Italy travel blog: Rome, Florence and Pisa

italy travel blog

Italy has been on my ‘must-see’ destination list for such a long time; after all it’s the home of pizza, pasta and gelato! Earlier this month I finally got to visit and it completely surpassed my expectations.

italy travel blog

I went with Ellie, would you believe it’s our 3rd trip together in less than a year, for a long weekend. We left early on Thursday morning and spent 4 days there; with 2 days in Rome, one day in Florence and our last day In Pisa before an early flight home on Monday morning.

It was difficult to see everything we wanted to in such a short space of time, especially as one of my favourite parts of travelling is wandering around and not sticking to a schedule, but I feel like we packed in a lot.

10 things you must do in Italy

italy travel blog

Drink with the bohemians in Trastevere

Trastevere is a quirky neighbourhood a short walk away from the busy tourist spots in Rome. It’s a favourite with locals and tourists alike because of its unique coffee shops, bars and restaurants. We were there on Thursday and Friday night and people of all ages gathered in the Piazza di San Calisto (a pretty square with a fountain) to dance and watch live music. This reminded me of watching the people dancing and singing by the Seine River when I visited Paris (post here.)

italy travel blog

Join in with Appertiv

What’s better than enjoying a cocktail while you watch the sun set on piazza navona? Free snacks! Italian bars and restaurants serve you free snacks when you buy a drink between 16.30pm and 7pm (times sometimes vary so be sure to check) and includes a variety of bread, meats, cheeses and olives. Appertiv quickly became our favourite pre-dinner ritual.

italy travel blog

View Florence’s magical skyline

If you climb up a LOT of steps towards the Piazzale Michelangelo you will be rewarded with a stunning view of Florence’s skyline and the river Arno. It’s well worth the walk, we also visited a beautiful church and walked through a very old cemetery.

We went in the day, but I can imagine the view would be even more magical at night.

Italy travel blog

Italy travel blog

Discover hidden streets

Italy is a photographer’s dream, everywhere looks so interesting and beautiful! Wandering down streets and finding places away from the beaten track is something every tourist should do.

Rome’s streets are very narrow and cobbled with ivy cascading from the top and religious pictures featured in the walls. While Florence is much wider and more Venetian in their architecture, featuring big window shutters and washing hanging down. On the other hand, Pisa is more colourful, open and less cobbled.

Italy travel blog

Italy travel blog

Try a negroni

There is one drink you MUST try when you are in Italy, if you dare! A Negroni is a traditional Italian cocktail consisting of one-part gin, one-part vermouth rosso and one-part Campari, garnished with orange peel. Let me tell you, it is not like an Aperol Spritz!

See the sights up close and personal

You can’t visit Italy without seeing some famous landmarks! If you’re in Rome you should definitely visit the Colosseum and the Trevi Fountain; we also saw the Spanish Steps, the Vatican and the Pantheon (although I was refused entry because of my white vest top…)

Italy travel blog

Italy travel blog

Italy travel blog

Laugh at tower tourists

Speaking of famous sights, if you visit Pisa you must see the Leaning Tower. Pisa is actually really tiny and although it has lots of gorgeous marble architecture, there isn’t a great deal to do apart from visit the tower and admire the beautiful buildings close by.

Italy travel blog

We had a great time watching all the other tourists try and get the perfect leaning tower picture. I found it quite difficult to get a good shot so just opted for a normal one instead. Could you do better?

Spot 10 sausage dogs

I was surprised and delighted at how many dachshunds I saw during my trip to Italy. Although they are popular in England, I have never seen as many in such a short space of time! There were also lots of poodles, chihuahuas and spaniels (I have no pictures of the puppers!)

I hope you enjoyed reading this post. I would absolutely love to return to Italy, especially Rome, and would highly recommend it to anyone.

 

The Northern Blog Awards 2017

nbas17 hannah gets hench

It seems like the NBAs was only last weekend, but I’ve realised it was a few weekends ago now and I still haven’t written about it!

nbas17 hannah gets hench

Hosted by We Blog North, the artist formerly known as We Blog MCR, it was a night of glitz, glam and giving Northern bloggers a well-deserved pat on the back.

