28 Apr 2017

A note on swimsuits and sizes

So, I’m going to Corfu in a few weeks. Yeah I know, soz to just drop that in like a smug lil bitch but I needed to mention it cos it explains why I was online shopping for swimsuits the other day.

I moseyed on over to a popular clothing website to browse their swimwear and find myself something sassy to lounge around a pool in for a week.

I should say, for the record, that I have clothes in my wardrobe that are a size 10, size 12 and size 14, and this entirely depends on what shop I bought them from so I no longer spend much time worrying about what dress size I am.  When you can change a dress size simply walking between H&M and New Look, you learn not to be too bothered about that little number on the label. But on this shopping venture… I became very, very bothered about that little number.

Because when searching for swimsuits on this website, I was greeted with 19 pages of tall, bronzed women who were ALL skinner than I have ever been in my life.

And then every couple of pages, a plus sized model.

Obviously I wasn’t particularly surprised; I do a lot of my clothes shopping online and am a big supporter of the ongoing movement to try and stop reinforcing this idea that skinny is the only way to be beautiful.

So I don’t know what it was that made me get particularly irritated on this shopping venture. Maybe it was because I was looking at swimwear which caused me to be even more aware of these women’s bodies. Maybe I just couldn’t find a swimsuit I liked. Or maybe it was because I was just bloody fed up of this shit.

In the 700 different swimwear options I was given, there wasn’t ONE model that was even vaguely representative of what my body looks like.

All those models looked fab but the plus sized models were modelling clothes that started at size 16, which are too big for me, and the rest were all modelling clothes at size 6-8, which are too small for me. Yes, clothes the size 6-8 models were modelling were available in my sizes but how am I supposed to even get an idea of what those clothes might look like on me when they are being modelled by women who are taller, blonder, more tanned and toned than myself?

I want to say it made me scream and shout, but really it just made me feel done with the whole thing and move to a different website. I am so BORED of seeing campaigns for better representation of women of all sizes (which are awesome) and yet, every time I do some online shopping, still finding myself wading through pictures of size 6-8 models with the occasional plus sized model thrown in for good measure.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan that there are now plus sized options and models; that is brilliant. But it annoys me that the for every plus sized model, there still seems to be about ten size 6-8 models. And, hey, there is NOTHING wrong with being a size 6-8. But where are the rest of the women huh? Where are the size 10, 12 and 14s? HOW is this representative of real life? Cos the last time I checked, the world is not split into fat and thin. In fact, as far as I can tell, every single body is a different shape and size.

I know that there is movement towards better things; there are curvy ranges and fuller-bust ranges etc but why does ‘curvy’ or ‘fuller bust’ or ‘plus sized’ even have to be a range huh? Why am I offered pages of skinny women the moment I click on a website, as though that’s the norm, yet have to click on a specific ‘range’ to find clothes representative of other shapes? The change may be happening but it doesn’t feel fast enough.

Why do I not see women with hips and bellies the moment I open online shopping websites? Why do I not see women modelling the size clothes I would wear? I know they exist, I know they’re there, I know the campaigns… but I’m still barely seeing them on standard high street shopping websites. And it’s ANNOYING THE HELL OUTTA ME.

I want to see a WIDE VARIETY of clothes for women of ALL SIZES. I want to browse a clothing website and see women who are a size 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, 20, 22… you get the idea.

So yeah, high street retailers, stop promoting this idea that the only form of beauty comes in size skinny because women are beautiful in all shapes and sizes and we're bloody sick of being told otherwise.

23 Apr 2017

Welcome to New York

OH HEY POPPETS. How the heck are ya? I feel like I’ve been away from my little arm chair in this corner of the internet for ages. How was your Easter weekend huh? I hope it involved a hefty amount of chocolate, the new series of Doctor Who, more chocolate, and HOLY SHIT THE BROADCHURCH FINALE.


It really has. For those 9 years since I last said goodbye, and particularly in the 9 months since we decided to book flights, the concrete jungle where dreams are made of has been waiting to engulf me once again in its glittering arms.

