TRAVEL | Ranking the Greek Islands I’ve visited

This post has been a long time in the making!!

It’s been finished for a little while but I decided to publish it now as a lot of you will have a bit more time during the festive break to look at holidays for next year, so this may make a nice easy bit of reading.

Greece has definitely become ‘my place’and somewhere I enjoy and feel most comfortable going on holiday in recent years. I’ve been to a few more Greek islands and the mainland but I was pretty young and only have hazy memories to be honest! So this should probably be called ‘Ranking the Greek Islands I’ve visited as an adult’.

Islands are ranked from least to most favourite, although I will point out that enjoyed my time visiting every one of them!

I stayed in Agia Marina on the Northwest, which is the opposite side to the overly developed tourist areas. This trip was what I’d describe as an ‘mature girly holiday’ so our main priorities were to sunbathe and have some nice food and drink in the evenings, which we definitely did. The absolute highlight of the week was our visit to the old capital Chania, which is just gorgeous and vibrant. It was in Chania I ate at what I still regard as one of the prettiest restaurants I’ve ever been in, Ella Taverna (it doesn’t have a website or I’d link it).

I’ve talked about my travels to Myknonos quite extensively at the time. What I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned in any of my blog posts is this – we accidentally turned up for our flight 24hrs early so had to pay for another night in the airport hotel / parking. I also realised I’d forgotten to pack any bras so used the extra day to hotfoot it to Manchester and rectify the problem! Even though I saw exactly the same sights as those plastered across social media there were a few things that surprised me, including just how rough the sea was and how busy the tiny little streets were! Our hotel was called Paola’s Town, and lovely as it was it was in a kind of bad location – technically 900m to the centre of Mykonos Town but that was down a very steep road that had not pathway and no lights, which made the journey a bit stressful. That said, we enjoyed some amazing food and drink and a visit to Mykonos Vioma vineyard. Given that the main action and aesthetic is in Mykonos Town which we explored extensively, coupled with the fact that it’s hella expensive for food and drink, I probably won’t be making a repeat visit.

This is the most recent island I’ve travelled to on this list, which we picked because we’d been to Zakynthos the year before so thought we’d try out it’s neighbour. We stayed at White Rocks Hotel in Lassi which was a nice but set out in the most bizarre way. We had a room overlooking the sea and public beach which was lovely but inexplicably the room also had a massive window that looked through from the toilet to the bedroom that was not pleasant! There also weren’t any footpaths or lighting from the hotel to the resort which made going out after sunset a bit dicey (a la Mykonos). I’m not sure if it was because of COVID or whether it’s simply how Lassi is, but things felt a LOT quieter than I would’ve expected for August. We spent a couple of nights in the capital of Argostoli, and lemme tell you things were bouncing over there! I was surprised to find Kefalonia was quite extra and boujee – think flower arches, living walls/ceilings and pristine white interiors. It looked amazing! We made sure we got out and saw a bit of the island too, and everywhere we visited was just as pretty. Greek food is hands down my favourite, but we also had the chance to sample some traditional Kefalonian food too which was a nice change. And we got to see some turtles up close which was a highlight!

Kos has gained its ranking for purely sentimental reasons – it was mine and the Mr’s first proper holiday together when we were newly engaged. We stayed at the Cleopatra Superior in Kardamena which was fine, just your average kinda ‘this is our base’ hotel, although we did have a great view of the mountains, sea and pool from our room. We didn’t leave the resort once or even do much during the week we visited (we went on a boat trip where I got really sunburnt, rented a pedalo and did an afternoon of mini golf, which I lost at) so didn’t see any of the island or try any new foods etc (basically, all of the things we love to do now). We were just a couple of 20-somethings in love and that was all the entertainment we needed! I would be put off returning again splely because of flight times and the sizeof the airport – we had to queue outside to get in and then were basically in a constant queue all the way through check in and departures until we boarded in the early hours of the morning!

Zakynthos was very much a last minute decision – I’d been made redundant after a few months on Furlough andwe’d had another couple of holidays cancelled. We had time, money and Boris said we could so thought why not! It was hands down the most pleasant airport experience I’ve ever had in August – not a lot of people, socially distanced and everything running on time. I think because it was last minute and we just wanted to chill our expectations were low, but we were pleasantly surprised. We stayed in Tsilivi which was pretty buzzing with lots of places to eat and drink (although at the time there was a midnight curfew). We stayed at the Contessina Hotel which I had mixed feelings about – the aesthetic and staff were lovely but some of the rooms were badly laid out/inaccessible and they didn’t provide adequate sizing of things like robes (the Mr and I are distinctly average sized but even the XL didn’t come close to fitting either of us). We took a couple of trips to explore the island, spent the day at a beach club and enjoyed some of the best Greek food I’ve ever tasted. I remember feeling insanely relaxed about life and what was coming next with finding a new job etc, so I think this break put me in the right headspace that led me to where I am right now, so I’ll always have find memories of this trip. I’d be more than happy to go back again.

