Putting a Spring in Your Step this Season

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So it’s come to that time of year again, where we’re thinking about our holidays, sunbathing by the pool or a beach, and keeping our fingers (and toes) crossed that the British weather will be kind to us this summer. I say it’s come to that time of year again, as it happens in January too – spurs of motivation to get fit, whether it’s for the new year, or to reach your dream beach bod for your holiday. The snapchats, the hashtags and the grimace that forms on your face when you force yourself to order a caesar salad over a burger. Yep, I’m guilty too.

So in light of this, I’m going to show you my favourite athleisure must-haves and essentials that I keep inside my gym bag this season…

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Sportswear

I’m not incredibly fussy when it comes to sportswear, however I am always drawn to brightly coloured and patterned details when it comes to choosing my workout clothes. I tend to go for something that I feel comfortable in, both literally and physically. Both of the black gym bottoms I purchased from New Look, and the green coloured one is 3/4 length, and blue detailed one is full length – always nice to have a bit of variety.

Although I love patterns, I tend to keep it to one patterned item at a time. For example, patterned leggings, and a plain top, or a patterned top, and plain leggings. If you want to check out some patterned sportswear, check out Adore Me‘s collection, and if you’ve not got the time to mix and match patterned outfits, they even have patterned althleisure sets! The only choosing you’ll have to do is deciding which weights you’re going to lift this session!

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Footwear

Footwear is one of the most important things to consider when searching for your gym gear – they need to be flexible, comfortable and supporting, especially if you’re going to be doing a lot of cardio or running exercises. I have always been partial to Nike trainers, just because I know I am guaranteed all of these three things. I live in my Nike Flyknit Roshes, as they are not only the most comfortable shoes I own at the gym, they are also my favourite driving shoes! I would suggest investing in a good pair of trainers if you’re thinking of starting the gym or exercise, as it’s not only important to be comfortable, but if you exercise in flimsy (or the opposite – too hard) shoes, you can result in injuries.

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Gym-Bag-Essentials

One thing I cannot go to the gym without is music. Once my headphones go in and I press the play button, I am instantly in the zone. Even on those sluggish days. Keep going till the end of the chorus… you’ve got this far, might as well smash this set until the end of the song. Music is my mini PT (Personal Trainer) cheering me on. Perhaps try this type of motivation if you’ve not challenged yourself before, or find it hard to motivate yourself during a set. You’ll be surprised at how you actually can finish the set if you put your mind to it.

Another gym bag essential I always bring with me is my padlock. The gym I use, padlocks are the only way you can use a locker, so this is an absolute must!

Towels are an essential, whether it’s a sweat towel to carry around with me in between sets, or an actual body towel for my post-workout shower (my favourite bit!).

Water. If you don’t drink during or after a gym session, then shame on you! Losing sweat at the gym, it is vital that you put back the water you have lost from your body to avoid becoming dehydrated and feeling lethargic. Depending on how much cardio I perform, I usually tend to drink 1 litre of water per gym session.

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Photography by Charlotte Jackson and Rachel Jefferies

Olympus Pen E-PL8, 45mm

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How to Find Your Perfect Bag

I’m usually a one-bag-girl. Not in the sense that I only have one bag, oh hell no. But when it comes to my everyday bag, I don’t switch up my bags very often. I will most likely wear one bag continuously, until I find the next bag of my liking. Any particular reason? Yes, laziness.

Not going to lie, I’m basically Mary Poppins when it comes to having too much stuff in my bag, meaning that transporting this ‘stuff’ from one bag to another every. single. day. can be a tad impractical. Keys, purse, mirror, lipstick(s), tissues, hand sanitizer, a pen, paracetamol, Kindle… and usually an abundance of receipts that seems impossible to not exist in my bag. About 98% of the time before I have to leave on a morning, I am running around like a headless chicken, so believe it or not – I don’t have the time to transport my ‘stuff’.

What’s important when shopping for your perfect bag…

I bought this bag for the intention to become an everyday bag, meaning that it needed to be big enough to hold my ‘stuff’ previously mentioned. However, seeing as I am quite a busy girl, hopping from coffee shop to the library (and, let’s be realistic, probably to another coffee shop), I also wanted a bag big enough to be able to hold notebooks and my laptop if required.

The colour of your bag is everything

One thing that instantly drew me to this bag was its colour. Anyone who knows me well will know that natural/neutral colours are my absolute go-to, meaning that khaki is most definitely one of my preferred colours when it comes to my style. It matches every other colour in my wardrobe (brown, grey, black, white, beige shades), and its classic style is perfect for all-year round.

The tip when searching for a bag you are planning to wear copiously is make sure the bag is a dark(ish) colour. This means that you are guaranteed to be able to wear this bag with almost every outfit. And as a bonus, any dirt or even dye from your jeans won’t be as noticeable – win win!

My Top Tip

When I search for a bag, I also like to think about the hardware tones. It seems a little extravagant, but this really is one of my most important tips when it comes to nailing your bags. Firstly, I consider what type of bag I am searching for (casual/daytime, a work bag, evening, smart, special occasion). Knowing that this bag was going to be for everyday, I then thought about the jewellery I tend to wear on a day-to-day basis – which is gold. Choosing a bag with gold hardware accents will complement the jewellery I am most likely to wear, meaning the bag will match almost any outfit I choose to wear. This is a smart way to make sure you get the most wear out of your bags.

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SHOP THIS BAG

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Images: Harry Dyer, Rachel Jefferies

February Favourites

Hello all!

This blog post I am wanting to share the products I have been absolutely loving throughout February and want to rave about it to you all. Read on for some secrets and product recommendations on how I nourish my hair and skin. And who knows, you might be loving it this March!

Haircare

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Bumble and Bumble Hairdresser’s Invisible Oil

Okay, so I could not rave about this product more if I tried. This little magic potion is called Bumble and Bumble (or Bb.), and will do absolute wonders to your hair. Before I first used this brand, I had read that the ‘invisible oils’ consisted of Coconut Oil, Argan Oil, Macadamia Nut Oil, Sweet Almond Oil, Safflower Seed Oil, Grapeseed Oil – all great for your hair, however it did make me wonder how that would sit my hair. I was worried it was going to be a greasy, oily product that leaves an unwanted residue in your hair. Oh how I was wrong. So very very wrong.

I have always desired to have silky-smooth hair, however bleaching my hair has left my strands quite textured rather than soft. Yet after using this product, I have had comments about how soft and nourished my hair look/feels (which is always a brightener to my day may I add).

The only down-fall to this product, I’m afraid, is the price. I stumbled upon Bumble and Bumble through receiving it as a free gift from Stylist Live, however since looking into this brand, this miniature travel pack costs a whopping £33. WHAT?! This leaves their bigger bottles retailing at £23 for shampoo (sulphate free), £25 for conditioner and £20.50 for heat/UV protection hair primer spray. Ouch. £68.50 on hair products + student budget = I don’t think so. Although the price is a little steep, this product really is that brilliant, and I will definitely be purchasing it at some point. Even if it is with Boots points!

Shop Bumble & Bumble here

Skincare

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Clarins Beauty Flash Balm

I’ve never actually used a Clarins product before, however I have fallen in love with this facial balm. I have been using a small amount of product before I apply my make up, and its thick formula almost sets a base for my make up. Half a pea-sized application and this miracle product brightens, tightens and preps my face, smoothing out any pores before applying my foundation. Anything else to rave about? Yes, you can also use a little more than usual and it will also act as a facial mask. Uhh… how brilliant is that?!

I also received this product from Stylist Live’s goodie bag that came with the Bumble and Bumble set. If I’m honest, a product like this normally wouldn’t have caught my eye (especially at £30), but being lucky enough to try this little gem out for free, perhaps I won’t be so quick to judge a product by its price. I am absolutely loving it.

Shop Clarins here

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NSPA Skin Glow Mud Mask

By far the best face mask I have ever come across. And I’m really not exaggerating! This mud mask is my go-to when I fancy pampering myself. The pot of goodness dries on your face (and cracks when you make a facial expression. Top tip: Don’t look in the mirror with it on – you will crack up, in both senses).

Removal with warm water and a damp flannel leaves your face feeling incredible. Smooth, tight and cleansed are the right words. Not only is this a pot of genius, but it is also cost-effective as you get multiple uses out of the pot. Not to mention it’s only £8. I have roughly had about 4-5 applications and I’m only half way through the pot! Definitely worth a purchase.

Shop NSPA here

Make Up

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Urban Decay Ultimate Basics Palette

Urban Decay. Where do I start? Perhaps at the fact that it’s possibly my most favourite make up brand of all time. And this palette is no exception. I received this as a gift from Harry for Christmas, and it was by far one of my favourite presents. A palette of colours anyone would ever dream of, all with pigment that holds more promise than a pinky finger ever will. Whether it’s a natural day-time look, or a dramatic smokey eye, this palette is a MUST for your make up bag. Trust me on this one.

Shop Urban Decay here

 

Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion

This is a potion, UD got that right! I can’t tell you enough how much I love this eyeshadow primer. Its purpose is to prevent your eyeshadow from creasing or smudging, which is especially vital if it’s a special occasion and you need your eyeshadow to last! Although £17 may seem a little hefty, I can promise you it is worth it. And the great thing is, you only need a tiny bit each use so it lasts ages!

Shop Urban Decay here

Let me know if any of my February Favourites have made it into your March Favourites at all, or if you already dig these products!

Rach x

How to Style Jewellery From Day-to-Night

Up until the last 3 years or so, jewellery really wasn’t my thing. In fact, accessories weren’t my thing. And if anything, I used to forget to accessorize my outfits. However, when I started to interpret jewellery and accessories within my style, I quickly realised that something so simple, such as the small detail of necklaces, can transform your outfit – from casual, everyday wear to sophisticated evening-style.

What I wear: day

When it comes to jewellery, I am a watch girl. By that, I mean that watches are my favourite pieces of jewellery. Ironic, because I’m late to pretty much everything in my life. But hey ho, at least the watch looks good… A simplistic and modest style, my Cluse watch is an accessory I wear everyday without fail. Complementing any day-time outfit, I am hugely fond of the clear face, and the watch’s design is timelessly modern.

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I’ve never been a loud costume jewellery lover, as I always feel like the little details speak much louder when styling your outfit’s accessories. Pretty and simple is what I look for. Through the courtesy of my work with Stylist, I was given a My Shining Armour necklace and I have not stopped wearing this beauty! 18ct gold-plated necklace, this simplistic yet stunning necklace is definitely one of my new favourites to accessorize any day outfit with.

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I have recently rediscovered my love for chokers, completing any daytime outfit that needs that little bit more detail to finish its ‘look’. Velvet, lace, you name it – chokers are now available in various materials, adding that finished edge to any outfit that needs a little more oomph!

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What I wear: evening

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You can probably tell that this watch has been worn endlessly. That’s because it has. Working in a jewellery store, this was the first piece of jewellery I treated myself to, and I am still in love with it just as much as the day I did the day I spotted it behind the counter. The secret when it comes to evening-wear abides by the famous rule, less is more. Petite pieces of jewellery are always a winner, especially if you only need to polish and complete an outfit due to your evening outfit already being a statement itself. Although this dainty watch is considerably smaller than my day-time Cluse watch, this Rotary classic never fails to introduce a subtle charm to any evening outfit.

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Switching the colours up, these two pieces are my absolute favourite for when I’m feeling less gold, and more silver. Both complementing each other, the eternity ring my parents bought me for my 18th birthday, and the Casio Sheen Bijou watch I bought afterwards to match with the blue diamonds and silver tones from my ring. Casio describe their range of Sheen Bijou watches as “[showcasing] delicate and petite styles, that radiate femininity for those who love their accessories to be simple and subtle”, which is exactly what this watch does! Although I wear this ring every day, I feel as though the watch’s sparkle details completes the classic look during evening outfits.

