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    Happy Things in July ’17

    What a month July has been! I’ve been to London, I’ve spent a week near to the Ribble Valley and I’ve been to Croatia. More to come on those trips in the next week or so. I have so many photos to share on here, and I’m just deciding on the how.

    CroatiaView

    I can’t believe it’s August already, yet July does seem to have flown by super quickly. I guess that’s what happens when you go on three different trips and almost end up being off work more than you were in! So what did I do?

    + Taking part in the Joining Jack Wigan Bike Ride
    + Getting a new phone (the rose gold Samsung s7 if curious)
    + Having a weekend in London
    + Finally watching Cursed Child!
    + Family time in Gisburn
    + CROATIA!
    + Climbing to the top of a bell tower and seeing this amazing view of Split
    + Experiencing Ultra Festival
    + Yoga classes at my gym
    + GAME OF THRONES BEING BACK!
    + Avocado
    + Being out with friends
    + Getting a Happy Planner – time to organise my life again
    + Wigan getting to Wembley for the Challenge Cup final!

    It’s always great looking back at the month and seeing just exactly what you did. It’s like a mini diary, with just a sentence or a word being able to remind you of something. People are always saying like, put the phone down, experience things. For me, I’d forget all the little bits if I didn’t take photos, if I didn’t write things down. One photo can just bring back a whole world of memories, and I love that. So yeah, basically I’m telling myself to keep hold of those photos, keep documenting everything that I’m doing because one day they’ll become very distant memories. Ones you might not be able to remember completely. Documenting things is great.

    July has been eventful for me… How was yours?

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    Lifestyle

    How To Avoid The Post Holiday Blues

    This post has been written in collaboration with The Ideas Kitchen.

    Strawberry-Juice

    The holiday blues are real. So damn real. When I landed in Manchester and left the plane in 25 degree heat, I knew it was too good to be true. I think that lasted a day? Maybe two? Seriously though, I’m writing this and we’re currently experiencing torrential rain, super bright lightning and the loudest thunder I have ever heard. Whatever happened to the summer sun?!

    Don’t get me wrong, I love a good thunderstorm. I just enjoy the sun so much more. And when you’re coming home from somewhere with 30 degree heat on the regular, it sucks just a little bit. Okay, a lot. You can always try to pretend you’re still there though…

    Cocktail-Book

    Find A Good Travel Book

    Books don’t have to be travel related to enjoy whilst on holiday (can’t beat a good romance book!) but they are great for inspiring you to get out to new places! When I was in Croatia I read Girl off the Grid and I mean it was a little daft and predictable, but an easy read.

    Find a good book about someone on their travels and it’s like you’re there with them! I started reading Eat, Pray, Love for the first time and oh is it making me want to travel to Italy! (Yes I’m only that far in.) If I’m totally honest, I never knew this book was a memoir up until I started reading… Always thought it was a fictional story! Now I see why it’s one of those travel books that everyone seems to recommend! Great for when you’re snuggling in bed, somehow cold in the middle of July.

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    Enjoy Some Cocktails

    Is it really a holiday if you don’t have at least one cocktail? My favourite has to be a frozen strawberry daiquiri so when I was asked about trying out these healthy juice recipes, I spotted the favourite and jumped to it! I’ve never actually tried to make my own cocktails at home, and whilst I didn’t have a proper cocktail shaker (not really completely necessary for the daiquiri) I had everything else!

    The recipe was really easy to make, and it tasted delicious too. I also tried the Life is Peachy one, and my mum enjoyed it with me! (I didn’t share the daiquiri… nope) I love a good peachy drink, yet hate the fruit itself. Go figure. I’d definitely make these two juices again though. I could probably live off a strawberry juice drink to be honest. They were quick and easy, and that’s all you want in life right? (Slide through the photos above to see the process!)

    Even better idea, grab a cocktail and take it to that snuggly bed with your travel book. Win-win all around.

