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


So, what have you achieved in the past decade??

So, this tweet popped up in my Twitter feed a few days ago, I’m sure it’s popped up in yours too. Now, people’s answers to the tweet are popping into my feed too, which I’m really enjoying by the way, so naturally thought about what my own response would be.

Turns out, what I have achieved doesn’t fit into 280 characters! So, I thought I’d put it in a blog post instead.

*Dislciamer – no brags, no intent to make anybody feel bad, it’s only the passing of another year so isn’t such a massive deal. Remember “it’s not your age, it’s your stage” we don’t all do the same things, and if we do we’re not all meant do them at the same time.*

1. Got married

I was pretty quick off the blocks with this one and got hitched in March 2010. Neither of us can quite believe it was almost ten years ago! Marriage and relationships in general take a lot of work if you want them to be successful and fulfilling, so I’m proud because we’ve made it this far and still both want to out that work in.

2. Bought and sold two houses Shortly after getting hitched, I sold the first home I bought and bought our first joint house together. We lived there for about seven years before selling up (it never truly felt like home to me if I’m honest) spent a few months in rented accommodation before finding our current place and moving in last spring. This one truly feels like home and I love it.

3. Got a degree I definitely didn’t see this one coming! I decided to take a leap and go full time at university at the grand old age of 28, having become disillusioned with my career and where it was going. It was four years that at times I found really quite hard, but I made it through and doors have been opened for me as a result of the experience.

4. Started my blog 

Another one I didn’t see coming, but one of the things that has shaped my life the most over the past five years without a doubt. It’s given me a passion, a focus away from work, experience to be able to get a foot into my current career, introduced me to new friends/experiences/brands. I still have so much more to learn and that I want to achieve, so there will be a big focus on that as 2020 rolls around.

5. Changed career I used to be a mortgage advisor and now I work in marketing. It’s a much better use of my interests and skills. I’ve been able to work at some really interesting companies so far (my first few jobs were fixed term contracts) and I have a clear direction as to where I want my career to go.

6. Passed my driving test Again, didn’t see this one coming, I NEVER saw this one coming! After I graduated, I thought “if I can do a degree, I can do this”. That pragmatic and more level headed approach ensure that I could in fact do that! I used to think I was just one of those people not meant to drive, with hindsight I think I just needed a more mature approach than I had at 17.

7. Worked hard to achieve some health goals

Although I may have to skirt over the fact that I’ve taken a few backward steps since achieving them!

I’ve been unhappy with myself for as long as I can remember and decided that I needed to sort that out once and for all before I hit 30. I focussed very diligently on achieving my goal for about three years, and by the start of 2013 I was at a place that I felt comfortable and was maintainable to me. I stayed that way for three years before a combination of re-entering full time work and some extreme stress forced my good habits to die hard and never really return.

I want to set myself some new goals but have been a bit scared to do so, however I’ve going started small and try to be less harsh on myself throughout the journey.

8. Visited some interesting and beautiful places I adore travel and find it very relaxing and fulfilling, but I’d forgotten just how many wonderful trips I’ve had in the past decade. To name a few – Barbados (honeymoon), New York (twice), Las Vegas, Barcelona, Tuscany, Santorini and Mykonos.

9. Met some wonderful people My life choices have led me to meeting some of my very favourite people – uni, blogging and work have all introduced and re-introduced such a variety of of friendships into my life that I’m very grateful for. I also became an auntie twice, and those kids are two of the best humans I spend time with.

10. Entered a new decade of my own

Yup, I officially entered my dirty thirties. Doesn’t sound like much of an achievement, I didn’t do anything to be born, however I do take credit for the fact that I’ve made it this far having encountered some pretty awful bumps along the way. I definitely haven’t made through completely in tact, but I’m still here so I’ve made it, and I’m happy with that.

Looking back over the past ten years and realising exactly what has happened in my life has been pretty positive and reassuring to me. I sometimes have a tendency to forget the good stuff if I’m having a particularly stressful time, so it’s nice to be reminded there’s a lot of good amongst the occasional less good.

I would encourage everyone to review the past decade and remember some of the great things that have happened…you may be surprised by what you uncover!

