.

Now with the help of the shiny new Tate gallery and a huge restoration project at Dreamland, the place is a booming little haven for anyone looking to get their toes in the sand but want to avoid the crowds of Brighton. And let’s be honest, the crowds in Brighton on a hot day are something else.

Here are my personal top places to visit when in Margate…

1. The beach- One of the most obvious ones, but it really is a giant, sandy dream of a beach. In the 18th Century the wealthy would come to bathe in saltwater to improve their health. I can’t promise the health benefits of the water in this Kentish town, but getting into chilly water is still used as an alternative treatment to depression due to the amount of endorphin’s that are released. Top Tip- Make sure you have an Oyster at the little seafood shack near the Tate!

2. The Tate– Even if you aren’t a big art fan it is still worth a visit. Margate has a very rich history in art (Tracey Emin and JMW Turner both lived here) and most exhibitions are free. Top tip- Make sure you go into the lift- it’s beautiful!

3. Dreamland! This place has had a complete makeover and is now full of food vans, music and incredible rides. Keep your eye out for upcoming gigs in this area!

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4. Go shopping! A few of my favourite places are The Old Ken Market with the UK’s smallest pub and be sure to visit Peony Vintage and Ruskin  which are fantastic little vintage shops full of secondhand clothing!

5. Eat! If you’re a bit of a foodie like me there a quite a few emerging food havens there. Unfortunately, a lot of them are’nt cheap but hopefully this will settle down soon. If you are staying for the weekend I would recommend getting an Airbnb to save some cash on breaky or lunch but I very much enjoyed The Greedy Cow, The Grain Grocer  and Peter’s Fish Factory for fish &chips. We went to The Great British Pizza Company which personally I would’nt recommend as I found the pizza bases to thin and the pizza on the whole really was’nt very big or filling but that might be right up your street, plus I have an insatiable appetite.

If any of you make it there let me know, I would love to show you round! Where is your favourite UK getaway?

I hope you enjoy Margate as much as we did!

 

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Our generation lives in a consumer society that is pretty different to our parents.

This is certainly not a bad thing, we finally have clothes designed to suit all shapes and sizes, there’s thousands of brands to choose from, all competing in prices (goodbye monotonous trip down to Clark’s to buy ugly but sensible shoes,right?). If you are savvy enough and hit the sales at the right time you can get a whole new outfit for less than £20! What’s the problem? Well, it’s that because of this ease and convenience of buying new things we seem to be stuck in a bit of a throwaway culture, particularly within the field of clothing. Over 1 million tonnes of clothing and other textiles is thrown away in the UK each year. If this was compressed it would be as wide as Canary Wharf and 3 times taller.

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I am not judging. I used to have  serious problem with buying clothes, especially when I was younger. I would march off down to the high street clutching the latest installment of my student loan and come home with bags full of H&M goodies for a party that night. Why buy one good top when you can buy five cheap tops?

In recent years I have had a serious cull on my spending,it has not been easy. Marketing pop-ups follow you around the internet, we get notified about sales and fashion is something that is constantly and rapidly changing and it can feel pretty tricky to keep up. There is also a delight in buying new things, a little treat to ourselves.
Well I thought I would share a few of my top tips on how I shop smart alongside some pictures of one of my favourite pieces from Toast  that has lasted me throughout the seasons :
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1. Origins –   Look at the material and where the product was created. (Is this the sort of material that will last or shrink/ discolour after a few washes? What are the ethics of this brand? Spending a little more to get good quality and a good cut will go a long way.
2. Will the style last? Can you imagine yourself wearing this in a years time? I have definitely panicked before and ending up buying something for one formal occasion.  Investing more in less pieces will save you so much money (and textile wastage) in the long run.
3. Is it comfortable? Don’t buy the shoes that look great but make your feet hurt after half an hour of walking around in them, and DO NOT  buy anything in the hope of loosing weight to fit into it. We’ve all been there.
4. Do you really really need it? It sounds stupid but check your wardrobe first. I have been surprised by things that have been stuck right at the back of my wardrobe that have come back into fashion- dig deep!
5. Don’t  impulse buy-  If I really like something, I tend to leave it a few days and if I can’t stop thinking about I will then buy it.
I hope these tips have helped- how do you try to dissuade yourself from buying too much and improving on your smart shopping?
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I did try to take a few photos on me in my gym gear, but it was not a good look!

