A DAY IN BRUGES - WHERE TO EAT, STAY AND WHAT TO SEE.

Sunday, 30 December 2018

My last trip of 2018 was beautiful Bruges in Belgium. The capital of West Flanders is known for its cobbled streets, medieval looking buildings and colourful gingerbread market plaza. Even though we had booked a two night stay in Brussels, we knew we couldn't take a trip to Belgium and not pay a visit to Bruges so we booked a return day ticket and that was enough to take in its beauty, eat waffles and take a couple of pretty snaps for the 'gram. If you're looking at visiting Bruges in the new year, here are my tips on what to do, where to eat and where to stay in Bruges, Belgium. 

tea with gi bruges guide

A DAY IN BRUGES


Breakfast | Li or Lait 


Li or Lait is a cute little coffee shop with an extensive hot drink menu and a cute interior. They also sell bagels and other quick bites to eat so makes it a perfect location for breakfast or brunch. I wanted to make sure I had space for the waffle and chocolates to follow in the afternoon so I only opted for a vanilla latte, whilst my mum had the 'croque' bagel with ham and mozzarella. 

AM | Learn about the history of chocolate and frites.


If you want to take a break from history and cultural museums, and fancy an interactive (with snacks) experience instead then Frietmuseum and Choco-Story are a great way to start your day. I mean the main reason we visited was because of the free samples, but we did learn about the history of both in Belgium and had a demo on making chocolate praline truffles. There were also spots around the museum that let you take an unlimited amount of milk, white and dark chocolate buttons, so that was cool. 

A fun fact about 'french fries' was that in fact, they're not french at all but came from Belgium.  Apparently they were served in the War and since French was the language associated with Belgium, the Americans took this back to the US and dubbed them 'French fries' - although the french beg to differ and have their own versions of the origin of chips.

choco story

Lunch | Le Panier D'OR


Seeing as we wanted to try some traditional flemish hearty food (and not just sweet treats) we searched for somewhere that did 'traditional flemish beef stew' and after a quick comparison of the few restaurants in the market square on Trip Advisor, we decided on Le Panier D'Or. I ate that whilst my mum opted for some mussels and we were both left satisfied (there was also free Wi-Fi available so you can update your social media followers on your morning shenanigans).

PM | Go and see the best of Bruges


Bruges is a relatively small city so you can see everything you need to see by foot. It's one of those towns that you can pretty much walk around and get 'lost' through the alleys and bump into all the points of interest. The first spot we put on google maps was Grote Markt which is where you will find the colourful gingerbread looking houses. A short walk from there you will come across the Basilica of the Holy Blood - where the main attraction in this church is a that it houses a relic of the Holy Blood allegedly collected by Joseph of Arimathea and brought from the Holy Land by Thierry of Alsace. We queued for about 15 minutes, then you are given a couple of minutes at the alter to say your prayers and view it.

basilica of the holy blood

There are two areas in Bruges that are worth seeing and if you're in to photography will get you some great shots. These are Rozenhoedkaai and Gronerei. They both have a mix of bridges and old historic buildings but are also surrounded by nature so there is a great contrast. 

Gronerei

We probably spent another hour just popping in to each of the chocolate shops and we kept purchasing 1 thing in each, a 'chocolate crawl' you could say. On the other hand, if you're looking for somewhere to try an authentic and delicious belgian waffle then head to Chez Albert in the main street. I had mine with warm cherries and oh my god I am still dreaming about it.

chez albert


Dinner | 'T Risico


'T Risico is a great pub with traditional food at non touristy prices. They have a great selection of belgian beers, polite staff and a slightly quirky atmosphere. It's a bit further away from the centre square but you will find that it's not overcrowded and is a great place to end the day if you fancy a few bevvy's with your pals or family to reminisce on the day you've had and to rest your feet.

GETTING TO BRUGES


If you're starting your trip from Brussels, then there is a direct train that runs almost every other hour and takes approximately an hour and a half from Brussels Central Station. They currently have a promotion on where you can get a same day return ticket for half the price, so we only ended up paying 15 euros each - take note Britain! The trains were delayed and in total our train was delayed by 40 minutes, but we had no issues on the way back. They were heated and had two levels to them and was an overall comfortable experience. 

If you're coming from the UK, there are flights to Bruges from London, Belfast and Leeds but they are not direct and will cost you £300+, so your cheapest option is to get the Eurostar train or a bus from London (Flixbus offers tickets for 16 euros).

bruges

WHERE TO STAY IN BRUGES



  • Free Wi-Fi
  • Courtyard garden
  • Fitness area
  • Overlooks canals
  • 10 minute walk from the Market Square

Economy | Ibis Budget

  • Free Wi-Fi
  • Situated next to Bruges train station
  • 15 minute walk from centre of Bruges 
  • Continental breakfast available
  • Public parking available
  • Pets allowed


  • Free Wi-Fi
  • Situated behind Market Square
  • Complimentary breakfast
  • Bar specialising in 'Trappist' beers

That's about it! I'd recommend a day or two in Bruges as there isn't an extensive list of things to do and see but you can still make a weekend out of it. It is one of those places that is worth seeing just for its charm and culture. If you have any questions or would like more info just drop me a line in the comments!

Have you ever been to Bruges? What was your experience like?