    Keep-Tan-Holiday Blues

    Keep The Tan Up

    Now I’m not one for fake tan to be honest. It’s not because I don’t like it but because I’m always worried I’ll go patchy and not put it on properly. If I use something, it’s generally one of those moisturisers with a little bit of colour in the formula! But anyway, I picked up this after sun that apparently helps to preserve your tan. Is it working? I’m not sure yet.

    I’m still pale but you can see that I’ve actually tanned a good bit haha. Oh the problems of never seeing the sun. I was impressed with myself actually because I was so good with my sun cream. I burnt one little bit, and it’s that darker area there underneath my sports bra. Typical. Next step… Where do I get a good fake tan that makes me look like I actually spent 5 days abroad?

    …and if all else fails, book another holiday!

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    Lifestyle

    5 Ways To Save a Little Extra Money

    How many of you have a savings account? I wasn’t using one until this year, simply because throughout university I was living in an overdraft, and once I left I was working on building that account back up. This year however I’ve been attempting to put more away in the hopes of using it to travel next year!

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    #1 – Put a Portion of Your Wage Into Savings As Soon As It Comes In

    This is one of the easiest things to do. It might only be £50 or it might be £200, whatever it is, putting something away right at the beginning means you know exactly what you’ve got left for the rest of the month, and you can budget off that. It might mean that you’re having to be more strict on buying treats and such, but isn’t that the point of saving? Not everyone can put a big chunk away, I’m aware, but if you just do as much as you can then at least you know you always have something going to one side.

    #2 – Have A Spending Budget

    I’ve been trying something new over the past month, and instead of just spending on my card whenever and wherever, using cash instead. I’ll get £50 out at the start of the week. This is my budget (not including petrol) and I can’t use my card in shops when out. Whatever I have at the end of the week crosses over, and on the new Monday I’ll get out enough money to make it back up to £50. So I could end up finishing one week with £20 still left. I’ll then get out £30 to make it back up.

    It’s a different one, but it seems to be working. I’m definitely being more mindful of my spending now I’m relying on cash rather than card. It’s all too easy to spend, spend, spend without realising what’s actually going out. Also a good thing to do is empty your loose coins into a money box.

    #3 – Sell Things And Put That Money Away

    Ah the age-old process of going through your belongings and seeing what you can sell. Admittedly this isn’t something that would get you a lot of money, but you’re basically having a clean out and getting paid for it. Win-win really right? I have a lot of craft stuff that I’m just not using and I knew someone would appreciate it. Books, DVDs, clothes, shoes, bags, unopened make up… These things will probably all sell pretty easily on ebay! Or you could even try a car boot. Again, not something to gain hundreds of pounds with but every little bit really does help.

    #4 – Stop Eating Out All The Time

    I love a good meal out. I’m not saying to stop that because we all need a treat right? I’d say the bigger problem is constantly buying food on the go. Grabbing something quick for lunch at work, maybe even getting breakfast on your way in. Stopping by for that morning coffee fix. These things all seem small at the time, but of course they add up quickly.

    Say you buy a £3 meal deal every day at work and you do 5 days. That’s £15 a week, £60 a month, £720 a year. How much scarier does that last figure sound? And that’s just what I’d class as the cheaper end. This doesn’t include those daily coffees/teas or breakfasts, snacks and the like.

    It might take a little bit more time and extra planning, but it’s definitely cheaper to buy your own foods and make lunches at home. You also know exactly what’s going in them then so you can be mindful of what you’re eating. I eat a lot of leftovers for lunches, like with my rice and pasta dishes. Make a little extra at night time and bingo, that’s tomorrow’s food sorted too.

    #5 – Sort Through Your Outgoings/Subscriptions

    This sounds like an obvious thing, but I wonder how many of you actually check what’s going out each month? I’m guilty of forgetting about things. Like my Adobe membership (obviously necessary because Photoshop and Lightroom, how could I not?!) and my magazine subscription to Women’s Running (also necessary because otherwise I’d just buy the magazines in a shop and end up spending WAY more).

