Five Unique, Independent Business’ to Fall in Love With and Why Supporting Small Shops is Vital

Lets picture a creative, young entrepreneur, who started up her own business alongside her full time job and wants to eventually turn her side hustle in to her full time job because it is what she’s truly passionate about… lets support her!! This is a simplified version of why we should all support independent business’.

Shopping through small business’ can give you more unique items that often have an interesting story behind both the product and the brand. I have also found that it is easy to make purchases that are ethical and that have minimal environmental impacts when shopping independently. None of the products bought through any of the companies in this post used any plastic or excessive packaging materials, and the ethics of the brands is made exceptionally clear on their websites. I think supporting business’ such as these is particularly important right now where both the pandemic and recession are taking a huge toll on people’s incomes who run small business’.

Sevenoaks Bookshop

I have previously bought a lot of books from Amazon, both new and second hand from their book sellers as they come at very affordable prices. However upon learning more information on the ethics and working conditions at Amazon, I am trying not to use the website anymore. I would rather pay a little bit more money my books and support an independent business. I realise this is unfortunately not a privilege that everyone can exercise.

I came across Sevenoaks Bookshop by simply searching for independent stores delivering books during lockdown. Delivery was second class and arrived within a few days. The books were well packaged in cardboard with no plastic. Their website was easy to navigate and their genre sections were helpful as I was specifically looking for fiction and books on the topic of racism, both of which have designated sections on their site.

 

Charlotte’s Web

Charlotte’s Web are a sustainable jewelry brand who work with small family run business’ and communities in Rajasthan, India to hand make their uniqe jewellery designs. For an ethical brand with such beautiful pieces, I believe their work is very fairly priced compared to other larger jewelry companies. For every purchase in their ‘spinning jewelry’ range (which is a stunning collection), £5 is donated to Donatekart which is a donation platform in India. £5 provides one grocery pack for an impoverished family in India. I would highly recommend checking out their pieces, they would make a fabulous gift.

Art by Lena

Lena’s online shop is filled with vibrant, hand painted watercolor prints, stationary and bookmarks.  I’ve ordered a few of Lena’s prints, a gorgeous bookmark, and also some wooden decorations. All of them are of very high quality and were extremely affordable. The orders are well packaged with ‘fragile’ written on them to prevent them from damage. Lena’s shop is ideal if you are looking for a unique gift, my previous orders have arrived wrapped in colourful tissue paper and a hand painted thank you note. I only paid £1 for postage and for both orders I have placed, and they arrived two days after I placed my order. I would also recommend following Lena on Twitter as she regularly posts shop updates and new work she has painted, her handle is: @lenasnotebook

 

Bubble Trouble

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Bubble Trouble is an exciting new business venture, founded by Lauren, whose blog I have followed for a while now (check it out here). I am hugely on board with the fact that Lauren’s ingredients are ethically sourced, cruelty free, and vegan. The packaging is also biodegradable (which can’t be said for a lot of larger cosmetic brands…) No parabens or harsh ingredients are used in any products from Bubble Trouble, and with the bath bombs being £3.50 each, Lauren’s lovely creations are incredibly affordable for the impressive quality that you receive. Shipping costs £2.95 or is free if you spend £20!

(The photo below is of ‘Under the Sea’)

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Studio Bloom Accessory Designs

Studio Bloom Accessory Designs is an Etsy shop, where Steph makes and sells brilliant, colourful jewelry made of polymer clay. Delivery to the UK is free which made my purchase only £11! The quality of the earrings is superb, they are comfortable and secure to wear and they came beautifully wrapped in matching blue tissue paper with a lovely thank you note.

Please leave below any independent business’ you love, I would love to know of more!

Hope you are having a great day where ever you are in the world,

Mol x

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Why You Need to Visit Zakynthos, Greece as a Food Lover

Fancying a fresh Greek salad? Cocktails for just €4? Or how about some traditional moussaka? Greece is home to some delicious dishes and fabulous cooks, which makes visiting a Greek island like Zakynthos a must. This post includes all the fabulous places where we ate and drank whilst staying in the town of Argassi in Zakynthos. All the prices were extremely cheap but the quality of the food was impeccable. We also found the service to be very quick no matter where we went. I cannot recommend this area enough if you are a food lover.

Here is the link to my previous post which includes all of the beautiful places we visited on the island during our trip.

1. Zorba’s- The BEST carbonara you will find

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It was the gorgeous blue and white rustic decor that caught our eye with Zorbas. The carbonara here was recommended to us by the waitor here and certainly did not disappoint. So much so that we re-visited before our flight to have it again before we left.

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Their vegetable risotto and calamari was also extremely tasty, all the portion sizes in every restaurant here are very generous!

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The banoffee pie here was also divine…

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Serenity

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Serenity was recommended to us from other guests staying in our hotel, it had a lovely view of the town and a gorgeous bright interior inside. I tried the sea bass with lemon sauce, which came with salad and chips. This was a beautiful meal to try if you enjoy fresh sea food.

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The Yard

We went here on our first night, a great start to our trip. We were given a starter of home-made tsatziki and pitta for free, every Brit loves a freebie. I then had calamari, the vegetable moussaka that my friends had also looked lovely.

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The Green Frog

This was the view out to sea from the front of the restaurant if you want to enjoy your meal with an ocean setting before you.

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We chose to sit in the back garden under these gorgeous flowers. We all had the halloumi platter which was one of my favourite meals of the trip. If you love halloumi cheese liek me then eating fresh Greek halloumi is certainly a treat.

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Stars Taverna

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Here I tried the ‘Village Pizza’ which was a veggie pizza option. Above is a Greek dish named ‘Gyros’ which my friend enjoyed, this is on all of the taverna menus here. It usually consists of pitta, salad, chips and meat.

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This was the beautiful location where we spent our Greek night, which consisted of food, wine, smashing plates, and dancing. I would thoroughly recommend going to a traditional Greek night if you are visiting Greece. We had a Greek salad here for a starter, and kebabs for our main course.

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Red Wine

This was another highlight meal; garlic bread and stewed vegetables in a rich tomato sauce.

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Yria

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This was the first time I  had eaten swordfish, it was delicious!

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Magik

If you love a cheap cocktail then Magik will definitely be the place for you! You can sit outside here, the inside turns in to a small club later on in the evening. They had a huge range of cocktails, the pina colada was definitely our favourite.

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Street Diner Cafe

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More seafood! This was a seafood tagliatelle which included mussels and prawns in a tomato sauce.

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St Nicholas Beach Club

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You can’t go to Greece without having a traditional Greek salad, which seem to always come with a lot of feta!

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Are you a fan of Greek cuisine? I hope this guide was helpful if you are travelling to Zakynthos soon!

Hope you are having a great day where ever you are in the world,

Mol x

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The Beauty of the Ionian Sea- Exploring the Greek Island of Zakynthos

“Adventure is worthwhile.” – Aristotle

Before heading back to university to start the final year of my degree, I enjoyed a fabulous week long trip to the Greek island of Zakynthos. We flew with TUI from Birmingham International to Zakynthos airport. This island was a brilliant combination of being incredibly scenic but also very cheap. We also found all the people we met there extremely friendly, and the food and drink was also completely delicious, in fact the best food I have tried abroad. This post includes some of the lovely places we saw whilst on the island. I will also be writing another post all about where to eat and drink on the island. I hope this post is helpful if you are looking for which Greek island to visit next on your travel adventures.