Santorini was absolutely, 100% everything I wanted and more, I’d love to go back! I wrote about it quite a lot at the time – a guide to the island hotspots, best things to do and a guide to Greek food so feel free to click any of these links if you’d like to know more. Literally everything you look at is beautiful and it’s dead easy to get everywhere. I was told before going that it was pretty expensive, but I didn’t find that at all – everywhere was reasonably priced for food, drink and activities. We stayed in Kamari and could literally see the resort from the airport, if I was going back I’d stay there again as its a nice place in its own right and super easy to travel to other places from.

If you’re interested in seeing more of some of these holidays, head to my Instagram and check out the highlights section or scroll back through the grid to take a look at some more pictures. Unfortunately Kos and Crete were pre-IG so there’s nothing about either of them, but feel free to get in touch with any questions and I can answer or do another post as desired.

Thanks for reading,

J xx


Instagram best nine – 2021

It’s that time of year again….

I’m not sure if anyone even does these kinds of posts anymore, but since I’ve been largely absent from the internet this year I thought I’d still continue the mini tradition of posting my Instagram best nine. Pics count down from 9 to 1 and I’ve written a bit of context with each.

9 – Holiday style

In August I jetted off to Kefalonia (which I definitely intend to write about one of these days…) and wrote about how I’d lived in this tomato red skater dress (I know it looks more orange in this light) since buying it, as I’m sure I’ll continue to do when the weather is warm enough to wear it again!

8 – WFH life

I was home alone wearing a lot of loungewear for 3 months and trying to do something cute I spotted on New Look’s feed. Nothing more profound than that!

7 – The post-trolling bounce back

I wasn’t really feeling myself because I got trolled really badly on the photo I posted right before this one (feel free to check out my Instagram to go and see said photo, it was also a Reel), it ended with someone saying I looked like I was definitely going to die from diabetes. Lovely eh? However, this day I was going to get my hair done and to to lunch for the first time since restrictions eased so had made an effort and was feeling alroght about myself. I was kind of annoyed at letting the keyboard warriors affect me tbh, but hey I’m only human.

6 – London calling

My first time back in London for 3 long years! I took a bit of time to check out some old haunts and some I’d never been to before that I’d spotted on Tik Tok (feel free to give me a follow on TT if you happen to be on there) including Neal’s Yard where this pic was taken. It turned out to be about 30 seconds away from the area we usually stay in! We also checked out Ballie Ballerson which is one of the most fun nights out I’ve had this year- great music, great food and cocktails, lots of juvenile fun to be had.

5 – Boujee PJs for days (and days)

I bought this set from River Island to wear on Christmas day 2020, I love the Daily Sleeper ones but couldn’t justify the £300 price tag! The feathers on mine get EVERYWHERE though…this photo was a Saturday afternoon in lockdown where I simply thought “hey, I’ve adulted enough today, let’s dress up and have some fun”. There’s real gin in that cocktail glass and I drank it all! Apart from the bit I spilled over myself trying to take this pic…

4 – Where what the hell you want

If you’ve been with me since somewhere near the beginning of my blog, you’ll know that my body has changed over the years. Right now it’s on the bigger side of where I’ve been before, and I veer between being absolutely fine with how I look and feeling desperate to change. I’m trying to find a middle ground between feeling OK about myself as I am whilst taking steps to create a mind and body that I’m happier in more often than not (not 100% happy, because I don’t think that’s achievable). On this day I was in my back garden in the summer heat in a bikini and felt good, so I posted this pic.

3 – Go shorty it’s your bithday

I enjoy trying to do some kind of fun photo setup for my birthday each year (not sure whether I’ll still think its fun as the number goes up). I spotted a pic on Lucy Wood’s Instagram feed that gave me the inspo for this – I ordered some party bits from Amazon and hung them in my beloved Wisteria tree.

