A long weekend in Barcelona

Our recent city break was to Barcelona. I had visited for the day on a family holiday when I was younger but have been keen to visit it for a while now!

(As always) we booked last minute. We flew from Bristol to Barcelona with easyJet. Inspiration came from recommendations from friends or travel sites. Reiss’ cousin has lived in Barcelona so she was able to give us some recommendations more from a locals perspective.

I feel anything and anywhere in Barcelona suits and you do not really need to over plan.

To get around:

We hadn’t even thought about airport transfers until we arrived. Luckily, we discovered travel passes at the airport and bought a 72-hour pass and got on the metro. I know there were 2-5 day passes available to purchase. The metro map is pretty straightforward to get your head around and you do not get any zone restrictions with these like you do in London. An Uber from the airport to our hotel would have been the same price as two 3- day passes!

There are also bicycles and scooters to hire which are pretty popular in Barcelona.

To stay:

We stayed at Sb Hotels which was a short walk from the Olympica metro. It was inbetween the zoo and the beach. Check-in wasn’t until 3 but the hotel kindly let us check in earlier which was great. The hotel had a lovely pool, sauna, hot tub and gym which would be perfect in the warmer weather.

To see:

As our life pretty much (definitely) revolves around rugby, it was good to watch a football game for a nice change and at Camp Nou. There is a lovely tapas (Taller de Tapas) next to the stadium where we went before the game. I was worried incase it was going to be a pretty average game in terms of action but there ended up being seven goals throughout which made for a great atmosphere!

The bunkers were definitely a must. We went at sunset. If you are feeling keen, I can imagine it would be just as picturesque for sunrise. We got the metro to Alfons x and walked up via Park Guell (warning- there is quite the incline!). There are bus routes available. We did not book Park Guell and wanted to get to bunkers for sunset instead so if you do plan on going here, book in advance.

Of course, Sagrada familia is a must see and definitely book in advance for this. I would recommend just taking a walk along the beach, harbourside and to the shops. We also had some impromptu retail therapy, I discovered Oysho which is my new favourite place! For $ sake, it is certainly a bonus I only had space for hand luggage. Something on our list for next time is to visit the Olympic park and to go up Mont Juic.

To eat:

I think I went on about the hot chocolates in Venice too but I loved the ones in Barcelona too! Definitely check out Cacao Sampaka if you are a chocolate fan.

Carrer Blai is a street of bars and restaurants that have Pinxos which we loved (the set up is kind of like Yo Sushi- except you pay with how many sticks you took rather than bowls!).

I loved trying lots of different Tapas places but if you do fancy trying different cusines, we liked La Tagliatella for Italian and Dionisos for Greek.

Thanks for reading!

Hannah x

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Exercise for the Mind

Recently, there has been an emphasis on the mental benefits of exercise as well as the physical. For me, it is so much more than wanting visible abs or toned legs. I think the sooner you can get away from that, you can appreciate the bigger picture of exercising.

I have listened to some motivational books recently- ‘How to be Fucking Awesome’ and ‘The Miracle Morning’, as well as some podcasts by ‘takefl1ght’ and ‘The Food Medic’. I know this is just a few which discusses the benefits of exercising regularly.

They say you never regret a workout and I feel this is true. If I am feeling a bit ‘bleugh’ and think I’ll benefit more from a nap, I try to tell myself to go to the gym and just do something.

Whether it is going a walk outside, taking part in a Pilates class or going to the gym for a HIIT session, I reap the numerous benefits of exercising. I automatically feel happier and less stressed and anxious. I noticed this more during my final exams and writing my dissertation that taking an hour out to do any of the above allowed me to clear my head and start fresh.

In her podcast, ‘The Food Medic’ (Hazel Wallace) is joined by a physiotherapist, Brendan Stubbs. They discuss the relationship between exercise and mental health. As some of my posts may highlight, I am very intrigued by this topic and always keen to hear others views on the matter. There is evidence that this can help reduce anxiety, depression and PTSD. I know this can sound difficult to initially overcome this barrier, but it is also important to find what works for you. If you really do not like the thought of 30 minutes of trying to catch your breath in a HIIT class and you have tried a variety of sessions and teachers- do not force yourself! Find what you love. If the thought of the gym is making you more anxious, look at alternatives. Look at studios that may be less intimidating or perhaps one with a pool to do water-based classes. Everyone is different and it is ok to try different options.