And for a beautiful seven days, those streets made me feel brand new and those big lights inspired me (lol I’ll stop with the song lyrics now…).

I’m currently sat on the sofa wearing my NYC sweatshirt, drinking out my new Bubby’s mug, listening to Empire State of Mind and flicking through my photos of Brooklyn Bridge. No YOU’RE in denial.

I’m not going to lie, I’m writing this as a bereft woman. It’s full on in-mourning, wearing-black widow shiz. I miss New York so much it aches. I miss pancakes and crispy bacon for breakfast, I miss the hum of the city at night and the burning brightness of Times Square. I miss spending every single minute with G and being surrounded by skyscrapers all the damn time. I miss the glorious sunshine and those comforting New York accents.

Although I don’t miss the pain in my feet. 30,000 steps a day starts to take its toll by day 7, I will admit.

Welcome to New YorkWelcome to New York
Welcome to New York

The week before last, G and I woke to a painfully early alarm clock and dragged ourselves and our suitcases onto a dreary Thameslink train to Gatwick airport for a flight to New York via Dublin.

Before you look at me like girl why you adding extra time to your journey, it was A LOT cheaper to fly via Dublin. And you get to enjoy the added perk of clearing US immigration BEFORE you get on the plane. So when you get to JFK, you can just breeze out of the airport like you’re a genuine New Yorker. Dreamy.

Although, ngl, it didn’t feel so dreamy two flights later when I emerged off the plane looking and smelling like I’d slept in a bin. Does anyone else get this when flying or am I just allergic to cabin pressure or summin’?

That sparkly skyline view from the taxi gave me all the butterflies though ❤. It was enough to carry me through travel sickness-related nausea and into the hotel where I could shower and collapse from sheer exhaustion.

Only to find myself wide awake at 5:45am NYC time cos jetlag; what a pal.

Welcome to New York
Welcome to New York
Welcome to New York

I’ve got a few New York-related posts lined up so I won’t give you a detailed itinerary of each day but let’s just say it involved numerous pancakes and burgers.

And racoons. Seriously, a whole family of them running around on the rocks in Central Park. Five points to whoever guesses which Friends quote immediately came to my mind.

And sunshine. I said I wanted blue skies and New York gave me 25 degrees. Cos she’s a babe.

And being constantly surprised, in that oh-so-British way, when strangers suddenly started talking to us. I’m a northern gal at heart so am more adjusted to convos with strangers than, say, your average Londoner but seriously, I spoke to more strangers in that one week in New York than I’ve probs done in the year we’ve lived in St Albans. There was the couple from Washington at the table next to us in a restaurant who struck up a conversation about cheesecake and their nervousness about travelling to Europe. There was the businessman in the lift who started asking us about London. There was the woman who asked us if we needed help when we were looking at a map by the subway. There was the concierge in Bloomingdales who chatted to us super fast for a good ten minutes, and apologised for the ‘whole Trump thing’.  There was the policeman who directed us to the subway we were stood right next to with a good-natured smile. There was the woman who worked in the hotel who went out of her way to help us wrap up the drawings we were trying to get back home without creasing.

You get the gist; New Yorkers are friendly folk. And it made me friendlier. I noticed I was thanking people for the smallest of things, smiling at people a lot more than usual and it made me a lot more chipper and patient.

Welcome to New York
Welcome to New York
Welcome to New York
Welcome to New York
Welcome to New York

Our days were crazy busy. I’ve been looking back at the photos today and kept thinking I was wearing the same outfit over more than one day cos so many different places. But nah uh, your gal was just on a mission to fit everything in.

Most days we were out early, getting slightly later as the week went on and our body clocks shifted, either grabbing breakfast to go from the hotel or going for sexy pancakes as big as my head. Those pancakes though.

We had a few things booked in for a certain time, but mostly we planned as we went along. Sometimes we were classic tourists; going up the Rockefeller centre or taking a boat trip round the Statue of Liberty. Other times, we sat munching on a ShakeShack burger people watching or wandered down the High Line, just soaking in the city hum.

