FAQ – Travel Edition

If I had to estimate how many questions I regularly get based on my writing, I would average it out somewhere between more than I get letters through the post for any topic, but less than I get texts from my budget app telling me I have spent too much on eating out that month again.

But in all seriousness, I do get some really great regular questions around travelling from all you wanderlust lovers out there. To make things a little simpler, I thought I would collate a small sample of the most frequently asked travel queries and my answers here.

What are your three favourite countries?

Without a doubt Italy, Iceland and Switzerland. Italy for the food, the architecture and history. Iceland for nature, dramatic landscapes and people. Switzerland for the mountains, the lakes and the outdoor activities on offer, as well as really good food.

We did our first holiday, technically our honeymoon from the UK together to Rome, and every year since we’ve visited Italy at least once. So far we’ve seen Amalfi, Capri, Naples, Sardinia, Venice, Milan, Lake Como, Bergamo, Aosta and Rome. This year we are going to explore Tuscany.

What’s your favourite weekend getaway?

When I lived in the UK, I actually loved to explore local as I think often when we think of travel, we think it has to involve crossing borders. For me, a perfect weekend included an old castle, stately home, rustic B&B or even a tent somewhere in the UK’s dales, moors or lakes.

Scottish highlands is my favourite, but wasn’t the easiest to get to.

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Who do you travel with?

90% of the time, I travel with my wonderful husband. However we love a group adventure and so we regularly do trips with our siblings, parents or friends.

Around once / twice a month I will travel alone for work.

How do you afford to travel so often?

Live minimally, buy little, and only what you really need. Often a return flight can cost the same as a new pair of shoes you really don’t need. If travel is your end-game, you need to prioritize this over a new Xbox game or upgrading a car when yours works perfectly.

It’s not for everyone, but it’s important to us, so we make these choices.

Our home, transport and clothes are not the best, but they do the job, which leaves more money to see the world.

Oh, and I work hard to make it a reality too.

How do you travel and work? What is your job?

Prioritization, it’s the most important factor. A recent study by CIO showed that if you take all your allocated leave in a year you’re up to 26% more productive than people who don’t.

Time off is important, and it’s important to spend that time off valuably. We organize leave so it works best for us, for travelling and adventuring. One day off makes a long weekend, which equals a three day break.

Don’t look back and regret it, plan your time wisely, and put those plans into action.

Long haul flying advice?

Go with a good airline, keep hydrated, book your seats in advance to get the best options and know you’ll be comfortable (rows of just two seats for a couple are worth the extra money).

Take entertainment, a good sleep-aid is never a bad idea, and invest in a travel cushion, comfy layered clothes and a foot rest or inflatable pillow.

Oh, and antiseptic wipes, planes are FULL of germs and a good seat and tray wipe-down is never a bad idea.

Lastly, match your in-flight sleep to your new destination timezone, helps with the jet lag.

How far in advance do you book a trip?

If it’s somewhere I want to go that year, I use flight alerts and book it when the cost is lowest. Many travel apps can also help you with previous years’ data to predict when flights will be at their lowest cost. Hopper is a really good app for this.

For weekend breaks, often I book around three months in advance. I always book a hotel as soon as I book a flight, and then cancel it closer to the time if I see a better deal.

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Where should I go next?

Wherever makes you happy. Look for a place that meets your travel needs and wish-lists, don’t try and seek out the hit new destination or follow the crowds, chances are it may not suit you personally and you may be disappointed. Find something you love to do, and find the best place to do it!

Any downsides to travelling?

I get pretty bad anxiety so before any trip I usually find myself nervous and wanting to cancel, rather than the excitement you should get. For this, my husband is a trooper who makes sure we get on the plane.

Language can be a barrier in tricky situations, so downloading the Google Translate app is a real must.

If you do it too much, you can find yourself weary, so make sure you have a good balance between coming and going.

If it goes wrong, it goes wrong. Cancelled flights, bad weather or lost luggage can ruin a trip. Which is why it’s always good to be prepared, have a plan B, and get good insurance!

The environmental cost is not great at all, which is why we always try and pay the optional offset contributions that airlines now offer, and reduce our impact in other ways day to day, such as not eating meat at home or recently deciding to no longer own a car.

Any other questions? I’d love to hear and answer them so pop them in the comments below!

Five Books To Kick Start Your 2019

Here’s a selection of my favourite reads from 2019 so far. There’s quite a strong non-fiction theme which I think reflects my current mindset and as-is thought process. Perhaps it’s time to transition into some more fiction and story-telling for Spring. Any good recommendations? Share them below.