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You can probably guess the theme here… Rose gold bangles/bracelets. Rose gold took me a long time to become fond of, as I was so used to just the plain old silver or gold. However I’d probably go as far to say that rose gold is possibly one of my favourite colours of jewellery to wear. The pretty, delicate colour isn’t too overpowering, and it is the perfect colour to transform from day-to-night.

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Products featured:

Rose gold Cluse watch: Cluse

18ct yellow gold tone ‘O’ necklace: My Shining Armour

Khaki material choker: River Island, £5

Pink nude velvet choker: River Island

Gold tone Rotary watch: Rotary, £175

Silver tone Casio Sheen watch: H Samuel, unknown 

Sterling silver & blue diamond eternity ring: Ernest Jones

Ted Baker rose gold button bangle: Ted Baker

Ball rose 14ct gold-plated bangle: Pia

Chamilia pink leather braid charm bracelet: H Samuel

Photograph credits: Rachel Jefferies

A New Chapter

Why hello there, stranger.

So, it has felt like an extremely lengthy time since I last published a blog post… and that’s probably because it has been an extremely lengthy time. Normally I would bombard you all who kindly do take the time to read my blog posts with apologies, excuses and how I am embarrassed at how long it has been. However this time, I’m not sorry. And I’m not embarrassed. And without the cheesy cliche embellishment that nobody wants or needs (and nor does this blog), I’m coming clean.

the truth is, I just didn’t feel like writing”

I have had an abundance of people say to me “Rachel! When’s your next blog post coming out?”, and as flattered as I have been to hear readers are genuinely interested and follow my blog’s progress (a concept I still can’t get my head around), I would reply with “aww how sweet, I plan to post one shortly” – knowing it probably wouldn’t happen anytime soon. I tried blaming it on just being busy and not finding the time to write, and I tried blaming the fact I don’t have ‘blogger’ equipment to reach the standard I aspire. But the truth is, I just didn’t feel like writing.

If I had a pound for every time I sat down to finish just one, from the handful of unfinished blog posts I have lying in my drafts, well let’s just say I probably wouldn’t have to pay for a latte for the rest of the year. (Just take a look at my blog name if that has triggered any confusion). I just somehow found each post increasingly difficult to finish. Or just to even create content I was happy with. My inspiration had depleted to zero, and it took me a long time to stop feeling guilty about it. It was becoming more of a duty rather than something I enjoy. And that’s when I asked myself, I have created this blog as a hobby, as a creative outlet, as a way to put my writing ‘out there’. So why was it becoming almost a chore?

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“Your blog should reflect you”

Despite saying all of this, it doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy blogging – it would be terribly ironic of me if that were the case. I enjoy blogging, however I think I have concluded that the content I was making wasn’t one hundred per-cent what I wanted to blog about. I am aiming to spruce up the content, style and appearance of my blog, meaning that what I put onto my platform will reflect more personality, but in a more tidy and polished sense. That, I think, is the art of creating and tailoring a blog, making the work you publish onto it a much more enjoyable process. Your blog should reflect you. And that’s not completely how I felt mine has been doing.

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After this sort of ‘break from blogging’, it has enabled a reflection on not only my blog, but the efforts I put into something I love. I’ve always been a strong believer in, if you’re not happy about something, then make the effort to change it instead of sitting and complaining. Because, let’s be honest, the alternate attitude gets you nowhere in life. Certainly not half as near as where you could be if you don’t take the time to put effort in to change something you’re not completely satisfied about.

I guess what I’m really trying to say is that I am back to the good ol’ blogging, which I will be adapting to my aspirations (to their maximum feasibility). Because let’s face it, my dream blog can’t happen overnight.

I hope you all enjoy the future plans I have for Coffee and Chapters, I look forward to sharing my journey with you.

Rach x

What I’m wearing:
Outfit 1:
Black top: H&M
Sunglasses: Quay Australia @ ASOS
White skirt: River Island

Outfit 2:
Grey crop top: Topshop
Black lace detail shorts: Zara
Sandals: Warehouse
Bag: Michael Kors

Image credits: Georgia Lidington and Kevin Jefferies
Editing thanks to: Aneesha Grewal

Stylist Live 2016 – A Festival of Inspiration

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Stylist magazine has been my post gym routine pick-up (and also my post gym pick-me-up on those lethargic days) for over a year now, and as some of you may know, I attended Stylist‘s very own magazine event last October, Stylist Live. Finding out that Stylist, my favourite magazine that I religiously collect, was holding a magazine event for readers like myself to attend, greeted with a complimentary glass of champagne and spending the day indulging in everything fashion, beauty and writing related – how long do you really think it took for me to decide whether to go or not? Five, six seconds? Most likely. And it meant I had an excuse to take a trip to London… As if my decision needed any more reasons to say yes. There was no need for persuasion, because a few mouse clicks later and my tickets were purchased.

If you want to read about my experience at Stylist Live 2015, follow this link: https://coffeeandchapters.wordpress.com/2015/10/25/stylistlive-magazine-event/

Some of you may have gathered where I am going with this… yes, you’ve got it; Stylist is back this October with Stylist Live 2016. Having such a brilliant time first time round, I have made sure Stylist Live is reserved in my diary this October. So what exactly is Stylist Live, I hear you ponder.

 

Stylist Live – A Festival of Inspiration

Fashion | Beauty | People | Life | Books | Ideas

http://live.stylist.co.uk

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Following last year’s hugely successful event, Stylist Live returns from 13 – 16 October 2016 at the Business Design Centre in Angel, London.

Stylist Live is hosted by inspiring idols, such as journalist and author, Caitlin Moran; journalist and writer, Sali Hughes; author of The Girl on the Train, Paula Hawkins, actress, producer and fashion designer, Sadie Frost; novelist and non-fiction writer, Marian Keyes; British television presenter (BBC), Cherry Healey; Journalist, broadcaster; cook, writer and presenter, Thomasina Miers along with many more. This year’s Stylist Live brings guests talks, workshops, pop-up shops, food & drink and catwalks… everything you could dream of, all in one place.

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Image taken by: JOHN NASSARI PHOTOGRAPHY

Talks & Workshops

Stylist Live weekend features over 150 talks and workshops across seven stages, where Stylist ‘aim to inspire each and every guest’. So if it’s beauty tutorials, tips on how to write a novel (umm, yes please!), a cooking master class, or life and relationship advice, Stylist will have you covered. Find the full list of talks and workshops here http://live.stylist.co.uk/talks-and-workshops

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Image taken by: Rachel Jefferies
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Image taken and provided by: Stylist

Pop-ups

And you’d be silly to assume that is no such thing as a lifestyle magazine event without that one thing we all go crazy for – shopping. Over 100 boutique pop-ups with our favourite brands such as Clarins, Swarovski, Tangle Teezer, Caudalie, Coco’s Liberty and many more. Not to mention the holy grail of quirky and unique gift brands – notonthehighstreet – where guests are able to ‘make and customise a range of gifts and homewares’ at the ‘Create Lab’, presented by notonthehighstreet.com. Offering tutorials and advice for this season’s latest trends, make up brand (and without a doubt my absolute favourite), Urban Decay will be making eyes pop… with make up, and probably most definitely literally. Find the full list of pop-up boutiques at http://live.stylist.co.uk/pampering-pop-ups.

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Image taken by: Rachel Jefferies

Catwalks

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Image taken by: Rachel Jefferies

 

Supported by Swarovski, Stylist’s catwalk shows run throughout the day for every guest to experience, strutting fashion looks such key a/w 16 trends featuring Swarovski’s latest season jewellery and high street style ideas. The ambience of the show is unforgettable, pulling together some perfect pieces making you leave cat-walking through the London Underground.

Food and Drink

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Image taken by: Charlotte Jackson

And if all of that isn’t enough to look forward to, Stylist Live 2016 partnered with Chambord means that receiving a complimentary cocktail on arrival will kick start your day the best way. Additionally, The House of Peroni, Toastits and Crosstown Doughnuts will be available to tempt, and satisfy (once you inevitably give into temptation) your taste buds. Stylist Live 2015 introduced me to Pukka tea, converting me into a herbal tea lover, transforming my dull, solo choice of Breakfast Tea into an exotic herbal selection. Cheers Pukka.

Give me the deets!

Stylist Live 2016 – A Festival of Inspiration is held at London’s Business Design Centre, commencing between Friday 13th and Sunday 16th October 2016, and tickets are available now. ‘Standard tickets allow purchasers to reserve a place at their choice of talk or workshop as well as one catwalk show. You can attend more than your reserved sessions on the day, on a first come, first served basis.’

Tickets are available as Standard or VIP, where VIP includes exclusive access to hair styling, a make-up station, cocktails, shop & drop and more, plus a Stylist Live goodie bag. For more info on tickets click here.

Sounds like your cup of tea? See you there!

To view the full programme, buy tickets and reserve your place for talks, workshops and catwalks visit live.stylist.co.uk

For more info please contact fiona.swanson@stylist.co.uk

Stylist Live

13th – 16th October 2016

Business Design Centre, London, N1 0QH

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All images credited in image captions.

All quotations (of information) given: Stylist.

Coffee O’Clock – 7 Top Coffee Places

What’s your kind of drink? Tea? Coffee? Juice? Or maybe a glass of wine on a stressful day? If it’s the latter, I feel you.

Just over eighteen years I had been a religious tea drinker. Every morning before school/college I had my breakfast cuppa, and it would be the only hot drink I would order in a café, besides hot chocolate of course.  I had never understood the obsession people have with coffee. I mean, people posting Instagrams of their morning coffee, writing about how much they appreciate coffee in their Twitter bios – it never seemed obvious to me what the fuss was about. Why are people running off coffee? Welcomed by the pungent smell of bitter beans as I walk into a coffee shop, only to order my Breakfast Tea was never one of my favourite things to do, I must admit. In fact, I even remember Christmas shopping for my mum, with my dad, and I had found the perfect present. My dad replied with “Well done Rach, I’ll treat you to a coffee”. “But I don’t like coffee, Dad”, of which he smirked “exactly”. I was not amused, to say the least.

Yet when I think back to confused and ignorant sixteen-year old Rachel asking these questions to herself, I almost want to pat her on the head with pity. Because since coming to university, I figured that all-nighters would probably occur, meaning that needing something high in caffeine is inevitable. And being repulsed by energy drinks, I knew that it was time to give coffee another go. Starting with milky and sugary lattes, I softly introduced myself to coffee, slowly taking out sugar until my taste buds could adapt to the strength of coffee. I was basically training my tastebuds, that’s the only way to put it. However two months later, coffee was the only thing I was drinking, and out of choice. Mochas, lattes, filter coffee, black coffee (with no sugar for those last essay struggles). And now I claim that it is by far my favourite drink, which is quite surprising when I think back to how much I used to despise it. And since becoming a coffee lover, I have answered all of my previous questions, and I now understand why so many people rave about coffee. And Instagram it. (Guilty).

Some students like to spend their money on partying, alcohol or Dominos. Me however, I tend to spend it in my favourite coffee houses and cafés. Being an avid caffeine addict and forever searching for somewhere new to read and relax, I have discovered my favourite aspect of Cardiff; the quirky and creative coffee houses that are tucked away in arcades. So, since I have filled you all in about my coffee sob story, I thought why not give a list of my favourite coffee shops and cafés I have discovered.

Barker Tea House, Cardiff

 

You can tell I come here a lot, can’t you? A vintage tea house, reminding me of the 1920s is by far my favourite place to sit with friends, family or read my book in peace. Not to mention how delicious their paninis are, which are usually brimming to the edges with delicious fillings. With an endless amount of herbal teas, this place is the epitome of English stereotype. Old-fashioned décor, jazz music and a relaxed atmosphere, Barker Tea House is my favourite lunching spot ever. I have even considered making a trip to Cardiff over the summer just to come to Barker Tea House to satisfy my withdrawal symptoms.

