Insider: The Best Bars In York

Few cities can rival York for character and hidden gems located within the compact cobbled streets inside the Historic City Walls.

The city is alive year round, and is filled with incredible things to see and do. Notably, plenty of unique and welcoming bars, pubs and bistros with famous menus, interesting cocktails and local Yorkshire ales.

As a York resident and self-professed lover of the city, I want to share with you my favourite places to unwind and enjoy a drink or two over nibbles with friends.

Living minimally has reset my priorities and ensured that I spend my time making memories, and doing the things I love most. Therefore I frequently visit the places in the list below to share good times with friends and family!

So in no particular order, the best bars in York are:

Pairings Wine Bar 

IMG_9072-1

Pairings Wine Bar on Castlegate in York is my favourite new discovery, and you’ll regularly find me perched on a bench in here on a Friday enjoying a light and refreshing wine flight.

The two owners are incredibly knowledgeable about their wine, and are on hand to give you advice and recommendations about their carefully selected menus.

My personal favourite wine that is currently on their menu is the Rag & Bone Riesling. It is honestly one of the best white wines I have ever tasted, and I am so thankful that they introduced me to it!

The bar is very tastefully decorated and often filled to the brim so get there early for a good seat.

If you are going to go, enjoy one of their bespoke wine flights (I personally recommend the Meaty Morsals Flight) or indulge in a Whisky flight – the Japanese Whisky at the end is particular good for lovers of a good malt. Oh, and at the end you get to take away the handwritten tasting notes provided with each glass.

It’s little touches like this that make Pairings one of the must visit bars in York.

The Judge’s Lodging

IMG_6929-1
The Sun Terrace at The Judge’s Lodging

Just around the corner from York Minister, The Judge’s Lodging is a maze of an Inn. There’s a lovely and hidden outside sun terrace to the very back of the bar, and a cosy cellar to enjoy the colder winter nights within. If you explore hard enough, you’ll also find a lesser known cask ale bar hidden within the walls – if you hit the sun terrace you’ve gone too far!

I love The Judge’s Lodging in York because of the character of the Inn, the friendly staff, great food and the way you can snuggle by the rustic ceilings inside in the winter, or enjoy a gin and tonic on the sun terrace in summer. It is the perfect year round bar, and great to enjoy with close friends.

Oh, and the food is incredible. If you haven’t eaten yet and enjoy a drink on the terrace, be prepared to get very hungry as you can smell the delicious scents from the kitchen as they breeze over you. I would recommend one of the sharing boards, they are incredible and very more-ish.

Sutlers

13076984_10154108975936119_5262025282545516020_n
Enjoying the Vintage and Retro Vibe in Sutlers

Sutlers is a relatively new bar on Fossgate (open for just over a year) is one of my all time favourite places to enjoy a drink with friends. Again, this bar is very much like a maze with various rooms and corners where you can hide away and enjoy your evenings with a well-crafted cocktail in hand.

If you head upstairs you’ll find a variety of different rooms, one even with a fire and comfy sofas, where you can relax in private with friends or as a two.

The cocktails are fantastic, and they always have good local ales on tap. If you have time, you should try out their menu. It’s filled with the classic British comfort foods including Corned Beef Hash, Lamb Shank Pie and Spam Fritters (which are amazing!)

If you head over at lunchtime, there’s great deals and I manage to regularly get a meal and drink under £10.

Go back in time and visit Sutlers today for great music, drinks and food you’ve long forgotten about but never knew you missed.

Evil Eye

Hands down, Evil Eye is one of the coolest bars in York. Hidden behind an off-license, there’s a three story unique bar with the tastiest food in York.

Their cocktails are legendary amongst locals and tourists, and the food is incredible. I would totally recommend the Thai Red Curry or Beef Rendang, but whatever you do make sure you also make room to sample their famous Evil Chips!

I think Evil Eye is one of my favourite places as it has one of my favourite beers (Zywiec) available and serves some damn good cocktails for reasonable prices.

You can sit on a table downstairs and enjoy the hustle and bustle of this cool bar, or head upstairs and relax on one of the four poster beds within the bar (yes you read that right).

Evil Eye is a bar that needs to be experienced and enjoyed, and is that popular on a summer weekend that people often queue for others to leave before they can go in.

I would wholly recommend you make a date with this bar for some Thai food and cocktails to remember.

The Hop

13599818_10154267366481119_1084442597940282307_n
Enjoying drinks in The Hop

If a bar has a pizza oven, large open bricked seating area, and amazing local ales on tap it’s automatically guaranteed to be good. The Hop has good food, good beer and live music playing most evenings so it is a great place to relax and unwind after a long week.

