Monday 30 March 2020

Over the last few weeks, I've had 6 friends' birthdays take place. In between me travelling and everyone self-isolating due to the coronavirus, we haven't actually got to celebrate any of them *sad times*. Luckily thanks to the internet, it's still easy to FT and say happy birthday or create a IG story post for them - who doesn't love being tagged in embarrassing old photos? It also means you don't have to physically see your friends or family to send them a present. Here are some gift ideas for any birthdays you have coming up! 

Browns Rosa Mer Collection - gifted

Under £20

The Sims 4  - the fact we all have a lot more time on our hands now means that we can get away with wasting several hours playing this. The game is currently at 75% off (£8.74), and if your friend already plays The Sims, why not buy them an expansion pack? 

Personal Growth Book - everyone has different tastes when it comes to reading, but pretty much everyone can benefit from reading a self-help or personal growth book. Some popular ones include 'Get Sh*t Done by Jeffrey Gitomer' 'you are a badass by Jen Sincero' and 'The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle'. 

Under £50

Eyeshadow Palette - my sister is the easiest person to buy for because she's very into her make-up, so every year I just buy her a new palette. The Morphe palettes are good quality for money, as you get 50 high pigmented colours in it for £24. 

An 'out out' outfit - if you know this person (and their style) pretty well, why not order one or a few items for their next night out? and we all know it's going to be a big one after the world finally defeats this virus. 

Under £100 

Event tickets - sadly the likelihood of attending any events over the next few months is slim, but a lot of artists are announcing tours for 2021 (a.k.a Harry Styles), so that is a safer bet. Even better if you can find something that you're both a fan of, so you can treat yourself too! 

Over £100

Jewellery - if you're looking to splurge a bit more, you can never go wrong with a pair of earrings (just make sure they have their ears pierced first). I very kindly received a pair of aquamarine and diamond stud earrings (£150) from Browns jewellery and I can't wait for the day to come that I can get dressed up to wear them. They are crafted from 9ct white gold and I love how the aquamarine gemstone shines in the light, without looking too blue. 

Air-pods - so I didn't actually know these were that expensive, I thought they cost £70! Turns out they start at £159. I wasn't that bothered about these because I have wireless headphones for the gym, but I borrowed my boyfriend's and well,  I now want a pair of my own *hint hint*. 



Sunday 8 March 2020

New Zealand had been high on my list for a long time, although being from Gibraltar means that it isn't the easiest or cheapest place to get to. But after doing a working holiday in Australia, planning a trip to the neighbouring country suddenly seemed a lot more doable. I spent 10 days travelling around the North Island of New Zealand with the help of skip bus. Stopping in Auckland, Rotorua, Taupo and finally the capital, Wellington. These were my favourite 'must do' experiences. 

teawithgi tongariro crossing

1. Hobbiton Movie Set (Rotorua)

Probably the most visited attraction in the whole of New Zealand, is the Lord of The Rings and The Hobbit movie set. The attraction is in Matamata but there are tours running from Auckland and Rotorua and tickets are priced at $84NZD (£40). This includes transfers to the site and a guided tour around The Shire. Between us, I've only ever seen the first LODR movie so me and my friends just watched the trailers to the rest of the franchise films the night before.

hobbiton movie set

2. White Water Rafting (Rotorua)

This was super fun aside from the 2 minutes I got stuck in a rapid and my life flashed before my eyes. I'd never gone rafting before so I wasn't quite sure what to expect, apart from there was a high chance of us falling into water, in January. The team at Kaitiaki Adventures were so much fun and full of energy and it definitely added to the whole experience. We got to slide down the world's highest commercially wafter 7m waterfall, and none of us fell out of the raft! (the same can't be said for everyone).


3. Tongariro Alpine Crossing (Taupo)

Doing this trek first made Mount Batur in Bali seem like a walk in the park. This trek isn't for everyone, it's challenging and cold but the views are amazing. We made the stupid mistake of only bringing a t-shirt and jumper and forgot to factor in that the top of the mountain was going to be significantly colder. We were walking so fast to warm ourselves up that the 0 degrees temperature didn't hit us as hard. The track is 19.4km long and takes around 6 hours to complete. The best time to visit is between November and April, otherwise you'll need alpine skills to combat the snow, ice and sub-zero temperatures (definitely not for me). 