Coffee Barker, Cardiff

Okay, I come here a lot too. Sister company to Barker Tea House, Coffee Barker offers a slightly more chilled, groovy atmosphere, where the interior décor is yet again, incredible, but perhaps more ‘New York’/city -coffee-house vibe. Like Barker Tea House, the coffee-house is hidden in one of Cardiff’s old-fashioned arcades, meaning that it is hidden away, yet popular enough – the perfect place to socialise with friends, or write blog posts *cough cough*. I would be right in saying I have probably tried almost everything Coffee Barker has to offer, and I would 10/10 recommend their Nutella tart. “Would you like it warmed up with cream?” was like music to my ears. Not to mention they make THE best milkshakes you will ever taste.

Pinkman’s Bakery, Bristol

Although this is not in Cardiff, stumbling upon this golden place at the top of Park Street excited my inner coffee-house fangirl. This place was like no other I have been to, filled with baked goods and deli sandwich choices to choose from. The simplistic, modern layout felt very aesthetic and I hope you understand what I mean by ‘a typical city cafe’. After a long indecisive debate with myself, I chose a cherry liquor chocolate cheesecake and a latte, and oh wow. Indulgence at its finest. My taste buds were greeted by heaven. The rich chocolate cheesecake slice was huge, and I honestly haven’t tried a better latte since having one here. I definitely recommend this place to any of you fellow Bristolians, or even if you choose to visit Bristol.

29 Park Place, Cardiff

29 Park Place welcomes with a cosy-bar ambience, all whilst feeling sophisticated and pleasant. Menus creatively attached to vinyl record covers and a bookshelf of books and VCRs, the bar is perfect for a coffee by day, and cocktails/beverages for evenings. I am yet to test out the meals 29 Park Place has to offer, however the selection looks incredibly appetising. Typically ordering a coffee, I can confidently say that their mochas are one of the smoothest I have tasted, and at a reasonable price of £2.

Hoffi Coffi, Cardiff

Every day this place is bustling with students, sometimes making it difficult to find a place to sit. However the buzz of uni students makes it a friendly place to have a coffee break, or even sit down and do some work. Hoffi Coffi seem to have this student cafe nailed, as the acoustic playlist and chilled staff makes your coffee trip a de-stressing one. Every Cardiff Uni student will be familiar with this place, and have probably tried it out too.

Hogwurst, Cardiff

Every day I walk past Hogwurst on the way to lectures, peering in to see if it looks any good, and it has taken me until 2 weeks ago to actually get round to having a drink in there. Taking a revision break with some friends, we were amazed at the quirky, contemporary restaurant that is filled with books, ornaments and authentic décor. I tried the banoffee pie milkshake, which was (almost) as good as Barker Coffee’s. Sorry Hogwurst, I’m partial to Barker Coffee due to my unwavering love for the Barker duo.

Buffalo, Cardiff

Not your typical coffee, aye? But it gets to that point of the night when drinking alcoholic beverages, where you are a little giggly, your mouth is numbing and you just think to yourself, “My two favourite drinks: cocktails and coffee. Why not have them both at the same time?”. That’s right. And 30 seconds later, one espresso martini is coming up. (Shaken not stirred). But quite possibly one of the best alcoholic drinks I have ever tasted. £8 for an espresso martini meant that was my Treat-of-the-Week spent, and a little more expensive treat than usual too. However, every sip was accompanied with “mmmn”, so I had no regrets. Well… except the morning after when I wasn’t feeling too funky fresh.

 

After writing this blog, I slightly feel as though I am becoming a café connoisseur… I just love cafés, I promise.

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Image Credits: Rachel Jefferies, Seb Bailey, Lin Jefferies

3 Quick & Simple Veggie Recipes

Hello all! I haven’t blogged about food for a long time, so I thought that I’d change things up this week and give you a few of my favourite meals to cook at uni, (especially since going veggie). If I received a pound for every person that said to me “you’ll be living off 19p noodles” before I started uni, let’s just say I wouldn’t be a millionaire or anything… but I’d probably be pocketing a fair few notes. Someone even used that statement as a reasoning of why I shouldn’t pick a uni that required me to move away from home. Clearly their argument wasn’t persuading enough. I’d just like to point out that the “19p noodle” statement is on every level of wrong. Firstly, noodles are not 19p. They’re about 25p for the cheapest ones, thanks inflation. But if you do know where these mysterious 19p noodles come from, I’d be interested to know. Secondly, I think the whole ‘cheap’ uni experience has been a bit overplayed now. I mean, yes we are students who have to be very careful with what we spend our debt (that we pretend that isn’t debt for the peace of mind) on. But I think – or I’d like to think – that we are smart enough to know that noodles or toast for tea every night isn’t realistic, or healthy. So a little bit more appreciation on behalf of uni students, please.

I will happily put my hands up and say that I’m no Jamie Oliver, Nigella Lawson, or Gordon Ramsey. Well, maybe the latter, when I burn myself on the oven. But I thought I’d share some of the meals I have been cooking recently. Sending pictures of a  dinner you’ve managed to whip up to your parents is a very classic student thing to do, and I am a number one culprit of doing so. But for some reason, receiving the reply “that looks better than our tea” makes my dinner taste even better. The taste of achievement maybe.

And for anyone who’s interested or cares about how my pescetarian diet is going, it is going surprisingly well. I haven’t eaten meat for the entire five months since being ‘veggie’, and I don’t even get cravings anymore. Not even bacon. I haven’t noticed any huge changes since not eating meat, just perhaps my immune system has been kind to me due to the amount of vegetables I eat, even though I still ate a great deal of veg prior to cutting out meat.

Anyway, that’s enough with my rambling, time to show (or tell, rather) you how it’s done, Rachel Jefferies style.

Hummus, Falafel and Avocado Wraps

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☕︎ Serves: 2 (2 wraps each) ☕︎ Prep time: 10 mins ☕︎ Cook time: 15 mins ☕︎ Overall time: 25 mins ☕︎

Ingredients:

☑︎ 4 tortilla wraps (I used herb tortilla wraps)

☑︎ 12 falafels

☑︎ Hummus (I used lemon and coriander hummus)

☑︎ 1 avocado

☑︎ 1 red, yellow or green pepper (whichever preferred, I used yellow)

☑︎ Fresh salad leaves (or fresh spinach if preferred)

☑︎ 1 handful of seed mix

☑︎ Salad dressing

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 180/200℃ (Check packaging of falafels in case it suggests differently). Place falafels on a baking tray. Once oven has reached the right temperature, pop baking tray (with falafels on) into the oven for 15 minutes.
  2. Whilst waiting for the falafels to cook, prepare the rest of your ingredients. Wash and chop off a section of your pepper – you won’t need the entire pepper. Chop the pepper into thin slices.
  3. Next, slice the avocado in half, being aware that there is a stone in the middle. Once the avocado is cut into two, separate the avocado from its skin with a spoon. (If you’re unsure what this entails, I’m sure there is a YouTube video guiding how to!) Chop your avocado into slices the thickness of 2cm.
  4. After 10 minutes, check on the falafels, turning them over to their opposite side before placing them back into the oven for the last 5 minutes.
  5. Prepare your tortilla wraps by scooping one table spoon of hummus onto your wrap, spreading it evenly as a wide rectangle to the middle of your wrap, where the rest of your filling will be. Place salad leaves as a diameter line – remember this will be rolled up so don’t put too much in. Add a couple of slices of your pepper and avocado onto your salad, and sprinkle some mixed seeds. Drizzle some salad dressing if desired (I used honey and mustard dressing).
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End of step 5 should look like this

6. Once your falafels are cooked, place three in each wrap and wrap up your tortillas.

Wrapping your tortilla:

Step 1. Fold one half over the filling                Step 2. Fold up both ‘ends’ of the wrap, like so

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Step 3. Fold the remaining side over last

Step 4. Flip over the wrap and cut diagonally in the centre

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Caramelised Onion, Feta and Tomato Pastry Slices

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☕︎ Serves: 6 ☕︎ Prep time: 20-25ish mins ☕︎ Cook time: 15 mins ☕︎ Overall time: 35-40ish mins ☕︎

Ingredients:

☑︎ Pre-rolled puff pastry (or you can make your own if you’re feeling adventurous)

☑︎ 1 large onion

☑︎ 1 block of feta cheese

☑︎ 1 handful of cherry/baby tomatoes

☑︎ 1/2 a bag of fresh spinach

☑︎ 1/2 tablespoon of sugar (brown or white, whichever preferred)

☑︎ 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar

☑︎ 1 handful of mixed seeds

☑︎ 1 teaspoon of herbs de provence

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 180/200℃. Cut greaseproof paper to the same size as your oven tray, and place your rolled out puff pastry on the sheet of greaseproof paper, placing both on your tray.
  2. Next, heat oil in a large frying pan, whilst chopping onions. You can either cut them into slices and use the rings, or chop them more finely into squares, like I did. Once the pan is hot, add onions and cook for 10-12 minutes, stirring occasionally. Then add 1/2 a tablespoon of sugar and the splash of balsamic vinegar. Add the spinach, which will wilt and cook on a low heat for another 5-7 minutes.
  3. Whilst waiting, wash and chop tomatoes into halves and place to one side.
  4. (Before I added any toppings to the pastry, I whisked 1 egg and brushed it over the pastry to give a golden, crisp finish, however this step is not crucial).
  5. Once the caramelised onions and spinach have cooked, spread evenly over the pastry, leaving an inch frame from the outside to allow for a crust.
  6. Next, crumble feta cheese over the caramelised onion and spinach layer. Then place the halved tomatoes evenly, and sprinkle seeds over the top. Season with herbs de provence to add flavour.
  7. Place the pastry slice into the oven and cook for 15 minutes (or until the pastry crusts looks golden and the middle is cooked too).
  8. Once cooked, slice the pastry into smaller slices, and serve hot, or can be eaten cold for lunch the next day. I served mine with buttered kale, but you could alternatively serve it with salad.
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Caramelised Onion, Feta and Tomato Pastry Slices

Veggie Chilli 

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Veggie Chilli

☕︎ Serves: 3-4 (depending on portion size) ☕︎ Prep time: 10 mins ☕︎ Cook time: 30 mins ☕︎ Overall time: 40 mins ☕︎

Ingredients:

☑︎ Peppers (can be red, yellow, green or even a mixture)

☑︎ 1 large onion

☑︎ 4 spring onions

☑︎ 1 handful of fresh tomatoes

☑︎  3/4 punnet of mushrooms

☑︎ 1 tin of kidney beans

☑︎ 1 tin of chopped tomatoes

☑︎ Chilli powder

☑︎ Garlic

☑︎ Salt & seasoning

Method:

  1. Start by washing and chopping vegetable items; mushrooms, spring onions, onion and tomatoes (cut in half and then half again).
  2. Heat a saucepan of water and add rice. Judging rice can be hard, but if you’re unsure, then to give you an idea, I find that 1 filled mug of dry rice is enough for 4 servings. Once boiled, allow to simmer, stirring occasionally throughout the process of making the veggie chilli.
  3. Heat a saucepan on a high heat with a drizzle of oil, and once hot add chopped onion, spring onions, mushrooms, a pinch of salt, seasoning herbs and crushed garlic. Just before the onions soften add the fresh tomatoes just chopped and turn the heat to a low-medium heat and cook for 5 more minutes.
  4. Then add 1 whole tin of chopped tomatoes to the pan, stirring into the onions and mushrooms.
  5. Swill and drain the tin of kidney beans in a colander/sieve and add to the pan.
  6. Add chilli powder – whatever amount you desire. I added 1 teaspoon’s worth, which gave my chilli a kick of spice, but not too much. Note: Different chilli powders can hold different spice strength so be careful. Best thing to do is add bit by bit and stirring in-between addition of chilli powder, tasting each time until satisfied chilli strength.
  7. Allow the veggie chilli to simmer for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. If the chilli is too watery, just simmer for a bit longer.
  8. Once the rice is soft/cooked, drain and swill with cold water briefly – not too much to make the rice cold. (I’m not sure why, but I have been told to do this when cooking rice!)
  9. Serve the rice onto a plate or bowl, spooning the veggie chilli on top, and enjoy!