The food is also really reasonably priced which means you can grab a delicious bite to eat before settling down for the night to watch some great local bands and enjoy a pint of the Cornish Pilsner that my husband swears is the best drink available.

Top tip, arrive early as it can get seriously busy and I don’t think you can reserve a table!

The Fossgate Social

There seems to be a trend with the bars on this list being located on or near Fossgate, and there’s a good reason for this. The final bar on my list, The Fossgate Social, is a cosy place to retreat for drinks and chatting with friends late on a evening. The place is small but this just makes it more unique, with impressive antler chandeliers hanging from the ceiling and delicious food and drink menus.

The music is always guaranteed to be good, and the atmosphere is great. You need to go here to really experience a unique and interesting night out in York.

I’ve yet to experience the food here, but it is on my list, so when I do I will be reporting back!

So there you have it, my top bars to visit in York. What are yours? Have I missed anywhere amazing? Let me know in the comments below…

 

 

 

 

Minimalist Wellbeing: My Health and Beauty Regime

Over the years I have learned that beauty products are amazing, but they are supposed to enhance and build on the natural look you have. If you nurture your body and mind, you look and feel a lot better on the outside, with or without cosmetic products.

We all have good and bad days, but if we try to take little steps to take care of ourselves, we can at least ensure they don’t hit us as hard as they might.

Now this doesn’t mean I don’t use a variety of makeup and products, because I do on a daily basis. However I try to pair them with more natural wellness remedies to ensure I am getting the right balance.

So what does this involve?

Hair

I have never been one of those incredible girls who can master the art of hairstyling like a pro. I can just about plait my hair, and I am seriously in awe of the people who can French braid or weave their hair into cute halo braids.

Therefore, this might be why I take a low maintenance route when it comes to the mane on top of my head.

When washing, I use the Touch of Silver Shampoo to brighten the blonde tones in my hair, followed by Pantene’s Keratin conditioner through the body and ends for a bit of TLC and hair repair.

I only wash my hair once-twice a week. I have found that by not over-washing my hair it is a much better condition and is a lot thicker than it used to be.

For styling I tend to go with loose waves, or pin straight. Before applying any heat I always rub coconut oil into the lengths and ends of my hair, and I now rarely blow dry my hair. Air drying makes it a whole lot softer, and saves on the damage.

This does however mean I need to seriously plan my washes! Normally it’s daytime Sunday and evening Wednesday to leave enough time to dry before bed or social gatherings.

Skin and Body

Every morning I drink a Pukka Detox Tea, and I tend to do some form of exercise be it Yoga, Barre Workout or walking.

I then use a Balance Me face mask to exfoliate and cleanse my skin. I leave this on during my shower as I tend not to wet my hair / face so the mask and steam works wonders together.

IMG_0031

I use coconut oil beneath my foundation as I am prone to dry skin and let this absorb whilst I use moisturizer on the rest of my body.

Throughout the day I try to keep hydrated and drink plenty of water. Since I began making sure I got my eight glasses a day, I easily notice when I am thirsty. It’s great to be able to listen to your body’s triggers and not confuse them for hunger or tiredness like I used to, when it’s just down to being a little dehydrated.

For fuel, I eat only when I am hungry and my stomach rumbles. This means I am in control of when my body needs some energy, and I don’t over indulge. Oh, and I try to sneak spinach and/or kale into every meal. I think it’s amazingly delicious, and it’s also so good for you! Go greens.

Of course I have treats though, such as Chinese delivery or wine, because I like to fill my life with what makes me happy. So if that’s some chilli chicken I am all in! I just make sure I indulge in moderation.

At night, I make sure I get some time to unwind. This means at least half an hour reading or listening to Classical FM before bed, and no mobiles or that distracting blue light anywhere nearby.

Then I settle down for my average 5-7 hours a night kip. However I don’t wake to routine, I wake when I am rested, be that 4am or 10am.

Makeup

If you are a regular reader of my blog you might have seen my previous post about my capsule makeup collection.

IMG_9131

When it comes to preening and polishing I tend to use a small collection of trusted products, however I am always open to new suggestions and ideas so please let me know if there’s anything good I should try!

My makeup bag contains all the key products I need to create my daily look, with a few extras thrown in there in case of special occasions and the need to glam it up.

I try to ensure the brands I purchase are sustainable where possible. I often use the EWG website to track the environmentally friendly nature of the cosmetics I use.

