7 Relationship Lessons from my 7 Year Relationship

7 Relationship Lessons from my 7 Year Relationship

I have been with my boyfriend since we were both 16 and it was both our first and only relationship. This means that we have gone through our late puberty stages, long-distance while I was at University and now are early adult life. Along that way it has been a rollercoaster and not all of it was down to unstable hormone levels. 

I am in no way presenting myself as a relationship guru and someone who knows and has it all. I still have a lot more to learn, especially as my boyfriend and I embark on a new adventure of moving in together hopefully next year. However, I do pride myself on having sustained such a long (largely) positive relationship through some key life changes. 

Lesson 1- Communication is key, closely followed by honesty

One of the hardest lessons for me was the importance of communication. Because I kind of suck at it. I hate talking about my feelings and I hate confrontation so most of the time it is easier for me to rely on the silent treatment. 

But it is not fair on your other half for them to be left to mind read and then you get even madder when they don’t read your mind correctly. It has probably taken me the full 7 years to learn that, but I think I am finally getting better at it. 

It is also important to be honest. Say when things aren’t going right or when you made a mistake and talk through the issues rather than sugar-coating it. The quicker things get resolved the better as a small probelm can keep growing and explode into a giant unecessary argument.

Lesson 2- Compromise

The second hardest lesson, as an only child, compromise was not in my vocabulary till I moved out for university and had to compromise a lot with housemates. You can’t always get what you want, and half of the work in a relationship comes from compromising. Whether it is as small as what film you want to watch to something a lot bigger such as where you want to live or qualities you want in a house. A positive relationship requires two happy individuals, so it is no surprise that the way to achieve this is to compromise.

Compromise also relates to little things that may aggravate you about the other person, for instance, if they snore of if they leave the spoon out after making their tea instead of putting it in the sink. These aren’t make it or break it habits for a relationship but will require compromising and being more accepting of them. 

Lesson 3- Opposites attract is only half true

Of course, compromise becomes a lot easier when you have some things in common with your other half. The typical opposites attract mandate is only half true. Yes, there are significant differences between my boyfriend and I but we also share a lot of the same interests, hobbies, values and goals in life which makes things a lot smoother. It means we have things to talk about and discuss but the differences also mean that we can learn from each other and have debates and be introduced to different viewpoints than the ones that we have.

Lesson 4- Remain an individual

It is important that while you share some common things with your other half, you still remain an individual. You have your career and your goals, your own hobbies and interests, your own group of friends etc. Being in a relationship does not mean becoming the same person. You should never lose sight of who you were as a person before your other half came into the picture.

You should have your own experiences and problems that your other half can support you through rather than share with you. Plus having your own hobbies and interest means you get to spend some quality time apart just enjoying your own company which is also key. Spending too much time together seems like the ideal when you are a horny and emotional teenager, but when you reach adulthood you really do appreciate those times of utter silence by yourself, and you should be able to keep a hold of those moments even with a partner around. 

Lesson 5- Pick up on the little things

Most articles of this kind will advise you to learn your other half’s love language; however, I think something common among most people is their partner picking up on the small things. If she says she likes a particular flower and she’s had a rough week, a bouquet on a Friday will make her a week. Little things that are said are often avenues on how you can treat the other person and while it can be a small gesture, it may mean a lot to them. This of course will be aided by your other half’s love language. Whether its acts of service, gifts, quality time, physical touch or words of affirmation, a simple passing by sentence may be an opportunity to treat them to little things that mean a great deal more. 

Lesson 6- Always try and spice things up

Getting into a routine or rut can be one of the worst things for a relationship. My boyfriend would come to visit me at uni, we would binge-watch films and TV Shows, order takeaway, maybe do the occasional night out. But it became very routine. So, it is good to spice things up with fun days out or ensuring that you have a monthly or weekly date night where you do something like a dinner or drinks or something completely out of the normal. Having new experiences together is the best way to build and sustain a bond as well as gathering a nice bank of memories that you can look back on.

And I think this goes without saying that this applies in the bedroom too but be mindful of lesson number 1 above in that respect

Lesson 7- Support, love, value, cherish and make it known

The worst thing that can happen in a relationship is the other person not feeling like they are valued or loved by you. All of the above will help show this but this is the core to a good relationship. It’s respecting boundaries, understanding the other person and their feelings, respecting those emotions and never making them feel like their feelings have no value. Appreciate them for who they are highlight that to them, every damn day if you can. Once you lose that, you may lose them. 

Facing up to Failure

Facing up to Failure

When I started my law degree, I was adamant that I would secure a training contract in my second year either by building a relationship with a law firm from the first year or securing a vacation scheme in my second year. From there I would go on to do the LPC and start my training contract in September 2019, qualify as a solicitor before I’m even 25 and have the nice big-city law firm salary of £80k.

But that didn’t work. But I thought hey it’s okay, I will just secure a training contract in my final year and I will have a gap year before or after completing the LPC. Maybe I can travel before committing myself to two years of the hardest work of my life. 

Okay, so that didn’t work either but still SO fine. I went on to self-fund the LPC and would have access to a much better careers service than the one at university. I had meetings after meetings, my applications were much better, I had more knowledge and I actually had office experience that I could talk about from my part-time job. 

It didn’t work. Upon finishing the LPC I focused on securing a full-time paralegal role which I was very lucky to get and start at the beginning of this year. I then focused on applications and things were really looking positive. I had legal experience; I was finally getting interviews. But came the end of the summer and so came the final rejection email from the batch of applications that I had sent out. 