 

I hope you enjoyed a taste of my uni cookery, no 19p noodles here. If you do try out any of my recipes, I’d love to hear about it!

Images: All images taken by Rachel Jefferies

 

 

 

How to be Organised

 

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Ever feel like you’re swimming (or drowning, rather) in a list of things to do? Go to a meeting, make your lunch before work, to go to work, laundry, cook, clean, shop – the list goes on. And on. And on. Even relaxing is on the list of things to do. Living the busy life can be stressful and hard to manage at times,  and even though we all like to think we can juggle items better than a professional can at a circus, behind that calm and collected smile, you can’t deny that  you want to lie down and sleep off all of the undone jobs that are still calling your name. However, I have learnt that being organised from a few simple tips I have picked up really does make a difference to the productiveness of your day. Erm… perhaps you should add reading these to your list of things to do.

Time Management

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Have a lot to get done? Well here’s a slap in the face; getting up at mid-afternoon won’t do you any favours. I tend to find that the earlier I wake up, the more motivated I feel to get on with my day, fulfilling the productivity I have set myself up for. Since starting university, I have definitely learnt that starting your day on a productive note (can be the hardest to get into the routine of), but once you are in the routine of doing so, your life becomes 10x easier. I know from personal experience that it can be difficult to discipline yourself to go to bed at a reasonable time, and going to bed at 3am and waking up at 8:30am probably isn’t the best of ideas. Internally screaming that at myself mid-doze every morning is not how I want to wake up. Living off the late nighter, early riser theory was never a successful one, and I’m pretty sure even my snooze button even thought I was taking the biscuit.

Even though my earliest lectures during weekdays are at 11am (lucky, I know), I still aim to get up between 8-8:30am, sometimes even earlier, just to give myself time to complete any jobs that need to be done (e.g. food shopping, cleaning etc.), to peacefully eat my breakfast whilst reading the world news online, possibly do some reading, and to get ready for the day ahead. Getting into the routine of waking up early and spreading out the number of jobs to do means that I can relax on an evening, making the early(ish) start worth it.

Diary Organise – Plan Your Days

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I know it seems like a no-brainer… but it also seems like something very old fashioned. Writing down your plans and workload not only keeps yourself in check, but it stops you from double-booking yourself. And I’ll tell you now, I could not live without my diary/ organiser. Writing everything in the Book Of Rachel from deadlines, appointments and meetings, to social events with friends and upcoming birthdays. I even write the Word of the Day in my daily diary. Sad, I know. But would you expect anything else from an English Language student? Many of you may prefer to write plans in your digital diary – your phone. However, I carry my diary around with me every single day, and seeing as my phone seems to die at 21% battery (and Apple refuse to accept it’s a fault in their product, pfft), a literal diary seems to be unthinkably more reliable.

‘To Do’ Lists

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Holy grail of organisation, ‘To Do’ lists are one of my favourite strategies to stay on top of your productivity, lessening the chance of laying in bed at night, tensing every muscle in your body when you realise you haven’t completed that one crucial  task you were meant to that day. Besides, there is no better pleasure than ticking off items on your ‘To Do’ list once you have To-Do’d them. Even if it is ticking off items such as “write a To Do list”. It’s one less job done though, right? Seems logical to me.

Stationary is Your Life Saver

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You’ll be surprised how helpful stationary helps you organise your notes and lists. That’s of course if you don’t already take a great pleasure in buying novelty stationary like myself. Being a student, hoarding an abundance of notes, paper and handouts, so there is nothing better than organising your notes and sheets of paper with paperclips, clips and pins. And remember, when it comes to being productive: stationary is your best friend. Netflix is not. (I’m sorry Netflix, I love you really).

Online Organisation

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I can try to deny it as much as I like, but growing up in the generation of technological advancements, I feel as though we have been blessed with EVEN MORE organisation tools to keep us in check with work. And I’m not lying when I say that cleaning your mailbox of spam and unwanted e-mails makes you feel like you have cleansed your soul at the same time. Try it out, you’ll see what I mean. Keeping your documents filed in virtual folders in your laptop/computer/iPad/iPhone/any other technology you rely on for work purposes will de-clutter your life – we’ve all experienced that anxious hectic search for a piece of work you thought you had saved somewhere when you realise it’s not there. Don’t do it to yourself. Folders are friends.

Always Have a Back Up Plan

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Having a full schedule can mean that some days you can’t fit your whole life into one day. However, if you find yourself having to postpone a job, it going wrong or not getting as much work done as you had liked to have, have a back up plan. Know that you will have spare time to fit it else where before it’s too late, which perfectly relates back to time management. Which then relates back to keeping a diary. Which then relates to writing in your diary with nice, new stationary. Do you see where I’m going with this?

File Away

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Although even the thought of it is a chore in itself, filing really does help you organise and manage your work. Section splitters, plastic wallets and stickers to write the title of your folder on, folders are the mother of organisation. Doesn’t it all sound so fun? Okay, granted, it might not. But invest in a good, decent folder, and it will hold your papers together better than you can hold yourself together. Or is that just me? But really, neatly stacked sheets of A4, clamped in funky folders on your shelves are the way forward.

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After reading the my tips to the key of organisation, I hope you have opened the door to a world of organisation and stress-free days. Oh, wouldn’t that be lovely. But maybe you feel inspired, at least, to try out some of these things to structure your schedule. And you’ve had a great start so far, because you have just strategically procrastinated part of your day anyway, reading this. This was on my list of things To-Do and in my diary (as you saw earlier), so the joke’s on you. *Writes “say ‘sorry’ to reader” on To-Do list*.

Sorry.

Images: All images taken by Rachel Jefferies

 

My Hair Confession

So here’s a little bit about my life:

Age 5: First time I went swimming

Age 8: First time I got my ears pierced

Age 12: First time I owned a phone

Age 12: First time I got a detention (and cried so much she took it back lol)

Age 13: First time I went abroad without my parents

Age 17: First time I started working  (paid)

Age 18: First time I bought my own alcoholic beverage

Age 19: First time I got my hair cut in a salon

Age 20: First time I will worry I’m getting old

Wait, what?

Rewind back to 19. First time I got my hair cut in a salon. WHAT?

Yep, it’s true. And I sincerely apologise to any hairdressers reading this. I am ashamed. I am ashamed that I have completed thirteen years of compulsory education, drank (probably too many) shots of vodka, maintained a hobby of swimming for twelve years, passed my driving test, moved away from home to attend uni – all before I have had my hair cut in a salon. And to rub a little more salt into the wound, when people asked me how I have managed grow my hair so long, I would have to embarrassingly reply about how I hadn’t had my hair cut for a year and a half.

But before you jump to conclusions and pity-close this tab, I’m going to save my ass and say it doesn’t mean I’ve never had my hair cut. Now that would be silly, right? The entire time up until I reached secondary school, my mum used to cut my hair for me. So for 7(ish) years, she worked her magic with a pair of scissors, giving me plain, simple, shoulder length hair. Possibly with a full fringe if she felt adventurous, making me look like a real-life version of Boo from Monsters Inc. However, when I reached secondary school and I undeniably became pickier, she handed over the responsibility to my cousin, and also hairdresser, Lauren. Coming to my house for (yearly – and I take full responsibility for the lack of) hair appointments, meant that I had never undergone the full salon experience. So with the inspiration of a new hairstyle, and cringing at the state of my dry split ends, I decided that I should make a change.

Cutting Edge

Uni friend, Abbi, decided she wanted her hair done too, so we both spent a good few hours hunting online for an adequate yet relatively cheap salon (#StudentProblems). Eventually, we stumbled across a salon which is 5 star rated, and only a 20 minute walk from our halls – Precision Designs Cardiff. I guess you could say I booked the appointment pretty quickly, which is kind of a big deal as you can probably guess how easy I find putting off making hair appointments. *A YEAR AND A HALF! the voice inside my head screams*. So when Friday came around, I was ready to say goodbye to my very own lion’s mane.

I did feel a swarm of anxious anticipation whilst sat waiting for my appointment, and I’m not afraid to admit that. Why? Because being daring with my hair has gone about as far as being absolutely ludicrous and asking for layers. Or breaking the law and ombréing the ends of my hair myself. Get the picture? I’m not daring at all when it comes to hair. What if I don’t like my hair short? What if I can’t pull off my new hair change? What if too much gets cut off? ran through my head like a stuck record, however when I was called into the Chair of Change – I shall call it – I knew it would be a positive experience when they offered me a latte… the key to my heart.

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Look at how gorgeous that latte looks. Can a latte even be described as gorgeous? Looks like it just has.

 

Side note: I am aware I have taken plenty of pictures for this experience, however this was a very exciting time for me. And yes, I won’t deny possibly squealing “I’m so excited” to Abbi before the appointment. Please don’t judge me. Besides, it makes your reading experience on this blog much more visual… it’s a win win if you ask me.

Hair Re-Vamp

Seeing as I have had long hair for such a huge period of my life, I felt like I wanted a change. However umming and ahhing whether to actually go short was a bipolar decision for me. I would convince myself short was the way to go, yet I would find myself fiddling with my hair, appreciating how long it is, wondering if I will regret it soon after it gets the chop. But as soon as I plunged in the deep end, telling Shauney (my hair Stylist) that I wanted to go a lot shorter, I had no choice but to have faith in my decision.

So what did I actually have done to my hair?

Step 1: Bye Bye Hair

Well, my limp and lifeless hair had even looked like it had enough of being long and neglected of care. I guess I would too, so I understand. Sorry, hair. So it was time to say good riddance to having to brush out weekly knot clumps, and malting more than an animal. No seriously, some flatmates have told me they have found my hair around the flat and in their rooms, even when I haven’t even stepped foot into their rooms. My hair has a mind of its own, and now apparently can grow legs too.

Step 2: Highlights

Chopping my hair to an inch or so below where I wanted, I then had highlights (half a head) of blonde put in my hair. Considering my desired style, Shauney faded my highlights from my roots to allow a less obvious, and more sun kissed look of blonde to gradient throughout my hair. The inspiration of my hair colour is called “bronde”, and for those of you who are thinking “what the hell is that?“, it’s brown hair with the subtle gradient of blonde – beautifully worn by my favourite blogger, Lydia Elise Millen. However, due to my hair being such a dark colour, my hair didn’t take to the blonde dye as strongly as I intended. To cool down the blonde that had worked, I had a toner put on my hair, and my hair Stylist assured me that it will be a working progress to get it to the bronde colour I had wanted.

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Highlight of my week. Ha.

Step 3: Tone, Wash & Dry

I sat through reading trashy gossip magazines – my pet hate, sorry not sorry. But hey, at least I am all clued up about Liam Payne and Cheryl’s X-Factor sparked relationship. And how Leonardo DiCaprio is bouncing from chick to chick at parties and clubs. *Grimaces weakly*. And after my brain was transformed to slosh from reading gossip stories, slightly burnt around the edges from the smell of bleach dye, my favourite bit finally arrived – wash and blow-dry. Therapeutically revitalising and relaxing, my head was smiling again, surrounded by soap suds.

 

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Step 4: Style & Curl

After framing my face with a subtle fringe, my hair was treated, curled and styled. And voila! 4 hours later, and my new ‘do was complete. Smiling like a cheshire cat, both Abbi and I were pleased with our bouncing curls.

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Hello, hydrated locks

 

So there you have it, my hair confession. And if you hadn’t already gathered by the amount of pictures I had documented, which were obviously taken for blog purposes – I mean, who gets that excited about getting their hair cut, to need to take pictures? Oh, me apparently. So I think that it’s safe to say that my salon experience lived up to my expectations (and more), and I felt incredibly pampered as I walked out. Belly-button length hair is now no more, and I am loving the change.