On my face I use No.7 Stay Matte Foundation. It gives such a good coverage, and is one of the only matte foundations that doesn’t dry out my skin.

I use a concealer from Smashbox, and their moisturising Legendary lipstick in the shade Audition on my lips.

On my brows I use a No.7 pencil followed by the Benefit Gimme Brow gel to get good definition. As a natural red head, I have barely there brows and need a lot of support to get some visible arches between my eyes and forehead.

Then I sweep a lick of eyeliner across my lids, and finish with some layers of Mascara. I am currently a big fan of Rimmel’s Volume Colourist Mascara as it gently dyes my lashes over time, which means no more nasty chemical lash dyes each month.

I am always on the look out for more earth-friendly products though, so please do recommend any staples you swear by!

So there you have it, my daily hair and beauty low-down. For me, I don’t strive to use as few products as possible in order to minimise my life. Instead I ensure that all my beauty essentials are used regularly, and I just don’t impulse buy any products or accessories anymore. 

Tell me about your beauty regime, any top tips?

The Perfect Minimalist Accessory: A Stylish Pair of Specs

Living with less means spending less on the things that don’t enrich your life and fill it with bad energy, and more on the things that matter to you.

For a while now I have been decluttering my wardrobe and refining my own personal style, and now I am taking part in #Project333 to really get my clothes down to that perfect capsule collection.

I am a big believer in buying according to your personal style and look. This way, you don’t need to worry that you won’t love an item when you get home, or that you’ll wear it once and then realise it’s not your shape/size/colour.

A large part of that is clothes, but quite often people really overlook their accessories collection. For me, my accessories need to be functional, practical but also look good with my capsule collection. If you know me well, you’ll know I am a regular glasses wearer (you will especially know this if you’ve ever been in a car with me!) This means that I quite often pair my favourite pair of specs with my look for the day.

A lot of people love to invest in their glasses and other accessories, as they wear them on an almost daily basis. I love the idea of pairing both quality and style but also making sure that my frames are affordable so I can spend my money on other experiences. Such as adventuring across Italy or California.

This is why for the last two years I have always got my glasses from Select Specs. They do an amazing range starting at just £6 and then go right up into designer frames at a fraction of the cost on the high street.

I always tend to go for brown tortoise-shell frames as I think it suits my complexion best. I also think that they pair with the colours of my defined personal style really well (if you want to read about this, pop over to this post here and define your own key look).

IMG_9099

Oh, and these brown frames are also perfect for making the best flatlays!

This is why I am in love with the Hallmark 8813 glasses that Select Specs sent me this last week. They are easy to pair with anything, insanely durable, and they cost just £29 for the basic frames with a prescription lens.

They come in loads of different styles too. I am currently already considering getting a pair in black to really cement my capsule accessories collection.

IMG_8976

Even better, you can add high impact lenses, add a tint to make them into prescription sunglasses as much more for as little as £10.

But honestly, these glasses are the ideal minimalist accessory because they are fashionable, functional and reasonably priced, leaving me with more money to go off and see the world (as long as I remember my specs!)

Have you used Select Specs before? Would you recommend them? What’s your minimalist accessory staple? Let me know in the comments below.

 

Living in the now: life doesn’t wait for you.

You see quotes everywhere reminding you that you should embrace each and every new day, and that you should never wish your life away.

Today I saw this poem on Instagram and it really hit home.

firstiwasdying

I have spent nearly two years working hard to ensure everything I do means I experience the most out of life, that I fill my days with things I love and that I spend my money on the things which matter rather than the materialistic clutter.

However what I have also done is count down the days until my next big travelling adventure. Clocked watched until I was spending time with my best friends and loved ones and then whilst spending time with them, sat and planned how we can do it all again very soon rather than embracing the moment.

No matter how hard I have worked to ensure everything I do enriches my life, there always seems to be more that I can do to make it better. I might have just travelled to an incredible country…but where am I going next? I might have just watched my favourite band play but when will I see them again?

It’s not just the bigger things either. I tend to be so engrossed in the excitement and thought of eating dinner out by the river at the end of the week that I dismiss the delicious meals I eat during the week.

I need to start living in the now, I need to embrace the hours and opportunities I am given and I need to relish the chances and experiences each new hour holds.

To start reclaiming my days I am going to start writing down three things that I have enjoyed, experienced or appreciated each day for two weeks.

I am also going to re-embrace these daily habits which help me to live in the now.