The town we stayed in on the island was called Argassi and was only about a 20 minute drive away from Zakynthos airport. Argassi was a great place to stay in, with its own beautiful beach, an abundance of restaurants, bars, shops and plenty of gorgeous hotels to choose from. We stayed in the Katerina Palace hotel which was a very pleasant place to stay. We had a spacious and comfortable room, the pool and bar area was also lovely. The main streets of Argassi were just down the road from the hotel which was very handy.

Adventuring out on a Boat Trip to Marathonisi Island (Turtle Island)

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We booked this fabulous trip through Peter’s Tours, we met Peter at one of his tourist offices just outside our hotel. We had several recommendations to book with him and he was incredibly friendly and helpful when we were enquiring about doing an excursion. The trip only cost us €20 each to our surprise! If you are taking children with you, it’s €15 each for them. Here is a link to the specific trip that we went on, the pictures on the website show the sights you see from he boat very accurately. We were picked up by coach in Argassi by Peter’s office and driven to the Laganas harbour, which is just a 15 minute drive away and where the boat is docked.

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We were in awe to be able to see the turtles as soon as we got on to the boat in the harbour. They were clearly unphased by having people around them in the harbour as they were swimming very close to the boats. The captain of our boat was great at pointing out where they were in the water so everybody was able to see them and take pictures. After waiting to watch the turtles for a while, the boat then set off towards Marathonisi island. The boat was fairly small in size, with about 15 people on it. It was surprisingly a very smooth trip.

Throughout the trip, the captain sailed the boat in to several sea caves, which were fascinating to be in and be able to see up close. There was also one of the two swimming stops here. We were able to jump in to the sea straight off the boat and snorkel near to the caves. We purchased snorkels in Argassi for just €8 so I would thoroughly recommend bringing one if you are doing a trip like this. The water was crystal clear and it was amazing being able to swim along side the fish.

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This was the view from Turtle Island which was where the other swimming stop was, we spent about an hour here. You are able to swim in the sea and use the beach on the island, but the majority of it is protected conservation land which is great to see.

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The water was not cold at all, this was a great snorkelling spot. We swam through the shallows by the rocks and saw many types of fish in the shallows, you didn’t have to swim in the deep to be able to see them.

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Clear Waters and Soft Sands- The Must See Beaches

St Nicholas Beach

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After a visit to the beach, it’s hard to believe that we live in a material world.”  Pam Shaw

This was a lovely day out, we got the free bus from our hotel at 11am and the beach is only about 20 minutes away. There is also a bus that takes you back again at 5pm. This beach was perfect for relaxing, you just have to pay a few euros for using the sun loungers. We also had some lovely food here from the beach club which is just up the path from the beach. This was another great swimming spot, you can also do water sports here if that takes your fancy. Bear in mind that during the peak tourist season in the summer, these beaches will be very busy.

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Banana Beach

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Banana beach is another great beach to visit, quite similar to St Nicholas beach too. We also got the free bus back and forth to out hotel for this trip, it was just a short drive away too. We had some more great food here too, you can order food and drink at this beach from the staff on the beach and they bring it down to you which is a great service. This was another brilliant ocean swimming spot.

 

Argassi Beach

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Argassi beach is accessible from various cut throughs along the front of the town of Argassi. We found that certain parts were sandy and some were pebbley, the beach is also quite narrow in parts. There are some nice spots to eat and drink along the beach too. The photo below was the cafe we went to a couple of times for lunch and a drink.

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My next post will be including all of the places on the island that we visited for food and drink, there were some truly delicious meals on this trip.

Have you visited Greece yet? I would love to hear from you in the comments if you have!

Hope you are having a great day where ever you are in the world,

Mol x

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How to Stay Organised and Productive as a University Student

I am about to go in to my final year of studying BA English Language at the University of Birmingham. I’ve found that certain habits and choices certainly make me much more motivated to get my work done and help me to do it in less time. Here are my top tips for being productive and organised as a uni student!

Create a Weekly Plan and Daily Plans

I create a list at the beginning of the week with all the things I need to get done and commitments that I need to attend. It might also be helpful to include social time on here if you struggle with time management. This then lets see you how much you have to fit in to one week and a rough idea of what days can be allocated to what tasks. I then create a daily plan each day so you can change anything that needs adding/you’ve done early. It also helps as this daily one can be more specific, which I find helps me stay focused. Writing tasks such as ‘Finish paragraph three and four of essay’ is easier to stick to and achieve than ‘do uni work’.

Having an academic planner is a new thing for me this year, but so far I am finding it really helpful for remembering events and things I need to complete week to week. Mine is from ‘Ink Outside the Box’ and is a lovely design and also has a great layout inside.

Download the App ‘Forest’ to Avoid Your Phone Distracting You

I absolutely love the concept of the Forest app, and I use it frequently when working. The app allows you to set a timer for how long you’d like to focus for (it can range from 10 minutes up to 2 hours). The app shows a tree growing for the amount of time you have chosen, and if you leave the app then the tree ‘dies’ and indicates that you’ve broken your focus. I usually set it for an hour at a time, and have a 15 minute break between if I have a lot of work to get done. It’s also great because each time you grow a tree, you earn tokens. Once you have 2500 tokens, you can choose to put that towards the app planting a real tree for you. So the app not only helps you concentrate but also helps with reforestation!

Use Study Playlists for Working

I find it very difficult to work for any length of time doing notes or essay planning without having some quiet music on in the background. I find playing classical music or film scores really help me to concentrate and help me stay motivated whilst working.

Have a Folder for Each Module on Your Course

At the start of each term, I use a different ring binder for each module. So for my final year I have five folders; one for my dissertation and the others for the four modules I am taking this year. This means that all the work for one module is one place, whether it’s lecture material, essay feedback or seminar notes. This means you are also unlikely to forget anything if you have something on like a seminar discussion, because everything is in the one folder that you can just pop in your bag. It might also help to have each folder look a bit different so you can easily identify them and not get them mixed up. I try to use different coloured ring binders so you know which one is which. You can also label the spine of them if that helps too. Dividers are another great addition to your folders if you are wanting to separate your work out in to sections.

Use Colour Coding in Your Notes/Essay Plans

I find that using highlighters for specific things in my notes not only makes them look better visually, but also helps me find information for essays. For example, I use an orange highlighter for key words and turquoise for the names of scholars/references. This then makes it much easier if you are planning an essay and are skimming through pages of notes to find a specific scholar or key word.

Use the Bookmarks Bar on Your Internet Browser

I have a folder for each year at university stored on my browser, the modules in each year, and then also additional folders for specific essays within those modules. This is helpful when trying to find and refer back to scholarship so you don’t lose all the links that you are using for a piece of work.

I hope these tips were useful if you are about to head in to another academic year!

