Hello and welcome back to the blog! It's been a little while hasn't it? I wish I could say I've been off doing all sorts of wild things but in all honestly I've been working a lot and binge watching Netflix. Exciting stuff.

Anyway, today let's have a bit of a chatty one because I'm getting bored of cramming in keywords and making making sure everything is SEO perfect. It's what I've been doing lots of at work and although I know it's what I should be doing with my blog, sometimes it's just nice to take things back to basics and write whatever the fuck I want.


So without further ado let's talk about what is possibly the best moisturiser I've ever tried - the wonderful Clinique Moisture Surge.


Now I'm going to get this out in the open first because it's a big point. Moisture Surge is a pricey product. It retails at £37 for a 50ml product. Ouch! Although there are regular offers on this little pot of magic, it's still never going to be a budget buy and it's for that reason I would recommend asking for a sample at the Clinique counter before taking the plunge and forking out 40 quid for one product. It works for me but it's a lot of moola to drop on a product that you might not love.

So why did I spend a whole lot of cash on Moisture Surge when I could have carried on buying my cheap as chips Simple Moisturiser? Well I knew it worked for a start. I was *gifted a small pot of this last year and honestly I fell in love with it. I also got a bit of a deal in Duty free on my way home from Dublin so I thought fuck it.


Here are the main things I love about this Clinique moisturiser:


  • It really does leave my skin feeling nourished and soft
  • It sinks into the skin quite quickly and doesn't feel greasy at all
  • The texture is almost like jelly and a little bit of product goes a LONG way
  • It makes a good base for my foundation
  • and let's be honest, it's not a bad looking product to have on your shelf

So is there anything I dislike about Moisture Surge? Well the price kills me a little everytime I think about it, but apart from that I don't really have many complaints. If I did want to be picky I would say that I always prefer my products to be in tubes as I feel this keeps them cleaner, but I alway wash my hands before sticking my fingers in the pot so I can't say that it's much of a big deal.




Would I repurchase? This is a tricky one because I am head over heels for this little jar, but it is quite expensive in my opinion. Some say you can't put a price on good quality skincare but you obviously can and its forty bloody pounds apparently. That being said I would grab it again if I thought I was getting a good deal!

So have you tried out the lovely Clinique Moisture Surge before? Did you think it was worth the £££?


Thanks for reading!


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*I was gifted a travel sized pot of Moisture Surge by Clinique last year however I was under no obligation to post about it and I paid for this full sized product myself.



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CLINIQUE MOISTURE SURGE - THE BEST MOISTURISER EVER?

Are you ready for this? I thought to myself anxiously as I stuffed my bikini into my rucksack on the morning of my booking at the Bear Grylls Adventure. I'm a naturally anxious person but I'm also a thrill seeker and unsurprisingly these personal qualities don't always go well together. But on that morning, as I prepped myself, I knew I was more excited than nervous, afterall I was about to experience something I'd never done before.



A few weeks before I had been asked if I would like to try out some of the activities at the Bear Grylls Adventure* over by the Birmingham NEC, and of course the answer was a resounding yes. I'd been the year before to try out the base camp (Fear Zone, Escape Room, Assault Course, and Archery) and the iFly (indoor skydiving) so I was quite pleasantly surprised to find that the Fear Zone and Escape Room had recently been relaunched. I booked myself and my family in for the two newly revamped activities and something else a little more show stopping - Scuba Diving. 

The Fear Zone was very similar to before with only a couple of minor changes. The walk through activity focuses on several common fears as you pass through it, and whilst it is a good bit of fun I did think this particular activity is more geared up for the kids. That's not to say adults won't enjoy it, if you've got a particularly nervous, jumpy, or squeamish individual in your group it can be a laugh.