    But yeah, are you using Netflix enough to warrant that subscription? Could you cope without it? I still had a contact lens subscription running and was just building up packs. That’s been cancelled now. So yeah, an obvious one but just check your outgoings and make sure there’s nothing unnecessary in there. You could be surprised!

    I’m sure there’s plenty more ways, do you have any advice?

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    Life in...

    Happy Things in June ’17

    Oh June. This month went by slowly! Oh so slowly. Probably because I had nothing really exciting planned, yet plenty planned for July… This month was basically like those filler chapters/episodes that you get.

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    Writing everything down, I’ve actually crammed a fair bit into this month, it’s just that nothing has been really big or massively stood out. It’s all gone so slowly up until this last week, and then I’m realising that I’ve got a bike ride on Sunday, a few days in work and then I’m off and away from home for 12 days! Exciting things to come eh.

    So this month I have loved:

    + Doing the Race for Life after missing it the past couple of years.
    + Discovering a Japanese restaurant in my town, and trying new tasty foods. (And enjoying tofu!)
    + Watching Wonder Woman. Loved it way more than I was expecting!
    + Joining a new gym.
    + Feeling all motivated to work out and starting a new plan.
    + Completing 13/15 days at the gym in the past two weeks.
    + Rewatching GOT season 6.
    + Being able to start holiday shopping.
    + Our ‘heatwave’ and being able to enjoy sunshine.
    + The Voice Kids – they’re all so amazing!
    + Doing a Harry Potter Pub Quiz
    + Upgrading my mobile! (only due to arrive Tuesday though)
    + And Charlie, the cutie.

    Charlie

    So yep, as I touched on above, July is going to be a busy month. Expect a lot of travel content from me, and hopefully plenty more fitness too! I’ll be travelling to London to finally watch the Cursed Child play, then to Ribblesdale for a relaxing family cottage holiday and then to Split for 5 days to experience Ultra and the beautiful Croatian country!

    Besides the neverending rain we’ve had in this last week, June hasn’t been too bad to us!

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    Lifestyle, Tips & Tricks

    How To Create Goals & Stick To Them

    Some people will start the new year with a list of goals (me) yet some hate it. Some will do monthly goals. Some hate it. If you know me just the slightest, you’ll know I like goals. I figured I’d give the reasons why I like them in all aspects of life.

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    Sometimes I think the problem with goals is that they’re given too much weight. Like, they become a fixation and for those who don’t meet those goals, or set them too high get hit with failure and that ultimately just makes things worse. Don’t get me wrong, I have done that before. Plenty of times. But right now, I feel like I’m in a good place with what I want in life and what I’m doing to get to that point. You’ve got to have a good balance.

    How To Create Goals That Don’t Set You Up For Failure

    Looking at the words themselves, a goal really is just a general outcome that you want. Anyone can just say “Oh I want to do such a thing” and there we have it, a goal. The next part is the one that ensures you can reach that goal, and it’s thinking about the steps you need to take to reach it. Quite often it takes more than one thing or change to hit that goal. These become your objectives, or steps as I prefer to call them, and I think people forget about this bit.

    So for example, my main life goal at the moment is to be travelling by the end of 2018. To get to that goal, the main step I’ve started working on at the moment is putting money aside in my savings. Once I get closer to the time, I’ll also have to start looking at getting a visa, possibly getting jabs, checking airlines, hostels, places and the like. These are all separate steps that will help me hit that main goal and without them I wouldn’t get there.

    For fitness, ultimately my goal is to get stronger and run a PB half marathon time. I need to consider all the things that will help me do this, and this includes adding more strength training, adding more running mileage and of course, cleaning up my diet. Again, all separate steps that will get me to that ultimate goal.

    Basically, when setting a goal you need to be thinking about the wider picture. How can you hit that goal? What is it that you actually need to work on? As you can see, just saying ‘I want to travel’ doesn’t really help you at all if you don’t know what you need to do.