Hope you are having a great day where ever you are in the world,

Mol x

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Top 10 Tips on How to Plan a Mini Break on a Budget: Edinburgh Edition

I have just returned from the most fabulous three day break in Edinburgh, Scotland’s magnificent capital city. This was a mini break with two of my friends, with all of us travelling on a student budget. We managed to compromise very well on costs without compromising at all on the quality of our city break. We managed to book our flights and accommodation for a total of £107.84 each. We flew from Luton airport to Edinburgh airport with EasyJet, and got the tram from the airport to the centre of Edinburgh. We stayed in a gorgeous apartment on Montgomery Street, in the centre of the city.

Here are my top 10 tips on how to plan a brilliant mini break on a budget wihtout compromising on quality…

1. Book as Far in Advance as You Can

The further in advance you book your travel, the cheaper it will be. This goes for any destination! We booked our accommodation and flights in May, and our trip was in September, so we planned it 4 months in advance. For return flights booked this far in advance, I only paid £37.78. Our airbnb cost £210.18 for two nights, so split between three of us we paid £70.06 each. There was a £28.18 service charge included in this. For a lovely flat, spacious in such a central location, this was a very good deal. Planning in advance really pays off!

Here are some photos of our gorgeous airbnb, it just shows you that by saving money, you don’t have to compromise on quality…

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2. Travel Outside of School Holidays

If you are a university student like me, then you have the advantage of having holidays that are outside of the school holidays and being more flexible with dates. Try and go before the school holidays if you can, May and June are much cheaper than July/August if you have finished your university year by then. The school holidays means that accommodation and travel costs can almost double in price. We also found that September seemed to be even cheaper as it was outside of both the Scottish and English school holidays (bear in mind that if you are visiting a different country then school holiday dates may differ).

3. Use Comparison Sites to Find the Best Deals

We used Skyscanner to find our flights. I cannot recommend this tool enough. You can input your destinations and it tells you the cheapest options for travelling. It also lets you add the option to include other airports and non-direct flights if these are cheaper options. There is also a feature to search for the cheapest month and destinations. You can also find hotel and car hire information on here too.

It’s also useful to compare if it’s quicker/cheaper going to your destination by train, plane, ferry or driving. We found that even with a student railcard, the trains were considerably more expensive and would have meant a very long journey.

4. Sit Separately on Flights

Another cost that can be avoided is choosing to not pay to sit together on the flight. If you are spending a whole holiday with people, then it’s not the end of the world if you don’t sit next to each other if you are on a short haul flight like we were. However, we checked in for our flights about two weeks in advance and this meant we were placed next to each other anyway on both our outbound and inbound flights.

5. Limit Your Luggage

For this trip, we took hand luggage alone. This means you can avoid the cost of having to pay for putting luggage in the hold. Small savings like this can add up to save you a fair bit of money. Additionally, it also means you don’t have to hang around waiting for a suitcase once you’re off the flight. Not having heavy bags to cart around with you is also a bonus, this applies if you are travelling by train too. Our flight landed at 10am on Monday and we could not check in until 3pm. On Wednesday when we left, we had to check out by 10am and our flight was not until late evening. Therefore we knew we had to carry our luggage with us for these times in between. By having just a light rucksack, it meant our luggage didn’t limit us. We were still able to visit the castle and walked up to Calton Hill without being weighed down by heavy bags.

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6. Don’t be too Fussy About Travel Companies

We flew with EasyJet due to their company in general having lower cost flights compared to other airlines. Other airlines may offer what is considered ‘a ore luxurious experience’ but if you are on a short flight and it gets you from A to B then going with cheaper options to save money is definitely a good idea.

7. Be as Flexible as You Can With Where You Travel From

The closest airport to where I live is Birmingham. But we worked out that the cheapest flight at the time was from Luton airport and that airport parking was only £30 here. The Flybe flights from Birmingham to Edinburgh were significantly more expensive. So even though we drove a bit further than we would have to get to Birmingham, it was more cost-effective for us to go to Luton instead. So if you can, it’s good to be as flexible as you can with airport/train station locations as this may save you a significant amount of money.

8. Plan a Rough Itinerary in Advance

We roughly planned out the main activities we wanted to do Edinburgh and what day we could do them on (weather permitting!). Due to only having three days away, this meant that we knew we could include our prioritised activities in the small amount of time we were in the city. By booking certain activities in advance it can save you money and often saves you queuing for long periods of time. Additionally, so many great things to do are often free! On our last day we walked up Calton Hill which gives you an incredible view of the whole city of Edinburgh around you. I would thoroughly recommend visiting if you are in Edinburgh. We also enjoyed a coffee and pastry in Gardener’s Cottage which is the restaurant set on the edge of Calton Hill. This was surprisingly very affordable at just £5 each, but avoid at lunch and dinner unless you want a very pricey meal! Walking round and soaking up the atmosphere of the Royal Mile and Princes Street Gardens was another lovely experience which won’t cost you a penny. Most cities will have free galleries and museums you can visit, the National Gallery is free in Edinburgh, as is the National Museum of Scotland.

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9. Avoid Buying Food and Drink etc. from Tourist Attraction Shops

Often shops at tourist attractions have extortionate prices. Avoiding spending £3 on a disposable water bottle every time you want a drink and paying loads just for a sandwich is always a good plan in my book. Bring a water bottle with you that you can fill up before you go out for the day, and maybe some snacks if you’re likely to get hungry whilst out and about. We took a picnic with us to the zoo and bought snacks from a Tesco Express next to our airbnb so you can just grab something on your way out for the day.

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10. Choose Your Accommodation Location Wisely

By staying right in the centre of Edinburgh, it meant we were able to walk from our apartment to all the central locations that we wanted to visit. We were about a 15 minute walk from Princes Street which was great. It was also near the tram links that we used to get to and from the airport. So by staying in the city centre, we saved money by walking lots, where as if we had been much further out we may have spent more time and money on buses etc. Walking more is also a more sustainable and healthy option, and gives you the chance to see the city you’re in up close.

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I hope this was helpful if you are planning a trip on a budget. Here is a link to another of my Edinburgh posts which has more details on great things to do in Edinburgh once you’re there!

Hope you are having a great day where ever you are in the world,

Mol x

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The Essential Guide For Your First Trip to York, The Perfect UK City Break

Exploring York for the first time was a great experience, a city full of history and beauty. We packed so much in to a short space of time so if you are looking for a UK city break with lots to offer, then York would be a brilliant choice! It was great to be in a place where you can walk everywhere due to everything in the city centre being so close together. The city also has a vibrant and friendly atmosphere which makes it a lovely place to be in. We visited for a long weekend but you could certainly spend more time here and have plenty to do! This guide features three mains sections: What to Do and Where to Visit, Food and Drink, and Accommodation.

What to Do and Where to Visit

York Minster

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York Minster is one of the largest cathedrals in Northern Europe. Then first recorded church building on the site was estimated to have been built in 627, although just a wooden structure at this time. The first stone structure was completed in 637.