Here I am, another recruitment season underway and answering the same questions all over again. Why Law? Why this firm? Tell us about your hobbies. What commercial issue is important currently? When have you faced a difficult situation? And I face all this with the tiniest of hope left. 

I have always seen this as a huge failure and beaten myself up about year after year. I had everything right, the grades, the hobbies, the extracurriculars and the experience. And I still have not been able to secure a training contract. Maybe I am not meant to be a solicitor and become the next Ally McBeal. Maybe I will be a paralegal forever like Meghan Markle and then find a prince that will marry me. As someone who is very stubborn and adamnt on getting their own way, this was just one of those things that became really hard to accept. My mind couldn’t understand it any other way other than a failure.

But while I was in my misery bubble, crawling into bed and feeling like I had been branded with a giant failed law student sign on my forehead, I reflected on the past couple of years. I know that a career in law is what I want and what I have wanted from the get-go. But it has taken me years to figure out what I truly want from a career in law and the type of workplace I wanted to be working in. In my second year, I was applying everywhere and anywhere and made well over 50 applications, most law firms which I would not even consider currently. This also meant I was making classic application mistakes, copying answers and sometimes forgetting to change the firm name. This number of applications decreased over the years as I better understood the profession and what I wanted to get out of it. But every time I logged on to LinkedIn, I saw a lot of people from my year securing those magical training contracts which made accepting this more positive way of looking at my failure even harder.

I think the most important conclusion that I have made when facing up to my failures and one of the hardest life lessons that you face as an adult is that everything in life does not fall into place. A lot of life is that part in romcoms where the couple is in an argument and mad at each other before the inevitable reconciliation where they make up and live happily ever after. Or in action film where you think the bad guy has won and that they will end up dominating the world. It’s those terrible moments in movies and TV shows but sometimes for very prolonged periods. Because lets face it your life is not a 2 hour romcom starring Jennifer Aniston and Matthew McConaughey. We can’t see life not falling into place as we imagined it when we were 16 as a failure. And we sure as hell can’t see it as a failure just because it doesn’t match up to where other people are in life.

If there is anything that this year has taught us is that we cannot plan on anything being concrete in our lives until that thing happens. After the way things have gone this year, I am counting all the little and big blessings. The fact that I have a job in law is a massive achievement considering the number of people who have been made unemployed this year or who have not been able to secure jobs in what is currently a very unstable market. While I am not where I expected to be, I am still on the right path and I have not given up. Because I think the biggest failure of all would be doing just that, giving up.

Top 10: Wardrobe Essentials

Top 10: Wardrobe Essentials

I have a wardrobe that is pretty much spilling out. I have cleared it over several times, but my shopaholic nature means that any item that is thrown out is swiftly replaced by another. But there are items in my wardrobe that I consider absolutely essential and will always find a room for them and use these as the base for a lot of my more on-trend and seasonal pieces.

White T-Shirt

This is featured on almost all wardrobe essential lists and for good reason. A good white t-shirt can be styled up or down and acts as the perfect base for an outfit. Style under a slip dress or with a statement skirt. Or perhaps with some light blue jeans and a blazer for your Sunday brunch with the gals. It also is a perfect backdrop for some statement jewellery or layered pieces.

Smart trousers

Being an office worker, I have several smart trousers, the majority of which are only worn for the office. But there are some that I love wearing outside of work for weekend or evening plans. Opt for a checked print for more of a statement but something more versatile are beige trousers. With a pair of boots or trainers, these can be worn all year round for all kind of occasions are flattering on all body shapes. 

Blazer

A good blazer is a must. I absolutely love blazers and I want them in every colour. A good black or cream blazer is a great starting point for your collection and then followed by a sage, blue, checked, yellow, white, pink…you get the point. I’m blazer obsessed and believe they belong in everyone’s wardrobe.

A good pair of jeans

I didn’t define what a good paid or jeans is because this is a personal choice. But you need a pair that will make you feel good. Whether that is a pair of skinny, straight, boyfriend or mom jeans, a good pair of jeans will get you far in your wardrobe styling. I have a lot of colours, from black to the lightest blue and tend to wear my dark blue ASOS Farleigh jeans the most just because I like the fit and think the colour is great for both the summer and winter. My white UNIQLO mom jeans are a close second but I feel like you can only wear them in the spring and summer. 

A midi skirt

It’s hard to find one that looks and feels right on you but once you find that perfect midi skirt it will become your go to when dressing up an outfit. My leopard print skirt from Urban Outfitters is definitely my most worn but for a more versatile skirt I like my black corduroy pencil skirt which I bagged from Primark for an incredible £3 in the sale. Both serve the same purpose of being both casual and nice enough to complete any outfit.

A black dress

There is a general theme for most of the items on this list is that they can all be styled up and down and the black dress is no different. Throw it on with a pair of trainers or heels and you can go from day to night. I opt for a t-shirt dress as I feel like it’s the easiest to wear in the day and with it being a tighter fitted dress, I feel like it dresses up the right amount for a dinner or drinks evening. 

A patterned shirt

A white button-down shirt is old news. A spotted, stripped or even a leopard print style shirt is much more a staple in my wardrobe. I feel like they can be worn in the office with your smart work trousers but whack on a pair of jeans and it also works. If you need to pick one, make it a striped shirt preferably in a boyfriend fit so it has more of an oversized look which make it easier for styling, for instance under jumpers, tucked into trousers or tied together. 

