Tuesday, 27 October 2015

SkinnyMint 28 day teatox review.

Due to my lack of self control when it comes to shopping; I decided to jump on the bandwagon and try SkinnyMint's 28 day teatox - after all, Kylie Jenner was promoting it.

I wouldn't  have normally opted to buy a 28 day supply of a product I'd never tried before, but there was a sale on so why not. In the end, I bought my 28 day teatox for £24.60 instead of £32.90. Admittedly shipping was quite slow, but considering it was free despite shipping from Singapore, I didn't particularly mind.

Because of the promotional deal at the time, my teatox was packed with a little SkinnyMint 'goals' calendar and workout plan which I thought was a really nice touch.

I personally bought my teatox as an effort to detoxify my body after fresher's week binge drinking; but the product does also claim to reap many other benefits too: the daytime teatox 'Morning Boost' claims to help increase energy, burn fat and reduce appetite, whilst the nighttime teatox 'Night Cleanse' helps reduce bloating, improve digestion, and lose weight.

Despite ordering a 28 day teatox, my teatox was packaged in two packets of 14 Morning Boost teabags, and two packets of 7 Night Cleanse teabags; which personally I found a bit annoying but that's probably just me being picky.

One aspect of SkinnyMint that particularly caught my eye, was that all ingredients used across both teabags are 100% natural - Morning Boost is made up of green tea, yerba mate, nettle leaves, dandelion, guarana, grapefruit, strawberry and pineapple; and Night Cleanse is made up of ginger root, orange leaves, lemongrass, senna leaves, licorice root, peppermint, Hawthron berry and Psyllium Husk.

The instructions for the teatox were really easy too; simply infuse your Morning Boost teabag for 4-5 minutes in nearly boiling water and drink every morning before or after breakfast, and infuse your Night Cleanse teabag for 2-3 minutes and drink every other night before bed. SkinnyMint does sell each teatox separately, but for best results they recommend you use both within conjunction of one another. Admittedly I was slightly concerned about drinking the Night Cleanse as SkinnyMint warns that a natural laxative might occur as part of the natural cleanse and detoxifying process; but personally I found it fine - you just need a wee when you wake up.

Overall, I would recommend this teatox. Both teabags taste really yummy - Morning Boost is similar to a fruity green tea, and Night Cleanse is similar to a chai tea. I'm not exactly sure how much energy I gained from the Morning Boost, as I don't really stay very sleepy after deciding to get out of bed, but it was definitely a nice, refreshing drink to start the day.
However I would definitely say that the Night Cleanse was great for getting rid of any tummy bloating and setting you up for a good night's sleep. Although I am unable to say if I lost any weight as I have been actively trying to eating healthily anyway, it wouldn't surprise me if the bloating and digestion aid has helped. For anyone purely looking to improve digestion and banish their bloat, then I would perhaps recommend just buying the Night Cleanse alone to save money.
 
Have you tried SkinnyMint or any other teatox brand? What were your thoughts?
Read my StripTeas teatox as a comparison, here: http://www.foreverfaye.net/2015/06/stripteas-teatox-review.html 



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Monday, 19 October 2015

Seven signs to show that you're 19 going on 90.


Despite being only nineteen, it has occurred to me that sometimes I may as well be an ninety. I don't know whether it's just the thrill of clubbing and drinking appearing less exciting now that I can do it legally, or my secret love for home makeover shows and scrabble;but I am willing to admit that the points listed below have increasingly become my new guilty pleasures...

1. You could happily while away the day watching Escape To The Country and Antiques Roadshow.

2. You'd much rather have a quiet night at home rather than a wild night out in town.

3. You use the word 'lovely' far too often when commenting on things/events.

4. You consider going to bed at 12am a late night.

5. You consider waking up at 9am a lie in and a waste of a day.

6. You have more fun participating in scrabble nights and aqua-aerobics when on holiday than drinking and partying the night away.

7. You own a knitted cardigan.

Whilst the above points luckily don't make appearances that often, the point still stands that they have - Just me? Or do you occasionally love sacking off clubbing for a night in front of the tele as well? Let me know your thoughts :)

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Thursday, 10 September 2015

Maybelline's Dream Bronze BB Cream: My Favourite Summer Essential.

In preparation for my summer holiday to Egypt in July, I decided to buy a BB Cream as an alternative make-up product to foundation. Although I know how vital it is that you allow your skin to breathe freely, I still like wearing a small amount of coverage on my face when going out etc. Therefore for the first time, I decided to opt for a BB Cream.

I was personally drawn towards Maybelline New York's BB product due to their 'Dream Bronze' edition as an alternative to their usual 'Pure' or 'Baby Skin' BB Cream range. My skin tone is naturally an olive sort of shade, therefore coupled with the tan I was hoping to achieve from the blazing Egyptian sun, I felt that a bronze cream would suit my skin tone best.

The product claims that it illuminates, warms skin-tone, evens your complexion, veils imperfections, hydrates, smooths, refreshes and protects with SPF 25 - a 8-in-1 Beauty Balm Sunkissed Glow Perfecter. 

Bought at £6.99, I intended to simply use this only whilst I possessed my holiday glow; however I have grown to love this product and have actually carried on using it as an alternative to my mousse and liquid foundations since my holiday in July!

Upon reviewing this product, I would agree that this BB Cream does what it intends to do, however despite it being 'moisturising', I do still prefer to use a moisturiser before applying this on top. I also still like to touch up any faint blemishes or marks with a concealer on top of my BB Cream, in addition to adding a small touch of Maybelline's 'Dream Touch Blush' cream in peach. Having said this, I don't think these additions are necessarily needed if you're just looking for something to give your face light coverage for an 'everyday' kind of look.

What's been your favourite essential this summer?


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Monday, 7 September 2015

Top Tips For Surviving a Festival Abroad.



Following on from my recent blog about my time spent at Sziget: The Island Of Freedom festival in Budapest; I thought it might be fun to blog the top tips that I learnt from experiencing my first festival abroad: 

1. Take a lilo instead of a roll mat. Despite only blowing half of it up and finally remembering to blow the other half of it up half way through the week; this was probably one of my best ideas as it saved on space due to it being nice and compact when deflated, as well as providing me with a nice comfortable bed to crash out on.