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Guided tours run here from 10am-3pm from Monday-Saturday. You can also pay extra to take a trip up the tower, which is a climb of around 275 steps. I also got a student discount on entrance, and by paying once you receive a ticket which you can use for a whole year, which is a brilliant deal if you are planning on visiting again.

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There was so much to see that you could easily spend hours here. We spent a whole morning here but there were still lots of things we could have spent more time looking at. The information provided on the history of the cathedral was also very interesting to read.

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The cathedral has more medieval stained glass windows than anywhere else in the country, they really are stunning.

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York Minster is a stunning building from the outside as well as the inside, and the detail in its architecture is quite incredible. I would highly recommend this as a must see place when visiting York.

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There is a small gift shop attached to York Minster if you are looking to buy any souvenirs from your stay in York. Here is a link to their website if you would like some more information.

The Jorvick Museum

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The Jorvik Centre was another great tourist experience. On the site of the Jorvik Centre, between 1976-1981 archaeologists revealed the viking city of Jorvik as it once stood around 1000 years ago. The Jorvik centre stands on the site of the excavation grounds to reconstruct what life was like in 10th century York.

When you first go in, you are taken round in what they call ‘gondolas’ which look like slow moving and low down cable cars. You are then taken round the reconstruction of the city, this includes sight, sounds and even smells. There is also a speaker on the gondola which plays an audio guide throughout about the buildings and people you see as you go along. There is also a screen on the front with pictures and additional information. The recreations are extremely authentic due to the detail in them. There are 22 characters withing the reconstruction, their clothing, speech and facial features is all specifically from research in to Viking-age York to ensure that everything is as accurate as possible. When you’ve finished the ride, there is then the museum including more information and artefacts that were discovered from the 10th century.

It was a bit tricky getting pictures whilst taking in the whole tour but the photo below is the screens in front of you that you can use whilst on the ride. You can also change the language on these if you are visiting from abroad.

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You can pre-book tickets which gives you a time slot for your visit and enables you to fast track through the entrance (it was fairly busy we went so this may be advisable). Adult tickets are £12.50 which covers admission for a whole year. Other tickets are also available for families of 4 and 5, concessions, and children.

 

The Shambles

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The Shambles is the iconic narrow street in York with its timber buildings dating back as far as the 13th century. During medieval times the street was used for butcher shops, which is why some of the shops still have meat hooks placed on the front of them. If you’re a Harry Potter fan this will definitely be a must see for you! There were at least three Harry Potter themed stores and many compare the street to Diagon Alley.

Do bear in mind that due to being one of Europe’s most visited streets, The Shambles does get very busy and is very narrow! So if you are looking to get some good photos of it then you might want to go early in the day. Here is a link to The Shambles Trip Advisor page if you are looking more more information or reviews.

It’s also worth just taking the time to wander round the other streets of the city centre, there are some incredibly beautiful old buildings and quirky shops to admire. Every building and street is full of character and has a unique feel to it.

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The Original Ghost Walk of York

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The ghost walk began at the King’s Arms pub, and runs every night at 8pm. The guide takes you round the city and stops off at various locations to share stories and experiences of people claiming to have seen ghosts there. The man who ran the tour was an absolutely brilliant storyteller and made the tour very interesting. It was also a great way of getting a tour of the city too. It was about an hour in length. You do not have to book, tickets are £5.00 each, children are £4.

 

Walk The City Walls

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The city walls are 3.4km long in total and are the longest medieval walls in England. Walking the whole route would take you around two hours. I would recommend doing even just part of the route if you want to see some great views of York, there is also a great view of York Minster.

Here is a link to a map with the 5 points at which you can enter the walk round the walls.

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Food and Drink

The Whippet Inn

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We visited this restaurant for mu Uncle’s 50th celebration and it was a fabulous meal, the staff brought out a cake at the end too which was a lovely touch. The waitress was also incredibly helpful and friendly, she really made the meal a brilliant experience. The food was delicious, I would highly recommend this restaurant if you are looking for a nice meal out during your stay in York. We walked from our airbnb in the city centre which took around 20 minutes.

The Old White Swan

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The atmosphere of this pub was lovely, a very cosy vibe with fairy lights and rustic decor. It was pretty busy when we went on a Friday evening which added nicely to the friendly atmosphere.

The Three Tuns

We popped in to this old style pub for a quick drink in between exploring the Shambles and the Jorvick Centre. This one is certainly more of a classic and older feeling pub, it was a bit darker inside and is less modern. We actually quite liked this as it fits in with the historical feel that many of the York streets and buildings have. But again this one was very friendly and was a great stop off point for a drink and a seat.

The Golden Fleece

This was another oldy-worldy style pub from the 16th century, said to be one of the most haunted buildings in York! The old style decor and stories you hear of this pub did indeed give it a bit of a spooky feeling. Again, we just stopped off here for a drink whilst exploring the centre of York, a very quirky and interesting place to have a drink or some food.

The York Gin Shop

This was a lovely shop and the staff were also very helpful and welcoming. We bought one of the small bottles of gin which comes in a very unique square shaped bottle.

 

Accommodation

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This was the beautiful house we stayed in for the weekend. It was only a couple of minutes walking distance from the very centre of the city. You could walk to York Minster in about five minutes, it was a brilliant location for our stay.

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The house had a beautiful balance of maintaining the character of the 1753 property but also having modern elements which gave it a very fresh and homely feel. There were eight of us staying in the house which is the maximum amount of guests you can have staying here. The house was across three floors, and the rooms were incredibly spacious.

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You can see in the photo below that you actually get a stunning view of York Minster from the upstairs window.

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I hope this city guide was useful if you are wanting to venture to York any time soon, I hope you have an incredible time if you are. Let me know if you have visited this beautiful city and if there are any other parts of the city that you enjoyed that are not included in this post!

Hope you are having a great day where ever you are in the world,

Mol x

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The Top 5 Hidden Travel Gems in South West France

Why should southern France be next on your travel bucket list?

If you are a lover of beautiful scenery, locally sourced wines and cheeses, endless sunflower fields, and small towns filled with cobbled streets, then southern France in the region of Aquitaine will be a dream destination for you. I have visited South West France over at least 10 trips, but on this one in particular, we found lots of gorgeous spots that were a bit less on the tourist’s radars, perhaps due to being in more rural locations and which were not heavily advertised. In this post I have collated the top 5 discoveries of our trip this year, including the most beautiful water mill and lake, markets to peruse through, and food that you simply can’t miss.

For a brief travel introduction, we flew from Birmingham airport (England) to Bergerac airport. The flight was just two hours, we flew with Flybe and booked the flights almost a year in advance which is a great idea if you are looking to save some money! It was incredibly easy journey, we have used Flybe for this journey many times in past years and we have had a positive travel experience every time. We then stayed in a hamlet named ‘Cerisiers’ which was a 10 minute drive from the town ‘Duras’. It was around a 45 minute drive from Bergerac airport.

 

1. Saint Pierre sur Dropt- The Most Beautiful Water Mill and Lake

This was a very small village, very near to a house we had stayed in on a previous trip to the area. At first glance, it doesn’t appear that there is much there to do. However we found some information suggesting there was a water mill in the village that was open to the public for just a couple of days a week.

