Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Has Travel Become Competitive?

I've noticed a bit of a trend recently, and even I've been a victim of it. I don't know whether if it's because I'm involved in the travel blogger community, have uncontrollable wanderlust, or down to something else altogether, but lately, I've felt traveling has got a little bit competitive. Whether it be how many countries you visit in a year, how far you've travelled solo, or where you've stayed, things have turned into a bit of a competition, and I'm not sure if I like it.

Quality or Quantity

I've been thinking about this for a while now, and it think it all comes down to quality or quantity. The way I see it, there are two types of traveller, those who opt for quality, really experiencing the culture of a country and explore what it has to offer, or those who decide they want to visit as many countries as possible in the shortest space of time. There's no right or wrong, it's what you want to do. Being honest? I'm a mixture of the two, as I think most people probably are. I want to travel to as many different countries as I can because I want to take advantage of being able to do so. I am completely fascinated by different cultures and experiences and want to make the most of having a passport. On the other hand, I've taken 3 years exploring USA and a tiny bit of Canada, breaking different areas up into separate trips, but I wouldn't even think about doing this for other countries. Why? Because I organise trips based on what interests me and if everything that I want to see is relatively close to each other I'll try and see it all in a single trip. Makes sense right?

Being from the UK, I'm incredibly lucky in that I have the ability to travel to most countries, and am fortunate I have the opportunity to be able to afford to travel. The World has never really been more accessible, with cheap flights and package deals, travelling has become a norm, especially for twenty-somethings. I was talking to my Dad about this actually before I left for my most recent trip, and he was saying gap years were unheard of when he was younger, and people only really travelled to Europe And when he did travel to Europe he felt like he was the luckiest person alive. Having a quick flick through my Instagram now and I have friends currently in Australia, Japan, Thailand, Chile and South Africa. That's how times have changed; people roam more and further than they have ever been able to. My Dad thinks I'm incredible because I will go travelling alone. He constantly says he wouldn't of been able to do this when he was younger, but then again, it's pretty normal now, this solo traveling malarky.

Still not seeing the competition yet? Don't worry, I'm getting to it.  I've been planning to go to Australia and New Zealand for the longest time, and am now starting to plan a rough trip for in about two years. It was whilst looking at ideas, so I can get a rough idea of how much I need to save, I kept thinking that I need to add other countries to my list. Well, yeah, to be fair, when the time comes I'll probably add 2 other places for a little stop-over to make the travelling a bit more bearable but my trip suddenly turned into this mammoth round-the-world spectacular. How did that happen? Because I looked at other people's gap year itineraries online and their's made mine look a little pathetic for someone who calls themselves a travel blogger. So it grew.

Are Pinterest and Instagram to blame?

I opted for quantity or quality. I tried to budget for a couple of days in each country so I could say I'd been, and then move on to the next. And instead of waiting for a couple of years to save up, I felt the need to do it now, because, well because the world was there waiting. When I stepped back, I had a thought, is this really how I want to travel? Cram everything in, exhaust myself, see a lot but experience nothing? I felt bad because so far I've only been to 'Western' countries and these didn't count as travelling. I thought I had to visit countries with entirely different cultures on the opposite side of the world to be considered to be a serious traveller. And that's the problem. I stopped travelling for me, and stated planning trips that would make people think I was a true adventurer and I guess, impress people.

Yeah, if I'm honest I wanted to impress people with a super fancy list of countries, crammed full of the best hostels, hotels and experiences possible. I wanted to be able to say I've slept in a floating bungalow, I wanted to say I've been blessed by a Buddhist Monk in a hidden temple and I also kinda wanted to have incredible pictures. You know, pictures that prove I've been there and prove I've travelled far and wide. Why? Because that's what everyone else had, and, honestly, I wanted it too, and more. The pictures, not the experiences (although the ones I've said I'd actually love to do). That's the thing. Pictures are supposed to tell a thousand words, but sometimes they don't tell a true thousand. Sometimes the person looks like they have experienced more than they have. If I did that mammoth itinerary, that's what would have happened to me. I'd have had all the pictures, but none of the stories, life experiences and memories. I would have been too busy rushing around to really understand any culture and enjoy my time there. Sounds like my idea of travel hell. Would I have had these wild ideas without seeing amazing pictures on Pinterest and Instagram? I don't think I would have. I think I would have just priced up my original idea and been excited over that. Don't get me wrong, I adore Pinterest and Instagram for travel inspo and you can find ideas you would have never thought of as well as super useful tips, but there is also a dark side. A side that can make you feel not enough if you don't do X Y and Z. I mean did you really do a gap year if you didn't go to Thailand? Yes. Yes you did.

My Travel Philosophy

I might be the only one who thinks travel has become a bit competitive, and to be honest, I'd quite like it if that was the case. I would be so happy if this was just me reading too much into things because that way nobody is sat at home feeling forced to do something they're not comfortable with. I would absolutely hate anyone to feel pressurised to travel to places they have no interest in, a way that isn't them and experience things they really don't want to. At the end of the day, travel is as personal as the person doing it. It's you adventure, do it your way. Don't feel like you have to stay in hostels because that's where 'travellers' stay or travel alone because that's what your supposed to do in your twenties. Don't feel like you have to climb a mountain if you hate the outdoors or have to visit  every continent on Earth. There's no rules to travelling, it's completely your choice where, how and when so make sure the why is for you and not others.

If you made it to the end, I'm impressed. Let me know if you've been a victim of competitive travel before. Have you ever done something just so you can say you've done it? 

xoxo
J
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Sunday, 16 April 2017

Fresh Sugar Lemon SugarBath Cubes

Fresh Sugar Lemon Sugar Bath Cubes Review

I've wanted to try Fresh for the longest time as their skincare is talked about so much. I have got a cleanser, but after having a mooch around Sephora when I was over in the States a couple of years ago, I spotted this. SuagrBath cubes. If that's not a product that has my name on it, I don't know what is. I was actually going to pick that up right there and then, but then felt how heavy it was and decided it wasn't worth paying for extra luggage allowance. Back then, Fresh wasn't available over here, with no UK delivery and no stockists. Now they have a few standalone stores, stockists and UK delivery meaning I finally got my hands on this bath time treat. 

What is a SugarBath?

A combination of Brown Sugar and Bocarbonate Soda, the SugarBath cubes are aromatic bath fizzes. Claiming to moisturise your skin, gently remove dry skin and promote healing, it's clear from the get go these are more than just your standard bath time treat. It couldn't be easier to use, simply pop 2-4 cubes into a bath and watch your problems fizz away. They also come in a choice of two scents, Lemon, which I have, and Lychee.

What did I think of the Sugar Cubes?