I was nominated for the Best Fitness & Lifestyle category which was very exciting, but to be honest I would have gone even if I wasn’t nominated because I’d have major case of FOMO if I didn’t.

London is kind of where it all began for blogging and now most of the successful full-time bloggers reside there, only fuelling the ‘everything happens in London’ theory, but the Northern blogging scene has exploded massively over the last few years and I’m delighted that events like these are cropping up.

As much as we love London bloggers, it can feel as though us Northies (can I do that?) are neglected due to our postcodes. The amount of amazing blogging events I’ve been invited to (ok, about 4) that take place in London is ludicrous and it would be nice if brands could foster the same enthusiasm for bloggers up North.

Ok so back to the awards night…

Category is: Red-Carpet-Realness

The dress code was ‘red carpet glamour’ so of course I spent the day watching Ru-Paul’s Drag Race and listening to Lady Gaga to channel my inner diva.

I went with a long navy dress from Boohoo which I’ve had for about 3 years and a beautiful sparky choker I borrowed from my friend. Plus, I rocked a dark red lip.

With my trusty Instagram Boyfriend by my side, we arrived at the most beautiful venue; The Principal Manchester.

nbas17 hannah gets hench

There was a red carpet and a photographer, The Vain Photography (who I had previously pestered at a Cocktails in the City event a few months ago with Ellie, i.e.  followed around asking for photos) and everyone looked so bloody glam!

The actual awards were in the ballroom and the tables were decorated beautifully, plus there was a giant bed courtesy of the home wear experts The Christie, which I still regret that I didn’t climb into.

It was surreal looking around the room and recognising people but not actually knowing whether it was them, and therefore whether to speak to them, or knowing only their blog names. Or not being able to pronounce their blog names, but recognising their faces.

nbas17 hannah gets hench

I was pleased to see that I was sat on a table with a few people I knew. As in, people I followed on twitter and Instagram but have never met.

There was Rihanna,  Joe , Anoushka , Faye, who I actually met at the Tampopo event) and Tanesha Jade. I really enjoyed getting to know everyone on my table, although I hope I wasn’t too weird in all my excitement! Plus it was lovely to catch up with other bloggers who I hadn’t seen for a while.

We dined on a delicious 3 course meal, which included this goats cheese and beetroot starter and the best mashed potatoes I have EVER eaten.

nbas17 hannah gets hench

nbas17 hannah gets hench

I’m afraid there are no photos of the mash, so I give you permission to close your eyes and imagine the little dollop of heaven before reading on.

The winners

I was definitely sat on the winning table! Rihanna won the Lifestyle award, and Anoushka won the Beauty Blogger award, however I sadly did not win the Fitness award. Although, my friend Emma did and I couldn’t be happier because I love her blog and she works so hard.

After the awards finished, we mingled and danced and got merry before collecting our goodie bags and calling it a night. The goodie bags were absolutely massive and I still haven’t managed to unpack everything just yet!

Thanks so much to Holly and the rest of the Team at We Blog North for putting on such a fabulous event. Roll on the NBAs18!

Autumn Makeup Masterclass with Space NK

spacenkmasterclass

Autumn is my favourite season, hands down. The temperature drops and allows you to bring out the knitwear, you can chain drink brews without turning into a sweat monster, and best of all, the Halloween stuff comes out!

spacenkmasterclass

In addition to the above, I’m a big fan of Autumnal colours. As I have warm toned skin, brown hair and hazel eyes, brown, red, green and gold are my go to colours. Last week I was invited to a special makeup master class at the Space NK store in Manchester to learn about the new Autumn/Winter products and how to incorporate the AW catwalk trends into your look.

The makeup look

The techniques in the Masterclass were demonstrated on a lovely model named Holly and Jutheanne was the MUA, along with Grace Revington talking through the products used. I have included a links to the products they used to make it easy for anyone to find them (this is not a sponsored post though.)