2 – More birthday shenanigans

As my birthday fell on a Monday, the Mr took me out the day before for a bottomless pizza lunch (aka pretty perfect afternoon out). I’d just bought this Floral dress from Simply Be and this was its first outing. I felt awesome in it and got some lovely compliments too. It became one of my most worn clothing items this year – I lived it so often that I bought the jumpsuit and skater dress in the same print, which I’m now equally obsessed with.

1 – Don’t let life pass you by!

It may have been the pina colada talking, but when I wrote this caption I wholeheartedly meant every single bloody word of it. Even though the alcohol buzz has long since worn off, I stand by it. You can’t wait until you feel “good enough” to go on holiday, go to a restaurant, basically live your life. If you do that you’ll miss out on so much.

And that’s it for another year! I’ll leave links below the past few I’ve done if you have a spare 5 minutes and you’re feeling nosey.

Instagram best nine 2020

Instagram best nine 2019

Instagram best nine 2018

Thanks for reading,

J xx


REAL LIFE | Hey, is this thing still on??

Hey Internet,

Long time no speak…not gonna lie, I didn’t realise that it had been 4 WHOLE MONTHS since we last caught up! Time flies when you’re…well, busy! Here’s a brief snapshot of what’s been happening in the world of Jenny Chat:

  • Finally had my grey roots covered
  • Had both COVID jabs
  • Went on the radio a few times
  • Had a few date nights with the Mr
  • Met up with friends, ex-colleagues and people I haven’t seen in forever for brunch, lunch, dinner, coffee and walks
  • Been on 3 weekends away (Leeds and Liverpool)
  • Helped my childhood bestie launch a house raffle
  • Worked on a few collabs Over on Instagram
  • Got a promotion

and I *think* dear reader, that’s about everything!

I didn’t intend to take a break (definitely not such a long one) but in my humble opinion, there’s no point publishing something if I don’t think it has any valid reason or opinion behind it, so I didn’t.

My blog will always feel a bit like home, and I’m not planning to move any time soon.

As always, thanks for following/reading/commenting, there will be more for you to enjoy soon 😊 in the meantime feel free to come and say hey on Instagram or Tik Tok where I have been hanging out a little bit more often.

Thanks for reading,

J xx


Instagram best nine

I’m back with some OG kinda post this week!

It’s that time of year where Instagram shows us our mist liked/engaging grid pics from the past year, so I wanted to share mine and a bit of the significance behind each. Enjoy!

This was on my birthday back in June. A couple of days before, I’d found out I was being made redundant. However, I pushed this to the back if my mind and enjoyed a socially distaced BBQ at my mum’s house with close family and was made to feel very loved. The smile is 100% genuine.

The last time I posted a pic of myself in this bikini (about a year before) I was standing up and sucking in for dear life. This time, I decided to just snap a pic exactly as I was; relaxing in the garden and enjoying life. I don’t think that’s a brave thing to do, nothing here that you wouldn’t see round a pool or on a beach on holiday right?

Holiday!! 6 of my best 9 were from my summer holiday to Zante (still so grateful we managed to get abroad this year, even if it wasn’t where we’d planned). On this day we’d taken the bus to Zakynthos Town and enjoyed walking by the harbour, around the shops and stopping off for food before heading back to our hotel. I really like these ‘holding hands out of shot’ pics.

I didnt feel ‘brave’ posting this pic, however I was inspired to post it by some of my fave influencers who have helped me to have a slightly different mindset about how I view my body. Yes, I might want to make some changes, but they’re not going to happen overnight so I can’t simple sit around and wait until I feel I look ‘good enough’. So I went about my holiday, did what I wanted and had a ball.

This was just one afternoon (happy hour, to be exact) by the pool at our hotel, I’d been made redundant by this point but were having a great holiday and I was feeling pretty positive about the next steps (the week after this, I got my new job). I really did feel good about life and wanted to capture the moment.

This was taken mid way through a boat trip to Naviago Bay (otherwise known as Shipwreck Beach) the boat was a bit teeny and the waves were a bit too big for me to feel ok getting in the water, but we saw some amazing beaches and had some great food.

Back to June and the first time I dared to meet up with a fellow blogger to shoot content (which was @moretokat) we arrived and left separately, used our phones to shoot, and bought drinks at the shop afterwards to have outside. I took along my mirror (that was originally meant for my bathroom but has remained unhung for about 2 years) to do a couple of selfie style shots with the wild flowers.

We’d spent the day at a really nice beach club had some drinks and some nice food (standard) and a paddle in the sea. I was wearing this super comfy-casj cover up by Queens Have Curves (run by my pal Alex) that has kindly been gifted to me, so I thought this was the perfect chance to snap a pic of it.

