My Second Trimester Must Haves and Key Learnings

Everyone has a different experience when it comes to pregnancy, with no two journeys ever being the same. During my second trimester, I gathered some pretty useful pieces of advice, or discovered a few things I wish I had known a little earlier. All the below was mainly discovered thanks to incredible tips I received from my mum-friends, pregnancy books and tried and tested personal experiences!

Overall, for me the weeks 13-27 were the best so far of my pregnancy. I had much more energy, could exercise easily again, and my only niggles were on-going rib pain and my sickness continued (albeit with a lot less frequency than in the first twelve weeks).

Here’s a collection of things I discovered that may or may not help you if you are in the middle of your second trimester, or want to prepare early for the months’ ahead.

Smart and comfortable maternity work-wear

It was around twenty weeks that I had to swap out my usual pre-baby wardrobe for some new maternity staples. That being said, I regularly wore my maternity work trousers and dresses from the moment I got even a bit of a bump (or pretended I did when I had just massively over indulged on Thai food) as they were so much more comfortable and less restrictive on a sore bloated belly than usual clothes.

You really don’t need much, but 1-2 pairs of work trousers and some stretchy specialist dresses will see you through the pregnancy and all trimesters without too much cost. For tops, I recommend buying floaty and loose for the workplace, and using a vest underneath to add length when they shorten due to the growing bump.

I found Bandia Maternity (purchased through ASOS) and Seraphine Maternity both had the best fit, and options that didn’t make me feel frumpy or bored of my wardrobe as my body changed.

Also, top tip: Mango shift dresses have lasted me right up until 35 weeks so far, and they are so comfy. I just took a size up from usual and they have seen me through.

A belly band

A lifesaver as your belly is expanding but you are not ready to give up your old jeans just yet. Pop a belly band over the waistband to hide the fact you can’t properly button up anymore and to protect your modesty. Also it just feels nice to have something covering the bump as it grows. This wonderful invention meant that outside of work I could wear my non-maternity jeans right up until my third trimester.

Bath with Epsom salts before bed

I don’t have a bath because I foolishly thought I wouldn’t miss one when moving to our new apartment. Note to past Lyndsay – it was a very bad move. So whenever I travel whilst pregnant I always request a hotel room with a tub because of the wonders a warm soak does for a growing body. Throw in some Epsom salts, light some candles and spend a good thirty minutes in the water to reduce swelling or pressure on your limbs.

A body pillow

My incredible brothers and sisters-in-laws got me this as a gift when I discovered I was expecting, and during the second trimester it really became invaluable. As your options for sleeping when you’re pregnant are pretty much limited to left side, or right side, you want to make sure that you are comfortable as possible. Trust me, your hips get sore after eight hours slumber on the same side.

A pregnancy pillow helps remove some of that pain, and they make for a great substitute partner to cuddle when they are working away or they have migrated to the spare room bed to escape the pillow pregnancy fortress you’ve created in the main bedroom.

Pregnancy exercise subscription

If you are feeling well enough and up to it, a mild exercise routine tailored to your stage of pregnancy can do wonders to help you feel a bit better on a daily basis. Don’t worry if you’re not, your body is growing a whole human and pretty preoccupied right now.

I loved pregnancy Yoga, and using Kayla Itsines – Sweat with Kayla pregnancy specific workouts for a big of an endorphin rush and to help with aches.

Comfy pyjamas and lounge-wear

You’re going to spend more and more time in pyjamas and loungewear because let’s face it, nothing is more appealing when in your second trimester than being cosy at home with a good book and comfort foods. Treat yourself to some new stretchy and comfy sets.

I got a couple that will be both worn now, in my hospital bag and great for nursing afterwards too so they have longevity. For this, button down shirts are key.

I got some lovely pieces from The White Company and H&M.

Rennies

Buy Rennie’s in BULK to help with heartburn. I lived off them after most meals.

Notebook or pregnancy journal

Although it doesn’t feel like it at the time, the weeks’ really fly by and you tend to forget some of the small details or funny stories that happen day by day as you discover new symptoms or put the hairbrush in the fridge (true story).

I would highly recommend getting a pregnancy specific journal so you can take half an hour a week to capture each stage. I already am looking back at it and laughing and I am still pregnant, so I know it’s going to be a great memento for years to go.

I got the ‘How To Grow A Baby’ Journal – which is a great accompaniment to the same named book from Clemmie Hooper. You can get it via Amazon and it has some great week by week question prompts to help you fully capture your journey.

Classes

If you are wanting to take any specific classes throughout your pregnancy, now is a great time to do this. Hypnobirthing, pregnancy meditation and yoga, and breastfeeding classes are ones that I personally am getting a lot of benefit from. But it’s each to their own.

Microwavable heat pad

During my second trimester, and apparently a lot earlier than most people, I started to get burning and aching pain under my left rib on a daily basis, especially after I had sat for too long or had just eaten a big meal. Don’t get me started on the five hour flight to Northern Tromso I booked before this became a symptom and it then flared up. Basically, with baby and my short torso, there really wasn’t much room for much else so my ribs began to push out to make space.

Rib flare apparently is common, and for me a heat pad really helped ease some of the burn after a long day at the office.

Books!

Start getting recommendations, borrow good used copies from friends and max out your library card to prepare you for the days where you are perhaps feeling like you have a little less energy and need some entertainment.

I have started to stockpile now for my last few weeks before baby is here and I am on maternity leave / to have something to occupy me during breastfeeding sessions.

If you are not a big reader, then swap the above for magazines, podcast recommendations or a good Netflix to watch list.

Shape/support-wear

Hear me out, I am not recommending that you wear Spanx or similar when pregnant to protect your image or to produce a more flattering bump. As you grow, and your bump gets bigger, you definitely start to get a little more uncomfortable due to the extra weight your back and legs are now supporting.

I found that a good belly support belt, and specialist maternity support-wear did an incredible job of helping to ‘hold up’ the bump and keep me from feeling as much strain when I was on my feet for a lot of the day. This can range from high-waisted yoga leggings to specialist Lycra shorts. Do some research and see if anything works well for you.

M Insider: The Monthly Roundup – January Edition

M Insider is a collection of things that at this moment, I think are truly brilliant. It might be a new destination, an ingredient I can’t believe I haven’t cooked with before, or a travel app that has just gone and made life abroad so much easier.

Here’s the second instalment of the M Insider Monthly Roundup, looking back on December 2019.

