Let’s Chat – June 2020

In a month where lockdown restrictions were eased and things looked like they were moving forward…

I didnt really have the opportunity to get dressed in anything other than leggings and PJs until the latter part of the month, but when the weather was nice I cracked out some of my fave summer dresses old and new. I also picked up a pair of chunky trainers from Topshop to see if I would enjoy the trend (and get away with them at my age, haha) and I’ve reached for them a lot.

  • A Simple Favour
  • RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars 5
  • Catfish
  • Scary Movie 1/2/3
  • Smash Hits ’95
  • Ministry of Sound Throwback R ‘n B Anthems
  • Sounds of the 90s

Another month of delicious food to make your mouth water! Ive finally gotten back into cooking this month, the only photo worthy dishes so far have been my super cheesey pasta bake and veggie lasagne (both Slimming World recipes as they’re the only cook books I have). Although I’ve been trying to reduce my consumption of meat a bit as I seem to have eaten more than usual lately, I enjoyed a birthday BBQ with some more unusual meats (ostrich and venison) which was yummy. My mum also rustled up some corking side dishes of watermelon salad and potato salad which were perfect with the sunny weather. I also had TWO birthday cakes, one of them was my favourite rainbow cake made by a local bakery and was amazing, the other was ‘Cuthbert the Caterpillar’ from ALDI which was also yummy. I’ve been going nuts for the new Ben and Jerry’s Netflix and Chilled ice cream which is peanut butter with pretzel and brownie chunks (I’ll pause whilst you wipe up the drool). Finally, the Mr got us a Piano Bar Events ‘Perfect Measure’ box that contained pre mixed ingredients to make two cocktails at home (we just needed to add ice, shake and pour).

  • Went to the beach: Two or three times me and the Mr went for a morning stroll and sit on local beaches when the weather was nice. They’ve been the only times that I genuinely felt like I was getting fresh air and that I’d blown some cobwebs away.
  • Had a birthday: BUT I didn’t get another year older because, lockdown rules prevent it. My hubby and family gave me the best day and made me feel very spoilt and loved. I’m a lucky gal. I’ll add some photos below to give you a flavour if the day and some of my gifts
  • DIY: Sooooo technically I started this last month ut there were a few delays so I’ve added it here. I decided to decorate my larger spare room a beautifully girly yet chic dusky pink shade.shoukdve been a quick job but – it turned out there were 2 layers of wallpaper and 2 layers of paint to get rid of first, cracks to fill and 2 coats of primer paint before I could even touch it!
  • Dyed my hair a cute colour: I still couldn’t shake the need for a different colour, so I decided to try out the Bleach London Burnt Peach shade (paid for with Boots Advantage Card points, gotta love a freebie). It turn out a really lovely shade and mixed well with the blonde underneath so I was happy with it, although it didn’t last anywhere near as long as the red i used a couple of months back.
  • Had a socially diatanced girls night: me and 4 of my fave girl friends got together in a back garden and drank, ordered Greek food and sang/danced extremely loudly to a variety of throwback tunes. It was brilliant and much needed.
  • Took part in a ‘Task Master’ style day out: my brother-in-law booked this as a fun girls v boys family activity which was hosted by Escape Rooms Beverley to engage people whilst the business is closed. We were set a series of questions and tasks to complete around the town that we had to take photos of and collect points for the most imaginative/quickest to complete/most challenges in a single photo. It was fun and different so if you’re local I’d definitely recommend booking it (its currently free and you could win a free escape room once they’re back open)
  • Job hunting: earlier this month I got the news I am being made redundant as a direct result of the current health crisis, so I’m on the lookout for my next opportunity

And that’s the end of another month and on to July, WOW. I hope you’re all staying safe and keeping well, and thanks for reading once again,

J xx


Hay fever hacks – part 2

A couple of years ago I wrote this post sharing my top hay fever hacks aside from medication that will help to ease and prevent symptoms, and over the last few weeks it seems to have been read rather a lot more than usual! Less traffic and pollution clearly allows those pesky pollens to get through to us better than ever before in the 21st century, so I thought I would add a few more tips and tricks I’ve learnt since the last post to hopefully offer a bit of extra relief to fellow sufferers. I’ve found that they work best alongside taking a standard antihistamine first thing in the morning*

