lifestyle
Where the fuck did 2018 go? Considering last year was an absolute bag of shite it flew by! To put it mildly last year wasn't the best, but I did visit some incredible places.

From the Battlefields of Belgium, to the largest brick castle in the world, and even Ben Nevis, I saw a lot. I ticked off three new Hard Rock Cafes and I met up for real life drinks with friends I'd only ever spoken to online before. I left the UK 4 times last year and went camping a hell of a lot too, but I want to smash that this year.

Chanonry Point, Scotland 

In 2019 I plan to go on weekend break every single month of the year. Yep you heard right. I have no idea how I'm going to physically do it or finance it but I'm determined. I've not got a massive amount planned yet but there are a few places I know I want to tick off the list.

So where shall I go in 2019?

Belfast, Ireland - This one is planned, actually it's more than planned, its booked. And I leave in 7(!!!) days. But that's not all. I'm going alone. "Why?!" I hear you cry! Well I haven't got a fucking clue if I'm honest but it's happening. All I've ever wanted to do is see the world and if I have to do it alone, well I guess that's better than not going at all.
But in all seriousness I'm shitting it and I would really appreciate your Belfast travel tips and moral support at this point.

Things I want to see while in Belfast: Titanic Museum, Giants Causeway, Crumlin Road Gaol.

Falls of Dochart, Scotland

Bruges, Belgium - Lovely little Belgium, it's one of those countries you can't help but fall in love with. The history, the architecture, and the people, Belgium has it all (especially the people though, Belgians are ridiculously friendly).

A few days ago I booked a trip to Bruges with my Mom and Sister and I AM SO EXCITED. I've wanted to visit this fairytale town since forever and now I'm finally going! 

Things I want to do while in Bruges: The Belfry of Bruges, eat 500 merveilleux cakes, visit some of the many museums.

Prague, Czech Republic - Prague is another place that has been on my list for ages. Anyone I've ever spoken to about this pretty city only has good things to say about it and just from looking at photos I can tell it's a beautiful place. Maybe 2019 is the year I drown my sorrows in cheap Czech beer?

Things I would do in Prague: Explore the old town and see the astronomical clock, visit Terezin Concentration Camp, Prague Castle.

Loch Lomond, Scotland

Sheffield & Durham UK - Not as exotic as some of the other places on this list but still places I hope to see. I figured I could probably visit both of these northern towns in one long weekend if I tried hard enough.

I spent my childhood exploring the southern coast of the UK and I very rarely travel any further North than Birmingham city centre so it will be nice to see a different part of the UK.

Things I would do in Sheffield: The Winter Garden, Millennium Gallery.
Things I would do in Durham: Durham Castle, Museum of Archeology

Lisbon, Portugal - Teenage Grace was a complete beach bum. A holiday to me back then meant endless hours lounging on the sand and splashing about in the sea and, whilst I still enjoy that today, I'm much more of a city girl. That's probably why Portugal is the only 'hot' country to make the list. Even though its surrounded by water I doubt I would have much time to nip down to the shore if I did visit Lisbon. 

Things I would do in Lisbon: Wander around the Alfama district, Castelo de S Jorge, Torre De Belem.

Ben Nevis, Scotland

And that's it! My travel list is forever expanding and I have no doubt that I will be adding to this list as the months go by. I need to pick at least 7 more places to visit if I'm going to have a little break every month.

As always your tips and recommendations for places to see/ things to do/ things to eat are always welcome. This year is going to be a year of adventure and I am so ready for it!

Where are you planning to visit in 2019?


Thanks for reading!


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THE 2019 TRAVEL LIST


Hi I’m Grace, a born and bred Brummy, but I’m sure you already knew that. I love my home city and even the strange accent it gave me, but now days I spend most of my time planning to escape this town. So much so that when asked where I like to eat and drink I could real off a list bars in Amsterdam, and I could tell you exactly where to get the best grub in Disneyland Paris, but Birmingham? I’m not so sure.

I’m forever jetting off to new and exciting places when I have a whole host of great things on my doorstep. There are so many fun and interesting things to do here, from the fantastic IKON Gallery, to the Botanical Gardens, and a huge range of fab bars, pubs, and hotels in Birmingham that I am yet to try. Not forgetting that we have more canals here than Venice! Oh you knew that one already? Well it's true and since the massive redevelopment a few years back Brindley Place and similar areas have become pretty popular sites to grab some grub and a few bevies. 