Morzine – French Ski Town

Often, I tend to dodge the more ‘touristic’ hot spots when it comes to the winter season. By doing this, you share the slopes less, you avoid overpriced passes and you don’t need to worry about expensive accommodation as many smaller resorts tend to be closer to home or reasonably priced.

However that being said, sometimes the cheesy and tourist filled winter villages are the best because they are exactly what you need at the time. We went to Morzine in France for the weekend, and honestly, the buzzing Apres Ski atmosphere, cosy little overpriced cafes and shops selling everything you don’t need, coupled with a stay in an extravagant spa hotels in the mountains really hit the spot.

Asparagus and Lemon Risotto

I am that obsessed with this recipe I have made it three times in the last fortnight. Granted, I have swapped out the asparagus for green beans and Mangetout to give it a bit of variation but honestly, it’s such a winner and so easy to make.

I just love strong, citrusy flavours. So if like me you want a quick but delicious mid-week dinner, look no further than this fantastic risotto recipe.

Embracing Organisation

I used to be a little embarrassed or ashamed of how truly, anally organised I was as a person. I love a planner, preparation is definitely key, and making an itinerary is a true treat.

However I decided that one of my ‘resolutions’ for 2020 was to embrace this quirk, and no longer apologise for wanting to have stuff scheduled or prepared in advance.

Since this year is a big one for us, I have already put in some time to properly plan events such as my husband’s 30th, our two big vacations and our Christmas accommodation (because we’re going away in a big group) and honestly it feels great. If you have a trait you’re forever apologising for because you think others judge you for it, stop. Make 2020 your year of embracing your quirks and making them work for you

Off-Season Travel

Travelling often requires perfect timing if you are going to make the most of your trip. If you want to see the Cherry Blossoms in Japan, you need to head there during a specific two weeks of Spring. If you want guaranteed sun, you need to choose your destination or your departure data wisely based on the location.

With all that in mind, whilst seeing destinations at their sunniest, snowiest or during certain festivals definitely has a lot of benefits, there’s a lot to be said about seeing places when they are classed as ‘off-season’ too. We have started to try and do this a little more, because I think that honestly, you see a completely different side and energy to many destinations when you visit out of their main window.

Venice was magical in December. It was snowy, it was empty and there was something incredible about enjoying a glass of red wine, next to a fire, in this enchanting and artsy city.

Again, the same can be said for Switzerland in the summer rather than its usual winter draw. Vast hiking routes open up, prices are a lot lower, and the wine cellars open. It has so much to offer for a destination people see primarily as a skiing paradise.  

Sex Education Season Two – Netflix

If you’ve not seen season one, well obviously start there. If you have somehow missed that season two is now available as you’ve been living under a rock or weirdly putting off watching it for some reason, end your excuses and start tonight.

It’s just as great as the pilot season, and I could waste away hours envying over Gillian Anderson’s wardrobe and style in the series. No wonder pantsuits are seeing a massive rise in the fashion world right now.

Seedlip Gin (Alcohol Free)

I first had a taste of Seedlip when I was celebrating New Year with friends back home, and looking for something to create delicious mocktails out of during the evening celebrations.

I got a Seedlip pre-mixed gin and tonic can, and honestly, it tastes fantastic and will be something post-pregnancy I keep on drinking to keep a good balance.

The Economist Subscription Packages

There’s so much free content available now online, but sometimes it really is worth paying for that extra long-form analysis, the discoveries into topics you never knew you wanted to learn more about, and the joy of reading something offline whilst tucked up in bed at the end of a long day.

The Economist do a really good subscription deal, especially if it’s your first time trying it. You can get the first twelve weeks for just £12 and it also includes a free gift.

It’s something I treat myself to every year, and look forward to each edition arriving.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo – Taylor Jenkins Reid

What a book. I honestly wish I could perfectly write enough to get you to read it without spoiling it, but I am wary that by doing so I will give important details away that I want you to discover when you lose yourself in this well-written and engrossing novel.

It’s not the typical genre I go for, but it is done so well it easily is one of the best reads I have picked up in the last six months.

If you want a new book, and feel like you can trust in my recommendation, order or borrow a copy today.

Neal’s Yard Sleep Body Butter

This book is incredibly powerful, and really makes you think. With the rising power of technology, we have to make a decision about how we want it to shape our future. Do we allow technology to enrich the few and impoverish the many, or harness it and distribute its benefits? It’s a must-read and it’s pretty hard to put down once you begin.

Social Media Detoxing

Four days ago I embarked on a month long social media detox, and already I am feeling the benefits. So much so, I have asked my husband to post my blog article posts and promotions for me so that I can keep relishing in the offline, switched off bubble I am happily living in right now.

I hope I last the next twenty five days, and the good feeling that comes with being socially ‘detoxed’ continues. For me personally, I wouldn’t have said I was ‘addicted’ to it but I definitely would scroll absentmindedly when bored or waiting for something like a bus every day. It had become a habit, a go to crutch for boredom, and I wanted to break than reliance.

I definitely am missing out on some of the great updates many of my friends and family post on a regular basis, especially with living in a different country to many of them, but those I am super close to send me these via a message or call anyway so honestly it’s not been bad at all.

If you too are feeling the ‘social habit’ where you scroll without realising, you’re posting more than you are experiencing day to day, or you are sharing photos for reasons other than memory capturing and moment savouring, maybe you need a detox too.

What 2020 Travel Trends Will You Be Embracing?

As we move into a new decade, our travel desires and habits are changing to reflect our new desires and wishes when it comes to adventuring and experiencing more of the world. 

Below are some of the key travel trends I think will shape 2020 and the next few years. Do you recognise any of these from what you’ve been looking for personally? Do you disagree with any?

Train and Non-Air Travel

With the growing rise of ‘flight-shame’ and awareness of the environmental impact regular plane travel has on the planet and climate, people are looking for alternative methods of transport when it comes to planning their next adventures.

Because of this, train, boat and car travel will see an increase in popularity as people combine a more eco-friendly way to arrive with a scenic journey to their destination. 

In 2020, we have reached the joint decision to fly for only one ‘long-haul’ trip where we can’t reach the destination by other means, and then continue the rest of our adventures through other modes of transport. It’s not perfect, but it’s a good start and lets us test what travel through different means really looks like. 

We will be embracing bikes, trains and long road trips to see as much as the world on our doorstep as we can. (Although for full disclosure, this excludes required business travel and trips to see family back in the UK seen as we have a new arrival this year that many want to meet.)