 

You can learn almost anything on YouTube and workouts are no exception. I absolutely love a good workout video, you can complete them at any time, wearing anything at all and all you need is a room with a bit of space. I have included a list of my top three YouTube workout providers that I stay loyal to. I find their workouts achievable, the people relatable and I have seen some fantastic results. There are thousands of videos out there, but here are my favourites:

Yoga with Adriene (known as YWA for the inner circle yogis)

I first discovered Adrienne when I was working as an au pair in Switzerland. I was lonely and consuming my body weight in cheese each day. Yoga was very expensive in Zurich, particularly for a penniless au pair. I hadn’t practised yoga before and started with one of her 30 day challenges. She taught me that yoga is just as much about the mind as it is the body. She is very down to earth, kind and encouraging. Her body looks like a real persons body. YWA is fantastic for beginners and you can choose your practise for anything from back ache to loneliness. She always encourages organic movement within the practice and there is always time for a good Shavasana (relaxation) at the end. Four years on, and I still turn to her channel every week.

Fitness Blender

This channel was started by a couple who were both personal trainers and wanted to make fitness affordable to everyone. I love that you can pick your own workout length and choose the areas that you would like to focus on ( eg arms/legs). They taught me the importance of strength training for both women and men and the importance of combining this with your cardio. You get water breaks (hurrah) and video tells you roughly how many calories you have burned. They are so down to earth and even admit when they are finding workouts difficult, which is very reassuring for rookies like me.

Blogilates 

I found this channel by accident when I was looking for a good Pilates workout. Her energy and enthusiasm is relentless and her core strength phenomenal. As you have probably guessed, I am not  fan of long, arduous workouts so short bursts of things are right up my street. I really, really recommend the 2016 Abs workout as a quick but brutal abs video. I try to do this workout at least once a week (it’s only 20 mins) and it makes my tummy feel incredible!

What are your favourite workout videos? I would love to hear more about some other home videos that have worked for you!

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I looked back in the mirror in horror. Pure, wide-eyed horror. My blonde hair had been transformed into a dark pink , patchy mess.

For years I had been attempting pastel pink hair. I had built Pinterest boards around it. I had created a whole new persona for the look I was going to have. The kind of girl who skateboards in her spare time. The kind of girl who knows all the words to every Kendrick Lamar song and is the centre of attention at parties (you can usually find me alone by the snacks at parties and my karaoke classic is Bonnie Tyler Total Eclipse of the Heart).

I had visited numerous hairdressers and watched their faces drop when I described the transformation I wanted. I live in Canterbury not Camden and so the hairdressers who are probably used to the less adventurous clients might have been worried I would have hated the look after three days.  I think they were also probably a little bit nervous in case it went a funny colour. Well, if they weren’t going to dye my hair pink, it was time to take matters into my own hands.

The next time I was in Superdrug, I picked up a bottle of Colour Freedom Pazazz Pink hair colour which was  labelled “temporary”. I nonchalantly loaded the pink gloop onto my hair and left it on for an extra hour for good measure. Three  washes later and it still looked more Clementine Kruczynski than Shirley Maclaine. The hair colour was much more red than I had anticipated, I had applied it so badly that it was also patchy. I had patchy red/pink hair. There was no going back now. I was a vibrant beetroot blonde. One side was a lot darker than the other, and the under layer of my hair was still blonde. It was a mess.

Something I hadn’t quite anticipated was the attention. For the first few days I had a lot of raised eyebrows and a lot of double-takes. I became a favourite for anyone selling ANYTHING in the street and found myself pretending I didn’t speak English just to escape spieling random Spanish words such as “Bocadillo! Jamon y camiseta!”

I wanted to share with you some of my personal tips for if you are ever in a situation such as mine or just some tips for bright coloured hair:

  1. It probably looks 3000 times better than you think– for the first few days it will take a bit of getting used to, but be confident!
  2. Wear black or white- I found that wearing plain, monochrome colours made me look less like a 90s raver/ Easter egg and more, dare I say it, cool.
  3. Ponytail/ Headscarf I used a variety of hair accessories to try to tone down the vibrancy of my her in my new job, but the ones that worked best was a ponytail.
  4. Use a silver shampoo – I found this helped to neutralise the dye and bring out a bit of the colour.
  5. Think carefully about your makeup- Make sure your lipstick doesn’t clash and really less is more on the colourful makeup whilst you have bright hair.
  6. Embrace it. You have pink hair. Do you know how cool that it? Sure it may not be the exact shade you had hoped for but people will envy your confidence. You will be surprised how many people actually love the colour and think you look great!

On a final note, shout out to the woman on the bus who approached me and told me my hair looked amazing and she wished she could have pink hair but her hair was too dark. You have no idea how much you made my day!