We did indeed manage to find this beautiful spot named ‘Moulin de Cocussotte’. It was just a short drive from where we staying in the hamlet of ‘Cerisiers’. There is parking available here (there is no public transport to it due to its very rural location).

This was the beautiful lake on which the water mill and its grounds look out upon. The views were utterly gorgeous, and it was a very tranquil place. The sounds of the running water made for a very relaxing scene.

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This is the water wheel here, set against the luscious green leaves growing up the side of the stone house.

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This is another view of the building which the water mill is attached to. It’s surrounded by vibrant baskets of flowers, and small ponds with walkways across them. It was refreshing to be in such a naturally beautiful environment.

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There were also these magnificent wooden sculptures featured across the gardens, depicting various animals. This one of the horse was one of my favourites, it was life size too!

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This photograph below shows the interesting display of items which have been found in the river. The sign states the phrase ‘gifts of the river’. It’s very sad to think that so many plastic and glass items like these end up in beautiful stretches of water such as this one.

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There is a website for this lovely place but it is in French, it is linked here for you. You can also book to stay in the lovely house, it seems to have great reviews on Booking.com.

To visit the water mill and its grounds it costs $4 each for entry. There was also a guided tour by the man who lives in the house by the water mill and whose family have lived there a long time. We didn’t stay for all of the tour and were able to wander off on our own to explore. But if you are a speaker of French then I’m sure the tour probably had some very interesting information in it!

 

2 & 3: Taillecavat- The Village Full of Character and the Most Gorgeous Animals

Taillecavat was a beautifully small village, about a fifteen minute walk from the villa we were staying in for the trip. Despite being a very small area, it was a very interesting place to explore. We wandered down the winding country roads to the village every morning after sunrise to pick up croissants and a baguette from the small boulangerie named ‘Madame and Monsieur Raymond’. We enjoyed supporting their local business, it was also fun to practice our French and refreshing to not have the locals speak English to us.

There is also a small yet magnificent church that stands in the centre of the village which we included on our morning route.

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One of the other highlights of the village was certainly these two gorgeous animals…

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These were the two donkeys who lived in an old moat surrounding a chateau that has been converted in to a field. We named them Delilah and Daphne, and we fed them an assortment of fruit or veg every morning as we walked past them. As you can see here, carrots were a firm favourite!

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The village is surrounded by endless rows of lush green grape vines and fields of gold from the sunshine coloured sunflowers. I have more sunflower field content and information on our accommodation from this trip in my Best of Bergerac series which can be found here.

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4. Sainte Foy la Grande- A Good Ol’ Traditional French Market

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We visited the day market in Sainte Foy la Grande, which was predominantly a food market. We did try some great street food, which is always a great experience. We tried some ‘pomme de terres sautée’, which was fried potatoes that were cooked with mushrooms and lots of garlic. It was absolutely delicious, we ate a lot of it!

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The market had a great atmosphere to it as it was quite busy, a mixture of locals and tourists it seems which was a nice balance. There were rows and rows of fresh fruit and vegetables, cheeses, seafood and meats. It’s great to see people out supporting local businesses where the produce is fresh and local.

There were also these gorgeous bunches of flowers on sale, the colours were incredibly eye catching.

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There were also lots of cafes and places to eat surrounding the market squares, which is great if you want to stop off for a drink and watch the hustle and bustle of the market go-ers. We sat by the market and wrote some postcards, which we bought from a small shop in the town. There is a post office here which is handy if you want to do the same.

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The shops along the streets of the market are also worth a look in, this one was a deli and was full of interesting foods, spices and types of coffees.

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5. Duras: Hotel de Ducs- The Must Visit Restaurant

The town of Duras was about a 10 minute drive from where we were staying. This restaurant was a particular food highlight of the trip, so if you are in the area and looking for excellent food and good service then Hotel de Ducs would be a brilliant choice.

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These small aperitifs were given to us when we arrived (they do not charge you for these extras they include). These were delicious, flavoured with fresh smoked salmon, walnuts and chutney. It was details like this which added a lovely touch to the meal.

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This was also another aperitif given to us after we had ordered our meal. This was a bread roll with a goats cheese and chive mousse, which was also lovely.

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I thought I’d try a meal which I had never had before, I always think it’s great to do that when you’re away somewhere different. This was melon soup, with salad and parma ham on toasted bread. I was surprised to find that I loved the soup! Due to being served cold, it was light and refreshing. I’m glad I tried something new!

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This was the view from inside the restaurant, it looked out on to the garden and pool of the hotel, it was nice and cool because of the canopy above us too. If you want some more information on places to eat in the region of Aquitaine then click here for my French Food and Drink Guide.

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The staff who worked here were very friendly and the service was extremely efficient. It’s a family run business, I also liked how again they spoke to us in French and not English even when they knew we were tourists. I would highly recommend this restaurant if you are looking for a fabulous meal, it would be great for a special occasion.

I have written about some of the other French market towns that are well worth seeing in the area in my French Market Town Guide if you would like some more information and travel inspiration!

Hope you are having a great day where ever you are in the world,

Mol x

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Spending a Day in London as a Tourist: Hyde Park, The Tate Britain, and Covent Garden

“Oh, I love London Society! It is entirely composed now of beautiful idiots and brilliant lunatics. Just what Society should be” –Oscar Wilde

I was lucky enough to spend a gorgeous and sunny day exploring London on our last bank holiday. So if you are looking for some inspiration of things to do and see in London then here is a day’s travel guide to adventuring around England’s capital city. We started off in Hyde Park after getting off the train in Marylebone. We then headed to the Tate Britain and the Van Gough exhibition. Westminster was next on the list with Big Ben, Westminster Abbey and the Houses of Parliament. Finally, we headed around the beautiful area of Covent Garden. You simply can’t beat the atmosphere of London on a sunny day.

Hyde Park

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We started our walk in the north of the park, as we came out of the Lancaster Gate tube station which is just over the road from Hyde Park. This means you can start your walk in the Italian gardens, which has some beautiful flowers and fountains in it. We walked right down the length of the park, down to the Princess Diana Memorial Garden. This was a beautiful walk, it’s great to be in London but surrounded by green, open space. It’s a lovely walk past the Serpentine river too. For the route we walked, we exited the park very near to Hyde Park Corner tube station. This is a good place to come out if you then need to get a tube after your trip to the park.

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There are so many great spots for a picnic and also some great places for food and drink. There were lots of people renting bikes which I’d love to do in the future. There are a few places throughout the park where you can buy food and drink too. If you know the route you are walking then maybe just check on the map when you get there to see where you could pick something up. We had a coffee and pastry from the Italian Gardens Cafe, which was gorgeous. There are also tables to sit and eat here if you want a stop off and appreciate the Italian Gardens at the same time. The cafe was on the more expensive side for food so if you are on a budget you may want to bear this in mind. The Serpentine Bar and Kitchen also looked like a great food and drink option. It has a fabulous view and is set right on the edge of the river. There are also tables outside which look like a great spot for a sunny day. You can also rent boats on the Serpentine if you are wanting to do a bit of rowing!

