Saturday 27th June, I woke up around 4 am freezing cold and covered in sweat. Accompanying this new body temperature was the worst headache I've probably ever had in my life. It started in my temples, ran throughout my skull, and even down my neck. It's got me I thought, it's finally got me. Convinced I was now a victim of the dreaded Covid19 I wrapped myself up tight and tried to get back to sleep despite the pounding in my head.


The contents of a UK coronavirus testing kit - including instructions, a swab, a small vial, and easy seal plastic bags
The contents of a UK coronavirus test kit


The next morning my condition hadn't much improved. Although I was no longer drenched in my own sweat, a headache was still very much present, and on leaving my bed I discovered a new symptom - breathlessness. Panic set in as I started to realise how many objects and surfaces in my house I would have previously touched with my infected hands. Now protecting my parents was my main concern. Terrified I warned them against coming near me.

For the rest of the day, I kept myself locked in my room feeling like death and only leaving to go to the kitchen or the bathroom, making sure I thoroughly cleaned anything I touched. I ordered a coronavirus testing kit that afternoon and hoped it would come quickly.

Ordering the Covid19 testing kit was easy. On the government website, you are given the option to order a home testing kit or book a slot at a designated test site. Although going to a site to be tested would have been the quicker option, it would have meant spending time in the car with one of my parents which I wasn't prepared to do - after all, being so cautious over the last few months was purely to protect them and I wasn't going to throw that away by potentially infecting them myself!

The test was finally delivered on Monday night, too late to take that day and so I was to have another night worrying that I had contracted Coronavirus. The next afternoon, following the instructions more carefully than any other similar test I'd taken in the past, I completed the Covid19 test. 

The test itself wasn't as bad as I was made to believe. In the days running up to my coronavirus test arriving I'd been warned by several people that it was horrible as you have to stick the swab so far up your nose it hurts. Whilst you do have to insert the testing swab into your nose quite far, and I'll admit it wasn't comfortable, it didn't hurt. For me, the worst part was swabbing my tonsils which set off my gag reflex instantly. The test was uncomfortable, but not unbearable.


My used swab inside the vial which was sent back to test if I had coronavirus
The swab I used to test if I had contracted Covid19


Just a day later I had my coronavirus test results back by text message. Considering the government's handling of the coronavirus pandemic (or lack of) I was extremely surprised to have my covid19 test results back just 24 hours after they had been put in the post. 

The results were negative. 

I'll admit I was slightly disappointed by this. I'd hoped that it would be confirmed that I had a mild case of the virus, and because of that, my parents had likely gained antibodies. Whilst I didn't want to be ill, I just wanted to know that my parents might have built up some kind of resistance to the coronavirus that is striking down people left right and centre. But I didn't have it, and as far as we are aware, none of us has antibodies.

In the days since my coronavirus test came back negative, I continue to feel not quite right. A sore throat, breathlessness, and occasional headaches, these symptoms have never really gone away. 

So what is causing all this? It could well be my ever-worsening anxiety.

I've known since the start of lockdown that anxiety can give you a sore throat, or enhance the feelings of a sore throat. It's also very common knowledge that anxiety can affect your breathing. So it's likely that my continued breathlessness is a side effect of the almost never-ending worry I've faced every day since coronavirus was found in the UK.

But what about my other symptoms? Google 'Can anxiety mimic coronavirus symptoms' and you're greeted with a few articles that agree it can. Even the cold sweat I experienced on the first night can be explained by assuming that I was having an extreme anxiety attack, which I haven't experienced in a good while now. 

So whilst I imagine there is a small chance my coronavirus test was inaccurate (there is roughly a 70% chance coronavirus test results are wrong), it's most likely that the frightening presence of a deadly virus has triggered my anxiety to levels I haven't seen for a while. It's also likely that I have a common cold as I've also developed a sneeze. Fab.


The sealed coronavirus testing kit real to be sent back to the lab
My used coronavirus test kit wrapped up ready to be sent back to the lab


Having these symptoms isn't fun, but at least I can now sleep somewhat soundly knowing that the reason behind them isn't going to kill myself or my parents. I thought I was riddled with Coronavirus, but I just have bad anxiety.

I'd love to know if any of you have had similar experiences? Has your anxiety been running wild these last few months?