    Why Having Goals Helps Me To Achieve

    There’s a couple of reasons really why I like to set goals, but mostly it’s because I am someone who needs a plan. Organisation. I like writing down what I want to do and how I can do it. And then also because I like a challenge. Can’t help it.

    You’ll find a lot of people just plodding on in life. Doing what they have to, to get by, and not completely happy but also not doing anything about it. I don’t want that for myself. How many people do you know who just hate their job? I know quite a few… and whilst I myself don’t hate my jobs, I know it’s not what I want to be doing in the long-term. I have dreams of where I want to be, and I want to take those steps to hit them. Those regrets, what would have been, if I’d just tried to… Nope, not me.

    Like I know that I will completely regret not trying to get out and travel. Even just for a month. I don’t want to be settled down mid-thirties with kids thinking, why didn’t I just take that chance I had? Don’t get me wrong, I want to start a family. I’d love to have kids. But I’m not ready for that yet. And this isn’t a negative push at those who do settle down young – that’s perfectly fine if it’s what you want to do.

    Which brings me to my next point. We all have different goals and dreams in life. You might look at me and think, she wants to run another half marathon, maybe even a marathon? No thanks! And that’s perfectly okay. You do you, and figure out what makes you happy. After all, isn’t that what we’re all aiming for?

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    What You Should Do Next To Start Achieving Goals

    So think about what you want to achieve in the next year. Is it fitness related? Job related? Blog related? Maybe even family/friend related? Whatever it is, start jotting it down.

    My favourite thing to do is to create a mind map. I find that it’s easier to do separate ones for each area of life because then you can get really detailed if needed. For example mine would include, a general life one, a fitness one, a blog one and a travel one. This doesn’t have to be neat (hey you can always re-do it neatly if you want this as a visual once you’ve decided on things!) and is basically just a brainstorm of what you want to achieve. It can be for the next year, the next 5 or even longer.

    Once all those thoughts are written down, you can start to sort through what you want to do and figure out which bits are the main goals, and which bits are the steps that you need to take. For me, actually writing down these things allows me to properly understand them and to see which goals are easier and which will take more time. That’s one of the hardest things, time. You just can’t expect results over night, but by working consistently you will get there.

    So Go Out And Hit Those Goals

    Yep. I hope this has helped you to at least have a better view on goals, and how to set yourself up for success instead of failure. So many people make new years resolutions and never stick to them… Now’s your chance to revisit those things you want to do for yourself and really smash them.

    What Tips Do You Have For Me?

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    Lifestyle

    My Top 3 Radio Stations

    RadioStations

    I’m not actually that much of a music person. I mean I like it, obviously, and I have some favourites, obviously, but music isn’t generally my first choice of things to do. Like, on a commute I’m more likely to read a book or listen to an audio/podcast over music. When I run, I’ll listen to an audiobook/podcast or just run without if it’s just a short run. At the gym, I just don’t bother with music because whatever is playing in there is usually pretty loud. At home I won’t be sat listening to music whilst blogging, I’ll be catching up on youtube or a tv series.

    So yeah, I really don’t listen to it much. The main times are when I’m in my car (actually a lot of the time) or when I’m at work in the office. Here’s what I choose.

    Radio X

    This one is my car go-to. I’ve either got Radio X on or my Best of Mcfly CD. Pick your lesser evil haha. On a Wednesday/Thursday I drive to Manchester for work and it usually takes me around an hour each way. The Chris Moyles breakfast show is what keeps me company on the way in, and I love it. Plenty of random chatter and silly games give me something to laugh about as I’m heading into work. I really like the Before/After game, even though I’m absolutely terrible and whilst I usually know the songs, I never know any dates for when they were released. I think Chris Moyles is a marmite kind of guy, people either seem to love him or hate him. I love him.

    I also prefer the music on Radio X to all the chart hits on Radio 1, Key 103, Capital and the like. They play more older stuff and not as screechy and poppy. Not a fan of that!