Even if you're not the fittest, you are given plenty of time to complete the hike at your own pace, as you're picked up at 5am. Just make sure you bring at least 1.5 litres of water, layers, a ham sandwich (never has the reward of a ham sandwich tasted so good) and waterproofs. 

tongariro alpine crossing

4. Bungy Jumping (Taupo)

Some people go on holiday to relax by the pool or get a massage done, and others voluntarily throw themselves off a cliff. I don't know if I would have been able to do it if the jump was over ground, instead it was over Waikato River. It's a 47m jump which you can do by yourself or tandem, and although their website states that you can 'touch the water with your fingers' I was dunked like a doughnut. As you can imagine the video was quite entertaining for my friends and family to watch. I think the scariest part was actually jumping off the edge, I felt like Wendy when she's made to walk the plank in Peter Pan but then once that's over you kind of want to get up there and do it again. The Taupo Bungy costs $185NZD. 

taupo bungy

5. Eat ice cream (Auckland) 

I'm not talking about a regular scoop of ice-cream - this is a unique, overpriced and gluttonous experience. Giapo's serves a range of unique ice-cream flavours and there's a variety of ways to have it. Including on a weird octopus chocolate cone, a set of lips and on a 'selfie' cone. There's usually a queue for this place, as once you're in you're talked through the process and get to sample all 12 flavours before you choose which one you'd like to go for. I chose the 'hokey pokey' flavour which is unique to NZ (vanilla ice cream with honeycomb pieces) and had it 'a little bit melted'. 

giapo ice cream auckland

Which of these activities would be up your street? If you've been to New Zealand, what were some of your favourite things to do?


what to do north island new zealand


Thursday 5 March 2020

[this is a collaborative post but all words and opinions are my own.]

The current state of the world has forced a lot of couples not living together into online or long-distance relationships, because of household lockdown rules. My partner is currently on the other side of the world so even as lockdown rules start to ease in individual countries, some of us still have to wait a bit longer until border restrictions are lifted *sad times*. Whether your country is still preventing meet ups, or you finally get to see your partner soon, here are a list of date ideas whether online or in person. 

1. Open a bottle of wine. 

If you're an extrovert, chances are you've had a few FT or zoom calls with friends or partners throughout the lockdown period including alcohol am I right?  In my case there is a 8 hour time difference with my boyfriend, so I have to make sure I have a pretty big lunch before starting the day drinks on a Saturday. If you want to make things more interesting, you could use the time to ask each some deep questions about them and your relationship (Thought Catalog has loads). 

2. Watch a film together on Netflix Party. 

It's not quite the same as going to the cinema, but at least you can chat about the movie without disturbing anyone right? The Netflix Party is a Google Chrome extension and allows you to share what you're watching with someone else. Your screens will sync so the movie will start/stop at the same time, and there is also a chat option on the side.  

3. Play games using the House Party app. 

Everyone went crazy for this app back in March and then the hype kind of died down, but if you enjoy playing games then you'll enjoy this if you can't be in the same room as your partner. You can video chat whilst also playing 'guess the drawing' or heads up or trivia questions. 

4. Send each other a surprise takeaway. 

Who doesn't love free food? If you know what your partner likes then either plan to send each other a surprise take away and then eat together on FT or maybe don't tell them and just send a pizza to their door without their knowledge, no one will ever be disappointed with that! 

5. Buy something nice for when you get to reunite. 

One of the biggest struggles for couples being apart during lockdown is the lack of intimacy and being able to touch your partner. But it's also nice to think about how great it will feel when you'll finally get to hug them, and another things. Have your partner pick out some sexy lingerie for you or leave the element of surprise and pick out a few things yourself. 

6. Have a picnic in the park. 

So in a lot of countries it is now fine for you to meet up in a park with members of another household, but if restaurants aren't open yet then why not go old school and put together a picnic in the park. Buy some rose, bring a blanket, and if you're not up for preparing food just bring along a meal deal. 

7. Be tourists in your hometown. 

Since it may be a few months until we can travel abroad again, why not plan a day out 'from a tourists point of view' in your own town or city? You'll be surprised what places close to home you haven't actually visited or restaurants that you pass by everyday that you've never eaten in. 