Now the Escape Room at the Bear Grylls Adventure had been completely switched up from what I remember last time. Although I don't remember all that much (memory like a sieve over here) I do know I enjoyed the theme a lot more this time. You do have to really use some brain power for this one and working as a team is also a must if you want to crack the codes and escape within the 60 minute time frame. We did end up having a bit of help from a staff member every now and then but for most part the five of us were hard at work solving puzzles and hunting for clues. We got out in around 50 minutes I reckon. 

The highlight of the day for me and my family really was the diving however. As a family who have spent many a sunny beach break feeding fish in the hot mediterranean sea, it was going to be a real treat to actually get up close and personal with the creatures. Diving in a tank might seem 'less authentic' to some, but I thought this would be a great way to try out a new activity in a safe space, plus the Bear Grylls Adventure tank is huge!


Although I was beyond excited to become a temporary mermaid I did think my nerves might get the better of me and once I was all geared up and in the water my anxiety did nip in to say hello. It took me a little while to get used to the equipment and calm my breathing enough to feel comfortable under the water. It was clear I was nervous and so a second member of staff took me aside to talk me through everything one to one. 

Once I was calm and ready to go I submerged myself into the tank to meet up with the rest of the group and for the remainder of the activity I couldn't have been happier. Sharks and various other fish swam around us oblivious to the amazing experience we were having under the water. Although I was an anxious wreck at the start of the dive, I now can't wait to get back in the water and wouldn't hesitate to dive again in the future as it really is just an incredible, surreal experience. I do have the diving staff to thank for that as they were just so helpful and patient with me as I struggled to calm myself.



So Bear Grylls Adventure? Almost completed it mate, just the Climbing, High Ropes, and Shooting to do before I've ticked off all of the activities. Would I recommend it though? Honestly yes. I know some of the adventures can come in quite pricey however, so make sure to look out for deals or use your Merlin Pass of you're a passholder! 


Thanks for reading!


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* My tickets were complimentary however all opinions are my own and I would never promote anything I didn't believe in.

BEAR GRYLLS ADVENTURE - SCUBA DIVING, ESCAPE ROOM & MORE*

At the start of 2019 I decided on a slightly unusual new year's resolution. I wasn't going to lose weight, I wasn't going to find a new job, and I definitely wasn't going to be moving out, nope, I was going to take a trip in every single month of the year. Yes it was going to be a very tricky, very expensive new years resolution, but I was determined.



Well 2019 is dead and buried so let's have a little review of the last 12 months. Where did I go? And did I manage to take a trip every month?

January

In the first month of the year I nipped over to Belfast. Ah Belfast, the rainy city that stole my heart and left me longing to return. The Northern Irish capital was the setting of my first ever solo trip and although there were a couple of blips, (see here for a very dramatic story) I had the most fanatic time. 

During my trip I saw a hell of a lot of Irish history, watched the sun set over the Giant's Causeway, and drank in some fantastic pubs, but most importantly I started to find myself again and my confidence blossomed. I wanted to take a solo trip for the longest time and I'm so glad I chose Belfast to be the setting for that.



February

The second my plane touched down at Birmingham Airport I knew I would be back to Belfast, and so I booked to go back a just few weeks later. This time I visited the Titanic Museum, the Ulster Museum (and the Game of Thrones Tapestry), and drank in several other banging little bars. Oh and I did it all alone again.

Whilst in Northern Ireland I also wanted to take a day trip to Derry as my history mad brain always manages to get the better of me. Ignoring the advice I received to stay well away, I popped myself on a train and off I went to see the city which became infamous during the troubles.

I actually visited just weeks after a car bomb was detonated in the city centre but that honestly didn't deter me and I'm go glad it didn't. What I found on my trip was a place rich in history and culture, and welcoming locals who were very aware of the cities bumpy past. Whilst a walk down the bogside might be shocking to brits who grew up in mainland Britain, it's so important that we understand the events which took place here.