2. Always carry tissue. I cannot stress this one enough. Whether it be for a runny nose, to cover your mouth from the indefinite dust cloud, or for emergency loo roll; tissue is a must.

3. Invest in some reliable BB cream. Along with being one of my favourite beauty buys this summer, I personally found that BB cream is a great investment for a festival as it saves having to bring so much make up with you, due to it doubling up as a moisturiser / foundation / primer / bronzer / concealer etc. I personally fell in love with Maybelline's bronze edition.

4. Buy a decent bum bag. Despite already owning a small and simple yet effective bum bag, I decided to purchase a newer snazzier, larger one especially for Sziget; and I'm so glad I did. Your bum bag will be your best friend at a festival as you will end up relying on it to carry just about everything for you. From your camera to a pack of chewing gum... Your bum bag will hold it all.

5. Never leave the tent without your hand sanitiser. This is probably the most vital thing that I bought. Hand sanitiser was literally a life saver at Sziget as there was usually no soap available to wash your hands with after using the loo etc! I would recommend buying 2 bottles at least! I personally bought a bottle from Carex which was 'Strawberry laces' scent - so yummy!

6. Also never leave the tent without your camera. It is definitely true that a photo can translate a 1000 words; which is why I recommend never leaving your tent without your camera, or at least your phone. Whether it be a simple snap of your best friend pulling a goofy face or an amazing video of the main stage, you'll 100% thank yourself when you reminisce through your photos on the journey home!

7. Over pack rather than under pack. Even though it might prove a hassle to drag several bags to your campsite, I would definitely say it is better to have more than you need than not enough when camping. Obviously don't pack everything including the kitchen sink, but a couple of extra layers or the odd home comfort such as a hot water bottle can never hurt.

8. Take your sleeping bag and clothes as hand luggage. In order to save money, I would recommend only packing the tent and toiletries over 100ml in the hold. This way, you will save on money as most airlines accept travel suitcases as free hand luggage - you will be surprised how many clothes you can squeeze in! Ryan Air (the airline we flew with), also allow you to take a small bag in addition to a travel suitcase - substitute your small handbag for your sleeping bag and you're good to go!

9. Don't panic. Large festivals can often be very daunting and expensive, but what you must not do, is panic. Just except the fact that you're going to be roughing it for a couple of days, except the fact that you're going to smell, be grubby, and get no sleep, except the fact that you're almost definitely going to spend more money than you intended. Live in the moment, go with the flow, and you'll have an amazing experience.



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Friday, 28 August 2015

Sziget - The Island of Freedom: the reality.



Just over two weeks ago, myself and ten others took our first steps across Sziget's wonderfully rainbow bridge. I for one, did not have a clue what to expect whatsoever. For those who read my last blog, you will know that I was heading for Budapest completely oblivious to the Szitizen way of life.

Unfortunately I've come to the conclusion that I simply can't fit everything about Budapest and Sziget into one tiny blog post unless I force myself to scale it down, so here are my highlights and low-lights (in no particular order):

Highlights:
  • Cirque du Sziget: Being an avid lover of magic and circus acts etc, this was one of my favourite tents at the festival. Constructed just how a normal circus would be, several men and women acted out a number of different performances in a large circus tent; ranging from knife throwing to contortion - all for free!
  • Robbie Williams: From early childhood I have grown up listening to Robbie Williams (or 'Robbie Wigglyworms' as my sister used to call him) in the car; and so for me, seeing him live was a definite highlight. He was such a great entertainer and performer right from his opening song of Let Me Entertain You right through all his other hits such as Angels, Feel and Rock DJ - 100% my favourite night.
  • 7 O'clock parties: Everyday at 7 O'clock there would be a different type of party in front of the main stage. For instance there was a balloon party where thousands of balloons were handed out and then all released into the air at once. There was also a colour party with coloured powder, a flag party, a maraca party and a bubble party.
  • Lime slush: 100% my favourite drink at the festival. I probably had at least two of these a day - I would definitely recommend using as a refreshing vodka mixer!
  • All night party: Despite the last act on the main stage ending at 11:30pm each night, you were always able to go onto another party elsewhere; as many acts in other tents didn't even start until 2am and if they didn't take your fancy, there were loads of other bars or outdoor clubs to entice you instead.
  • Sziget Passports: Upon receiving our wristbands we were also given Sziget 'Passports' which contained the Artist line up and times, as well as other cool things such as a collectable stamp page for 'must see' attractions in Sziget, as well as a personal photo page - just like a real passport!

Low-lights:  
  • The heat: One of the main factors that I definitely didn't expect was the heat. It's safe to say that everyday temperatures soared to at least 40 degrees - lovely weather for enjoying a festival, not so lovely for camping in a gross, sweltering tent for seven days.
  • No sleep: I can guarantee you now that at no point will you find any peace and quiet in order to sleep. Wherever you go, at whatever time of the day or night, you will be surrounded by noise! *Top Tip - make sure to bring ear plugs!*
  • Ill: Similar to most holidays that involve constant parting combined with lack of sleep, I along with many others, did get a bit ill on about day 5 of the festival.
  • Lots of walking:  Despite loving how big Sziget was (400,000 attended across the week), it did mean that walking between areas such as the main stage and our tent took quite a bit of time, something that wasn't too pleasant in the 40 degree heat!
  • Money: As far as money goes, overall I would say that everything at Sziget was priced pretty cheaply compared to festivals in England. However due to 1000 Hungarian forints equaling around £3.80, it was pretty hard to keep track of spending as you never really knew how much you were spending; meaning I did accidentally spend quite a bit more than I had intended to...oops. 
Walking across the bridge onto the island into the festival, did honestly feel like you were walking into a whole new wonderful and magical world. I am willing to admit that camping for seven days at a festival in sweltering heat was tough, but with no doubt, definitely 100% worth it.







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Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Sziget - The Island of Freedom: expectations.

In just over a week, I will be flying with others from London to Budapest in order to attend one of Europe's largest festivals, Sziget.

Sziget is a week long festival from the 10th to the 17th August, but we leave next Friday (7th) so that we can grab a few days of sightseeing Budapest before the festival begins. We leave next week, and yet in all honesty, I do not have a clue what to expect. Considering I'm meant to be saving for my second year of university, I have to admit that this trip has been all very random and spontaneous (for me anyway). But as Motivational Photos helpfully reminded me on Instagram, 'memories are priceless'.