Short Breaks

The usual seven or ten day traditional holiday is moving over and making room for the rapid rise in shorter mini-breaks and weekends away. Younger generations are becoming more ‘leave-savvy’ when it comes to using their hard earned vacation days, and want to utilise them to see and experience more places. 

Therefore, we are seeing a rapid rise in three night destination hops rather than the longer week long holiday to disconnect and unwind. For 2020 and beyond, expect to see more people heading off for long weekends three to four times a year than one big all-expenses holiday in the summer.

We have been huge fans of mini-breaks for years’ now, and spend a good few hours every January working out how to best structure our leave to maximise our adventures for the coming year. Add a day onto public holidays, travel when quiet, and make the most of your weekends with amazing experiences to be found just an hour or two away.

Travelling with Pets

According to Mintel, 59% of British consumers now have a pet, and the biggest trend for growth when it comes to ownership is thanks to the younger millennials (21-30) who are now adopting a furry friend at the same time as their parents were choosing to have children. 

With this rise in younger pet households comes the rise in people travelling with their furry companions. Pet friendly hotels, planes and restaurant demand is on the rapid rise. 52% of American millennial pet owners will now take their pet with them if they are away from home for more than two nights. 

For those who find it harder to travel with their pets, such as those with cats, smaller mammals or animals who don’t quite like the journey, there’s also been a boom in services to support this. Sites like Trusted Housesitters have been gaining rapid popularity, and for good reason. 

Some of the best airlines to travel with a pet are JetBlue, Air France and Swiss Airlines according to independent reviews. Plus, the best countries to travel to or live with a dog? France, Switzerland, Italy and Canada top the list thanks to their pet friendly ways of life. 

Our cats love to travel in the car for short trips, but we don’t think they would quite like a longer journey. So we love sites like Trusted Housesitters and local cat friendly hotels for short breaks away or cat sitting support. 

My brother and sister in-law are literally the leaders in travelling with pets. Their dog Hiro has been alongside them as they take a gap year flying with them to Canada, the US, Mexico, Costa Rica and much more.

Ethical Travel

A survey by Sainsbury’s in the summer of 2019 predicted that 25% of Brits would be vegetarian or vegan by 2025. This accounts for the rise in demand for both vegan hotels, and eco-tourism and more ethical travel. 

People are becoming more aware of their travel footprint, choosing to take ‘no-waste’ amenity kits with them on breaks, seeking out vegan or vegetarian hotels to stay in and paying to offset their carbon footprints for each flight, delivery or service they use. 

I love to see it on sites like Viator, where tour companies are now offering more ethical excursions so you can see more of a country without damaging it through your tourist footprint. 

Family Travel

There’s been a huge growth in people travelling and going away with their extended family and it’s something I think will keep being popular for many years to come. 

As more people lead busier lives, or live further away from each other, the chance to all meet up together in an exciting new destination and to make memories as a family is really appealing. 

There’s been a surge in families booking large rentals, such as through sites like AirBnb, and making the most of both their destination but also time at the lodgings together to just relax, reconnect and make lasting memories. 

Detox Holidays

Whilst technology is a great enabler for every day life, often people are looking towards their holidays as a way of escaping the constant buzz and noise of being always connected. 

A lot of ‘technology-free’ retreats, hotels and vacations are popping up which promise a chance for you to truly disconnect for a period of time. An opportunity to go back to basics and enjoy reading, nature, hiking or the sights around you without online distractions. 

Honestly, this is something I want to try more in 2020. Perhaps not at a ‘technology-free’ retreat, but by leaving our phones behind in the hotel safe, the laptops at home, and properly disconnecting when away. We did this in the South of France late last year, to the level that we had several people asking if we had got there safe and everything was okay as they hadn’t seen any updates on our Instagram about being there.

It was a big reality check for us, and needless to say we now put the phones away during the day and only then upload any photos or highlights of the day when back at our hotel in the evening.

Staycations

Tied with the rise in eco-tourism, as well as the desire to discover more about the beautiful sites on your doorstep, there’s no surprise that staycations are seeing a boom in popularity again amongst travellers.

Whether it’s venturing out to discover hidden gems in your own country, or even just getting together a lot of little luxuries for a weekend hidden away at home, a staycation can really help you relax and recharge without having to (a) spend a fortune or (b) travel far. 

With our first child arriving in just a few months, I hope to use 2020 as a chance to explore more locally, giving us the thrill of going away without the stress of flights, travel and paperwork. Camping is a big love of ours, so we hope that this is one way we can achieve this in the summer. 

M Insider: The Monthly Roundup – December Edition

M Insider is a collection of things that at this moment, I think are truly brilliant. It might be a new destination, an ingredient I can’t believe I haven’t cooked with before, or a travel app that has just gone and made life abroad so much easier.

Here’s the second instalment of the M Insider Monthly Roundup, looking back on December 2019.

Zero Waste Travel Kits

When you are heading on a trip, whether it be a short weekend away, day trip for some exploring or a long-haul adventure, make sure you take a zero waste travel kit with you. This doesn’t mean you need to invest in anything new, just bring in your bag a few essentials to help you cut down on waste throughout your trip.

As a minimum, add a reusable water bottle, a good flask, re-sealable bags and a travel straw to your luggage before setting off. If you want to go a little further, invest in a washable wooden cutlery set, and be sure to pack your own toiletries rather than using hotel ones.

Sonia Moer Duvet Covers

We recently replaced both the duvet covers in our apartment for our bed, as well as the guest room. It was out of necessity that we replaced them both, one had a broken zip and one had been seriously cat pawed, so I wanted to invest in something that would last just as long and be comfy too.

After much review sourcing we went for the Sonia Moer covers, and can I just say they are amazing. They are soft, easy to clean and zip fastened for quick sheet changes. I was a little wary at first because of the price point (a lot lower than I have previously spent) but I am really impressed.

Polaroid Mobile Printer

For Christmas my husband got me this fantastic mobile printer, which allows me to print directly from my phone on-the-go. It’s been really good for adding in photos of my bump to my pregnancy journal, and for printing little memories to add to travel scrapbooks and albums. Plus, it’s really tiny, so you can just pop it into your bag and take it with you anywhere.

NordVPN

It always amazes me how few people I know use a VPN when it comes to internet browsing. We have been using one for a long time now, and the best we have experienced so far is NordVPN. It’s because it connects both on our laptops, but also has an app meaning you can log-in and use it via your iPhone and tablet devices as well.