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21 Lessons for the 21st Century – Yuval Noah Harari

I have enjoyed both of Harari’s previous editions in this series, Sapiens and Homo Deus, so it’s unsurprising that this was an early first read for me in 2019.

As we move more into the future, the world is becoming more uncertain. Just look at current affairs and news reporting to see that as a whole, we don’t seem to be coping too well with this change in status-quo. If like me, you’re struggling to understand this new polarization and feeling of constant flux that is in the air, this is a really good read to help put it into perspective.

It asks really important questions, and invites you to consider values and culture in an ever-changing world.

This book was not only a source of great insight, but also of comfort.

4/5

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Hello World. How To Be Human In The Age Of The Machine- Hannah Fry

Data is the new oil, and with this, a lot more of our behaviour, personal details, likes, dislikes and needs are being processed every second in the big online world.

As a global data manager, I work regularly on the commercial or operational side of data, when it’s more important to be focused strongly on the human side. Data is impacting us all already, and it’s important for us to know where this will lead in the next two, five or fifty years.

Hannah is a professor in this area, and bring the world of data science, AI and automation to all of us in an accessible and easy to read format.

It’s a fantastic book, and well worth a read, even if it just gets you to reconsider doing one of those online DNA tests or hereditary mapping exercises.

4/5

The New Silk Roads – Peter Frankopan

No image of this one as I lent it to my boss!

This book had me hooked from the first chapter, so much so that my husband was amazed that it made me stay up regularly past my 10pm bedtime (love a good night’s sleep!) to keep reading more of it each night.

Living in the West, it’s very easy to be oblivious to what is currently happening in the East and Africa. Especially with headlines focused mainly on Brexit and Trump’s Wall right now.

It’s entertaining, carefully researched and fascinating. It’s got enough detail to please people looking for hard facts, but then enough light-hearted storytelling to entertain and bring people looking for a lighter introduction to new history on the journey.

Well worth a read.

4.5/5

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In Your Defence – Sarah Langford

Sarah describes, with honesty and great detail, many cases which she has individually worked on during her career as a Barrister in England.

There’s plenty to shock, and several to tug at the heart strings, but what is most surprising is how many of us are unaware of exactly how the law operates in the country we live in, and how just one incident can change your life for good.

She adds in her own insight to each story, whilst also making sure you have enough of both sides of the case to make your own choice about how you feel about the situation at hand.

For me, the way many cases develop, how people plead, and the rules around sentencing made for new learning and understanding.

3/5

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Ghost – James Swallow

The only fiction book on this list, and unfortunately, for me this one wasn’t nearly as good as the other books I have read so far in 2019. I read James’ Nomad, released in 2017, and really enjoyed it, so was keen to pick up this sequel and read it on a long journey I recently took.

Unfortunately it didn’t live up to expectations. The book felt frenzied and the action hard to follow. I was really sad and kept going as I wanted it to be great but I think my expectations left me feeling disappointed.

It’s a good premise, I just think the drama and characters let it down a little.

2/5

 

How To Decide Where To Include On Your Travel Bucket List

Modern transport, low cost fares and easier access to visas has made travel, adventure and exploring a lot easier and more accessible to all. With return flights to Spain costing less than most capital city train tickets for a daily commute it’s easy to see why we are often choosing Sangria over subway stations.

For people who love to explore and adventure, the question is less about how, and more about where. Where should we go to next? Like many people I have my own ‘bucket list’ of dream destinations I hope to visit over the next few years, but trying to decide what we included, or where we should go next, involves a lot of deliberation. 

Unless you’re a full time travel editor, blogger or don’t need to work, non-stop travelling isn’t a long-term reality. We may get a few weeks a year, a gap-year opportunity or a career break but still within these periods we need to make some hard choices about where we visit, what we see and what countries are non-negotiable in our explorations.

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Several factors helped to shape our destination dream-list, but overall, every place we put on there needs to do three things:

  • Are we going because it will provide us with an experience, memory, or taste of culture we want to experience and take-away? Not every experience is for everyone, so whilst one person may have loved the place, make sure you’re visiting it for the right reasons or you may be disappointed in your experience.
  • Do we know enough about it? It’s easy to choose a place down to photos or Pinterest inspiration alone, but before any place goes on our list, we make sure we know about everything from what the cities can offer, to the climate, food and adventures on offer at the destination. A white sand beach looks incredible on a photo, but if that’s all the place has to offer and you need daily action and activities, you may find the trip lacking.
  • Will a trip here make us happy? Make sure you’re going for the right reasons. I know many people who have travelled to a place because it’s the ‘hit’ place to be seen (myself included!) and yet when they get there, it’s not comparable to what they saw the online bloggers, travel journalists and influencers experiencing. This is because often they have the budget, know-how and infrastructure of a team working with them to make the trip look the best it can, because at the end of the day, it will be used to sell more of the same going forward. We’ve all seen and learnt from Fyre Festival right?! So choose somewhere that makes you feel happy and excited to go to, no one else.

