6 things I learnt in 2014

1. Travel is good for the soul.

I've always wanted to see the world and this year I ventured a lot further afield than I have before. I was lucky enough to go to New York, Glastonbury and Bruges alongside various weekends in the UK. New York was absolutely amazing and helped me realise a ten year dream. Next year I'm going to start the dreaded house fund as I dig deep to buy my own house. But I don't want to sacrifice travel so I'm going to have to cut back on a lot of other things. Like they say, travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer so I'm willing to stay in a bit more so I can fulfil my wanderlust. It's worth it.

2. Make more times for friends.

The above photo was taken a few days ago at my friends birthday pub trip that obviously eventually got out of hand, like all trips to the pub with these lot do. I stayed at home during Uni and was stuck with the lads as all the girls more or less moved away. I've got a deep affection for this lot and feel very protective over them - next year marks nine years since we all got to know each other at Sixth Form. Luckily one of the girls moved back home so I'm not outnumbered too much! I didn't really make much time for my friends this year as I let my work take priority and spent a lot more time on my new friendships. That night out on 27th made me realise that making time for your old friends is essential as well as nurturing those new friendships. It's also made me think that it's about time the lads got themselves girlfriends!

3. It's ok to go at your pace.

I spent a part of the year having a bit of a meltdown at the prospect of turning 26 without having much to show for it. But it also made me appreciate my career. I've always been a career girl and was desperate to jump on the ladder and went without a lot to get to where I am today. Hand on my heart, it has all been worth it. Everyone is different and people do things at different times. It is neither right or wrong.

4. Material things don't always make you the happiest.

I've always been a lover of things and am slightly proud of the amount of money I can spend in one shopping trip. But this year I came to the realisation that this isn't the root of all happiness. I know right? Buying that new dress might make you feel good on the day but you can't buy the things that make you happy in life. Memories don't have a price tag. Those evenings you laugh about when you're with your friends, those nights in snuggled in front of the telly with your boyfriend and the days you spend with your nan putting the world to rights are the things that leave you with a big smile on your face.

5. I can do anything I put my mind too.

I had a job title change earlier on in the year and made the switch from pictures to editorial. I'll be honest, I was a wreck for about 3 months constantly doubting my abilities and struggling with the huge change at work. But eventually I began to manage my time better and grew more confident in my abilities when I started to pull things off. I'm still learning but I think I'm - well hope! - improving and it's all thanks to my sheer determination not to be a failure. I haven't quite grasped it all yet but I no longer feel like I'm treading water. I feel like I'm getting somewhere. It just goes to show that hard work does pay off even if it takes six months.

6. It's ok to say no
I always have FOMO and say yes to everything. It can be a blessing and a curse. It means that I've done some amazing things but always that I'm constantly exhausted and feel like I'm running at 100mph all the time. I moved offices this year out to Essex from London and it means my commute time is a lot longer - I don't get home till around 7.30-8pm. I've had to say no to a lot of things as I simply can't muster the energy. But you know what, I actually don't mind. It nice to just come straight home after work and jump in my PJs and paint my nails. Rock and roll!

What did you learn in 2014?

Excuse the grainy photos - they're just a few iPhone snaps of my favourite things I've done this year. It's been a good one 2014!

Feeling like a princess

Vintage style cream party dress: c/o Chi Chi London
Gold glittery pumps: Primark (similar)
Gold rings: Vintage

I saw a girl at a party wearing the black version of this dress and decided there and then I had to hunt it down. Imagine my surprise when I found Etail was offering it - amazing! I think there a bit of fate involved in that instance. I was a little worried it might look a bit too bridal for my liking but I love the gold vintage touches and the full 50's style skirt - even if it's not the most flattering!  It makes me want to flounce around like a total loon - there's something about a huge skirt that I have a soft spot for. I think it has birthday dress written all over it - something has to soften the blow I'm going to be 26.

Boxing Day Sales

Hope you all had an amazing Christmas!

Thanks to seven years of working in retail and working numerous Boxing Days at 6am at Next, I always cursed those who ventured out to burn some plastic. I swore I'd never do that but alas it's what I found myself doing this year. In my defence my boyfriend's nan lives 5 minutes walk from the town centre and we always go there Boxing Day. I was already passing through.... So what did I buy? Lots of things I don't really need!