Exercise can help with your sleeping pattern (not just by making you exhausted after a workout) in fact, I feel quite the opposite but when I do get to sleep, I feel it is better and deeper.

Think about getting a fitness watch. I love my Fitbit and sometimes it’s all I need to remind me to get up and walk about. I am guilty of sitting on my phone for what feels like ten minutes and realising an hour or two has gone by.

Enhance your self-esteem and release some endorphins by finding what works for you! Even if you have a deadline coming up very soon, take half an hour out, exercise and start again. I promise it will pay off!

What is your main reason for exercising? 

Thanks for reading

Hannah x

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Disney World and Universal

On our trip to Orlando, we visited Walt Disney’s Magical Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, MGM Hollywood studios, Disney Springs, Universal Studios and Island of Adventure.

Staying at Emerald Island Resort in Kissimmee, we were only about a 20-minute drive from the parks. We parked in the car park (average parking) which was approximately £20. Disneyworld had a tram that ran every 5/10 minutes and it was very easy and accessible getting into the parks.

Disney’s Magical Kingdom

This is where we spent our first day. You cannot travel all the way to Florida and not see the Disney parade and fireworks! As this trip was sooo last minute (I booked on Wednesday and left on Friday) I hadn’t bought tickets yet for anything so paid on the door for a 3-day Disney park pass. I was pleasantly surprised at how simple it was to purchase these and go through as the queues were very minimal. My family paid less than me buying them in advance. I paid $346 so you shouldn’t expect to pay any more than this. As we were leaving, there were crowds of people arriving for a Halloween event in the evening so it is worth researching what is on while you’re there to make the most of your visit.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom

This day was amazing from start to finish. After our day at the Magical Kingdom, we planned our day out more (well… my family did all the researching and I turned up). Half of our group had visited these parks before so had a good idea of what to expect and what we should see. We loved the musicals which we booked with the fast pass app and went on the safari. Pandora (from Avatar) was amazing and I loved the ride there. The light show on the water was also on at night so we stayed for that. I wouldn’t say this was very well advertised so it is certainly worth checking what is showing at night. As we exited the park, we watched another light show on the huge carved tree that has the Bugs Life in it. We thought crowds would be busy to get out but again, we were pleasantly surprised at the efficient layout.

MGM Hollywood Studios

Like all the parks, I loved the attention to detail in everything. I loved the Hollywood style streets in this park. We stayed for the Fantasia light/ water show at night and it was fabulous, would definitely recommend! Coming out of this show was the busiest it was in terms of crowds, but it is nothing more than you would expect.

Disney Springs

Disney Springs is full of restaurants and shops. You do not need a ticket as it is just an open area. The shops are lovely- Sephora is here (!) as well as the Disney shops (such as Christmas store) that are in the parks but on a larger scale. Be sure to visit Sprinkles Cupcake ATM!

springs

Universal Studios and Island of Adventure

Loved everything about here! You do not need a park ticket to access the shops and restaurants such as Hard Rock Cafe and Voodoo Donuts if you fancied visiting these places on an additional evening or something. Anything past these obviously you are required to buy a ticket. To visit Hogwarts, there is Diagon Alley and some of the shops as part of Universal and then you get the Hogwarts express over to Islands of Adventures so you would be buying the two-park ticket. Unfortunately, it was quite stormy by the time we went over to Island of Adventure so some of the rides were closed. I loved the Harry Potter simulator/ rollercoaster and I think this was one of everyone’s favourite from the full trip. We attended these two parks in the one day but you could easily spend at least a day at each.

universal

I will also be writing a blog about Florida in general- places to visit and where to eat!

 

Thanks for reading!
Hannah x

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Staycation in Cornwall

Hello! Apologies, this is slightly delayed as I have been so busy settling into my new (full-time!) job.

During the fabulous heatwave that we had this summer (which has been and gone), we both had some time off together so began looking at cheap flights to fit in another holiday. We looked at several European destinations and we came to the conclusion that it would be a total waste of the fabulous heatwave to go away. We decided to visit Cornwall for a couple of days. Reiss had been on loan a few months ago in Penzance, and I never visited as I was drowning in a dissertation at the time. He barely got to experience this lovely part of the country so it was a perfect idea.