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 Outfits I wore in Italy

Items gifted have been marked with a *

As you’ll have seen from my previous post, I recently went on a wonderful Italian adventure courtesy of Bookings For You and fellow HEY Blogger Violet which meant, yup you guessed it, packing too many items of clothing into a small space and worrying about how you’ll close it (and later, how you’ll close it again before you go home)

I thought a lot more about my holiday wardrobe for Italy for a couple of reasons – firstly because I knew the weather wouldn’t be height of summer hot, secondly because of the variety of activities I’d be doing (including driving, something I’ve never done out of the UK) and finally because it’s Italy and I wanted to feel nice.

For a four night stay I managed to pack in a fair few outfits, but I’ve picked out five of my faves to share

Photo by Olivia Lennon

This is what I’m calling my “I’ve partied hard, but only ’til 10pm” look. As soon as I saw the bold print of this shirt dress I knew it had to be mine, and in a bizarre twist my nan also picked up a pair of wide leg trousers in the very same print on a recent shopping trip…great style runs in our family it seems! I’d definitely suggest sizing up one or two in this frock if you have bigger boobs as the fabric doesn’t have any give, it easily clinches back in with the attached belt so the shape isn’t lost. The biker jacket was necessary for the chill or early mornings and evening, and made me feel a bit more cool and Italian.

Dress, Matalan* (sold out online) / Jacket, ASOS / Shades, ASOS

Photo by Olivia Lennon

for me a skater dress is an absolute essential wardrobe item as it’s simple to style, throw in a cute print and it really does make dressing just that little bit easier! The fabric of this is very soft and stretchy so moves really well when out exploring, and I picked it up for the bargain price of £22! It’s a great transition piece into the colder months too; sack on some tights and boots and hey presto. I picked up the hat last year before heading to Santorini last year and it just felt like it would add some cuteness and glam whilst in the Italian countryside.

Dress, Next / Hat, Accessorize (Similar item here) / Shades, ASOS / Sandal, borrowed from Emma Picks (similar style here)

I have lived in this frock since buying it at ten start of summer! Soft jersey, fit to flatter my hourglass shape and the length makes it appropriate for a variety of occasions. I added in my trusty Converse as I was walking around the beautiful streets of Siena, but switch them out for a pair of heels and you instantly have a more dressed up look.

Dress, Dorothy Perkins (sold out online, the A/W print in the same style is linked here) / Trainers, Converse / Shades, ASOS

Photo by Olivia Lennon

This dress was such a hit with our group that two of us brought it away with us, and a further three went on to wear or buy it! It’s easy to see why – great colour, lovely ditsy print, fantastic shape that shows off shoulders and cleavage and hugging curves. I adore it so much. As my hair is kinda short I enlisted my tried and trusted clip in bun and fashioned this low up do thingy, it’s actually more fiddly than a high bun but makes for such an elegant look.

Dress, ASOS (Sold out) / Sandals, Dorothy Perkins (similar style here) / Bun, Hair Rehab London

Dress, Next / Shades, ASOS / Trainers, Converse

I’ve always been a “if the shoe fits, buy it in every colour” kind of a gal, so it will come as no surprise that this dress is the same style as the leopard print one from before. I also have it in black and white floral (which I’m actually wearing as I type) and red polka dot. They’re just so easy to wear and fantastic value! This version was more of an impulse buy on the way to the till with the leopard number, I love the retro feeling of the floral print. As the weather gets cooler I’m definitely going to have a go at styling it with a roll neck underneath as it is on the website.

Hopefully this has given you some inspiration for holiday style a little later in the year, as well as items that can be just as wearable when you’re back home. Maybe I a, getting a bit better at this shopping smarter malarkey after all…

Thanks for reading,

J xx


My first trip to Italy*

This post is in collaboration with Bookings For You – Accommodation was provided for free for the purposes of review. Photos is this post are those I took myself and photography from the Mansalto Tuscany website unless stated. As always, words and opinions expressed are 100% mine. Enjoy!

I’ve officially been to Italy. Bucket list item, check!

As part of trip that was the brainchild (and also professional dream) of Violet Glenton, I joined 9 other girls on a four day adventure to the Tuscan countryside at the beginning of October and I had the BEST time.