But before we get to assess a place using the above criteria, and adding it to our list, we firstly need the inspiration. Now there’s no right or wrong way to get ideas for your next trip, but here’s some insight into how we discover places, in case it helps you.

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Visual search

Whether on Pinterest feeds, Instagram wanderlust accounts or a quick google search for iconic places, a picture speaks a thousand words.

Often, after seeing the photo, we start to do some research into the place it was taken. What else is there on offer? Does it always look like this or is this some clever influencer framing going on? If we discover that that photo is just the tip of the iceberg and the place has way more to offer in terms of adventure, good food and good views, it goes onto the list.

Interest based

Find something you love to do, and then find the best places to do this across the world. If you’re a top surfer, looking for the best places to ride waves worldwide is a good way to begin compiling your bucket list.

For us, we love good food, watersports (especially on boats), mountains and hiking, and photography. Often we use these as checkpoints to make sure a destination can offer us elements of all or most of the above. We know when we get to do all of this on a trip, we have the best times.

We won’t put anywhere on our list that’s just ‘I want to go to this country’. It has to be ‘I want to go to this country and do this’ because this way, it’s more concrete as to why this destination appeals.

Speak to others

So I know my point one of deciding if a place should be on your list says be wary of recommendations, but this is only if you fall in love with the idea of a place because someone says ‘it’s the best place they’ve ever been’ and you leave it at that and book your flights.

Often, the best travel advice I have got is from my close friends who also travel regularly too. I make sure when they are telling me about somewhere I ask for the details, like why was the place so amazing for you, what did you do there, or what was the food, culture and transport like?

If you go for more of the insider tip route and dig deeper into their passion, you will quickly discover if their experience is similar to what you are seeking. If they went for the best beach holiday, and you’re after more of a city hopping vibe, you’ll find out that perhaps it’s not for you.

Rely on the experts

Lonely planet, National Geographic, and many big travel editors and bloggers are still around and being listened to for a reason.

If you are looking for new inspiration, or want to check if a place really is for you, their websites are a great place to get ideas flowing.

I don’t visit any place without the latest Lonely Planet guide in my backpack.

Final thoughts

All the above is great for choosing where, but then you need to choose when. For this element, it becomes a little easier because you can think more pragmatically.

Budgets, weather at the destination, what kind of escape (City, beach snow) you are seeking or who you are travelling with will help you whittle down where’s next.

At the end of the day, there’s so many places to choose from, but there’s no right or wrong. Just choose places you dream of, that make you happy. Don’t follow the crowd to be disappointed, at the end of the day, it’s only your memories you’ll be impacting.

You’re Not Doing Less, We’re Just Expecting More Of Ourselves

The other day I woke up and realised I really needed a day to just unwind, recover and relax.

A spot of light reading, perhaps a cup of coffee or two on the sofa and maybe a walk in the afternoon if the weather held out.

When I was living in the reality of that day, I felt that I had truly achieved this and managed to amble through a day doing next to nothing.

If I look back now, and am totally honest with myself, I have to admit that I may have sneaked just a few jobs, errands and tasks in there.

The difficulty is that it is really hard to justify, and just accept, that in this busy, hectic world, it’s okay to do less. It’s okay to have a day or two of doing absolutely nothing.

We feel that unless we have a grand sense of accomplishment achieved by successfully ticking off at least ten things on our ever growing to-do lists, we have had somewhat a failure of a day.

Rather than measuring our success on our happiness, our prioritization of the things that matter to us and our wellbeing, we instead measure it on how important we feel because we have managed to do more ‘stuff’.

On my ‘relax and recover’ day I managed to, on top of my reading, coffee drinking and walking, do an online shop, deep clean and sort the kitchen cupboards, pack a little more for the move, order a friends birthday present, call my family for a check in, order a new lightbulb and starter for the bathroom and order a cake for our leaving party.

If that was a lot to read in one sentence, just imagine how much extra it added to a day that was meant to be filled with nothing. Additionally, just imagine how much more gets done on a day not planned for rest.