Turtlenecks

I used to hate turtlenecks because I associated it with being more conservative and when I was in my prime teenage days, the more skin the better. My parents used to force these on me now they fill a large section of my wardrobe and growing because I can’t get enough of them. They keep you and your neck warm, come in a cute bunch of colours, and can be layered or used as the focus piece of an outfit. I spend the majority of the winter in turtlenecks and I am very glad that I finally realised the beauty of them. 

Black Leather Jacket

I have always owned a brown leather jacket, and I would wear occasionally but did not think of it as my favourite piece in my wardrobe or my go-to jacket. But once I finally purchased my black All Saints Dalby jacket this autumn, my life had changed. It is the perfect jacket to elevate a simple outfit. It matches with absolutely everything and keeps you pretty warm. 

Denim jacket

I’ve had a denim jacket in my wardrobe for years, but it wasn’t till recently that I discovered the beauty of this wardrobe essential. While I am still not convinced of the double denim look, during the spring and summer where I tend to wear things other than jeans such as skirts and dresses. Living in the UK means we don’t always get a heatwave summer, so a denim jacket is that perfect additional layer to any outfit, particularly for summer evenings. 

What are some of your wardrobe essentials?

Has Skincare Become too Complicated?

Has Skincare Become too Complicated?

Maybe it is just me being more aware of the type of skincare products out there or maybe it is the rise in interest in skincare from the general public, but I feel like there has been an overwhelming amount of skincare information. Before a good face wash and a moisturiser was the basics for any skincare routine maybe with a toner and serum of sorts attached it, although admittedly I thought serums were only for those of attempting to avoid the early signs of ageing. Now you have words like hyaluronic, BHA, AHA, niacinamide, retinol, vitamin C, SPF, and squalene dominating the shelves and social media and very product seems like a must have. But is it?

*DISCLAIMER: The below is just my opinion and should not be taken as advice on how to go about your skincare routine. Please consult a dermatologist if you have specific skin concerns or do your research to educate yourself on the best choices for you.* 

These things are not new, but knowledge of them has significantly grew and I think a lot of that is down to them becoming more accessible due to the likes of The Ordinary selling them at low prices. This is great as good skincare should not be something that is only for those that can afford it, but I don’t think the products were ever explained and everywhere you turned it seemed like you needed all of them. Furthermore, there was a lack of explanation on how to use them, for instance mixing retinol with vitamin C is not a great idea or BHA with retinol. And then you had products that combined a lot of these ingredients, for instance a moisturiser with SPF or a serum which seems to do it all. Put simply, skincare become too complicated. 

I recently discovered the skincare side of Instagram and admittedly it is very aesthetically pleasing, but in the hopes of seeking clarity, I was just bombarded with more products that I should try and expanded my ever growing wish list which would break my bank account. Of course, you can google these things, but why can they not be listed on the products themselves. Unless you go into a store specialising in skincare or a counter you are unlikely to have the opportunity to ask questions on what a product is for and how it should be used. While people use these products to benefit their skin, a wrong combination could lead to long term skin damage which cannot be saved by any serum, and something that could have been avoided with the right information being put on labels. 

Then comes the problem of too many products and your skincare routine becoming too complicated. Your skin does have its own wonderful qualities that should be aided by skincare products. Irritation, shine, red, flaky or sensitive skin are just some of the signs of too many products for your own good. Pair that with losing track of the active ingredients being applied to your face and you could have a disastrous combination. 

Finally, skincare is seasonal, and your skincare routine should change, and I don’t just mean the SPF levels applied to you face (as those should actually stay the same throughout the year). Personally, vitamin C is best applied in the winter to brighten a dull complexion but also avoid any potential damage to the skin through sun exposure. Again, this is something that you can research for yourself but I kind of wish that companies did a bit of the hard work also. 

Ultimately, skincare is a very personal thing and should be adapted to the individual. But with so many products being thrown in our face as a must have, it is difficult to know what you do need without hours of reading up online. My skincare routine has changed quite a bit since my last skincare routine post. I have discovered new (higher end) products which have become my holy grails and I have tried to strip back the amount, of products that I use, particularly in the summer. I also use SPF now as a separate layer and use face masks a lot less. I guess a skincare does come down to trial and error as products that are recommended and hyped may not work for you. But the issue with the complication of the skincare market and of there being too much of it, is that it can have long term impacts on the skin. And that is simply just not shouted about enough.

How to Handle Busy Periods at Work

How to Handle Busy Periods at Work

It is safe to say that I have had the busiest couple of weeks at work which have also been my most stressful. Working late nights to meet tight deadlines and avoiding having multiple breakdowns a day consumed most of the month for me. 

Ever since I was a student, I have always taken a lot on, mainly due to my inability to say no. Which has often left me at my full capacity. Over the years I have had many friends ask me how I manage to juggle everything all at once, and the answer has always been I just do. I don’t really think about how much I have to do, I have always simply got on with it. But entering the working world is a whole different ball game and you simply cannot just get on with it. It is not just you that is relying on you ticking off that to do lists but also your team and clients. So when times get tough and overwhelming, these are the things that have worked for me.

Visualise your time

And I don’t mean to simply make a to-do list. I actually think to-do lists are completely pointless. They can invoke more panic than productivity and have you feeling more overwhelmed than you were before, especially when they are miles long with most of it unticked. You need to visualise the time that you have and how long each task will take you and what the priorities are. No point setting out an unrealistic to-do list which will make you feel deflated if it is not all ticked off in the day. 

I’ve tried bullet journaling at university and found that some elements of it where helpful, but it is not something that I would use on an everyday work basis. It’s all down to trial and error and finding what works for you. Perhaps a larger month or week overview is better than the day to day. Instead of a list try a clock with time set out for each task you intend to do today. Set out a list and then colour code it due to priority. Just anything that will feel a lot more doable and productive. 