We’d usually retreat back to the hotel around 5ish, to rest our bruised feet and use the wifi for major Instagram spam before heading back out for the evening. We went to some seriously dreamy restaurants but Jack’s Wife Freda and Bubby’s were like a party in my mouth. Bubby’s peanut butter pie and I seriously needed to get a room.

When jetlag stopped being a whiny bitch, we had energy for drinks after dinner (as opposed to being asleep by 10 like the hardcore party gal that I am). One night, we went to a rooftop bar in the shadow of the Empire State building and drank cocktails amongst high flying New Yorkers. Another night we ended up in Rice to Riches and I bought a 2-3 person portion of rice pudding for myself so swings and roundabouts.

Welcome to New York
Welcome to New York
Welcome to New York

I loved every moment. I love being sat on Umpire Rock in Central Park and feeling like you’re somewhere magic. I love hopping on the subway and wondering what’s going to greet your eyes when you emerge the other end. I love coming across random street markets that mean we can walk in the middle of the closed road for four blocks. I love buying sweatshirts from tacky souvenir shops and I love eating bagels that taste like doughy perfection. I love the view from the Empire State Building at night time more than I can describe and love the fact that there’s yellow cars and lights flippin’ everywhere. I love walking through Times Square even if it is ridiculous and I love the steam vents and the fact that you have to crane your head back as far as possible to see the top of the buildings surrounding you.

I loved the confidence of the city. The unashamed, unapologetic THIS IS ME vibe. It was G who put it into words for me when he said that it was a city so much more comfortable in its own skin, that London felt awkward in comparison; and I wondered if that’s what draws me to New York like no other place. That confidence makes you confident; you can have that unashamed, unapologetic, THIS IS ME vibe as well and it feels pretty bloody marvellous. You can be whoever you want, 100%, right-down-to-the-core you and the city will accept you as you are, unjudging.

And that creates infinite amounts of hope and possibility; it’s the city of dreams because it really does feel like anything can happen.

Welcome to New York

16 Apr 2017

In Icelandic Water: The Steam Valley and The Blue Lagoon

Two reasons to remember to pack your swimsuit and two absolute must-have experiences if you’re going to Iceland.

Reykjadalur Hot Springs

Reykjadalur directly translates to ‘steam valley’ and you will understand the name once you get hiking. The valley is full of hot springs billowing out steam and mud pools which bubble and splash you (don’t wear shorts). And at the top, you’ll find a hot river that you can bathe in.

It’s a 45 minutes to an hour to hike to the top and it’s not majorly difficult but you will need to catch your breath at times. There’s loose gravel paths which are slightly nerve wracking (maybe not one if you’re terrified of heights) but the views are spectacular. There’s a waterfall about half way up and we saw ducks, of all creatures, swimming about in the stream.  There are moments where you can’t see in front of your own nose cos the steam is so thick (not on any of those loose gravel paths don’t worry) and it’s all a bit magical.

I’ve never felt more surreal, clambering over a muddy river bank (trying not to slip on my arse) in my swimsuit whilst the wind and drizzle gave me the mother of all goosebumps and then going to sit in a shallow, muddy river full of weeds.

But it was dreamy. Genuinely like sinking into the hottest, steamiest of baths (cept without the bubbles) with a very real view of the mountain top.

It’s pretty busy, which also feels quite bizarre, but we found that it didn’t feel overcrowded – it’s a big river and everyone could stick to an area. I think there was actually a suggested time limit for staying in the water (not that anyone could really enforce it) because the heat does start making you feel fuzzy after a while (definitely take a bottle of water in with you) and you do have to walk back down the mountain again. We stayed in about an hour altogether and that felt just about right.

The Blue Lagoon

Our final day of the trip was spent entirely at the Blue Lagoon. If you don’t know what it is – check this website out – but I suspect the majority already know of these creamy blue geothermal waters.