And finally number nine! This was taken near one of the most photographed places in Zakynthos, Cameo Island. I say near, because if I’d have had more time I’d like to have seen a bit of the island and got a perfect pic, but (as I pointed out in my lengthy IG caption) life sometimes gets on the way and you can always ‘do it for the ‘gram’. I had sailed around the island previous to this photo being taken, and it’s very pretty.

And there you have it folks – nine images full of wisdom, fun, adventure and a few nice outfits! If you don’t usually, I’d encourage you to check your own Instagram best nine it’s bound to give you some of your 2020 highlights (yes, you’ve probably had some) and remember some of the important things you were thinking and feeling.

Thanks for reading,

J xx


Let’s Chat – August 2020

Well THAT was a bit of a busy month! Holiday, celebrations, and….Tik Tok fame?? I unintentionally had a month off from writing any posts as a result, but it’s September now so back to school it is!

(AD| Gifted – some of the items in this collage were given to me as part of a new brand collaboration, which I’ll talk about more below)

  • Hamilton: I managed to bag a free 6 month subscription to Disney+ (thanks O2) so the first thing I did was watch this to see what the hype was about! I enjoyed it and the songs are very catchy, it’s quite lengthy so I don’t think I’ll be watching it again for a while.
  • First Dates: Another one of those ‘why didn’t we watch this before’ programmes. Guess I’m just meant to be a few yeata behind the times with my viewing pleasure!
  • Semi-Detached: The new sitcom by Lee Mack. Not his usual style and I’m not a fan of it after 2 eps.
  • We’re Here: the power of drag with those who don’t fit in or have suffered hard times. Can’t get through an ep without balling.
  • Secured some regular freelance work: as you may remember from my June post, I’ve been made redundant from my full time day job. As part of a completely separate interaction, a brand I like found my blog, liked my writing style and asked if I would be interested in doing some work for them. I snapped their hand off and so far I am loving it! I thought a lot about transitioning to full time at the end of last year, but the planning and timing didn’t feel quite right. Maybe it is now?
  • Made a balloon arch: One of my besties turned 40 at the start of lockdown so we had some bekayed celebeations and decided to get some extra little touches to make it special for her. She’s a massive fan of leopard print so we made that out theme and got a cake, decorations and photo props to match. The final piece de resistance (if I do say so myself) was a 12m balloon arch that I made and fitted all by myself (I bought a kit on Amazon). I also made her a Vogue cover from the trend that was going round a couple of months ago and put it in a frame.
  • Had an afternoon tea picnic: …and the spot my friend chose ended up being right next to our local COVID testing site!
  • Aunty duty: because of the school holidays and my current ‘not in full time permanent employment’ sitch I’ve had my niece and nephew for a few days this month while their parents have been at work. It’s been lovely to soend more time with them but damn is it tiring. How do you full time parents do this??
  • Went on holiday: As I mentioned last month, we booked a holiday to Zakynthos, and low and behold we actually went! Not without a couple of hiccups though – our hotel decided not to open so we were moved to another in the middle of nowhere which wasn’t suitable for us, then a possible quarantine for Greece was discussed which would have hindered the Mr going back to work. The answer? Bring the trip forward by 2 weeks and move to another hotel closer to the action. There was no quarantine when we came back and we got to go away when the weather went a bit rubbish again in the UK, wins all round! You can read more about our experience in my previous blog post here.
  • I *may* have gone Tik Tok viral?: I say may because I don’t know how many views you need to be classes as viral, but all of a sudden this month some of my videos blew up! At the time of writing I’ve inexplicably gained 6.5k followers (a number I could only dream of on IG) and some of my videos have been watched tens of thousands of tines (again, something I can only dream of on IG) one with over 275k views. WTF? Who knew that dancing like an idiot in your husband’s dressing gown would be so appreciated…

Thanks for reading

J xx


When this is over….

I want to… (in no particular order)

  • Hug my family for a looooong time
  • Have a proper memorial for my nan
  • Go day drinking in Leeds
  • Have Pizza Hut cheest bites
  • Go for a coffee with the girls
  • Book and re-book as many holidays as my bank balance and annual leave calendar will allow
  • Watch with interest to see if the toxic people around me have developed any shred of kindness
  • Buy things off the internet frivolously (yet responsibly)
  • Have my car fully valeted
  • Take my niece and nephew out for ice cream

J xx


Let’s Chat – February 2020

For a short month (even though we had an extra day in it this year) I’ve had a super busy time!