  • Wipe, wipe, wipe it down

If you’ve watched a decent amount Tik Tok as I have, you’ll be singing that as you read…cleaning the house more regularly will help get rid of any pollen that you bring in from outside as quickly as possibly and keep your home a safe haven. Don’t forget to pay close attention to places like sofas and chairs where you may sit in your outdoor clothing, of you can make sure you take off your day clothes as soon as you get home.

  • Garlic – for more than warding off vampires

I was surprised but delighted to learn that my favourite seasoning also acts as a super charged natural antihistamine. Pass me the garlic bread ASAP.

  • Get your (water) vape on

When you have a cold, one way to ease symptoms is to inhale vaporised steam underneath a towel, and the same idea can also apply to hay fever. Instead of vapour rub, add in essential oils like eucalyptus or lavender which will help clear your airways and make you feel relaxed (increased levels of stress are also said to increase the severity of hay fever symptoms).

  • I C you baby

Start your day off with a healthy dose of vitamin C and you’re adding in yet another natural antihistamine to your immune system. Berries are perfect for this and are super easy to add into a breakfast or snack.

  • Shower and hair wash last thing before bed

You’re removing any final pollen from your body before you get in bed so that it doesn’t transfer to your bedding/sleep clothes and continue to affect you in the night (not getting a good night’s sleep is also supposed to help reduce hay fever symptoms).

Between the two posts I hopenyou have some decent ammunition to help make your symptoms more bearable so that you can enjoy the summer.

Thanks for reading,

J xx


Let’s Chat – April 2020

We’re not going out, so you’d think they wouldn’t be much to report on this month. That’s kind of true, buutttt…we live in an age where we can do lots from home thanks to modern technology, so I’ve been pretty much living my life but in a slightly smaller space.

April Jenny still repped a lot of PJs and loungewear, however she also got dressed in some nice frocks for being in the garden or for the couple of occasions she had to go out of the house (If anyone wants to know where any of the items are from, leave me a comment at the end)

  • American Pie movies: the Mr had an urge to watch them again so out they came. They’re in that nice ‘easy, funny, escapist’ category which is needed right now.
  • Gogglebox: how have I NEVER watched this before? It’s so funny! I’m nosey and like peeking in to other people’s lives, and it’s also kind of reassuring to know that other people have the same kind of chats about programmes as we do at home.
  • Tiger King: I wasn’t going to watch this but social media chat got the better of me. It was definitely a watch! And (don’t @ me) I dont think Carole Baskin killed her husband….
  • Inform Overload: this is a YouTube channel that I’ve just discovered. They do a lot of videos about influencers and celebs that help to provide body positivity/reality (sometimes with a little bit of shade thrown in, full disclosure) which I’ve found both interesting and comforting.
  • My lockdown 2020 playlist: I made myself a little playlist on Spotify – it has everything from songs I love to cheese to those poking fun at the situation
  • Katherine Ryan, Telling Everybody Everything: This is the brand new podcast by ‘TV’s Katherine Ryan’ about a variety of topics including first love and pregnancy loss. She does it by herself which is kind of unusual for a podcast, but it’s no different to her doing a stand up routine
  • Said goodbye to my lovely nan: my nan’s funeral was held early in the month (which my family scheduled around mine and the Mr’s self isolation so we could attend). It was a very different kind of service as you can imagine, we did it all ourselves as there was no celebrant. I also went the to go see her in the funeral home, something I wasn’t sure I’d be able to do but I found huge comfort in.
  • Messing about with makeup: I’ve either been bare faced with gross hair or in full glam. I was hoping my skills would improve but sadly they haven’t!
  • Exercise: either for a walk outdoors or a dance fit workout at home. I will say that I haven’t done something every single day, there have been a couple of occasions where I’ve barely moved for a few days in a row.
  • Dyed my hair Rihanna red: I tried light pink, then purple but neither worked, so I tried red and that worked a little bit too well! If I’d had my roots sorted it probably would’ve looked better, but I got over the look very quickly and am still trying to fade the colour out.
  • Drinking: I dont drink often but I’ve enjoyed a few tipples at times of the week where I wouldn’t normally…my most popular blog post at the moment is Make your own Pomada so other people are definitely doing this too! I’ve also been drinking a helluva lot of tea and coffee, but still not enough water.