We stayed in St. Ives in a hotel called The Atlantic Bay Hotel which we found on booking.com we only booked the day before so were lucky this was available. I read very mixed reviews after we had paid for it. There were comments about it having a sports bar etc. As it turned out, England was playing in the World Cup when we were staying and I still couldn’t complain about the noise or anything. I was really impressed with the decor, view and service. We ate at The Gannet Inn which is their sister hotel and it was flawless! We had dinner and breakfast here.

While we were in Cornwall, we went for Cream Tea (when in Rome and all that), visited Lands End and went to a few beaches. Sennen Cove in West Cornwall was my favourite of the ones we visited and we also went to Penzance Harbour. While we had lunch outside, a seagull literally landed on our table and smashed our glasses and plates hahaha.

We drove down from Bristol and it took about 3 hours including a couple of stops. This would be ideal for anyone that is coming for further away and considering flying to Bristol or the surrounding areas then driving. The more south we drove, the narrower the roads got so consider this when you’re timing your journey. I literally felt like we could be anywhere in the world sitting on the Cornish beaches and we will definitely be back!

Thanks for reading,

Hannah x

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Gili island hopping

On our Bali trip, we also visited the Gili Islands. We stayed in Gili T(rawangan) which is probably the most popular island of the three (there is also Meno and Air).

We also booked our villa here via Airbnb called Les Villas Ottalia. It was a resort and majority of the villas had their own private pool as well as a communal one where the restaurant is. We had a really lovely welcome and they let us check in early which was great as it gave us longer to getting settled and explore.

Gili itself is only about 15km in size but when we were trying to find the villa after getting off the boat I honestly felt like we were trekking for ages in the middle of nowhere. Location wise, it did initially seem really far out but it was actually in the middle of the island so easily accessible to the strip/ restaurants and boats etc. and then the other side where everyone goes to watch the sunset and get the obligatory picture on the swings. So I would say it was ideal. It had a bike store where we rented bikes to get around the island.

I underestimated how much there was to do and see in and around the Gili islands so we only booked to stay in Gili T for two nights. I definitely would have booked more if I knew now. We went on a snorkelling boat trip to Gili Meno and Gili Air. As expected, some of the views were breathtaking and there were lots to explore in the sea. I love the chilled out vibe on Gili Air.

The food here was unreal. We had Balinese/ Thai food on the beach which was lovely. However, the other meals were a pizza and a burger which was unusual from us not like me to try more of the local cuisine.

Like our Bali trip, I took a note of a couple of hotels on Gili T where I would like I check out more!

Villa Ombak

Marc Hotel Gili T

Pearl of Trawangan 

Thanks for reading!

Hannah x

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Exploring Bali

Bali has always been on our bucket list so I am soo happy to have finally visited there last month.

We flew with China Southern Airlines from Heathrow to Guangzhou and then to Densaper in Bali. We spent our first week in Ubud in a private villa which we booked via Airbnb (after our success using the company in Venice). Our host from the BnB gave us a taxi drivers contact details for our initial airport transfer and we ended up using him all holiday.

We travelled around using mopeds or taxis. I was wary about the roads in Bali, as I always am in other countries. A lot of tourists used mopeds and I didn’t see any problems. The flexibility of transport allowed us to see a lot more of Bali.

Places we visited:

  • Monkey Sanctuary

Seeing the monkeys while you’re in Bali is a must. Just don’t be fooled into thinking you’re going to get nice hugs for a cute gram pic! Watch for food and sunglasses. Reiss had a bottle of water with him and one grabbed it out his hand, twisted the cap off and started drinking it. Hahaha.

  • Uluwatu temple

This was impressive. Again- look out for the monkeys! In our visit we witnessed a monkey steal a boys shoe off his foot and start munching on the Velcro (!!!), a baby’s bow being pulled off and also a mans iPhone being snatched. There is literally a trail of broken phone cases and sunglasses which didn’t quite make the full journey. None the less, the views are so worth it and apparently, there is a nice beach here too but we did not have time that day.