Firstly, the packaging. This arrived in the most beautifully wrapped duck-egg blue box. It had bows, it had tissue paper, it fullfilled all my basic needs. The actually packaging of the product wasn't a let down either. Remember when I said it was heavy? The jar is frosted glass, with a kind of speckled, marble-esque top. Oh so instagramable. Then came my disappointment. Totally my fault, I didn't realise you needed 2-4 cubes per bath before buying it, but for the weight of the jar, I thought you would get more product. I have a big bath and, using 4 cubes, I'd probably only manage 4-5 baths from a jar. Not too bad, but I just expected more. Sadly my disappointment just carried on. The inital lemon scent was heavenly. There was no trace of household cleaner, more Summer in Spain. Great, but very short-lived. The fizz lasted a couple of seconds, turning the water slightly cloudy. Whilst my skin felt a little softer, that could have been down to other products. I didn't really experience any of advertised benefits. For £35.00 a jar though, I'm not sure if I'd repurchase it. It was lovely to finally try it, but you can get the same product for a lot cheaper. The scent was hevanly and the packaging is to die for, but I think the amazing packaging made me raise my expectations higher than the product could deliver. Not going to lie, kinda gutted.

Have you ever had high expectations based on packaging? Have you tried anything from Fresh? I'd love to try more of their skincare so any recommendations would be great! 

xoxo
J
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Thursday, 13 April 2017

5 Books in 5 Words: Spring Cleaning Edition

tidying up book reviews
decluttering book reviews

Ever wanted a Pinterest-worthy bedroom? Wanted to live the minimalist life, but just have far to much stuff? Running out of room on the floordrobe? Well, good thing it's Spring and you can have a good clear out. I find it ironic that in order to have a clearout, I get more stuff aka books teaching me how to get rid of things. Logical Jessica. Very logical. 

Spark Joy by Marie Kondo
Minfullness meets tidying the house

The Happy Closet by Annmarie O'Connor
 Best for too many clothes

Start With Your Sock Drawer by Vicky Silverthorn with Emma Cooling
Simple and greater for overwhlemed

The Curated Closet by Anuschka Rees
Perfect to find your style

The Capsule Wardrobe by Wendy Mak
Work with what you have

I seriously need a major de-clutter so will be using a combination of these books. What are you top spring cleaning tips? Let me know in the comments below!

xoxo
J
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Tuesday, 11 April 2017

50 Thoughts I Had Getting The Train To London

train to london manchester travel blogger

Oh Manchester Picadilly, you beautiful train station. Don't get me wrong, it's no Grand Central, but it's nice and home, and that's all that matters. Anyway, a couple of weeks ago I was on the train to London on my own and decided to keep a track of where my mind wandered.  And being a blogger I decided why not make a post about it, so here's what went on in my head:

  1. I'm going to be late, I'm going to be late, the train is going to leave without me and I'm going to be late.
  2. Oh God, which platform is my train?
  3. OO I wonder if any of these people are bloggers?
  4. Why do they make the platform information so bloody small?
  5. God I hope no-ones watching me squint trying to work out which ones my train.
  6. Tall people should be made to stand at the back. 
  7. Oh, and the board has now changed. Great, thanks for that.
  8. Where was I up to erm right, I think that might be me, let's just go get a drink.
  9. Why is the queue so long? Like seriously? Don't they have any staff?
  10. Oh gosh, what do I want? Why so many choices? What's cool nowadays?
  11. I'm going to be late, I'm going to be late, the train is going to leave without me and I'm going to be late.
  12. Avoid pigeon. Mr pigeon walk away, this is a pigeon free zone.
  13. Move along people, late woman coming through.
  14. Yep, don't mind me, just hurdling over your suitcase. Nothing to see here.
  15. Why is my ticket not scanning? 
  16. For just once in my life I'd like to go through a turnstyle gracefully without nothing getting tangled.
  17. OOO that'll make a good Instagram.
  18. Im late, I'm late, please don't leave me.
  19. Of course I'm the last carrige, it would have to be wouldn't it. 
  20. Now where's my seat. Hmm not me, not me, not me, ooo nice bag, not me, not me, not me, ME! 
  21. What if someone else has this seat and they've double booked us? 
  22. What if this isn't my seat?
  23. You can read, this is your seat, be calm and try to look normal. 
  24. OMG what if this isn't my train. Like seriously, I was in a rush. What if I end up in some random place and get stuck? OMG this isn't my train.
  25. Ok this is my train, someone's just said something about London.
  26. No-one's next to me. Please don't let anyone sit next to me.
  27. Still, this might not be my train, and am I really sure this is my seat?
  28. Wifi please connect. Wifi please be decent.
  29. Oh great, I have a train friend.
  30. They smiled. Do I talk? Do I smile? What do I do?!
  31. Ohh if I smile we might be BFF's and this could be a cool story of how we met on a train.
  32. Train friend please talk!
  33. Actually, don't. That's just weird.
  34. OK they have a book, I'll just do my own thing then.
  35. Mr Train Man has said this is the right train, we're all good. 
  36. OOO that's a new language, wonder where your from? Why come to Manchester? Wonder what there story is? 
  37. Oh Oh we're moving. 
  38. And now my headphones won't go loud enough. Yey. This is going to be fun. 
  39. OK that's lets just look out the window.
  40. Oh, they said get you're tickets out. Better get it out otherwise, well, otherwise.
  41. Wow England is green. Like bright green. Highlighter green. So many shades of green. 50 shades of green.
  42. Is it too early to eat my snack? 
  43. I wonder if I look all dramatic looking out of the window?
  44. Hmm if this was a film, what music would be playing? Snow Patrol? Ed Sheeran? What's the story line?
  45. Where is this ticket guy? I'm sat here holding this ticket and by the time he come's I'll have dropped or lost it.
  46. Wonder where we are?
  47. Why isn't the wifi working? They promised wifi. They lied.
  48. Oo sheep.
  49. And cows.
  50. This is going to be a loooonggg 2 hours.
And then I lost track and attempted to listen to an Emma Gannon podcast. 

Hope you enjoyed this very random, but very insightful post. Let me know the most randomist thing thats happened to you or that you've though on a train so I don't feel like such a unique human being.

xoxo
J
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Sunday, 9 April 2017

5 of the Best Beauty Care Tools

best beauty care tools
must-have makeup tools

Remember when we all used to just use our fingers to apply beauty products? My how times have changed. Now we have beauty tools for everything, some amazing, some ok, and some just not worth it. Today I'm going to be sharing 5 beauty care tools I just can't live without, ranging from high-end to bargain bucket. 

Swoon Lip Gloss Pick-up Artist for Sephora

You know when you have found a go-to lip gloss and all that's left is a bit at the bottom that the wand just wont reach, but it's two weeks until payday and you've spent all your money on Boots 3 for 2 offers (happens to us all)? What do you do? Why do they make lip gloss wands that short too? It's just mean. Anyway, never fear, this little tool lets you get that last bit of makeup out of the tube. As the name suggest, this is from Sephora so not readily available in the UK, but for $12, this little-known device is a complete gem. 