So where would I recommend for a couple of drinks? A few weeks ago I wouldn’t have been able to tell you, that was until I challenged myself to a Brummy Bar crawl to discover some fab new places in the city centre. And I didn’t even touch Broad Street once, I actually stayed on the same road for most of the night!

So where did I go?

Bodega Bar and Cantina
12 Bennets Hill, Birmingham, B2 5RS

Bodega is a fun little eatery where you can get some fab Mexican food and drinks. Tori (my drinking partner for the night) and I both ordered Burritos which were much too spicy for our tastes and I ordered a Mojito because I’m boring and basic.

I’m not going to lie the service was pretty bad that night, several tables who were seated long after us were served before so that wasn’t fab. That being said the atmosphere is pretty cool and there is a Mexican Stir Fry on the menu that I really fancy. 6/10 - would return on a school night.


The Cosy Club
33 Bennetts Hill, Birmingham, B2 5SN


After slurping down our drinks we nipped over the road to The Cosy Club. This fancy little bar is a firm favourite with lots of locals and I’ve been once before myself. It's not the cheapest place in the world but it isn’t extortionate considering the banging city centre location and pretty interiors. 

Here I ordered a Grapefruit Gin and Lemonade which was surprisingly tasty and Tori went for a Cherry Bakewell cocktail which she said was amazing. 8/10


Dirty Martini
7 Bennetts Hill, Birmingham, B2 5ST

If you’ve been here a while you will know I’m a big fan of the fairly new Dirty Martini. The decor here is amazing and I couldn’t think of a more Instagram worthy bar in all of Birmingham. I’ve had several little drinkies in here before and I have no doubt I will be back again.

Expect to pay between £9 - £10 for a Martini here unless you manage to visit at happy hour which runs A LOT and then you can pick one up half price. Tori and I both ordered the Poppy Blush Martini which was on special for a fiver and tasted delicious! 9/10


Lost and Found
8 Bennetts Hill, Birmingham, B2 5RS

Lost and Found is one of those bars I’ve been meaning to visit for ages, I’ve heard nothing but good reviews and I can kind of see why. Like the others it was completely rammed and hard to get served at the fairly small bar, but what can you expect on a Friday night really?

Similar to others along Bennetts Hill, the interiors are fantastic and almost mimic a victorian pub, or at least what I expect a Victorian pub would look like. We even spotted a secret room that seemed to have an event on at the time, but it looked amazing. 7/10


The Botanist
14 Temple Street, Birmingham, B2 5BG

Another bar I have visited before and the only one from the night not on Bennetts Hill, it's actually situated on the next road over. The Botanist is a gorgeously decorated bar that serves all sorts of weird and wonderful beverages, which is why I’m very sad to say I only ordered a diet coke this time. Tory was a little more fun an opted for a Mocktail but its safe to say we were done with alcohol by the time we arrived here. Even if you go for nothing more than a coke I would say the Botanist is still well worth a visit! 7/10


There are so many lovely little bars and restaurants in Birmingham City Centre and I'm always looking for more recommendations so please feel free to leave them below or send me a tweet!


Thanks for reading!



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* The spending money was gifted by Hotels.com, however all views are my own.

MARTINIS AND MOJITOS - A FANCY BAR CRAWL IN BIRMINGHAM CITY CENTRE

And just like that it's December. I cannot even begin to explain how busy the last few weeks have been for me. I would say I'm not coping well but, I'm still here and just about keeping on top of everything. 

So as its a new month its time to pop down my three keys to happiness. Like I said, I haven't really had time to even breathe these last few weeks so there is a hell of a lot to write...


Something to look forward to...

Well the biggest thing I have coming up at the moment is Disneyland Paris! I am beyond excited for this trip. It's the first time I have been during the Christmas Season so I know it's going to be magical. There was a bit of drama around this trip (isn't there always?!) but that's thankfully resolved now. On Friday morning my lovely friend Zoe text me to say she had noticed that the return flight she booked for us was actually in June and not this Sunday. Fast forward a lot of stress and a few hundred pounds and we now have brand new flights. We also still have a return flight from Paris in June so I guess we will just have to go again right? RIGHT?!!

I am also very excited for Christmas and a few family birthdays dotted throughout December. I'm just really looking forward to spending good quality chill time with the people I like the most.

Something to be proud of...

Well not losing my shit (too much) the last few weeks is one. I have honestly had a lot of crap to deal with and even though I cried a lot, and even once at work, I'm still milling along. Life has a funny way of throwing pretty much everything it can at you in one go but what can you do really? Sometimes you just have to get on with it even if you really can't see the point.