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I have always loved the idea of makeup. I’ve grown up watching old films and subsequently adored the classic old “Hollywood glamour” . I would watch in admiration stars such as Tippi Hedren, Grace Kelly (my mother was a Hitchcock fanatic) and Eleanor Parker who played the Baroness in The Sound of Music grace the screens with their long lashes and deep red lips.

My mum has always been a fervent tomboy and feminist and has had a real reluctance to any kind of beauty products outside of face creams. I don’t think I have ever seen her wear makeup or shave her armpits and she proudly will show anyone her lack of leg hair which she believes is a consequence of never shaving (I daren’t point out to her that she is fair haired). Consequently,  I was certainly never taught by my mum how to wear lipstick and everything I do wear is all self taught. Of course these days you can google a YouTube video on how to apply almost anything for any look you want, but for me growing up I generally relied on friends or cool older women to really show me how to apply makeup.

Over the years I have tried dozens of products, some which have worked and some which have not. In school I would always carry round a pot of Maybelline’s Dream Matte Mousse (remember that?) which quite literally made my whole face this matte tan colour and  my foundation looked about an inch thick. Match that with a wonky fringe and some clumpy eyelashes and you pretty much summed up my 15 year old self.  Well I thought I looked great.  I have had smudgy mascaras, eyelash curlers that chop of your eyelashes and bronzer suited which was much more of an “oranger”. Here is my bag of makeup essentials, products tried and tested by yours truly.

The Lipstick- Bobbi Brown Harlow Red £21.50 Lipstick is something I like to invest in, otherwise it doesn’t last or goes flaky. I have very dry lips and most lipsticks so the art stick from Bobbi Brown gets my vote. It hydrates, has a great colour and it lasts for ages! Also, as I am still not 100% sure I am applying my lipstick correctly (I don’t use a lip pencil and just kind of shove it on and hope no one notices) I found the application of it pretty easy. For a budget version, I would go for the NYX Velvet Matte in Blood Love (pictured above) which is £7.00 but isn’t quite as long-lasting but for me a little more drying.

The Lip balm- I normally have about 3 lip balms on me due to my overly dry lips but Burt’s Bees with Pomegranate gets my vote. It is 100% natural and smells delicious.

L’Occitane Almond Oil – I have used the L’Occitane almond range for years and I love it. This stuff is amazing! I got it as part of a Loccitane Christmas and it has been a permanent fixture in my makeup bag ever since. I have oily- combination skin and I use this as a moisturiser/primer and I love it. You only need a little bit and it is such a handy size.

Laura Geller Bronze & Brighten Bronzer– I use this little baby on both my eyelids and my face. Mineral oil free and paraben free, with skin loving antioxidants centella asiatica and white tea extracts. It is pretty pricey (around £20 for 9g) but it has lasted me ages, and I love it as a little eyeshadow/bronzer combo.

The Body Shop Concealer all-in-one  It’s always a good idea to carry a concealer with you as I always get a party spot just before a big day. Adding two upside down triangles underneath your eyes on top of your foundation and blending really helps to brighten up your whole face. This cruelty-free concealer contains vitamin E and community trade marula oil, and I find it really easy to blend with good coverage.

Illamasqua Pure Pigment in Beguile-  If you haven’t heard of this company before, they are definitely worth checking out. They have extremely strong values and principles (as part of their ongoing campaign for diversity they urged any supporters of Trump not to shop on their websites, they have always been 100% cruelty free) and even better makeup. A little bit of this pigment goes a long way so I add a little to my brow bone and the corners of my eyes, particularly for those oh my God I need a drink let’s go to the pub after work days hen you want to transition from a computer slug into an illuminated party goddess.

Lorac Eyeliner-  Another great product for the day to night transition.

Concept Eyes Super Slim Eyeliner –I am always on the search for a good pen eyeliner. The nib is super thin and  is smudge-proof which is great as I need all the help I can get for the winged eyeliner look.

Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Cream Stick in Taupe – Eyeshadow haters rejoice! If you are anything like me and have a fear of eyeshadow because there is apparently a special technique which every other woman in the world seems to know and no one told you, then relax. I got this as a free sample with my Bobbi Brown order and I will definitely be repurchasing. You just roll this onto your eye and go. It lasts for AGES.

I thought I carried around a lot less makeup, so I may try to downsize even more, particularly as whilst writing this my makeup bag had an explosion and everything has been covered in primer. Which are your beauty essentials? Also can you recommend a good (small-ish) makeup bag?

 

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