Skincare

To kick start they prepped for makeup. 111 skin care pro Dean Dawson talked about the importance of using a gentle exfoliator a few times a week to dissolve dead skin cells which can clog pores and make the skin look dull. He recommended the Lift Off Exfoliating Cleanser because it is really gentle on the skin and contains ingredients which improve cell turnover to make your skin look fresher.

The base

After prepping the skin, pro team artist Jutheanne used an illuminating primer by Laura Mercier on Holly’s skin. She chose this specifically as it would make the skin look as though it was illuminated from within but you could use a non-illuminating primer if you wanted to have a more matte base. My sister swears by the standard Laura Mercier primer and I have used hers in the past and been really impressed by the results.

For foundation, she used the new Laura Mercier Flawless Fusion which is a long-wear foundation that promises a matte but not cakey finish. Apparently, the best way to apply this is to use a damp sponge or beauty blender. I tried this foundation afterwards on my hand and I was in love. It had such a soft and lightweight texture, I can’t wait to try it on my face.

Next up, Jutheanne used a Nars creamy concealer, aka the holy grail of makeup, to lighten up any darkness under the eyes (not that Holly had any) and then used a light setting powder to keep everything in place.

The vavavoom

Finally, onto the eyes and lips!

After priming the eyes, Jutheanne used a beautiful taupe colour to add some definition without looking to dramatic. She also applied eyeliner to the tightline (the line just below your top lashes under your eyelid) and very close to the lash line and finished by using a Keyvn Aucoin mascara to add volume and length to the lashes. I had never heard of this brand but apparently it is one of the best for eye makeup.

Finally, it was time for a bold red lip. Jutheanne used a Nars lip pencil to outline the lips and create a shape and then filled it in with one of the new Nars power matte lip pigments. These colours are amazing and are all named after famous rock songs, how cool is that?! To finish the entire look, she spritzed some setting spray and voila, Holly was an Autumnal babe!

I had a lovely evening at Space NK and learnt so much about the brands they sell and the correct techniques to achieve the best results with the makeup. The pro team were amazing, as were the staff who worked in the Manchester store; I will definitely be going in and asking their expertise on makeup in the future.

My journey into Intuitive Eating

Autumn pancakes on plate
Autumn pancakes on plate

Photo by Joseph Gonzalez via Unsplash

When I first heard about Intuitive Eating I was a little sceptical, doesn’t it just mean eating whatever you want all the time? Why does this need to be a ‘movement’? Surely there are some health implications for this?

After some serious sarcastic eye rolls and a lot of research later, I discovered Intuitive Eating was much more than that.

Intuitive Eating helps us to develop a happy and healthy relationship with food and teaches us to listen to what our body wants. It stops us from starving and restricting ourselves and helps us to quit binging and overeating for good.

Most importantly, Intuitive Eating sticks its middle finger up to diet culture and refuses to accept it as the norm; instead it encourages you make peace with food and find complete and utter pleasure in eating once again. Sounds great, right?

You can see why I was seduced by Intuitive Eating, but there’s more to it than just cracking open a pack of biscuits and chomping away. In fact, Intuitive Eating has its own set of core principles.

Here are a few of my favourites (because if I went into them all this blog would turn into a book):

Reject the diet mentality

Don’t you think it’s shocking how diet culture has become such a normal part of our society?

Just pick up any beauty magazine and count how many times it mentions weight loss or body transformations. Listen in on people’s conversations and hear how many people are scorning themselves for not ‘being good’ and restricting themselves.

The first step to Intuitive Eating is to reject diet culture by staying away from media that tells you that you need to lose weight to be worthwhile. Avoid diet chat, people that constantly talk about losing weight. I know this may be difficult, so instead of avoiding people you could try not engaging in the conversation when they bring it up.  

Make peace with food

Food is food; it’s not good and it’s not bad. It’s simply fuel that helps you survive.

Although some food is more beneficial to our bodies than others, think blueberries and walnuts, other foods are just enjoyable to eat, mac n cheese and doughnuts here’s looking at you, and you shouldn’t feel guilty for doing so. By following Intuitive Eating, you are giving yourself unconditional permission to eat and not restrict yourself. After all, restriction leads to bingeing and that fosters guilt. Aim to eat foods that make you feel good and offer yourself kind nutritional advice that helps instead of critiques your food choices.