  1. Do one thing at a time. When I am reading a book, I will do just that. Switch off from the world and enjoy the hours. Same for eating lunch, going for a walk or talking with my friends or family.
  2. Spend five minutes at the end of the day reflecting on what it has involved. What was my favourite part of the day, and why.
  3. Continue to ensure that I enjoy my work. As I spend over 40 hours a week doing my job, I need to make sure that it is something that enriches my life.
  4. Stop dwelling on yesterday. If you think too much about what could have happened, or what you did, you won’t be able to focus on what you are doing or what you can do.

If you are feeling that far too often you are forever looking forward at what your future might hold, counting down the days until your next big milestone, you might want to do this too.

Life doesn’t wait for you to experience it. You need to do that yourself.

 

 

Travel More Spend Less – How To Book A Budget Break

Going away no longer needs to be a luxury or expensive if you are looking in the right places and saving your pennies elsewhere. Around a year and a half ago I started blogging about my trips and holidays as friends would often ask me, where’s the best place to stay, or who did you fly there with?

Although I have shared many a post on individual adventures and getaways, I haven’t actually written anything about how I go about finding a holiday to go on and the process around that. So here are my top tips for ensuring you get to adventure and explore as much as possible this year, or next year if you are a bit of a planner!

IMG_0502.JPG
Marrakech – A super surprise budget break
  1. Destination, destination, destination

One of the things which often trips people up when they are looking for a fun filled and frugal short break is that they tend to go into the process with a destination in mind. I would advise you to try and be as open minded as possible and instead try and summarise what you are wanting using the below three categories:

Weather – do you want somewhere sunny, cold and snowy, or are not fussed?

Routine – looking for an active break, historical sightseeing or a relaxed beach getaway?

Highlights – food, drink, cost, history – what will make it stand out for you?

  1. Get the right tools for searching

Download the Skyscanner App or go to www.skyscanner.co.uk and set the fields to the below to start with.

13078317_10154102063816119_174695992_o

It will open up this window, and this is where you need to get savvy. If you are open to when you travel, keep the dates as ‘Anytime’ and see where fate takes you. If you have certain dates, pop in the month to get a view of days around it to see if you can make any top savings.

  1. See what fits!

Browse through your list and see what meets your destination criteria from above. Let’s say I am going in May, and I want a sunny trip with opportunities for sightseeing and relaxing, oh, and good food is a must.

13113080_10154102063876119_1481434126_o

I know Italy is good for all of the above, let’s click through to there. There’s lots of options, and I think Milan could be a good shout. They have amazing food, and some great sites to see. Not to forget, plenty of Limoncello.

13091639_10154102063711119_1641610510_o

Then click through to the Destination of your choice to see where you can fly from. You can then see prices according to individual days and book when is best!

13078211_10154102063596119_1919479026_o

I have to be honest here and say the desktop site is MUCH easier to find a bargain on, so do grab your laptop over your phone for true deals.

  1. Book your accommodation

When going away, I tend to use a wide variety of sites to get the best deals for my trips.

www.booking.com – good for hotels for two of you in major cities

www.trivago.com – compare hotels across a number of providers

www.airbnb.com – great for boutique breaks or small group trips in amazing locations

Are my top three choices, but I also love to use Voyage Prive, Secret Escapes and Groupon if I am after luxury at a cut of the cost.

If you are truly doing budget, don’t forget Hostelworld. The deals on here are great and they also have B&B’s for a fraction of the cost.

47192246
Our booking.com Marrakesh hotel
43032797
The Marrakech Lobby
27
Our Hostel (yes you read that right!) in Rome
Screen Shot 2016-04-26 at 18.40.25
Our AirBnb in Croatia
  1. Food and Drink

One of the most expensive bits of going away tends to be the part where we indulge ourselves on the local delicacies for the week. But it doesn’t have to be. If you find a local supermarket, you can get great staples for breakfast and lunch – I am talking Croissants, ham, cheese and breads, fresh melons etc. Then you can just have a delicious dinner out each evening.

Oh and if you like a beer or glass of fizz when abroad, make sure you check out supermarkets as you can usually get a bottle of Prosecco in Italy for under 4 euros, like ours which we enjoyed on our hotel balcony in Venice. Save your money for the sites and exploring in the sun!

IMG_5339.JPG

Oh, and always check Groupon before you go. We saved loads in Vegas because we prepaid for a couple of high-end meals which we got for a bargain with a Groupon.

Last Top Tips:

  • Getting to the airport: Make sure you compare your costs between trains, coaches and parking. We tend to use Looking4Parking for great rates if we need to park in the airports.
  • Get your travel money in advance, and use online comparison sites to get the best deal.
  • Book tours and adventures in advance – I love the Viator App.
  • You don’t need heaps of spending money to have fun, you just need your adventurous spirit!