A VPN has many benefits, but the biggest being increasing your online security when using public WiFI networks, remote access of content (for example streaming services we pay for in the UK that we would struggle to watch when travelling) and buying cheaper travel tickets (as flights are priced differently depending on the city you buy them from). 

Vox Videos

These short videos by Vox have recently become my new favourite thing to watch on the go or when relaxing in an evening. Each video is around fifteen minutes long, and they cover a wide range of topics from ‘The Bizarre Physics of Fire Ants’ to ‘Expensive Wine is For Suckers’. An easy way to build your knowledge on things you never knew you needed to know.

See all their videos here

https://www.youtube.com/user/voxdotcom/videos?view=0&sort=p&flow=grid

Olaplex Shampoo

It took me a long time to justify spending over £25 per bottle of shampoo, no matter how many good things I heard about Olaplex. Then one day last summer, I was on a hen do, and one of the girls’ had the most incredible hair in such good condition. You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to work out what her secret was based on this post.

I bit the bullet and got the No.3 hair perfector, and the No.5 conditioner. My hair has never been in better condition even with pregnancy hormones and regular blonde dye treatments.

If you are not sure if it’s for you, you can get mini-versions of them online for around £10.

Veganuary

We’ve started this a little later in 2020, as we have been travelling and visiting friends for the first week of the New Year, but now we are back in Switzerland we are both embracing Veganuary again.

What is it? A month where you follow a vegan lifestyle which hopefully inspires you to continue throughout the year, or at least adopt best practices and make positives changes with more conscious choices. You can sign up on their website, and they send you regular updates, motivational tips and recipes to inspire you.

I would recommend anyone starting this also takes a multi-vitamin and a B12 supplement throughout, to help support your body as you discover more about healthy plant based diets.

Falafels

I absolutely love a Falafel, and my favourite recipe is the one from BBC GoodFood below, however I also add in some hot curry powder for an extra kick when making.

They are a great snack, lunch or dinner served with Pitta and salad. Plus, super cheap to make at home.

https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/collection/falafel

The Age of Surveillance Capitalism : The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power – Shoshana Zuboff

This book is incredibly powerful, and really makes you think. With the rising power of technology, we have to make a decision about how we want it to shape our future. Do we allow technology to enrich the few and impoverish the many, or harness it and distribute its benefits? It’s a must-read and it’s pretty hard to put down once you begin.

30 Day Minimalist Challenge

I created my own thirty-day minimalist challenge in 2017, after following a few online versions when I first started to embrace a lifestyle living with less. It contains all the best changes I personally found to be effective when exploring minimalism. If you want to follow this with me, I am starting tomorrow and sharing a challenge a day.

Whilst I can’t promise it will change your life, I can assure you that since living with less I have personally been more productive, happier, achieved more and found a real balance with my anxiety. Minimalism isn’t just about stuff, it’s about addressing everything that adds unnecessary noise and clutter to your life.

Try and stick to the 30 day challenge, or just do a few throughout the course and see if they have an impact.

My Ten Favourite Destinations Of The Decade

It has been an incredible decade for travel, adventure and experiences. I can honestly say that I practised what I preached over the last ten years, and made travel a main priority based on my personal goals, interests and hopes.

It has required a lot of sacrifice, financial discipline and preparation but it has also resulted in some of the best memories I have ever held. Since 2009, I have been fortunate enough to travel to thirty-seven countries and over eighty different cities. This post is a reflection on my all-time top ten destinations I visited during the last ten years. I hope it can provide you with some inspiration for your next adventure.

Some interesting things that stood out to me when I made the list included the fact that I am clearly happiest travelling in winter or colder conditions, I am more of a rural rather than city break adventurer and a lot of the attraction of a place has to do with the food.

Here are the top ten, ranking in order, with my favourite places first. 

Japan – Kyoto

A country which fuses modern and ancient traditions seamlessly, Japan is a melting pot of culture, tech, art and history. Everything you want to say about Japan can be summarised as a perfect juxtaposition. Chaotic but ordered, futuristic and yet so deeply rooted in tradition, high-rises circling around historic gardens and shrines. This place on paper doesn’t work, but in reality it’s a place which offers you a wealth of different experiences in such a short space of time, and it’s enthralling.

Arriving in Kyoto you quickly get the sense that this city is a cultural and spiritual hub of Japan. There’s over 2000 different shrines, temples and statues hidden amongst the modern city centre. Explore traditional Japanese wooden houses in the Gion district, taste local delicacies in the sprawling markets and enjoy traditional tea ceremonies or stay in a local Ryokan to truly immerse yourself in the historic culture of Japan.

Visit: March-May

Eat: Ramen, Okonomiyaki, Sushi and Korokke

Stay: In a traditional ryokan

See: Shrines, markets, Gion district, surrounding mountains

Full visit guide – open here

Iceland

A magical combination of glaciers, geysers and volcanos make Iceland a truly unique landscape. A place where you can experience the joys of wilderness, the warmth of the locals and the true power of earth and Mother Nature.

It is the stark juxtaposition of the fire from the volcanos and ice from the glaciers that give Iceland its staggering landscape and distinctive opportunities for experiences like no other for tourists. In just a day you can soak in a geothermal lagoon, walk on lava fields and black sand beaches, stand atop ice-covered volcanos and under ice cold waterfalls, and take in the sparse and captivating glaciers.

Visit: February / March for snow and Northern Lights, July / August for hiking and outdoors
Eat: Fresh fish, hearty stews and strong drinks!
Stay: In a Reykjavik hotel with a good spa
See: Waterfalls, Glaciers, Natural Hot Springs and Volcanos

Full visit guide – open here

Norway – Tromso

If you are looking for a magical break, to a place where nature truly delivers breathtaking experiences at every moment, look no further than Tromso, a cosy town nestled right in the heart of the arctic circle.

Surrounded by small peaks, icy fjords and covered in a blanket of soft snow for six months of the year. Tromso is Norway’s most northern city, located in the heart of the Arctic Circle, and it makes a great base for exploring the many wonders mother nature has to offer.

This small city is the gateway to the Northern Lights, in close proximity to several breathtaking fjords and home to the historic Sami culture. Visit and experience a weekend filled with Reindeers, skating on frozen lakes and late night chases to catch a glimpse of the rare but wonderful northern lights as they fill the dark night skies.