I'm also really proud of all of the fun blog collaborations I've had in the last few weeks and are continuing to plan even now. I've worked with a lot of great brands recently and even managed to get a paid opportunity which was fab. My platforms seem to have really taken off lately and honesty I'm just so excited to see where my little blog takes me in the future!

Something to do...

I spent the start of the month in London. You might have noticed from the distinct lack of pretty much any content anywhere that it was hectic. My sister and I went down for the Vuelio blog awards (which was amazing by the way) but stayed and made a girly weekend of it. 

I've also spent today at the Good Food Show at the NEC. I'd not been before so I was very excited to see what that was all about. We had a live cooking lesson with James Martin and ate hundreds of testers, most of which were booze. I came away with two massive bottles of Amarula and tonnes of other goodies. 

As I said previously I'm also going to be spending a good few days running around Disney and I have lots of other bits and bobs to keep me busy. I also have a marketing exam this Tuesday that I have had hardly any time to revise for so I'm not sure how well that's going to go down. If there's one thing I'm definitely not lacking this month is things to do!

So those are this months keys. I think this is going to be the last one I do of these, I'm probably not as happy as I should be still but my god am I trying. I know that sooner or later I am going to be completely content and I am so excited for that. Until then I will plod along doing whatever I can to build myself up into the woman I want to be!

Thanks for reading!

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Want to read some of my previous keys to happiness? You can find them below.



MY KEYS TO HAPPINESS - DECEMBER

As I'm writing this I've got the heating on full blast and a cuppa on the side, winter is here and it's bloody chilly. I spend most of my life being being cold and uncomfortable, even in the heights of summer I still get goosebumps so when this time of year rolls around I need to gear up.



In the last few weeks I've invested in numerous jumpers, brushed cotton bed sheets, pyjamas, and even a few thermal pieces in in a bid to try and stay toasty through the winter months. If I could strap a hot water bottle to my body permanently I would.

The temperature has plummeted lately and I've been virtually living in my snuggly pyjamas. The second I get in from work its off with my clothes and straight into my comfies. I actually think it's really weird that anyone would want to chill around their house in outdoor clothes, I'm all about comfort.



I've not counted but I would take a guess and say that I have as many pairs of pajamas as I do normal clothes and I'm 100% okay with that. I've been wearing my fluffy Hunkemoller pyjamas the most in the last few weeks and they really do keep me warm. I was kindly gifted a pair of pyjamas of my own choice from the site and whilst there were so many super cute options I chose the thickest snugglist set I could.

My set is actually fluffy pyjama bottoms and a fluffy zip up hoodie. I don't know if most people would sleep in a hoodie but I do and it keeps me very toasty. I do wear a plain black vest underneath but I guess you don't really need to. I've been wearing the new set practically nonstop and it's safe to say I'm a big fan. That being said I do think it's a bit pricey. The bottoms retail at £19 and the hoodie top sells for £34.


I'm not sure if I would be able to drop this sort of money on pyjamas again anytime soon but I do love the cute winter print and the super snuggly material they are made from. They've certainly kept me cosy in recent weeks and will continue to do so until they are old and worn like most of my other sets.


Thanks for reading!

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* The pyjama set was kindly gifted to me however all opinions are my own.

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SNUG AS A BUG IN HUNKEMOLLER PJS

Pies, Pasties, Sausage Rolls - if it involves pastry I'm probably going to want to eat it. I'm a huge fan of all things savoury, so when I was invited down to try out the new festive menu at PieMinister I couldn't say no. Christmas Pies? Yes please!

I decided to take my mom along with me to taste test the goods. We've been going for little lunches quite regularly lately and it's honestly been so lovely. Is there a better way to bond than over good food a drinks? I don't think so.


After studying the festive menu for a while and pratting about in our little Christmas crowns we finally decided on our Pies. We both went for Christmas Lunch which includes a Pie, two sides, a stick, and a pudding and costs £15. We probably could have gone for the Christmas Feast which is a little bit larger but honestly the portion sizes are pretty decent here and we didn't want to feel sick for the Christmas shopping we would be doing after lunch. 

We both opted for 'The Cracker' pie which is a Turkey and Ham pie with Cranberries, Parsnips, and Sherry. I was very tempted by the 'Cristingle' too which is filled with Honey Roast Parsnips, Chestnuts, West Country Cheddar, and Leek, but I went with the more traditional option and I'm quite glad I did as it was yum.