Monday 2 March 2020

I've been travelling around for two months and I'm finally back home, and it feels so good to just be able to do nothing and not feel guilty about it. This generation is so obsessed with being constantly busy, when all it does is wear us out and empty our pockets. I'm currently in self-isolation for two weeks because I had travelled to Vietnam (no symptoms, don't worry) so I've definitely had to think of creative ways to keep myself occupied or entertained. The uncertainty of Covid means that a lot of us have been feeling overwhelmed and anxious. Here are a couple of ways I'm working on myself lately.

lighthouse clothing jacket
Jacket - Lighthouse Clothing

1. Take a day to do whatever you want without feeling guilty about it. 

I spent yesterday in bed watching Power for 6 hours, eating a bag of twirl bites and learning Tik Tok dances on Youtube. If this was my life everyday then yes it would be worrying, but it was a Sunday and sometimes you just need a day to do nothing productive and just give your body what it needs or craves, and on this particular day it was an excessive amount of chocolate. I can now go a few days without eating it and all will be good. 

2. Get a skincare routine (or don't). 

I know every self-care article tells you to go run a bubble bath and put on a face mask, but that isn't everyones ideal way to relax. Personally, I have a lot more fun using those floss sticks to floss between by braces or cleaning my ears. 

3. Use your hands. 

I always find writing in my journal therapeutic. If writing isn't your thing then drawing, painting, colouring. Anything that allows your brain to work in a different way than it does when you're just scrolling through Instagram or Twitter. 

4. Have a highlight of the day.

I started this last year and it's so nice to look back on, but it also allows you to find a moment of joy in even the most insignificant days. I have a note on my phone titled '365 days of happiness' and just as it sounds, every day I write a line on what the highlight of the day has been. Even if it's something as small as having a really nice coffee at breakfast. 

5. Make future plans to get excited for.

The future of travel is definitely uncertain for the rest of the year, but even something as simple as planning a game or quiz night with friends or cooking a meal with your family. I find joy in making itineraries so I'll still be planning holidays for the distant future, and I'm looking forward to taking my new raincoat from Lighthouse Clothing on a winter holiday!

6. Learn to say no. 

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, being busy isn't always the best thing for us. That also means learning to say no to plans that you're not really interested in, or saying no to catching up with people who don't interest you at all or bring negative energy. It doesn't make you mean, it just means valuing your time and choosing to spend time with people who uplift and inspire you. 

7. Disconnect. 

It might not be as easy to go on a holiday or climb a mountain but just taking sometime to disconnect from social media and just be present does a world of good. Go to the beach, go on a walk or find some good trekking spots in your area. You might also want to take a look at ayurveda tips for relaxation.



Sunday 1 March 2020

                               [this is a collaborative post but all words and opinions are my own.]

Anyone else have a bunch of interior design boards on Pinterest even though you don't own your own place yet? I even sometimes find myself snapping a photo of apartments I like when when I spot one in a TV Show or movie, like Harden's apartment in After, Darby's apartment in Love Life. Basically anything that looks like a quirky New York apartment with the exposed brick walls and colourful furniture, and an indoor plant of course. If you're lucky enough to own your own property, and fancy a bit of change without breaking the bank, here are some ways to modernize your apartment. 


1. Add some greenery. 

Pinterest is actually a great resource to find out what plants are the lowest maintenance and how to care for each one. The Japanese Sago Palm looks beautiful, although with my record it would probably be dead in a week. If you're not great at remembering to water your plants or don't have much of a green thumb, then you could always opt for some fake indoor plants. Apparently they also help reduce stress and calm your mind, so if you're still stuck working from home, this is a win!

2. Buy some wall prints.

I kept seeing something on Facebook where you could get a wall print of the constellation in the sky on a specific date/time. I thought it would make a cute gift, but then I clicked on it and the poster alone cost £60! I love the website Desenio as they're affordable and have such a variety of prints for whatever aesthetic you're trying to achieve for any room in the house!

Photo Credit

3. Change your flooring. 

This one is obviously going to take a bit more work, but it can instantly make your apartment look new. The great thing about living in Gibraltar is that it doesn't get too cold, so we don't need to rely on carpet floors, anyone who has lived in UK knows how annoying they are to clean! I think wood flooring is the best option and looks the best, in my opinion! 

Photo Credit

4. Buy a pretty bookshelf. 

I still have all of my John Green books that I read 8 years ago (some are falling apart) just so that I have enough books to put on my bookshelf when I get my own place. Even if you're not much of a reader, you can fill it with whatever you want. Picture frames, bottles of Gin, your mug collection etc! If you are looking to add some reading material to your shelf, have a look at my book recommendations here

Photo Credit

5. Change the colour scheme. 

This doesn't mean you have to get a new furniture, but if you have quite a neutral sofa for example then it's pretty easy to buy new pillows, a rug and so on to match the season. We all know the best and cheapest place to go for this, is Primark of course. 

