I arrived to my appointment early. I guess I wanted a bit of time to calm my nerves. I wasn't really worried about my smear test, after all there's not much of my body a doctor hasn't seen before, but it was new to me so I was understandably apprehensive.


I'd heard horror stories of cervixes being scratched so severely they bled profusely and of speculums (the instrument inserted into the vagina to allow the nurse to see the cervix) being forced in with a great amount of pain. I'll admit I did think about worst case scenarios as I sat in the waiting room but I rationalised with myself that they must be incredibly rare. After what seemed an age, my name was called and off I walked towards the nurse who was about to give my bits a good poke. The thought made me laugh actually.

As I took a seat in the consultation room the nurse asked if this was my first smear test, I told her it was. I'm not sure if she could tell I was nervous but she began to explain exactly what a cervical screening was, what it would involve, and what she would be looking for. She asked me a few various questions and then proceed to whip around the room picking up every piece of equipment she would soon be using.

Some of the bits I'd seen before and others I hadn't, but that didn't matter because she explained exactly what every item was and how it would be used. She didn't rush through anything and made me feel incredibly calm the whole time. Once I was all clued up the nurse allowed me to ask any questions I had before moving on to the main event.

I was then given time to undress my bottom half and cover myself with a large piece of paper towel. She didn't rush me during this time and waited patiently outside of the curtained off area around the bed I would soon be lying on. 

Once I told her I was ready she quickly showed me how best to position myself so that I would be comfortable and she could easily view my certix. She chatted away throughout the procedure and made me feel very at ease which I think helped the whole thing go a lot smoother. 

Inserting the speculum didn't hurt, having my cervix swabbed also didn't hurt (though it was a very strange feeling) and I didn't feel at all embarrassed about having my legs spread wide open either as my nurse was so calming and profesional. 

The whole procedure was over within about 3 minutes and I found myself on my way to work just 15 minutes after I initially stepped into the consultation room. 15 minutes was all it took to have a potentially life saving procedure, it's amazing really. 

Throughout the rest of the day I had some very light spotting, I would hardly even call it that but I've been told this was completely normal and nothing to worry about, after all I did just have my cervix scratched. Some doctors recommend keeping a panty liner handy however I didn't need one as the amount of blood was just so insignificant.

I'm still yet to have my results. I was told they can take anywhere from 2 - 6 weeks to come back but the time frame varies from area to area to its worth asking your nurse how long the wait is expected to be for you.

My first experience couldn't have been easier and I'm so glad I didn't put it off.


So what are my tips for your first smear?


  • Wear a dress or skirt, this means you can just pop off your knickers and lay on the bed with a bit of dignity. 


  • Relax as much as possible. I know it might be hard with a stranger looking at your fanny but the more relaxed you are the easier it will be for the nurse to insert the speculum meaning less chance of the procedure being painful.


  • Book an appointment for the middle of your cycle as this means a good sample of cervical cells can be taken. It's not recommended to have a smear test during your period.


  • Tell them its your first time. For me letting the nurse know this was my first smear test meant that she explained the whole procedure to me in depth which made me feel more comfortable with what was about to happen.


You can find more information about what happens during a cervical screening here.


Getting a smear test isn't the most fun thing you'll ever do but it is important.


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TIPS FOR YOUR FIRST SMEAR TEST & MY EXPERIENCE

"Another new restaurant, how long will this one last?!". It's a question that seems to cross my mind with every new opening at our snazzy new station, but I think it's pretty valid. Sometimes it feels like restaurants come and go quicker than the trains at Birmingham's Grand Central Station so when I saw Holy Moly Macaroni open and ready for business I just had to try it out.


The menu isn't massively extensive and features mostly Mac & Cheese dishes (funnily enough). I did find several things I liked the look of however which makes a nice change for me as I'm the fussiest eater on the planet. In the end I chose the Buttermilk Chicken with, you guessed it, Mac & Cheese. The Chicken was delicious, and so was the Mac & Cheese to my surprise! Believe it or not I'd never actually tried Mac & Cheese before but it's definitely something I'd have again. A lot of the dishes come with mini Mac sides but there is also a selection of larger Mac & Cheese dishes with various ingredients if you want it as a main. There's even a Mac & nocheese for Vegans and Gluten free options for the celiacs, so everyone is catered for. 