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  • Goa Gajah (Temple)

All the temples were beautiful so definitely make a point of visiting a couple. Any time someone offered me a blessing I jumped at the opportunity as I knew I was getting my exam/ dissertation results while I was out there! A note about temples, in general, is to obviously cover up. At Uluwatu, there were sarongs available for you to borrow for the visit. At this other one, we bought ones at the door because we did actually like the designs of them. Reiss- maybe a bit too much.

  • Tegallalang rice terrace

There are stops every so often in this where they take donations (normally tell you it’s about 10k in their currency) so carry plenty small notes for getting up and around here. I don’t know if there was an easier route but it is deceivingly steep!

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  • Sea turtle conservation on Kuta Beach

There is a charity where you arrive for 4pm and there is an opportunity for you to add a donation in exchange for a token. The token allows you to let a sea turtle into the sea which was a different and gratifying experience. It was really nice to do and it was very difficult to get Reiss away from it, even once they were all in the sea!

  • Tenenungan waterfall

This was lovely to get into. We had a lovely lunch here at the restaurant on the terrace (can’t remember the name but the view was fab).

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  • Mason Elephant Park

I tried to research places for elephants where they were out in the open etc. The honest answer for Bali as a whole is they are never going to be 100% free like some of the charities/ sanctuaries I have noticed in areas of Thailand. Mason did seem nice though but there is an option for elephant rides which I personally don’t agree with. We did not pay for this but did pay for a basket of fruit and walked around the grounds to feed the elephants.

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  • Mason Chocolate Factory

This is owned by the same company as the elephant park so we stopped by when we recognised the sign. Obviously, in 30-degree heat, it is not exactly wise to buy a box of chocolates but we did try a couple which was delicious.

The exchange rate is crazy. We always made a point of tipping a generous amount as they always really appreciate it and we genuinely loved the food and service. Sometimes, it can be easy to forget how little you are paying with the exchange rate.

Some more places to eat were Hard Rock Cafe- Badung, Finns Beach Club and C9PCO.

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We didn’t go up to the north at all but I would love to do Mount Batur next time. We passed a couple of hotels that I liked the look of- I did not go inside properly or anything but I took a note to search if we went back.

The Stones Hotel

Pullman Bali Legian Beach Hotel

Grand Mega Resort & Spa

W Bali Seminyak

Read next: Gili island hopping

Thanks for reading

Hannah x

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Celebrating Success

With graduation around the corner, I have had a lot of discussions recently about “what next?”. In four years- I left school, lived in four different flats, two cities and met some really amazing people along the way. If you asked me “what next?” during that time, I would have no clue how to answer it. Around this time of year (April/ May), I wasn’t totally sure where I was going to live or work the following year, and I don’t think there is anything wrong with that.

Even thinking back to January in sixth year when I came home from one of my Uni interviews and realised 100% it wasn’t the route I wanted to go down. I am SOOOO glad I realised then rather than several years down the line. I now have found something I absolutely love. Something that I actually want to speak to people about, and can actually admit that I enjoy studying! To be fair, I never really learned how to properly study till I left school. I sound as if I am confident at studying… as I procrastinate and avoid my dissertation…

We live in a world- or generation? Where people don’t seem to stop and take praise when they deserve it. People question that you may have a hidden agenda if you support someone- whether it be at work, personal life or social media. Others in the same industry see you as a competition. There is enough room for everyone!! Put in the hard work and support each other. I can say I have never held a grudge or anything with people in my industry who perhaps have an opportunity. I think everything happens for a reason and timing is everything. Seeing people doing well honestly makes me so happy.

“Blowing out someone else’s candle doesn’t make yours shine any brighter” 

This quote is so relevant and everyone needs to take note. You always remember who is there for you- in good times or bad times. People will remember who celebrated their success with them- and those who didn’t.

Obviously, don’t be fake and pretend to be enthusiastic if you aren’t. However, ask yourself why you can’t be happy and then you might change your mind. I watched my school friends YouTube video (watch and sub here!) the other day and he spoke about meeting up with people from our area/school who are doing well and how that motivates him. It is nice to hear people rooting for each other and an example that it can be motivation for you to meet your goals.

“When people support each other, incredible things happen” 

When we were still at school Reiss shared a quote and it is still stuck me (a- because he spent ages making the graphic himself and b- it is actually a good quote).