Shu Uemura Eyelash Curlers

Don't ask me to pronounce the surname, but these eyelash curlers are the real deal. I think everyone and their dog has raved about these, and there is a good reason, they're the best. They're not cheap at £20, but you do get a spare pad and can buy the refills, so could save you money if you look after them and don't crush them in your suitcase (oops). Even though my lashes have a natural curl, no other lash curler can give me the effect these do, and so gently! 

Nars Yachiyo Kabuki Brush

Ah another product I can't pronounce. Before I bought it, I researched this brush more than I researched my first car. I read reviews, I watched tutorials, if it featured this brush, I was there. Why? Because it's the most expensive brush I have ever bought. At £43.00, it kind of hurt me to buy it, and even now, saying how much I paid makes me grimace just a little, but is it worth it? Oh yes. For blending any powder product, it's the brush of dreams. If you want to achieve highlighter goals, this will give you the perfect application. Worth the investment, pop it on a wish list or wait until an amazing Gift With Purchase comes along

Nail Shields

After a couple of big spends you're all probably ready for something cheap and cheerful. At £1.99, I couldn't really complain if this didn't stop my nail polish from smudging, but amazingly, it did. The name says it all, these simply clip onto your nails and act as a guard against the outside world so you can get on with real life whilst waiting for your varnish to dry. The best £1.99 beauty product ever. 

Becca The One Perfecting Brush

I actually didn't realise how much this cost until I looked it up for post purposes. I clearly have some sort of makeup brush problem. Anyway, at £40, this thing is not cheap. But, let me tell you why it's worth it. The edge has been designed to fit the contour of your face, giving you perfect definition. It's also super versatile meaning you could use it for practically anything. In fact, Becca says this can replace the following 10 brushes: foundation, powder, contour, bronzer, stipple, blush, fan, concealer, kabuki and sponge. 10 brushes for £40, doesn't sound too bad now does it?!

So those are 5 of my must-have beauty tools but now I want to know what are you go-to's?

xoxo
J
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Thursday, 6 April 2017

Why I'm Not A Niche Blogger

Why I Don't Niche Blog

Read any guide on blogging and they will talk about focusing your blogging on a specific area. In fact, some even go as far as to say you have to blog in a niche area to be successful. See, here's the thing, I don't buy that.

Some of my favourite 'big' bloggers aren't niche

Sure, they might talk about niche topics, but they talk about a couple instead of just one. Take the lovely Hannah Gale for example, she's there rocking travel, fashion, lifestyle and beauty. I talk about the same categories and have no plans to niche blog anytime soon. OK, so I do read some niche blogs. I can't get enough of Where's Mollie's adventures and Pages by Megan and What Olivia Did gives me serious wardrobe envy, but even they stray from their niche now and again. So do you have to be niche to be successful? I think not

Success = genuine and authentic content 

Of course I understand the idea that if you blog about a single topic, you are more likely to become recognised in that area, and therefore become 'big and successful', but I think that could just as easily happen if you blog about multiple topics well enough. The trick is to make sure your content is genuine and authentic to you; two things that apply to niche and a-bit-of-everything bloggers alike. 

Take me for example, since developing uncontrollable wanderlust I've decided to up my Travel posts from once a fortnight to once a week. That's not because I think I'll be more successful as a travel blogger or I want to be a niche, that's purely because that's the type of content that interests me and I enjoy. For me, travel is as much apart of me as buying bags and bath bombs is. I don't have just one single love, there's a lot of different parts to me, and seeing as this is my creative space, I want to share all of those things.

The same could easily be said for a niche blogger. If you are incredibly passionate about a single area, say food for example (I'm hungry, don't judge), and you blog purely about food, that's you being genuine and authentic. What isn't going to help you be successful is trying to fit into a niche that your not completely in love with,  all because it's 'on trend'. It's also really sad if you want to blog about something but don't because you don't think will be a hit. If you care about it, share it. I love reading about something a bit different and your passion will shine through. Life would be pretty boring if we were all the same. Success is a long-term goal. It takes a lot of hard work and dedication to achieve it and if a topic isn't up your street, it's going to show. 

Success depends on what you think 'successful' is

A very deep question, but kinda relevant. What is success? I'm not going to bore you with stats because the whole caring about analytics is a topic in itself, but it's really important for bloggers to define what they deem success as. When I write something that I'm really happy with, that I think shows my personality, and is just 'me', then any comments or praise I get is worth so much more than if I got praise on something that wasn't a reflection of me at all. I read a few blogs that have had a complete topic change since I started reading them, some changing to things I'm not into, but I keep reading it because I love the blogger, their passion and writing style. To me that is success; when people read posts because you wrote them. I swear there is a famous quote about this, but I'd much rather be unpopular for being myself, than popular for being someone I'm not. I'm a wanderer, a beauty-obsessive, a bag-hoarder, a people-watcher and probably a million other things. I can't seperate those things from me, because they make me, me. If people keep coming back for more knowing all that, I'm a happy girl.

So after all this waffle, what I'm trying to say is just blog what you want. If you love something blog it, be it one topic or multiple. Forget the need to be successful, just do you. I hear too many people putting limits on themselves or blogging about things they think will be popular, even if it doesn't float their boat. Don't do that, just be you and the rest will follow. 

Following with that theme, tell me about YOU; what do you love, what are passionate about, what defines you? Very deep but I'd love to know!

xoxo
J
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Tuesday, 4 April 2017

What's In My Hand Luggage? New York Edition

What's in my carry on
What's in my carry on
What's in my carry on
What's in my carry on

By the time this post goes live I'll hopefully be thousands of feet in the air on my way to New York to begin my latest adventure. If you missed me going through my travel plans for this year, you can catch up here. This will be my 3rd Trek America tour, and my first time in Canada and NYC so I'm so excited for what the next two weeks have in store. I've scheduled lots of great posts for you all while I'm away, but today I thought I'd share some of the things I'm taking with me in my hand luggage (or carry on if that's how you roll).

The bag I'm using is the Cath Kidston Foldaway Double Decker Travel Bag in a cute vintage floral print. Unfortunately, I picked this up in the Boxing Day Sales this year so they don't do the same print, but they still do the style. So far I'd really recommend this bag. It's so darn roomy, folds to nothing in a handy pouch, and is just perfect for travel. 

Moving on to some essentials, I have my document wallet, and my a document file. I only really do this super level of organisation if I have a lot of paperwork, tickets, visas etc to take with me. I use my cute travel wallet from House of Disaster for documents I need for traveling, so tickets, boarding pass, passports etc. I then use the document file, which is like a presentation book with built-in clear pockets, to keep any documents I'll need throughout my stay, like trip tickets, hotel confirmations, itineraries, street maps etc. It's a great way to be able to find a specific piece of paper in a second, but if you only have travel documents, it's not necessary. Of course, I also have a hardback notebook for making travel notes and jotting down blog ideas, and I bring all the pens possible, because when doesn't a pen come in handy?