March

In March I zipped over to little old Bruges in beautiful Belgium. Bruges is a fairytale town and one which has been firmly on my to do list for what seems like years. So at the start of Spring myself, my mom, and my sister jumped on the Eurostar for a long weekend in the medieval city. We climbed the famous bell tower, explored the winding streets, toured a chocolate factory and a brewery, took a boat trip, visited a museum dedicated to chips, and so so much more. Bruges is just bursting with things to do and it is impossible to get it all done in one trip.

My advice for anyone wanting to take a trip to Bruges? Enjoy the city for what it is, a beautiful tourist trap, but don't paint it as a storybook town because you will be very disappointed. I loved every second of wandering this picturesque place but in all honesty I won't be in any rush to return.



April

In April funds were tight and so was time. I wanted to take a trip so badly but my little trip to Belgium absolutely rinsed me and so my only choice this month was to take day trips.

I managed to fit two day trips in over the bank holiday weekend, the first of which was to lovely Liverpool. It's a city I've wanted to see forever and although I'd technically been before, I spent all of my time in the World Museum and so I didn't actually get to see the city. So what did I get up to? In between taking a wild amount of photos with my little angel Tori, I saw the docks, viewed Liverpool from the radio city tower, snapped some beatles statues, went on a walking tour, and had a few too many bevvies around Matthew Street before heading home on a train full of rowdy drunken Scousers. Fucking brilliant.

I also managed to sneak in a much more relaxed day trip to Bridgenorth, a small town about 45 minutes up the road from Brum. It was an absolute scorcher of a day, so myself, Mom, Dad, and the Dog mostly just wandered around before calling it quits and heading to a pub by the river.



May

By the time May rolled around I was ready for a few nights away, and as the weather had been glorious in the weeks leading up we decided to brave a camping trip. We popped down to the lovely Shell Island in Wales. It's the biggest campsite is europe apparently and my god does it show. Although there are toilets throughout the campsite, a midnight trip to the loo felt more like an expedition when you're cold, alone, and can't see anything further than the light from your torch reaches. Oh and we all thought we were genuinely going to die on the first night as it dropped down to 4 degrees. I wish I was lying.

That being said it is a cracking campsite, directly next to a beautiful beach, and just up the road from the little seaside town of Barmouth. Would 100% recommend staying there, but probably when you're not likely to freeze to death in your tent.



June

When people used to say they were going on holiday to Spain I would always secretly judge them, I won't lie. I would always just imagine built up holiday resorts full of Brits acting badly and that is not the kind of place I would want to holiday. So when I saw reasonable flights to Almeria at the start of June I wasn't sure, but my god was I pleasantly surprised.

After just a few hours in this Spanish seaside city it was evident that few people spoke English, and tourists were not catered for here at all. Jackpot! Myself and Tori soon learned to communicate with locals using google translate, and we even managed to (mostly) work public transport out. The city is absolutely buzzing with life, and history, and it is JUST SO HOT.

I'm not sure I will be able to do this paradise city justice in just a few paragraphs so I won't even try, but between sizzling on the beautiful beaches we explored an ancient fortress, shopped till we dropped, took a day trip to Malaga, hiked up a FUCKING MOUNTAIN in flipflops, took a tour of the civil war bunkers in Spanish, pretended we were cowboys on an old movie set, and danced the night away with pretty Spanish boys who showed us all the best bars. Would I recommend a trip to Almeria? In a heartbeat!



July

Honestly all I managed to do in July was a night out in Stafford. Wild I know. But I did stay overnight if that counts? AND I managed to crawl out of bed in time to treat myself to a Wetherspoons brekkie in the morning, so I did get to see some of the town.