Thanks for reading!


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Birmingham, UK

I THOUGHT I HAD CORONAVIRUS - TURNS OUT I JUST HAVE BAD ANXIETY

I'd always wanted to travel on my own, but my lack of confidence usually got in the way, until recently when I've been embracing solo travel trips. From Day trips alone to weekend breaks in European cities, I've done a few trips now and already I've learned so much. 

So what exactly have I learned from solo travelling as a woman?



Taking a selfie in Derry on one of my solo trips
When solo traveling you will end up with more selfies than you could ever want.
This was taken in Derry in front of the Bogside on a very windy February day.


1. I actually have the confidence to do whatever I want. The number one thing stopping me from solo travelling in the past was not having the guts to just go for it, but now I know I can do whatever I want whenever I want!

2. Everyone wants to know why you're on your own. For some reason, a woman choosing to travel alone is a strange concept for some people. Every trip I've been on when I've spoken to someone for more than 5 minutes they've asked why I'd want to do a trip on my own. 

3. You make friends very easily. When solo travelling it's super easy to make new friends. I always meet people, on tours, or at bars, so I'm never actually lonely when I'm alone. If all else fails I can always hop onto Bumble and get myself a date with a cute local so I don't have to drink alone.

4. Solo travel as a woman is mostly safe however, there are always predators lurking. Although I've not had any major incidents on any of my solo trips yet, I did have a close call with a stranger who followed me down a dark road late at night. Whilst nothing like this has happened before, or since, I always make sure I'm aware of my surroundings and steer clear of any suspicious-looking characters.


The modern looking Peace Bridge in Derry on a solo trip
The Peace Bridge in Derry, Northern Ireland


5. Solo travel is more expensive than travelling as a couple or in a group. Unfortunately when you travel alone you cop for the cost of the whole hotel room so I've had to learn to be much more flexible when it comes to travel. I don't usually pick a specific destination when I look at travelling, I just see where is most affordable at that time. I also take late-night flights as much as possible as these are usually the cheapest flights to catch.

6. I can easily adapt when things don't go to plan. As someone who's lived with anxiety for most of their adult life, I can sometimes struggle when things don't go to plan, especially when I'm travelling alone. But after a few mishaps, I feel I can now adapt pretty well when things go pear-shaped.

7. Along similar lines, I think I'm pretty good at solving problems when solo travelling. On my first night in Krakow, I arrived at my apartment at around 1 am after coming straight from the airport to find I couldn't access my apartment. You'd think I would be quite stressed about this considering I was in a new city, alone, at night, and on an empty road, but I managed to stay incredibly calm (for me) and called my host for help. I was safely in my apartment no more than an hour later.


Myself standing in front of Free Derry Corner. I had to ask a strange to take this photograph as I was travelling solo
When travelling alone I often ask strangers to take my photo if I don't feel confident setting my tripod up.
This photo was taken at the Free Derry Corner, Derry Northern Ireland

8. I can probably overcome my fear of the dark - speaking of Polish apartments - although my apartment was lovely once inside, the walk up to the room was terrifying. I was staying in one of those old city centre apartments which have been standing since before the turn of the last century. They can be lovely but my god, can they also be scary. To access my apartment I had to walk through the bottom of one apartment block, across a pitch-black courtyard, into a second apartment block, and up 7 flight of stairs. Oh, and did I mention that the lighting system for both apartment blocks worked on a sensor which meant you had to walk around a considerable amount before the lights were activated. This system is great for the environment however, trying to walk up several flights of stairs in a creepy apartment building alone in the dark is an experience I wouldn't like to have again. That being said I reckon I could eventually overcome my fear of the dark if I had to do this enough.

9. Sometimes you have to be a bitch. When someone you've just met asks to share a taxi with you from the airport to the city centre is okay to say no. When the same person spots you the following morning on a group tour and tries to make conversation with you, it's okay to be a little cold if you're getting bad vibes from them. Most people are likely harmless but when you're solo travelling, especially as a woman, sometimes it pays to trust your gut and be a bitch.

10. Having internet access can be invaluable. When I'm travelling alone my phone is my best friend. I use google maps to easily find my way around new cities, and I leave 'find my friends' active for as long as possible so that my family back home can see my location. Without internet access I could still have successful solo trips however, I feel more confident and safe knowing I have the resources I need in my pocket.