Next, I have all my electricals (minus my camera, but let's just pretend that's there). I always take my old iPhone 5c with me on trips and pop in an international sim so I can contact anyone, at any time. An international sim might seem a bit extra, but it really comes in handy in emergencies, and being a solo female traveler, I'd prefer to be prepared. I also make sure I've put as many songs on there as possible so I can use it as an iPod and don't have to rely on wifi. Oh, and headphones are a must. I used to take big over the ear ones, and whilst the quality is better, they get in the way a bit if you travel from place to place every couple of days. I tend to alternate between taking a paperback, and taking my Kindle but have found a Kindle is just easier to read on the go, takes up less space, and gives me more options.

Being a girl, I do take a little make-up bag but never bother with actually wearing any make-up on travel days because it's just more effort than it's worth. A Tangle Teezer (Lulu Guinness edition obvs), a mirror and lip balm are all I need to get my through. I sometimes take hand cream and some skincare, but being honest, never use them, so I've learned to just not pack them. 

Add in medication, my purse, and glasses and that's pretty much it. A bit of a boring what's in my bag, but I only like to carry things I'll actually use when traveling. 

I'm not sure how much access I'll have to wifi but if I manage to post I'll be using the hashtag #WingsWanders so make sure you check that out too! Thanks to a twitter poll I'm also attempting to vlog my entire trip, so if you want to see how that works out, stick around.

What are your travel essentials? Let me know in the comments below!
xoxo
J
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Sunday, 2 April 2017

The Perfect Spring Scent || Moschino Fresh Couture Review

Moschino Fresh Couture Perfume review
When you say Spring to me, 2 things come to mind: cleaning and scents. Somehow, Moschino has combined both in one product to make the most Spring-appropriate fragrance I've ever seen. Look's like window cleaner, smells like a dream, Moschino, well done.

Packaging

I don't think it's possible to talk about a Moschino product without discussing the packaging. A quirky, celeb-favourite Moschino always has the most unique product concepts and collections and this does not disappointment. Apparently, the idea was to take something that people wouldn't think twice about and transform it into something inspirational. I can't tell you if that's worked, but what I can tell you is it works. Like a little miniature bottle of household cleaner, even the back of the label has been edited with warnings and product claims. I'm a little gutted you can't "spray" your fragrance on you, with the head removing to show a conventional spray underneath, but overall it's a great design and really stands out. 

Fragrance

Sometimes bottles are better than the actual fragrance, but not in this case. It's the perfect fresh fragrance with a subtle fruity twist. With Bergamot, Mandarin and Raspberry as top notes, Osmanthus, Peony and Ylang-Ylang as the heart notes, and Cedarwood, Patchouli and Ambrox as the base notes it's well balanced and super light. This is ideal if your not a fan of purely fresh or fruity perfume as neither quality is the focus, just a great blend, and a perfect spring scent.

I don't think I've ever received as many compliments about my perfume as when I'm wearing this. Have you tried any Moschino fragrances? What do you think of the packaging? 

xoxo
J

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Thursday, 30 March 2017

S/S '17 Fashion trends & Where to Buy Them || Part 4 Stripes & Sleeves

spring/summer 2017 womenswear fashion trends


I seriously can't believe this is the last 2017 spring/summer womenswear trend summary! I know I probably say this every post (actually there's no probably about it, I do), but time is seriously flying by. If you happen to have missed the last three posts (ruffles and waists, bralets and pink, and tulle and sheer) and have no idea what I'm talking about have no fear, it's simple. I'm basically rounding up my favorite fashion trends of the season and sharing some absoulte steals from the high street that you can shop right now, all £50 or under. Go it? Great.

Stripes

Face it, we're never going to get rid of stripes so you might as well invest in some now. Actually, that's usually my excuse for buying yet another stripe top; I'm just buying something that won't go out of fashion. It doesn't really work. BUT, if you are using that excuse there are plenty of options to choose from. I've kind of fallen in love with the Topshop dress in the top left corner, but for those of you wanting a more subtle approach, there's so strong accessory game out there too. That Skiny Dip London bag happens to be in the sale (thank me later) and I'm contemplating picking these super cute Public Desire Heels up in this seasons 'It' colour, Pink. 

Statement Sleeves

I'm pretty sure you have all seen pictures on Instagram of fashion bloggers wearing ridiculosly oversized sleeves? Very on trend, not very practcial if you ask me. Soup must be a complete no go. Don't worry though you can still get in on the act and eat soup at the same time with these options. New Look is quickly becoming my one stop shop for the latest trends, and they do not disappoint for statement sleeves. I'm obsessed with that embroaided gingham one, and I'm eying up the pale green ruffled jumper from Topshop. If you have any events coming up, that pink bodycon dress is perfect, like seriously, look at those sleeves! So pretty.

As usual, if you see anything you love above, here's the links:
Stripe Broderie Smock Dress - £48.00 - Topshop
Ruffled Sleeve Jumper by Glamorous - £26.00 - Topshop
Black Double Bell Mesh Sleeve Crop Top - £28.00 - River Island
Blue Gingham Wrap Front Tie Waist Runched Sleeve Top - £27.99 - New Look
Fifi Lace Up Sport Stripe Strap Boots in Baby Pink - £34.99 - Public Desire
Beetlejuice Midi Tote - £20.00 - Skinny Dip London
Pink Bardot Bell Sleeve Bodycon Dress - £50.00 - River Island
Blue Stripe Cross Strap Back Swimsuit - £14.99 - New Look
White Stripe Embroidered Gathered 3/4 Sleeve Top - £24.99 - New Look
Wide Pull-on Trousers - £17.99 - H & M

Are you sold on stripes or sleeves? Let me know in the comments below!

xoxo
J
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Monday, 27 March 2017

10 Employable Skills a Masters Degree Develops

skills learnt at salford university

In case you didn't know, for the last 6 months I've been studying MSc Marketing at Salford University in the hope of becoming a Content Creator in Manchester when I graduate. In just 6 months I've been elected the course student representative at the Student's Union, completed 6 assessments in 3 modules, qualified for Gold Level Salford Student Success Award, completed a 1 month internship at a social shopping platform start up and be asked to come back for a further 3 months! All this is great, but what happens in September when I'm released into the 'real world'? When I was looking at postgraduate degrees I didn't quite know how it would help my employability. Well, now that I'm working towards a (hopefully) bright future in content marketing it's time to share what I've learnt at Salford Business School. You know, besides marketing.

Communication

Like most courses, assessments are the name of the game. Just to get accepted on to the programme it's likely you'll have to submit a personal statement, and that's before you've even got going. Once on the course expect exams, essays, reports and presentations a plenty. It's not just about essays and presentations though. At postgraduate level you're expected to be able to form opinions and argue your point, even if it differs from your lecturer. Being able to persuade people that your ideas are valid and expand on complex principles in front of industry experts isn't as easy as you think.