Take regular breaks

When scheduling out your day, take some time for lunch or just screen rest time. I definitely did not do this, and I would feel burned out a lot more quickly. My eyes would go fuzzy by the end of the day and I felt I was more frustrated and generally not working as efficiently as I should be. 

You need nutrition not just to satisfy your gurgling stomach but to fuel your brain for a long day ahead. And don’t take breaks to check your social media, go outside for 5 mins for a drink or read a chapter of a book. Anything to get you away from the screen and to get your mind to rest means you will return to your desk a lot calmer and more productive. Set yourself reminders for these breaks and don’t take your phone or laptop with you so that you don’t get distracted by a phone call or email. This your time to breathe, enjoy it.

Reach out for help when necessary

This is one that I am still learning to do but I think it is important that you know when to ask for help. No one is going to be let down by you being honest and asking for help, but they may do when you don’t meet deadlines or work is not completed to the desired standard. 

Of course, there may be times when everyone in your team is busy, however, this does not mean that you are stuck with an unmanageable amount of work. Speaking about your workload openly is much more appreciated than you not completing the work. As scary as managers can be, they have surely been in your position before and will be able to advise if you approach them right.

Make sure to have fun plans scheduled for the evenings/weekends

If you can have your evenings free of work, make sure you spend it doing what you love. Whether that’s seeing a friend, having a bubble bath with a glass of wine or watching your go-to feel-good tv show or film. Not only do evening plans give you a cut off for when you have to log off work, but they also strangely motivate you to get your work done.

However, if you don’t want to risk cancelling plans then weekend plans are a must. But it is all about balance so make sure that you don’t fill it up with plans with friends and family as it won’t give you that needed time to relax and regenerate. Being burnt out from socalising all weekend may not be the right start to your Monday that is filled with calls and meetings.

Being busy at work can suck…a lot. But by taking a step back, evaluating the situation and approaching it methodically a lot of the stress is taken out. Worst case scenario, if none of the above works, just turn off your emails to focus on a set task (although do check in every couple of hours or so!) to ensure maximum efficiency. Just remember that busy periods come and go and for every, all nighter pulled there is a no emails day waiting for you shortly (hopefully!)

Top 5: Travel Bucket List

Top 5: Travel Bucket List

My travel bucket list is pretty long. If it wasn’t for life commitments and money restrictions I probably would find myself travelling all the time. I think with the pandemic and the fact that most holidays have been cancelled and that future holidays are currently in an unknown distant future; I find my wanderlust at an all-time high. So, here’s my whittled-down travel bucket list

Japan

I have always had a huge fascination for Japan. Tokyo is of course the place that most people think of going to when it comes to Japan, but after watching several documentaries, Japan has so much more to offer beyond its bustling high-tech capital. Kyoto during cherry blossom season paints the perfect backdrop to experiencing true Japanese culture. But there are also cities and towns beyond the typical tourist traps such as Osaka, Hakone, Kanazawa, Nikko, Nara, Hiroshima, Naoshima, and the list goes on. If I had a spare month or two, I think it can easily be filled exploring this amazing country.

Bali

I think Bali is high on almost everyone’s bucket list. Everyone that I know has sung high praises for the island and seeing their holiday pictures makes me all the more jealous. I want to wander the Tegalalang Rice Terraces, get soaked under the Sekumpul Waterfalls, island hop to the Gili islands, explore all the pristine and stunning beaches, visit the monkey forest and maybe learn how to surf. Bali seems to have it all. And of course my trip would not be complete without a stay in a fancy hotel with a private pool where I can enjoy a floating breakfast.

Road trip along the Amalfi Coast to Florence and the Tuscany Region

I have always wanted to go to Florence due to my love and passion for Assassin’s Creed 2. As I have gotten older a wine tour around the Tuscany region has grown in appeal and the Amalfi coast encapsulates glamour, beauty and relaxation into a single location. So why not combine all three into an epic road trip? Italy has so much to offer and I feel like I have only touched the surface by visiting Venice and Milan

Peru

I think there are a lot of incredible places in South America that I would live to visit, mainly for their coffee. However, Peru just makes the cut into my top 5 due to the Inca ruins at Machu Picchu. Add to that exploring the Amazon Rainforest, the Colca Canyon, along with the cities of Lima, Cusco, and Arequipa pair it with the adventurous and exotic food and that sounds like a perfect combination for an incredible and unforgettable holiday. 

Iceland

I feel like Iceland has really grown in popularity as a holiday destination. I think it has received a lot more media exposure and as it turns out the whole island is extremely beautiful and there is not an ear of it that is not worth exploring. My ideal holiday would be staying in a cabin with a hot tub so that I can admire the northern lights by cosying up by the fireplace after a long day of exploring one of Iceland’s 10,000 (!!) waterfalls.

I have to admit this was pretty hard as I have so many places that I want to visit such as New Orleans, Copenhagen, Cambodia, Vietnam, Kenya, Sydney, Cuba, Singapore, Barbados, Colombia, and the list goes on. But these are the places that I have eyed up and dreamt about for a very long time. What’s in your top 5?

My Ride or Die Makeup Products

My Ride or Die Makeup Products

I became makeup-obsessed around the age of 18 when I started watching hundreds of hours of YouTube. I wanted to know everything there was to know about how to apply makeup and the best products to use. Over the years I have tried a lot of drugstore products and more recently high end.  But I always have my trusted products that I will return to time and time again no matter what the latest release is and I will re-purchase it no matter the price tag.