Links to those mentioned:

Precision hair Design Cardiff website: http://www.precisioncardiff.co.uk 
Lydia Elise Millen blog: http://lydiaelisemillen.com
All images above: Taken by Rachel Jefferies

P.s. I don’t know about you, but I could not relate to something more than this.
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Guide to Finding Your Own Style

Hello all, firstly I hope you all had a lovely Easter break, and haven’t drowned in too many chocolate eggs. I certainly didn’t, because my two (*crying emoji*) lasted me about 10 minutes. And if you think I’m eggxagerating, then the yolk’s (joke’s) on you. Eggxcuse the awful puns. I’m here all week… *tumbleweed travels across your screen*

Sorry. I would like to take this opportunity to introduce a new section to my blog: Fashion. (Well, that a dramatic entrance). I have always been interested in fashion, but never passionate enough to stamp and rave about it due to difficulty in finding my own style. However I feel like I can comfortably say that I have found my inner fashion frenzy that has been flowering for a while now, so I though why not make a section of my blog for it. Now let the stamping and raving commence.

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Fashion Fix

As you’ve probably guessed by this blog title post, I will be talking about how finding your own style can actually ruffle some feathers. Growing as a person and being surrounded by different styles, well… it can appear to be dauntingly overwhelming to say the least, and trying to depict which style you prefer can be more confusing than you realise. Looking back over the years (and hatefully cringing at tragic old photos, eugh) I can certainly see how my own style has changed and developed. You’re probably all-too familiar with the “ew what was I thinking, going out of the house looking like that?” panic thought, reflected in your widened eyes when reminiscing with old photographs. Yep. Me too. However it’s only taken me until the past year or so to realise that looking back on your style change, accompanied by these epiphanies, really does allow you to find your feet. And not the ones that are wearing a sickly lilac coloured pair of Crocs. (OK, I was 10… moving on VERY swiftly).

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Placid Sweats Vs Pretty Shirts

Looking back, I remember it being particularly frustrating how I could wake up one morning and feel like chucking on a boyfriend tee (the only type of boyfriend in my life lol) and jeans, and the next morning channelling my girly style, choosing to wear a pretty lace top. Makes sense, huh? No. It absolutely  infuriated me how polar-opposite my fashion style would change on a day-to-day basis, and how I would feel confident in one style and perhaps a little more shy in another. And one of the worst parts about it was that I was aware I was doing it, making it even more annoying, not cool. Not to mention how stressful shopping became, falling in love with an item to then find myself looking at it in my wardrobe with remorse a few months down the line, when I’m flaunting a different style. But despite the tantrums and heartbreaking waste of money, I am actually glad I can say I experimented with my look, and even if I was an innocent teen, ignorant to what I should and most importantly shouldn’t wear, I put (mostly) down to the fact that I wasn’t confident with my undecided style. Instead, I resulted to hiding behind what I thought was “me” during finding my own style, which seemed compatible at the time.

This Day and Age

Age is a HUGE factor when it comes to fashion, and growing in and out of styles really is a thing mentally, not just physically. Playing such a strong impact on finding your individual appearance, and deciding whether to follow the crowd or be slightly more unique is completely your decision to make. I am going to put my hands up now and admit that I look back at old photos and have to chew my own lip to stop myself from blurting out a sentence that sounds a lot like “what the f*** was I wearing?“. I have never dressed in bright, pretty, pink floral patterns, and I realise now that I don’t think I probably will. I’m not saying I can’t dress girly, as my style has definitely become more of exactly that over the years, however I have found my own twist of personality within my style, feeling confident in my blossoming and maturing style.

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How I Would Describe My Style…

Although I will have the odd item that might make my style slightly more interchangeable, I would say the general gist of my own fashion consists of plain or minimally detailed items. The colours of my wardrobe tend to follow a monochrome theme (black, grey and white), and nature related colours (khaki green, beige/ nudes, browns, navy blue, and creams), along with the odd and very rare splash of colour when I’m feeling bold and adventurous. I’m not one for bright colours unless it’s a statement item, and the only type of pink you will ever see me in is pastel pink. Other than that, pink has never been a fond colour of mine.

I have recently found a love for structured items, especially blazers/ structured coats or pencil skirts. I am absolutely digging the whole casual-yet-formal look, and I always feel good wearing something that makes me look sophisticated and well-dressed. Alternatively reflecting this style into a slightly more chilled look, is another favourite with a turtleneck jumper that I pull out from the abundance in my wardrobe, particularly on a crisp morning. But aside from the (slightly more relaxed) Office Girl look, there certainly are days where I push my boot heels aside and still rely on the comfort of my Converse or Nikes.

Anddd You’ve Still Got Mixed Fashion Feelings?

So if you’re like me and have found yourself bouncing along in booted heels one day, and the next you’re wiggling your toes in a pair of Stan Smiths, your style is a learning curve so (try to) embrace it. And you probably most definitely won’t have a eureka moment about your style overnight. It is okay to not know where you stand with your style, and experimenting with different styles will enable you to shape your style within time.

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#Throwback to when I was tanned (sigh)

 

Images: All images are my own.

Going Veggie

Hello you wonderful people! I just want to start by profoundly apologising for the lack of posts recently- exam season was absolutely manic, and cramming, coffee and snack food seemed to be my best friends for three weeks. Not to heartbreakingly mention that Netflix, socialising and anything non-revision related had to become my worst enemies. But exams are over (for now), Netflix and my bed are feeling loved again, and I am now hopeful to get back into blogging for y’all.

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Changes to Blog

Okay, so this is (embarrassingly) my first post of 2016, and it is definitely too late to say (but I’m going to say it anyway); I hope you all had lovely a Christmas and New Year! Better late than never ay? *Grimaces*

You may have noticed – or I’m kidding myself that you have- that I have changed my blog name to ‘coffeeandchapters‘. I decided to do this because it not only describes me to a T, but I also felt that my previous blog name wasn’t catchy and it had a slightly awkward way about it. I am much happier with ‘coffeeandchapters‘ *sips coffee*, so that is where you find my blog in the future!

New Year’s Resolution (with a plot twist)…

Now I’m going to be a typical blogger and talk about New Year resolutions… no one keeps them… blah blah blah. We’ve all heard that one before. But this year’s new year resolution has been a huge change to my life so far. From January 1st, I have gone vegetarian. Yep, you heard me right, I’m vegetarian (well, pescatarian – I still eat fish). I had been pondering about becoming about being a non-meat eater, however with the complications of being at home over Christmas, I decided that it would probably be best starting in the new year, when I am at university cooking for myself. So when I woke up New Year’s Day with a hangover that felt like every death-like feeling had been absorbed into of my body, I froze in my bed; staring at the ceiling thinking about how I didn’t fully cherish my last Nando’s meal. Don’t think I’m kidding. After I pulled myself together, a swarm of curiosity and excitement jaded by uncertainty of what to expect churned in my stomach… that or it might have been the alcohol from the night before – who knows.

Why I Chose Veggie

I received numerous why’s, popping eyes accompanied by tightened eyebrows, and was grilled by my entire family (excuse the wonderfully ironic pun) throughout the duration of my supposedly relaxing Christmas break about trying out a non-meat eater lifestyle. Despite this, I persevered with my choice due to several reasons. Animal agriculture and grazing is immensely damaging to our environment, however I’m not going to sit here and preach you all to death about eating meat (that would be ironically un-veggie of me ha). With this in mind, it’s just a personal choice I have been keen to try. (If you want to know some more information about this however, I will list some sources at the end of this blog post).

Factor no. 2 of vegging up my life: to explore new exotic foods, recipes and just generally detox my body from fatty and fried foods. Experimenting with new fresh foods sounded more than appealing after eating such rich foods over Christmas, resulting in waddling back to the welcoming arms of uni life and exams ahead of me. So becoming veggie has enabled me to discover new fresh foods, such as kale, tofu and different seeds, pulses and beans, not to mention consolidating my eternal love for spinach and avocado (how White Girl of me). By consuming these colourful bundles of nutrition, I have felt surprisingly energetic and positive mentally and physically.

Of course animal cruelty underlies a reason for changing my diet, however my reasonings for being a vegetarian aren’t passionately dedicated to animals as I understand why people eat meat. Why else would McDonald’s be so popular? I mostly concerned my change of lifestyle with the environment and my personal diet factors, of which I am still dedicated to.

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Progress So Far

So I have been a veggie for exactly one month and I can honestly say that it is going much better than I had expected. Cravings for meat have been minimal, and I have resisted when they have occasionally occurred. And I am even proud to say that every time I have – to put it pleasantly- been on an alcohol fuelled night (and don’t ask how many times please, my answer is embarrassing), I have even ordered veggie burgers whenever I hear McDonald’s whispering my name. FYI, McDonald’s veggie burgers are absolutely incredible. And I’m not just saying that to prove a point. Pfft, and there was me thinking chicken nuggets would be my greatest downfall *inserts flexing biceps emoji*.

I have had one slip within the first 2 weeks of becoming veggie, which was accidentally eating marshmallows (on a hot chocolate- can you blame me?) without realising that they contain gelatine until after. The moment of awareness on the bus home from the coffee shop consisted of my eyes tearing away from my phone, looking up with realisation and shifting my eyes side to side with guilt. Oops. However I feel as though that slip up has made me warier about what I am eating, and I have been careful ever since.

I have no idea how long I intend to keep my non-meat eating up; I’m not setting myself a target, I am just going to continue it as long as I am happy and most importantly, healthy.

So there we go, my New Year’s resolution twist- bet you didn’t see that one coming, ay? I could easily ramble on even more about my vegetarian experience, however I have decided to use it as an excuse to write blogs about my progress and tips and info about vegetarianism. My aim is not to project my opinion or boast about the fact I am veggie (it can be stigmatised that us veg-lovers do), it’s purely to inform and share my personal experience. Absolutely riveting.

Information and Sources

If you would like some more information about animal agriculture, I would definitely recommend to watch documentary, Cowspiracy. (Can be found on Netflix or possibly even YouTube). Although the research is based on American animal agriculture, which you should be aware can be different to the UK farming industry, it is still a crucial issue that the world is responsible for.

Cowspiracy website: http://www.cowspiracy.com 

You might also want to check out:

Humane Society International: http://www.hsi.org/issues/climate_change/

Wikipedia Animal Agriculture: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intensive_animal_farming

DID YOU KNOW…

“Cows produce 150 billion gallons of methane per day.   [i]

Ross, Philip. “Cow farts have ‘larger greenhouse gas impact’ than previously thought; methane pushes climate change.” International Business Times. 2013.

250-500 litres per cow per day, x 1.5 billion cows globally is 99 – 198.1 billion gallons. Rough average of 150 billion gallons CH4 globally per day. ”

Source taken from Conspiracy: http://www.cowspiracy.com/facts/

(Disclaimer –  I don’t like to preach or tell people what they should do, so my views about being a vegetarian are not intended to be forced upon people, just simply explaining my own personal beliefs).

Images: By Rachel Jefferies

 

Top Books of 2015

So that’s it. Christmas is over. The new year is dawning on us, and we will be at the start line again. New year resolutions are made to be broken. And that is the continuous pattern every time January 1st appears. So before we move forward, take a step back with me and look back over 2015.

This year I have read a good abundance of books, and I have selected just a few of my top reads from 2015. During 2016 I have set myself a goal to read even more books, making time to read daily, even if it is only for 10 minutes before bed on busy days. The greatest aspect about reading, I feel, is how literature allows readers to involve themselves with fictional characters whilst still remaining behind the glass wall, unable to affect the plot of the story. We are active witnesses because we learn to love, empathise or even despise characters so much deeper than any other way of escapism. So with that in mind, what were my top books I read in 2015? Let’s find out…


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3 Favourites of 2015

Gone Girl – Gillian Flynn

Favourite film, and favourite book. What can I say? We all know that “hard to put down” phrase, but this honestly was THE WORST culprit of exactly that. The ambiguous thriller is incredibly thought out and intricately detailed, especially when dealing with such complex characters. I cannot stress enough how important it is to read the book before you watch the film, as I watched the film first, so it ruined a lot of the suspense of the book for me. Nonetheless, the book was phenomenal. Recommended for those who love crime novels that keep you on the edge of your seat.