Photo Credit


Let’s face it; when we have a bad night’s sleep, we feel pretty ratty the next day. If you can’t seem to achieve a deep level of sleep most nights, poor sleep can become a real problem and affect other parts of your life.

However, there are lots of small improvements you can make to your sleep routine and bedroom environment that can help to ensure you are achieving a high quality of sleep each night.

Photo Credit

Why Poor Quality Sleep is Unhealthy

As well as affecting our mood, insufficient sleep can create a multitude of other mental and physical problems.

The NHS website explains in detail why a lack of sleep is bad for you. It can have serious consequences if left untreated over a prolonged amount of time. It can lead to other severe health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and obesity, not to mention it is also responsible for decreasing a person’s life expectancy.

However, the damaging effects of inadequate sleep don’t just stop at your physical health. It can also negatively impact your mental health and develop into disorders such as anxiety and depression. Additionally, a poor amount of sleep can be responsible for creating a cycle of stress and tiredness, with a lack of sleep affecting your stress levels and vice versa.

Tips for Improvement

Below, I take a look at how to review your sleep routine and environment. If you feel like you are suffering more severe symptoms of lack of sleep and experiencing periods of insomnia, please seek the advice of a medical professional who will be able to give you tailored advice and support.

A mug on a bedside table with a bed in background

Establish an Evening Routine

Sometimes the simplest things can go a long way, and creating an evening routine which you can stick to can help to regulate your sleep and improve your body clock.

An evening routine is there so you can unwind at night and prepare your body and mind for sleep. This means that you need to avoid any strenuous exercise late in the evening and choose activities which will help to ease your mind.

For example, you might find the below comforting:

  • Reading a book.
  • Writing in your journal.
  • Listening to a podcast.
  • Drinking a hot drink.
  • Having a bath.
  • Evening yoga.
  • Meditating.

Whatever makes you feel more relaxed, do it and schedule it into your evening at exact times. The more often you do this, the more your body will get used to it, and it will become habitual.

Try to Keep on Top of Your Stress Levels

There is nothing worse than tossing and turning at night, worrying about the next day. Sometimes, there are certain life events where this feeling cannot be helped. However, it shouldn’t be a regular occurrence.

Organise Your Morning the Night Before

There are plenty of small things you can incorporate into your evenings to help keep on top of your stress levels, including preparing for the next day in advance. Things such as packing your bag, choosing an outfit, knowing where your keys are and prepping lunch can all be completed the evening before, which will reduce any unnecessary pressure in the morning.

Soothe Your Mind

Use techniques such as meditation and yoga to help calm any racing thoughts or worries. You can do specific yoga for sleeping which will help to relax your body and mind as well as invest in meditation apps, such as Calm and Headspace, which offer guided meditations for sleep.

You can also take CBD oil for sleep which helps to reduce feelings of anxiety, meaning your mind is more prepared to rest at night. It is definitely not a miracle cure, and shouldn’t be treated as such, but it can help to reduce levels of stress for some.

A laptop on a wooden table

Turn off Your Screens

Many people blame poor sleep on to their evening interactions with technology. This applies to laptops, phones, tablets and TVs.

Not only can looking at emails and messages cause feelings of stress, but the blue light which they emit also affects your body clock, also known as your circadian rhythm. Instead of sending us to sleep, the light keeps us feeling awake and alert.

It is good practice to turn them off, or at least put them on a nighttime setting which reduces any blue light, to help your body prepare for sleep.

You may want to factor this into your sleep routine too. For example, stop using your phone at 8 pm. Prepare for the next day and then read a book with a hot drink at 9 pm ready to sleep at 10 pm.

A bed with a white duvet and a bedside table with a plant

Create a Good Sleep Space

Ensuring you have a comfy sleeping space is essential when trying to improve your sleep. There is much to consider to ensure your bedroom is a healthy place to sleep. You may want to adopt the following points:

  • Keep the bed for sleep and sex only. Anything else can interrupt how quickly you fall asleep as your brain starts to associate the bed with other things that are not sleep-related.
  • Ensure your room is the correct temperature and open windows or invest in warm blankets if not.
  • Invest in earplugs, blackout curtains or eye masks if the surrounding environment is too loud or bright at night.
  • Make sure your mattress, pillows and duvets are comfortable.
  • Hopefully, these tips will help to ensure you sleep better and deeper! Remember to seek medical support if you feel like the changes you make for the better are not working.

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