I am not writing this to show how much extra I managed to do on a day off. Instead it’s a bit of a personal reflection on how much I felt I needed to just get done, when really my head, body and mind was telling me to just take a day.

Quite often I find that it’s the unreal expectations we set ourselves which stops us from really doing what we want to do. We are not doing less, we are just demanding more from ourselves.

A 2018 survey by Forth with Life found that 42% of women and 36% of men feel way too stressed. Guess what one of the top causes was? You got it, it’s being too busy.

A quick search on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram gives instant insight into why we have adopted a culture of seeing busy as a sign of success.

#busybusybusy = nearly 100,000 posts on Instagram

#busylife = over 350,000

and let’s not forget, you can’t be a good mum if you’re not exhausted from cramming things into every hour of your day, so it makes sense that #busymom has nearly one million shares.

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Photo by Stokpic on Pexels.com

Personally, I don’t want to be busy.

I want to stop filling my downtime with more stuff and noise just so I don’t feel bad about reading a whole book and maybe even having a bath and nap in between chapters.

Relaxing, unwinding, reflecting. It’s still you doing something. It’s arguably more important than anything else as without your health, it’s hard to do the rest.

Just because with technology it’s easier to do more, easier to feel lazy when you see others filling their days with more, and easier to find more ways to be busy, doesn’t mean it’s right.

Looking back, I don’t feel success or any striking memories from the days where I ticked 10 menial things off my to-do list (most of them instigated by my need to do more and be more busy). My memories come from good books, successful projects in work and at home, travelling and laughing with friends and family.

I am happy to be seen as someone who does less. As long as I am happy.

That’s success for me.

Thirty Things You Can Easily Throw Away Today To Make You Feel Happier.

If my home is getting a little cluttered and busy, I can guarantee that it will start to have an effect on my mind and wellbeing.

We all know the feeling. Stressed about rummaging through drawers to find something. Fed up of moving everything aside to put something back. Struggling to find room to sit down and work when your desk has become the new temporary storage shelf.

There’s a simple fix, and I assure you it won’t take long at all.

Grab yourself three big bags, boxes or containers, and look around the house (or take it one room, one day at a time if you’ve got a lot to sort) and choose if you should trash, recycle or donate the below items.

30 Things You Can Instantly Declutter

Old Magazines / Newspapers
Letters you don’t need to file
Old batteries
Old electrical wires and cables
Takeaway Menus (all online now)
Socks with holes in
Clothes that don’t fit
Clothes with stains
Tights with holes
Old towels or bedding
Expired makeup / old samples
Old toiletries
Old Groceries
Expired condiments / spices
Non-recyclable bags
Excess coffee mugs

Excess glassware
Excess utensils
Books you’ve read
DVD’s you don’t need anymore
Old cards, decorations
Excess Tupperware
Unused kids / pets toys
Excess decor
Old recipe books
Old calendars, diaries and notebooks
Clutter in work or handbags

When you have worked through it all, you should find your drawers are clearer, you living space is less ‘busy’ and you feel a lot more zen. A happy home leads to a happy mind.

When I first started to live minimally, I found I had to repeat this exercise almost bi-monthly. Now however, I am a lot more conscious around what I consume in the first place, which helps with living with less on a permanent basis.

Repeat as often as you need to, and think first before buying something you know you recently rehomed before you need to repeat it all over again in a few months time.

Save the below to your phone for a quick reference guide, or Pin it to complete later.

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Invest in quality, over quantity.

Buy well, not often.

Choose need, not want.

Why You Need To Stop Wondering ‘What If’

Life is filled with rewarding moments and hard choices. It is rarely predictable and often when you feel like you are on-track, a curveball can easily have you questioning everything all over again.

Let me put this into context. The reason this post came about was because I was recently asked for an interview ‘where do I see myself in five years?’

The difficulty was that although I have visions of what I think I would like my life to look like in five years, at the same time, I am forever also plagued by the question ‘what if?’

In five years I hope to still be enjoying my job, climbing that corporate ladder, writing and getting some work published, travelling far, and happily married.

However I also have visions alongside this of living the best domestic life I can. Living in a rural cottage, with goats, chickens and dogs to add to our existing furry family. I regularly take time out to bake, cook and create wholesome rustic meals that we share as a two (maybe even three if we have decided to start a family by then). I sit at the old farmhouse kitchen table writing away and pouring my thoughts into a blog, book or something bigger. Oh and my cottage is filled with William Morris patterns, because a girl can dream right?