I was kindly given a Next gift voucher for Christmas so headed for there first. As always I came out with shoes. Next always have such cracking shoes in the sale. You always need numerous pairs of black heels in my opinion and I love the snakeskin effect of these and the gold detailing on the heel. For £14 I couldn't pass them up! These navy flats are amazing aren't they? I'm loving boyish shoes at the minute and the pointed toe will help jazz up any outfit.

I popped into Topshop and was underwhelmed by the offering in the clothing rail - all the good stuff had clearly been snapped up! But I do have a soft spot for their make up, especially their lip products. Rio Rio had been on my wish list for ages so was very pleased to find it in a set with the blusher for £6. The eyeshadow palette completely stole my heart and I'm looking forward to road testing it on NYE.

Finally I popped into Boots which is my favourite place to shop when it's sale season. I'm such a product junkie and love all the gift sets that get market down to half price. I was overwhelmed with toiletries this year for Christmas so really didn't need to buy anymore but I couldn't leave without something from Soap and Glory. I wanted an everyday perfume as my Philosophy one has run out and I'm yet to replace it. I love this body wash anyway so I decided to try the fragrance too. I was very restrained and could have bought most of the shop but I had my sensible head on for once.

Did you manage to pick anything up the Boxing Day sales?

Review: Rush, Loughton

There's nothing I love more than having a good pampering session so when Rush got in touch and offered me a complimentary blow dry, I couldn't say yes please quick enough. I had so much about Rush but had never had the opportunity to visit a salon.

Rush opened on Loughton High Street earlier this month and it was all sparkling and new when I visited - it was literally just over a week old. I was immediately whisked off to have my hair washed by the lovely junior. She happened to be from the same town as me so we had a lovely chat and she did a very good head massage. I thought I was going to nod off there and then. I loved the little touch of the drink and a few pretzels to nibble on. Food is always the way to my heart!

I was in the salon for over an hour while the owner preened and primped my hair into a voluminous masterpiece. Just look how beautiful it is?! I certainly had a spring in my step when I walked out. He talked me through every product that was put in my hair and constantly asked if I was ok and happy with the service. The blow dry lasted all day which was very impressive considering it was done at 1pm - it still had a little oomph after i'd slept in it. I'd definitely go back if I was after a little helping hand before a special day or even a well deserved treat.

If only I could afford to have a professional blow dry every day eh? That would be the life!

All black everything

Black roll neck jumper: Primark (similar)
Black crepe cullottes: Topshop
Black quilted leather jacket: Zara (similar)
Chunky heeled faux suede courts: F&F (similar)
Faux pearl stud earrings: c/o Susan Caplan

Sometimes when the weather just isn't playing ball you just want to wear all black in mourning for the long lost sunshine. There's something about an all black outfit that I love especially when there's a mix of different textures. A little bit of red lippy helps to keep it from looking too boring. These cullottes are my new favourite thing surgically attached to my body. I was persuaded by my nan to buy them during a weekend away- the girl has style! If you ever need to be talked into buy some unnecessary purchases she's the one to go too. My bank account weeps when we go shopping.

I was very kindly gifted these gorgeous Susan Caplan earrings - aren't they pretty? Founder Susan sources gorgeous vintage jewellery which means every piece is unique. She sells a wide range including earrings, necklaces and bracelets - well worth having a little mooch!


Harry Potter Studio Tour

Harry Potter will always have a special place in my heart. I can still remember being absolutely transfixed at nine years old as our teacher read out the first book at the end of each day. I willed the day to fly past so we could have our fix of Harry. The books just sum up my childhood and I feel like I know the characters personally. Sign of an amazing author eh?

I was very anti Harry Potter films for a long time, the first one didn't really live up to my expectations and I wasn't happy with some of the castings. Now I love Gary Oldman but Sirius he is not! But I got the boxset one year for Christmas and came to the conclusion that the films aren't that bad at all. They will never live up to the books in my opinion but it's so nice to put faces to names! I've been dying to go to the studios for months on end but never really had the right time. School holidays were a no no as were weekends. Finally my boyfriend and I had a day free and we set off to Hogwarts.

I'm going to hold my hands up and say I welled up and felt very emotional. It was like watching ten years of my life just laid out in front of me. Seeing it all in the flesh was overwhelming - especially Dumbledore's office. It was incredible. I can't recommend popping along to the studios enough even if it does spoil the magic of the films a little as you find out all the secrets. It's quite expensive to be honest but well worth the dollar. It is so interesting to read about how they made it all come to life and the detailing that went into making the films is mind-blowing. Seeing Buckbeak bow in front of me made me giddy - I thought so much of it was CGI.