So, that’s April done and on to May. We’re well into spring, let’s see if that brings us closer to beating this thing.

Thanks for reading, J xx


Christmas 2019

By the time you read this, I hope you’ve have a lovely time celebrating the festive season and are looking forward to the year ahead.

As I’ve done for the last few years (partly for my own memories, partly for those of you like me who enjoy a little nosey) here’s a bit of a peak at my Christmas Day and Boxing Day celebrations.

Christmas morning waking up at home (at 6.45am, the latest I think I’ve ever woken up on Christmas Day). After exchanging gifts listening to Christmas songs, we tucked into sausage sarnies and watched some festive TV.

Top, Joanie (one of my gifts from the Mr)

Quick change, tidied up the wrapping paper and it was off to see the family!

First stop was my grandparents house, they’ve been poorly this year so weren’t able to leave the house.

After that we headed to my sister-in-law’s for Christmas lunch with the wider family.

We all brought something along and laid it out buffet style, this year we were on turkey duty which was just a little bit scary but turned out really well thankfully!

I was the most stuffed I’ve ever been from a Christmas lunch

I just about managed to roll on to the couch and was put on childcare duty with my niece and nephew (tbh I think they were looking after me more).

After an hour I managed to enjoy a small bowl of my Mother-in-law’s sherry trifle (epic) and open the last of the presents for the day. We gifted our nephew with a table football and his little face was everything.

Boxing Day

This year was different to the norm, this time we hosted and I cooked!

To spruce up our not yet decorated dining area, I picked up these dark great charge plates from Dunelm and made a table centre using a garland I bought from Amazon threaded with battery operated lights and baubles picked up from B&M. I added in white candles (also from Dunelm and B&M) and some M&S Bucks Fizz served in the ice bucket from our home bar (which I promise I will write about at some point soon!)

From scratch, I made Moroccan lamb followed by panettone bread and butter pudding with cream.

If you’ve read these posts for the past 4 years, you’ll know this dessert is my stepdad’s showpiece so I wanted to give it a go to see if I could do a nice tribute to his years of hard work. And I did!

We did a few more presents and then moved to the couch for a brew and game of Cards Against Humanity

My brother won, however it confirmed what I already knew that my family are highly inappropriate and absolute filth!

I’m off work until the beginning of January and will be spending that time having more family gatherings (one at my mum’s new house with her in-laws, the other back at ours with my in-laws) time with friends and general relaxation.

If you have some time off too, I hope you’re able to use it in ways you enjoy. If you fancy more of a nosey, I’ve got a Christmas 2019 highlight on my Instagram which will likely have some presents on there too.

Thanks for reading,

J xx


Testing the ALDI festive tipples range

Bit late in the day to pick up festive booze? Nah! And technically, you could have most of this at any time of year….

Yup, that’s right – for the first time in about 5 years I’ve decided to see what else is out there for my Christmas delectation that’s not from Marks & Spencer….

Traitor! Nope. I live closer to ALDI, they posted a leaflet through my door showcasing their range which peaked my interest, and I’ve done a blog post in M&S drinks for the last 4 years or so, so it’s definitely time to mix it up

Spiced Plum & Clementine gin

I still wouldn’t say I’m a gin lover (although you will remember that I liked it before it was cool) but I’m drinking it more by default as people around me are.

This doesn’t taste like gin at all, the infused plum and orange flavours are great, almost like you’re drinking something non-alcoholic. When paid with lemonade, garnished with an orange wedge and served over ice, this makes a pretty nice drink all year round.