Slight disclaimer – I’ve been pretty terrible at taking pictures of what I’ve been wearing (hair and nails are in) but I can reveal I’ve been enjoying a lot of faux leather and statement sleeves..

  • Bad Boys for Life soundtrack
  • Bon Jovi Jonas Brothers
  • Throwback hits on Viking FM

  • Bad Boys for Life: it’s the perfect balance between super serious action film and cheesy cop comedy, deffo recommend
  • Sex Education season 2: even more unanswered questions than the end of last season, sure there’s going to be a third, right?

  • -Saw Michael McIntyre live: last minute warm up gig for his Netflix spesh
  • Saw Lloyd Griffith live: #LetLloydSingAtWembley
  • Saw Jimmy Carr live: a crazy woman claiming she was called Hilary Clinton heckled, a LOT
  • I went on the radio: this time I was on the BBC Radio Humberside afternoon show talking about how blogging can make you more employable (based on this post)
  • Saw Phil Wang live: have we seen a pattern for the month here?? Usually our comedy gigs are far more spaced out, but if ever there was a time I needed a good laugh it’s now so I’m kinda grateful
  • Holiday booking: I’ve booked a girls trip to Ibiza for the month after for my sister-in-law’s 40th birthday. We’re doing the full shebang with Ocean Beach and everything. I’m excited yet a bit scared!
  • I met Latrice Royale: After being kindly gifted entry to the first Pride in Hull Queer AF event in January, myself and Kat booked (and paid for) tickets to the second event which was headlined by Drag Race Season 4 alum Latrice.

2020 is already proving pretty busy and expensive, but I’m very much here for it so far!

Thanks for reading, J xx


Thank you, next…A final review of my 5 things for 2019 (and a few other things I’m so f*****g grateful for)

This is basically going to be a summary of how I’ve done with the goals I set myself at the start of the year with an added ‘happy list’ at the end. 2019 has been a bit of a weird year, but I only want to mark the things I’ve enjoyed about it, so even though I’ve had my share of rocky patches this year you won’t find them in this post!

1 – Shop in my own closet 75% of the time

I’ve done really well on this, a lot better than I even expected especially more so than the year before when I just banned spending completely.

I’ve probably invested in a couple more frivolous purchases over the last few weeks (hello Black Friday sales) but even then these were things I’d wanted for a while. I’m still thinking more deeply about buying before I pull the trigger and being more responsible with my money, which has enabled me to get more stuff done at home which makes me joyous, so I’m confident this have evolved into a behaviour I can maintain.

2 – Get a home bar

It’s done, goal achieved, I just can’t show you because that area 0f the house doesn’t photograph well (and also, the area itself needs to be restyled to accommodate) here’s a peek of what it looked like when we first set it up at the very end of last year, but it looks different now

Expect some better pictures and styling for this one in 2020!

3 – Un-join the gym and get outside

Well, this pledge has made it all the way to the end of the year! The girls and I still head out most Sundays (not every week, as sometimes people have plans or have had a heavy night before) and have plans to carry this on into 2020. It’s been a fantastic opportunity to not only get a bit of light regular exercise, but brilliant to see my girls much more often than I have for a long time which is great for my sense of health.

I did start to incorporate a bit of extra home cardio into this as I said I wanted to in my last update, however I sustained a bit of an injury and then didn’t manage to get back to it, but I will. I’m still quite clear that I don’t want to head back to join a gym at this point.

4 – Get out of the house more

Overall, I’d argue that I have done this throughout the year, however the Mr would probably disagree wholeheartedly!

I’ve said yes more than no to activities outside of work this year, though there have been a couple of periods where I was just knackered and needed to have a bit of time being a hermit indoors. But hey, I’m human and I’ll never be perfect.

5 – Dranks out, drinks in

You may remember that I took this one out of the running completely about halfway through the year. I’d had a few days/evenings on the sauce and felt it wasn’t going to be realistic to cut out as much as I’d expected. I’m not in any way disappointed about having to do this, I happen to think it’s healthy constantly review and change goals if they’re no longer relevant or achievable for whatever reason. More to the point, this one was vetoed for good reasons – I’ve had some lovely times out and about enjoying a couple of cocktails and some laughs with the Mr and my girls.

Other good things that 2019 has brought for me

– Getting to know and meet some wonderful people

This has been such an important part of why there have been positive points of 2019. There are people are already knew a little bit that I’ve spent more time with and lived, and I’ve met new people in a variety of ways that have become some of nicest/wisest/bestest influences on my state of mind. Thank you to all of you, I will Co ti ue to annoy you further in the new year!

