Saturday, 9 September 2017

Sarah's Italian Adventure | Day 2- Venice

Happy Weekend!
Welcome to day 2 of my Italy blog posts! This one is probably going to be my favourite one out of them all, as it's the day I visited the Floating City itself, Venice!
Venice is a place where I have wanted to go for the longest time. When I thought about Italy it always topped the list of places to visit so I knew when I booked Rome (which was always a close second), that I couldn't pass up the chance to visit there, even if it was only for the day.

Before we left for Italy we booked some train passes online with Interrail which got us 3 days of train travel within a one month period for £120, which saved us massive amounts of money. You could use the trains as many times as you liked throughout the 3 days as long as you filled in the little travel diary with each different journey. When we looked at the train prices beforehand, the train to Venice one way was about €60 and we also wanted to visit a few other places around Italy throughout our week so it was a no-brainer really. The only downside was that when we booked, we chose the premium option so that we didn't have to pay booking fees on the seats when we were there, but unfortunatly unless you book your seats 3 business days prior to the day you are getting on the train then you still have to pay. This meant that each time we booked a seat on a train, we had to pay a €10 booking fee ontop of the £120 we had already paid. Was I annoyed. YES I WAS. It really ate into my Euros. It still worked out a lot cheaper though and to be fair, it's our own fault for not reading the small print. Always read the small print people! Then again, it wasn't even small print though, because I've just looked on the website and it's actually there fully in view, clear as day. We must have just been having a dozy day haha. We don't call each other Harry and Lloyd for nothing! (Dumb and Dumber reference, if you know, you know!)

We got a really early train to have the longest time possible exploring and it took us about 3 hours to get from Termini train station in Rome up to Venice. To say I was excited when we pulled into the train station was a bit of an understatement, I genuinely felt like I could have burst!
When you get off the train and step foot outside the train station you are met by one of the most beautiful sights I have ever seen, the Grand Canal. You know them videos where children open their presents on Christmas day and they near enough self implode because they have got a puppy or that brand new computer they wanted? That was me when I first set my eyes on Venice. I literally was jumping up and down squealing with happiness.
As you are standing there ontop of the bridge and you look left and right at the gorgeous sight in front of you it's actually breathtaking. It feels like you have just stepped foot into all those pictures you have gazed at for years. Is this real life? (Is this just fantasyyyyyy)