Visit: November through March
Eat: Local foods and plenty of Christmas Tea!
Stay: In the Radisson Tromso City Centre
See: Northern Lights, Arctic Fjords, Reindeers and Frozen Lakes

Full visit guide – open here

Switzerland

I am incredibly lucky that a place we as a family decided to relocate to nearly fifteen months ago is now one of my all time favourite countries. Switzerland has so much to offer, and I am thankful every day that I get to explore so much on my doorstep.

With glacier-topped mountains seemingly on every corner, incredible alpine lakes and long green valleys to hike through, there’s so much to offer in this picturesque Alpine paradise. There’s a plethora of outdoor activities to be enjoyed. From skiing and skating in the snow, to biking and hiking in the summer. Here we have experienced more adrenaline activities such as paragliding and climbing in a year, than we have in our lifetime.

Plus, there’s always the draw of the UNESCO heritage vineyards and local caves serving their finest produce every spring and autumn.

Visit: Year-round, depending on your activity and weather preference
Eat: Fondue, Rosti, Chocolate and Fine-dining
Stay: Zurbriggen Hotel Zermatt
See: Mountains, Gorges, Lakes, Valleys and Old Alpine Towns

Full activity guide – open here

Italy – Tuscany

When you think of romantic retreats, Italy is always a good idea. The Tuscan region brings together everything that Italy has to offer, and goes above and beyond with the delivery.

Rolling vineyards, rustic farmhouses and B&B’s, old winding Italian roads and some of the best local foods and wine money can buy are all found in this quaint and historic region on the Italian west coast.

Stay in the hillside outside of Lucca, Siena or Florence and spend your days walking, exploring local farms and producers and cooking at home with the best local ingredients you can source each day after a quiet brunch in town.

There’s so much history and things to do, especially in central Florence that I don’t have space in this post without boring you all. However you can read my upcoming guide to Florence specifically in the next couple of weeks’ if you are feeling inspired.

If you want a guaranteed break filled with delicious food, romantic walks and breathtaking landscapes then book a flight to Tuscany today.

Visit: April-September
Eat: Pasta, Stews, Wine, Bread
Stay: Old Farmhouse Hotels / AirBnBs
See: Vineyards, Florence, Old Tuscan Villages, Rolling Hills

Full visit guide – open here

Cuba

Cuba, the Caribbean destination for culture, history, Cadillac’s and true escapism. Although it’s not got the reputation of the nearby islands for luxury five star retreats and resorts, it offers so much more in the experiences and opportunities you can digest whilst exploring this magical isle.

Never has there been a better time to visit and experience the mix of faded and crumbling Spanish colonial architecture, a dose of communism, white sand beaches and dancing Salsa and drinking rum until the sun goes down. In the last decade, private enterprise has been given the green-light and so many Cuban entrepreneurs have started to offer new opportunities for visitors. From private tours in a vintage Chevrolet to delicious food served in someone’s own casa, there’s a lot more to sample, straight from the locals themselves.

A pastel paradise, Cuba is a destination for people who enjoy travelling but also can adapt to the unexpected and be prepared to slow right down and appreciate an unhurried way of life. While we were there, we got used to we came to call ‘Cuban time’. A little longer to be served, an extended wait to buy a ticket or the complexities that came with getting from A to B. However for us, all this added to the charm of being able to explore a country that seems to be hovering between the past and present.

Havana is an enchanting maze of a city, which we first glimpsed from the old Spanish fort El Morro situated across the bay, overlooking the vast capital. Instantly from afar we could see the patchwork of different architectures all woven together, Colonial, Gothic, American and Russian, illustrating the complex history of Cuba in just a glance.

We found the best way to explore Havana was on foot, weaving our way through the crumbling and pastel lined cobbled streets. Stop to absorb everything you have seen in the many bohemian bars, wander into the art-deco hotel Hemingway made his home for months and stand in one of the many squares that represent the different times and layers of history that have shaped this city like no other.

Our top sights included the Malecon seafront, the Plaza Vieja Square, Plaza de la Revolution and the old town. You should also make an effort to explore the less regenerated area of Centro Habana, in order to get a true feel of life and reality for many Cubans. It is filled with an energy and buzz, away from the crowded tourist hotspots, and showcases the less polished side of the capital, away from the pastel cafes and restored main squares.

Visit: December – April
Eat: Cuban Sandwich, Rice in Black Beans, Vaca Frita, Pastelitos
Stay: Homestay or classic beach front hotel
See: Havana, Cardenas, Varadero, Trinidad

Morocco – Marrakech

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.

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.

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.

Also, make sure you head out to the Atlas Mountains, for a camping experience under the stars.

Visit: February – May
Eat: Cous Cous, Tagine, Mint Tea
Stay: Riads in the centre
See: Atlas Mountains, Medina, Souks, Spas

Argentina

Argentina is a sprawling natural wonderland, filled with peaks, forests and the lively city of buenos aires, there’s just so much to see in this incredible South American country.

Watch tango, explore the markets and enjoy good food in a local restaurant whilst people watching. Get out of the city to explore the natural waterfalls, Andes Mountain range and the huge range of wildlife. Spot penguins, whales, giant anteaters and more!

Head to Patagonia, the Perito Moreno Glacier and the south to truly immerse yourself in this naturally outstanding country. Especially if you’re a big fan of winter sports.

In the capital, there are heaps of vintage bookstores, creative boutiques and local stores and bars to sip on a cocktail under the sun.

Visit: Depending on where Argentina is a year-round destination
Eat: Chimichurri, Empanadas, Mate, Steak, Barbecue
Stay: Depends where you are based!
See: As much as you truly can, you need at least two weeks to see the best of the country

Australia – Great Ocean Road 

Drive along the coast of the wild southern ocean via winding narrow roads, small rainforests and amazing clifftop viewpoints. situated just a short distance from Melbourne, head out and explore all the striking coastal landscapes Victoria has to offer.

The Great Ocean Road consists of 243km of incredible landscapes, terrains and wildlife. Although it could technically be driven end to end in around six hours, I would really recommend doing this over several days to allow you to enjoy and experience the different sections of the route.

You will stop at world class surfing beaches, witness Koala’s and Kangaroos in the wild, and get to wander through lush tropical rainforests on your way to see the Twelve Apostle’s and other iconic sites towards the end of the route.