Tbf considering it's a week long, Sziget is actually really good value for money with camping tickets costing around £170 (the actual price is in euros); which I think is amazing considering that last year's V Festival ticket cost me £200, and that was only for weekend camping. The acts are really good too, with Robbie Williams (I am a big fan) headlining the first night, followed by the likes of Rudimental, Avicii, Ellie Goulding, Kings Of Leon, The Script, Ella Eyre, Florence and the Machine etc.

From looking at the photos and videos from last year, I get the impression that Sziget is sort of like a humungous Glastonbury (as if Glastonbury isn't big enough!) - with loads of different tents and things to do besides obviously enjoying the music. Below is the video that made me want to go :)


Despite being in a constant state of dilemma over what to pack, being very very scared about the unavoidable portaloo situation and having absoltutely near no idea what I'm about to walk into; wriitng this blog post and rewatching last year's aftermovie has made me incredibly excited. Make sure to look out for my blog post 'Sziget - The Island of Freedom: the reality' when I'm back home!

Have you been to Sziget before or are going this year? Get in touch below :)


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Monday, 27 July 2015

Is Chester Zoo really as great as everyone makes out?

Last Tuesday myself and my boyfriend visited Chester Zoo for the first time. We both work at a wildlife park which meant that we were lucky enough to be able to both receive free entry due to an agreement between zoos across the country - the perfect date day right?!


The usual price for adult entry is £25.00 which on first glance, I thought seemed pretty expensive. However as soon as I passed the ticket booth, I could tell why. Chester Zoo is absolutely huge! 100% the largest zoo I have ever visited. Before visiting Chester I was surprised when friends who had previously visited the zoo advised that we arrive as soon as the zoo opened at 10am; as I would never normally aim to be at an attraction such as a zoo, right from opening. However I am so glad that they did, because we spent at least 5 hours there and still didn't manage to get around all of the enclosures!

One of my favourite attractions was the zoo's monorail which transports you to a different area of the zoo by slowly passing above and through the top of several animal enclosures - giving you an amazing perspective of the animals that you were unable to see from the ground! I was personally delighted as the monorail went above the tiger enclosure - probably my all time favourite animal. Unfortunately I actually missed glimpsing the tiger from above, but I did manage to see an adult tiger and three tiger cubs from the ground below :)

Despite tigers being my favourite, I absolutely adore all other types of big cat just as much, and so I was so excited to find out that Chester Zoo is also the home to a family of lions, cheetahs, and jaguars too. Being the allusive kitties that they are, despite being hopeful, I wasn't expecting to actually see any of the big cats, so to be able to take these beautiful photos from such a short distance was amazing!

Unfortunately my iPhone didn't have a good enough camera in order for me to capture a photo of the jaguar or tiger, but I can happily say that I did manage to get a good look at them in person :) All of the enclosures were humungous which made it great for viewing the animals, but I was especially blown away by the jaguar enclosure. I really loved how open the floor to ceiling glass made the enclosure feel, enabling you to get as close as possible for the best view - if anything I was scared to get too close in case a jaguar suddenly leaped out and surprised me!

In answer to my question: 'Is Chester Zoo really as great as everyone makes out?' I have decided that the answer is yes. Even if I had to pay full entry price, I would definitely return (Adam and I have already planned a return trip to see the boat ride that is being opened this August), and would definitely recommend Chester Zoo to anyone who is an animal lover looking for a fun day out. My only negative would be how far away it is!

Have you visited Chester Zoo? What were your thoughts?




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Thursday, 16 July 2015

The Diet Plate: confessions.

Okay so slightly embarrassing... despite making it last month's challenge, I have failed my goal of using The Diet Plate for every meal where possible... I probably used it about once.

I'm annoyed with myself really, because it's not even as if The Diet Plate is a difficult challenge to maintain. So why did I fail?

To be perfectly honest, the main reason for my failure is simply my own fault for being forgetful. Whilst I really like The Diet Plate as an idea; I think that in reality, if like me you are living at home and usually eat with the rest of your family, constantly remembering to remind whoever is cooking to plate yours separately in compliance with The Diet Plate, is pretty unlikely. Okay so I realise that the simple away around this problem would be to just cook dinner myself, but as I'm sure any fellow students will agree, one of the best things about coming home from uni is having home cooked food by your mum right?!

Fortunately (minus the cocktails and fizzy drinks on holiday), I have pretty much stuck to my goal of drinking only water or green tea. I think this has probably been easier than The Diet Plate because of the lovely hot weather recently, so naturally I was more thirsty, and what better way to quench thirst than a refreshing glass of ice cold water? I have also been using green tea as a snack barrier, in that whenever I feel peckish I make a mug of tea which usually stops me feeling hungry. Switching simple things like fruit juice to water has made a huge difference to my skin, leaving it clear and glowing. Drinking more water also helped with bloating - as I have found out, drinking lots of water keeps your body hydrated which consequently allows your body to flush out any excess water weight, helping the appearance of a flatter stomach.

Overall, I have to admit that despite mainly sticking to water and green tea; unfortunately my first monthly challenge has been a bit of a disaster. However ever the optimist, I am determined to complete my next one, which is to do the 30 day squat challenge ranging from 15 reps on day one, to 87 reps on day thirty.

Stay tuned to find out how I get on!

Have you tried The Diet Plate or 30 day squat challenge? What were your thoughts?


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Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Vlog: recipe for Reece's Peanut Butter Cup cupcakes. :


For my sister's 16th birthday, I decided to prove myself to be the amazing sister I am, and bake her Reece's cupcakes. Surprisingly, I found these cupcakes to be really easy to bake and amazingly delicious! Whilst I was baking these yummy treats I decided to kill two birds with one stone and film my second vlog... So here it is! 

If you like this, please remember to subscribe to my Channel Forever Faye :) thanks for watching! 






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Thursday, 25 June 2015

My favourite 'must watch' YouTube videos.

1. The cat thug life video - Judging by the number of times I have watched this video and laughed, I can safely say that this is one of my all time favourite YouTubes. I think it's probably the combination of my love for cats and their chaotic mishappenings, coupled with the amazing choice of Dr. Dre ft. Snoop Dogg for the backing music; that makes this clip so funny. I can't really explain... just watch it.