Foundation

I have tried a lot of foundations to find the one that is best for my oily complexion. This is particularly difficult for the summer. But I swear by the IT Cosmetics CC Cream. Not only does it have SPF 50 protection, it really does stay well on my face all day without it feeling gross. I prefer a CC cream for the summer solely because it is a lot lighter. An honourable mention must be made to the Bare Minerals Original SPF15 Mineral Foundation as it is a powder which makes it very wearable for someone with oily skin, however the love I had for that foundation was very much taken by IT Cosmetics. Especially as I prefer to work with liquids as they are easier to apply and fits better into the order that I do my makeup in, i.e. liquids then powders. 

For the evenings and the rest of the year, I swear by the Fenty Pro Filt’r Foundation. It has never let me down and it gives such amazing coverage. It isn’t too matte, and I like the slight glow that you get from it but it just sits so well on the face and it is incredibly comfortable. Not to mention that the shade range is outstanding and means you won’t have to rely on concealer or bronzer to even out an uneven match. 

Concealer

My undereye area is definitely the part of my face that I hate the most as I have very dark circles so a good concealer for me is a must. Especially as on a day to day basis I will rely on just concealer to even out my complexion as I don’t usually have time for a full face. I always return to the Maybelline Age Rewind Concealer. I have to admit, the coverage is not as good as others, but it just smooths out my under eyes so well and I always use this for my no-makeup makeup days. However, if you are after full coverage than the Tarte Shape Tape Concealer is worth all the hype it received on release. Arguably the shade that I have is a bit too light for me and I believe I was mismatched upon buying but I can still make it work with a lot of blending. It is my go-to when doing a glam evening look. 

Powder

I have been using the same powder ever since I was 18 and I have never strayed from it. The Rimmel London Stay Matte Powder will also be in my makeup bag until they discontinue it or change the formula (or I finally start exploring different powders and find a new love). 

Bronzer, Blush and Highlighter 

I have decided to combine these as when I think of my routine, I generally think of this as a step that is all in one. I generally, very rarely shop for things in the makeup department apart from eyeshadows and mascaras and tend to just stick to what I know. So, my opinion with regards to this section may not be the most trusted. 

The Physician’s Formula Butter Bronzer and the Benefit Hula Bronzer are so far the only bronzers that I would repurchase. Also, I am ecstatic that Physician’s Formula is available in the UK now, although I would have liked having another excuse to visit America once I hit pan on my bronzer. It smells amazing and glides on the skin oh so perfectly giving the perfect bronzed goddess glow. Same goes for the Hula Bronzer, but I think this is less orangey than the Butter Bronzer, so I tend to use it more in the winter months.

I have actually tried a few blushes, and none give me a better flush of colour and glow than the Flower Beauty Blushes. They are not at all glittery but do provide a nice glow which actually makes it perfect for no-makeup makeup days as I’ll tend to just use this and it almost doubles as a highlighter. 

Speaking of highlighters, while the Anastasia Beverley Hills Glow Kits are great, I find that I only dip into two of the four shades in the palette and I think that goes for all the different colourways that they have. But the Colourpop Super Shock Highlighters are my go-to for travelling due to their compact size and my every day. They’re buildable enough for the evenings out but also subtle enough for the office or brunch with friends (nobody wants to be blinding while they enjoy their avocado on toast).

Mascara

Nars Climax, Maybelline Lash Sensational, Loreal Lash Paradise are my all-time favourites but honourable mention to Kiko Extra Sculpt Mascara and the Stila Huge Extreme Lash Mascara should be made also. However, the latter gets too clumpy for my liking and become hard to work with pretty quickly after purchasing. However, the first three are my holy grails and will give you lush lashes that will give everyone lash envy. 

Eyeshadow 

My favourite beauty product to buy and invest in. This was actually a very difficult decision to make. But if I had to recommend a single palette to someone it would be the Urban Decay Born to Run palette. It has absolutely everything that you need to create any look. It has colours that are not too bright to the point where they are terrifying, and it also has your nudes to build up a base for those colours.

But I think I would be betraying my true ride or die palette that got me through my university years and that is the ABH Modern Renaissance palette. It can get you from day to night and actually has a lot of potential looks available to you. 

I also feel like an honourable mention should be made to the Tarte In Bloom palette which I actually reach for on a daily basis for very quick and easy daytime looks. However, the above two palettes can provide that for you as well.

Eyeliner

I currently do not have my favourite eyeliner in my collection but the Kat von D Tattoo Eyeliner and the Stila All Day Eyeliner have been the best liquid eyeliners that I have used. As a person with hooded eyes, most eyeliners will smudge on me, and some have smudged throughout the day due to rain (or more likely tears) which has all too often left me looking not too glam. But these two will never let me down. 

Although worth noting that Kat von D has changed branding/companies so not sure if the formula has changed also. But as a person known for her killer wing, I really hope it is still the same eyeliner that I fell in love with.

Brows

Brows are meant to be sisters, right? What about cousins, is that okay too? I have had a wild ride with my brows, and they have been through a lot (Yes, I want through the overplucking phase and it still haunts me to this day) so I find that brows are super important. For the evening I will go for the ABH Brow Pomade as it keeps my brows steady throughout the night and I just like the way they look. For my 5-minute quick makeup, the Glossier Boy Brow is all I need to set my brows in place and also give it some colour to fill out the sparser areas. And for my every day when I have more time to get ready the Benefit Precisely My Brow pencil allows me to create a more natural filled in brow with hair-like strokes to fill out my brows. 