The transport system in Venice is very unique. I knew they travelled everywhere on boat but I didn't know that there actually wasn't any roads with cars or anything on at all. I thought it was a mixture but it wasn't and when you are walking around and there's not a car engine or horn in ear shot, it really makes you realise how much you love the calm and tranquillity of this watery city. It was so nice to get away from the hustle and bustle of normal city life and experience the chilled (although very crowded) Venician life.
Walking through Venice I literally wanted to photograph every single thing I saw, unlucky for me though, my iPhone is awful and that dreaded "Storage Full" message kept coming up, even though I only had about 50 photos on my phone! I had forgotten to take my actual camera away with me and was purely relying on this iPhone for photographs and it was not making me happy at that moment in time. Cue me sitting in a Gelato shop, trying to delete near enough every app and message possible, changing the photo settings on my phone so they weren't High Def and trying desperately to free enough space to let me take photos for the rest of the week! I don't know how, but it worked!
As we were exploring, we came across a little Pizza takeaway shop where you bought the Pizza by the slice called "Farini". I love Pizza, it really is the food of the Gods in my opinion and this Pizza looked heavenly. We hadn't had much to eat that day so far so we decided to try some and my god, it was probably the best decision I have ever made in my whole 31 years of life! I don't think any Pizza I ever eat again will compare to that slice of Pizza. I was boring and stuck to good old trusty Margarita, but everything about it was perfect. If I am ever on death row and they ask me what I want my last meal to be, I am definitely going to say Farini Pizza!
After the Pizza experience of dreams, we headed down to the Rialto Bridge over another section of the Grand Canal which is where you go for the Gondola Rides. The Rialto Bridge is a huge grand white bridge and it is absolutely gorgeous!
The main thing I wanted to do when in Venice, which I'm sure doesn't come as a shock to anyone, is have a Gondola Ride! I drew us some money out (we didn't take enough, typical us!) and we headed down to the Gondolas. We were going to barter with them and try and get a cheaper deal but now all Gondola rides are equal in price and you cannot bargain with them, so no matter how many people get on your Gondola, it is always €80 for a 20-30 minute ride. I think this was to cut the competition and make it a fairer way for the Gondola rowers to make their living.
We got in our Gondola and our lovely Gondola man rowed us off. I loved every second of it (although I'm not sure he agreed as we were scrambling round the boat every other minute taking photos! Oops haha) and even though it was pricey, I would definitely recommend doing it. If I ever go back to Venice, which I'm certain I will, I will definitely be doing it again. They looked so good in their stripy tops and their balancing skills are definitely something I was quite jealous of! I would fail miserably at being a Gondola Rower, I would spend more time in the water than on the boat 100%! I was really disappointed he didn't sing as well! I had been warming my vocal chords up ready to join in with Just one cornetttooooooooo! As you are being taken around the Grand Canal and off into the much smaller watery streets they tell you a bit about what you are floating past and some insight into the history of Venice.  I would like to send out my sincerest apologies to our rower though for not listening to a word that he said the whole half an hour! Sorry Signore!
When our Gondola ride came to an end we headed up to St Marks Square and St Marks Basilica. St Mark's Basilica is probably one of the most unbelievable buildings I have ever seen, It was so so extravagant and beautiful. We unfortunately couldn't go inside because we just didn't have the time, but seeing the building was enough for that day. Just round the corner was a gorgeous harbour and the Bridge of Sighs, which apparently if you float under on a Gondola and kiss your boyfriend or girlfriend, it means you will be together forever. I'm thinking I may need to trick my boyfriend into this hahahaha. There's just so much beauty everywhere in Venice, I loved everything we got to see that day.
As we headed back to the train station we stopped at a little place right on one of the canals called Ali D'Oro and had a little Prosecco in the most gorgeous surroundings to cheers to our lovely day.
A little word of advice for anyone heading to Venice, make sure you have a phone with Google Maps on. It is probably the easiest place to get lost in, every street looks the same and we got very very lost trying to find our way back to the train station again. I don't know what we would have done without Google Maps, it was our best mate that day! It was funny looking around because I think everyone had the same idea as us, everywhere you looked people had their phones out trying to follow directions haha!
The day in Venice was amazing, I saw some of the most beautiful sights and experienced some things I had wanted to tick off my bucket list for a seriously long time. My only downside was that I wished we had been there for longer, but I can't complain too much because I know I will go back again and get to spend more time in the prettiest city I have ever seen sometime in the future.
Venice, you were a dream <3

Monday, 28 August 2017

Sarah's Italian Adventure | Day 1 - Rome

Hello there everyone!
A week ago I returned home from what was an absolutely amazing week exploring Italy with one of my best friends. I would have started these blog posts sooner, but since I got back early hours Monday morning, my week just has not stopped and this is the first time I actually have time to sit down and write this! (While I'm staring out of my bedroom window crossing my fingers that the sun comes out for my bank holiday Sunday!)
We crammed so much into the week that one blog post just wouldn't have been enough, so I have decided to split it into 6 or 7 different ones, one for each day we were there. We spent a couple of days in Rome exploring the city and all its beautiful sights, a day in Venice, a day visiting Pompeii and Positano, an afternoon visiting the leaning tower itself in the cute little city of Pisa and a day in the city inside the city, the Vatican City. This first blog post on the trip though is all about our first day there spent in stunning Roma.

We based ourselves in Rome for the week and chose our hotel based on trip advisor reviews and cheap deals on, and we ended up choosing Domus Sessoriana which was an absolutely beautiful and picturesque hotel based in the Piazza Di Santa Croce in Gerusalemme area of Rome.
BE WARNED: Yes, this hotel is beautiful inside and out. No, we didn't have any trouble staying there. It is cheap to stay in, the staff are amazing, friendly and extremely helpful, the rooms are clean and the building is wonderful. It is an old Monastery and you sleep in the converted Monk's chambers. It's so unique and eye-catching and like nothing I have ever stayed in before...BUT I don't know who has reviewed this hotel when they say the location is good and walking distance from everything because it is so far from all the tourist attractions and definitely not in walking distance from anything. I can't even stress enough how bad the location is if you are planning on walking everywhere like we were. Even on the official website it states the hotel is close to main attractions, but it isn't. It's a 45 minute walk to Termini train station and a good hour or more to the Colosseum. To the Trevi Fountain it would be a good hour and a half one way! Everything is easily accessible by Metro (although just our luck, it was having maintenance work carried out on it the week we were there and it was closed all week!) or Tram but we didn't figure this out until half way through the holiday and wasted so much money on taxis to Termini when the tram and metro is only €1.50 for 100 minutes use or €7 for a 24 hour ticket and can be used on both. It was an absolute gem of a hotel though, and would have been perfect in every way, we just really wished the location was better.