Deal with your Feelings without using food

I’m an emotional eater, always have been. Whenever something happens in my life I turn to food. Whether its sadness, boredom, stress, anxiety, loneliness– I will find a food for that. But eating for an emotional hunger will only make us feel worse in the long run. Once you’ve finished eating, the source of the emotion will still be there, plus the the discomfort of overeating. Find ways to overcome your issues without using food.

Respect your body

Respect your body and embrace the person that you are. As I discussed in this post, it’s important to celebrate our differences and embrace different body shapes. It’s hard to completely reject diet mentality if you are unrealistic and overly critical about your body.

Exercise

You can be body positive and love exercise!

Focus on how it feels to move your body, rather than the calorie burning effect of exercise. If your only motivation is to lose weight and you consistently put yourself through gruelling sessions, your enjoyment of exercise will quickly be exhausted and you’ll end up hating it.

As you can see, Intuitive Eating is a really positive way to think about food and I am trying to embrace it as much as I can. Since learning about body positivity, I have altered the way I think about eating and the effect diet culture has on my mental health. Although undoing a lifetime of diet culture won’t come easily, I am proud to say that I am making progress and being less critical of myself and my body.

Hope you enjoyed this post. If you want to learn more about Intuitive Eating I found this site helpful when learning about the core principles of Initiative Eating (it includes all 10).

Tampopo Manchester review

Tampopo restaurant review

Tampopo restaurant review

Tampopo restaurant review

Tampopo restaurant review

If you’re from Manchester you may have heard of Tampopo, a group of restaurants that celebrates Pan-Asian cuisine and the flavours of South East Asia.

Interestingly, Tampopo is also the name of a 1985 ‘ramen western’ film about the joys of Japanese food, but for today’s blog post I am going to be focusing on the restaurant Tampopo and their new menu (although if you’re curious, you can read about the film here.)

Tampopo is one of my favourites because a) I love the name, it’s impossible to say it without smiling, b) it has an inviting atmosphere that lends itself to quick bites as well as sociable meals with groups, and c) because the menu is affordable and always evolving.

With restaurants in three locations around Manchester; Albert Square, Corn Exchange and the Trafford Centre, Tampopo has captured the hearts of the Mancunians everywhere. As the restaurant are always striving to improve their menu, they regularly change things up and a few weeks ago I was kindly invited to try out the new dishes and review the experience.

I went along with my friend (and fellow blogger) Liz who blogs at Dirty30Crisis and we were joined by none other than Ellie, aka Eleanor Graceful.

The food

Tampopo restaurant review

We had a sharing platter which contained Fresh Spring Rolls, Sticky Wings, Pork Dumplings, Coconut Prawns, Satay Chicken and Corn Fritters. I enjoyed the pork dumplings so much that I didn’t even realise I had eaten both mine and Liz’s…Ellie had the veggie platter which looked just as appetising so I would love to try that next time I’m there.

For our mains, I had Singaporean Curry which is described as a ‘Creamy yellow curry with coconut milk, turmeric, curry leaves, galangal, sweet potato, tamarind and cherry tomatoes’ with added chicken and Liz had the Pad Krapow which is an ‘Asian Basil in a fiery oyster sauce with fine beans, red chillies and red peppers’ with chicken.

As someone who isn’t very good with spice, the Singaporean Curry was perfect for me. It was packed full of flavour and not bland at all like some mild curries can be. Liz enjoyed her Pad Krapow but it was incredibly spicy and she struggled to eat it all due to the heat. Both dishes also came with a large side of rice or noodles.

For dessert, I had a Roti Pancake and the girls opted for a cocktail each. The pancake was a delicious and drizzled with condensed milk, cinnamon sugar and served with cinnamon ice cream. As a complete cinnamon addict, I loved this dessert!

I was stuffed and content after all the food. Before we left, we had a chat with the Manager Sarah, who told us about how the chefs came to final decisions about the new menu, including dialling down on the spice (I wondered how spicy was must have been before, were they dragons?!) and adding more unique flavours. It was clear that the whole team were passionate about getting the food absolutely right.