2. Beyonce and Jay-Z sing Young Forever/Halo on their On The Run tour - This is probably one of my most watched music videos on YouTube. The power couple of Beyonce and Jay-Z is taken to a whole new level in this video with the amazing backdrop of their personal family photos and home videos, including the birth of their daughter Blue Ivy. You can literally see their love for one another reflecting through their faces; I genuinely nearly cry with happiness for them every time I watch. Definitely watch if you haven't done already.

  

3. Justin Bieber and James Cordon carpool karaoke - I think mainly due to my absolute love for James Cordon, I personally found that this video clip also brought me a new found love for / restored my faith in Justin Bieber. Minus the douchey underwear comment, with the help of Cordon's loveable humour, I like how this video actually portrays Bieber as just an average guy as opposed to the douchey popstar that he is often labelled as.


 4. Man and lion reunion video - Being a HUGE cat lover, this video is one of my all time favourites. There's nothing much to say other than I just can't help but smile every single time. So so so amazing and cute.


*Remember to check out my personal YouTube Channel Forever Faye on my blog sidebar or at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCxuGmc2kmcPLW_UD2134vDg :)


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Thursday, 18 June 2015

The Diet Plate: first impressions.

I have recently been a bit slack with my blog posts due to general busyness / tiredness and so thought that I would make a six-month-late new year's resolution and blog a monthly challenge each month... here's my first :)

In another (yes, ANOTHER) bid to try and lead a healthier and fitter lifestyle, for my June monthly challenge I have decided to try using The Diet Plate for all of my meals where possible.

For some reason I just happened to find The Diet Plate gathering dust in the bottom of a kitchen drawer at home; but should you also want to try and lead a healthier lifestyle, I know that you can buy them on Amazon for around £15.00 - just make sure you buy the right one (e.g. male or female - male accounts for a necessary higher calorie intake).

The plate's aim is to teach you the correct portion sizes of meals and the food groups within the meals that you should be having, by dividing the plate into sections that reflect the correct portion size for salad/veg/fruit/carbohydrates/protein/fats/dairy.

Despite the key word in the plate's name being 'diet', I like to think that this plate is more for teaching a healthier way of life through restricting your portion sizes rather than food choices.

Unfortunately as I don't own the Calorie Counting Bowl that can also be bought for measuring cereal portions etc, I probably won't use this plate for my breakfast, but am going to try and stick to it for my lunch time and dinner time meals. I'm also going to try and set myself the challenge of only drinking either water or green tea.

Since I am going to an all-you-can-eat Chinese on Monday for a birthday, I have decided that I will commence my challenge next Tuesday.

Stay tuned for next month's update as to how I got on!



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Wednesday, 10 June 2015

#Ziggyfest 2015.

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Despite being just an ordinary day for many, for those that knew Ziggy, the 30th May 2015 was a very special day as it celebrated Zak's life and what would have been his 22nd birthday.
Zak sadly passed away in September, leaving a ziggy-sized hole for those who were lucky enough to have known him. Ziggyfest was a fundraising event created in Zak's honour, raising money for Oxfordshire Mind - helping those with mental health problems to overcome their issues by offering advice and support for those affected.

I first met Zak when I was in year seven - we shared the same school bus. Despite being quite a few years older than me, Zak was always so lovely and chatty, I remember thinking that he made the daunting bus full of new people, seem just that little bit less scary and more bearable. Being the lovely person that he was, I was always aware of how much he was loved by his friends and family - even if he wasn't. However it was only when I arrived at Ziggyfest that I truly grasped the full extent of people's love and admiration for Zak - Leafield village hall was absolutely crammed; and quite rightly so.

Ziggyfest was a great evening, consisting of a live band, a bar, and an auction and raffle containing tonnes of amazing gifts, most of which were generously donated. Currently, the grand total (including giftaid) raised is over £19,000!

Ziggyfest had an incredible turn out, celebrating the life of a incredible person; and I'm sure that wherever he may have been, Zak was right there beside us, celebrating too.
mind

* I would like to dedicate this blog post to all of Zak's family, but especially Jackie - you should be very proud of your son xxx

http://www.oxfordshiremind.org.uk/


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Every grey cloud has a silver lining: my recent blog makeover.

Last week I was pretty distraught as I received an email informing me that another girl also had a blog called Just Your Average Girl; and that she legally owned the rights to use it as her personal blog name and domain - basically, I was given no choice but to try and come up with a new name for my blog.

As some of you probably saw from my pleading and desperate Facebook posts, I was completely void of ideas; this email had completely taken me by surprise! Obviously I realised that Just Your Average Girl wasn't that original and was probably in use elsewhere than my own little blog; but (and no, I am not just saying this out of spite or jealousy) I literally had never heard of / seen another blog etc with the same name.

ANYWAY, after thinking long and hard about my first world problem (and sighing over suggestions such as 'happy, clappy, and wacky') , I decided on one of mum's better suggestions - 'Forever Faye'. For those who don't know already, I have always been a fan of my middle name 'Faye', also meaning 'fairy'. I realise that Forever Faye doesn't particularly mean anything other than relating to my middle name, but I decided that I liked that as it gives me scope to write about anything and everything as I choose to do so.

When looking at (stalking) this other phantom Just Your Average Girl blog; I noticed that just like me, they had created their blog using wordpress and had also opted for the same 'Adelle'  wordpress blog theme as me. Already disgruntled in the knowledge that my JYAG blog name wasn't completely original, I decided to go full out and pay for someone to custom design my blog (they only did custom designs for blogger not wordpress, hence my switching of websites to Blogger).

I know some of you may think that all of this is completely OTT, but if something bad happens, why not turn it into something good instead? Journalism (ideally writing for a women's magazine), is my dream job goal and if my blog can help me achieve my dream job, then why not give it 100%?

I hope you like my new blog makeover as much as I do :)

*Please note that my old blog at laurafayehooper.wordpress.com is no longer available as everything has been copied across to this new site*

My blog was designed as part of the Deluxe package at www.aleelilydesigns.com

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Monday, 8 June 2015

More than just rabbit food: recipe for yummy granola slices.