Looking down from the medieval Derry city walls over the Bogside which is a residential area with many murals on the sides of houses
The Bogside, Derry, Northern Ireland

11. You don't have to drink to have a good holiday. Yes, you read that correctly - You can have an amazing trip without ingesting one drop of alcohol! I know this because I was actually on antibiotics for one of my trips which sadly meant that I couldn't have a little bev at the bar. I don't drink much on my solo trips anyway as I feel safer and more in control if I limit my alcohol consumption when I'm alone.

12. There are SO many benefits of solo travelling. From doing whatever you want on your terms, to making new friends, and even just taking a break from people in general, there are so many perks to solo travelling. Although I will always take trips with my friends and family, I hope I'll never give up travelling alone as my solo trips are just so special to me.

So those were the 12 things I've learned from solo travelling as a woman!

I've love to hear about your experiences travelling alone, let's have a chat over on twitter or leave a comment below 😊


Thanks for reading!


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12 THINGS I'VE LEARNED FROM SOLO TRAVELLING AS A WOMAN

As another month rolls around I'd like to take some time to introduce a charity that I'm going to be supporting and promoting this month. I know I only have a moderate following, but if I can highlight a few important charities and funds in the coming months well then it will be more than worth my time.

So without anymore chit chat I would like to introduce this months charity...

a protest sign that reads "get your laws off my body"
Taken at the 2018 Dublin protest to legalize abortion


This months chosen charity : Abortion Support Network


The Abortion Support Network aims to assist those needing abortions in countries where the procedure may not be free or legal. They offer information, financial assistance and occasionally accommodation to people from the following countries; The Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, The Isle of Man, Gibraltar, Malta, and Poland.

Why is this so important?

According to the Abortion Support Network, the cost of an abortion can range anywhere between £400 - £2000 which is just not financially possible for so many people. The funds raised by the Abortion Support Network can help those who cannot afford the procedure, cannot afford to travel for the procedure, or both. 

Having to choose between continuing with a pregnancy and going through with an illegal, potentially unsafe procedure is a decision no one should have to make.

What can I do to help?

Currently the Abortion Support Network are fundraising to assist those travelling to have abortions throughout the Coronavirus pandemic. Right now they are incredibly close to reaching their £20,000 goal however, they will still need to raise funds long after their fundraising goal is reached. Until abortion is free, safe, and legal in all countries across the world the Abortion Support Network will require donations to help those in need.

You can make a donation to the Covid-19 appeal here, or you can make a general donation to the Abortion Support Network here.

The Abortion Support Network also post regular information and updates on Twitter, and Instagram, and Facebook.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read about this month's chosen charity, and thank you again if you were able to make a donation. 


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Other important funds you might want to donate to:



Birmingham, UK

ABORTION SUPPORT NETWORK

Bruges, a fucking fairytale city, and a great spot for a weekend trip away. The northern Belgian town is situated around an hour away from Brussels and is easily accessible from the UK by car, plane or Eurostar. Full of history and virtually untouched by modern architecture, Bruges is a popular beauty spot with people from across the globe, and it's easy to see why.

The bustling medieval town is absolutely brimming with things to do, and no end of tourists willing to pay to do them. But with so many attractions in the city, it's hard to know what's genuinely worth your time and what's just a tourist trap.

Bruges main canal at night with Bruges Belfry and other buildings lit up
Bruges at night

So I've popped together a list of things you need to do in Bruges and some things you just need to avoid...



- Things to do in Bruges -

Take a boat trip along Bruges beautiful canals

Boat trips in Bruges are pretty standard. When I was researching canal tours in Bruges I came across a few sites that all seemed to offer the same short, affordable trip. You can expect to pay €10 per person for a half hour canal tour in Bruges which is ideal if you're taking a short break, however I didn't find any longer trips for anyone hoping to spend more time out on the water. Although the tours are short, they cover a lot of ground (water?) and you won't regret exploring Bruges this way!