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EY Van Gough Exhibition- Tate Britain

The Tate Britain is an art museum which was opened in the Millbank area in 1897. It houses art from 1500 up to the present day. We got to the gallery by getting off the tube at Pimlico station then walking from there. It was only a ten minute walk and the gallery is sign posted which makes it very easy to find.

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This exhibition was brilliant, with a good balance of Van Gough’s work and also information about his life and inspiration for his work. It was wonderful to see his iconic paintings in person. ‘The Starry Night’ is my favourite of his work, but the famous ‘Sunflowers IXXI’ is also a stunning piece.

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The exhibition was extremely busy when we went so bear this in mind when you go in. Some of the paintings were very crowded, but it seemed to get less busy as we progressed through the exhibit rooms.

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Here is a link to the exhibition information if you are wanting to look in to visiting. It is running until the 11th of August, but you have to book your tickets in advance as it’s been a very popular attraction. Also, if you are between the ages of 16-25 you can get in for just £5! I just had to sign up to the ‘Tate Collective Scheme’ on their website, which gives young people discounts on any exhibition. I would’ve paid £22 for a ticket without doing that, so definitely worth doing! You just need age ID when you go in so they can confirm you are between 16-25.

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The architecture of the building is beautiful. There is also a restaurant and cafe inside the museum, we had lunch in the cafe. The food was delicious, but again on the slightly more pricey side. There is also a water machine in the cafe which is handy if you are needing to fill up bottles, sometimes this can be tricky when you’re out and about all day.

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We also had a wander round the other rooms in the Tate Britain outside of the Van Gough exhibition. All of these are free to enter! There was a mix of older works, more modern ones, and also quite a few sculptures funky sculptures.

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This piece below has a very interesting finding to it. Sonia Boyce invited people to come to be photographed in an afro wig. But from sourcing the wigs, she realised they were only available in fancy dress and costume shops as opposed to any of the hair shops in London. She realised this was due to them being used as a trigger of mockery against African-Caribbeans.

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The gift shop had a large range of lovely gifts, all ranging in price. There was everything from books, postcards, clothes and art prints to purchase.

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The Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey and Big Ben

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We walked up to Westminster from the Tate Britain as it was just a short walk up the Thames. We walked past the houses of parliament and Big Ben which is a good walk if you want to experience the busy nature of London! This is also a good spot to visit if you are wanting to visit the classic London tourist spots. Bear in mind if you are visiting at the moment, Big Ben is covered in scaffolding due to the construction and repair work going on.

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This statue of Emmeline Pankhurst is near the Houses of Parliament. Pankhurst was one of the leading figures in the suffragette movement in Britain who fought for women’s rights to vote.

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Covent Garden

Covent Garden has its own tube station so it makes to a very easy location to get to. We travelled from Westminster tube station and with a few changes, it was a pretty easy and quick journey.

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We had a good browse around the covered markets, which are also near to all the other shops. The markets had a lot of vintage jewellery and furniture if you are interested in retro stuff! We aslo saw some really great street performers, from painters to a man doing the limbo which was on fire! If you have time, I would highly recommend stopping to watch some of the acts as there were some brilliant ones. It also creates a lovely atmosphere when everyone gathers around to watch.

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“London is a roost for every bird”- Benjamin Disraeli

This concludes this London day guide! I hope you enjoy your trip if you are visiting soon.

Looking for another city break? Have you seen the wonders that Edinburgh has to offer in my blog post?!

Hope you are having a great day where ever you are in the world,

Mol x

Let’s be social! Twitter // Pinterest // Bloglovin’

How I Used Pinterest to Boost My Blog Traffic- 5 Top Tips for Creating Engaging Pin Graphics

There is a huge amount of Pinterest advice posts out there with some really fab advice. In the past when reading other posts, I’ve found that it’s hard to work out how people progressed from being a beginner to where they are now with their pins. They show you their current strategies, but not necessarily the progress and steps it takes from getting from the beginner stages. For me, this was the tricky bit! So in this post, I will show you the styles of pins I am currently using and what I’ve found to create successful pins that gain engagement. But I will also be showing my older pins that gained few saves and barely any clicks and what they did not include. I hope that this might help with what you could add to your pins if you feel like you are stuck in a bit of a Pinterest rut!

To give a bit of background, I use the website ‘Canva’ to create my Pinterest graphics. It’s super easy to use, and there are hundreds of Pinterest templates that you can use. This is great for layout inspo but also makes sure that your pins are the best size. The longer pins are known to do better so it’s great that Canva uses this size for templates. Canva also has so many other types of templates if you are wanting to make other graphic content such as headers, logos or social media posts.

Here are my five top tips for making your pins more engaging:

  1. Include Your Website Name/Address 

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This text doesn’t need to be huge, but just a clearly printed name or web address of your website so people know what it’s called and where they will be directed if they click on your pin. If people then realise they enjoy your pins and they all link to the same website, they are more likely to follow you or to visit your blog to see what other content you have to offer.

2. Make it Clear What Your Website is

This can just be a few words to sum up your website, for example on my pins, I simply use ‘travel and lifestyle blog’. This means if the people looking at your pins enjoy this type of content, they are again more likely to visit your website if they like content of this theme.

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3. A Great and Engaging Title

On previous pins I used titles such as ‘The Best of Bergerac’. As catchy as this sounds with the classic use of alliteration, did everyone reading this know that Bergerac is a region in Southern France? No they didn’t. I now use titles such as ‘The Essential Southern France Travel Guide- Bergerac’. This gives a more specific title and means that you are not restricting your audience. It also indicates that the post is travel related, a guide to help people, and specifies the country and region that the post is on. You don’t want to make your titles too long and rambly, just give readers enough information to know the exact topic of the post. I’ve also found that using certain adjectives leads to more engagement. Posts with ‘best’ ‘most’ ‘essential’ etc. tend to better so don’t be afraid to big your posts up in your own pins! At the end of the day, the point of these pins is to encourage people to click on your pins so using persuasive language is a good idea.

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Additionally, you can make multiple pins for the same post to save long rambling titles. For example, I have a post on cruelty free body care and skin care. I have multiple pins for this post, with different titles that are all still relevant to the post, for example: 1‘The Top Cruelty Free Skincare Brands You Must Try’// 2. ‘Cruelty Free Skincare For Blemish Prone Skin’// 3. ‘Cruelty Free Must Have Products’

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The picture below is an older pin. Previously, my pins only used the title ‘cruelty free skincare’ which is not as catchy or engaging and gained far less views and saves. Additionally, I also found that using such a curly styled font made my website name harder to read. I’ve found that simply going through and trying loads of fonts is the best way to find one that suits your pins. Additionally, the pin below is also quite pale in colour, which sometimes is less engaging than bright images. One thing from this pin that I do still use is having a title in the middle and making this text quite large. This makes it quite eye catching if people are seeing it amongst lots of other pins on their screens.

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Here is another old pin for the same post that did not do well and that I would not post now! With this pin, the title is not very clear and gets lost a bit in the bright image. Again, the same goes for the website name. There is also no description of the post’s content.