But then five years away is a long time, and although this imagery of life in my early thirties seems pretty wonderful, it’s then very easy to throw in the dreaded curveball of ‘what if?’

What if I wanted to do all this but in a different country? What if we do get a dog and all these animals, could we then still travel as much? What if we start a family and therefore the writing and career goals need to change? What if my career takes me on a different path?

As soon as I start thinking about this, I can’t help but feeling a little unsettled and worried.

It’s great to have a five-year plan, and to focus on your goals, but life often doesn’t go accordingly to plan.

But then, I look back and think what did I expect to have achieved by my late twenties, five years before now?

If I am being honest, I couldn’t have really predicted the outcome. We are settled in and have bought a house in a city that until four years ago, I had never visited. My job is hugely different to what I thought it would be, in a great way. I have visited countries I didn’t even have on my bucket list, and decided against places I did. Oh, and we have two cats when I always thought I was only going to get dogs.

Part of me definitely thought I would feel by now that I knew what I was doing at all times, a proper ‘adult’. To be honest, I don’t think that this ever feels like the case for anyone. If it does for you, please let me know how to get there!

What has remained fluid however is my longer term priorities, hopes and dreams. I still live minimally, write often, travel as much as possible, spend quality time with my wonderful husband, friends and family and I work hard and enjoy the career path that I chose to follow.

Although life certainly doesn’t look like I predicted five years ago, I am very satisfied with the shape it has taken.

Five Years Ago

Perhaps a lesson here is that as long as whatever you decide to do, as long as it doesn’t detract from your happiness, and contributes to one of your main priorities, it doesn’t matter ‘what if’.

There’s always going to be the unexpected, the curveballs, the ups and downs, but at the end of the day, that’s what makes life a journey rather than a race to have it all at the end.

For now, I am happy to just be a passenger on this journey as long as in five years it delivers me to the destination where I still write, spend time with my family, get to travel, and have a pretty decent career.

Visions are fantastic, but sometimes surprises are all that little more exciting.

 

 

 

 

Getting Personal: My 10 Favourite Possessions

If I asked you to estimate how many items were in your home, do you think you could do it easily?

I am not a minimalist who lives with as few items as possible for two reasons. Firstly, I share my home with someone who personally describes himself as a hoarder. Secondly, I am not keen on living with a set number of possessions. However I do understand the value of being conscious about the items I own and keep.

But if I had to guess, I would place the number around 350-400 not including individual books. If we are including books, then the figure is much higher (worryingly higher!)

Most of the total figure is occupied by clothes, candles, throws and notebooks. I think I have around 15-20 candles alone dotted around the house because having a warm, inviting space is important for me. It is how I unwind after a long day.

The most important realization I have had however whilst minimising my possessions over the last three years is that really the stuff that we fill our homes with, the clutter we surround ourselves with daily, most of it really doesn’t matter.

A big lesson I have taken from living with less is that having more material things doesn’t make me happy, but having the right things around me does.

The essentials, my sofa, the fridge. They are all practical and make my life easier. The thirty Tupperware dishes do not. If I need to be storing that much food in one go, surely I need to question why I am cooking so much and what can I cut down on.

The journey of minimising has helped me assign less value to items that don’t bring me any happiness, however it has also highlighted what items are important to me.

So here is it, a list of my ten favourite all time possessions.

  1. My wedding jewellery

I think it is fairly obvious why these items should make the top of the list. My wedding band and engagement ring are on here because they symbolise the thing that makes me happiest day to day. I appreciate you don’t need jewellery to show your love, but for me, these little tokens of commitment have the value in their meaning not their material worth.

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  1. My Laptop

I use it to write, to keep in touch with family, to edit new photos and content, and obviously to watch way too many funny YouTube videos of cats.

Without my laptop, my blog wouldn’t be as well maintained. Plus, as it is a Macbook Air, it means I can pop it in my handbag and take it anywhere. Ideal for when you suddenly get inspired to write.

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  1. Photos

I love photos. I love capturing moments to look back on forever. They are small reminders of great experiences in our lives.

I will never get bored of sitting down with a glass of red wine in front of a warm fire, and going through old photos and reliving memories.

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  1. My Cats

Okay so technically not a possession, but they are honestly the most incredible things that I have brought into my life and the first and only things I would scoop up and save in a house fire.

They are worth so, so much more than any other material item in my home.

  1. Prints and Art

If you visit our house, you will learn that the paintings and prints hung on the wall are not just there for decorative purposes. Each one has a meaning behind it.

This is important to me, as you will know from previous posts I am not particularly keen on furnishing for furnishings sake.