Visit: November – January
Eat: Whole foods, vegan treats, and fresh seafood
Stay: Beacon Point Ocean View Villas
See: 12 Apostles, Wildlife, Apollo Bay, Rainforests, Surfing, Lighthouses

Download my free visit guide here

Moscow – Russia

Somewhere I visited fleetingly but it left such a longing to go back it had to make this list. A historical city, sprawling out from the Kremlin and Red Square through to majestic surrounding streets, and tall imposing architecture.

Explore retro clubs and cafes nodding to the soviet era, experience luxury afternoon tea in fine dining restaurants and bars. Wander through ornate shopping malls and discover colourful hidden gems, historic fortresses and huge cathedrals dotted all across the city.

Visit: March – June
Eat: Pelmeni, Borshch, Pirozhki and luxury dining
Stay: Ritz Moscow
See: Kremlin, Red Square, St. Basil’s Cathedral, Lenin’s Mausoleum, Bolshoi Theatre, The Ornate Subway, Alexander Garden, State Museum.

My First Trimester Essentials and Personal Discoveries

Everyone has a different experience when it comes to pregnancy, with no two journeys ever being the same. However, during my first twelve weeks’ I gathered some pretty useful pieces of advice, or discovered a few things I wish I had known a little earlier that made the first trimester a little easier. 

Here’s a collection of things I discovered that may or may not help you if you have recently discovered you’re expecting, or are planning for a little one. 

Prenatal Vitamins

It’s incredibly important to start taking your vitamins as soon as you start trying to conceive and continue throughout your pregnancy. If like me, you struggle to keep any kind of food down, you can at least rest assured that your little one is getting it’s daily dose off vitamins, minerals and folic acid from these handy little pills.

Be mindful when buying them though, I got some at first which were GIANT and pretty difficult to swallow, and when I managed to gulp them down often they upset my stomach further and didn’t stay down. 

Look for smaller capsules and take at night for best results in my experience. I used and I am still using Elevit Vitamins.

Comfy Loose Clothes

Even though I have more of a ‘bump’ in the second trimester, I found that the first was where I felt the most uncomfortable so far belly-wise. If you’re feeling nauseous you don’t want something tight digging into your belly all day. Plus, bloating is a serious side-effect for the first twelve weeks, so anything with a little room is a blessing. 

Go for cotton, soft and stretchy clothes like loose dresses, leggings and longer line jumpers or blouses where possible. Side note – unless you really need or want to, I wouldn’t invest in maternity clothes at this stage. Just size up, buy belly extenders or wear the looser items in your wardrobe for now.

My favourite leggings were the HM Maternity range – they are affordable, keep their shape and incredibly comfy and long-lasting. Much better than the Mamalicious Maternity ones I quickly returned, and half the price. 

Mints and Gum

This is a trick I discovered from my pregnant cousin who is a few weeks’ ahead of me in her pregnancy. Ginger just didn’t keep the sickness away at all for me. I suffered from severe morning sickness (being sick 4-6 times a day, every day for nearly six weeks). Highlights included being sick on a thousand year old Glacier during a hike, practically sleeping in a long-haul plane toilet and shocking a poor passerby as I quite suddenly threw up into a bush on my morning walk to work. 

Mints were the only thing that helped to stop the constant nausea feeling. That, and McDonalds Hash Browns (don’t ask) when I finally got hungry. 

If ginger doesn’t work for you like most, don’t despair and try strong mints instead. 

Book Depository

When you feel pretty wiped during the first twelve weeks, you don’t really want to do much after work or during the weekends. This is where the fantastic Book Depository came in handy for me. It’s a brilliant site for used books, with free delivery worldwide (including Switzerland!) Thanks to my brilliant friend Katy I discovered this site which allowed me to keep a well stocked library next to the bed, for passing away the hours when you just feel…bleugh. 

Pet Deterrent

I don’t know the science behind this, but as soon as I was pregnant my cats were attracted to my belly like a magnet. They still are, and unless you want to deal with a heavy lump climbing on your belly when it’s already sensitive and you’re feeling nauseous, you’re going to have to find a way to distract them! I failed miserably, but I am adding this here in case anyone has any great ideas, and to let mums-to-be know that their furry friends may know before them if a little one is on the way.

Pregnancy Plus App

When I discovered I was pregnant, I downloaded a bunch of apps to track the babies development and to discover more about what changes were happening daily to my body (and, of course, to see what size animal it compared to each week). 

The one which stood out, and I continue to use now, is the Pregnancy+ App. It’s got tons of great guides, to do lists, kick counters and more. 

Patience

This isn’t something you can buy, but it’s something I recommend you all try to have with yourself for the first three months (easier said than done, granted). It can be hard when you find you can’t quite hike at a pace you are used to, when eating anything but beige food makes you instantly sick but you want to be healthy for baby, and when you find yourself crying because you realise you’re running low on your favourite crisps and the shops are closed (true story). Although it’s a big adjustment, try not to be too hard or demanding on yourself and give yourself time over these three months to enjoy what’s happening inside of you rather than being frustrated in what you can no longer do.

Body Oil and Moisturiser

Although they say stretch marks are hereditary and if you’re going to get them, there’s not much you can do to prevent it, it doesn’t hurt to take good care of your growing body and belly with a nourishing oil or moisturiser. 

The two which worked best for me and I use daily is BioOil and Palmers Cocoa Butter Stretch Mark Cream. The former is good for putting on regularly, especially after a morning shower, and the latter is best to lather on at night as it’s quite thick and takes a while to soak in. 

It can also be a nice moment for the dad to be, as my husband rubs it into my belly most evenings as a way to connect with the growing little one. 

Refillable Water Bottle

No idea why, but as soon as you become pregnant you suddenly are 1000x thirstier than ever before, take it from me. 

I would recommend getting a good refillable bottle you can carry about everywhere, to make sure you’re never without much needed hydration!

Maternity Bra

You don’t really need to buy maternity clothes this early on, but one essential I would recommend getting from the moment you get a positive line on your test is a good maternity bra. Honestly, this area becomes sensitive pronto during pregnancy and is actually usually one of the first symptoms you can feel. Stock up on a few comfy, non-wired neutrals and you won’t regret it. 

I got mine from ASOS basics and in a multi-pack of two, and they were great.

Lavender Pillow Spray

You may find yourself sleeping more than ever before during the first twelve weeks’, especially with the frequent naps you now crave during the day. Make it easier to fall asleep and maximise your rest with a good pillow spray. It’s always nice to have little luxuries to help you through this period of big change. 