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Given that myself and my boyfriend are avid lovers of baking (and eating), I thought that baking something yummy would be a nice way to spend today’s bank holiday. In an attempt to try and bake something vaguely healthy, we decided to make granola slices :) These are great for satisfying sweet tooth cravings or to grab when in need of a quick and filling snack. All of the ingredients needed are also fairly cheap – making for a great bake that will last ages in the snack cupboard.
You will need: 
  • 2 cups of plain oats,
  • ♥1/2 cup of clear honey,
  • ♥2/3 cup of brown sugar,
  • ♥225g of mixed dried fruits (we used cranberries and mango),
  • ♥3/4 cup of mixed seeds (we used sunflower and pumpkin),
  • ♥100g of chocolate chips,
  • ♥4 tbsp of butter,
  • ♥1/2 tsp of salt,
  • ♥3 tsp of vanilla extract.
1. The first step is to preheat your oven on fan to 200ยบ. Then mix your seeds and oats together in a sided baking tray and place in the oven to toast for around 13-15 minutes. Make sure to stir your oat/seed mix every few minutes in order to stop them burning.

2. Secondly, whilst your oats and seeds are toasting in the oven, place your butter, salt, vanilla extract and sugar into a saucepan and stir until lightly simmering.

       


3. Once your sugary mixture has reached a light simmer, take your now toasted oat/seed mixture from the oven (the oven can now be turned off) and mix with your dried fruits and chocolate chips. Once the fruit and chocolate has been completely mixed in with your oats and seeds, stir your sugar mixture into the oat/seed/fruit/chocolate mix. Make sure you thoroughly stir in your liquid sugar mixture into your dry mixture as the sugar mixture will be what holds your granola bar together!


4. Once both mixtures are thoroughly stirred together, line a rectangular baking tray with greaseproof paper and spoon your granola mixture on top. Once all of your mixture is on your baking tray, spread the granola out evenly, making the thickness to your liking.

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5. After you have spread your granola evenly across your tray, fold over any remaining baking paper of add a sheet on top, and firmly press all over the granola so that it is compressed. Press really hard on this part so that your slices won’t fall apart when you cut them later on!  Once you are happy with your bake, leave your granola to set for around 3 hours.


6. After 3 hours, place your granola onto a chopping board and carefully peel back your baking paper.


7. Finally, press firmly with a sharp knife and cut your granola into your desired slice size.





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Home workout vs. gym workout: 'Charlotte's 3 Minute Belly Blitz' workout review.


 In the approach to leaving university for summer, I have been dreading the temptation of mum’s snack cupboard – full to the brim with yummy chocolate, crisps, biscuits and cakes. Because I (somehow) resisted the urge to buy these treats whilst at uni, I knew that the temptation of the snack cupboard would be waiting to entice my deprived taste buds as soon as I came home – consequently resulting in majorly over-indulging and putting on weight. Therefore in an attempt to stay fit and healthy without the help of my university gym, I have bought Charlotte Crosby’s ‘3 Minute Belly Blitz’ DVD as an alternate home workout to my previous workout which I did at my university’s gym. 

Although I am looking more for a workout to help tone muscle and keeping my current weight at bay as opposed to losing weight, I have to admit that the claim that you could ‘lose up to 5 pounds a week’ did make me curious as to what was so great about this DVD. I follow Charlotte on Instagram, and I personally think that the photos of her body transformation are amazing – she just looks so gorgeous and healthy! Therefore coupled with my love for Charlotte on Geordie Shore and my burning desire to try out new products, I have decided to give this home workout a go. 

Bought for £12 in comparison to my gym membership of £99, I have to say that I have been pleasantly surprised with the intensity of this DVD. When I read that the DVD consisted of twelve rounds of cardio / abs, each three minutes long, I was slightly apprehensive – how could three minutes of exercise result in losing 5 pounds?! However having now done the DVD and only managed seven rounds out of twelve, I can safely say that this workout is far harder than you’d expect. When working out at the gym I would normally go for an hour session around three to four times a week, using machines such as the bike, the cross trainer, and the treadmill; therefore to give up just over halfway through this exercise DVD, I can clearly see why ‘3 Minutes Belly Blitz’ claims to burn up to 5 pounds a week.

Surprisingly, this blog post has actually been more difficult to write and make a decision than I’d have originally thought. To be honest, even though I try and workout and eat healthily in order to stay fit, as much as I’d like to be, I am not one of those girls who enjoys working out; and although I do enjoy salad, I would nine times out of ten enjoy a McDonald’s even more. Although an exercise DVD is far cheaper and a lot less effort in terms of not having to leave the comfort of your own home; whilst home comforts are lovely, I personally feel that the mix of potential peer judgment coupled with the different types of machines that the gym offers, means I put more effort into my workout when at the gym. I don’t know if it’s the knowledge that no one other than myself is going to appreciate my new Nike running gear when I’m stuck at home, or the fact that actually leaving the house to go to the gym somehow makes my workout seem more worthy; but despite ‘3 Minute Belly Blitz’ being great, throughout the time it has taken me to write this blog, I have come to the conclusion that I still prefer going to the gym. By all means, for those who prefer a home workout, You won’t go wrong with Charlotte’s DVD; but personally, the home workout life is not for me. 

Have you tried any home workout DVD’s? Which method of workout do you prefer?

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Ten reasons to suggest that you're comfortable in your relationship.


Okay so obviously I cannot speak for society as a whole as everybody’s relationships are different, but I have been (officially) going out with my boyfriend, Adam, for just over a year now and would like to think that judging by the points listed below, we have a pretty comfortable relationship with one another. I’m not suggesting that you aren’t in a comfortable relationship if the points below don’t match your reality, but going by the countless number of Cosmo mags I have stashed in my bedroom, along with my own relationship experiences, I like to think that the points listed below are a pretty safe bet :)

1. You leave ‘spares’ at eachother’s houses. You spend so much time together that it’s just easier if you have your own set of pyjamas / toothbrush / makeup / clothes etc at their house as well as your own.

2. You help yourself to their food. Not in a rude way, you’re just comfortable enough to not feel guilty or shy about helping yourself to food when at their house.

3. You’ve overcome the embarrassment surrounding toilet matters. Ok so I won’t go into depth with this one! All I will say is that I think this probably applies more to guys than girls! 

4. You finish eachother’s sentences. This one may sound a bit soppy but I have personally found that if you know someone really well / spend a lot of time together, knowing what the other person is going to say before they’ve even said it, happens quite often! 