 

 

 

Getting back on track: Buying experiences, not things

Today I had one of them moments where you suddenly stop dead in your tracks and think, what the hell have I become and what on earth am I doing?

I will set the scene for you. I was wandering around a gorgeous home store near our house in York looking at all their beautiful grey and white kitchens with their brass handles and incredibly handy draw holders and gadgets and so on. I had the brochures in one hand, measurements in the other and after a month of debating was about to order my new shiny kitchen.

But I wasn’t excited. In fact, I was seriously nervous.

I kept worrying that the kitchen wouldn’t be right. I kept thinking that it was a lot of money we were about to spend on cupboards and draws (we have already bitten the bullet for our new appliances).

I turned to Kyran and told him this and he said ‘thank f*ck’ (sorry for the language there readers). He was feeling exactly the same and that we could be using our bonuses for something we would remember for a long longer, and probably wouldn’t want to change in 5-10 years.

It was at this moment that I had my big, what on earth am I doing wake up call, and we drove straight home, recycled the kitchen brochures, and got on the phone with our favourite travel agents to book the trip of a lifetime!

IMG_3411.JPG

This isn’t a blog post which says one thing is better than another. If a new kitchen is your dream, then it is the thing you should be investing in. But personally, I know from years’ of trial and error that spending my money on trips, adventures and experiences makes me way happier than buying anything material.

This is a blog post about doing what is right for you.

In my case, I booked an adventure of a lifetime to make so many more memories and have a ton of laughs with my bearded companion because I know that makes me happy. If you are a regular reader of my blog, you’ll know that two years ago I began to declutter my life of ‘things’ and ‘stuff’ and I have since felt better for it.

Buying a house, reading new shiny house magazines and spending hours in Ikea almost threw me off my wagon. But this trip booking just pulled me right back.

What I have taken away from this experience is that if I am going to spend my hard earned money, I am going to spend it in a way that brings me the most excitement, lasting joy and happiness. And hey, if researchers from San Francisco University found that people who spend their money on experiences over things have an increased happiness, who am I to ignore them?!

So, here is to being back on track. Let the adventures, memories and experiences begin (again!).

New Year’s Resolutions: Aiming for Less, Achieving More

2016 is just around the corner, and I have started to think about what excitement, adventure and experiences the next 365 days could hold.

Looking forward, I have a few aims that I would like to achieve in the coming twelve months, but I won’t be measuring myself against them. I find that too often we measure our success against achievements that actually don’t contribute to our main priorities or overall happiness.

photo-1444211111734-7cddabac4149

Too often my old resolution lists used to look something like this:

  1. Get a promotion or new job
  2. Stop drinking / eating a naughty indulgent treat for a month
  3. Visit 4 countries in a year
  4. Buy a shiny new material object after saving such as a new car or handbag
  5. Get 100 new Twitter followers (I have a small but lovely following online so this would have been a big deal for me!)

In fairness, these were goals that I felt passionate about achieving and I did get a sense of elation when I could tick one of them off. It also didn’t help that magazines published at that time of year bombarded me with top tips such as ‘How to smash your resolutions in the New Year’ and ’10 resolutions you HAVE to keep’. As a young twenty something, it is no surprise that I was easily influenced by shiny glossy magazines filled with ways in which my life could be that little bit better.

When I did save up and buy that new shiny handbag, the excitement only lasted a short while until I coveted something else newer and shinier. Yes my resolution had been achieved, but in reality, my goals didn’t leave me with much satisfaction at all. Even worse, if I only managed to visit three countries in a year or get 99 Twitter followers I would feel disappointed in myself, which shouldn’t have been the case.

I am not much older now, but as I have tried to live my life more minimally and experience more by clearing away the clutter and distractions, I have become more aware of what aims matter and what I should focus my resolutions on going forward. I won’t use goals as gateways to being happy. I can be happy as long as I am working towards achieving the right things, not if I can cross something off a list at the end of the year.

thumb_IMG_0027_1024

Now I will be using my resolutions for 2016 as guidelines to help me make decisions. I won’t be setting goals with measurable targets, instead I will have rough guidelines that will direct my choices over the next year.

My old goals used to be quantified by stuff, or by things. Going forward, I will know I have achieved my new goals by feelings or values.

So, what are my resolutions for 2016?