G





10 GIFT IDEAS FOR FREQUENT TRAVELLERS (THAT THEY WILL ACTUALLY USE).

Monday, 17 December 2018

I have a lot of friends (and myself included) who are always on the move, and during this years Secret Santa one of my friends noted in her wish list 'nothing I can't take with me to Australia next year please!' so I thought I'd write this handy gift guide of presents that are actually useful to people who travel often, or for anyone who ever gets on a plane really. Whether you're looking to splurge on a big gift for a family member, or something to add to a stocking or Secret Santa gift - there's something for everyones budget in this travel gift guide. 

gifts for travel lovers

THINGS WE SHOULDN'T CARE ABOUT BECAUSE SOCIETY SAYS WE NEED TO.

Saturday, 15 December 2018

Most of my inspiration for my blog posts usually comes when I've had a glass of wine or two with friends and we get into a discussion about important world issues like Brexit, what the plan of action is for New Year's Eve and whether we have started using anti-wrinkle creams already. At the weekend, as we sat round my friends house with cheese and wine we got into a debate about plastic surgery, girls on social media, and basically how society has influenced the way we as females need to portray ourselves on the internet and IRL. So I thought I'd put this little post together on things we shouldn't give a damn about just because society says we need to.

tea with gi


1. How popular you are on the internet. 



You wouldn't throw away a polaroid picture because you didn't get 10 of your friends telling you they loved it would you? So then what is this nonsense of deleting photos on Instagram just because they don't hit a certain amount of likes? I know in the blogging world - your social media is an extended part of your 'business' - so engagement and audience do matter. That being said, I wouldn't be offended if only 20 people liked a photo of my avocado toast. It's a lot more important to have friends and family who value and love you in real life, than on the internet. 


2. How big your 'assets' are.


Nowadays it seems the only acceptable place to store fat in your body is on your boobs or your butt and sadly for most of us, we're not human barbie dolls and these proportions are very hard to achieve naturally. Yes, you can do 50 squats daily and grow that peachy bum you always wanted but sadly you can't grow your boobs with the help of some 5 minute workout. It's almost like if you don't have either of these you're 'less of a woman' or so society makes it out to be. I'm the first to admit I'd like my peaches to grow into melons so they'd be more in proportion with the rest of my figure, but there are days where I'm thankful for what I was given when I'm running up a hill braless or when I can wear a crop top without fearing I'm going to give an impromptu peep show. You just gotta work what you got girls. 

3. Hiding your 'unflattering' body parts.


Just the other day I spotted a magazine with Scarlett Johansson gracing the cover, beautiful as always followed with a picture of her backside circled to point out the 'horror' of her cellulite. I mean for me it was a relief - even goddesses like Scarlett Johansson have cellulite. It's something we should learn to embrace instead of cringing every time we have to flash our bumps, scars and lines to the world - after all 80% of us have one or the other and most of the time you simply can't prevent it. There's also no need to tear down other women for having the confidence to not cover themselves in 30 degree weather and showcase their 'insecurities'. Models like Iskra Lawrence and Charli Howard have been great on social media for promoting body positivity and unfiltered photos.

4.  Feeling guilty for changing things you're unhappy with. 


Now this point is something that is definitely up to the individual. Whilst we should all be happy and proud of the body that we came in, sometimes there are things that we're insecure about that we can change and if we have the means to do it - it shouldn't be anybody's business if we decide to do something about it. I know people who have been judged for getting lip-fillers, but I know for the individual their confidence has been boosted a lot because they felt their lips were like 'two flat lines' before. Or if you're in your 40s and feel like you want to keep your youth for longer then there's no shame in thinking about getting dermal fillers (especially because they're non-invasive). Nowadays people have a lot to say about people getting things done that don't effect them in anyway, but if you think something is going to improve your life and the way you see yourself, then don't let anyone else's opinion cloud your judgement.   

5. What you spend your money on. 


I know I've made a lot of jokes about people buying GG belts on here - but if somebody wanted to gift me one you can bet I'd be flashing it about on my first night out. It's just not something I'd choose to spend my money on, but if designer things are your vice then that's fine. Some people might think me spending 30% of my monthly wages on travelling is silly, but it's what makes me happy and what I enjoy. Maybe I could do with spending less money on buying rounds of shots on Friday nights though.

6. How much/little make-up you're wearing.


You can never win when it comes down to this - leave the house without wearing make-up and people comment on how tired you look and ask if you're feeling a bit under the weather, but if you slap on your favourite red lipstick before 9pm people are making comments on how you look like you're going to a gala dinner with Leo DiCaprio. At the end of the day, who bloody cares - if you love spending 2 hours doing your make-up because it's fun then do it, if you want to wear make-up to the gym (just please take off your foundation) then go ahead, if you prefer the au natural look then god bless your flawless skin. Incase any of my male readers are reading this, IT AIN'T FOR YOU. 

7. Your dating habits. 


Whether you prefer short flings, feel the need to always be in a relationship, or just don't fancy one. Why shouldn't we embrace being single and enjoy meeting new people? and on the other hand, there's nothing wrong with being comfortable being by yourself and rather be spending your nights tucked up in bed watching F.R.I.E.N.D.S with a tub of Morrison's vanilla raspberry ripple ice-cream. Too many people have the idea that finding true love is the only way you'll be happy, but then if you throw yourself out there and have a few fun but crazy nights, you're suddenly judged for being 'too wild'. As long as you're being safe and you're keeping your heart guarded, just do you boo boo. I f you want to hear more of my thoughts on this have a look at my 'this is how we date now' blog post. 