Lips

MAC Velvet Teddy and Charlotte Tilbury Pillow Talk are what I reach for most often. I would usually top it up with a Kiko 3D Hydra Gloss in the shade 19 Crème Cashmere. It is a tried and tested lip that never disappoints.

So that is my ultimate list of my ride or die makeup products. On a daily basis for work, I usually would only use concealer, powder, mascara and brows which gets me out of the door quickly and looking more acceptable than I did when I got out of bed. However, when going for a full face when I have the time then I will time and time again reach for the above products. Would love to know what your favourites are so that I can add them to my next makeup haul!

Travel Diary: 5 Nights in Venice

Travel Diary: 5 Nights in Venice

Well, it has been a while, two months exactly since my last post. I mainly stopped due to writer’s block and burnout. I felt like I had no good content to offer but I am back end more refreshed. And I think the refreshed feeling is in part due to my first (and probably only) holiday of 2020. This year has sucked for many reasons and one of those reasons is the fact that my various holiday plans had been cancelled. But I am very grateful and aware of how lucky I was to be able to enjoy 5 full nights in Venice earlier this month. 

Day 1

We got the plane from Heathrow Terminal 5 at 9 am in the morning (I had really missed those early trips to the airport) and landed in Venice at around 12 pm. From Marco Polo airport there are several ways of getting to the island of Venice; you can get a taxi if you’re willing to splash the cash, a water bus if you want a scenic but long cruise along the lagoon or a bus that takes you to the Santa Croce area of Venice at Piazzale Roma. We took the bus followed by a water bus to our AirBnB which was located in the quiet area of Castello. One thing to note is that public transport in Italy is very expensive with a 60min ticket costing 7.5€. if you plan on using the water buses a lot, then consider the 1, 2, 3 or 7-day pass which gets you unlimited travel. And make sure to validate your ticket to avoid any pesky fines! Highly recommend staying either in Costello or Cannaregio if you want to get away from the touristy area and experience more of the real authentic and local Venice. 

After settling in we wanted to get our bearings. Venice is relatively small and everywhere is walkable but remember to pack comfy shoes as there will be an unbelievable amount of walking involved if you want to experience the real beauty of Venice such as the narrow winding streets and the various bridges crossing the canal giving you the perfect picture opportunity. We went out at about 2 pm hoping to get some food which was pretty hard and we actually ended up having to wait till 6 pm as most places are closed after 2 pm and don’t re-open till 6 or more likely 7 pm. We ticked off the usual sights of San Marco including St Mark’s square and the Rialto Bridge and got lost looking for any open food options (there weren’t any). Instead of waiting around for restaurants to open in the centre we headed back to Castello and ate at a recommendation from our host, Nevodi Venezia. I could not rave about this place enough; the food was great and the service even better. The best part about Venice was how cheap an Aperol Spritz is with the average price being 3€ or 4€! Venice is known for being expensive and that the food generally is not as good as the rest of Italy which is why it is important to do your research before heading out so as to avoid any tourist traps that will be less than satisfactory. Nevodi was no such thing. 

Day 2

Refreshed and ready for a full day in Venice, we started off by wandering around Castello and headed to the Arsenal. While access is pretty restricted to this area due to it still being an active military base, there is a bridge that you can cross which gives you a pretty good looking inside. We actually originally went through the park which is right by the Arsenal which gives you a good view of the holding hands statute, but we only saw these from a distance rather than up-close, although this is possible. From there we headed to San Marco and hoped to either go inside the Doge’s Palace or the St Mark’s Campanile but the queues were not worth it so we decided to try our luck later in the day. Instead, we made our way over to Bar All’Arco for a typical Venetian lunch which involved several cicchettis with various toppings and a glass of wine (of course). These sorts of bars are the best for lunch, especially if you are trying to do Venice on the cheap as cicchettis can range from 2€ to 4€ depending on the topping and place. This was followed by an espresso at Goppion Caffetteria which had extremely well-priced coffee and sweet treats such as cannolis which we couldn’t resist.

We set our destination to the Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute which stands at the very tip of the Punta della Dogana but we made a quick gelato stop at Gelateria il Doge. Once at the Basilica we sat by the water and just took in the views as we waited for the water to splash our feet in the hopes that it will help cool them down and relax them. Of course, swimming or soaking your feet in the lagoon is completely forbidden but if you are looking for a little bit of downtime in the water then head to the Lido. We crossed the Academia bridge in order to make our way over to St Mark’s square. This time the queue to the Doge’s palace was considerably shorter. Tickets are 25€ but they do gain you access to all 4 museums in the square and are valid for 3 months so not too bad. The palace is well worth a visit if you are a history, architecture or art fan or you just wanted to see the largest room in Europe. It goes without saying that masks are worn at all times inside and on public transport and in Italy, a country that was arguably hardest hit by the pandemic, they are very strict with this so be respectful of these rules. 

Once we had left the Doges Palace, the queue for the Campanile was also fairly short so for 10€ we headed up to enjoy the views of Venice. This is probably the best view that you can get of the whole of Venice and the Lagoon, so it is definitely worth doing to enjoy this unique city. As we still had a bit of time, we made our next destination the Liberia Acqua Alta. This is one of the most unique locations in Venice. A bookshop that is filled with books and floods almost every year which causes a lot of damage to the books. But the owners have made that their selling point with a staircase made of books which leads up to a view of the canal. There is also a gondola which you can sit in and get pictures in without the 80€ price!