  1. I want to travel as much as I can with my loved ones and friends to experience new places and make lots of memories.
  2. I won’t buy anything material that I don’t need for as long as I can in 2016. This means no new clothes, shoes, gadgets or shiny trinkets that I am buying for the sake of wanting not needing. Don’t get me wrong, if all my shoes have holes in I will be buying a new pair, and as I am moving house I will be purchasing a kettle and other essentials, but I won’t be buying for the sake of it. 2016 will be the year that I try to not buy indulgent items just for the sake of wanting.
  3. Spend more time writing, reading and taking photos. Three things I love to do.
  4. Give something back. I want to give a little more time to a cause that needs it.
  5. Eat better, all year.

I will be documenting my resolutions throughout the year, and letting you know how I am getting on. What are your resolutions for 2016? Let us know what you want to achieve or aim towards in the comments below.

What A Year: 2015 In Review

1. Less is more

If you follow my blog you won’t be surprised to learn that I have been trying to experience more and buy less for two years now. Over the last twelve months, this is something I have really invested in and concentrated on a whole lot more.

A lot of people have spoken to me about my mission to remove the excess from my life but few people have addressed why I have decided to start letting go. The thing is, I have been removing the chaos and clutter that was once part of my life, to make room for the important things, the memorable things and the experiences.

I had a life full of stuff, but I soon came to realise that buying a new pair of heels might have made me feel great for a day or so but the excitement soon evaporated.

Instead, I decided to make a list of what I truly valued and make sure that in 2015 they became my only focus. Overall, I have learnt a lot this year. It has been tough at times, and I still have a long way to go, but I feel that I have really done so much more that has contributed to my overall happiness.

By spending less on ‘things’ I have had more money to travel. By only working on projects that I value, I have had way more time and been able to give so much more to them. I am trying to eat a little healthier as I want to take care of my body more.

Now I am living a life with less. I am living a life centered around my values and passions. And I can’t wait to see how much more I can experience in 2016.

Read my minimalism posts from 2015 here.

IMG_3968
Sardinia 2015

 

2. I am addicted to travelling

I have well and truly caught the travelling bug. I have always been a fan of globe-trotting however in 2015 I adventured further and more frequently than ever before. I had memorable incredible trips with family in Berlin, friends in Croatia and my husband in Marrakech, Falmouth and Sardinia. No material item could have given me as much excitement, experiences and memories than these trips did.

2015 has closed the door on spending on stuff, because in 2016 I will be spending all my spare pennies on my main passion. Seeing the world with the people I love.

photo-1450027179084-b3ff1fce4bb5

3. Work on what you are passionate about

Earlier in 2015 I embarked on a new chapter of my career, though one thing has remained constant – I still work in digital.

If you read my blog for marketing purposes, you know that I am interested in and passionate about digital marketing and analytics. I am fortunate in that I am able to not only work in this field, but also have time to write blog posts to share what I learn along the way and use my skills to support incredibly important organisations such as Positive Choices.

2015 has taught me that new career directions can be scary, but as long as you are passionate about what you are doing, they will always be right.

If you are deciding on a new career path for 2016, why not try and work on something you are passionate about?

photo-1449247709967-d4461a6a6103

4. Change is okay!

Talking about career changes, something I have truly realised in 2015 is that I need to start to embrace change as a positive opportunity, rather than being scared of what it might mean.

Usually if I know a big change is happening, I start flapping around like Big Bird and make everything into a huge deal. One of my goals for 2016 is to work out what makes me so anxious about change.

This year I have survived a few big changes and they’ve all resulted in really positive experiences. 2015 has taught me a lot about what change means, even if it makes you anxious.

5. I’m a Belieber, and I love Detox Tea.

His new album was good okay, and detox tea is my new daily staple.

photo-1449495169669-7b118f960251

6. It’s okay to talk.

Following a few operations and more tests than I thought imaginable, I was diagnosed with Endometriosis in 2014. Even though this chronic condition caused me a lot of pain I was reluctant to talk about it to anyone.

Roll on 2015, and my wonderful husband, three incredibly supportive colleagues and two ‘small’ and lovely best friends showed me that it is okay to share and that sometimes it is alright to not be feeling 100%.

Now if I am suffering and can’t do a social event, need to work from home or can’t even move from my bed I speak up and I hope that this might just inspire anyone else who has the condition to do the same. I have learnt that my health is a priority and if I get that right, everything else will be just dandy.

Do you have something you wish you could share? Try with a close friend, colleague or family member today, because 2016 needs to be the year that we stop the stigma.