G

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* This post was written in collaboration with The Tooth Doctor but all words and opinions are my own *


A FANCY EVENING AT THE BARBARY ON GIBRALTAR'S SUNBORN YACHT.

Monday, 10 December 2018

If you're a regular on my blog, you may have spotted my post the other week about my brunch experience at The Barbary. After a lovely afternoon there, I was very happy to see an email land in my inbox inviting me back to try their dinner menu this time. Straight away I went on their website to check out what was on offer (anyone else look at the menu and decide what they're eating before they've even got to the restaurant?), and I'd already decided in my head on my starter, main and dessert before I'd even confirmed my visit. This time round I decided to take my mum with me and I'm glad I got to treat her to something. For those of you who are yet to visit The Barbary, their menu combines british, mediterranean and north african cuisines to bring us an explosion of flavour, spices and variety. So whether you're looking for some classics like fish and chips or a traditional vegetable Tagine there is something to cater for all palates. 



Whilst getting ready for this my mum asked me what I was wearing and after I told her my outfit choice she was all like 'you're wearing jeans to the Sunborn?!' - so I think she thought we were attending the Captain's dinner on a Cruise ship. The Barbary is a fancy restaurant but it's not pretentious either - it's somewhere you can go to in jeans and a nice top for a catch up with a friend, or dress elegantly for an anniversary dinner. The views in the evening are stunning and it does feel like you're having a fine dining experience on a modern day Titanic.

Once me and mum sat down we contemplated whether to order wine or not - but seeing as it was a Sunday we thought we'd keep it simple with a bottle of H2O. We were presented with the menus, and even though I mentioned I had previously decided on what I was going to order I found myself taking another look through because suddenly I realised there was a lot that looked good and I didn't know what I was in the mood for.

For starter - we shared a mezze plate of smoked aubergine with labneh, dukkah, walnuts pomegranate and cherry tomatoes (£6), and thinking back we should have probably asked for one each because half was not enough, it was delicious. I'm a big fan of pomegranate so anything that has that drizzled on is a yes from me. The flavours were great and the aubergine was cooked to a good level - not too soft or too hard. Originally I was going to opt for the hummus but my mum made a good point that I eat hummus at home on a daily basis and so I should be more adventurous in my choices.


For mains - my mum probably contemplated 3 other dishes before she finally went for the meat surf and turf (£28). I was originally thinking on the cinnamon spiced lamb shank but thinking ahead of dessert - I thought I better choose something lighter. So I went with the jospered sea bass which was accompanied with okra, pomegranate and saffron sour cream (£24). I really enjoyed my meal and the only thing I would have done differently is gone easier on the saffron sour cream as it's quite a strong 'sauce' and it overpowered the fish a bit. Again the pomegranate was a nice touch.


Finally for dessert, we decided to pick one each and then share. I suggested this because I was stuck between the raspberry cheesecake and the hazelnut pannacotta and so I hinted to my mum that these both sounded nice and luckily she agreed. As you can see at the top of this post, the cheesecake did not come in it's traditional layered form - but instead in little cute 'blobs' with crispy quinoa which was a nice touch. It was so thick and creamy that I could have probably have gone for seconds.

I really am a fan of this restaurant and think for a special evening it really is one of the nicest places in Gibraltar. From the service to the views, to the location and quality of the food - it is really an all round great dining experience.


Have you been to The Barbary yet? Where is your favourite place to eat at in Gibraltar?

G



* I was invited to The Barbary to review their dinner menu but all words and opinions are my own *









24 HOURS OF WAFFLES, CHOCOLATE AND SIGHT-SEEING IN BRUSSELS, BELGIUM.

I've had quite a few city breaks this year, which means I've got quite good at condensing my trips and making sure we see as much as possible in a short space of time. Last year I treated my mum to a trip to Copenhagen, and this year after searching on SkyScanner and seeing where we could fly direct to through Malaga Airport, we decided on Brussels (and Bruges but I'll save all that for the next post). Brussels, also known as the European capital of culture (and EU politics) had a lot to offer in terms of food, drink and activities. Even though we didn't have a lot of time to explore, we still managed to pack quite a lot in and get a taste of Brussels vibrant culture. Here's my guide to a day in Brussels, Belgium.

tea with gi brussels guide


10AM | GO SEE THE SIGHTS.


The first thing you usually do when visiting a new city, is Google 'things to see is Brussels' which is exactly what I did. After reading a couple of Pinterest posts I compiled a list of the things that were worth seeing and that you could walk to (apart from the Atomium, you'll have to take the metro for that). 

  • Grand Palace 
  • Town Hall
  • Manneken Pis - be prepared to be dissappointed. 
  • Jeanneke Pis
  • The Monnaie Opera
  • St Nicolas' Church
  • The Royal Square
  • Mont des Arts - especially beautiful at sunset or in the evening. 
  • Atomium
  • Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert - here you will find the chocolate shop Mary's where you can try the new fourth type of chocolate - Ruby.
  • St. Michael and St. Gudula Cathedral - If you ask a local, they'll tell you this is the church of St. Gudula not St. Michael, and her 'miracle' was lighting a candle that had gone out in the forest.              

grand place brussels

12:30PM | LUNCH AT LES FILLES


This place was very homely and the food was delicious and you definitely got your moneys worth. The menu changes everyday and all their ingredients are fresh and organic. They start by serving you a starter (usually a soup, salad or homemade terrine). There is then a buffet of lovely home cooked food and dessert for you to help yourself to - although buffets are always dangerous for me because I don't know when to stop. 