– Travelling to Italy

A very important part of my bucket list was completed, and so much more as part of this trip. I most definitely heart Italy and would really like to see what else it has to offer.

– Feeling relaxed and comfortable in my own home

This probably sounds a bit weird, but I spent over 7 years in my last house just never quite feeling right and enjoying living there. It took a looooong time to find our current house (almost 11 months overall, and 8 months after selling the aforementioned one) but for me it was worth it. Although the Mr occasionally complains its smaller (and it is, a bit) it has a much better vibe about it and we’ve actually made some positive strides into to decorating and making it out own. I’m beyond excited to keep cracking on with this next year.

– The discovery of Ru Paul’s drag race

You could either think this is weird, or you could think ‘what the hell took you so long?’ to this! After hearing pretty much the whole of my social media feeds say how brilliant it was, I binge watched the entire first season one night when I was home alone and having a bit of a testing time. I really enjoyed it, and within 3 months I’d watch seasons 1-10 and the UK season 1 (I was team DDC and Cheryl Hole if anyone is interested).

Having a show so far removed from my reality was exactly the escapism I needed at a pretty stressful time, which I’m hugely grateful for. I just need to work out how I can watch the All Stars seasons that aren’t on Netflix now…little help??

– Experiencing my first Pride in Hull

I was invited to be part of this very important event in July, when I was on season 4 of Drag Race and I got to watch Alaska Thuderfuck perform which was blooming brilliant (but then had very high expectations of her appearance on season 5 which I watched shortly after).

What I lived about this event the most was the comraderie of the city, and the empassioned speech given by the Lord Mayor who is himself part of the LGBTQ community. I’m very proudly an ally for anybody who needs this.

– Spent more time with my niece and nephew

These munchkins are 4 and 5 and are genuinely two of my favourite people in the whole world. They’re so funny. clever and kind.

This year I’ve been on holiday with them, had them both over for sleepovers and generally just had them more at the house for visits and being the cool aunt I was born to be.

– I was immortalised in cartoon form

Bit weird (are you sensing a theme here) but on three occasions this year the ghost artist known as Peter and Paul made me and my HEY Bloggers gals part of thisbseries featuring local celebrities or prominent figures. For this reason I’m very flattered indeed, however I have been a bit dubious about the tattoos and cave woman-style outfits I’ve worn to date!

Thanks joining me this year, this decade (or even just for this post) on my blog. As always, I plan to keep going and add more and different content – as long as I enjoy it and put the work in, I hope you will too.

Thanks for reading, and wishing you very best for theyear ahead

J xx


My Instagram best nine (2019)

It’s that time of year again – when an internet generator tells us all which nine pics had the most likes, we’re all a bit surprised by a couple and we have a nosey at everybody else’s. So here are mine!

1 University of Hull, August

I took this picture to go with my 8 Reasons to Choose Hull blog post in collaboration with the University, and to be honest i think it did well because they reposed it on their social media channels.

I have worked and studied on this campus and it’s just a lovely place to to be.

2 Mykonos Town, August

Well, I think it’s a given that this one was going to be popular wasn’t it! I made sure to capture a lot of images that were very un-Mykonos, as the stuff you see on Insta really is such a tiny part of the island (something I spoke about in my Things that surprised me about Mykonos blog post) but the at the end of the day it is gorgeous there and I’m easily influenced by wanting to take a nice pic!

3 Cottingham – East Yorkshire, June

I took these photos to post on my birthday and I’d just bought a year of birth sweatshirt from Rock on Ruby. I was totally living for the wild meadows all around the area, so one day a vey kind work colleague and I took a little lunch time outing to enjoy the flowers and snap some pics.

4 Lanzarote, April

I went off on my first family holiday in years to a villa in Lanzarote, and on this night the Mr and I sloped off for a cheeky date night. The dress and hat are from Matalan than he had very kindly picked up for on the day we went away (I tried them on in the airport hotel) and they fit like a dream, unfortunately I only managed two wears of the dress before the zip ripped (just as I was about to wear it for a third time and on the way out the door) so that was he end of that.

5 Hull, May

You can tell here, but despite the fact it was spring it was ridiculously freezing! However, it was Bank Holiday and I was determined that I couldn’t have to wear tights so smiled through the chill and hoped my legs wouldn’t look too blue.