Read more about Endometriosis here.

photo-1430024759857-660f9aa67c47

7. I can’t keep a plant alive.

I have tried to keep a total of three plants alive during 2015. This isn’t the first year I have tried to do this. They all died. Again.

I am not even sure if my current desk plant is real or fake, but I have been watering it just in case.

I am not made for plant rearing. I am slightly astounded that I can keep two cats alive (just kidding RSPCA I am a good cat-mum).

photo-1439798060585-62ab242d7724

8. Live in the now

I am very, very easily excited. This means that often if a big event is coming up in the near future I quickly lose sight of what is happening now.

This year, I have been trying to live more in the now and experience each day. This has mainly been led by my drive to live minimally and cut out the excess.

I have something very exciting happening at the moment that I will be sharing very soon, but right now it is important for me to not focus on that, but instead focus on today. This is hard, but worthwhile when each day can mean the chance for many more memories and experiences.

2016 will see me really try to do this. If you are particularly good at it I would love to hear your tips!

9. I love my cats more than most people

Sorry friends. It’s true.

Do not compare yourself to others

10. Forget what is right for others, and focus on what is right for you

You might have read my post which I published two weeks ago about how I am trying to stop comparing my life to others.

This year I embarked on this challenge and it has been an incredible journey. By worrying less about what others think, I have been able to use that time to make new plans, arrange travel trips and do things I would have never done before because I was scared of what people might think.

At the end of the day, your life is your life. Support others, be kind to others, but don’t compare yourself to others.

What have you achieved in 2015? What are your goals for next year? Share them in the comments below!

Minimalism Made Easy: Stop Comparing Your Life To Others

“Comparison is the death of joy.” – Mark Twain

I am guilty of it, you are probably guilty of it too. Even when we don’t intend to we compare ourselves to others as if it is almost a natural process. We know that by comparing ourselves to others we feel as if we are not good enough, and yet we all still do it.

Why?

Because it is so easy to compare our ‘failures’ to other people’s successes. Especially as we only see a tiny fragment of their lives and base our judgments on our own lives against these. How do you know they are not thinking the same about you?

In a digital age, it is even harder to not get involved in and feel envious of other peoples lives when we witness so many aspects of them on social media on a daily basis. Incredible Instagram photos, Facebook success updates and hilarious tweets that you will never think of but wished you had.

As a digital marketer, I spend most of my day online, witnessing what others are sharing and doing across the world. I can see how it is so easy for people to become obsessed with comparing the lives of the famous fashion bloggers and fitness campaigners that they follow with their own. We need to remember to instead focus on and value the things we are pleased with about our own lives, what we are achieving each day, and what we really love doing!

The reality is, what we often see, hear and witness online is often just a well-executed marketing campaign for an individual and their life.

Around two years ago, I made a conscious decision to at least try and stop comparing myself to others. These are the principles that I follow to stop worrying about other people’s lives, and focus on enjoying my own.

  1. Comparing is addictive.

You can always find something to compare about when looking at others. Whether it is their hair, car, luxury holiday or amazing job, the list will never end. Once you realise this, and know that everyone else faces the same situation, it makes it easier to stop and focus more on your own life and goals.

I have seen relationships that are crafted so perfectly online crumble to the shock and sadness of others. Don’t compare yourself to the snippets of others’ lives that you see. There’s always more below the surface.

  1. Celebrate your successes.

People find it hard to give themselves praise, however it is incredibly important that you realise your potential, and celebrate your successes.

What are you good at? You could be an incredible cook, or a really good friend. You might be awesome at your job, or really good at helping others achieve their goals. Perhaps you have amazing hair, or are really good at Karaoke! Everyone is unique, and we all have our own skills and attributes that are pretty amazing.

Write down what you are good at, no being shy here, and when you feel yourself comparing yourself to others, focus on these instead. It might not stop the comparing to start with, but it will stop the cycle of making you feel bad.

You are living your unique life, they’re living theirs. Of course you’re going to be good at different things!

IMG_1054

  1. Realise that no one is perfect.

In a digital age it is hard to remember this as we are bombarded on a daily basis with perceived perfection.

Models on magazines, articles on how to be as successful as a 21 year old CEO, and videos of people travelling the world to incredible places.

What we don’t see is the hours of makeup that go into creating that one cover shoot, the sacrifices that the CEO had to make to succeed at their career, or the down sides to travelling such as 16 hours on cramped overnight trains with just inches of personal space.

There’s always a bigger picture, and we shouldn’t compare ourselves to the snapshots of other people’s lives that are displayed to us.