1:30PM | MINI-EUROPE AND ATOMIUM.


So I had a mind blank on what the proper name for the Atomium was so had to google 'ball monument in Brussels' and voila. It's not a very exciting thing to see but it is right next Mini-Europe* which on the other hand, is very cute and interesting for all ages. The attraction is just as it suggests, it allows you to get a glimpse of most of Europe in just a couple of hours - thanks to their 350 models representing different landmarks and sites from around the continent.

mini europe brussels


mini europe brussels

We got a lovely day for it as the sun was shining, which meant we could get all those great pics for the gram. We saw models from over 90 countries - there were the expected ones such as the Eiffel Tower and The Eiffel Tower but I was impressed to see some other places that I'd visited on my travels before. Such as the Szechenyi thermal baths in Budapest and the Blue Church in Bratislava that I saw IRL just a couple of weeks ago! Sadly the Rock of Gibraltar hasn't quite made it to Mini-Europe, but here's hoping we will see it there someday!

bratislava mini europe

There were guides available to give you information and details about each monument and tell you stories about each one - so if you've ever wanted to find out the origin of 'Big Ben', why the Venetian gondolas are black, or why there are more saunas than cars in Finland then this is the place to do it all in under 2 hours.

mini europe

We were kindly given complimentary access to the park for the purpose of this post, but standard prices for the park are 15.50 euros for adults, and 11.50 euros for children. 

3PM | WAFFLE AND CHOCOLATE TIME. 


I didn't know it was possible to do so much damage in two days. If I thought we'd had too much chocolate in 1 day in Brussels, we topped that when we went to Bruges the following day. Belgium is mostly famous for two things - chocolate and chips, so of course in every corner you will find a Chocolatier and frites shops. Neuhaus is a chain that sells good quality chocolate, and the general rule is that if the boxes look to cheap to be true, then they're probably not made in a very fair-traded manner. What we did is go in to every other shop and buy a couple of individual chocolates and cuberdons (like a hard jelly with a sugary outer crust and a gooey inside). 

Since it was getting a bit chilly, we stopped inside Gaufres de Bruxelles for a vanilla latte and waffle. I opted for a 'Gaufre de Liege' which I thought meant it was lighter, but alas they are both just as calorific guys. I covered mine in Dulce de Leche and it was worth every calorie. 

gaufres de bruxelles

4PM | FREE WALKING TOUR OF BRUSSELS 


If you're short on time then I always recommend free walking tours because they're a good way to see most of the points of interest and find out what's so interesting about them. We got a lovely guide called Adalin and you could really tell he was passionate about his country (and beer). It always helps when they're actually from the country and not someone who moved there two years ago, as they really give you an insight into the culture and their own personal stories and views. I can confidently say I've retained 80% of the information and stories he shared with us - and I even found myself Googling 'Queen Fabiola' to see pictures of her with an apple on her head at a ceremony, which she did to mock the guy who was sending her death threats.

I also managed to drink a whole pint of beer for the first time in my life, because after being the only person to raise my hand in a group of 30 when asked 'who here doesn't like beer', our guide promised me that there was a Belgian beer that I was going to enjoy - kriek! Simply because it was made from sour morello cherries, and I love my cherries.

kriek beer


The walking tour takes place at 10am, 11am and 4pm from the Grand Place/Grote Markt everyday. I suggest you get there a bit earlier simply so you can take in the beauty of the square - it's probably one of the most beautiful ones I've seen.

7:30PM | DINNER AT MANHATTN'S BURGERS


If you're staying in the centre of Brussels then this place might be a bit of a walk away (30 mins) or a couple of stops away to Louisa Metro station. Since this happened to be where our hotel was it was only a 10 minute walk away from us. These burgers were gooooood. The place is very New York burger joint-esque with its yellow bulbs and of course each burger is named after a place or thing associated to New York. I went for the Rockefeller burger which was your standard cheese, bacon , BBQ sauce and caramelised onions one and I was very content with it. They also served a 'special' sauce with the fries which I think was a blend of mayo, mustard and something slightly spicy. 



Once your tummy is nice and full I think the only thing you're going to want to do is go and flop in your nice hotel bed and fall asleep within 2 minutes. Now for some practical information. 

WHERE TO STAY IN BRUSSELS

Accommodation in Brussels tends to be on the more expensive side, but if you book in advance or you're fine staying in budget hotels/hostels then you shouldn't have a problem. We stayed at the very charming boutique hotel Made in Louise which was 5 metro stops away from Brussels Central station, or a 30 minute walk. However Louisa is where you can find many shops and nice restaurants and is one of the nicest areas of Brussels. 

made in louise brussels


As much as I love being treated to 5 star hotels, there's something more homely and cosy about staying in smaller boutique hotels that have more of its individual character to them. We stayed in a standard double room and it had all the basics we needed - a desk, a bath/shower, comfy pillows and free Wi-Fi. I thought a nice touch was that in the bathroom they gave you a little kit complete with wipes, cotton buds, and a hair net. There was complimentary tea/coffee/herbal teas in the reception area, and a more extensive snack area with things you could purchase. Breakfast was also served for 10 euros per person. 

made in louise brussels

GETTING AROUND IN BRUSSELS 


Once you're in the centre you can see most of the sites by foot, but as mentioned to see the Atomium and Mini-Europe you will have to get the metro. To get from the airport to the centre, we took a direct train that took 20 minutes and cost us 9 euros. We took a taxi on our way back to the airport and it cost us 35 euros through the hotel. Metro journeys cost 1.50 euros per single journey, or you can buy a day ticket for 7 euros. The lines are pretty easy to understand and come quite often. 