You can book different packages for your Blue Lagoon Experience and we decided to go the full hog. You get dressing gowns and slippers on arrival, as well a wrist band which you use to open/lock your locker and put drinks etc on your tab. There are also hooks by the waterside to hang your gowns on.

The water was just gorgeous. The colour is other-worldly and it’s so lovely and warm… which sounds a pretty pathetic way to describe it but I can’t describe everything as FLIPPIN’ MAGICAL all the time…

We spent the whole day floating amongst the water, or perched on the volcanic rocks. We’d mosy on over to the water bar (those strawberry smoothies <3<3) or brave standing under the waterfall – like getting a very brutal, painful massage but it did bizarrely loosen up your muscles. At one point we discovered a secret cave which was giving a history of the Blue Lagoon over the sound system (in several languages) and obviously at times, we'd step out of the warmth of the water to grab our cameras and stand on the little bridges to capture the magic.

We took a break to have a fancy three-course lunch, plus processco, in the restaurant. It was very weird being sat in such a classy environment in your dressing gown but you didn’t have to worry about un-doing any buttons half way through dinner *insert smug emoji*.

After lunch we headed over to the facemask hut in the water to try out the two different types of facemasks, all made of completely natural ingredients from the lagoon. They did make you look a bit like a sea creature lurking in the water but omg my skin felt so super soft for the next couple of weeks.

If I had to give you one tip about visiting the Blue Lagoon in the summer it would be this: sunglasses and sun cream. That water is freakishly bright even when not particularly sunny and I was bemused to discover I had major tan lines when I got out at the end of the day. It was fun telling people back home that I was tanned from a trip to Iceland…

Things to do on the Reykjanes Peninsula, Iceland

As you read this, I'll probably be curled up in a bereft heap as the jetlag and post-New York blues hit me during Easter weekend. I only hope future me has the foresight to stock up on Easter eggs before she sets off to the Big Apple. In the meantime, I'm writing my final two Iceland posts because it makes sense to finish talking about one travel experience before moving on to the next. Soz for being that person.

I think most people head to the Reykjanes Peninsula to go to the Blue Lagoon, which is why we were there, but it’s well worth visiting as a standalone place; and it’s about an hour’s drive from Reykjavik so you can easily go for a day trip.

We drove over on our second to last day to set up camp in a new hotel for our final two nights of the trip. We planned to spend our final day at the Blue Lagoon so, by the time we got to the hotel, we had an afternoon to fill on the peninsula. Here’s what I’d recommend doing:

Gardskagi Headland 

If you drive through the village of Gardur, you come to this gorgeous piece of headland. It’s wind-battered yet tranquil, rugged yet beautiful. Apparently, it’s a great spot for viewing wildlife although I can’t say we saw much more than a few seabirds. There’s a little beach and two picturesque lighthouses, one of which has a tiny cafĂ© inside and you can climb to the top of the lighthouse for free if you buy something from there. The food was basic and very Icelandic so you may prefer to simply pay to climb to the top – I’ll leave it to your judgement. The views at the top are very dreamy.

The Bridge Between Two Continents 

What it says on the tin. The peninsula lies on one of the world’s major plate boundaries, the Mid Atlantic Bridge, and this is a small footbridge over a major fissure which was built as a symbol for the connection between Europe and North America. Essentially you can walk between the two continents (supposedly, it’s lucky but if not, it is very cool) as well as walk in the mini canyon itself (yeah you will get black sand in your shoes).

The 100 Crater Park 

Miles and miles of lava fields and wild volcanic craters – dubbed the 100 crater park. You can drive through it and feel a bit like you’re on The Martian movie set. There are power plants dotted about which use geothermal heat to produce salt from seawater and generate electricity (I think you can arrange visits to look round the power plants). In my opinion, the best place to stop is Valahnukur which is the most wild spot; a multi-coloured geothermal area with hot springs. The mud pools and steam vents are collectively named Gunnuhver, after a female ghost that was supposedly laid to rest there. We saw a lot of hot steam billowing out the ground in Iceland but this was by far the most aggressive one. The steam was exploding out so big and fast and loud. There were warnings everywhere telling you to STICK TO THE BLOODY PATH but you weren’t remotely tempted to disobey the rule. Mainly cos, when you got right up close, you could see the remains of what we assume was the original bridge for tourists to walk across; I’m guessing the hole in the ground began to expand, and the hot lava/steam destroyed the bridge. I’m also guessing no one was stood on it at the time…?