The art above our fireplace, hand painted by my mother-in-law. It’s of our favourite secret bay on the Yorkshire coast.

The framed print in our bedroom, a wedding present from our incredibly thoughtful Best Man and his wife.

The list goes on.

Overall, it makes me value each piece so much more, because of the thought and meaning behind them.

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  1. My Louis Vuitton Vintage Clutch

I bet you didn’t expect to see this on here. Or any clothing item in fact.

This bag reminds me of a great time living in Belgium. Of the vast flea markets, the delicious frites and mayo, the cold snowy winters and the dinners, parties and balls with wonderful people.

Also, I can’t believe I managed to find such a vintage classic for such a low price.

Here’s to many more memories, with a gorgeous, and a little indulgent, bag.

  1. Our memories box

This chest is a collection of our memories since we have been together. Within it are wedding cards, mad libs we had people fill in at the reception, housewarming cards.

There’s also certificates, tickets to events, photos, and a scan of my beautiful niece when she was just 12 weeks old!

We love to pull it out once or twice a year and have a good reminiscing session. I think it’s these sessions over the things in there that I enjoy and value, but we wouldn’t have them, or remember so much, without the prompts!

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  1. My Passport

This handy little document allows me to do what I love more than anything. See the world. If I am ever feeling a little lost, a trip away is the perfect remedy.

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  1. Tea Cups

Although I don’t drink tea, and tend to enjoy freshly ground coffee out of these, I love my blue china tea cups and saucers.

Half of them have been passed down to me from relatives on my husbands side of the family. Half I picked up at a car boot sale because I love the pattern.

For me, a cup of coffee, served in one of these, means it’s the start of a new and wonderful day filled with lots of new opportunities.

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10. My Books

For people who know me well, I bet you expected this one to be on the list somewhere and perhaps worried a little as we got towards the end and I hadn’t mentioned books yet.

I love books. I crave books. For me each new novel offers a chance to escape and explore a whole new world, a whole new mind and a whole new experience. I fill most of my spare hours with my nose nestled deep in a good book.

I have done this ever since I was a child, and can see myself doing this until I die, as long as I am lucky enough to be able to read in old age.

My shelves are filled with the books which really resonate with me. They might be being stored to pass on for someone else to enjoy, or to be re-read again.

Either way, my books are as a collective, one of my all time favourite possessions.

 

There you have it. A list of my favourite things.

I am fairly sure that you won’t be surprised that the list contains few real material items, and more memories, experiences and valuables.

This is because for me, the only stuff that matters is the things which enrich my life.

A new 40 inch TV won’t make me happy for years to come, but a bookshelf of novels, memories to look back on and a passport to travel the world certainly will.

What are your favourite things? I would love to read about them?

10 Minimal Personal Things That Enrich My Days

To often we are focused on the big picture things. Getting through the week to enjoy Friday plans. Countdowns on your phone until your next holiday. Excitedly discussing that it’s only a number of days until Christmas when the days start to get shorter and the fire roars.

By focusing on what is to come, and not appreciating the now, you are missing out on valuable moments which contribute to your overall happiness.

Now I am not suggesting you don’t get excited about the big things. You can’t help it. It’s natural. I am already looking forward to my West Coast road trip although it’s months’ away.

But I do suggest you try to become more mindful about the day to day.

If we take a moment to embrace these minimal moments, we will focus on the good. We will realise there’s so much enjoyment we tend to take for granted in our daily lives.

Recently reading more about Hygge has highlighted how that feeling of content. The warm happiness you feel when everything is going right, is something I wish I could almost bottle. But it is there and around us each and every day, we just need to learn to acknowledge it, welcome it and appreciate it.

So I want you to think about little things you love. Small minimal moments which enrich your day. Feelings or experiences which make you feel warm, content and satisfied.

Below are 10 little things which I find enrich my day to day. They make the small moments memorable. They make me mindful of how we have so little time on earth, we need to appreciate the smaller pleasures as well as the significant memories.

The feeling of starting a new book

That moment when you settle down, warm coffee in hand, and open the first page of a new book. The anticipation of adventure, getting lost in someone else’s world. The smell of a newly pressed novel. For me, not much beats it. It’s probably why in my minimalist home, books are the things which take up the most room. Each time I settle down to read I feel content. I like to remember this feeling when I am yearning for experiences, trips and the next big things. Because not much beats the happiness I get when I journey into a world of letters and imagination.

The smell of vanilla

It’s happiness in a scent for me.