The first morning we got there we got up and got ready, went down for breakfast which we had in the hotel. It was your average and basic continental breakfast. Bread, meat, fruit, cereal, biscuits, it was OK. It was the only time we had breakfast in the hotel because our schedule was so tight we just didn't ever have the time.
After Breakfast we made our way to the Colosseum. To say I was excited was an understatement! The Colosseum is one of the most famous and most visited places in Rome and I had wanted to visit it for so long. The moment when we pulled up in the taxi and the giant building came into view was definitely one of those pinch me moments. It's one of those, where you see pictures for so long and you think wow it looks unbelievable, and then you see it and everything you thought it would be it is, and more! Am I actually here looking at this? Is this building actually in front of me? And it was! Right there, infront of my eyes looking back at me. Wow, what an amazing moment!
We booked skip the line passes online before we left which were a couple of Euros more but I HIGHLY recommend them. The queue's were absolutely insane, and this was at 10:30am, so still really early in the morning, and the queues already looked like they were a good couple of hours long. With these passes we whizzed right past everyone (which the smug Sarah in me rather enjoyed) and within 5 minutes we were inside!
When you get into the Colosseum it's hard to fathom that thousands of years ago this was home to Gladiator fights, ship battles, celebrations, deaths, and that hundreds of thousands of Roman's including the famous Emperor's you hear about, had walked in the very same places that you were walking all those years later. It was mind blowing when you stopped and thought about it.
When you walked around the inside it was very crowded but so surreal walking around taking it all in, but it's not until you walk into the centre of the Colosseum and come face to face with the arena that your breath really gets taken away. You can still make out everything, like where they used to sit, and the staircases are still visible (although cordoned off with railings), and when you look around it's hard not to picture what it would have been like all those years ago and imagining all the people cheering at the gladiators getting slaughtered infront of their eyes. There's a cross marking the spot where the Emperor used to sit and when you look at the ground you can see the tunnels on the floor where the gladiators where kept which would have been hidden, and the door is still there which the animals used to be lifted into the arena through. It's just crazy seeing it all with your own eyes and thinking how much the world has changed since then.
It really got me thinking, I wonder in thousands of years what people will be flocking to see from this day and age. Will they all be excited to see Anfield where Liverpool used to play their football matches and it's just a crumbled ruin in the middle of the city? Will they be swarming to the Albert Dock still? Or to old arenas to see where all the biggest acts used to play their concerts and all that's left is a shell of the arena with a stage in the middle? Probably not, but I bet they never thought all these years in the future people would be coming in their thousands day in day out to see the amphitheatre where they used to spend their afternoons chilling in the sunshine watching people die. It is a crazy thought. Annnnd I'm off on a tangent.
After we walked around the Colosseum for a good while, took lots of photos and battled through the crowds, we went for a drink and lunch in a cute little cafe facing the Colosseum called La Viga, where I had the nicest Tomato, Mozarella and Basil Panini ever and enjoyed our lunch looking out at the magical view in front of us. Absolute lunch goals or what! Then after lunch, we made our way up to the Roman Forum and Paletine Hill.
Rome is a crazy city. Everywhere you turn, there's ruins. You could be walking down a street with a McDonalds and a Burger King on it, and at the end turn a corner and there's a 4000 year old ruin just there in front of you. It's mental. I didn't really know what to expect from the Roman Forum. I had seen photos and it looked amazing, but I wasn't sure what it would actually be like. When we got there though it was so cool. It was a hell of a lot bigger than I was expecting as well. The passes we had for the Colosseum were also usable for the Forums so we didn't have to pay again. When you are in there, you see all kinds of ancient ruins from old Goverment buildings, to Temples, to looking out onto the Circus Maximus, the Chariot Racing stadium. We were getting photos up on Google Images of what the ruins used to look like and the comparison was crazy. When you look at the ruins they have been excavated so well and the fact that after all these years, 4000 year old columns off buildings are still standing as high as the birds, it's brilliant to see. It's just strange to think that you are acually walking around where Julius Ceasar would have been walking.
The sun beaming down made walking around this really tough going, hence the hair getting thrown up into a messy bun (which it stayed in for the rest of the week thanks to the 40 degree heat pretty much every day haha), but the sun shining down on it all made it so much prettier than if you were to visit at a different time when it was dull and miserable. This is actually just sitting there in the middle of a busy and bustling Capital City, it's such a unique and beautiful thing to see and I highly recommend anyone to visit if they ever go to Rome.