The Fault in Our Stars – John Green

A very popular read, and film. I fell in love with the book when I read it January/February time and if I’m completely honest, this is the book that got me back into reading. I hit a period where I didn’t read many books, or I found books hard to get into and make time for. However this beautiful novel reminded me how amazing reading a book makes you feel, and I would recommend this John Green novel to anyone who loves a good heart-wrenching romantic. I was bitterly disappointed in the film when I watched it after reading TFiOS, as the film seemed frustratingly awkward and limited with creativity compared to how I had imagined.

Starter For Ten – David Nicholls

This book is satisfyingly pleasant to read, and I don’t usually read a first person narrative story from a male perspective, so it was an interesting change. Narrator, Brian is a University of Bristol student who finds himself lovestruck with his university challenge teammate, Alice. The witty humour provided me with quite a few laughs (especially when reading in the library and chuckling to myself) which my friends sat next to me found particularly amusing. This book has also been made into a film, of which I had seen before I read it, however it didn’t ruin the novel for me which was also a relief. Recommended for those who are interested in a light-hearted wallflower-type novel.


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Timely Classics

Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte

The height of literature embraced in a classic eponymous novel, Jane Eyre. I believe that everybody should give it a chance whether it’s their thing or not. Incredibly popular for those who study English Literature at some point, or for those who love old period-drama in a book.

The Woman In Black – Susan Hill

A chilling, haunted novel which has been created as a horror movie in 2012, starring Daniel Radcliffe. The gothic novel was written in 1983, however still posses an eerie, mysterious darkness to this day. Perfect for those who love a scare not just during Halloween season.

The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald

1920s; the time of flappers, prohibition, and jazz music. What more would you want in a novel? F. Scott’s Fitzgerald delves into the heart of the Roaring Twenties, where love finds itself tangled in the conflict of old money vs new money. Another classically acclaimed novel, laced with incredibly beautiful symbolic messages throughout.


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Poetry

The World’s Wife – Carol Ann Duffy

Filled with brilliantly, witty poems in the light of a feminist approach, this anthology of poems are great for a light hearted read. I just adore how beautiful the cover of the book is too, an all-round win win!

Keats Anthology – 

Symbolic and ambiguous, Keats’ anthology delivers a thousand questions to mind with such little answers. If you’re looking for a read that’s deeper than the ocean, Keats is the way to go!


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Christmas Reads

Coming Home for Christmas – Julia Williams

I wouldn’t rate this as my favourite Christmas novel, however I just felt that the title of this book seemed rather perfectly fitting, coming home from university. I read A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens a couple of years ago, however in most recent years I have not given Christmas reading a fair chance. So this year I decided to indulge in a Christmas novel, which successfully embraced me with festive spirit.

 

Other recommended reads from 2015:

You Just Don’t Understand – Deborah Tannen

Elizabeth is Missing – Emma Healey

Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte

The Bloody Chamber – Angela Carter

Possessed – Niki Valentine

Mercy – Rebecca Lim

Images by: Rachel Jefferies

5 Sayings That Were Never Cool. EVER.

Rewind back to the inevitable period of your life when you thought you were a ‘cool’ kid. Don’t deny you didn’t have one because we all have had them; some probably stronger than others. And although I’m sure it is part of your life you have hoped to have long forgotten, I’m afraid I’m going to be digging back up some of your most cringeworthy memories.

Amongst many others, the generation that I live in means that the prime time for trying to be a Cool Kid was roughly 8 years ago, where us pre-teens started secondary school. Boys with gelled spikey hair and unzipped hoodies with the draw strings by the hood tied in a bow. Girls wearing ‘Miss Sexy’ school trousers with a swooped fringe that covered their entire forehead was the school “fashion” believe it or not. Tragic, I know. And (unfortunately) it doesn’t stop there. Kids rushing home from school and logging onto MSN Messenger to venture an evening filled of “hehe” “LOL” and “Wuu2?”‘s. I suppose we can thank MSN and the “cool” short-hand text talk being the culprit of this coining of cringe-worthy sayings and acronyms. Nice one MSN.

So here are my top 5 Sayings That Were Never Actually Cool. Ever.

5 . On my pleb/lemon

9ae7d18ce00815d0fa63400a4990688f6feb1589a94032cfc99ab23ec9eb8cd9.jpgE.g. “I was sat on my pleb” “I  was on my lemon”

Words cannot even describe how much I have always hated this saying. Typing it felt disastrous let alone the fact that people actually used to let these words come out of their mouths (in between taking duck-faced posed selfies). I am proud to say I never went through this “phase” of using this hideous metaphor. I’m not entirely sure if this was a Bristolian ‘thing’ or not, but this phrase is riddled with the Bristolian accent which has butchered this saying even more. “Oi Sarah, you left me and I was sat on me pleb lol”. See where I’m coming from? R.I.P. (Rest In Pity) to this phrase is all I have to say.

4.  Cool beans

E.g. “Cool beans, see you later”

cool_beans_by_velica.jpgDescribing something as “cool beans” is quite the opposite of cool to be honest. “Cool beans” was meant to have positive connotations; another way of saying “that’s cool” or “great!”. And thinking about it, it should have probably stayed that way. Because if you think about the literal meaning of cool beans, it really doesn’t make sense. So where the hell did this saying come from? Besides, cold beans on your cold toast where your butter has solidified again, not to mention the condensation on the plate making your toast soggy is actually a disaster. Possibly even a heart-break. So I am glad to say that (hopefully) this saying is extinct… and well, if you still say it now, you’re not cool. And you’re not green, runner or baked beans either. Sorry to break it to you.

3. YOLO

Acronym for: You Only Live Once, “I’m gonna totes make some toast at 3am because YOLO!!” 

Where to even start, is the question. No, I take that back. Why is totally the yolo-meme-girl-firequestion. So YOLO was invented by Drake I believe, from song ‘The Motto’. Luckily, for humanity, many people used this acronym in a sarcastic context, some still do. Totally fine. Cool. Mockery. Satire- love it. However Drake’s YOLO did inspire some pretty revolting fashion garments with the print of the atrocious acronym plastered from seam to seam. Leggings, t-shirts, socks. YOLO YOLO YOLO YOLO. More like STOP STOP STOP STOP.

2. ROFL

Initialism for: Roll On (the) Floor Laughing, “OMG HAHA ROFL!”

57552000.jpgROFL. Roll. On. (the) Floor. Laughing. Does anyone actually do that? Imagine this; your friend says something funny. You get up out of your chair, fall onto the floor laughing and roll about. Or perhaps you’re already laughing on your chair and you fall off laughing. And you roll about. On the floor. Laughing. Rolling. On the floor. Laughing.

Utter rubbish. When you said “ROFL” you were probably docile whilst typing it. Perhaps a little twitch of your stomach and a second’s worth of air came out of your nose. But you were most definitely not rolling on the floor laughing.

1. “Your mum”

E.g. Person 1: “Who said you could eat my chocolate?!” Person 2: “Your mum”

104.pngUnless that was a very literate, factual response, then fair enough. But if that response was to try and give hilarious banter, then perhaps you should think about your ability to ‘banter’ at all. It baffles me as to why this was ever a good response to ‘par’ off your friends. I mean, someone asks a question or makes a statement, and your reply is… *drumroll* “Your mum”. A little disappointing if you ask me. But surprisingly, this irrelevant phrase, during secondary school gave the banterous legends who used this as a comeback, a free ticket to get on the banter bus. And I heard that it totally works on a real bus too!! You banter legends should try it one day, it’ll save you a few pennies.

There we go. There it is. Still think they sound cool? Mmn thought not. Anyway, I’m going to make some cool beans and toast at 3am which is totally YOLO and I’ll ROFL on my lemon. (Careful not to get any lemon juice in my cuts, heard citrus can sting). But then again, your mum could give me a plaster.

 

Images: Google Images. Not my own images.

5 Things I Love About Christmas

The other day I overheard someone in a coffee shop bewilderedly gasp “It’s only five more Monday’s ’til Christmas!”, which got me thinking about Britain’s favourite time of the year. I can already hear some of you moaning “but Christmas is still a month away!”. Yes, Christmas is still a month away, I hear you loud and clear. But when you’re sat in your uni halls room, dreaming of your mum’s delicious Christmas dinner and watching Christmas films under a blanket, you kind of want Christmas to arrive on a sleigh to take you home already. Besides, when your flatmates trim up the kitchen and blare Christmas songs, you can’t help but join in. If that hasn’t convinced you yet then bah humbug! to you! So to all of you Festive-At-Heart’s, this one’s for you.

 

5.Christmas Decorations Festive decorations

Hanging up tinsel, decorating the tree, switching on your Christmas lights; they’re all things that get me in the festive spirit. However it’s not just the trimmings at home I enjoy. I am guilty for spending a lot of time (and money in that case) at coffee shops, so going to your favourite coffee shop, where artificial snow, fairy lights and seasonal colours represent the excitement of Christmas (plus a limited edition gingerbread latte) is basically heaven. Christmas shopping is much more exciting and cheerful – a well deserved break from walking around in circles from shop to shop trying to find Christmas presents making you want to scream “ahh!” into a stranger’s face. (Please tell me I’m not the only one).

 

4.  Mince pies

Mince Pies I’m always baffled as to why I have been crazy over mince pies and Christmas pudding for the past few years. Perhaps it’s because it’s only seasonal, therefore it makes it more special. Either way, nothing beats a good, warm mince-pie with cream, or hot Christmas pudding with custard. I’m guilty of consuming a lot of mince pies recently. I don’t even want to think about it, essays complement comfort food, okay? A lot of people tend to not be a fan of these festive treats which I find ridiculous because of how delicious I think they are. More for me I guess, so it’s a win win (kind of).

 

Christmas Tree3. The fresh scent of a real christmas tree

About six or so years ago, my parents decided to rid our tiresome fake Christmas tree (of what they called, the Toilet Brush) in replacement of a real Christmas tree, and since then, we have never gone back to the ‘Toilet Brush’. Stepping from the chilly bite of December into the oddly satisfying, sauna-like heat of your home after a long day isn’t even the best bit of being home. Because when you are greeted by the warmth, it’s not just the heat that you’re engulfed by. It’s the green pine needles that becomes your new house scent, complemented by cinnamon from Christmas decorations. Mmmm, the real scent of Christmas.

 

2. Christmas films Christmas Films

You know it’s Christmas when your favourites; Elf, Santa Clause, The Grinch and The Polar Express, take over almost every TV channel. Spending the night in with your family, curled up on the sofa, watching Christmas Films with a cuppa and a box of chocolates- obligatory Christmas treats, hurrah! If sitting and watching a film with your loved ones doesn’t happen often (like mine), Christmas is the time for it to happen.

 

Christmas Dinner1. Christmas dinner with the family

That’s right, you’ve guessed it. How could anyone resist home cooked Christmas dinner; spending quality time with your family? I know I fall into Britain’s most favourite Christmas tradition, how generic of me, I know. But what would Christmas be without seasonal favourites, such as succulent turkey, crispy roasters, herb infused stuffing, and the best of course, cranberry sauce? Nothing. Christmas would be NOTHING. Although every year we are still nagged to eat the sprouts we roll on our plates with our fork, picking to eat everything first like that one sports team player that is always left when neither team wants them. (Ouch, blame movies for that analogy). Nevertheless, coming together as a family, creating special memories over this joyous celebration is the best thing about Christmas for me.

So there you have it, my top 5 ‘Things I Love About Christmas” – what a treat! What’s your favourite Christmas ‘things’? Comment below!

Images: Google Images (Not my own images)

Escapism Never Felt So Sweet

The phenomenal sensation that ripples through your body, shivering your existence with appreciation. The sinking into the ground feeling, whilst also feeling on top of the world. The ecstatic warmth surrounding your heart that glows proudly as you shout every lyric as loud as your wavering vocals will let you. That’s the feeling of seeing your favourite artist live, believe me.

Sunday the 8th November seemed so far away; yet when it appeared, eleven-forty a.m. I found myself waking up accompanied by a hangover from hell (a common occurrence during the first year of university I have realised), thinking that it would be another wasted pyjama-Sunday of Netflix and course reading. After about five minutes of coming to terms with the conscious world, I realised that today was the day. Today I finally got to see Foals.