Overall Tampopo is a great restaurant if you’re looking for a quick and tasty meal. They do lots of vegetarian and gluten free options, as well as catering for meat lovers. You must try the cocktails or mock-tails too!

Thanks for reading my review, what are your favourite South East Asian dishes?

Amino acids, BCAAs & supplement review

amino acids collage

Think that only bodybuilders need to take amino acids? Think again! Amino acid supplements are a simple way to benefit from amino acids which are usually found in food and drink.

optimum nutrition watermelon

 

Let’s get scientific (puts science goggle on…) There are currently 500 amino acids that are known and classified, but only 23 are involved in the process of building proteins. This group is known as the proteinogenic amino acids, which combine into peptide chains (polypeptides) to form the building blocks of a vast array of proteins.

Nine of the 23 proteinogenic group are known as “essential” because your body cannot create them from other compounds. This means you need to consume these amino acids – phenylalanine, valine, threonine, tryptophan, methionine, leucine, isoleucine, lysine, and histidine through your diet.

BCAAs stands for Branched Chain Amino Acids; this refers to the three amino acids: leucine, isoleucine, and valine. Because BCAAs are the only amino acids not regulated by the stomach and liver, it means they head straight to the bloodstream and muscle tissue. Some studies have found that they lower lactate levels, making recovery faster and increase the release of growth hormone during exercise.

Although these occur naturally in certain foods, such as meat and eggs, supplementing your intake with sports nutrition can make it easier to improve muscle protein synthesis and boost recovery. To clarify, you don’t HAVE to take amino acid supplements to get the benefits, you can find these naturally in food, however supplements are a good choice if you cannot get enough from your diet.

Optimum Nutrition AmiN.O Energy Review

For the last month, I have been using Optimum Nutrition’s Essential AmiN.O. Energy supplement in the flavour watermelon, it contains both amino acids and caffeine so it’s the perfect pre-workout drink. I like to mix 2 scoops with a large bottle of water in the mornings before I work out because I find that it gives me an edge that a cup of tea just doesn’t have.

Here are some things I liked about it:

  • The powder form mixes well and doesn’t feel gritty or thick like others
  • It’s a sweet watermelon taste, but doesn’t taste sickly or too ‘fake’
  • It contains vitamin C
  • I could feel the effects after about 30 minutes, it gives great burst of energy for workouts (cardio and lifting)
  • However, due to the high caffeine content I can’t drink it after 3pm or I struggle to sleep (I’m very sensitive to caffeine)

Overall, I’ve noticed a difference in my energy levels on the days that I’ve drank this. I can do longer length sessions in the gym and don’t feel as ‘worn out’ as I usually do the next day.  I use it as a pre-workout for my morning workouts because once I drank it at 4pm and I couldn’t sleep for that evening.

So there you have it, if you’re looking for a new pre-workout I’d definitely recommend Optimum Nutrition’s Essential AmiN.O. Energy supplement. There are loads more flavours I want to try like Blue Raspberry, Strawberry lime and peach cranberry. Some protein powders contain BCAAs so definitely lookout for those too, you can read my review of one here. 

Do you use pre-workouts, I’d love some recommendations in the comments if you do!

 

*Product was gifted to me, however all opinions are my own*

Is Boomtown fair festival worth the hype?

boomtown 3 collage

I’ve heard many things about Boomtown festival, some good some bad, but mainly that it was unlike any other festival. Last week I put this to the test and experienced the madness that was Boomtown Chapter 9: Behind the Mask

Boomtown chapter 9 Sector 6 stage

Boomtown chapter 9 windmill stage

Boomtown chapter 9 lions den stage

Located in Winchester, which is basically at the bottom of the country, Boomtown is one of the most diverse festivals on the scene. It features a variety of musical genres, with everything from indie, country, folk, drum & bass, house and many more. The festival prides itself on creating an immersive experience, using very well structured set designs and actors to make attendees feel like they’ve entered a dream like town in a different world.