I finally realised my childhood dream of flying a broomstick during Quidditch - I need to find a special place to have the photo on display! Life made.

Have you ever been to the Harry Potter Studios?

Giveaway - House Of Fraser Mini Martini making kit

One of the best things about the festive season is entertaining your friends. In order to be the hostess with the mostess you need all the right tools to get your party to go with a bang. Luckily for you House Of Fraser have very kindly offered a Luxe Lounge 6 Piece Mini Martini Set for one lucky reader of my blog. It includes a stainless steel cocktail shaker, two mini martini glasses, two olive picks, a cocktail strainer and a recipe booklet. Everyone will want to be at your house this year!

All you have to do to be with a chance to win is follow what it says on the below widget.

a Rafflecopter giveaway Good luck! I'll let you know the winner on Friday.

The room is on fire as she's fixing her hair

Black duster coat - Topshop
Semi sheer black cami- Topshop (similar)
Burgundy skinny jeans- New Look
Croc print pointed courts - F&F (similar)

I succumbed to the duster coat trend after an innocent trip into town at lunch to pick up something for work. I had to pass Topshop and this was in the front door with a reduced ticket swinging from it. Obviously I had to go in to investigate and before I knew it, I was at the till handing over my plastic. It was just £30 and I thought it would be great to help jazz up my jean collection. It instantly smartens up any outfit and makes me feel presentable even if I've only rolled out of bed 15 minutes before.

The countdown for Christmas is well and truly on! I can't believe just how fast December is whizzing past especially as it felt like November was lingering. I've completed all my Christmas shopping, got my Christmas Eve outfit sorted and buying my cards tomorrow. I'm well and truly ready for the big day. The week off work is making me very excited indeed. I've got my box sets sorted so if you want me I'll be snuggled under my duvet, drooling over Jon Snow and stuffing my face with the leftover sweets.

Are you looking forward to Christmas?


Antwerp - A photo diary

Like I said before there's not a hell of a lot to see or do in Bruges. After a few days you've seen the whole city so we decided to book ourselves on a little day trip to Antwerp. It's only around an hour and a half away from Bruges and so simple to get to.

It's a lot bigger as our B&B hosts informed us - 500,000 people rather than the tiny 20,000 who live in Bruges. It has a lot of shops which is fantastic if you have money to burn but alas we didn't so went in search of some food and a mooch around the sights. The Christmas market was fantastic. The waffles got a thumbs up from me!

Stay away from the square to eat and take a wander down the side streets as the restaurants look a lot more appetising! Plus it's a fun way to explore the city. Ah that Ferris wheel. It looks so pretty but it was terrifying. I've been on the London Eye before and thought I could hack this. But no I couldn't deal with the wind blowing us nor the open cart. It was an incredible way to see the whole of the city but I counted down the minutes until I was back on the ground.

Antwerp is great for a day trip if you're nearby. I don't know if I'd go back now I've been but I'm glad I went. It's a fairly average city and the historical square is very pretty to look at. I do love an old building!

Have you ever been to Antwerp?

Bruges - A photo diary

Like I mentioned in my last post, I had such an amazing few days in Bruges. It's somewhere that has been on my list for years and it lived up to all expectations. It was amazing to have 4 days where we didn't really have any strict schedules to stick to other than making sure we made the train home! Back in Feburary Berlin was fantastic but so exhausting as we had every minute of the day to fit something in. I'd wholly recommend taking 4 days for a city break rather than three if you can. That extra day really does make all the difference in helping you relax.

The photos look a little gloomy but that's just how I like them. It seems a lot more Christmassy to me! Bruges is such a pretty city full of winding roads and you really can get lost staring in awe at all the stunning buildings. There's just something about the red roofs eh?! The Christmas tree in the last picture stole my heart and I made sure we did a detour everyday just so I could stare at it. It's gorgeous don't you think?

I was a little disappointed with the Christmas market - try Antwerp as that was amazing but more on that in a few days. It just wasn't very spectacular but maybe I'd built it up too much in my head. But the rest of the city really impressed me with their decorations - they were everywhere you looked! I'm feeling very festive now. Can you believe Christmas is just around the corner?

Have you ever been to Bruges?

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