Fast forward eight (relatively unproductive) hours, and I’m standing outside Cardiff Great Hall with housemate, Pete, my stomach flipping with excitement and anticipation. Waiting for Pete to receive his ticket, I am eagerly wanting to be inside the building already. A group of people chatting outside the door, completely ignorant to the fact that Jimmy and Walter (band members from Foals) casually walked out of the entrance. The whole moment flashed by my eyes so quickly, but I remember being just stood there; paralysed from shock, unable to speak at the fact the Bassist and Guitarist of Foals were within a 10 metre radius. Jimmy caught my bewildered stare for a few seconds, as I passively tapped Pete on the arm, unable to tear my eyes from two out of the five-piece band. My eyes followed them as they opened another door and went back inside the building. They were gone.

***

As the lights rose and the interlude of synths blared though the speakers, the band members came on one by one; Jack (drummer) being the first, and Yannis (singer), last. The crowd’s screams and applauds were wild, welcoming Foals’ presence to the stage. The five-piece Oxford band performed some of their best credible songs, including Inhaler, Providence, My Number, Spanish Sahara, Two Steps Twice and one of their most recent and eponymous, What Went Down. Energy frantically bounced around the room, as singing, dancing and mosh pits occurred during the set list. Beads of heat from the overjoyed audience that all shared the love of music in common dripped off of every individual involved. “ARE YOU FUCKING READY CARDIFF?” “Let’s make this Sunday night entertainment into Saturday night entertainment!” Shouted the band’s frontman, Yannis before Providence was played. Providence and Spanish Sahara were the two songs that were most memorable throughout the whole gig for me, as Providence’s riffs and drops allowed the crowd to go absolutely insane, mosh pitting uncontrollably. Tranquil Spanish Sahara is not only my favourite song of Foals’, but it is also my favourite song ever, therefore finally watching it live gave me the most spectacular, ecstatic feeling that gushed through my veins like the sweetest disease.

Sunday 8th November 2015 is a night that shall not be forgotten; the phenomenon of escapism never felt so sweet. Foals, you absolutely smashed the set, you never fail to impress.

Are Humans Greedy For Wanting More?

Autumn. Thinking about it, I have never really appreciated autumn before. It’s the same with spring, in fact. Autumn and spring just seem like one of those transition seasons that you don’t really remember once it’s passed; you’re too busy reminiscing the sand between your toes, sun clinging to your skin. Or the competitive, stubborn chill trying to wrap up inside your coat with you, Christmas lights glowing in between pines of the festively decorated tree. Autumn is the acquaint of winter. Much like spring is the neighbour of summer. Problem is, everyone’s waiting for the leaves to already change colour, dry up, fall off branches and autumn to be over, in exchange for crisp, frosty, Christmas winter nights that were made for festive films and hot chocolate, right? And after the best parts of winter is over, everyone is then impatiently waiting for spring to make the ground beneath their tapping-foot-and-crossed-arms pose turn dry, and for the British “sunny” weather to bronze (or crisp, rather) their bodies. But the more I think about how humans are constantly waiting for the future, whether the previous anticipated moment is present or not, the more deluded it seems.

We long for winter during the closing of summer, and then we yearn for summer once we get fed up of the cold weather. Hmm, seems logical, doesn’t it?…

My theory to all of this narcissistic nonsense is that humans are just selfish. But maybe that isn’t a strictly fair answer (nor is it scientifically true). But c’mon, what else is it when you think about it? It’s greedy for humans to desire everything we don’t have, meaning that we can’t appreciate the things that we are lucky to have in the present. Or even to appreciate fully the things we have wanted for so long (for example, seasons). But it’s not just seasons we are constantly chasing our tails for- all year round too. We get bored of old clothes, we get bored of eating the same meal over and over, and most of all, we get bored of being bored. However, perhaps the constant need for something different than the present is our motivation for the future. Too many times people (even myself), have said “I can’t wait until Christmas!”, because it gives us something to invest our time in and look forward to. We do it for ourselves. The more conscious we may be about the fact that humans do this, the more people may appreciate things. Maybe instead of focusing solely on the future, we can appreciate the present; where the autumn coloured trees fall beneath our boots, or the moist dew that hazes over fields as newborn lambs are welcomed to the world. Are we capable of being satisfied with now, rather than wanting more later on?

Photograph: By Rachel Jefferies

#STYLISTLIVE Magazine Event

Only in the past six months I have discovered Stylist magazine, and Saturday 17th October, I had the immense pleasure in attending their very own StylistLive magazine event in (my favourite place in England; London, of course). Rewind back six months, where my motivation for my summer beach bod was ridiculously sky-high, and after every Monday session at the gym, my favourite familiar post-workout feeling was always accompanied by picking up my free weekly Stylist magazine. During my gym body blast, I aimed to workout five times a week and eat endless vegetables, but inevitably that was short-lived. Want to know why? Cake. Always. Wins. So when my morale proved to be low and Netflix got the better of me, the thought of receiving my Stylist magazine would somehow dig out an ounce of motivation to go to the gym. Too many times I reluctantly pulled the warm quilt covers off, let my feet touch the chilly laminate flooring and brushed the biscuit crumbs off my pyjama shirt to go to the dreaded Place of Sweat. The Gym. However I finally approved my once-thought reckless decision when my exhausted body was sat in my pyjamas with my freshly washed hair wrapped in a towel, reading my copy of Stylist. I introduced Stylist to my best friend, Charlotte, and she would also religiously pick up a copy each time she went to the gym. We would even pick up a spare copy for one another when we were on holiday, unable to access the Stylist magazine pile in the gym (now that’s commitment, if you ask me). With an abundance of copies of Stylist stacked up on my bookshelf, each week would welcome a new member to the pile; and when I found out about Stylist Live, I knew it was something I couldn’t miss out on.

After purchasing the Stylist Live tickets online with Charlotte, it was only the matter of waiting (eagerly) until the special weekend arrived. Even though it was just a day trip to London, I still had an appearance of Early-Morning-Before-Holiday-Excitement that everyone’s experienced, knotting inside of my stomach when I woke at 5am to depart for London. When we reached the Business Design Centre in Islington, huge images of Stylist Live advertised the event, making the experience seem much more professional and official. I’m pretty sure I squealed with excitement as well. Multiple times. I felt somewhat exclusively important. I felt official, attending the event of a magazine I (much like so many others) read on a regular basis.

When we walked onto the top floor balcony of the main building, we were greeted by the most phenomenal view. Giant characters spelling out ‘STYLIST’ and blown up canvases of Stylist magazine front covers were hanging from the ceiling. The open ground floor below us was maze-like with the booths containing mini boutiques and well-known brands such as Clarins and Benefit make up stalls (I felt my purse wince slightly). A complimentary glass of champagne and Stylist bags were given out to every Stylist Live ticket holder. The enthusiastic atmosphere unwaveringly buzzed throughout the entire day, and at least everyone seemed to be inspired by the busy events which were taking place. Who wouldn’t when you have a make-up artist from NARS showing you how to achieve an autumn berry smokey eye? I wanted to whack out my make up bag there and then and try it out! Workshops, talks and make up tutorials were held throughout the day, as well as a catwalk show in sponsor of Swarovski Crystals. The catwalk was one of the highlights of the day for me at Stylist Live, as not witnessing a catwalk before made the new experience seem much more surreal and impressive. I felt like I was part of the Made In Chelsea cast (which felt incredibly good I must say). Due to the high popularity of the workshop talks, it meant that they were first come first serve; however we managed to get into the How to Write a Crime Novel talk by Kate Griffin, where she discussed her experiences, dos and don’ts, and advice on how to write a gripping crime novel. The engaging discussion was hugely inspiring for every single person in the room, and I’m pretty sure that I wasn’t the only one who walked out of the talk wanting to immediately sit down at a desk and start writing my own thriller crime novel.

Stylist was definitely an event that I shall never forget; the organisation was so well thought out and every single member of staff were friendly and animated. I hope that Stylist Live is an event that will occur yearly- I’d definitely be there without fail! I have a lot to thank Stylist for; for forcing me to stop being so lazy, for providing my evenings with something to read after my dreaded workout, and most importantly, for not only putting on such a fantastic event, but for also providing me with such motivation and inspiration to continue working hard to work in the magazine or publishing industry. Thank you, Stylist.

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Photographs by: Rachel Jefferies

7 LANGUAGE TECHNIQUES – WORST TO BEST

Language (or sometimes known as imagery) techniques are used for impact when it comes to any type of creative writing. Some I prefer more than others, and it’s okay to be critical on the least favourites… right? I’m aware this probably seems incredibly sad of me, to rank my worst to best language features, but what else am I meant to do on a bleak Sunday evening? (Probably something normal like Netflix or something). Anyways, moving on…

7. Onomatopoeia  

Does anyone else just find onomatopoeia annoying? Even the spelling of the term itself is annoying. I just think it is much more sophisticated to describe a sound and its effect on the situation, rather than literally writing POW! CRASH! THUD! It ironically takes away the impact on the text, don’t you think?

6. Simile

Although similes have their purpose, they’re one of those techniques you used to overuse in secondary school, because you learnt a fancy new writing technique. The time when you use every opportunity to describe grass as green as emerald, or the night as cold as ice, or the wolf’s teeth were as sharp as knives. Inventive, huh? Make sure you use it cleverly, not proudly.

5. Alliteration

Whenever I was asked to analyse a piece of text, the first thing I would usually look for was alliteration. It’s used on such a regular basis, however the sneaky hidden ones (usually in a piece of literature) are the most effective. Obvious alliteration reminds me of cheap advertisements, but examples such as classic literature and poetry that include alliteration always interpret these techniques in an abstract form. After all, I wonder how many of you noticed how many times I’ve just used alliteration. Answer: 3

Here’s a perfect example of alliteration; John Keats’ Ode to a Nightingale:

Fade far away, dissolve, and quite forget
What thou among the leaves hast never known,
The weariness, the fever, and the fret
Here, where men sit and hear each other groan;

4. Hyperbole

I SLAVED AWAY AT MY ENTIRE 1600 WORD ESSAY FOR FIVE GRUELLING DAYS. THAT’S 120 HOURS. SO MANY TIMES I WANTED TO SURRENDER AND GIVE UP BECAUSE THE IMPECCABLY DULL ESSAY TITLE WAS SO SOUL DESTROYING.

My point exactly. Hyperbole gives any writer the ticket to making the most boring of things interesting. That sentence originated as; The essay I was set was boring. Unrealistic examples like mine can be more comical than intensifying; would anyone in their right mind really dedicate 120 solid hours on a 1600 word essay? I think not.

3. Rhetorical Question

Do you agree with it being one of the top language techniques? Ha. There you go. Exactly the reason why I love rhetorical questions so much is that you can ask anything relevant. And what’s even better, is you can ask anything and you don’t (expect) an answer, so no one can give you an earful from asking so many preposterous questions. Genius if you ask me. (Unless it was a rhetorical question…). Moving swiftly on. I also think that rhetorical questions, when used correctly and effectively, can be one of the most powerful attributes to language, especially when it comes to texts such as persuasive speeches and articles. They change the way the reader’s outlook on a certain subject is. You can ask them for their opinion with the underlying tone of your own, influencing their (supposedly silent) response. Mwahaha.

2. Juxtaposition

Juxtaposition. What a great word in itself. But yet, what an even better imagery technique. The creativity this term unleashes in the most abstract of ways, if used to its full potential gives a text such power and effect. A beautiful example is John Keats’ The Cold Heaven:

Suddenly I saw the cold and rook-delighting heaven
That seemed as though ice burned and was but the more ice,
And thereupon imagination and heart were driven
So wild that every casual thought of that and this

1. Metaphor

My favourite thing in the entire English language. Metaphorical language is so beautiful and symbolic. We use metaphorical thoughts every single day, and the incredibility of analogies to refer to a metaphorical thought; tying English language with the creative thoughts of psychology. Simply amazing.