Team Work

Most courses involve some element of team work; whether it be a group assignment or an in-lecture activity, it'll be there. I've already completed one group assessment, have another project in May and participated in countless activities in class. Digital Marketing is usually done as a team, and if you want to be able to work with that team, previous experience is going to come in handy.

Problem-solving

It's no coincidence that problem-solving comes after team work; it's a common student complaint that issues occur when there's a group project. But sometimes it's those situations that you gain the most from. Having worked before I started studying marketing, I can't count the times something  has cropped up unexpectedly. But when you find a solution to the issue, you gain more understanding, confidence and experience, three things that can only be positives.

Adaptability

Returning to a degree after a break of 2 years working took a lot of getting used to. Suddenly I was back in lectures and rather than spending my weekends relaxing, had to have (and still do) my nose in a book. Now on the course, I'm still adapting to change. My course is MSc Marketing, but we also cover digital marketing meaning new principles to get used to. I'm glad I chose to do a Masters in Marketing over just Digital Marking though. After all, I now have knowledge of both traditional and emerging techniques meaning I'm equipped to deal with this rapidly changing industry, and can create  even more content!

Time-Management

No matter what you do there is never enough time. The one thing money can't buy, it's all about using it wisely. Salford Business School operates on a block teaching system, meaning we do assessments every 3 weeks. Juggling the required reading and preparation for the assessment whilst trying to get the most out of the postgraduate experience can be a challenge. Regular assessments and blogging isn't an easy combination but I'd like to think I've now become a more efficient person and can prioritise like a dream.

Organisation

Speaking of prioritising, organisation and studying MSc Marketing go hand in hand with each other. As I've explained, Salford work on block teaching so lectures take place over 2 and a 1/2 days, essentially meaning an entire module is taught in a working week. It's intensive, and if you haven't put in the ground work you're already behind before it even starts. But thanks to this, I've become an organisation pro. Spreadsheets have become my new best friend and all my blog content and social media is scheduled in advance so for those 2 and a 1/2 days I can focus on what's important. 

Self-Management

After 2 and a 1/2 days of intensive course delivery, we're left to our own devises. Of course we can arrange appointments to see tutors but the arranging is down to us. The independence is one of the biggest differences between my masters degree and undergraduate degree. Being able to take responsibility for both and the good and bad allows you to reflect and learn from your experience, hopefully helping you to grow as a person.

Motivation

If you're only in University for half a week every 3 weeks, keeping going gets tough. On sunny Spring days it's easy to give yourself a well-deserved day off work to relax. Alternatively, spending  the entire festive period studying can leave you feeling a bit down. Minimum contact with other students and tutors has meant I've had to focus on my aspirations to keep momentum. I can happily say I've grabbed every opportunity whilst at Salford, and it's ultimately made me more ambitious than ever before.

Technical Ability

We live in a digital age so studying digital marketing should be second nature right? Wrong. If you've never used professional tools before, suddenly being introduced to them all at once can be a shock to the system. I've actually always (unknowingly) dabbled with the technical side of marketing, teaching myself basic HTML when I was 11 and learning about SEO, search engine marketing and inbound marketing when I started blogging in 2012, but even I felt a little overwhelmed. However, once you've got the hang of one tool, you find it's easier to use others instinctively. There's some amazing technology and tools out there, so being able to use them effectively is a massive advantage. 

Understanding

Last, but certainly not least, I've developed an understanding of marketing. Obvious? Well not really. I was always going to gain marketing knowledge, but to gain an understanding is something different entirely. It's one thing to learn theory, but applying my knowledge has given my an insight into how it works in practise. Formulating content and social media strategies for my blog has given me first hand experience of digital marketing, teaching me lessons that would be impossible to read. 

I think it's safe to say Salford Business School has prepared me for a career in content marketing. I really hope this has helped those of you who are on the fence about doing a postgraduate course. If you want to follow my new journey into becoming a content creator, follow me on LinkedIn at Jessica Riley, Content Creator Manchester   

Have you done a postgrad degree? What did you get out of it? Let me know in the comments below!
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Tuesday, 21 March 2017

My 2017 Travel Plans (so far)

travel blogger travel plans

I live to travel. One of my biggest regrets was that I didn't take a gap year prior/after my undergraduate degree because now I'm trying to fit globetrotting around real life. Saying that, travelling now means I actually have money to do it in a bit more style. It's all swings and roundabouts really. Anyway, over the last two years I've really developed a taste for the jet set life and this year I've already got concrete plans to visit 6 countries, with room for (hopefully) more. Seeing as the last of my current travel diaries has been posted, I thought it was only fair to tell you whats coming up next! 

Trip #1

I booked this trip over a year ago and now it's only 2 weeks away. When did that happen?! So for my first trip of the year I'm back across the ponds, doing my 3rd trip with Trek America (I've  blogged the Western BLT and the Atlantic BLT). This time I'm doing the Northeastern BLT and spending some extra time in NYC on my own. The entire itinerary looks a little like this:

Newark > Niagara Falls > Toronto > Montreal > Stowe > Boston > Manhattan 

Don't get me wrong, I've been excited for all my trips because I know I'm so lucky to be in a position to travel, but there is something about this trip that is making me more excited than ever before. Maybe it's because I'm going to Canada for the first time (omgomgomg) or maybe it's that I get to explore Manhattan on my own after the tour has finished but I can just tell this one is gonna be a good one. I only have up to 1 1/2 days in each place, apart from Manhattan which I have 3 1/2, so if you have any suggestions on things I need to do or see that would be great! 

Trip #2

My second trip of 2017 is full of firsts. Once my placement has finished for my MSc course I'm heading off on a Mediterranean cruise! I think the thing that appeals to me most is being able to see a lot of places in one go and my first cruise has managed to pack lots of places I've been dying to see. Again the rough itinerary looks like this:

Barcelona > Naples > Rome > Florence & Pisa > Cannes > Palma > Barcelona

Now I'm not really going to see much of Barcelona because we have no time to arrive earlier/ stay later, which I'm a bit gutted about but I have been before so it's not the end of the world (and a great excuse to go back). Apart from Palma, all these places are completely new to me again and nothing really has been planned in terms of must sees. Because these places are new, I need your recommendations of things to see/do. I only have a day in each port so I'm really keen to see as much as possible! Oh, and if you have any cruise tips that would be fab too!

As always, I'm scheduling lots of fun posts for whilst I'm away so make sure you keep coming back to read the latest post, and don't forget to check my social media to see where I am and what I'm getting up to!

Now for your suggestions. Please!

xoxo
J
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Sunday, 19 March 2017

A Travel Toiletry Secret || Lush Wash Sheets Tried & Tested

lush wash sheet reviewed

You know when something is so simple you wonder why no-one has done it before? That's what I thought when I first came across Lush Cosmetic's Wash Sheets. So simple, yet so effective, I just had to add two of the many versions Lush offer and give them a try. Not one to keep a good thing to myself, here's how I got on.