August

In August I planned to go to Prague, its another beautiful city which has sat on my to do list for years and so I was determined to visit it over the summer, that was until the cheapest flight I could find was £150, err no thank you. So myself and one of my oldest friends Lucy booked a trip to Dublin instead which cost less than £150 for my flights AND accommodation, banging. Yes I'd been to Dublin a few times before, and no I wasn't sure if I would have anything new to see, but you know what? I went and it was fantastic. I took a walking tour which I've not done in Dublin before, I indulged in Whiskey at the Jameson's Distillery, I saw an original 1916 Irish Republic proclamation poster, and you guessed it, got very very fucking drunk. I left poor and hungover but it was bloody worth it!

Not content with just a few days in Dublin I also took a day trip to London at the end of the month. London is a city I've seen a thousand times before, but one which could never bore me. Even if taking a ride on the tube is like travelling through the fires of hell I will always return to our dusty capital. On my little day trip I explored the Tate Modern, got lost in some posh charity shops, wolfed down some fantastic grub in Camden market, and got pissed in various locations across Landannn town. Oh and I sank a couple of bevvies in the brand new Hard Rock Piccadilly which marked my 15th Hard Rock Cafe.



September

One friday evening, as just as I was getting home from work I was told to pack a case as quick as I could because we were off to sunny Somerset. Well you better believe I packed my bag in record time and we were on the road around an hour later. My parents had booked a last minute weekend break at a small holiday park in the outskirts of Cheddar and although I'd been a few times before I was very excited to be making full use of the hot tub beside the static caravan we would be calling home. I spent the first night bathing away with a glass of fizz, and then the following morning, and then the next night too. Basically I hopped in the tub whenever I had a bit of spare time and it was great.

In between enjoying the bubbles we went to Wells, Cheddar, and even spent a few hours around Western-Super-Mare, or Birmingham by the beach as my Mom likes to call it. We had a cracking weekend away and I would absolutely love to take more spontaneous UK trips like that again in the future!

At the end of September I was lucky enough to take another trip, but this time it was a little solo trip. So I had conquered Belfast alone and now I was ready to take on somewhere new, somewhere I couldn't speak the language, and somewhere I thought would probably push me out of my comfort zone. Krakow just happened to be the right price at the right time and so I booked a weekend trip on my lonesome.

Although short, the whole trip really was incredible, but not without its challenges. From being locked out of my apartment at 2am on the first night, to complications with Uber drivers, and the obvious language barrier, it wasn't a smooth trip but my god was it a confidence building one. I also had plenty of fun and got to see some amazing sights on my little city break. I fell for Krakow so much that I slapped up a pretty long blog post about it which you can read here if you'd like.



October

By october I was poor and tired so I didn't actually manage to book an overnight stay anywhere. I did take a day trip to rainy Blackpool however, which mostly involved wandering around the Blackpool Tower. It's no Paris, but the view from the top of that thing it still pretty decent, even if it is pissing it down, which lets be honest, it usually is.

On the way home from Blackpool we took a little detour up to Blackburn for the Scare Kingdom. There was a total of 5 scare mazes if I can remember right and it really was good fun! You can't beat a good scare night to get you in the mood for Halloween really can you?



November 

November was also an uneventful month for travel, not only because I was pouring my money into everyone's christmas presents, but because I had a drunken fall in the middle of the month which resulted in me cutting my hand open quite badly. It would render me pretty useless for the next few weeks and even see me on the operating table for the first time in my life. But that's a story for another blog post!

So where did I go in November? Well I took my mom off to the lovely city of Nottingham for the day, just to have a wander around really. It's only an hour or so away from Birmingham but I'd never actually been before so it was nice to spend a few hours exploring a local British city! We mooched around the German market (which is better than Birmingham's soz), took a tour of the underground cave system, and had lunch in the most beautiful converted church, amongst other things. It was a pretty great day!

December

I'm very sad to report that by the end of the year I was all out of money, time, energy, and effort. I didn't go anywhere in December and that was a real shame as it meant I didn't quite manage to take a trip every month which is what I had aimed for at the start of the year. But you know what I did do in the final month of 2019? I spent lots and lots of quality time with a whole host of fantastic people and that's what the festive season is all about really isn't it? Oh and I got fucking rat arsed pretty much every day in December which was fab.