Comment below if you agree/what your favourite imagery techniques are!

Self Inflicted? More Like Book Inflicted

Have you ever watched a movie and wished your life was situated like the characters’? Or read a book and wished you held the same characteristics as the narrative’s? We all do. We all wish that our lives were slightly different, slightly more exciting, slightly more lucky when it comes to love. But isn’t it amazing how well books, movies, music can influence you so immensely? To make you wish that you had a similar life to a description on a page. Is that the power of literature, or the power of your imagination? You’ve all read a book, but have you read into a book?

One of the incredible beauties of reading a novel in my opinion is the way the writer can make you think, feel, agree or even disagree with a character. No two persons read the same book. A book is always interpreted in different ways, whether it’s due to personal experiences, how well you can relate to what the book is communicating, or whether you like/dislike the style of writing you are reading. However I find it astonishing how a book, words on a page, written by a complete stranger to you, can have such power, making you think about everything that is happening inside the pages between your fingers, escaping your own real life for that moment. Books that portray characters so well,  having the ability to profoundly creep into your mind during your everyday life is also incredibly fascinating. I have read books in the past, that when I reach the end, I am so disappointed that I won’t get to hear about the rest of the character’s everyday life, it genuinely takes time to detach from the fictional characters that I have built a one-way relationship with. Crazy isn’t it? I mean, becoming attached to fictional characters. Sound’s pathetic when you say it out loud, but it’s perfectly normal because it’s not just like a movie where you witness their actions in third person. No, a character in a book is much more than that; you learn intricate details about the character, you learn about their past (and potentially their present). You not only witness relationships around them, but if the narrative is first person, you understand, you empathise how they feel. I don’t know about you, but I reckon that is some pretty impressive stuff.

Another crazy, yet weirdly normal experience I have had with previous books are wishing I was more like the character that is narrating the story. Wishing I had their charismatic qualities, or clumsiness (may sound like a bizarre personal trait to want but trust me, books sell it to you). Thing is, authors create likable characters. They want you to fall in love with the character you read about, because when the twist comes, you are emotionally affected. It’s how books are made entertaining. So this means that you aspire to be like the characters you read about. You want to be as lovable as Jane Eyre (Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte), you want to be as grateful as Hazel Grace (The Fault In Our Stars, John Green), you want to be as fiery as Amy Elliot Dunne (Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn). And although you want to be similar to characters you read about, you also want sub-characters to enter in your life as easy as the author tells you they apparently can (to the protagonist). You want someone to adore you the way Gatsby adores Daisy (The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald). It’s the greed we feel when our imagination has no limits, and expectations rise when we read such novels.

Isn’t it amazing how much a book can affect your perception on the world, make you crave something you don’t already have? Everybody wants their life to be a collection of perfect moments we desirably witness through literature and even films, blurring the lines between expectations and reality. Comment how a book has influenced you, possibly being the reason why it might be a favourite book to you!

Tips on How To Write a Narrative

Have you ever just stared at a blank page, biting your nails and rolling your eyes impatiently, waiting for ideas to come to you when trying to start a narrative? Me too. Instead of staring at my computer screen, achieving nothing productive, instead, I searched online some tips on how to start a narrative to try to provoke some ideas for my own narrative. I managed to successfully write my narrative with a continuous flow of ideas, so here some of my top tips to getting started!
Make sure you have created a full profile about your character– You can’t write a narrative without knowing your characters inside out; their name, age, personality, likes, dislikes, their reactions and mannerisms etc. You will find knowing these tiny intricate details about your character will help build the narrative when describing scenes, whether it’s in first person, second person or third person.
Decide and plan the basic frame of your narrative– Decide whether you’re writing your narrative from a first, second or third person perspective, as well as what tense you want the story to be in. This is very important as it could determine where you start your story- that something has already happened and the reader is in the middle of it, then flashing back to the past to finally get to the present of the situation you are in now? Or a story of past events?
Think ahead– You don’t need to know the exact details of your story, just the basic frame of it, and make up the finer details on the way. Keep a notebook next to your computer, so that when you are writing, if any ideas or description quotes spring to your mind, make sure you write them down so you can later on refer to them- trust me, this helped me a lot!
Set yourself in the scene– To help write your narrative, perhaps write about something you do often or you can relate to. For example, my character in my story was sat on a bus, and I get the bus regularly. By knowing what the character feels like and what situation they are in, it enabled me to be able to describe the intricate details that people are familiar with, but don’t necessarily notice until you point it out.
Don’t rush–  If you are frustrated about not knowing where to go with your narrative, don’t get too annoyed. Try and think of some ideas, but don’t force ideas and panic- it’s okay, writer’s block is common, so don’t fret too much! Just keep a notebook next to you at all times, even just in your bag in the house, or even on your bedside table, so that if you ever you experience something or think of an idea you could use, jot it down in your notebook, or so you don’t you probably will forget it, or forget the fine details about it at least. A lot of writers use their dreams or inspirations from their dreams to write a novel, so keep a notebook handy.
Don’t rely on dialogue too much to start off your narrative– While starting a narrative with dialogue is a strong start, don’t rely on it too much- it is so common, you don’t want to fall into the trap of copying everyone else. Try to find a more original start to your story, you can do this by deciding depending on what your story will be about. Don’t be afraid to try something new or daring.
I hope that a few of my tips help, good luck and enjoy writing!

CARDIFF LIFE

So as stated in a previous blog post, I was accepted into Cardiff University in August… and how time flies, because it’s already October 4th, meaning that I have now been studying at Cardiff University for two whole weeks! Anxious with what to expect (or should I say, what not to expect) at first, I have settled in, making friends, studying and decorating my room. I was unsure how I would feel about moving away from my family and friends at home, and even though I am excited to go home in two weeks, I am loving the university life. Although it is time consuming having to cook, clean and do the laundry yourself, it is all part of the university experience, and it is relaxing when you know you can have what you want for dinner, when you want it, (and not having to wait ages for your tea to be cooked when you’re wanting to go out at a specific time like back at home).


  
I am lucky that Cardiff is such a great city with so much to do. Everything seems accessible (even if you do have to use your leg power and walk to the majority of places due to not having a car), however there are shops, sight seeing venues and Cardiff Bay (which I am yet to explore). However during some free time, a friend and I went into Tourist Mode and walked around Cardiff in hope to find something/ some place interesting. The stone buildings in Cardiff are so beautiful, and the wide streets with trees synchronised parallel give a London-esque type feel. A walk through the interesting streets of this beautiful architecture could cure any boredom on a sunny day. We came across Cardiff City Hall, where we were allowed to look around inside. The beautiful interior design of marble floor and pillars felt like royalty, and the grand rooms designed for events such as business meetings, conferences and wedding receptions (as the receptionist informed us) held such character.


  

BOOK BARN INTERNATIONAL

The other week I had a few days off of work and I decided to take a trip to the Book Barn International on Wells Road in Bristol/Avon. The sun was shining and I had such a tranquil afternoon, browsing through the thousands of books and endless shelves. I went alone because I love exploring new books alone, having quiet time to myself to engross myself in potential new reads. I sat down in the vintage cafe that is located in the Book Barn, where I ordered some crumpets and a cup of afternoon tea. I read a few pages of the books that I had picked up and put in my basket, deciding whether the books were suitable/interesting enough to purchase. The cafe even included computers where you can search up a specific book you may be looking for, and you can request them to look for it in their warehouse if it comes up on the computer. I came away from the Book Barn almost four hours after arriving, feeling pleasantly relaxed and a carrier bag with thirteen new books to add to my full bookshelf at home. I would definitely recommend the Book Barn International for second-hand books (and they even have some brand new books) for just £1 each. Bargain if you ask me! An afternoon well spent.

WHAT WENT DOWN? FOALS IS WHAT WENT DOWN

Be known to some of you (perhaps all), but I am a HUGE fan of indie/rock band, Foals, and Friday 28th August 2015, they released their fourth album, What Went Down. I have loved Foals for years now, and the first time I heard their beautifully tranquil, Spanish Sahara, it has been my favourite song ever since. I am seeing them play on their tour in Cardiff in November and excited is an understatement. So the day, What Went Down came out, I especially went to HMV and bought my own copy. What a phenomenon is all I have to say to sum up the incredible new album.

“this is only the beginning for Foals”


The group of five; Yannis, Jimmy, Jack, Walter and Edwin formed in Oxford, England, releasing their debut album Antidotes in 2008. The band have come a long way since their first record and through various interviews, singer and guitarist, Yannis Philippakis voices that this is only the beginning of Foals.

Foals claim that their new album’s music is a step up from their previous I albums, and their “pop” songs will be “poppier” and their “heavy” songs will be “heavier” (as quoted by Yannis Philippakis). And indeed, he is right. Tracks, Snake Oil and eponymous What Went Down are definitely the heaviest tracks on the album, parallel to heavier tracks Inhaler and Providence from previous album of WWD, Holy Fire. I am impressed with the amount of tranquil tracks also, including Give It All, London Thunder and A Knife In The Ocean, tracks that sound even more beautiful at 3am in the morning. And last but not least to mention their groovy Foals-esque-trademark-type of music with their playful guitar riffs and bouncy bass in the background, Birch Tree, Albatross, Night Swimmers and Lonely Hunter, parallel to tracks such as My Number (Holy Fire album), Miami and Total Life Forever (both from Total Life Forever album).


Foals also played a secret-not-so-secret set at Reading and Leeds festivals 2015, playing six songs, some from their new album. Crowds went crazy for the five-piece band, their set looked insane. I am particularly looking forward to their concert in November that has completely sold out, Foals have yet again made us Foals fans extremely proud.


Check out Foals on www.foals.co.uk

BEERWOLF BOOK PUB

Cornwall might as well be be in the dictionary as a synonym for relaxing, because it is a place particularly attracted by slow-moving coast-loving holiday makers, dipping in and out of unique, vintage shops (like me!). Last year I discovered a cosy little pub hidden behind the buzzing town of Falmouth, Cornwall, which is not like any old pub. This pub is the most perfect pub I have ever come across; a library book pub. A room with shelves full of books, available for customers to buy or just read during their tranquil visit. Quiet music fills the quirkily peaceful home (heaven) to book-lovers just like myself. And seeing as I come to Cornwall every summer, I was surprised that I hadn’t discovered it before. I am currently sat in the chilled atmospheric pub with a cup of tea, Cornish pastries and my head buried inside of Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl (a brilliant read so far), escapism at its finest. Gutted that places like this don’t exist in my hometown, Bristol, so spending all day in here alone on my family holiday seems slightly more justified (however does reading and drinking tea even need to be justified?!)


  
  

CORNWALL LOVIN’

I’m on holiday at Cornwall, England, at the moment. Yesterday we travelled to Fowey Harbour where we sat in the cutest little coffee shop and ironically had tea and cake. Here’s some pictures of the beautiful streets of South England.
Fowey Tea and Cake

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We headed to St. Ives on the Monday, where we caught the train into the harbour quay, a beautiful scenic ride. Unsuprisingly, the weather was grim and raining, however later on in the afternoon the sunshine perked up, glistening the clear sea, allowing visitors of St. Ives to paddle and surf the low tide.

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The Importance of Not Going To The Gym

CHLOEHELENMILES

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Photography by Ryan Winterbotham

The pressure to exercise has been growing rapidly over the past few years. The expectation to be active, fit and healthy is higher than ever. When I first started this blog it was a 50/50 split of Fashion and Fitness. That’s something I recently announced I’m going back to.

I will always love exercising and always highlight the importance of it. But to kick off my process of going back to 50/50 Fashion and Fitness I want to start by highlighting the importance of not going to the gym.

One of the side effects of grief is loss of appetite. I’ve suffered with this greatly. Since Dylan died I’ve been trying hard to eat enough and eat regularly but it’s been a struggle.

With this post I wanted to share the message that if you haven’t eaten enough, you should not go to the gym. Not only…

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