What are they? 

Essentially they're kind of like those soap filled sponges you sometimes see at craft fairs, in a flatter, hand luggage-only friendly format. Think a kind of waxy piece of A5 card and you wouldn't be far off. The actual dissolving card is made from fresh Honeydew Melon Pulp and can even be used as an alternative to greetings cards, with fun messages printed on them. Available in a few varieties they replace your normal shower gel in a new innovative way. 

How do they work?

Surprisingly soft and brittle, you simply rip off as much as you need, run it under water and rub your hands over it to lather up. Then, just wash as normal. With no external packaging there's no waste at all. 

Does it work?

YES! I was pretty surprised how easy the card is to rip. My advice is to rip small at first because a little does a lot. After running it under water I was surprised by how good the lather really was. I did find a tiny section didn't lather as well as the rest leaving a kind of papery residue in my bath, but that just washed away no problem at all. The two I picked up were Wash You Were Here and Best Washes (both £4.95 per sheet), and in true Lush fashion they smelt divine, exactly like the more traditional shower gels so nothing has been lost by changing format. In case you're wondering, Wash You Were Here is a lovely blend bergamot, lemon and mandarin oils, whilst Best Washes had more of a musky universal fragrance. Ideal if space is at a premium, you need to pack lightly, or just fancy showering in a new way, these wash sheets make a great alternative to shower gel.

Have you tried these before? How did you get on?
xoxo
J
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Thursday, 16 March 2017

S/S '17 Fashion Trends & Where to Buy Them || Part 3 Tulle & Sheer

Spring/summer 2017 womenswear fashion trends

Third times a charm? We're over half way through my Spring/ Summer 2017 Womenswear fashion trends rundown and I've got to say, this year's trends are probably my favourite for a while. In case you missed it, I've already talked about where you can find ruffles and waists in Part 1, and bralets and pink in Part 2. This time I'm talking about all things tulle and sheer, and as always, you can shop the looks for under £50 on the high street!

Tulle

Ahh the Princess of all fashion trends. I don't know what it is about tulle, but wearing it makes you feel amazing. There are so amazing full length tulle ballgown style maxi skirts around (check out ASOS), and Little Misstress are absolutely killing it for pretty dresses, but what happens if you want to pretend to be a princess during the day? Well, in that case have a look at a tired tulle midi skirt which is floaty enough for you to play dress up, whilst still keeping your feet firmly in the real world. If that's still too much, try this stunning peach top over some skinny jeans and you'll be swishing around in no time. Girly not your style? Don't worry, Topshop have brought out some tulle embellished jeans. Now, I have to be honest, when I first saw these I wasn't keen, but if you look at them on the model, their actually pretty wearable. Honestly, don't knock them till you try them!

Sheer

Think Princess grown up, sheer was also everywhere during fashion week. From Burberry to DKNY, crochet and lace, if it's see-through it's a must-buy. Flash the flesh in a beautifully embroidered bodysuit, or opt for a full length-lace cover-up to see you through summer. There are absolutely loads of dresses with sheer panels on the high street at the moment, but this black midi dress is one of the nicest. Speaking of dresses, I have my eye on this bardot dress for a wedding. It's just the most stunning shade with could-be-designer detailing. Fancy channelling the trend to work? Opt for a super sophisticated black midi skirt, complete with a sheer layer to give a subtle nod to the trend.

As always, if you've seen anything you like above, here's the links

Black Sheer Midi Skater Skirt - £22.99 - New Look
Grey Premium Bardot Neck Floral Embroidered Mesh Dress - £44.99 - New Look
MOTO Tulle Hem Straight Leg Jeans - £45.00 - Topshop
Tulle Dip Hem Top - £25.00 - Topshop
White Sheer Maxi Kaftan - £45.00 - River Island
Ireenah Black Embroidered Floral Sheer Lace Midi Dress - £40.00 - Pretty Little Thing
Floral Embroidered Sheer Bodysuit by Rare - £36.00 - Topshop
Grey Pleated Tulle Layered Skirt - £24.99 - New Look

Which trend do you prefer? I can't wait to play Princess in tulle. 
xoxo
J
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Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Spring Update

spring blog update

As if it's been three months since my Winter update?! Time is absolutely flying. So much has happened and so much is happening, but everything seems so much more positive than this time last year. Last Spring I'd reached the lowest place I've ever been in my life and now I'm back to my old self; smiling, bubbly and positive. I love it. I want to say Spring is my favourite season, but you know what, I kind of love all of them. So here's a bit of an update about what's been going on, and what's coming soon! 

Blogging

When it comes to blogging I've been doing it a while. I've seen successful bloggers come and go, and had some amazing opportunities come around because of it. I'm really happy I started consistently blogging again and I have so many ideas for content it's crazy; just a case of finding time to write them all up. The Crown Wings has always been about fashion, beauty and lifestyle but as the years go on, I get new interests. I think one of my most obvious loves is travel and whilst I'm sharing it with you once every two weeks, it's not satisfying my wanderlust. So whilst I'm not making any major changes to the fashion, beauty, lifestyle formula, from the end of April I'm going to try out posting a new travel post every week. This is going to be a mixture of diaries from my adventures, guides about specific locations and just general travel thoughts. I'll still be posting a weekly beauty post, and throw in a mixture of lifestyle and fashion posts through the week so the overall mix of things will be the same, just giving more air-time to wandering. 

As a side-note, I can't wait to go down to London and attend Blog Con this weekend. It sounds like its going to be one big blogger celebration and I'm super excited to meet people I've never had a chance to before. If you're down at the event make sure you give me a shout so we can meet up!

Travelling

Like I said, travel is a major passion of mine, one that seems to be getter worse as the days fly by. It's got to the stage that I'm looking at different places on a daily basis. Thankfully I only have to wait another 3 weeks before I'm on the road again. I've actually got a post going live next week talking about all my current 2017 travel plans, but during the Easter break I'm back across the Atlantic Ocean and heading to USA and Canada for 2 weeks. I am so so excited for this trip, with plans to visit 4 new American States and 2 Canadian Provinces. Because I'm travelling so much, I don't want to say I will definitely be posting regularly on Instagram, because, as anyone who's lived out of a suitcase knows, Wi-Fi is a luxury, but when I do manage to spare a couple of minutes I'll be using the hashtag #WingsWanders to document my adventures. Hopefully you'll all join me?!

University

I can't believe I'm saying this but I'm now half way through my MSc Marketing degree. I feel like I've gotten so much out of this half of my degree, with a placement already under my belt, qualifying for the Gold Level of an extra-cirriicular award, and being a student union course representative. I have just one taught module left, and I've got to admit I'm kind of gutted. Saying that, this is the module I've most been looking forward to, Search & Social Media. Everyone keep their fingers crossed that I survive the next two assessments so I can progress to the final stage of my degree! 