For the evening we got glammed up and walked over to Cannaregio for dinner which was super busy, and I was very hangry especially as the 40 minutes’ walk was not made easier by me wearing heels. It was impossible to get a seat, especially as we didn’t get there until 9 pm, so as this area is popular with locals it is worth booking. But we got lucky and had dinner at Osteria da Rioba, and although it wasn’t the place we intended to eat, it was still great, albeit a bit on the more expensive side. 

Day 3

We dedicated this day to exploring beyond Venice and travelled to the islands of Murano and Burano. But don’t make this a whole day trip like we did. The islands, although beautiful and unique, are really small and we found ourselves wandering around aimlessly and even travelling to the very tiny Torcello to kill time before our dinner reservation at Trattoria al Gatti Nero. 

We got the waterbus from our nearest stop, Giardini, and at this point, we had a three-day travel pass and got the bus all the way to Murano, which was about an hour. The island is known for its glassmakers and you can easily visit the various factories dotted around the island either for free or for a very small fee. We paid 3€ and got a demonstration on they make glasses and a horse statute and it well worth seeing. There is also the museum, but we gave that a miss and just wandered around the shops looking at the various glass goods. We then got another bus to Burano, which is around 30 minutes away from Murano. Burano is well known for its brightly coloured houses which is unbelievably beautiful and unique. 

As mentioned before, we had a booking for 7 pm at Trattoria al Gatti Nero, a really well-known restaurant, specifically for its risotto. So, with some time to kill, we headed to Torcello. This is a really small island with only a few residents and the Basilica di Santa Maria Assunta to admire. But dinner was definitely worth the wait, especially the risotto, which lived up to the hype. 

Day 4

We had booked a tour through Viator to visit Prosecco hills. This is well worth doing if you have the time and it is best to book a tour as doing it yourself is a bit of a hassle. A tour usually involves a light lunch and a visit of two wineries with all travel included. It is really is something special to see the rolling hills and taste good quality Prosecco straight from the source, usually coming from small family-owned businesses. 

Once we got back, we had some time to relax and catch up on some rest and sleep before dinner. We then headed to another local recommendation, Il Nuovo Galeon where I got to try spaghetti al nerro di seppie (spaghetti with squid ink sauce) which was actually delicious. One thing to note is that with Venice being surrounded by a lot of water there is naturally a lot of seafood and fish on menus. I am not the biggest fan of fish, so I was really going out my comfort zone a lot during meals, but it is definitely worth doing, as it is all local and fresh and it makes all the difference in taste. 

Day 5

The last full day. We started our morning at Giudecca which is the island closest to Venice. We mainly just wanted to get a peek at the very fancy Hotel Cipriani and had a look inside the Il Redentore church. We had booked Peggy Guggenheim which is the modern art museum in Venice, so we got the waterbus back over to Venice. It is fairly small but well worth the visit, especially if modern art if your thing. From there we just spent our day walking from food point to food point. Firstly, was the Torrefazione Cannaregio coffeeshop, known for its great (but spenny) coffee beans. Then we had pizza at Antico Forno. Venice is not known for pizza, because wood fire ovens are banned due to the risk of fire. But this was a fairly good pizza and a great price. 

We had booked a boat tour through AirBnB experiences which was going to take us around the lagoon while we enjoyed some prosecco and beer for an hour and a half. This was so worth doing, especially as it was hosted by a local who gave such a great insight into what life was like as a Venetian. I had my doubts as to whether I would regret missing out on the traditional gondola ride, but after this experience, definitely not. 

We managed to get a table at Al Timon, a very popular bar with the locals which serves delicious and huge meat platters which can be paired with wine (of course).

Day 6

After checking out, we visited the Museo Correr which was included in the ticket we purchased for the Doge’s Palace. The museum focuses on the art and history of Venice, so it is worth visiting if you have the time, especially as it is not as busy as the Doge’s Palace. From there we only really had time to shop around for some last-minute souvenirs, eat some cicchettis at Al Merca and have our last gelato from Gelatoteca Suso before we picked up our luggage from storage (thank you AirBnB host) and headed to the airport. 

Overall, Venice is not the romantic city that it is presented as. I think it is so much more, a city filled with culture, history and art and the birthplace of the spritz. 5 days was plenty of time to explore in and around Venice, but you can definitely do it all in a weekend if tight on time. Again, I am very much aware of how lucky I am to be able to travel. It was very much necessary, and I feel a lot more refreshed and went into work with a much clearer head. Hopefully, 2021 has a lot more opportunities for escapes like these.  

Travelling During a Pandemic

Travelling During a Pandemic

Back in December when no one knew that our lives would be turned upside down due to a pandemic, I filed for a new passport in Poland. As I was there for Christmas and knew that I frequently visited for quick weekends away, I figured I could collect it at some point in 2020. But then lockdown happened and my passport was stuck in Poland. With my passport expiring in August and my indefinite leave to remain in the UK being reliant on a valid passport, I had to make a quick trip to Poland, as soon as the borders opened up and the need for quarantine was removed.

The plan was for my parents and I to drive to Poland, and I would return earlier by plane while they stayed there for a further couple of weeks. We set off on Saturday afternoon and headed towards Dover to get the Euro Tunnel across to Calais. The Euro Tunnel was empty, with only a couple of cars. All shops, restaurants and cafes at the terminal were closed and only a couple of people wandered around for a toilet break. Upon arriving in Calais, we drove through France and Belgium. We stopped in a small town in the Netherlands for the night so that my dad didn’t have to make the drive all in one go. Masks were not required at the hotel and in fact, the locals at the bar were not social distancing and seemed quite carefree. It felt very bizarre to have a beer in a bar but it felt totally safe and normal! Breakfast was also served in the usual way, with hand sanitiser dotted around for you to use regularly.