5. You wear more makeup on a trip to the village shop than you do on a date. For me, this is a crucial indicator that you are comfortable around your other half – the moment that a girl switches from a full face of make up to a plain face free of make up, is a big step.

6. You have no problem expressing your inner weird side around them. You don’t feel embarrassed or worried about what they might think when showing weird sides of your personality – if anything, they join in!

7. You don’t freak out if you have an argument. You don’t panic about  being un-compatible etc when arguing about something. Whether arguing about TV programmes, what to have for dinner, or a more serious matter; despite intiailly disagreeing, you are confident that you can sort it out together.  

8. They’re your bestfriend as well as your boyfriend / girlfriend. Despite having a serious relationship, you’re careful not to take things too seriously, making sure that you always have fun together!

9. You’re not afraid to show your emotional side. Whether it be crying your eyes out whilst watching The Notebook or confiding in one another about an upsetting or serious matter, feeling able to convey your true emotions is vital for a comfortable and healthy relationship. 

10. You aren’t constantly trying to impress them. You’re comfortable in the knowledge that you don’t need to change anything or put up a front in order to impress them. They love you just the way you are and vice versa. 

I hope you have enjoyed reading this blog post! What reasons apply to your relationship? 

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Garnier Ultimate Blends: 'The Strength Restorer' serum review.

The downfall of living in Plymouth, is that pretty much everywhere is in walking distance, and by this I mean Drake Circus shopping center. I don’t know what it is, but I feel almost cheated if I somehow manage to miraculously walk through a shopping center without at least buying something – yes, I am guilty of buying Krispy Cremes despite not feeling hungry in the slightest (I literally can’t put into words how good the Caramel Crunch flavour is?!) 

Anyway, last week when I was browsing Boots (for no particular reason other than I was passing through and why wouldn’t I buy something?); I came across Garnier’s new ‘Strength Restorer Serum’ from their Ultimate Blends collection. Reduced from around £5 to just over £3 (I think the exact price was £3.29 reduced from £4.99 but can’t remember for sure); I was instantly drawn in as I have used Garnier Ultimate Blends shampoo and conditioner in the past, and have always found both products to leave my hair smelling amazing as well as looking extra glossy! Because my hair is quite thick, it often goes out of condition very quickly, resulting in it needing a cut about every six weeks, therefore I felt that this serum which claims to be perfect for ‘fragile hair’ which is ‘prone to breakage’, would be perfect. 

The Strength Restorer Serum is enriched with protective honey bee Propolis extract which is believed to act as a great protective barrier for hair, whilst also giving the serum a lovely subtle honey fragrance. Garnier advise that you can either use 1-2 drops of serum applied to the lengths and ends of fragile hair in order to smooth the look of split ends and straighten hair; or you can use the serum as a pre-styling ritual by using 2-3 drops of serum on towel-dried hair for an intense treatment for added softness and protection against breakage. 

The serum claims to make your hair stronger in just one week when used in conjunction with Garnier’s Ultimate Blends Strength Restorer shampoo and conditioner. Although I haven’t been using the shampoo and conditioner recommended, I would still say that my hair is feeling thoroughly nourished and cared for. Unlike some serums, I have found this product to be light weight and non greasy, making application really easy for a quick fix! For anyone looking for a hair product to help keep their hair nourished and in good condition, I would definitely recommend this serum – especially at the bargain price of £3.29! What’s to lose? 



 
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Nepalese earthquake: over four thousand miles away and yet so close to home.

A few of the children we met back when travelling in 2010.
A few of the children we met back when travelling in 2010.

As I realise the whole world is, I am literally stunned at the amount of devastation and deaths (bordering on 10,000) that Nepal’s recent earthquake has caused. As you can see from my blog post’s title, despite being thousands of miles away, Nepal’s earthquake feels a little too close to home as five years ago I was travelling in Nepal with my family for a month, across both Kathmandu and Pokhara – both of the places to have been hit hardest in the recent earthquake.
To see such a serene, beautiful country demolished in a matter of days, is truly devastating – even more so when I think back to the countless number of lovely Nepalese people who we met throughout our travels. Natural disasters such as Nepal’s recent earthquake shouldn’t be inflicted upon anyone – however as this power is unfortunately out of our control, the best we can do is help with the aftermath.
Please donate whatever you can to help Nepal and its people get back on track – even the smallest donation will make a difference.

Nepalese children after the earthquake.
Nepalese children after the earthquake.

I've donated, have you?


        




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Eat your way a healthier life: recipe for Italian baby leaf salad.


Like many others I’m sure, I am constantly in the bid to try and live a healthier lifestyle. Despite regularly going to the gym, it occurred to me that although exercising regularly will somewhat counteract the unhealthy parts of my life; it only counteracts these parts to an extent – to lead an overall healthier life I need to focus on what I eat, just as much as the amount of exercise I undertake. Therefore as you have probably already guessed, I have started to focus more on what I eat as well as what I do; such as eating more fresh food than processed etc. As an avid lover of chips, pizza and all things fast food; I have actually been pleasantly surprised with my latest dinner recipes – my favourite being the Italian baby leaf salad recipe that I have shared with you below:

You Will Need:
  • Large vine tomatoes,
  • Half of a large avocado,
  • One reduced fat mozzarella,
  • Italian salad leaves (spinach, rocket, red chard, ruby red chard).
  • Olive Oil,
  • Salt,
  • Pepper,
  • Black olives,
  • Salmon fillet (optional).
Start by spreading your salad leaves across your plate – nothing fancy, but make sure you use a decent amount and cover your whole plate! Next, chop up your tomatoes into thin slices and place onto your salad (I usually use around 3, but you may want 4 if yours are relatively small). Having chopped your tomatoes, cut your avocado in half – wrapping half in cling film for the fridge, whilst thinly slicing your other half in order to add to your salad leaves and tomatoes. Once your avocado has been added, drain the excess water from your mozzarella and either slice or tear into thin strips; once done, add to your salad. The salad with just mozzarella alone is very filling in my opinion, but for those who think that it won’t be enough; I suggest baking a salmon fillet in the oven with mixed herbs, pepper and salt, and then adding this to your salad once cooked. Finally, add a couple of black olives to your salad, season with salt and pepper, and drizzle with olive oil… Perfect!