Despite the food being super tasty, the portion sizes just weren't that big in my opinion. Maybe (definitely) I'm a big eater but I did think there could have been a little more on my plate, Tori my dining partner also agreed. She went for exactly the same meal as me but added an extra side of Cajun chips, good call. 

Along with my dinner I also went for a Vimto, yeah yeah I know it's boring but I wasn't feeling anything alcoholic. Now I could have sworn the drinks were refillable, and I definitely refilled mine, but I can't seem to find anything online to suggest they are? So If they are, they're great value for money at £2.80, and if they're not well then I'm a thieving bastard. 


The service during our meal was fab, the staff were super friendly, and the place itself was kept really clean. I'll definitely go back and try out some of the other tasty meals if it does still exist in a few months time. As I said previously, restaurants in Grand Central don't tend to last too long however I really hope this one does as it's a little bit different and it's not just another chain.

Where's the best place you've eaten at recently?


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HOLY MOLY MACARONI - FAD OR FEAST?

So here's the thing, last week I spent a couple of hours writing a post to go with these outfit photos. It had nothing to do with the actually outfit itself, I was just kind of ranting and letting out some feelings. I did publish the post earlier today but I took it down again about 5 minutes later. I think I just decided it wasn't the kind of thing I wasn't happy putting out on the internet. I know I share virtually my entire life with strangers online but sometimes it's nice to keep things to yourself. 


To give you quick a rundown of the other post, it was about how I no longer feel like I'm behind other people my age. Someone I loved once told me that I was falling behind, I wasn't advancing blah blah blah... Well I don't feel like that anymore. My head is in a good place, I've got a decent job, I'm seeing the world bit by bit, and most importantly I'm living the life I want. Things are pretty good.



All that being said I do think the post ended up getting a little bit too personal and even slightly negative. I know I can't expect every day of my life to be happy and positive but I can make an effort to ensure anything I create oozes good energy. So I scrapped that post and now I don't have any text to go with these snazzy little outfit photos, but such is life. 

- Shop The Look -

         
       
         
       
These outfit of the day type images were actually taken by my lovely friend Tori on our trip to Liverpool. I'd been once before with my sister but we were only there to see the Terracotta Warriors (which was amazing by the way) and didn't get chance to see any of the city. So When Tori and I had a free Saturday last week we decided to explore. It was going to be an absolute scorcher of a day so I wore the comfiest thing I could find - a cool Asos shirt and jeans paired with my very worn in Converse. 



Honestly Liverpool left such a lasting impression on me. I know I say that about most cities I visit (I literally fall in love with everywhere I go) but it really was such a vibrant place with some interesting history. The bank holiday vibes, the drinking culture, and the glorious weather all probably added to my good impression of the city but I stand by my words. I'll more than likely do a post around our day trip, but for now please enjoy these photos of myself lounging in the sun wearing mostly Asos items as usual. 



I'm thinking of returning to Liverpool over the summer so I'd love to hear any recommendations for things to do in this fun little city. 

Thanks for reading!

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P.S can someone please appreciate my lyric title that's actually relevant to the post because its mildly about a day trip to Liverpool and you know... Beatles and stuff. 

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OUTFIT | SHE WAS A DAY TRIPPER

As a teenager I could not get enough of Avon products. I fondly remember the days of scanning through the new catalogues and filling up the little form with makeup and other beauty goodies only to have to wait a month or so for them to arrive. Well those days are long gone, hell I don't even know any Avon ladies now and it's not really somewhere I head to for my beauty treats anymore.

Although I don't tend to wear Avon makeup anymore, there is one product I have always loved purchasing from that little book - Perfume. I've been wearing Avon perfume ever since I can remember and even now that I have my higher end favourites, I still head back to Avon for the budget scents I love.