Candy Cane gin liqueur

A drink like this can go either way can’t it – either a delicious minty treat or summat that you’d rinse and spit after brushing that you bought on sale at the pound shop (the reviews on the ALDI website are pretty polarising).

If you give the bottle a shake it shimmers which definitely gets you in the Christmas spirit before you’ve even had a drop!

If you wanted to go full on cocktail with this drink, there’s a recommended recipe on the ALDI website

Ballycastle Chocolate & Orange Irish Cream

Basically the ALDI own version of baileys, which I love, and as you’ll k ow from my previous post all about orange flavoured chocolate this is a flavour combo I’m rather fond of.

As well as being served the more traditional way as a short over ice, which is how I’ve been enjoying it, this would be the perfect edition to a nice warming cup of hot chocolate to give it an extra little kick (you could use this recipe I posted a couple of years ago and simply sub this is in)

There’s still time to pick these up before the festivities kick up another notch at the weekend, so happy drinking (but responsibly and for enjoyment) during the most drunken time of the year!

Thanks for reading and seasons greetings,

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


The great orange chocolate hysteria of 2019

If you’ve read my blog from somewhere near the start (throwing it back to the Curious Alice Loves… days folks) you’ll know I’m a sucker for a trend a lot of the time, so I want to stay true to that aesthetic.

I’m also a sucker for chocolate.

Naturally, when a noteable combining both of these topics arose a few weeks ago, it peaked my interest. I think you know the one I’m talking about…

Cadbury Orange Twirl.

It was announced, the suspense built, the tabloids reported where it could be bought, my twitter feed was flooded with people trying in vain to get hold of a single bar to try, suspense and desire built for it more, Cadbury released more ample stocks into the wild to satiate people before the supply dwindled and again people were left hangry for the taste of what appeared to be the white tiger of the chocolate world.

For me – I had family members on the lookout, I mentioned this is every single group chat I was part of, I even changed the name of my work group chat to ‘Orange Twirl Watch Society’. Eventually, thanks to my pestering of everyone in my life, I got my hands on one (I say one, I actually mean one box. No, really.)

Well played Cadbury marketing team, well played. You created a hype, withheld supply to increase demand/limited edition-ness and didn’t have to spend mega bucks to do so.

So, this whole thing poses two questions. 1, does it live up to the hype in comparison to other orange chocolate products and 2, what is a good substitute if you can’t get your hands on one/when Cadbury stop making them (they’re promoted as a limited edition).

I got you on both counts.

I’ve done the leg work and reviewed orange chocolate products so you won’t have to, you can simply get the best one. Merry Christmas!

Orange Twirl

The new kid on the block. If you like Twirls and orange flavoured chocolate, you’re definitely going to be pleased with this creation of you ever manage to get hold of one. It is as nice as you’d hope for the effort it takes to get them!

Tip – I normally put my chocolate in the fridge (don’t @ me) to make it last longer when I eat it, however this is most definitely best eaten at room temperature accompanied by a good brew.

Terry’s Chocolate Orange bar

Arguably the original founder of the trend, but is it the best?

The smooth texture of the segments make for a silkier taste and allow more of the orange oil flavour to come through, so if you want something very orangey for a decent price then this is still very much a good shout.

Lindt Chocolate Orange bar

The more ‘luxury’ option, it takes on the traditional Lindt form with a softer centre. The squares on each bar are massive, so it could potentially mean you eat more than planned, however it’s so delicious you probably will anyway.

Very silky chocolate texture, lots of orange flavour, this would be an absolute delight of a chocolate to find in your Christmas stocking.

Matchmakers – chocolate orange flavour

Well, they’re an old classic and ’tis the season they usually get cracked out!

They’re very tangy with orange goodness, a little bit crispy and VERY dangeous as they’re so skinny you can easily eat the lot. But it’s Christmas, so what the hell!

Whether you’ve had an orange Twirl, haven’t and need a substitute or just like chocolate and want to justify it as one of your five a day (cos it’s orange flavoured, geddit) now you know what’s what.

I still can’t decide whether this post was a quirk of genius or just a bit weird, but thanks for reading either way!