Obviously there will be other things to do on the peninsula but obvs I won’t recommend somewhere I didn’t get chance to go. There’s more on the visit Iceland website here. If you’re looking for somewhere to eat in the evening, I recommend the restaurant Kaffi Duus. And this was the hotel we stayed in, which was genuinely one of my favourite hotels ever. It looked over the harbour and had big glass windows everywhere, so you could always enjoy the sunset.

9 Apr 2017

Flying to New York

Hey kids. I’m currently snaffling on pringles and some free sour cream and chive pretzels the air steward just gave me whilst looking at a pretty dreamy view of plane wing, clouds and endless blue sky.

Yup, it’s happening. The moment has finally arrived; I’m off to New York. That’s sorta all this post is tbh. Me and G on a plane. We decided to fly with Aer Lingus when we booked this trip all those months ago, via Dublin. Basically cos it was A LOT cheaper which left us money to spend on, ahem, helicopter rides. I don’t regret it so far but it did mean that we left the house at half six this morning and by 4pm, we’d only got as far as Ireland.

We started on a train to Gatwick, got through Gatwick security with surprising ease and then had a REALLY NICE AIRPORT BREAKFAST. I know, I’m just as shocked as you. Scrambled egg on rosemary focaccia bread with roasted tomatoes and smoked salmon. Oh and a berry almond milk smoothie. Living. The. Dream. We then took a quick flight to Dublin which was over vair quick, took another trip through airport security (the fun) and then hit up WH Smith. Cos girl needs her snacks on long journeys.

We then headed to US pre-clearance immigration which was looooong, went through security again and finally made it to our gate with a casual two hours to spare before the actual flight. So I ate some of my snacks.

We’re now 45 minutes into the flight, G’s watching some TV and I’m wondering whether it’s acceptable to ask the air steward when dinner will be so, you know, I can decide whether to eat more snacks now.


I keep getting waves of tiredness or waves of pure excitement; I can’t decide whether to nap or do some kind of happy jig.

It’s only really just starting to sink in that we’re going. I know, I know, I’ve spoken about it irritating amounts since we booked the trip last June but despite that, despite all the ticket booking and planning we’ve done in the last few weeks, despite all the washing and packing I did yesterday, despite the New York guidebook and notebook full of plans sat in the over-sized bag at my feet; it’s only sinking in emotionally that I’m going back to the city that stole my heart when I was 16. Tbh, I’m not sure I’ll 100% feel it until we’re in the taxi to the hotel and I see that skyline.

In the mean time, I’m gonna take my contact lenses out, kick my shoes off and pull on some extra thick socks cos that heinous plane aircon is doing its thing. I’ve got the original Disney Beauty and the Beast and Pocahontas films downloaded on my iPad to watch and here’s hoping the plane food won’t be too grim eh?

Over and out.

1 Apr 2017

Video: March Vlog

March Vlog

Alright, important questions first, have ya seen Beauty and the Beast yet? Cos ooohhhh my god is it good. I may have downloaded the soundtrack and may have booked tickets to go see it again... 

Anyway a video for ya, if that sorta thing floats your boat. In Feb, I became the irritatingly smug new owner of an Olympus Pen e-pl7 (which I probs love more than I will my first born child) and I made the decision to take it out with me everywhere throughout March (except to work cos, lol, that shiz dull) so that I would learn to use it in the best way. My little baby took a trip to Edinburgh, met A LOT of cats and stared at all the foods. Me and her had a ball. So, yeah, this was what I got up to in March. I'm off to eat some mini eggs now. See ya.