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The image below is a pin I now use for this blog post so you can see how I changed the ideas from the pin above to create a more engaging one. The one below has received a good amount of link clicks compared to the amount of saves it has.

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4. A Brief Description of the Post’s Content

I’ve found that using a sentence or two briefly describing what the post is about can really boost engagement. It can be really short in small text like the one below. But adding a few more specifics covered  within the post is even better.

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This Iceland pin below describes a few key topics that the post includes within the travel guide. If someone is looking for a travel guide to the Blue Lagoon, it’s likely that they will be a tourist who has perhaps never visited before. So by stating in your pin that your blog post covers information such as prices and what to expect from your first trip, first time visitors are likely to looking for this information and are therefore more likely to read the post.

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5. A Bright and Inviting Photograph/ Background

I’ve found that the brighter and bolder images seem to be more engaging. They get more saves and more clicks. I’ve also found that certain colour backgrounds/text boxes seem to do much better than others! For me, yellow, orange and purple pins seem to do very well. Green pins I’ve found seem to get hardly any clicks and fewer saves! Pink and blue seem to do quite well if they are bright shades. I find that using white text on a brightly coloured text box seems to be a successful graphic style. For me, finding what works for my pins and audience was simply trial and error. One of the most helpful tips I’ve used is create pins that you would click on! I took some time going through pins which I found eye catching and ones that I would click on. I then took inspiration from these and thought about what it was about the pins that drew me to them. Try to work that out and then apply that to your own pins. There’s no point creating graphics that you would not click on yourself.

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I hope this post was helpful if you were in need of some Pinterest inspiration or tips!

Hope you are having a great day where ever you are in the world,

Mol x

Let’s be social! Twitter // Pinterest // Bloglovin’

Easy and Affordable Ways to Create a More Sustainable and Eco Friendly Beauty Routine

Welcome back folks! I’m becoming more and more interested in making sustainable swaps wherever I can. I’ve found that cosmetic products are some of the easiest items to start swapping for more sustainable ones. The fab fact is that this is very cheap and easy to do! A win win. None of these items are expensive or hard to source either. It makes me realise that making the effort to research more sustainable products really is worth it. These small and easy changes can make such an impact. LUSH estimate that selling their shampoo bars alone saves 6 million plastic bottles globally.

Reusable Cotton Pads

Reusable cotton pads not only save a huge amount of disposable cotton pads but also the plastic packaging they come in. Here is the link on Amazon to the ones that I purchased and love using. They come in a laundry bag which you can wash them in. This also means that they do not come in any plastic packaging, it’s a win win! The pads are made of bamboo and are very soft and gentle to use, they are also a decent enough size, about the same as a large cotton pad. They come out of the washing machine completely clean which I was very impressed by, even if I’ve used them to remove a lot of mascara. Considering I use cotton pads every day, it’s a very simple solution that prevents a large amount of waste.

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Muslin cloths are another great product to use for removing cleansers and face masks etc. as they are another re-usable product that you could use instead of cotton pads.

Makeup Remover Cloths

If you also aware of the single use plastic that makeup remover bottles is using, then you may also want to try out a makeup remover cloth, this saves both cotton pads and plastic bottles, a win win. If you are looking for a cheap one, you can pick them up in Primark for about £1.50. You can also buy them in packs which is great value and means you are fully stocked up in case one is in the wash when you need it.

Non-plastic Cotton Buds

I make sure I buy cotton buds that do not have a plastic stem. Brands such as Johnson’s, Superdrug and Boots all stock paper stemmed cotton buds, just make sure to check the box if you aren’t sure if they are paper or plastic. They are no more expensive than plastic cotton buds which is brilliant. Amazon also stocks a lot of bamboo cotton buds if this is something you are interested in. I use cotton buds a lot in my skincare and makeup routine so again it’s another easy change to make that saves a lot single use plastic.

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Bamboo Toothbrushes

There are many brands and types of non plastic toothbrushes out there, but Bamboogaloo are certainly the game changing brand in the industry. The bamboo used to make the brushes is sustainably sourced as it is Moso bamboo, meaning that it is not the type that pandas rely on to eat! The company are also certified by FSC and ensure fair wages are paid to employees. The charcoal infused bristles are very soft. I also think it’s incredibly innovative that the the packaging is made from recycled cardboard and the brushes are wrapped in ‘bio-wrapper’. The wrappers look like plastic but are actually composed of plant cellulose, meaning they are biodegradable and plant based! They are the only company to be doing this so I think it’s important to support this funky and waste saving design. The toothbrushes also come with 100 free bamboo cotton buds which is a fab deal.

Here is the link to the Bamboogaloo toothbrushes I use, they are £7.49 for a pack of five and the cotton buds which is a brilliant deal considering the sustainability of the brand.

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LUSH shampoo and conditioner bars

One shampoo bar can give you around 100+ washes, and is the equivelant to around three plastic shampoo bottles. Therefore not only can they save you money but also a large amount of plastic. The Montalbano shampoo bar is my top pick, it’s bright yellow and is made with lemon juice, green olives and rosemary so it has a gorgeous citrus scent. Also it takes me months to get through just one of these, so for £7.50 you are getting a hell of a lot of uses for your money. I also purchased the LUSH ‘Round Tin’, which is a little metal tin that you can keep your shampoo bar in. It makes it so easy to travel with it, and stops it getting too damp in the shower between uses. My fave conditioner bar is the scent ‘BIG’ from LUSH, which has a beautiful coconut scent and contains extra virgin coconut oil, organic lemon juice, seaweed and vetivert oil. I have long, thick curly hair and I find this product detangles my curls but also hydrates my hair so my curls fall nicely.

Buy from Brands Utilising Recycled Packaging

Using brands such as LUSH who are doing their best to use recycled packaging is another great way to purchase cosmetics more sustainably. LUSH also take back their pots in store and even the black plastic ones are sent to a green hub where they are washed and used for future packaging. Soaper Duper are also using a large amount of semi-skimmed milk bottles to create their handwash and bodywash bottles. Their products in tubes are 55% PCR and their bodywash is 50% PCR (post-consumer recycled). They have saved around 22 tonnes of plastic since they launched which is remarkable. Ecotools are also using recycled aluminium in their brush handles and the brushes are made from bamboo.

There are so many other swaps that I am still yet to make, I don’t want to recommend products that I have not tried myself. But here are a few more things I would like to start using in the near future:

Metal razor- This means you simply replace the razor heads and the actual razor is long lasting and none of the product is made of plastic.

Menstrual cup- The amount of sanitary product waste from one woman alone is a large amount, but by using a re-usable menstrual cup you can limit this.

Even if you make one sustainable swap, it is a fab start! If you start making changes very slowly it will be far easier and more of an enjoyable process. If you have tried any of thes swaps or have any recommendations for other sustainable brands or products then please let me know!

Hope you are having a great day where ever you are in the world,

Mol x

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Discovering the Wilds of the Scottish Highlands, The Tourist’s Guide to the Applecross Peninsula

Welcome to part two of my Applecross travel series!

Here is part one if you missed it! My first post shows you the journey to Applecross up the Bealach Na Ba, the beautiful cottage we stayed in, and some of the incredible views we enjoyed.