That's it guys! I actually liked Brussels a lot more that I thought I would. I thought it was just going to be some business hub with little character, but it was the complete opposite. I also liked that I got to practice my French and felt smug when I could buy my train tickets in French (don't worry you can change it to English). What I noticed about the city is that it is a very multi-cultural place and everyone seemed very welcoming - I'd deffo like to come back. Have you every been to Brussels yourself? What were your highlights? 

G

* I received complimentary entry to Mini-Europe and a media rate for our hotel stay - but all words and opinions are my own *


brussels travel guide


STORIES OF MY LIFE | MY JAW SURGERY EXPERIENCE, 8 YEARS LATER.

Saturday, 8 December 2018

This post is long overdue, but since I wasn't blogging back when I was 16 the only way I could share my story and experience was through Facebook status updates. The other day I bumped into a friend  who told me that their partner was having the same surgery that I had, and I advised that if they had any questions to just drop me a message. The great thing about having a blog is that it allows me to share my experiences with people and be a point of reference for things other people may also be curious about - such as laser hair removal or laser eye surgery. I know whenever I'm getting anything done the first thing I do is either get in touch with people who have gone through the same thing or find people's stories on Google. Which is why I'd like to share my experience today on my corrective jaw surgery that I had in 2010. 

tea with gi

What is corrective jaw surgery?


Just as it sounds, corrective jaw surgery corrects the placement of the jaw - whether you have an open-bite, under-bite (your lower jaw sits further forward than your top), or an over-bite where your top jaw sits too far forward. 

What procedure did I have done and where? 


I had my surgery conducted at Morriston Hospital in Swansea, Wales - and I spent around 5 days there (it would have been less, but I also got hit with appendicitis). My surgeon was great and he is quite known for performing cleft lip operations and for reconstructive surgery. 

My procedure was a bit complicated. The whole issue probably started when I was 9 years old because I was still sucking my thumb whenever I'd be watching tv, reading in bed, or doing anything at home really. The problem with my thumb being in my mouth all the time, was that my top teeth weren't able to grow down to their natural place - so I was left with an open bite that braces couldn't fix. I tried braces anyway, which after 2 years did all they could do, but when I bit down I was still left with gap at the front that could fit a sidewards olive through. 

After consulting with my dentist, he advised me that surgery would only fix my bite for now, but in a couple of years there would be a chance of my teeth moving again.  So in the end I had to make my problem worse for it to get better. I had to get metal rings inserted between all my bottom back teeth to 'move' my teeth and jaw forward, and elastics attached to my braces to change my bite. So essentially, they created an underbite over the span of a couple of months so that with surgery they could permanently fix it and the open bite together in one go.  

The operation. 


In the end I had my bottom jaw moved 8mm back and my top jaw moved 3mm forward, my chin bone was also made more prominent, and in moving the position of the jaw I found that the profile of my nose also changed as it was tilted slightly more upwards. I was in surgery for around 6 hours, initially it was meant to be 4, but things still went smoothly. I had two metal screws inserted on the side of my jaw (near my ears) and a small metal plate on my chin bone - strangely enough none of these beep when I'm going through airport security. 

I was told from other people that I'd be on a liquid diet for 2 weeks after, so beforehand I literally pigged out on everything I liked - only to be told by the doctor that I could go back to eating regular foods within 2 days - oops. Although that wasn't really the case, it took me two months before I could open wide enough and bite down on a KitKat Crunchie. I spent the first week or so eating soft foods like jacket potato with tuna, soup etc. and nothing that required a hard bite (or a wide mouth). 

The months following after. 


These weren't easy - I opened up on another post about how I went through a time of depression. I was getting bullied at school because my face was swollen up like a pufferfish for months, and I didn't want to leave the house or go out at night because I felt like people were staring at me. It took around a year for all of my swelling to disappear, and once that dark storm had passed things only went up hill from there. 

I started gaining my confidence back, had started a-levels again and was ready for a new start. I got my braces removed in the summer and soon after booked myself for laser teeth whitening to complete my new smile (might as well after everything else I had been through!). I can't stress enough though if you are thinking of having your teeth whitened, to make sure you do it through a dental clinic as with at-home kits you run the risk of damaging your teeth or increasing their sensitivity. I know someone who bought a kit from eBay and they got a gum infection and their teeth ended up turning more yellow and had constant bleeding gums. I had my teeth whitening done in a clinic and it means you know you're getting the correct treatment and that it's safe, causing minimum damage to your teeth.

I think after everything I went through with my mouth this definitely helped boost my confidence, and for a period of time I just wanted to flash my teeth as much as possible. The effects you get straight after laser teeth whitening won't stay like that forever, but if you follow a good dental hygiene routine then they should at least stay nice and white. 

8 years later - do I have any regrets?