Meet the gang! (just out of shot from left) Becky, Em, Steph, Ashton, Liv, meeee, Emma, Amy, Violet and Charl

With the help of Bookings For You who were kind enough to provide our accommodation, Vi booked us into Villa le Tornaie

Hidden in the beautiful hills of the Mansalto vineyard, the villa is surrounded by green for miles and feels completely chill.

In short, this villa is the archetypal Italian country dream. Pretty stone buildings, lots of flowers, wood rustic furniture and clean white bedding, exactly what I pictured and EXACTLY what I got.

There’s a wonderful courtyard area that helped connect the upstairs and downstairs living areas and it was one of my favourite areas. Standing above and gazing over the Tuscan countryside became my absolute favorite spot and felt like something out of a Shakespeare play. Demonstrated nicely above by Emma and Amy re-enacting Romeo and Juliet for my pleasure!

Everywhere you look was a beautiful sot to admire or snap a photos of

We had a pretty large kitchen that had a modern hob (the same as the one I have at home so at first I was the only one who knew how to use it) dishwasher and plenty of utensils. We were able to have a few of us in here at once without getting up in anyone’s grill.

What you can’t see out of shot is the fridge/freezer (fairly standard size for a family and fit in a LOT of pasta/chees/fruit/prosecco) and a 6 person table which we used to store more food and drink on (favouring the long table in the main living area)

The main living area is massive, there were a few more couches than you can see pictured but yes you can also spy a piano in the top right corner which several members of group had a little turn on (shout out to Violet for her her rendition of Adele’s Hometown Glory). We had some lovely communal breakfasts and dinner here. There was also a couple of lovely wrought iron tables in the courtyard which were lovely to sit at and enjoy a morning brew or evening glass of wine.

Bedrooms – well; I genuinely had no option but to use the website images of these as a group of 10 gals makes for clothes and beauty products flung all over the place! I stayed in this twin room with Emma (the furniture had been re-arranged prior to our stay) which had lots of room and firm but comfy beds. The bathroom was a good size overall and had room to put all of our toiletries and towels.

The double/master rooms were equally roomy had a stunning airy quality with some event having four poster beds for extra Italian glamour.

Now, I’ve stayed in villas many times before, but this one was just a bit extra when it came to what was available away from the bedrooms and living areas!

So obviously, there’s the pool. I’ve purposely picked the snap I took when it was slightly overcast so that you can see how lovely it still is, and huge! Lots of sunbeds (that have these cool visor flaps you can use to shade your face) and not overlooked by any other property, nothing but rolling hills of the vineyard in sight.

Inside downstairs is where it really gets exciting…

Disclaimer: the bottom right image is stock photography and is present as an example only.

Why go to a spa when it can come to you? As well as the pool our villa had a large jacuzzi (I think it seats about 8) gym, sauna AND steam room (each of these seat about 4 comfortably) that the whole group put to excellent use at all hours of the day and night.

I think this kind of villa would best suit a large family group, couples or a relaxing getaway for a group of ladies. However, realistically it would be great for almost every kind of group!

Top tips for visiting this area:

– Driving is a must. We flew to Pisa Airport which is about 2 hours away, the nearest taxis are based in Siena around 30 minutes away so the alternative would be far more pricey. Our group of ten hired two 5 seater automatic cars through Ecovia which cost approximately £135 each for 4 days and included fully comprehensive insurance

– We flew from Manchester with Easyjet (my first time with them, which I was pleasently suprised by) who also fly to Pisa from a few other airports around the UK. The main flight days seem to be Tuesday and Saturday

– Pack bug spray; mosquitos WILL eat you outside if you don’t

There’s some video footage of the villa and my Italy trip in full saved as an Instagram story highlights if you want to get a whistle-stop of everything I did. I’ll be doing another couple of posts shortly on some fun things to do in Tuscany, as well as outfit inspiration for a trip away in the late summer weather, so keep your eye out for those.

If you’re sold by the idea of taking your own Tuscan getaway, take a look at this and the other accommodation available on the Mansalto property. If you fancy exploring other areas, Bookings For You also offer a range of handpicked accommodation in other areas of Italy and France including Umbria, the lakes and Provence.

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