In this second instalment, I share with you the gorgeous beach that was right on our doorstep during our stay. The famous Applecross Inn is also a feature of this post, a must see spot if you are visiting the area!

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This was the pebbled beach that was just beneath the cottage we stayed in (the cottage was just further left of the end of this photo). Clachan Church is the building on the right, which there is photos of further down in this post!

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This was the view from the beach at sunset. The mountains you can see in the photograph below is the Isle of Rasaay which is an island between mainland Scotland and the Isle of Skye.

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Clachan Church

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The church was built in 1817, but stands on the site where the 7th century monastery once stood which was established by the Irish saint ‘Maelrubha’. Maelrubha sailed from Bangor to Scotland in the year 671, and is thought to be responsible for the spread of Christianity in parts of Northern Scotland. If you want to learn any more information and see the interior of the church then this Britain Express page is a helpful place to look.

 

The Famous ‘Applecross Inn’

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The atmosphere in the inn is extremely warm and friendly, it was also lovely to see people visiting from all corners of the world. There is a very funky map inside on the wall where you can put a pin of where you’re from, it was great to see how people have visited from so many countries! We enjoyed drinks here a few times and sat outside to enjoy the lovely views. We also had a meal here which was delicious, the menu was great. There are also rooms available to stay in here if you are looking for accommodation in Applecross. Here is a link to their website if you would like to check it out!

The Silver Bullet

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The silver bullet was just outside of the Applecross Inn. We had some incredible ice creams here, which were home made and there were different flavours every time we went back! The fish and chips were delicious and there were also other drinks etc. you could buy here.

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We saw this deer roaming in this field just along from the Applecross Inn, the building in this photo offers kayaking trips if you fancy doing some water sports whilst you’re in Applecross!

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I hope you enjoyed this second part of my Applecross series, the next part features the Kishorn seafood bar, and some great coastal picnic spots!

Hope you are having a great day where ever you are in the world,

Mol x

Part one of the Applecross series! Are you wanting more Scotland travel posts? Check out Edinburgh or St Andrews!

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Cruelty Free Skincare and Body Care Saviours

Hello pals, hope everybody had a fantastic Easter break in the glorious weather!

Today’s post is a collection of all my favourite cruelty free skincare and body care products. Since 2018 I have been gradually transitioning my cosmetic products to being cruelty free. Whenever something runs out, if it’s not cruelty free, then I replace it with a product that is. I’ve found this has been a really easy way of doing it, and I have been surprised to find that I’ve not felt restricted in what products I can buy. Luckily, some of my favourite brands such as The Body Shop are cruelty free anyway!

The Body Shop

The Body Shop is my favourite brand to buy from when it comes to body care. Their ethics on aiming to ban animal testing and also providing great and effective products really sets them apart from other brands. I have been buying their products for years, and especially enjoy stocking up in the summer, their fruit ranges are my absolute favourite.

Coconut Exfoliating Cream Body Scrub

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I’ve tried several of the Body Shop’s body scrubs, I love all of them but the gorgeous scent of the coconut one really stands out. You get 250ml for £15, which is worth it because I find the product lasts a good amount of time. You can also buy a 50ml version for £6, they are fab for travelling as they are compact, and have enough product in to last you a good couple of weeks. I also love this product in the mango and pink grapefruit ranges, if you need a summer holiday travel treat this year then definitely check these gorgeous scents out.

Mango Body Butter

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A lot of people know and love the iconic Body Shop body butters. They are extremely hydrating, but don’t leave the skin feeling sticky. They also smell great, and the scent lasts throughout the day which is an added bonus. They are £15 for 200ml, and again they last for AGES. The 50ml travel size is £6. The other great thing about the body butters and scrubs is they regularly have sales or deals on if you buy a few products so look out for these if you are wanting to save your coins!

Mango Body Mist

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The mango body mist is my go to perfume, and they are only £8! For how long this product lasts and how good it smells, this one of my all time favourite beauty products. Also, if you pair a body butter with a body mist over the top, the scent lasts an incredibly long time. You really can’t go wrong with The Body Shop.

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Liz Earle

Liz Earle is a naturally active skincare brand, whose products are created to suit all skin types. Their use of great botanical ingredients, and simple and light packaging makes their products exceptional.

Cleanse and Polish

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This is hands down the best skincare product that I have ever used. I have normal to oily skin, and since using Liz Earle products, my skin has never looked as radiant or clear. I just simply wet my face before I put the product on my face, then remove it with a muslin cloth. It has a very light scent of chamomile, which I really love. The product is £27 for 200ml, which I am happy to pay considering the results that it gives. You can also buy an 100ml size which comes in a pump, or a 30ml which is brilliant for travelling. I have included a picture below, this is the only cleanser I have used for over a year and I have no makeup on my skin here.

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Gentle Face Exfoliator

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If you’re looking for a an exfoliator which isn’t too abrasive but also still does a good job then I would highly recommend this one. It has quite a creamy consistency and looks very like the cleanser, which is why it feels so hydrating. My skin always feels incredibly smooth after using this, but not red and sensitive like my skin has felt after using some other exfoliators. Again, it has a very light scent, but I think eucalyptus is a very gentle scent so it’s not too noticeable. The brand do suggest that if you have sensitive skin then you should be careful when using this product.

Skin Repair Moisturiser- Normal/Combination

This is a very light but hydrating moisturiser. Paired with the other products above, it’s a winning combo. I have the 50ml jar, you can also buy it in a tube, or the 15ml travel size. They also have a ‘Dry and Sensitive’ version of this product if that fits your skin type.

 

Yes To

Yes To are another fab brand which I’d love to try more products from. All of their products are at least 95% natural, and they are also very affordable. I also love how their ranges are divided in to skin types, for example the tomatoes range is aimed at combination prone skin, and the coconut range is aimed at dry skin.

Tomatoes Mud Mask

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This is a fab mud mask. I am very prone to blackheads around my nose and using this product just once a week makes a noticeable difference to this issue. It also leaves my skin feeling very smooth, but not stripped of all it’s natural oils. It’s priced at around £11.99 from Boots.

I have also tried the Cucumbers Calming Micellar Water from Yes to which was an extremely refreshing product, and it was really good for removing makeup, especially mascara. I’ve struggled to find cruelty free and affordable micellar waters but this seems to be the best pick so far!

The Ordinary

Niacinimide 10% + Zinc 1%

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This serum is a high vitamin and mineral blemish formula. It’s aim is to reduce the look of congestion and blemishes. I have been using this product for about two months, and saw a difference in my skin after only three days of using it. the congestion and texture of my nose has definitely settled more. I also have some scarring on my forehead from previous blemishes and these have become noticeably smaller too. I use this after the Liz Earle Cleanse and Polish and before my Liz Earle moisturiser. I am amazed that this product is just £5. This is the only product I have tried from The Ordinary but I am keen to try out some more. Let me know if you have any recommendations!

I hope this post was helpful if you are looking to get in to buying more cruelty free cosmetics!

Hope you are having a great day where ever you are in the world,

Mol x

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