None whatsoever. Even though I went through a tough period of my life after my operation, what I got out of it in the long run trumps that. I finally have a smile I'm not embarrassed to show, I can actually use my front teeth to tear mayonnaise packets, and my thumb-sucking habit is long gone. I do sometimes wonder what my face would have looked like had I not had surgery, but the fact is my face changed so much prior to my operation when preparing for it that essentially my 24 year old face could have gone 3 ways! I know we all preach about being happy with the body that you came in, but if you think changing something will have a positive effect on you and your wellbeing, then you do you.

tea with gi



G



* This post was written in collaboration with Pembroke Dental but all words and opinions are my own *









10 LITTLE THINGS WE CAN ALL DO TO HELP THE ENVIRONMENT.

Thursday, 29 November 2018

Whether you're a blogger, influencer, youtuber, or just a person with a social media account on the internet. I think every now and again we should be using our platforms to spread a bit of awareness and positivity. Twitter is especially good for this - I really think that platform brings to light a lot of matters. So today, I'd like to talk about ways we can all do our bit for the environment, starting from home. 

tea with gi environment

1. Guys, Recycle!


If you're going to do one thing then this should probably be where to start. I know for a lot of people it might seem like a hassle to wash out your cans before throwing them and shiz but it really doesn't take up that much more of your time. We took the initiative in the office as well and have boxes dedicated to plastic and cardboard, which I nicely decorated with pictures. This doesn't just have to be in terms of your rubbish - if you are renovating your home then choosing to buy 'second-hand' rooms can also be cost-effective and helpful. Used Kitchen Exchange recycle and resell old kitchens, and if you have a look at their website some of these units are beautiful. They also go the extra mile by recycling old kitchens that can't be sold. 

2. Buy a re-usable bag.


I'm the first to say there are many times where I'm in the supermarket and I've forgotten to bring mine with me. So unless I'm only carrying 2 apples I'm gonna have to buy one (but they are reusable!). I bought a cute one from ale-hop for a couple of euros and I use it most days to carry my food to work and other bits. 

3. Stop buying plastic bottles.


I'm proud to say I haven't bought a plastic bottle of water in a loooong time. Although I did take the complimentary one from my hotel in Bucharest. Amazon sells a large variety of pretty aluminium bottles in all sizes, so you can make sure it fits into your gym bag or backpack (or if you want to make sure you're getting your 2L a day). 

4. Try and cook with what you have first.


The amount of food we waste is incredible, so a good habit to get into is cooking with the stuff you have in your fridge and pantry before you go and do another Asda shop. When I was in uni I'd try and be really healthy and buy loads of veg and then by the end of the week I'd have to throw half of it because it had gone bad - so that's another thing to watch out for. 

5. Be more digital.

40% of the world’s commercially cut timber is used for paper (oooooo look at me bringing in facts), and really a lot of the time we don't really need to take things back to old school paper and pen. I always find it such a waste when businesses print all these brochures and flyers when we know that we consume stuff better through the digital world. This Christmas, sending cards via Paperless Post might also be a good alternative. 

6. Make the most of public transport.


I mean I do this anyway because I still don't have my driving license, but even if I did I think it would be more hassle to take out my car, drive for 10 minutes, and have to find a parking space on my way home than to just take the free bus system that Gibraltar has. Or, if the sun is shining and the birds are singing, walk! (if it's less than half an hour away of course).

7. Eat a little less meat (and dairy).


I'm not vegan, although I did take part in Veganuary in January and I'm hoping to do the same in 2019. The Environmental Working Group found that red meat is responsible for 10 to 40 times as many greenhouse emissions as common vegetables and grains - so we could do with cutting it out of our diets for a day or two. If you need a little bit of inspiration I asked 15 vegans what their favourite recipes were

8. Participate in clean-ups.


Now and again my family take part in beach clean-ups and it makes for quite a rewarding day out. I'm not saying you have to go picking up everyones rubbish you see on the street because, gross - but giving something back to the community now and again is good. 

9. Become a shower person.


To be honest I've never been much of a bath person - I get bored easily and it's horrible getting out into the cold once the water has gone cold. I much prefer a sing in the shower with boiling water to wash away my sins. 


10. Turn off the bloody lights!!


That's all. 



Do you do any of these yourself? Would love to know what else you do to help the environment! 

G


* This post was written in collaboration with UKE but all words and opinions are my own *


CAN WE ALL STOP TREATING LIFE LIKE A COMPETITION?

Tuesday, 27 November 2018

Well guys, it has been a hot minute since my last evening rant. I think the last one was about how 'life doesn't have to be exciting all the time' back in July, and now I'm here to talk about how it doesn't have to be a competition either. Once you hit your 20s or have finished university, it feels like it's a race to the finish line on who can snatch up a husband or wife first, who can land the best job out of uni, who can have the most unique travel experience and/or whatever other life experience can be reduced to a 'check - done that'. I'm here to tell you, that nobody is keeping tabs because we don't all want the same things out of life. 

tea with gi


For me, the biggest stressor in my life right now is getting my driving license. Not because I've necessarily felt like I can't live without it (because I can walk mostly everywhere I need to and I have nothing against public transport) but because 80% of my circle have theirs and the question that always pops up is 'when are you going to get your license?' or 'you're 24 and still don't know how to drive' and I hate feeling like I need to rely on people or being 'the only one who hasn't got their license'. I think a part of me just wants to get the test over and done with so that I can say I've checked that off my 'grown-up list' and not because I am dying to go and drive around in circles in my tiny country. I admittedly also hate being bad at things, and me and reverse up hill parking just don't go well - so I'd rather keep prolonging taking the test rather than failing. Even though only 47.1% of people pass their test first time (yes I just Googled that to make myself feel better) so failing wouldn't mean the end of the world.