We made several stops on our way through Germany, where masks are compulsory inside shops and it is clear that this rule is strictly followed. Here most shops, cafes and restaurants at the service stops were open and social distancing measures in place with one way systems. There were also automatic toilet seat cleaners! In Poland the same rules apply, masks are mandatory in shops and failing to wear one will cost you a hefty fine. I was able to see all my friends and family, which was incredibly lovely after a long period of not being able to. I even managed to go out for drinks and a meal with a couple of friends and everything felt totally safe and normal. While this was just a small city, it has shown me how far ahead the rest of Europe is at handling the virus than the UK. Poland had a complete lockdown for a month, with strict rules in place that the police enforced. The easing of lockdown did not happen overnight and was definitely aided by enforcing mask-wearing, particularly in closed spaces. This kind of consistent, clear and cautious approach to the pandemic is something that UK residents can only dream of.

On my return, I flew back from Tegel airport in Berlin with British Airways. Masks again are compulsory, including on the flight itself. I changed my mask twice; before the flight and after the flight for my journey back home. A mask can last up to 4 hours, but I changed it more frequently for safe measure. The usual airport security procedures worked like normal, with social distancing measures in place which can make the process slightly longer. On the flight, I was provided with hand gel and wipes as well as water, crisps and pretzels so the service was as expected from an airline like BA. Most shops and restaurants were closed at the airport, or they closed earlier than they usually would.

Upon entering the UK, you are required to complete a passenger locator form which informs the Home Office where you have been, how you travelled and how you can be contacted. You are informed about this upon booking, BA even sends a separate email and you are reminded about it on the flight. However, upon arriving more than half of the people had not filled out the form, which caused a huddle of confused passengers. I assume this may be due to the fact that people are returning from countries that don’t require you to quarantine, however, you still need to complete the form nonetheless. They also have a trial of a temperature checker in place, however, with a lack of orderly queues (due to the confused huddles), I can’t see how these will be efficient at checking the crowds. Heathrow, just like Tegel was a ghost town, with most places closed even though it wasn’t late when I landed.

If you’re looking to travel, it is definitely safe to do so (in fact most European countries are probably much safer than the UK!). However, if it wasn’t for the essential nature of this trip, I probably would avoid travelling anyway. From the small departure board and the lack of people at airports, it is clear that people are reluctant to travel yet despite the borders being open and the travel tunnels erring the need for quarantine. I was nervous to travel and took all the precautions I could, and even though I don’t have to isolate, I am choosing to do so for at least a week. If I was to go on holiday like I have in New York, Switzerland or Milan, most things would have to be booked in advance or I would have to wait in huge queues due to a decrease in the amount of people allowed at certain tourist attractions. Most restaurants need to be booked in advance and the idea of going for a swim in a public pool still terrifies me. But if you have the travel itch and want a quick city getaway, it is definitely possible, just remember to pack your mask and hand sanitiser along with your sungalsses and obey local rules.

Stats: Are they the be-all and end-all?

Stats: Are they the be-all and end-all?

I’ve just come back from a very horrid run. I felt like I was going to puke, have a heart attack and faint all at once and all I could think about was my risotto at home that would calm my starving stomach. I was going for a 5km PB, the sub 25 dream. Despite my best efforts, I didn’t get close to that. And I am slowly accepting that that is okay.

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Last Saturday I went on a run with my boyfriend, determined to get a PB and asked him to set the pace. I couldn’t keep up. And it devasted me. For weeks I have seen friends running much faster than I have ever done these past 4 years and they had only recently started running. I felt like any progress that I made, big or small, was not really progress at all because I could do better. I am a very competitive person at heart and I also have a tendency to compare myself to others (a lot) which is not a great combination. I contemplated deleting my running apps and just recording them on my Fitbit, just because every time I opened them, I felt terrible. No matter how much training I would put in, it still would not be good enough. I felt embarrassed to upload my run on Saturday because it went pretty badly. And even my run today, where I gave it all that I could, instead of feeling happy, I said that was okay but it needs to be better.

There also lies the problem of our lives now being entirely tracked. Ever since I got my Fitbit last Christmas I haven’t taken it off unless it’s to charge it or clean it. I became obsessed with tracking my sleep, steps and exercise. And yes I even record my yoga sessions no matter how long they are. We have all become obsessed with calorie tracking, ensuring we meet our step goals and that we exercise enough in the week to keep our exercise devices happy. But before them, 10,000 steps was never something that I set out to achieve in a day, nor did I get up from my desk to meet my hourly 250 steps. I used to exercise 3 days a week and thought that was sufficient, but my Fitbit states that it should be 5 (yes you can change this, but this is what the factory setting is set to, same as the steps). And I feel like it is the same with apps like Strava, where you record every activity, with the addition of the whole world being able to see it. You can analyse everyone’s splits and see how far they can run. And while it is a great community, it is those who run the farthest and the fastest that get to shine on the app.

I think it is clear that I have an unhealthy relationship with exercise (I wrote a blog post about that about a month ago). But it is also clear that with the number of apps and tracking devices we have available to us, exercise has taken on a new meaning entirely. No longer am I in my own bubble, it has been burst and my inability to run a 5km in under 25 minutes has been exposed. I have spoken to friends about this who re-assured me that it is all in my head, and ultimately there will always be someone faster or slower than you. I am not saying that stats are bad, I love being able to see how many calories I have burned and what my heart rate was, especially being able to compare that within different exercise types. But we all need to take stats with a pinch of salt because it really is not the be-all and end-all.