“Surround yourself with others on the same mission as you”

With this, I don’t necessarily mean people in the same job as you. I think like-minded people who also want ‘success’. I say it like this as it is different for everyone. Whether it’s what car you drive or the food you eat, as long as you are happy, I believe you are successful. If that means coming home from an interview and totally having a change of heart (after the nerves have gone and you realise you aren’t just being over dramatic) or meeting up with someone from the same school to motivate you, then so be it!

Disclaimer (kind of)- Just because you don’t read about peoples ‘success’ on social media, doesn’t mean they aren’t happy and acing life/work/everything in general.

Thanks for reading!

Hannah x

“It’s the mind itself which shapes the body”

I recently have re-discovered three things that I have used to help feel better- both mentally and physically. Pilates for fitness and wellbeing, My Fitbit for tracking steps and sleep and Headspace to help with mindfulness.

  • Pilates

I used to love going to Pilates as it is so good for improving your core and general wellbeing. I remember going with my mum for the first time when I was still at school and being so shocked at the core strength involved in some of the exercises. I find a lot of my clients have discovered Pilates and feel the benefits. I go to a Pure Gym one as it is just a £2 charge on the night with your (very cheap/ reasonable) membership. Bargain! Unfortunately, (and of course, my luck as I try to actually get into a routine) the Pilates instructor left this week and there isn’t a replacement at the moment. If they don’t get one soon, I will start looking for studios that offer Pilates as I really was starting to love it again. I would definitely recommend! I would love to do a course in the next year or so. I also really want to get Reiss into it as I have read some articles and listened to some podcasts of rugby players that enjoy it too. Joseph Pilates was all about finding a balance and I love how he refers to the link between physical and mental health. You only have to do a quick search on Joseph Pilates to find some inspirational quotes- which I love.

I have added some of my favourite quotes at the end of the post.

I have spoken about this previously as I got it for my birthday a year and a half ago. However, I did go through a phase where I stopped wearing it and I have got out the habit of using it for its actual purpose. I got my mum a lovely Fitbit Alta for mothers day. She is a nurse and I thought it would be interesting to see how many steps she does on a daily basis, and I know she has mentioned it before. This has motivated me the last few weeks to start wearing it again. My sleeping schedule is awful at the moment so I want to try and get into a better routine and not to go from one extreme to another with how active I am (one day hit about 3000 steps and drink a glass of water or hit my 12000 steps, 90 minutes active and drink 2 and a half litres of water). I know it is quite a stressy time as no two days are the same, but keeping something consistent will be beneficial. I am also going to make an effort of using the challenges

This App is free to download and you can get a real feel for it before you need to spend a penny. I am not sure if it is because people are starting to be a bit more vocal about their mental health in the media, but I do find a lot more people are trying meditating. I worked in a clinic with a lovely lady who offered Mindfulness Sessions and I was really intrigued by it. Yes, you have no control over certain things that occur on a daily basis, but you can control how you interpret it- which is so interesting. It does change your perspective on certain things. There is evidence of meditating helping with anxiety, sleep and depression, to name a few. I understand it can’t get rid of certain things, but I do think it is great that it is so easily accessible for everyone- and it is only literally a couple of minutes out of your day!

“You are only as young as your spine is flexible” 

“You will feel better in ten sessions, look better in twenty sessions, and have a completely new body in thirty sessions”

“It’s the mind itself which shapes the body” 

“Physical fitness can neither be achieved by wishful thinking nor outright purchase”

“Everyone is the architect of their own happiness”

“We retire too early and we die too young. Our prime of life should be in the 70’s and old age should not come until we are almost 100”

Thanks for reading!

Hannah x

Staycation in Edinburgh

After living in the capital for 3 years, I thought I would write some hints and tips for places to visit if you ever want to spend some time here.

  • When?

I think there is always a right time to visit in Edinburgh. I like the atmosphere during the Fringe Festival, Christmas markets or when there is rugby on that weekend. The Fringe is on throughout July and August and there are a lot of events to go and see. Some years, we went to some free shows that are literally in the back of restaurants, and we were impressed by the talents. When I pass a busker, I make a point of getting their name and following/ liking them on social media. During the fringe, it’s their time to shine! I also booked for a free course The Key which was hosted at Village hotel, it was about mindfulness/ changing your perspective and I found it really helpful. Rugby weekends are always a good vibe, I love Murrayfield and also like finding a nice place to watch the games- the Three Sisters is one of the most popular for national games.