Last week I decided to have a little splurge on Avon perfumes. So here is what I got...

Rare Pearls - This has been my go to since I was a babby. It smells incredible and I always get compliments whenever I wear it. I took a bottle of this good stuff to Greece with me on my first ever proper abroad holiday when I was 15 and now whenever a spray it across my skin memories of long days by the beach and cocktails at the bar come flooding back to me. Cheap perfume doesn't get much better than this.

Little Black Dress (1 Full Sized & 3 Minis) - I love this little beauty so much I bought it 4 times. Well one full sized version and 3 minis for my handbag. This is another scent that reminds me of good times as I took a bottle to Amsterdam with me the first time I went. I picked up the minis as I thought they would be the perfect size to pop in my hand luggage and we all know how much I like to travel light these days!


Soft Musk - I vaguely remember buying this once and I'm sure I liked it? It was only a fiver so I was willing to risk it. It's probably one of the uglier bottles Avon do if I'm totally honest but as long as the spray smells decent I'm happy!

Eau De Bouquet - Yes this is the shitest perfume name I have ever heard but have you seen that gorgeous bottle? I'll be completely honest with you, I've never smelt this perfume before in my life but I thought the bottle would look cute on my dressing table. Is that a stupid reason to purchase a perfume? Oh 100% but I like to live life on the edge.


My Everything Mini - This was a complete impulse buy if I'm honest. It was £1.50 and I thought if it smells like crap I can just bin it off for that kind of price. As it turns out it smells really quite nice, it has an almost chocolatey scent to it which I really like. It's probably the best £1.50 I've spent in a very long time!

So that was my cheap and cheerful Avon perfume haul which cost me a grand total of £40!!! Do you still wear Avon perfume or is Marc Jacobs more your thing now? Let me know your favourite perfumes!


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Want to read more beauty posts? Here are a few recent ones...

- Blogger Hair Care Favourites 

- Why I No Longer Exfoliate My Face And What I Use Instead

- Blogger Holy Grail Products

CHEAP AS CHIPS AVON PERFUME HAUL

I've said it before and I'll say it again, taking a solo trip was the best thing I have ever done for myself. If you've been here for a while, you'll know I've had my struggles with anxiety and going places alone, so to hop on a plane and head to a new country on my own really was an achievement for me. That being said, my trip didn't go as smoothly as it could have...

The Duke of York Pub

I chose to visit Belfast. A few months previously I had be convinced to visit the city by a very charming Irishman (a trait I would soon discover most Irish males possess) and my trip was booked before I'd even had time to think about it.

On my second night in the beautiful city I was feeling confident. I survived my first night alone and even went to the pub on my tod, I was doing well. So why not venture a little further I thought? I really wanted to have a drink in 'the most famous pub in Belfast', the Duke of York, and I wouldn't be disappointed when I got there. But it was a half an hour walk from my hotel.

Back home in Birmingham I would never have walked it, a 30 minute walk? No thanks! But when I'm on holiday a half hour walk is nothing. I was happy to see the city along the way and so I left the comfort of my hotel to walk the streets of Belfast on a chilly January evening. 

Following the map on my phone closely I quickly walked through the city centre. Maybe it was the time of year or maybe Belfast is just a quiet town, I'm not really sure, but the streets were empty. This was a little unnerving to say the least.

During my walk I was mindful not to look lost or give away the fact that I was following directions. I walked with purpose and confidence and was always aware of my surroundings. That's when I spotted him. A man maybe 10/15 foot ahead of me walking along the empty city centre road. I had noticed him looking back at me a couple of times and then he slowed down. No worries I thought, I'll take a quick look at the map and then walk past him.

With a solid plan in my mind and my phone now firmly away in my pocket I picked up the pace, overtook the man, and turned off the main road. What could go wrong? 

"Excuse me", a voice from just behind me called. The man had taken the same turn as me. "Excuse me" he said again, "Do you know where the Berliner is?" By this time he had caught up to me and I could see that he was fairly attractive and not much older than myself. He was Irish but maybe he was visiting Belfast himself and needed directions to the pub? I was trying to make sense of the situation. Naively I slowed my walking and told him that I was sorry but I had not heard of it. This was a mistake. 