So that's just a little snapshot of what's to come. Are you up to anything exciting over the next 3 months? Let me know in the comments below!
xoxo
J
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Sunday, 12 March 2017

2 Products to Transform Neglected Nails

beauty products to condition your nails

For a beauty blogger I don't half neglect things. Like, seriously, my hair is 3 products max, body moisturiser is not my friend, and my nails, well let's just say if you see them with a smudge/chip-free manicure, you're honoured. There's kind of a reason why I leave my nails bare sometimes though. I play hockey so it's hard to get the to stay chip free, and well I'm just lazy. Fancying a bit of a change and wanting to step up my nail game, I've decided to start with the basics and get them in tip top condition ready for summer. So how am I doing that? Well, these two products are helping.

Sally Hansen Instant Cuticle Remover

I originally picked this up from USA on my travels but after a little googling you can find it in Superdrug. Essentially, this gel helps breakdown excess cuticles, moisturising them in the process. 20 seconds after applying it to any excess cuticle, I simply push back with a cuticle pusher, and wash any excess product off with warm soapy water. This has been working great for getting my cuticles in tip top shape and the product hasn't irritated the surrounding skin. It's also worth noting that you can use this product on calluses too, although I've not tried it. 

Nails Inc Overnight Detox Mask

Another gel-based product, I'm surprised I've not used this sooner with my face mask obsession. Part of Nail Inc's treatment range, the Overnight Detox Mask uses Green Tea, Acai and Spirulina to repair and regenerate damaged nails. To use, simply apply a drop of the mask onto a clean, dry nail bed and massage it into the rest of your nail in order to activate and stimulate the ingredients. Just wash your nails in the morning and you're good to go. Nails Inc recommend using it every night for 2 weeks for an intensive treatment, or just once or twice a week the maintain healthy nails. I must admit I was a bit sceptical about this product but I've been pleasantly surprised. Super-easy to use, there is no mess and my nails looked and felt healthier after just once use. Using weekly, I can really see this being my secret weapon for long, strong nails. 

After using these products for only a couple of weeks, my nails have gone from being neglected to nourished. I'm so excited to have strong, long nails for summer so I can paint them all the colours of the rainbow. 

How do you look after your nails? 
xoxo
J
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Thursday, 9 March 2017

USA Wishlist



Next month I'm heading across the pond for yet another adventure. I've had it booked for over a year and now it's finally coming up, I'm getting a little bit excited (read: hysterical). As usually I'm travelling around and visiting a couple of place, and countries, but at the end I'm spending 3 nights in New York. Now I've dreamed of visiting NYC for as long as I can remember, but just never had time to go. But now I'm doing it in style and have already started to think of a few things I'd like to pick up.

1. NYC Souviners
I don't care how touristy it is, I want a I love NY hoodie/t-shirt. When I was younger I thought they were the coolest things ever, and you know what, I still do. I love them, and I will finally own one. WOO! 

2. Drugstore Discoveries
Every time I'm in the States I end up in a drugstore gazing at all the lovely products on offer. I'm kind of focusing on bits we can't get over here, but I know I'll end up just picking things that catch my eye. Any suggestions for USA (or Canada) would be great! 

3. PocketBac
Oh My. These PocketBac's are amazing. You can get them from eBay but the prices are so inflated, so it really is worth stocking up. There is usually a mad offer on them and they come in such a wide range of fragrances that it's impossible to choose. 

4. Crest White Strips
There's a lot of hype over these and I've been umming and ahhing for a while. I'm not sure if I'll actually get these, or just get my teeth whitened professionally when I get home. I guess I'll decide once I'm there. 

5. Inglot Freedom Palette
I am desperate to try Inglot, and it's a lot easier to get hold of in the States. You can order it online or visit a couple of stores in the UK, but none seem to bee near me, and I like to see products in person. This is right at the top of my list.

6. Bath & Body Works Room Spray
Everyone goes mad over Bath & Body Works Candles, but I'm not a massive candle lover. Instead I adore room sprays, so I'd love to try these out.

7. Nivea Post-Shave Balm
This was actually inspired by Abigail Alice, who raved about how good this works as a primer. Well I am totally up for trying it out. 

8. A new bag
Last and most excitingly, I'm on the hunt for a new bag. When I arrive I'm going to Jersey Gardens Mall and hoping to snap up a bargain. So far I'm thinking of Kate Spade, Rebecca Minkoff or Coach, but I'm just going to see if anything catches my eye. 

So those are some things I'm thinking of getting. Do you have any specific product recommendations for me? I'd love to hear them!

xoxo
J
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Tuesday, 7 March 2017

The Wynwood Walls

Wynwood Walls
Wynwood Walls
Wynwood Walls
Wynwood Walls
Wynwood Walls
Wynwood Walls
Wynwood Walls
Wynwood Walls

Art's something I've never really gotten into. I stopped doing at school as soon as I could because, well, I just wasn't very good and I think that's put my off in my adult life. Which is silly really when you think about it, people watch football when the last time they kicked a ball was 20+ years ago. This is why I like street art. Street art is out in the open for everyone to enjoy, not locked away in an intimidating silent cage. I'm lucky in that Manchester is full of street art, so whilst I was in Miami I decided to make a quick visit to Wynwood, the Art District. 

There's no need to check a map to see where the District starts; every wall is covered from top to toe in the most amazing way. From the political to the just plain pretty, all styles of street art can be found. You see the mural of the two men? That's not painted onto the wall, but actually etched into it! Rather than seen as vandalism it's respected; companies either rent their wall space, with some paying for works of art to cover it. If there was any place to rediscover my love for art, it was Wynwood. Time to head to the Wynwood Walls. 

Wynwood Walls
Wynwood Walls
Wynwood Walls
Wynwood Walls
Wynwood Walls
Wynwood Walls
Wynwood Walls
Wynwood Walls

The Wynwood Walls is an open air art gallery dedicated to urban and street art. With artists from all over the world, the collection is constantly rotating showing there's a bit more to it than scribbling "Stu was ere 2k8" on the side of a desk. It's a relaxed environment and you might even be lucky enough to see one of the artists creating their next masterpiece. From instagramable patterns to beautiful murals, you can't help but find something you like. Perfect for a chilled day out, the Walls are also lit up at night, making it the perfect thing to see whatever the time. 

Sad that Trek Tuesday is over? Don't worry, I'm travelling again next month. Make sure you follow me on Bloglovin' so you won't miss any new posts!

xoxo
J
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Sunday, 5 March 2017

Why I Can't Love Body Moisturiser.