The feeling of sinking into a hot bath

A bath is my place to unwind. To let the days stresses escape and to focus on nothing at all. Each time I get to experience this feeling of happiness I remember how good the day to day can be. Because no matter how chaotic or busy a week may be, a hot soothing bath can help you escape from it all.

A warm coffee in the morning

I have an incredible husband who without fail, brings me a hot cup of coffee each morning in bed. It’s one of the small things he does for me each day which makes me feel valued. Too often we expect the big things. A token piece of jewellery, a trip to Paris. For me, I am content and happy with the little things. Because the little things for me have meaning. If we lose sight of these and focus on the wishes we have for relationships based on romantic novels and films, we forget the genuine happiness we feel day to day.

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Cat Cuddles

The feeling of a warm furry friend cuddled up on your lap is hard to beat. It’s that addictive I quite often sit there desperate for the toilet, or miss my bus, just so that I don’t move them. These daily little snuggles make everything right.

A Good Bake Off

I love it when a bake goes right. The perfectly risen sponge, a melt in the middle brownie. Baking is something I love to do, and yet am not too successful at. So when a bake goes well, it makes my day.

Listening to rain and wind from the warm indoors 

The sound of a storm outside is beautiful to listen to when wrapped up warm indoors. It’s surprising how something so wild can make someone feel so calm.

Freshly washed bedding

Sinking into warm, freshly cleaned bedding is something that will never not feel good.

Writing

A day filled with writing is a perfect day. When the words flow and bring life and meaning to ideas and thoughts. If I manage to write, a day feels complete.

When your favourite song comes on  

No matter where you are, it’s a great feeling when your favourite song comes on and you can just enjoy and appreciate it. I don’t know about you, but when it just comes on the radio or in a pub, it feels so much more exciting than if you’d played it yourself!

So there you have it, my ten little feelings of happiness which enrich my days. Live more in the now, become mindful of your experiences and surroundings, and appreciate each day.

I’d love to hear your favourite 10 things. Let me know what they are or if we have any in common!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What is Hygge? A Minimalist’s Guide To Living Happily

Picture the scene. You are at home, snuggled in your pyjamas in front of a toasty roaring fire. You have a glass of your favourite tipple at your side. Candles are lit, and are the only noise is the wind blowing outside. Your evening is spent reading a good book, with good company, under a furry warm throw.

This feeling of contentment, of happiness and everything being more meaningful. That’s Hygge (pronounced hue-gah). Put simply, it is a word to define that warm cosy feeling we all get when everything is just right.

Since living minimally, I have spent the last few years trying to live with purpose. To ensure everything I do is aligned to my priorities. All that I invest in materially and through time is done to enrich my life.

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This is why I think that the Hygge trend that is currently sweeping across Britain is something we should all embrace. I have written countless times about how we are neglecting our happiness by subscribing to a busy lifestyle. We are so consumed by goals, driven by plans. Never satisfied with our achievements as someone else has that bigger car, better holiday or expensive phone.

Slow down, prioritise your happiness and spend your time doing the things you will enjoy. Experience the moments, stop ticking off the boxes of to do lists, relish life.

Hygge and minimalism go hand in hand. They both value a meaningful live above all else. They put value in experiences. They are about removing routine and restrictions in order to achieve more.

It is about enjoying the happiness you have, and living in the now, rather than continually pursuing the next best thing.

How else do they pair up? Well, you can certainly invest in items to create a more hyggeligt atmosphere, but you can’t buy Hygge. You can’t purchase that feeling you get from being happy and content. If your atmosphere isn’t right, priorities are not right, and time is not spent right, an expensive candle and luxury fur throw isn’t going to fix that.

So, I guess you are wondering, how do I make my life more Hygge?

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Embrace A Hygge Home

Fill your home with candles, as creating a snug and cosy atmosphere is a great place to start. Candlelit rooms instantly feel warm, romantic and inviting. Invest in one’s with scents you love. Personally, my home is filled with Vanilla candles I have made or sourced locally because this scent alone reminds me of home and happiness.

Keep your spaces minimal but with purpose. If you reduce the clutter, and keep what is necessary you can ensure that your spaces will remain comforting and relaxing. If you have too much going on in one room, it will be hard to relax. Plus, we all feel most content in a clean environment, and a minimal home is much easier to keep dust free.

Furnish for comfort. Texture your rooms with practical but cosy blankets and duvets for the ultimate Hygge home. Don’t invest in lots of unnecessary extras. Instead, invest wisely in your furnishing choices to make your home a happy environment.