For me 2019 really was the year of travel, and growth, and just doing exactly what I wanted to do when I wanted to do it. Every year I am evolving and really coming into the person I want to be which is amazing and scary all at the same time.
So here's to 2019, a funny little year that I will never forget.



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2019 - A YEAR OF TRAVEL

If there was one area I would class myself as an expert in it would be travel, more specifically budget travel. When you want to see the world as often as I do you can't afford to stay in 5 star luxury resorts, but that doesn't mean you have to rough it either. I've stayed in all sorts hotels, I've taken all modes of transport, and slowly but surely I'm travelling the world on a shoestring budget.




So how am I able to jet off every few months? Well I'm going to spill the beans and give you some tips on how you can find the perfect budget friendly holiday.

I did want to start by addressing the fact that I do still live at home and I am incredibly lucky to be able to put away a good portion of my wages away each month specifically for travel. I know this isn't something everyone is fortunate enough to do, but I hope this post will help at least one person find an affordable holiday.


Now onto my top tips...


Know your budget - My first tip would be to set a budget and stick to it. It is all too easy to have a rough idea of what you are willing to spend on an affordable holiday and then get carried away. That being said, you should also consider value for money. If you've budgeted a certain amount per night for a hotel but it's only a small amount more to pick a hotel that includes breakfast it might be worth it.

Clear browsing your history & be ready to straight away - Once you are ready to start looking for your cheap trip clear all your cookies and browsing history on your computer and switch to incognito mode. In theory this means that your previous searches or clicks won't influence the price of the holidays, flights, or hotels you are now searching for, although I'm not convinced this works every time.

To give yourself the best chance of getting a budget holiday you should also be ready to book then and there if possible as anything you look at this time around may increase in price next time. Websites seem to be getting smarter at knowing which holidays etc. are the most popular. 



Be flexible - The real bargain breaks can usually be found when you are flexible with where and when you are willing to travel. Weekdays are usually cheaper to fly on and the same can be said for booking hotel rooms. Inconvenient flight times are also usually cheaper too, however if you are a monday to friday worker like myself, late night friday flights can be great as it means taking less annual leave for a weekend break!

Beach or city break? - The type of holiday you want will heavily influence where to find the best deals. For affordable sun holidays, booking packages with some of the larger tour companies can usually be cheaper, however for cheap city breaks I've found that pricing flights and accommodation up separately usually works out better.

Booking things separately does require a little more work but it can massively decrease the price of some holidays. Just be extra careful to ensure all of your dates are correct and double check the luggage allowance as most airlines won't include hold luggage with a flight only.

Flight search websites - So where are the best places to search for affordable flights? Skyscanner is my tried and tested favourite. It think its very easy to use searches through a huge range of airlines to find the best flights. Another good website to use is Kayak. I particularly like the explore feature which shows a map with the best flights from your chosen airport.



Flying isn't the only way to travel - If you are looking to travel any distance it's likely that jetting off will be your best bet, however if you aren't looking to travel massively far and you're not time limited either coach and train services can be quite affordable. I've used coaches to travel across half the continent over the last few years, and whilst they aren't the most comfortable or reliable, I have managed to get return trips to the likes of Paris for as little as £50 in the past.

Check airport locations - Think you've found a bargain flight and you're about to book? Wait! Check where the airport actually is in relation to the place you wish to visit. It's not uncommon for airports to be named after cities which are actually quite far away, meaning any savings you have made on the initial flight will be eaten up by airport transfers. Paris-Vatry airport for example, is actually 93 miles away from Paris! I don't fancy paying the taxi fare for that trip!

So those are my top tips on how you can find and book your perfect affordable holiday, whatever your budget!


Happy Holidays!


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HOW TO FIND THE PERFECT BUDGET FRIENDLY HOLIDAY

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