I hope you enjoy this meal as much as I do! 


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World Malaria Day #MakePovertyHistory.


worldmalariaday

For those of you who are unaware, today – the 25th April, is World Malaria Day.

Malaria is a deadly disease, thought to have killed half the number of people that have ever lived, including 90% of those who live in Africa, with half of the world’s population still currently at risk – making it one of the largest causes of poverty in the world. Malaria is transmitted through the bites of infected mosquitoes – deadly, yet preventable. Across Africa Malaria kills approximately one child every minute – and yet it costs less than £1 or your morning coffee, to save an infected child’s life.
‘Malaria No More’ works to protect those vulnerable to malaria by using money raised and donated to provide people in countries such as Africa with mosquito nets, malaria tests, and malaria treatment. Since 2009, programmes run by Malaria No More have helped over 10 million people; whilst overall child deaths since 2000 have halved.

Just take a minute to reflect upon the amount of protection that you are privileged enough to have when travelling abroad to mosquito infested areas: nets, tablets, spray, repellants… the list goes on. Now take a minute to reflect upon what the people in places such as Africa don’t have – yet are subject to each day, and ask yourself this: why wouldn’t you help?
Whether it be putting £1 in a donation pot, buying a cute little ‘Malaria No More’ bracelet from Jack Wills, holding your own fundraiser, or even simply making others aware; do your bit for those who can’t fight Malaria themselves, and help make Malaria No More, and #MakePovertyHistory.

http://www.malarianomore.org.uk/



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Book review: S J Watson's 'Second Life'.

Having read ‘Before I Go To Sleep’ from start to finish in a matter of days, I knew I had to buy S J Watson’s newest release, ‘Second Life’.
Admittedly, I did originally plan to try and wait before buying, in the hope that the price may go down (classic student thinking). However when my flight was delayed on the way home from Barcelona, it seemed fate was urging me to read it as surprisingly, the shop in Barcelona airport was piled high with English copies.
1_2235349aThe book’s blurb reads:   
‘She loves her husband. She’s obsessed by a stranger.    
She’s a devoted mother. She’s prepared to lose everything.
She knows what she’s doing. She’s out of control.
She’s innocent. She’s guilty as sin.
She’s living two lives. She might lose both.’
Obviously I don’t want to give anything away, but basically, the novel’s storyline follows the life of Julia who lives a normal, respectable life with her normal, respectable husband; until news breaks of her sister’s death, and her life changes for ever. Obsessed with the idea that the police aren’t investigating the death as well as they should be, Julia takes matters into her own hands…
When I say that this psychological thriller is a ‘must read’, I am in no way exaggerating. From beginning to end, S J Watson will have you hooked on the followings of Julia and her family – this novel is a definite ‘page turner'; great for blissfully reading away the day! 5 Star *****.
Click the link in pink (or black if using a mobile device), to order from Amazon now! :) Buy S J Watson’s ‘Second Life’ here!


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My experience of #PlymouthBlogMeet.

Drawing by@BbeccaHeppolette.
Drawing by +beccaheppolette 

So today was my first ever experience attending a ‘meet up’ with fellow bloggers. The meeting was held in Rumpus Cosy which is a quirky little restaurant/cafe near the Theatre Royal in Plymouth. Upon arrival, our designated tables were dressed beautifully with pretty china cups and saucers, along with wine glasses for water (which had cucumber in – an immediate sign that this was somewhere I was going to enjoy and would be revisiting).

IMG_6223Prior to our meeting, we had each paid £6 to Ellie who was our event organiser, which meant that upon arrival we could order anything from the menu up to the value of £6. Since I am currently trying to be healthy, I opted for a ‘super fruit’ tea which claimed to be full of beneficial antioxidants. My tea was served in a cute little Japanese style teapot – perfect for keeping my tea warm whilst having a good old chat! However despite trying to eat healthily, I have to confess that when Rumpus Cosy’s staff brought out free slices of carrot cake, it was hard to say no – I mean, just look at the photos! Nearing our departure we were also surprised with lovely paper gift bags filled with lovely samples from a few kind brands – my favourite being Sweet Cecily’s rose body butter which came in a beautifully packed box.

Admittedly I was slightly nervous at the prospect of meeting a whole bunch of new people, but I can honestly say that I needn’t have worried. The best thing was that I wasn’t the only one taking 15 different photos of my cake before eating it! I think the best way to describe #PlymouthBlogMeet was kind of like when you’re drunk in a club or bar and somehow become best friends with other girls queuing for the loo; you don’t know them at all, but you just natter away like you’ve known each-other for years – meeting the other girls today was sort of like that, except sober, obviously.
I really enjoyed my first blog meet up experience, and would definitely attend another in future!

I hope anyone reading this has had an equally great day :)

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Eight things that my first year at university has taught me.

With my first year at Plymouth University coming to an end in 3 weeks time, I felt it would be a nice idea / helpful to any upcoming Freshers if I reviewed my year, compiling my top eight tips for starting university. 

1. If you’re unhappy, don’t stay quiet, do something about it. I cannot stress this point enough. Despite it being my first choice, when I arrived at Roehampton University in London, I knew it wasn’t right for me. If you’re feeling unhappy at uni, try and stick it out for a couple of weeks to see if it improves; but if you’re like me and are still finding it hard, then do something about it. I was lucky enough to be able to transfer to my insurance choice in Plymouth within the space of a weekend, and I am so much happier because of it. 

2. Don’t be afraid to reach out and make new friends. One of the best experiences that university offers, is the chance to meet new people and make new friends. This may sound unintentionally patronising, but everyone is in the same boat and are just as scared as you are. Someone just needs to make the first step that’s all – why not let it be you? 

3. New friends are all good fun, but don’t forget your old ones either. This is another point that I cannot stress enough. Before university, your ‘old’ friends were the people you’d do everything with and tell everything to. Whilst it’s fine to be just as close with your uni friends, make sure that you don’t neglect your old friends either. Some of my best friends are from school and we still make sure that we’re up to date with all of the gossip via group chat / see eachother whenever we’re home – a catch up I always look forward to. 