Sorry I went off on a bit of a tangent there guys - back to the point. We all know a bit of competition is healthy, in sport and things where it actually matters. When it comes to the way we live our lives the only person we should be competing with is ourselves. If we're constantly trying to outdo one another then we're never going to be happy or satisfied. Whether it be trying to weigh less than your friend who is 20cm shorter than you, not being happy in your job just because you're earning less than your friends, or feeling frustrated because you feel things aren't falling into place for you as soon as it is for others. Just remember what your personal goals are and what is important to you.

I'm at the age where some of my friends are married, two are pregnant, one has landed her dream job, one has found a girlfriend after being single for 25 years, some are about to go travel the world and one has just bought her own house with no help. Do I want all of these things? Yes, but I'm not expecting them all to happen overnight and I'm ok with that. I'm happy to just ride along and we should all be happy going at our own pace, we all get to finish line eventually, tortoise and the hare and all that.


G





A GIRLY (OR ROMANTIC) WEEKEND IN MILAN, ITALY.

Monday, 26 November 2018

November has been an exciting month for me - in between one thing and another I don't think I've worked a full working week this month! Since 2013, me and my friend Sarah-Jane have been meeting up for 5SOS gigs, and since it was going to cost me £250 to fly to London I thought, why don't we meet in Milan for £40? I'd previously visited other parts of Italy on a cruise but this was my first time visiting the fashion capital. Milan is definitely one of those cities that you can escape to for just a weekend, as we did everything we wanted to do. Here's my guide to a girly weekend in Milan, Italy. 



Where to Stay in Milan, Italy. 


We stayed at the Antica Locanda Leonardo which was a 15 minute walk from the Duomo and a couple of minutes away from the church that houses The Last Supper painting. We actually didn't get round to seeing this because tickets sell out months in advance, so if you are interesting in seeing it make sure you check early. There are also ways of seeing it if you book onto it as part of another tour.

The boutique hotel was very quaint and had cute little patio and the best part was, there was sockets next to the bed woo!! We paid around 140 euros each for 3 nights which isn't too bad for the centre of Milan. My only issue was that my first night the room got very hot and an open window or turning the aircon on didn't seem to help - so I just slept in my underwear starfished on the bed.

antica locanda leonardo

Getting around in Milan, Italy. 


I flew in to Malpensa airport, and from there I took a direct 45 minute train to Cardona station and I then had a 6 minute walk to my hotel. There were two trains every hour and start from 5am. There is also another direct route from Malpensa airport that takes you to Milan Centre.

Once you're in the city, you can pretty much walk around to all the sights of interest or get the metro. A single journey on the metro will cost you 1.5 euros. 

Castello Sforzesco



DAY ONE 



Breakfast - Colonial Cafe


We started off our day with a coffee and chocolate croissant at the Colonial Cafe. One thing I found with most places is that 'to go' coffee isn't a thing - perhaps because paper cups ruin the coffee and in Italy it might be quite insulting. Either way I was happy to sit and drink my latte in the cosy cafe whilst catching up with my friend Sarah-Jane who I hadn't seen in over 3 years. 

AM | See the sights (or get your Instagram shots)


The obvious place to start is at the Duomo Milano. This cathedral is covered with more than 3400 statues and really is one of the most beautiful work of architecture I have come across. We only saw it from the outside but you can buy tickets for the Duomo online for 14 euros to take a tour from the inside and see the great views of the city. If you're very comitted to the IG cause you're going to have to get here before 8am - or else you'll be surrounded by tourists and an equal amount of pigeons. 

Next up, you'll come across the shops in Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II to the left of the Cathedral - which is where you will find Louis Vuitton, Prada, Versace and all your other high end stores. Even if you don't plan to do any shopping it's a beautiful passageway to explore. Every shop opened here has to have the same black and gold shop sign, so even McDonald's had to comply, until it was moved outside the gallery and reverted to its original logo. The Gallery was built in 1865 and sadly the architect, Giuseppe Mengoni died a couple of days before the opening, because he was checking something on the roof and slipped.

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II

A short 8 minute walk from here, you'll get to the San Bernardino church, but the point of interest here lies in the Ossuary - a room full of bones and skulls. This might not be for everyone but it was quite an interesting sight to see. 

Another 20 minute walk, will lead you to the Castello Sforzesco which isn't that big so again it's just a nice walk through to feel like you're in an episode of Game of Thrones. This will also lead you to Parco Sempione which is Milan's version of Hyde Park (kinda) and then eventually the Porta Sempione (triumphal arch).

San Bernardino


Lunch | Fisherman Pasta 


After seeing all the morning sights we wanted to head towards the Brera district as it's quite quirky and has some nice cafes, restaurants and shops. On the way we came across Fisherman Pasta and it stood out to us because of its nautical interior and well, who doesn't want pasta when they're in Italy? I got a plate of black ravioli filled with seabass for 10 euros (you can choose two portion sizes) - although I always make the mistake of ordering ravioli/tortellini because usually they only bring 4-5 large ones and well, I like my carbs.

fisherman pasta


PM | Explore some of the other districts


Milan hasn't got a ton of things to do, so you'll have time to venture out and explore some of the other areas. Brera is only a 15 minute walk from the centre and we also stumbled upon Rosa&Co which to be honest is a bit overpriced but it's a great place aesthetically. I payed 5.50 euros for a matcha bubble tea.

rosaco


From here you can take the nearest metro to Porto Genova to reach the Navigli district which is where you'll find the picturesque canals, buzzing atmosphere and cute little shops. Here you can see the Washerwoman’s alley and the Basilica di San Lorenzo church.