Ensure your rooms encourage socialisation. Have comfy seating, open plan living and doors left wide open to embrace that welcoming atmosphere.

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How To Dress Hygge

When at home, if you are anything like me, you will instantly change into your loungewear after walking through the front door.

Being at home is a time for relaxation, unwinding and comfort. Invest in clothing and outfits which encourage you to enjoy this time.

Think loose fitting cotton lounge wear, cosy slippers and knitted layers. Whatever makes you feel completely at ease.

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 How To Live Hygge

Think cosy, think simple and think happy. To hygge is to do whatever makes you feel warm and content.

Forget elaborate nights out, this winter is all about the evenings in with close friends and family.

Cook stews, use the slow cooker and enjoy warm chocolate cake in front of the fire. Whatever makes you feel good.

Embrace the colder nights by finding any excuse to layer up and spent time on the things which matter most to you. Be it writing, reading, blogging or baking.

As I love to spend my time doing things that enrich my day to day, I am totally welcoming this concept. More reading, less cleaning. And as I live minimally, this is totally achievable as there’s less to fuss about around the house.

So tonight I am making a huge pot of turkey chilli, lighting all the candles, and spraying the room with vanilla and lavender scents. I will sit in my cosy Cos layers under my big throw and I will be totally content as I blog, read and write.

How are you planning to embrace Hygge?

End Your Year Right: A Minimalist Year

It’s the time of year when evenings are getting darker, scarves are dug out from winter storage, and leaves litter the street. Autumn is here, and soon it will be the end of another year.

This time of year we tend to panic. We have so much to do, so many people to see, and so much to finish before the clocks strike midnight on December 31st.

We need to celebrate with friends. Have seasonal events with family. Finish those major work projects. Not to mention find that New Years’ dress, and do all the Christmas shopping.

Do yourself a favour this year, and end the year right. End the year doing what is right for you, not what is expected.

If you are feeling stretched for time, prioritise and make sure you have some you time. If you are worrying about the resolutions you set in January, don’t. Focus instead on the achievements and successes you have had this year. Goals are guidelines, but not the measure of success. Your happiness is your success.

As October comes to a close, I have four main priorities for the last two months of the year.

Enjoy my favourite season

Autumn is the best season of the year. I will be savouring every moment of candlelit nights in. Garden events snuggled around the fire pit. Conkers, reading in warm knitted layers and of course, sparklers!

I won’t be worrying about embracing fall fashion trends I don’t own. I know my own personal style, and I have a great capsule wardrobe for the season. Instead, I will spend my time and money on books, adventures and wintery walks.

I won’t get worried about missing nights out when I am happy at home. It’s the season to prioritise you, your health and your happiness. Cold nights out mean for cosy nights in.

Embrace giving

I won’t be giving material items, even though stores have already been marketing this to me since the end of August. I hope to give time, experiences and support to friends, family and those in need.

Don’t get busy

This is the time of year when we panic about fitting it all in before Auld Lang Syne begins on New Years’ Eve.

My advice to you. Stop.

Stop worrying about seeing everyone and anyone. You can still visit them in January, and guess what, it might be a nice way to ward off the new year blues.

The shopping, cooking, baking and decoration shopping you need to do? Sit down and look at what is actually essential. This year I am planning to spend a Sunday making batches of soup to freeze. Lunch sorted for the year.

Decorations? I won’t be buying store made fancy décor this year. Instead I am going to work with what is available to me from winter walks and use what is in my small but super Christmas box from last year. Think pinecones, glittery conkers and holly. This way I can save on time and money.

Projects, deadlines and more? Take a deep breath. It’s okay. Your goals and resolutions will still be very valuable and real in 2017. Or embrace a year without goals and just have guidelines for your success next year. I started the year wanting to travel. No goal for number of trips. Just to travel. Guess what? I did it and I think I managed to see more than I had even expected.

Not setting it as a goal means no failure, just happiness, and that’s great.

You choose to be busy or not. If it is feeling like too much, you can choose to stop it.

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Reflect

This is a great time to look back and think about the year. Do you feel like it all got away from you? Are you happy with your choices this year.

Reflect on the rights. Be aware of the wrongs. Choose to not repeat the things which have made you unhappy next year.

I will soon be writing my ‘things I have learned’ this year post, and maybe it is an opportunity for you to do the same.

This year I am happy I travelled, wrote a lot more and dedicated time to my blogging. I am so pleased I became an aunt.

As long as what you are doing is making you happy, you’re doing it right.

So, with two months of the year left, end it right. Don’t panic about a year lost, embrace two more months of opportunity.