The pie comes with a tasty poultry gravy which is quite fragrant. I've always enjoyed the chicken gravy but both my Mom and Sister have said they weren't massively keen on it. I have since been told there is the option to swap that gravy up for a veggie based one which might be worth knowing if you don't fancy a chicken gravy. 

For our sides we both chose Mash, I chose the Festive Slaw and mother chose Minty Mushy Peas. The mash was perfect as always and Mom really loved her minty peas however I wasn't completely sold on the slaw. It was full of flavour and had a very strong citrus zing to it but it's not something I would probably choose again in all honesty.

For our Sticks we also both went for the 'Meaty' which included a Pig in Blanket, a Stuffing Ball, a Mini Yorkshire pudding, and some Cranberry Sauce. There was no competition between the Sticks if I'm honest, I was always going to choose the option with a Pig in a Blanket! I just wish I could have ordered a bowl of them as a side!


Now for our puddings, which we just about had room for, I chose the Hot Chocolate Pudding with Chocolate Sauce and Ice Cream and Mom went for the Sticky Toffee Pudding. When it comes to sweat treats I'm not usually all that bothered. I could skip dessert every time and it wouldn't bother me but if I did want something tasty at the end of my meal it has to be choctastic! I can honestly say I wasn't disappointed as my little chocolate cake came absolutely smothered in warm thick sauce which I virtually drank. It was good.

So would I go back to PieMiniser? Of course I would, I bloody love pie. I do think PieMinister can be a little pricey compared to a lot of the places I usually eat at but it's clear they use good quality ingredients in those pretty little pies. They also cater very well for Veggies, Vegans, and even have a range of Gluten Free pies which is always good to know. 

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* Our meals were complimentary however all opinions are my own. 



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PIES PIES PIES

I'm not a cat person. Dogs are better. Fact. Sorry but it's true. That being said, I am quite fond of the funny little fluffballs so when I happened to stroll past a cat cafe on my solo trip to Leeds a few weeks back I virtually ran inside.

I wasn't really sure what to expect, and I really really wasn't sure if it would actually be an enjoyable experience on my own but I was more excited than anything so I paid my £6 entrance fee and off I went. I didn't know there was an entrance fee at first, there didn't seem to be signs anywhere, but I guess it makes sense as this particular cafe works closely with a cat rescue centre. 


Once inside and shown to my seat I was allowed to wander around, I was actually encouraged in fact. This seemed like a good idea at first, the cats were great at hiding and I didn't fancy waiting for them to come to me so I got up to find them. 


On my first walk I didn't actually see many cats, I can only assume they were hiding/ sleeping/ fed up of being poked by children all day. Admitting defeat I headed back to my table for a cup of tea. Being the clean freak I am I didn't want to actually eat food in a place full if kitties, no matter how clean it looked. 


On a second thought maybe I should have ordered a snack or two to entice the cats over to me. I spent most of my 1 hour slot frantically trying to take photos of various cats as they desperately tried to run past my table without being touched or so much as looked at. These cats were wild.



Not having much luck with my furry friends in my seat I decided on yet another walk around. This would be my second of many attempts to see some kittens. Whilst there were various cats lounging around in comfy hiding spots, for the most part they were all out of sight.


It was on this wander that I realised why they were all tucked away, and that would be because of the children. Actually scrap that, it was because of the people acting like children. Old and young alike seemed to spend their hour slots chasing and poking the little fluffs as they went about their day. It's no wonder really that practically all of my photos from that afternoon are of cat coloured blurs.


So I took some snaps, drank my tea, and off I went to think about whether cat cafes are actually a good idea. So what did I think? Well on the one hand they are a fun way to make some money for good charities. Most of the cafes I've heard about are linked to a cat rescue in some way by either adopting cats, donating money, or both. That being said I also can't help but think there should be sort sort of 'stay in your seat' rule. I don't even know how they could enforce something like that but letting children run around after terrified cats isn't the best business plan i've ever seen to be honest.



So would I go back to one again? Maybe. I did enjoy it don't get me wrong but it wasn't the magical kitty utopia I imagined. It might be a better idea to visit these kind of places in the week, that way it wouldn't be full of wild children and maybe the cats would be more inclined to make an appearance if the room was a bit quieter. 


I love animals and I love a good cuppa, so combine the two and for me you're on to a winner. Maybe I wouldn't go out of my way to visit a cat cafe again, but if I happened to walk past one I would probably give it another go.


Have you ever been to a cat cafe before? What did you think?


Thanks for reading!

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MY FIRST CAT CAFE EXPERIENCE

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