I’ll admit that I was a little apprehensive before I went to Boomtown. I didn’t know many people that had been previously and the ones I knew were going seemed a bit…wild? I’d heard stories that on the last night everyone descended to the forest banging on pots and pans until 7am refusing to accept the festival was over. I was worried it would be a weekend of ‘free spirits’ reviving the flower power movement one illegal substance at a time. I also had no idea what to wear (‘do people even wear clothes at boomtown?!’) and racked up a large online order filled with backless sequin crop tops, velvet play-suits and patterned flares.

I guess I’m writing this blog to put anyone who is worried about going to Boomtown next year at ease, because it was easily one of the best festivals I’ve been to. It’s huge and crazy at times, but the atmosphere is incredible and there is something for everyone. So much effort was put into creating an entire town to party in, complete with districts, sub-towns and hidden venues.

There is nothing scary about it, and even though 60% of the people there did have dreadlocks, most punters are your average ravers. There’s a good mix of young and old people and you even spot a few families around due to the special Kidz’ Town section. Of course, there were still chavs there, but they flock to any place with music and the possibility of getting off your face for four days.

Tips & tricks for Boomtown Festival 

boomtown 3 collage

Be prepared for a big queue – Some people had to queue for 7+ hours to get in to the festival, so be prepared for long waits. We were also stuck in at least an hour’s worth of traffic once we got closer to the time.

Explore everything on the first day – Boomtown is massive, we spent most of our time in the same areas but looking back on it I wish I’d explored more. We found an amazing place on the last day which was a bit of a walk from the main old town section.

HOOCH – They sell Hooch at all the bars! Even better, they sell Hula Hooch! In case you didn’t know, hooch is a retro alcoholic lemonade style drink and it is delightful.

Make the most of it from the moment you wake up – Once again, I spent quite a lot of time hanging around the campsite drinking and getting ready, when I should have gotten ready as quick as possible and explored the festival. You can take alcohol from the campsite with you, so there’s no excuse to stay in one place.

Take a few outfits but don’t go crazy – Although there were loads of people who were dressed up, most people didn’t make as much effort with their outfits as I’d imagined. Honestly, everyone is having such a good time no one really cares what you look like. It’s definitely a low maintenance/no judgement festival. I ended up wearing the same top most of the time because I really liked it!

Take ear plugs – The music goes on all night, even when the main stages are finished there’s always something going on and rowdy people making noise. If you want to sleep, then pack some ear plugs.

Try the food – Boomtown has loads of quality food vendors in each of the sections, I tried a Tibetan place which was amazing and a peking duck wrap place that was so good we kept going back to for more! However, it’s not cheap so make sure you bring enough money for food for 4 days (about £10 per meal).

Bring sun cream – Apparently, beautiful weather is a Boomtown tradition so make sure you bring your sun cream. It was boiling every day and lots of the people we were with got sunburnt/sunstroke so don’t risk it!

Festival season is over, which makes me so sad because I enjoy going to them so much (here’s some of the reasons why I do!) Hope you enjoyed this post, I will try and write some more event style posts for the future.

Have you even been to Boomtown? What’s your favourite festival?

Give Blood & Save A Life

Photo by Denise Chan on Unsplash

Photo by Denise Chan on Unsplash

Donating blood might not be on the top of your to-do-list, it might even be on your most feared list, but it’s a selfless act that could actually save someone’s life!

How often can you say you’ve saved a life?

I’ve been wanting to donate blood for years but have never got around to it. A few years ago, my mum became very ill and had 10 life-saving blood transfusions while she was in hospital. After this, my sister and I promised ourselves we would donate 10 pints of blood to say thank you to the amazing people who donated theirs.

My sister stepped up and donated at least four pints of blood since then, but I haven’t played my part. Unfortunately, piercings, tattoos and semi-permanent makeup stood in the way of donating and there was never a good time. However, as my last piercing was back in February, I was finally allowed to give blood so I donated last week. You must wait at least four months after getting a piercing, tattoo or other procedure involving a needle until you can donate blood.