6 Lanzarote, April

I tired my hand at a getting a bit of body confidence back and decided a good way to do this would be to post a couple of swimwear pics and see that nobody was going to write anything horrendous in the comments. This was the second of the two I posted (I lived this Next swimsuit so much I bought it in cobalt blue for my Mykonos trip) on a day I felt very happy about Bank Holiday weekend and booking a holiday.

7 Liverpool, June

I headed to my fave UK city for my birthday for a day of chill at a time when my life was very hectic for some not so good reasons. I had cocktails, did some shopping and ate all the food, which definitely helped to give a bit of respite.

8 Mykonos Town, August

This photo was taken at exactly the same time as the other Mykonos photo, it was literally the other side of the camera. You can also see from this angle that I’m just a little bit sunburnt, which is why I was wearing an off the shoulder frock.

9 University of Hull, August

Rounding things off exactly where we started, back at uni with a very unposed shot! This was a very really laugh and it was because my gal Kat was crouched on the floor in front of me saying all sorts of random stuff whilst her cleavage was pretty much in my face. That was a fun outing.

And that, my friends, is some of my year in pics. It definitely doesn’t cover a full spread of my year but it does remind me of some of the best bits. I hope you enjoy looking through yours too.

Thanks for reading,

J xx


5 Things to do in Tuscany

This holiday was a press trip hosted by Bookings For You. Some of activities featured in this post have been gifted (marked with *) however all words and opinions are (as always) 100% mine.

And so we get to the final post about my Italian advertures… It’s really all over now. Sob.

BUT – I do get to share some of the fabulous things I did, saw and (my favourite) tasted, so if you’re heading to Tuscany inthe future you know some of the great things to experience in the area.

  • Take a food tour

One of the key reasons I wanted to visit Italy was to eat, so having someone show me the best places to do it made perfect sense!

We did the Private Florence Food Tour courtesy of LivItaly* which consisted of four stops.

The first was wine and nibbles at Enoteca Alessi and I legit have never seen a room so filled with alcohol in my life… (check out the Italy 2019 story highlight on my Instagram to get a better view) It was quite the work of art really.

As well as some the region’s best Chianti, I was introduced to mushroom and truffle oil sandwiches, yummy local cheeses and THE BEST pork I’ve ever tasted.

Next up we stopped at a local street food vendor that’s been established for decades to try something a little different. The picture below is what I had – a crusty bread roll with seasoned tripe which was delicious (there were also veggie options available for those in our group who had flagged this in advance).

Moving on to a sit down mini feast (with more wine, hic) at Aqua Al 2 whic is a great little eatery off a one of the side streets decorate with fairly lights and plates designed and signed by previous celebrity visitors.

Everything we ate here was meat free, and we had three dishes – this deliciously simple pasta made with thick noodles, garlic, tomato, basil and oil, an eggplant/spinach/parmesan dish (I can’t remember the remember the name) and (something else I’ve forgotten the name of) a dish of fresh tomatoes seasoned with oil and basil that I gratuitously spread on fresh bread. Everything tasted so rich, delicious and comforting, which is what I’d hoped Italian food would be.

We rounded off the tour with dessert – gelato in the main Piazza.

This place is well known for their blackberry flavour, however I wanted to have somethind traditionally Tuscan so the staff selected me a combo of Italian cream and chocolate in a cone.

Our guide Rafaella was just the best, by the end of the day I was calling her Mama Italia and asking her to adopt me (which she seemed very amenable to) she was so kind an knowledgeable and genuinely keen to ensure we had a great day.

  • Take an art class

So this one probably sounds like it caters to a very specific interest, and it definitely can, but we had the opportunity to do something that was easy to follow and therefore we’ll within my cabaility.

The lovely Lisa from Arte Al Sole introduced us to a Canadian artist called Jen who took us through the process of Florentine paper making. This basically involved dropping paint into water, making pretty patterns and transferring them onto paper (I’m leaving out a lot of the technical bit in this discription).

I end up doing three ‘prints’ as I kept seeing everyone else’s colour combinations and wanting to copy! I’ve brought all of them home and will definitely be finding a place for them on my walls.

(Its also worth mentioning that Arte Al Sole offer a lot of family, kids and private art and cultural experiences throughout Italy; including those where they’ll take your little ones away to activities for a little bit whilst you enjoy the culture and surroundings, uninterrupted.)

  • Enjoy a wine tasting

As we were staying on a vineyard, it would’ve been rude not to sample the Mansalto Toscano produce!