4. Don’t get lazy. As a fresher (who’s first year often doesn’t count), many can fall all too easily into the trap of ‘ordering in, pjs, lying in bed all day’ kind of mood. If possible, I urge you to try and stay away from this. Obviously if you’re hungover or ill it’s only right that you should lie in bed with a Papa John’s feeling sorry for yourself; but in any other situation, resist. Go out, grab lunch, go to the gym, do some uni work (I know, I can’t believe I’m saying that either), just whatever you do, get.out.of.bed. 

5. Ask for help if you’re stuck. Whether it’s money problems, uni work or your first time washing your own clothes; if you’re in a tricky situation and don’t know what to do, ask. Along with asking Flatmates for cooking advice, followed by googling the answer when they don’t know either, I often email my uni tutors for help with coursework. This really can help to put your mind at ease if you’re struggling – I would really recommend to anyone that needs that little bit of extra help. 

6. Spend time getting your room right. Before leaving for uni, I went on a ginormous Ikea haul – buying an array of things from a full length mirror, cute tortoise pins and a hot pink ambience light, to frying pans and knives and forks. Although buying trivial things such as tortoise pins may seem silly, I would 100% argue that buying such items and making your room feel comfy and homey is a must. You will feel far more settled if you’ve got a lovely room to be in, and I would definitely recommend Ikea being your first port of call. Other great things you could put in your room could be cushions, photos, posters, and bed throws (I am guilty of all of the above). 
Ps. Even if your halls contain single beds, buy a double duvet for extra cosyness / most houses in 2nd and 3rd year contain double beds! 

7. You will not survive without Netflix. Sure uni is great and all, but like anywhere, it does have its’ boring moments. For those who don’t have a tv in their room or even for those who do; all I can say is, get a Netflix account. Trust me, it will be your lifesaver. 

8. There will always be someone to have a drink with. It’s pretty self explatory really, but as you can imagine, university students LOVE drinking. So whether you’re homesick, upset about coursework or hungover even; don’t frown – go grab a drink. 

I hope you like my top tips for starting university, and that anyone starting in September has a great experience :) 

Please feel free to comment or suggest your own tips below! 



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In need of a holiday? Jet off for a sunny city break in Barcelona.


As a surprise for my boyfriend’s 20th, I decided to be spontaneous and book two flights to Barcelona at the end of March. Since Adam’s birthday was in December and I booked the flights in October, I have to admit that this was a pretty big secret that I really did struggle to keep (I resulted in telling everyone other than him, just to contain my excitement – yes, I am mentally 5 years old). However despite the huge struggle to keep my mouth shut, booking the flights that far in advance really did pay off as I managed to bag a bargain and got two returns (4 nights, 5 days) on easyjet for about £120. Booking our flights was about as far as I had planned, until I booked our hotel in December which was called Century Park Hotel. I can’t remember the exact price of the hotel, but I know that it was good value for money and I would definitely recommend it to anyone visiting Barcelona. The location of the hotel was great – about 20 minutes drive from the airport and a 10 minute walk from the city center. Our room was really nice and modern, with its own ensuite and suuuuch a good shower, like seriously. I also paid for us to have breakfast every morning in the hotel which was really lovely, and consisted of a continental buffet which included the most amazing doughnuts (yes, I did eat one every morning). The only negative I would say, is that the hotel wasn’t a massive complex or anything so it didn’t have any lounge or bar areas where you could be when you weren’t in your room. However as we were to find out, city breaks are pretty tiring as you are out and about all day, so all you really want the hotel for is a bed to collapse into anyway!

Our flight arrived late at night, so on our first full day we decided it would be a good idea to get our bearings, and go on a ‘hop on, hop off’ bus tour of the city. We booked our tickets online through the company ‘Barcelona bus turisitc’ as this was the company recommended in our Lonely Planet travel guide. The tour was really great – the bus went on three routes: green, red or blue, and you could choose and switch between which route to travel on, depending on which sites you wanted to see. The tour company also provided us with free earphones so that we could listen to the audio guide should we want to. I think this was actually probably one of my favourite days, it was a really great way of traveling around the city and getting to see places that we may not have otherwise.

On our second day, we visited the Camp Nou stadium and museum which was also a present for Adam’s birthday. I’m personally not a massive football fan, so the museum and tour wasn’t one of my favourite sights. However the stadium is apparently the biggest in Europe and is undeniably impressive, so that was pretty cool. Even though it wasn’t my favourite, Adam certainly enjoyed this experience and I would say that for any football lovers, this is a must see.

On our third day, we travelled by metro which is A LOT cheaper than London’s underground; and visited La Sagrada Familia (a large Roman Catholic church, for those who don’t know) which is obviously one of Barcelona’s main tourist attractions. Although incomplete, the Gaudi designed church is a world heritage site and so is an obvious must see. The church’s interior is absolutely stunning, filled with huge stained glass windows and spiraling towers – an architect’s paradise. Once again, we previously booked our tickets for this online – and I would seriously recommend doing the same should you visit, as the queues to get tickets were ginormous, and you also save money online too – bonus!

The bus tour, Camp Nou, and La Sagrada Familia were the three main activities that we planned for our city break – which probably doesn’t sound like much, but in reality was actually really action packed and pretty tiring! Barcelona has some great shops, so we obviously did a lot of shopping inbetween as well! As our hotel didn’t have its own restaurant, we ate out every day for lunch and every evening for dinner – which was expensive, but really nice. One of the best places we found for dinner was ‘Buenos Aires Grill Restaurant’ which does the most delicious steaks – definitely worth a visit!

Barcelona was both mine and Adam’s first city break experience, and I can happily say that we both thoroughly enjoyed it! If you’re bored of Britain and are looking for a quick getaway in the sun, I would definitely recommend you considering Barcelona as your choice of destination :) For those of you that are considering it, here is a list of the top 5 things I think you should take with you:

1. The Lonely Planet pocket guide to Barcelona – a great resource of information to keep on you should you need it!
2. Sunnies!
3. A cabin bag rather than a suitcase! This can save you money as it counts as hand luggage – and is plenty big enough to fit all of your clothes, and any new ones that you may bring back!
4. A good book for the flight and when you have a spare minute to chill.
5. 100ml toiletries kit for shampoo and body wash etc as you can’t have any liquids above 100ml when using a cabin bag. Don’t worry though, most makeup is usually below this anyway!

I hope you have enjoyed reading about my trip to Barcelona, and that perhaps I have inspired you to go on a trip of your own!

 
 
 
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