I have used the ‘This Works’ Deep pillow spray for years now, and couldn’t recommend it more.

Black Out Eye Mask

Really on the same note as the above, and especially valuable for mid-day naps. A good black out eye mask is well worth the investment. 

What To Expect When You’re Expecting Book

It is a really good and comprehensive guide that helps you week by week know what’s going on with your body, and answers some common questions you may have but don’t know how to ask or word them. It shows you different ways mums carry and their bumps, diet guides and uncommon symptoms. I read it nightly at the moment, and would recommend it to all expecting mums. 

M Insider: The Monthly Roundup – November Edition

M Insider is a collection of things that at this moment, I think are truly brilliant. It might be a new destination, an ingredient I can’t believe I haven’t cooked with before, or a travel app that has just gone and made life abroad so much easier.

Here’s the second instalment of the M Insider Monthly Roundup, looking back on November 2019.

Longchamp Card Wallet

This year for my birthday, my husband got me this gorgeous new Longchamp card wallet, and I honestly haven’t considered switching back to a bulkier purse since. It fits easily into any bag, clutch or pocket; it holds all the essentials (cards and notes) and has space for a photo or note should you wish to carry one.

It’s the time of year to declutter, and what better way to start than with your wallet that you use every day. Say goodbye to those old and useless loyalty cards, and streamline your purse for 2020 in style. Kyran also switched from a usual wallet to a cardholder after seeing mine in use, so it is also a great gift idea for men too this winter.

Tromso – The Perfect Winter Holiday

Exploring the Arctic Circle, chasing the northern likes, hiking around snowy fjords. Do I really need to go on? We recently got back from our anniversary trip to Tromso and I wholly recommend that anyone who is looking for an incredible winter break this year should book a flight to this northern Nordic destination.

You can fly with Norwegian Airlines directly from many larger airports. Just pack many layers, it’s very cold!

Panasonic Lumix DC-GX 80 Camera

The best camera we own for taking great photos on the go, without having to carry around a bigger DSLR. It’s perfect for travelling, and even allows you to change the lenses depending on your need. We love the phone syncing option that allows us to instantly download images to our smartphones for ease of editing and sharing without cables or internet connection.

There’s a touch screen, great control of manual settings, and it looks gorgeous and retro too.

Christmas Tea

I recently came across this flavour of herbal tea and I am now pretty much obsessed. If you want warmth and comfort in a mug, look no further than this magical blend of spices and flavours.

Vegan Katsu Curry

Katsu curry is one of my all-time favourite dishes. There’s just something comforting about it. I really like this vegan version of the curry, where instead of breaded chicken, you have vegetables under that delicious spicy sauce.

To make it, we add our own twist. Instead of breading whole slices of sweet potato or aubergines, we make vegetable fritters by blending leftover vegetables and seasoning – I think it’s more flavoursome this way. Plus, to make the sauce, invest in the S&B golden curry cubes. We got told in Japan that people always use these rather than making from scratch as they just taste so good and it’s hard to replicate.

There’s a great recipe for it here if you want to try it at home.

Get Your Guide

We love to book a tour or experience whenever we are away, because no matter how much research you do, you really don’t know a place like the locals. Get Your Guide is one of our favourite sites to book these excursions through for several reasons. You can change and cancel bookings up to 24 hours before they start, allowing for great flexibility, there’s loads of great reviews, and the variation of things on offer is amazing.

We’ve booked a cooking class, photography class and local food tour via here all in the last three months. I would really recommend it.

Pocket Yoga App

Yoga is good for your body and your soul, and the best thing about it is that you can pretty much do it anywhere if you have enough space to stretch out.

This is why I love the Pocket Yoga App. It allows me to practice yoga daily wherever I am, which is especially useful when travelling. The app talks you through all the moves, and gives you visual and audio guides to support you. A little bit of yoga goes a long way. It’s been especially good during my pregnancy, so I would recommend this as a great download for any mums to be out there

The Crown – Season Three

I don’t think this needs much of a description, other than just watch it! I absolutely love The Crown series on Netflix and so was super happy when the latest season dropped.

The new cast is great, the plot as always is well-written and it’s a fantastic form of escapism when travelling or winding down for the night.

Brown Paper Wrapping

Forget fancy wrapping, bows and glitter this festive season, and instead opt to wrap your gifts in rustic and more importantly, recyclable brown paper.

A huge majority of wrapping paper actually can’t be recycled due to the coating used, so this year, do the planet a favour and wrap your lovely little bundles of joy in some vintage looking brown paper. There’s some great ideas on Pinterest on how to make it more personal using stamps, or natural decorations if you want to spruce it up a little.

The Uninhabitable Earth – A Story Of The Future

My sister gifted me this fantastic book for my birthday this year and it’s not only an eye-opening read, but also really interesting at the same time.

It’s not a book for the faint hearted, and it doesn’t sugar coat the situation we are really in when it comes to our planet and the future of humanity.

Which is why I think it makes it even more important to grab a copy and give it a read. We have an awful lot to learn from this brilliant Author.  

M Insider: The Monthly Roundup – October Edition

Writing detailed posts on new destination discoveries, long haul travel tips and the perfect minimalist gifts have been my go-to for a long time now. Four years’ ago I started Minimalist Insider as a way to invest in one of the things I love the most. Writing.

I am still pleasantly surprised that people like you keep coming to read my posts, and so I like to keep refreshing the types of content I share, even though the long form articles will always be my bread and butter. Last year, I launched the Extraordinary Ordinary series, and recently I have started to share and publish free travel itineraries based on tried and trusted trips I have taken.

From this month, to celebrate four years’ of writing, I am going to start sharing my M Insider monthly roundups; you guessed it, on a monthly basis.

So what is this new feature, you may ask. Well, worry not reader, I am here enlighten you.

M Insider will be a collection of things that at this moment, I think are truly brilliant. It might be a new destination, an ingredient I can’t believe I haven’t cooked with before, or a travel app that has just gone and made life abroad so much easier.

Don’t worry, you won’t need to read this whole introduction for the following M Insider Monthly Roundups, I promise in future editions to get right to the good stuff you’re here for.

So without further rambling. Here’s the first instalment of the M Insider Monthly Roundup, looking back on October 2019.

Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple

This is a must-read, must-buy for anyone looking for a witty, clever and surprising book. As the days get colder, reading inside snuggled on the sofa becomes a very appealing weekend activity and for that, this novel is the perfect accompaniment. I often enjoy a book, but it takes something incredibly special to fill me with fear as the pages left slowly dwindle and I realise this moment of enjoyment will be over soon. If you read anything this winter, make it this.

Snapseed by Google – Photo editing app

We’ve all been there, in a picturesque moment with the lighting, landscape and weather all aligned, and realised we only have our trusty mobile to hand to snap the shot. Take the photo, follow the rule of thirds and all that jazz, but then later open it in the Snapseed app to refine it before sharing, printing or posting it. It is easy to use, has fantastic features, and best of all, it’s free.

Trusted Housesitters

The best website for people with pets who need reliable and wonderful people to take care of their furry family and home whilst they are away, or for people who love animals and want the perks of free local accommodation for their next trip. It costs £80 a year for membership, but then you have the ability to apply and stay in, or apply for and host, as many sitters or places as you need. I wrote a much longer blog about it all here. But really, if you’ve not checked it out yet, you really should.

Curio Audio News

When you want to keep up with the latest news from reputable sources, but finding and reading them proves time-consuming, you need the Curio app. It lets you listen to audio-snippets of news stories, journalism and cutting edge content from many different publishers such as the Financial Times, Guardian and Monocle. My recent favourite listens have been ‘What We Can Learn From People With Beautiful Minds’ and ‘We Have The Tools and Technology To Work Less and Live Well’. You can download the app and give it a try with ten free listens. Anything more, you do need to subscribe, but I personally think its well worth it. It allows me to keep up to date and discover new things whilst multitasking thanks to it being in audio format.

Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse

This oil is multi-award winning and a firm beauty favourite for a reason. I use it on my skin, my hair and as a fragrance. A little goes a long way so a 100ml bottle lasts me months. It smells divine, and really helps with my naturally dry skin. Moreover, it keeps the humidity at bay for frizz prone hair. Win win.

Red Lentil Soup Recipe 

Nothing says autumn more than a good soup. It’s the season for breaking out the blender and discovering the amazing flavours of a wholesome and hearty broth. One of my personal favourites is a red lentil soup. The Goop recipe here is great as it’s vegan, filling and slightly spiced (I usually add a little more curry powder than the recipe dictates).

https://goop.com/recipes/red-lentil-soup/

Weekend break – Grindelwald

If you want to get away and experience good hikes, cosy chalet restaurants and views you’ll never forget as you stand under the face of the Eiger, then you need to head to Grindelwald. In this cute Swiss town you can embark on endless walks in the mountains, take cable cars up for incredible views at dizzying heights, and also take part in some serious adventure sports if you feel like it.

The nearby Murren and Gimmelwald are also well worth a visit if you have the time, and both are car free towns so make for great outdoor bases away from the bustle of the city.

Perfect Winter Scents – White Company Candles

I have a serious love of White Company homeware. Their bedding is unbelievably soft, their pyjamas cosy and neutral and their candles smell incredible. Which is why every Winter I look forward to lighting their famous Winter Signature candle on a cosy weekend night in. It smells of everything wonderful about this season. Cinnamon, oranges and that smoky wood scent that instantly makes you feel like you are in an old cottage hibernating for the winter. If you are looking for a good gift that keeps on giving this Christmas, look no further (and get one for yourself at the same time!)

https://www.thewhitecompany.com/uk/Winter-Signature-Candle/p/WNDCX?swatch=No+Colour

Chickpea Pasta

A rich pasta dish, with simple flavours, goes a long way. There’s something delicious and comforting about a big pan of rustic ingredients thrown together with a thick sauce and carbs. Recently, I have been making pasta with different variations of the grain. One particular favourite is Chickpea pasta. For those in the UK, Ugo makes some great fresh and stored variations. Oh and as a bonus, Chickpea pasta is usually gluten free and vegan (but check the label just in case). For me, it’s a great alternative to whole-wheat pasta that’s easy on digestion and well-balanced.

Lumley Castle – perfect winter retreat

As the evenings get darker, it’s time to pack a bag and escape for the weekend to an old country house or castle for lazy mornings in four poster beds, delicious classic winter food and drinks by the fire. Lumley Castle in Durham is a great place for all the above. Oh, and it’s dog friendly. The library bar is a great place to unwind and warm up after exploring the grounds and nearby countryside. The restaurant food is fantastic, and you can choose to stay in the old castle itself or the modern courtyard rooms across the way. For the experience you get, I would really say that the hotel is very reasonably priced.

https://www.lumleycastle.com/

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

 

Five Books You Need On Your Bookshelf This Month

This is what I have been reading in August, and loving so far. Do you have any books you’ve absolutely loved this month? Share them in the comments below and give others inspiration for a good read!

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Afterlight

The sequel to the brilliant Last Light, this book makes you really think about how dependent we are on fuel, technology and modern commodities. Alex Scarrow isn’t afraid to tell it how it is, and doesn’t shy away from some of the more realistic and at times harrowing nature of humans when they’re pushed, tested and left to basically fend for themselves. A good dystopian novel.

3.5/5.

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Unsub

If you’ve seen me in person this month, the chances are I will have been talking your ear off about this book and how you just NEED to read it. One of the best thrillers I have picked up since Silence of the Lambs or Misery. Gripping from the first chapter, I got through it in two days and even woke up early before work on the second day as I couldn’t wait eight more hours to finish it.

5/5

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Crazy Rich Asians

There’s been a lot of hype surrounding this book, and now I have read it, I can see why. It’s witty, the humour is fantastically dry, and I personally really enjoyed the lightness of it. It’s the perfect lazy Sunday or beach read, and it doesn’t take itself too seriously. I instantly purchased the sequel as I find these books to be the perfect light relief after a hard day at work.

3.5/5

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The Lost Girls

If you like true crime, and you want to read about a yet to be solved case, this is the book for you. I personally found the approach and writing style a little different which made it harder for me to get sucked in, however the detail, research and stark reality of the lives of five so different and yet so similar American girls made this book well worth reading.

3/5

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Jungle

A true story, that at times feels totally unbelievable it’s that extraordinary. It’s a book based on the story of Yossi, a backpacker exploring South America who embarks on a once in a lifetime adventure to explore the Amazonian rainforest. It’s gripping, dark in places and really demonstrates the power and will that humans instinctively have to survive.

4/5


 

What do you think of the above? Have you read any of them? Share your thoughts with me below…