    Absolute 00s

    Just simply because there’s absolute bangers to be heard on here. Absolute also have a 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s station if those take your fancy, but I quite like the 00s one because it’s more my ‘era’ from when I listened to music in my teens. I can’t be the only one who just prefers the older music much more than what’s in the charts at the moment, right?

    In one morning I heard: Fall Out Boy – This Ain’t A Scene It’s An Arms Race, Jason Mraz – I’m Yours, Gorillaz – Feel Good Inc., Bloodhound Gang – The Bad Touch, My Chemical Romance – Welcome to the Black Parade, Outkast – Hey Ya!, Avril Lavigne – Sk8er Boi, Usher – Yeah, Black Eyed Peas – I Gotta Feeling, Maroon 5 – This Love. See what I mean?!

    BBC Radio 5 Live

    This is the usual station on in my office at work, and at first I was like what is this bore… But it can actually be quite interesting depending on what their topics are each day. I’ve found myself switching it on even when I’m in on my own! They mostly talk about what’s happening in the news so it really can vary and it’s a mixture of serious and the more informal chats. Have to say I’ve learned a lot listening to this kind of thing!

    What do you listen to?

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    Lifestyle, United Kingdom

    Hiking Up To Rivington Pike

    “To move, to breathe, to fly, to float, to gain all while you give, to roam the roads of lands remote, to travel is to live.”
    Hans Christian Andersen

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    It’s eerily quiet, the only sound being the occasional bird chatter, leaves rustling in the breeze and twigs crunching under your feet. It’s moments like this when you can get fully lost in your own thoughts and take some much needed ‘me’ time.

    When I was at university I used to explore so many different places. I’d always be heading out with my camera to see what I could find. I miss that. I mean, I now have a car and I’ve gone to far less new places than I did when I had to rely on my legs, bike or train! Last month I decided to make the effort to go out for more walks. And that I did!

    Rivington Pike (or Winter Hill) is pretty close to me and only a half an hour drive away. In fact I can see the signal mast from my house – especially so when it’s night time and the bright red lights are turned on! This is a pretty popular walk for people of all ages and interests: families, dog walkers; cyclists, runners, hikers, ramblers and more. It’s super pretty and has plenty of things to discover and find on the way up, depending on which route you take!

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    Japanese Gardens & Old Buildings

    The best thing about this area is all the random little bridges, buildings and walls. The gardens were designed by Thomas Mawson between 1905-1922. It included the wooded area with a network of footpaths and terraces with a man-made ravine, various bridges and the Japanese garden and lake. (Which you can see a little of above!)

    A lot of the old buildings now are very much decayed and broken, replaced by woodland and overgrown greenery but you can see the history there nevertheless. The lake is beautiful, and has a couple of mini waterfalls too. You can see a bit of it in the photo above. The perfect place for a relaxing rest before/after the climb to the top!

    These are my absolute favourite kinds of things to explore. I love finding random paths and bridges and buildings hidden in the trees. It just feels like you’re finding another world because it’s completely different to usual city life.

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    Reaching The Pike

    Once you’ve passed all that wilderness, you’re met with the amazing views. On a good weather day (admittedly few and far in between) you can see for miles as soon as you’ve gotten out into the open space. You can even see the Isle of Man on a really good day at around 93 miles away if you know what you’re looking for. Yeah, I didn’t. Not great with that kind of thing.

    Easier things to spot include the Macron Stadium – Reebok for those of us still not used to the ‘new’ name – and the Blackpool Tower in the far distance. Spotting the Blackpool Tower all the way from here feels quite impressive actually.

    What I haven’t mentioned so far is that when you do spot the pike you also spot a horrible looking set of stairs, and boy are they tiring on the legs after all the hill walking you’ve already done! When I was there last with my boyfriend, we were just sat at the top enjoying the view whilst two runners had a little competition in the form of hill repeats. Crazy, crazy people. Not gonna lie though, I was pretty chuffed for the girl who kept beating the guy she was with!

    Doing things like this just really reminds me how comfortable I feel being outside, and how much I need to be active in my daily life.

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    Any interesting walks near you?

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