Compare yourself to yourself. What have you done today that you are happy about? (makes you feeeeeel proud!)

tumblr_mfpdsw5ZI31rhfn4so8_r1_250

  1. Focus on the values that matter.

At the end of the day, think about values make you feel good in the long term. Is it having that new car feeling that diminishes as the car gets older and friends get newer shiner models? Or is it helping others on a daily basis to achieve their dreams.

If you care more about giving, caring, listening and supporting, you will find that you don’t need to compare your material successes to others anymore, as your values have changed.

IMG_0911
The things that matter. 
  1. Less time on others, more time on you.

At the end of the day, we spend so much time worrying about our own lives, we rarely focus on the lives of others.

It is the same for everyone. So stop caring about what others think about you and start caring about what you think about you. Make your dreams come true.

Do not compare yourself to others

 

Visiting Marrakech: Exploring The Secrets Of The Historic African City

Listed as Trip Advisor’s Destination of the Year for 2015, Marrakech is an incredible sensory experience, from the warm smell of rich spices to incredible views of dusky red buildings and city walls situated in the shadow of the Atlas Mountains. Here, I spent five days taking in everything the city had to offer, to celebrate my second wedding anniversary with my husband.

We travelled at the end of November, and by then the temperatures had settled at a comfortable 27-30 degrees. This was the perfect weather for exploring the historic city centre but also relaxing at our hotel for ‘lazy days’ by the pool. If you are planning to travel in the summer, I would advise that you pack appropriately as temperatures can easily soar to 38 degrees.

thumb_IMG_0635_1024

To get to Marrakech, we flew with RyanAir and secured return flights for an incredible £45 each from London Stansted. (Flight time around 3 ½ hours). Look out for their fare alerts to try and get a similar bargain.

We arrived at our hotel, the Eden Andalou Hotel and Spa, and we were immediately in awe of the architecture and décor of the vast entrance lobby. The hotel was split into different sections, or riads, with lush gardens in the centre of each collection of rooms. You could hear birds singing from them in the early hours of the morning, waking you up ready for another day of exploring.

thumb_IMG_0502_1024

As we checked in, attentive staff poured cups of traditional Moroccan Te De Menta, and offered a selection of local cakes piled high on a silver tiered tray. We then left our luggage in our suite and immediately went to see what else the hotel had to offer and try out the three different pools. When we return again to Marrakech, I won’t hesitate in booking the same hotel again. The service was incredible, the food was delicious and the spa was so serene.

thumb_IMG_0587_1024

On our second day, we booked a local guide to show us the delights of Marrakech. The heart of the magical city, the Medina, is bustling with excitement and history, and a maze of winding alleyways filled with souks, street food stalls and hidden Riads. If we had been alone, I am certain we would have found ourselves lost within the narrow passages, although that wouldn’t have been a bad thing. We could have stayed in the souks for hours, you could discover a new sight, smell or sound there every minute you walked around.

thumb_IMG_0824_1024

After bartering (badly) for locally made clothes, hand sewn leather slippers and spices, we made our way to the centre of the Medina and emerged into Jemaa El-Fna, the centre square. The large open heart of the city contains market stalls, snake charmers, henna artists and much more. It is surrounded by cafes and restaurants where you can waste away hours people watching whilst sipping on a spiced coffee.

The city is home to many peaceful and lush gardens, which are perfect to unwind in after a morning in the medina. If you have some time, you can always take a carriage ride around several of the serene gardens to take them all in at once.

thumb_IMG_0826_1024

In the evening, make sure you sample some authentic Moroccan cooking such as smoky grilled steaks with cous cous, rich tagines with interesting flavor combinations and Zaalouk, a delicious smoky aubergine dip that has a hint of spice.

thumb_IMG_0564_1024

We are already looking forward to our next Moroccan adventure. It is an enticing country that will always have more undiscovered smells, tastes, souks and sights for us to experience and explore.

 Top Tips for Marrakech:

  1. It is going to be warm, even in the Winter months, so make sure you pack sensibly.
  2. Bartering is expected in the souks and markets, so don’t instantly pay the asking price. Though our guide let us know that this wasn’t usually the case if buying spices.
  3. Always keep some change for tips, as a lot of people might expect or ask for them.
  4. In the centre square, Jemaa El-Ena, keep your distance from the people with monkeys and other wild animals, unless you want to pay for a photo. They might try and put the animal on you and convince you to take a photo if not (it happened to a few people around us who were not expecting a baby monkey to suddenly be on their shoulder!).
  5. The mosques are closed to non-Muslims.
  6. It can get really cold in the evenings, so take layers.