Why I can't love Body Moisturiser

Body moisturiser. The one beauty habit I just can't master. No matter how good its smells, or how pretty the packaging is, I just can't commit to using it daily. I'll put it out on my bathroom counter with all my other products, but somehow, it always ends up back on it's shelf untouched. But there's are reasons:

Moisturising takes careful planning

I think I may have more pots of body moisturiser lying round my house than lipsticks, but the difference is, I actually use my lipsticks. So why don't I use a body moisturiser seeing as I use every other possible product? Because it's just hard work. So, you first have to find time to apply you're moisturiser. Now, I know what you're thinking, "Jess, you moisturise your face, it's the same thing". Well let me tell you it isn't. You're face isn't covered by clothing. You're body is. You then have to wait for like, 20 minutes, until the lotion has sunk in enough so that you can get dressed. Not only that, your face is a nice small area and takes less than a minute. Your body on the other hand is a whole other story. For a single step in a beauty regime, moisturising takes a long time. You can't just haphazardly slap it on otherwise it won't sink in.  It takes dedication and time management; all this effort for something that you only really get the benefits of for a couple of months a year. No wonder it feels like a chore.

But moisturising does have it's benefits

I will totally accept moisturising has positive points, otherwise it just wouldn't exist at all. Apart from delaying wrinkles, it can also make any existing wrinkles look better and prevent them from getting worse. If that wasn't enough, it helps your skin. From stopping it being flakey and tight, to helping soothe imperfections, it can be a total miracle worker, especially in summer. It just gives you an extra layer protection against the elements, and you know, that could never be a bad thing. But, then when  you don't really see these benefits for 9 months of the year, it just feels like homework; something you know you should do, but just don't want to.

If I ever moisturise regularly, all-year round, I will have my life together. Sadly, I don't think that's going to happen anytime soon. Do you moisturise daily? If you do I salute you and want your tips!

xoxo
J
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Thursday, 2 March 2017

S/S '17 Fashion Trends & Where to Buy Them || Part 2 - Bralets & Pink

Spring summer womenswear fashion trends 2017

Fashion month has nearly finished, but luckily there's a whole host of new trends hitting the high street for the spring summer season. If you've never read a post from this series before, its become a bit of a seasonly tradition for me to do a fashion trend round-up series, and this year I've made it even better by showing you where you can buy the trends right now, all for under £50. Last week I talked about ruffles and waists, and this week it's bralets and pink. 

Bralets

Right, I'm not a massive fan of bralets. Don't get my wrong, they look fab on everyone else but I've never found one I like and goes with my style but this season there's a bit an update. Apart from pretty bralets being everywhere this season, laying bralets under sheer tops, or over white tees is totally on trend. Thanks to the amazing Victoria Beckham, even those who feel a bit self-conscious flashing the flesh can get in on the act. Layering is perfect for giving a 90's twist to the trend as well as making it work/day time appropriate, and, let's face it, more practical in British weather. Maybe I will give it a go after all.

Pink

Release your inner Pink Lady, because everything's going to get a little rosier. That's right, pink is everywhere this season, from bright barbie shades to subtle dusky hues. Whether you're a girly girl or not, there is something to suit everyone, with pretty pleated skirts and biker jackets already available. With that many shades around, I really want to experiment mixing and matching them in one outfit, adding cream and gold to avoid looking like a giant flump. This is one trend I am so excited about, after all, it is my favourite colour!

See something you liked? Here's the links
Pleated Skirt in Pink - £24.99 - H&M
Pussy Cat Vintage Gold Crop Top by WYLDR - £27.00 - Topshop
Pink Funnel Neck Cold Shoulder Swing Dress - £22.99 - New Look
White Bralet Overlay Mesh T-Shirt - £26.00 - River Island
Pink Frill Hem Bralet - £26.00 - River Island
Caught Up Pink Fishnet Socks - £0.99 - LAMODA
Plus Mia Strappy Detail Lace Bralet - £15.00 - Boohoo
Curves Pink Leather-look Jacket - £34.99 - New Look

Which S/S fashion trend do you prefer? I think we all know what I'm going to be wearing. 
xoxo
J
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Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Bird Is The Word at WWT Martin Mere Wetland Centre

martin mere family day out

Feeling a bit down a week or two ago, my family and I decided it was time to have an afternoon out somewhere. I'm super lucky in respect of where I live because there is so much, so close. Just on the edge of Lancashire and Greater Manchester, Liverpool and Manchester are both under an hour away meaning we had a lot of choice. After a bit of discussion, we decided to head somewhere I've not been since I was little, Martin Mere Wetland Centre. 

After a 40 minute car drive, we arrived at the Centre, a wildfowl and wetland nature reserve run by the WWT. On a grey and drizzly day you might not think walking around outside would make for the perfect afternoon outing, but you are wrong. It was perfect.

Walking through the main building, the roof of which has fascinated me since I was little, we made our way to the actual reserve. When I was little we used to spend ages in the main building because they do family activities such as crafts, which I was obsessed with. The day we went they were holding the North West Puddle Jumping Championship and it honestly took every inch of my will-power not to queue up with the children for a go. Kid's get all the fun.

Walking round the Centre

martin mere family day out
martin mere family day out
martin mere family day out
martin mere family day out
The Centre is set out so there is one big lake in the centre, then lots of little areas leading off it with different birds, animals and environments. There is also a natural wetland at the back where they have Hides that keen bird watchers can sit and spot rare fowl. You can usually buy bags of bird food to feed all the birds as you walk round the reserve but unfortunately, due to the detection of Bird Flu in Europe, and a few cases here in England, the centre has had to temporarily stop this. That didn't stop us having a good look around though.

martin mere family day out
martin mere family day out
martin mere family day out

It always amazes me how close the birds come to you, even without food. It should be pointed out that these are wild birds too. Some have been clipped, but the birds at the centre vary from season  to season, day to day, depending on migration patterns. Now, I'm no bird expert at all and only know the most common, but I loved seeing all the different species, and there was something quite soothing about walking round and listening to all the different calls and tweets mixing together. Even if we did have a giggle at some of the more bizarre ones. 

Watching Feedings

After having a walk round, we made a determined effort to watch the scheduled feedings the Centre offered visitors. The first on my list was to see the Short-clawed Asian Otters. The keepers explained that Martin Mere had actually successfully bred these rare animals and as a result, had sent some to other centres. Luckily they had kept 3 sisters to continue to educate people about why it's important to work with nature rather than against it. I'm such a wildlife fan so watching the otters try and find the crabs in their pond and break them open was something I really loved. They were so active and fun watch, each having their own personality. 

martin mere family day out
martin mere family day out

Dragging myself away from those little cuties, we headed to the main Discovery Hide, right in time for the big Swan feed. They call it the Swan feed but really it's a massive free-for-all on the natural wetland. What I loved was that there were super keen bird watchers there that were happy to share their knowledge with others, pointing out rare birds from other countries that have migrated here. Now I've fed a lot of ducks in my time, but I don't think I've ever seen as many birds in one place. It was crazy and something definitely not to be missed if you visit.

martin mere family day out
martin mere family day out
martin mere family day out
martin mere family day out

Our visit was the best pick-me-up and I'm already planning on going back in late May/June so I can see all the ducklings.

Where's you favourite place to get up close to nature?
xoxo
J
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