By responding I invited him to strike up a conversation as we both walked down the narrowing road. Thinking back now I can't even recall what he was talking about, but I do remember him telling me he was a local. That was the red flag I needed to get myself out of there. He was not a lost tourist, he more than likely knew where he was. Alarm bells were ringing, but then as if by some miracle, I noticed a pub just beside us - The Berliner. 

I thanked whatever guardian angel was looking over me and notified the man, who was walking ever closer to myself, that the pub he was looking for was there! "Oh" he responded 'Thanks". And off he went towards the doorway of the bar. 

Murals Square (next to the Duke of York)

My heart still pounding I walked on. Problem solved, I thought. Then I turned back only to see him standing in the doorway. He hadn't gone in. I turned back and carried on walking. It was by this time that I noticed the road narrowing even further. Was this a dead end?! How could this be I thought? I was following my map so carefully!

I turned back around looking for an exit to the dimly lit road to realise that the man was now walking straight towards me. What did he want? Maybe he was going to mug me? Or maybe worse. My heart sank at this point. 

I took one last look at my phone. I needed to get off this street. In my previous panic I hadn't noticed that the road did indeed finish here but there was a small alleyway that continued on through to another main road. The alleyway had no lights but it was my only escape. 

I powered through that ally quicker than I think I have ever walked in my life. I didn't want to overreact by running which seems silly thinking back now. Once I was out the other side I just kept going until I turned another corner. It was only then that I looked back to be sure I was alone, which I now thankfully was. You never really notice just how empty streets are until you think you might need to call for help. 

Continuing on my way I was even more aware of my surroundings than before. My senses were heightened and even little noises set me on edge. I was still determined to get to the bar, after all where else would I go from here? 

I did eventually arrive at the pub (which is well worth the trip) and swiftly ordered a vodka coke to calm my nerves which were just about shot at this point. For the rest of the evening I chatted to other tourists and enjoyed a spot of live music before choosing a very different route home. 

Thinking back to that night my memory is beyond fuzzy. The details are warped at best and I would never be able to identify the man if I ever saw him again. I've since looked at maps of Belfast and I can only assume that I must have taken several wrong turns on that night because the route I originally walked doesn't make any sense. 

Would I have done anything differently if I was to relive that night again? Honestly I would have never responded the the lad when he originally spoke to me. I was so scared of coming off rude or a bitch that I put myself in a very scary situation. 

I've since been called a bitch on several occasions when I've told men in bars that I'm not interested and while it's not nice, it's so much better than accidently inviting unwanted attention. 

That night could have easily ended up very differently. I'm very lucky that I spent the evening enjoying a few drinks and not at the police station, or worse. 

Spending a long weekend completely alone has done wonders for my confidence and I would recommend it to anyone, but please please just be careful. 

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I WAS FOLLOWED ON MY SOLO TRIP

The Hotel Heritage sits just streets away from the world famous Belfry of Bruges, in fact you can see the landmark from the sundeck (yes you heard right) and even some of the rooms. Are you looking for a budget stay? You're in the wrong place. But if you're after a plush boutique hotel in the heart of beautiful Bruges read on...

Hotel entrance

The hotel, which is part of the Relais & Chateux group, has the luxurious look and feel of an old victorian mansion house whilst having all the comforts travellers like myself have become accustomed to.

On entering the hotel reception we could have be forgiven for thinking we'd stepped onto the set of Downton Abbey. The vintage style furniture and continuous playlist of classical music are a complete contrast from the busy streets of modern day Bruges. Here we found the most helpful receptionists and unlimited ice water, flavoured with either oranges or lemons - a welcome refreshment after a long day of sightseeing. Also on the ground floor is the breakfast/ dining room, a small bar, a cosy drawing room complete with a piano and an open fire, and even a secret garden tucked away in the centre of the hotel. Whilst these areas are breathtaking, the luxury continues up into the rooms too.