J xx

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


5 Things for 2019 – Update #3

So, you may remember from my last update that I’ve decided to take one of my goals out (not drinking) because it wasn’t looking achievable for the year, so I’m down to 4 things for the next two updates. Here’s how the rest have been going and a sneak peek about what’s coming up in chapter 4 of 2019…

  • Shop in my own closet 75% of the time

Aside from (and partly on) holiday this one is still going well, much to my surprise and delight! My thought process has changed a lot so now when I think “I’m going to XX, what am I gonna wear?” I head straight to the closet instead of the Internet and take a long hard look at what I have. Usually, this resolves it. Top tip I’ve learnt during this process – don’t forget to check your washing and ironing baskets as part of this process, you’ll get a fuller picture of exactly what you have and probably find stuff you forgot about that feels brand new again!

  • Get a home bar

Brief and to the point – not moved on any further since the last update, can’t really say much more!

  • Un-join the gym and get outside

This has still happening but on a far more ad hoc basis – in between peoples holidays and life commitments, the girls and I haven’t been as on it as we’d like in the last couple of months. The intention is still there and I’m fully expecting this to kick back up a notch now that normal service has resumed. I did a decent bit of walking on holiday over the summer which helped to plug the gap a tiny little bit too!

I’ve also been starting to think about adding a little more heavy duty cardio to my regular activity – I don’t want to go back to the yay, but I do want to try some exercise classes to see what I like and if they can help me meet some of my health goals going in to 2020 (eek!)

  • Get out of the house more

I’d say this is going OK, not sure if the Mr would give a matching answer! I’ve definitely made myself do more over the summer, but there are still a decent amount of times that I’ve done closer to nothing and stayed at home on the couch a lot. I’m feeling good about the amount of social vs antisocial activity, which is the positive outcome of this goal, so I’m just going to carry on and see what else happens over the next few months.

So, what else has is happening?

  • I went to Mykonos
  • If you follow me on Instagram and are a regular reader, you’ll probably be very well aware of this fact by now! I was lucky enough to work with a couple of great companies during my trip including Mykonos Vioma and Truffle Shuffle who featured in my 7 Outfits I wore in Mykonos post. There were a few things that surprised me about Mykonos that I’d not seen anybody else mention before, and I’m going to cover those in a future post so keep a look out for that.
    • I’m going to Italy (Image credit: booking.com )
  • This is something I’m ridiculously excited about saying, and by the time you read this I will be there! I’m heading off to a beautifully villa in Tuscany with a fabulous group of gals as guests of Booking for You*. As a huge fan of the cuisine, it’s been a long held goal of mine to eat Italian food in Italy, on this trip I’ll get to do that and so much more. I’ll be putting up posts about my experiences in October/November as well as social media activity, so make sure you’re following me to see wassup.
    • I’ve booked a VERY exciting bucket list adventure for next year

    The travel plans just keep on coming, that’s what we like! This is as much as I’m willing to share at the moment, just in case something happens, however when the up gets a little closer I,l reveal more. Stay tuned….

    And so we head in to the final chapter – dark evenings, autumn leaves, festive fun and who know what else!

    Thanks for reading,

    J xx


    Where to eat/drink to get the best views of Mykonos

    Last year after my Greek getaway I posted my guide to Greek food which is something I can’t really add to, however as people usually go to Mykonos to get the iconic views they see on Instagram (or at least in my experience they do) I thought it would be useful to share some of the places we visited. Myself and the Mr enjoy a good spot by the sea and a lovely sunset, so finding places to experience these are always a priority to us, and the are some good options below that are fairly easy to get to and aren’t eye wateringly expensive…

    Sunset cocktailsThe Garden

    We were so lucky that this place turned out to be about 700 meters away from our hotel, and the fact that it’s accessed via a fairly long walkway lined with flowers and lights makes you feel like you’re about to discover a secret hideaway. When you actually get to the bar area it has a very laid back and cool aesthetic (think wood, beanbag chairs and fire pits) and a wide veranda looking out over the Mykonian coastline.