Dinner | Aperitivo in Navigli 


In Italy, an 'Aperitivo' is a drink and small meal had in the early evening to get you ready for all the festivities after. We'd run out of stuff to look at so we ended up having ours at MoMo at the slightly British time of 5:30pm. Most places offer this 'Happy Hour' between 6pm - 9pm and for 10 euros you can buy a drink of your choice (Aperol Spritz for me) and access to a buffet. Make sure to walk down the canal first and see which one draws your eye the most!

aperitivo


Afters | Old Fashion


A girly weekend to Milan obviously wouldn't be complete without a boogie in Italia. After extensive research, I trusted the internet with Old Fashion and we had a blast. If you go on the website 24 hours before you can get a complimentary guestlist, and once that sells out tickets for women are 10 euros and that also gets you a drink (drinks inside cost 10 euros too). It's quite a fancy looking club but there were a range of people there, not just the snobby. There was one room playing house and chart music and another playling RnB and Reggaeton, so of course we didn't go home until 4:30am. 



DAY TWO


AM | Walking tour of Milan 


Assuming you're not hanging too much from the evening before, then Walkabout's free Milan walking tour  is a great way to learn about the history of the city, see the sights and learn about the culture and stories that the guide books don't tell you. I do a 'free' walking tour in almost every city I visit, and this has to actually be in the top 3. Despite being the longest (3.5 hours), I was actually switched on the whole time and our guide Marco was very enthusiastic, flamboyant and funny. Whoever I'm with I always 'test' them at the end by asking them to tell me 3 facts they learnt and vice versa. I won't tell you about anything I learnt so that if you take this tour you're not listening to it for a second time!

milan walking tour


Lunch | Pizza Meucci 


We were this close to just stopping at one of the tourist traps near the Duomo because it was 2:30pm and we were hungry. Thankfully we walked a little bit further and stumbled upon Pizza Meucci. It's a tiny place and you can tell that it was somewhere that's popular with the locals. A pizza here cost us 5 euros and they had quite an extensive variety (including Hawaiian but I decided to opt for prosciutto e funghi as to not insult the Italians.

pizza meucci


PM | Shop, nap, or get the train to Lake Como


So the main reason we came to Milan was for a 5 Seconds of Summer concert, which meant we used this window to pop into a few shops (Bath and Body Works, Tiger) and then have a quick power nap before getting ready for the show. If you don't fancy doing the walking tour or want to fit it into day one, then I'd also recommend using your second day to take a trip to Lake Como as it's only a 45 minute train ride away and it's apparently beautiful.

navigili


Dinner | Pomet Burger


I never usually opt for burgers when eating out at home, so when I travel I do try and find the quirkiest burger place around. SJ helped me out with this and found POMET Burger. There were a lot of websites claiming they had the best burgers in Milan and to be honest, they were pretty good. Prices were around 12 euros for a burger and fries.


Milan is definitely a city you can fit in a weekend break without using up any of your annual leave, or it's fairly easy to get to if you want to do a tour of Italy in two weeks or so! Have you ever been to Milan or other parts of Italy? What were your highlights?

G


A BRUNCH FIT FOR QUEENS AT THE SUNBORN'S BARBARY RESTAURANT.

Monday, 19 November 2018

Last weekend I was kindly invited to Sunday Brunch with my friend Gabby (so thankfully I didn't have to go for a lonely meal for 1) at the Sunborn's new restaurant - The Barbary. This was my first time dining at the Sunborn and although it might be a little pricier than your average Sunday brunch, the quality and variety was worth it. The Barbary is located on the 7th deck of the Sunborn Yacht which means you get some great views and it was only when I went to use the bathroom I remembered I was on a boat because I could feel the movement more. Now on to the food, here's a little story about my dining experience. 

the barbary gibraltar


Upon arrival, we were showed to our table and a waiter explained to us that the brunch included an all you could buffet for £24 per person (kids under 12 eat for free). For adults this also included a welcome drink and some very lovely jazz music. If you've got a big appetite then you are also given the option to order a meat or fish platter for an extra £14 per person, we had the meat and the rib meat literally fell right off the bone, very delicious. Although unless you're trying to hit 400g of protein in a day then the buffet should be more than enough. 

the barbary gibraltar


I'd consider it more on the lunch than breakfast side of the spectrum, because the buffet included (just to name a few) - salmon rolls filled with cream cheese, nuggets, burgers, a variety of hummus, sushi, your standard full english, prawn cocktails, salads, a wide selection of cheeses and ham and my favourite part - a white chocolate fondue with marshmallows to dip. Dessert also included passion fruit cheesecake, pancakes, chocolate cake, caramel cake and Haribo sweets - I think these were aimed for the kids but who doesn't love a gummy fried egg



The service was impeccable, the staff was attentive and pleasant and made everyone in that room feel like a VIP - at least we felt like it. I think the only downside to my visit was that I had eaten a bowl of cornflakes at 11am, and thus I couldn't sample all the desserts and stayed dreaming about the chocolate cake for the rest of the day. Overall, it might not be very economical to go there every weekend (unless you're part of The Real Housewives of Gibraltar and need a gathering spot), but I think it's a great place to go for a special occasion or now and again, as for the amount of food you get £25 isn't that bad (if you're just paying for yourself). 


Have you ever been to any of the restaurants on the Sunborn? Are you more of a breakfast or lunch person? 

G





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