Francesca, who was also our main contact and host for the villa, introduced us to their Chianti and rose brut prosecco.

This is without exception the best prosecco I’ve ever tasted, and I’ve already reached out to Francesca to arrange to buy and ship some of it back to the UK.

As an extra treat, we also met one of the wine makers who gave us a tour of the wine cellar.

This may be one of the last times the general public are allowed in the barrel room – apparently having people in there can risk bacteria contaminating the wine which could alter the taste, and I think we can all agree it’d be a shame to let some bloody good grapes to waste by doing that.

  • Learn how to cook the real Italian way

Its all very well eating your way around Italy, but if you also learn a few culinary tips then you can bring the magic home to your own kitchen!

Thanks to the very kind Massimo, we visited his restaurant Massimo Rossi Belvedere to try our hand at a bit of pasta making. We tried a few different varieties such as lasagne, ravioli and tagliatelle, all of which the Belvedere chefs cooked for us (as well as add delicious sauces) for us to enjoy the fruits of our labour.

I’m going to be honest and say that this was not my strongest skill of the week (I’d also started to get really poorly so was a shivering, blubbering wreck) however I clocked the gals who did well in preparation for a future dinner invitations. I also learnt how to make lasagne the real Italian way (no pasta top, parmesan in every layer) which I’ve since tried at home.

Massimo’s generosity bookmarked both ends of our visit – on the first night of our stay he sent Paolo, one of his chefs, to our villa to cater our very own pizza party. And my word, the man knows how to put a topping on a nice bit of dough. I know I’ve said this a lot throughout this post, but this is geuinely the best pizza I’ve ever eaten. I tried pizza elsewhere on our trip, and it was nice (obviously, its still pzza after all) but it didn’t come anywhere close to this.

  • Wander around Italian towns and cities

I may not be lucky enough to visit this part of the world again, I took every opportunity to cram in time everywhere I could, it made things a bit more tiring but I’d encourage this as it helped me really appreciate the beauty of the whole region.

Siena

Siena was about 30 minutes away from the villa by car. It was filled with delicious smelling leather stores, cute little cafes and vintage stores (I was on the cusp of being enticed by a 1950s Chanel handbag).

Florence

Oh Florence. If you’re in Tuscany, please don’t miss this off your list! I enjoyed my time here so much I got a bit teary when staring up at the Duomo, which is an absolutely massive and very beautiful marble building.

Getting into the main building, g is free, but the real money shot is by paying 18€ and climbing 414 steps to the top of this tower to see the whole of Florence. If you’re physically able to, do it. It nearly finished me off but it was worth it, and I suppose it did work off some of the food we had earlier in the day…

Pisa

Pisa is very pretty, but there’s not loads and loads to do so a couple of hours is perfect.

We got up a couple of hours early before our flight home and stopped to see the Leaning Tower and have one last pizza (priorities) I genuinely thought it was going to just be ‘one more thing to say I’ve seen’ but I was actually blown away but how stunning the building is in real life. Its made of beautiful marble and has other buildings around it that are just as gorgeous.

I obviously tried to get the typical tourist shot of touching the tower, but I sucked so I’m not posting it! As you can imagine, it’s very busy with people taking photos, so be prepared to nail the photos you want quickly or have photo bombers.

The streets of Pisa are very pretty and colourful to wander down and sit to enjoy a drink and watch the world go by.

Walking back to the car we noticed there was a gorgeous botanical garden but didn’t have time to go in, definitely one to look out for on a wander of the city.

Certaldo Alto

This is more of a Hamlet than a town, situated very high up on a hillside.

First of all, the journey up here makes for some pretty incredible views

Its possible to drive up, but we parked in the town below and rode up on the Funicolare (a cable car thingy) which cost 1,50€ for a return trip and took about 5 minutes to reach the top.

The views were pretty great when we got there too!

It’s a beautiful Medieval walled town that has beautiful Italian buildings that house eateries, shops and galleries. Quite a bit more than you’d expect from a tiny place!

We were lucky enough to get a guided walk around by Arte Al Sole’s Lisa (and her lovely pooch Archibald, who I got to walk)

At the top is this beautiful Town Hall run by a Mayoral staff and where couples can marry for the bargain price of 550€ – the photo opportunities up there for your big day are IMMENSE.

And that, as that say, is a wrap on Italy 2019! Such a great experience, huge thanks once again to Bookings For You on and Violet Glenton for providing such an awesome location and itinerary to enjoy!

Thanks for reading,

J xx