    We headed here about an hour before the sun set to have the opportunity to settle in, take photos and choose our drinks. We requested a seat right at the front of the veranda to get the best possible view of the sunset which has a 20€ per person minimum spend stipulation (other tables not style front do not have a minimum spend that I’m aware of) which the equivalent to a couple of drinks each.

    The cocktails we had were served in these cool tiki style glasses (mine even had a bloody biscuit on top!) which added to the upmarket/Mahiki feel.

    When we visited we were not given any time limit for our table or made to feel like we were being rushed, the staff simply checked back in every now and then to see if we needed anything.

    Little Venice and the windmills

    We visited quite a few places around this area that give good views of one or both, but these two were my favourite:

    Veranda is a bar in the heart of Little Venice that has a completely open seating area right on the water (what I mean by this is that the tables were placed right towards the edge and there wasn’t any kind of wall/barrier between this and the water) in addition to a regular patio seating area.

    From here you can get a great view of the iconic windmills of Mykonos town (I do have some better, more zoomed in photos, but wanted to give a realistic idea of distance for this) on one side, on the other you can enjoy the rest of the waterfront buildings that make up the Little Venice area. Coupled with the sound of the water, it’s a thoroughly nice place to stop for a leisurely drink or some nibbles.

    (again, this phot isn’t zoomed in, it’s exactly how I could see it from my seat whilst leaning over a little bit). Drinks prices are fairly standard for Mykonos, between 10-20€ for an alcoholic beverage.

    Nice and Easy

    Is a large restaurant at the foot of the steps towards the windmills, meaning you can see them much closer up and all of Little Venice from across the bay.

    Drinks prices again are fairly similar to Veranda, though here I chose to have fresh pomegranate juice (fresh juices seemed to be a thing in Mykonos Town and I’m here for it) which was about 8€. We also enjoyed quite a large lunch here, with the average Mail meal costing 15-20€.

    There are two key differences to this location to be mindful of over Veranda – if you sit close to the sea front (it’s across a small beach shielded by a low white wall) there’s no cover so can get extremely hot, secondly it attracts co start foot traffic from people visiting the windmills, walking to Little Venice and taking endless photos.

    Relaxed romance above Mykonos TownKaravaki

    For our last night we booked a table at this restaurant, which is part of the Vencia hotel. Stepping out on to the lower level terrace and seated at our table, we greeted with a birds eye view of the whitewashed houses below us. The sun was setting as we arrived, although we didn’t have a perfect vantage point as we did at The Garden it was still really beautiful.

    Food here was a little more pricey than other places we’d been – we paid 120€ for two starters, mains, one dessert and three alcoholic drinks (drinks wee average Mykonos prices) which is similar to if you were dining somewhere in Central London.

    The views were great, the quality of the food was great, the service was great, so we felt it was money well spent.

    Top tips for getting the best views

    • Book in advance, either on resort or before you travel if you’re that organised. If you’re not comfortable e-mailing or calling yourself because of language barriers, staff at your accommodation will probably be happy to assist as they did with us.
    • Be tactical about the times you visit – check what time sunset is going to be so you can allow time to fully watch it set, perhaps consider visiting places for food at less busy times of day such as breakfast time. A lot of cruise ships dock in Mykonos too which can make these extras extremely busy, so it may be worth checking the official cruise schedule to see how ships are in port on any given day.
    • If you’re chancing walking into a venue without booking, have a quick look at the seating before you choose your spot to make sure it’s not in the ‘splash zone’ (I unfortunately found this out the hard way) if there’s a seat available right at the front but the place is already busy, think about why others haven’t sat there first!
    • If you do get lucky enough to sit right at the front, particularly to one side, be prepared for other tourists to be constantly standing very close to you or shimmying down the side of your table to take photos. This has the potential to be quite annoying since you e planned in advance to be there and paid for food/drink in order for your prime spot where they haven’t, but as long as you’re aware and manage your expectations accordingly it’s usually fine.

    if you’re heading to Mykonos I hope this is able to help give you a head start on your holiday research!

    Thanks for reading,

    J xx