Read about Christmas time in Edinburgh here.

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  • Where?

As I had flats in Edinburgh, we didn’t have overnights as such here but my recommendations would be Tigerlilly and Le Monde (both on George Street) and Village which is slightly further out the centre (near the Botanics), Angels share also had a good rep which is at one end of Princes Street. If there is a group of you, I’d definitely recommend looking into an apartment for you all if that’s what you fancy.

  • To eat

Tigerlilly was where I spent a couple of birthday dinners. It was family meals, date nights and dinner and drinks with the girls. I loved it! It was so reasonably priced and lunchtime deals were even better.

Le Monde was where Reiss and I went a couple of times in our first year and it was lovely. We also had dinner at the Dome which is ideal perhaps for something special.

Candy bar also was very cheap for food and had great cocktails, we had a lot of girls nights in here. This is also on George Street.

My favourite cafe was in Morningside and was all organic. The soups and smoothies were fab and I spent a lot of Saturdays in between work and rugby here, as well as the off afternoon doing some work.

Edinburgh is perfect for just walking around and finding hidden gems. I’ve named some well- known places in the centre but you can never go wrong with something random. (Any recommendations for when I go back to Edinburgh would be more than welcome!)

There’s an Escape the room, lots of history, the Royal Mile, the National Museum, the Botanics (where we went at night for a light show which was lovely, and also for lunch one day which was great). The Dominion cinema in Morningside area is nice for a movie and of course, the Playhouse for a musical (but I’m biased with musicals). I went back at Christmas time for our ‘Edinburgh day’ and I always find something new there.

Edinburgh is definitely a place where you walk around and find your own little favourites, but I hope these recommendations help!

Thanks for reading,

Hannah x

February Favourites

Sooo when I’ve been thinking about nice things I’ve found to recommend or review, I find that I don’t need to dedicate a full post to it. Instead, I’m going to list some random things- literally, anything- that I think may be useful/ interesting/ probably make you think ‘eh?’

  • Special gift

We had a family engagement (as always, for any occasion- Paperchase is still a must). However, I found this company, Posterhaste, where I got a print of the night of their engagement at the location he popped the question. Luckily, they loved it. I found the company a while ago and had a feeling that I would need to think of an engagement pressie soon! Prints would be perfect for an engagement, birthday or a new born- any special moment really.

  • Primark (living in England, I really need to start saying pry-mark and not pre-mark to stop the funny looks and the awful Scottish impressions).

I was in here a week ago and they have some real love stuff. I bought an iridescent beach bag which I looooove. We booked Bali this month (for after exams in May) which is sooo exciting. I like to buy odd things here and there, but I know as there’s still snow in some areas, it will be a while till I get to wear my summer range!

Everything in this range is fab u lous. Unfortunately (but really serves me right as I underestimate how busy sales are) I missed out on the launch, but I did manage to buy myself an ombré tank top. I got it with the black flex leggings. You can never go wrong with black leggings. The Gymshark girls I follow on social media appear to wear small sizes (XS) for their height/ weight. I am 50kg and 5 ft 1 (and a half) and I got S in both. There’s definitely room at the bottom of the leggings once they are on to stretch out but I wouldn’t say they were too big- just right. They also have a new reversible range which I am loving the colours. I reviewed gym clothes a while ago (read it here), but gym shark really does nail it. I love the material. Also- a little bonus- I found they do student discount on Student Beans. I made an account, which was pretty simple with my student email and got signed up straight away.

  • I am really liking Netflix at the moment.

I only signed up for it when I moved in myself at Newcastle and I’ve started watching quite a lot of movies. I find there are a lot, especially the ones exclusive to Netflix, that is sooo underrated. I am even at the stage where I can’t even remember the names of the movies which is not like me at all. I can, however, recommend You Get Me, Step Sisters, Love, Rosie and Think Like a Man. An emotional one was Irreplaceable You. I have been snowed in for a few days and this sure does put everything into perspective.

I’m currently in the last few months of my honours year. A book I’ve found to help with my dissertation- I read a few sites online about the research methods etc. and they cited this book so I’ve borrowed it from the library. You could always buy it from Amazon if you would prefer to keep it for longer.

I said this would be random!

Thanks for reading,

Hannah x