Hotel Reception and Bar

After check in was complete we were invited the join our luggage upstairs, but this isn't when the service stops. A member of staff then gave us a tour of our temporary home, explaining how all of the technology works and pointing out any important features. We were then left to unpack, unwind, and enjoy the treats left by house keeping.

In the room we found modern comforts such as USB plug sockets, a mini bar, bottled water which would be topped up daily, miniature grooming items, fresh fruit, dressing gowns, slippers, a coffee machine, an Ipad, and a digital heating system.

Slip into a fluffy white dressing gown and feast on the complimentary fruit or get out and take advantage of the free walking tour provided by the hotel, the choice was ours and we of course chose to do a bit of both.

Bedroom in the Deluxe Room

On our first night we were given an invitation to join the owners of the hotel in the reception area for drinks. Whilst we didn't get chance to chat with them, we did enjoy the complimentary champagne, a treat we would get used to over the following days.

After guzzling down a glass of fizz in the hotel, and having several drinks in central Bruges, we headed back to our room to find it had been turned down for the night and each of us had been left a small box of chocolates. Accompanying the treats was a personalised goodnight message from the hotel, something I'd not come across before but would happily receive each night of our stay. 

The following morning, eager to get down to breakfast, we almost missed the small card which had been slid under our door at some point during the night. The slip informed us of the weather for the day ahead and this again was not something I had seen before, but a lovely touch I looked forward to each morning.

Sitting room and sofa bed in the Deluxe Room

On entering the breakfast room we were greeted by our waiter, a very attentive member of staff who served us each morning. He gave us our drinks options for the morning which were a hot drink and a selection of fresh fruit juices. I chose the strawberry and apple juice everyday as it was just delicious.

After bringing our drinks over and serving them to us our waiter would bring a small starter to us each day. The miniature appetizers seemed to be delicacies from that region as I'd never come across any of them before. The first day we were given a small salad with seeds, nuts and a tasty dressing, on the second day we were given cured meat and melon, and on the last day it was a pot of yoghurt and granola. We were then given the choice of how we would like our eggs cooked, during my stay I had both poached and fried, both were equally tasty.

Sitting room and bathroom in the Deluxe Room

Whilst some of the dishes were cooked fresh and served to us,  the majority of the breakfast items could be found on the buffet. Here we had the choice of; bacon, sausage, mushrooms, tomatoes, several types of cold meats, several types of cheese, cereals, a variety of milk, yoghurts, fresh and dried fruits, a selection of bread, chocolates, cakes, pastries, and my favourite - unlimited champagne.

Once we were finished with our buffet plates sweet treats were brought over to ourselves by our waiter, followed by fresh cooked waffles if we chose. The waffles were unlike any I had tried before and my mouth is watering right now just thinking about that delicious batter melting in my mouth.

Breakfast

During our stay the receptionist was on hand to help with any questions we had. They also provided us with a city map which they happily marked up with points of interest, and a discount card for many of the cities museums.

On check out of the hotel we were given the option to store our bags for the day which we did. We were also given a bag of complimentary water to take away which I thought was a very nice touch.

Hotel highlights:
  • Unlimited champagne breakfast
  • Complimentary chocolates each night
  • View from the sundeck at the top of the hotel
  • A separate bath and shower in the room

The only faults I could find in the hotel were the lack of a plug socket near a mirror which seems to be a common occurrence in hotel rooms and the coffee machine which seemed to stay broken throughout our stay even though we mentioned it to the hotel reception. 

Hotel Reception

All in all we thoroughly enjoyed our stay in the high end Hotel Heritage. It made a once in a lifetime trip to Bruges just a little more special and the small touches, such as the goodnight chocolates, really left a lasting impression on all of us. Next time I stay at an Etap or Premier Inn I will remember this luxury Belgian hotel fondly.

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Looking for more hotel reviews?

- Sofitel Victoria Warsaw

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REVIEW | HOTEL HERITAGE - LUXURY IN THE HEART OF BRUGES

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