I was already registered to donate so I booked the appointment online by choosing my local centre and selecting an appointment time. You can also walk in anytime but you might be waiting a while until they are free. I chose an after-work appointment as it was my first donation and I wasn’t sure how I’d feel afterwards.

What to expect when you give blood

On the day, I drank plenty of water and ate proper meals. Once you arrive they ask you to drink at least one large glass of water and then they ask you some personal questions to make sure you can donate. They also prick your finger to check your iron levels, as people who are anaemic can’t donate unfortunately. Then they decide which arm is the best to take blood from. Once you’re all checked, you wait until the nurses call you up to sit in the chair.

Once in the chair, they strap a band around your arm and find a good vein. Then the needle goes in, but you can barely even feel it. The needle is quite big so if you are worried about it then just look away. Then they leave you to it!

It took 5:39 seconds to get a pint of blood from me, which is quite fast, or so I’m told. What can I say, I’m a fast drainer! It’s quite surreal seeing a bag full of your blood but also oddly satisfying. Once you’ve filled the bag the machine automatically stops and makes a beeping noise to alert the nurse. After this they remove the needle and apply a bandage to stop the bleeding.

The best part of the process is the free snacks! Once you’ve got your bandage on, you are encouraged to sit down and refuel for at least 15 minutes. That means helping yourself to crisps, chocolate and biscuits – for free! The worst part was having my finger pricked for the anaemia test, the donation didn’t feel uncomfortable at all.

I didn’t feel poorly after my donation, although I did get very tired a few hours afterwards. The next day I felt absolutely exhausted which must be because of the donation but after I had a good night’s sleep I felt fine. Giving blood was really easy and I will definitely do it more often now I know there’s nothing to worry about.

You don’t need a reason to give blood, its just a really kind thing to do. If you can donate, please do.

You can sign up to donate blood here.

Do you have a story about giving blood?

IF YOU CAN’T LOVE YOURSELF, HOW’N HELL YOU GONNA LOVE SOMEONE ELSE?

Hannah stood by a brick wall looking pensive

Variety is the spice of life; the world would be so dull if everything was the same. Differences are beautiful and make us unique, so why don’t we celebrate our differences when it comes to our appearance?

Hannah sat on pavement

Photo credit: Alexander Ward 

I’m a firm believer of inner beauty and the fact that people’s goodness will shine through. I’ve met many a ‘beautiful’ person whose beauty quickly diminished after I’d realised they had a rotten personality. I don’t think there are any ugly people in this world, just ugly souls and actions.

You don’t need to change anything about yourself. We need to stop trying to mould ourselves into someone else or fit an unrealistic ideal. You might look at yourself and spot imperfections, but for every ‘flaw’ you chose to celebrate, you make someone who is insecure about the same thing feel better about themselves. If we all embraced our ‘flaws’ then there would be no such thing as a flaw, just lots of variety.

Companies insist on making us loathe ourselves and invent new flaws every day so we spend more money trying to ‘fix’ ourselves (lots of sarcastic speech marks in this post). It’s 2017 and people are getting designer vaginas for God’s sake! I know that people can do what they like, but it worries me that cosmetic surgery has almost become normalised. I fear for my younger sister growing up in such an image focused world.

Weird analogy: imagine if having one huge foot was the new ideal for women and every single woman got a foot job and eventually it was more uncommon to NOT have one large foot?  We’d all look the same and people would expect every woman to have one giant foot. Girls would grow up thinking it was just a normal part of growing up and they’d have a surgical ‘rite of passage’ to get the giant foot of their dreams. I know this is a silly example but it illustrates my point. We shouldn’t be uniform, we should all be different. Children aren’t born hating their bodies, they only start to believe this once they’ve been exposed to social pressures and the media.

I’m trying to reclaim my ‘flaws’. Every time I look in the mirror, instead of telling myself that I hate certain parts of my body, I focus on the things I love and think about how lucky I am to have a body that allows me to experience life. This extends to mental health too, I am trying to silence my inner critic, the one that tells me I am not good enough or I will fail at everything I try.