Walk to the top of the Belfry of Bruges

The Belfry of Bruges is likely the most popular tourist attraction in all of Belgium, but for a very good reason. Not only is the Belfry beautiful to look at from the ground, but it also offers visitors the option to see Bruges from the sky. From the top of the tower, you will be treated to the most stunning view across the city, and if you time your visit right you will also be able to see the bells chiming from the ceiling above. You will need to carry yourself to the top however as there is no lift.


Myself and my family on a boat trip in Bruges
Enjoying a cheap boat trip in Bruges

View from the boat trip in Bruges
The boat trip ventured along the most popular canals in Bruges

Visit the Beer Wall

Find the Beer Wall and you will find tourist central, but don't let that put you off. Whilst the beer wall and the adjoining bar will be busting with visitors I would still say it's still worth a trip. Here you will find hundreds of bottles and glasses on show which makes it a perfect photo opportunity. I'd also recommend visiting the shop next door which is a bit of a labyrinth, but great fun to walk around!


Take a tour of De Halve Mann Brewery

No city break is complete without a visit to the local brewery, and in Bruges, you have a few to choose from. I would recommend a trip to De Halve Mann brewery however as this is where the famous Zot beer is made. Whilst the brewery tour is pretty standard it is a great way to learn some of the history of Bruges before indulging in the freshest of fresh beers.


View from the first floor of the Belfry of Bruges. Bruges Market square can be seen below.
View from the first floor of the Belfry of Bruge. Bruges Market square can be seen below. 

The view from the top of the Belfry of Bruges, looking out across the city.
View from the top of the Belfry of Bruges

Try a Merveilleux

A Merveilleux is a cream-filled meringue cake native to the Flander region of France and Belgium. Whilst you can buy these beauties in select stores in Paris and London, nothing beats devouring a Merveilleux cake where they originated. Merveilleux come in several different flavours however I'm quite partial to an original milk chocolate covered cake which tastes like it was created by the angels themselves. 

Myself and my family toasting with our beers inside De Halve Mann Brewery Bruges
Tasting the local Zot Beer at De Halve Mann Brewery in Bruges 

View from De Halve Mann Brewery Bruges. Canals, churches, and homes can be seen across the cityscape.
View from the top of De Halve Mann Brewery in Bruges


-Things to avoid in Bruges -


As someone who grew up being able to smell the original Cadbury factory from their house, I always knew doing a chocolate museum tour would be underwhelming but this was a different level of disappointment. Not only was the museum harder to find than any tourist attraction should be, but there just wasn't that much of interest there in my opinion. 

Frietmuseum 

Similar to the chocolate museum, the Frietmuseum (chip museum) was also pretty dull. This one is a little more fun for children, but for any adult wanting to spend a cultural weekend in beautiful Bruges, I'd steer clear.

My family posing in front of a giant easter egg at Chocostory Bruges
A giant Easter Egg inside Chocostory in Bruges

A cone of Belgian chips on display at the Frietmuseum.




The Blood Of Christ 

Housed in the stunning Basilica of The Holy Blood Chapel, the blood of Christ almost made the things-to-do list as I was quite intrigued by it. The cloth features the blood of Jesus Christ on it and is kept in a vial, only displayed at certain times of the day. Ignoring the fact that it's likely not the actual blood of Christ, the object may still be of interest to both Christians and non-Christians alike, however the queue to see this piece of history will likely be enough to put you off visiting as it was for me. Maybe it's worth the wait to some, but anyone visiting Bruges with a strict schedule might want to skip this one.

Torture Museum

The Torture Museum in central Bruges is jam-packed with torture devices from every century, and whilst I did find it interesting, I couldn't help but feel that I was wasting my precious time here. I did enjoy learning about some of the most brutal man-made instruments imaginable, but while I was in there I only longed to be outside exploring the winding medieval streets of beautiful Bruges.

A chocolate covered Merveilleux cake
A chocolate covered Merveilleux cake

Posing with a Chocolate covered merveilleux cake in Bruges

Very happy with my choice of cake in Merveilleux De Fred in Bruges



So those are the things I think you absolutely need to do in Bruges and those you should probably avoid.


All of this is based on my own taste and opinions and whilst some of you may well enjoy the likes of the chip museum, I've travelled enough to know these kinds of places only exist because tourists will pay to visit virtually any kind of museum when they're on holiday.


Thanks for reading!


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