Sure, this is all easier said than done. Everyone has days where they want to change themselves, I have days where I see a horrible photo of myself and think ‘Fuck it! I’m getting a loan to pay for veneers.” but that’s all part of being human and it’s ok.

As my saviour and all time hero, Ru Paul said,
‘HONEY, IF YOU CAN’T LOVE YOURSELF, HOW’N HELL YOU GONNA LOVE SOMEONE ELSE?’

 

Please vote for me in the Northern Blog Awards. I’m up for the Health and Fitness Lifestyle category and you can vote here. Thanks lovelies x

6 Reasons I Love Festivals

girl at festival posing with sign

Girl at festival with glitter

I love festivals. I went to my first one, Leeds Fest, back in 07 when I was 15 and decided that this was the life for me. I worked hard all year to save up enough money to go every summer. Since then, my festival obsession has graduated and taken me across the world, as well as staying local. Going abroad for a festival is amazing, but nothing beats the good old muddy English festival experience.

I get it, festivals aren’t for everyone. Some people can’t understand why anyone would choose to spend a weekend sleeping on the ground, sharing portaloos with strangers, and covering themselves in glitter as a weird shower alternative.

I would be lying if I said some of those things didn’t bother me. Of course, when you’re squatting over a portaloo at 5am praying you don’t lose your balance and dive into five days of stranger’s excrement, there is some part of you that questions why you couldn’t just have a normal hobby like baking. But these gross experiences are long forgotten once you’re home and the hangover has passed.

For me, festivals are among the highlights of my year and I love every single moment of them. Here are some of the reasons I will continue going to festivals every year.

Amazing culture all in one place

Festivals are like an all you can eat buffet of culture. I love the type of festivals where you can experience loads of different music genres at once: walk into one tent and its drum & bass, turn to the next and there’s indie, then take a stroll and find yourself in the middle of a heavy metal death pit, and so on. Many of the festivals I’ve been to also have comedy tents and even art areas. I went to Sonar Festival in Barcelona and they had a whole exhibition you could explore which was filled with simultaneously weird and incredible projects.

Making friends with everyone

This is probably my favourite part of going to festivals, making loads of weird and wonderful new friends. This is mainly down to who you’re camped next to, but you also just end up talking to people when you’re out and about. Most people are super friendly and open, because they are just trying to have a good time like you are too. The friendliest festival I have been to was Lost Village or Hills Have Vibes, it was like a little community.

Unleashing your true style

Looking ridiculous is encouraged at festivals, so embrace your weird side and get creative. I love wearing bright colours, fake animal ears, crazy patterns and using bold makeup and glitter to decorate my face and body.  However, hold your horses (or unicorns) – recently I’ve learnt that glitter is very harmful to the environment because it is essentially tiny bits of plastic that can’t be recycled. So, if you do use glitter, please try and use the eco-friendly stuff. They sell it at Lush and you can find more online, I will be doing so in the future.

girl at festival with unicorn head

The food

Obviously, it depends what type of festival you go to, but usually festivals have amazing food vendors that offer street food, cultural delights and lots of carbs and cheese (is there a more winning combo?) I love trying out new independent food vendors at festivals and tracking them down once I’m home.

Embracing your gross side

Ok, this is a bit of a weird one and some people will not agree with me at all, but I quite enjoy embracing my grossness while I’m at a festival. I’m not one of those people that pays extra to have a shower or use boutique camping facilities, I’m a baby wipe girl through and through and I’m lucky if I take my makeup off at night while I’m at a festival. I enjoy the freedom of not worrying about what I look like all day, where my only reflection is in the tiny mirror in the toilets or the cracked hand mirror I brought. I also love a good gross discussion with friends, these usually involve drinking wine from a bag and realising that we are just as gross as each other.

Escaping

On a completely different note, I love the freedom that you feel at festivals. You are so out of the comfort zone of everyday life that you seem to let go and stop worrying about things. This is massively helped by not being on your phone all day, and being surrounded with positive people that you love.

Hope you enjoyed this post and that I have encouraged you to get into the festival spirit! If you’re going to a festival and are looking for tips to stay healthy, I wrote a post about it last year.