After we had left all the ruins behind we made a quick visit to the Trevi Fountain and the Spanish Steps (more on those in a later blog post!) and then we headed to get some food. We had both brought lots of makeup and spare clothes to change into for the nighttime but because it was such a mission to get back to our hotel and it was so hot, we just decided that we would stay out in what we had on and that was the same for the rest of the week to save all the messing around.
We went for our dinner in a gorgeous little restaurant called Il Miraggio where we sat outside on the prettiest little cobbled side street and ate one of the nicest Ham and Mushroom Pizzas I have ever had the pleasure of eating. The thing about Rome that I found from my experience there, is that the Pizzas are absolutely INSANE, whereas the pastas really aren't that great. My mouth is actually watering just thinking about the Pizzas, but the pasta all seemed to be not very fresh and warmed up frozen rubbish, but I think maybe that's just because we were eating mainly near the main tourist attractions. I think if you headed a little further out away from the busier areas and the main spots like the Colosseum or the Trevi, the pasta would probably be a lot better and fresher and a lot more home-cooked feeling! We washed it down nicely with a large glass of White Wine as well. Like they say, When in Rome...
After we had our dinner we decided to head to one of the most famous Gelato shops in Rome, San Crispino. Stacey had been before a few times and she said it's the nicest Ice Cream she had ever tasted so I was seriously excited to try some. Me being me, opted for the really exciting and daring flavours of Chocolate and Vanilla, I know right, WHAT a rebel! But I can't even express in words properly how good that Ice Cream is. It genuinely is the nicest ice cream I have ever eaten and over the week we tried a couple of other places which were up there, but didn't just manage to beat this place. If you are ever in Rome, it is definitely a must for any sweet toothed traveller looking for some amazing Gelato!
After stuffing ourselves with Pizza and Gelato we wandered around the shops for a couple of hours and then took a stroll back to Termini Train Station where we got a taxi back to our hotel and we had an early-ish night ready for a very early start the next morning where we headed to Venice for the day! That will be the next blog post in my Italian Adventures and it's definitely one for those who love a good beautiful photograph! Venice is probably one of the most beautiful places I've ever seen and dare I say it...I preferred it to Rome! That will be coming soon!

On first impressions and over my first day in Rome, it was an absolutely stunning city with so much history and so much to do. I absolutely loved it from the get-go, although the heat definitely nearly killed me off. I said from day one if I ever return to Rome again, I will definitely go when the weathers a bit cooler, but after exploring on the first day I thought it was an amazing place and I was so excited to see what the rest of the city had to offer!

More to come soon!
Caio Bella!

Sunday, 9 July 2017

Sarah Visits | Leasowe Castle

A few weekends ago me and my boyfriend Craig went away for our first weekend away together :)
Your first weekend away with someone is always a stressful time isn't it. So many things run through your head. Will they keep me awake all night snoring? What if I snore? What it you fart in your sleep? Will they annoy you being together for longer than normal? What if they see you without makeup on and run away screaming?!! How do you look attractive with morning hair and morning breath if he wants a smooch when he wakes up? When your away with your girls you are literally the comfiest ever and don't care about anything, but going away with your new boyfriend who you have only been with a couple of months is a whole new ballgame! 
Despite all the questions you ask yourself though, going away for the first time with your boyfriend is the most exciting thing ever! The night before I was like a kid on Christmas Eve and thought a whole gang of butterflies were going to explode out of my stomach! That's when you know it's serious and if you can survive a weekend away together, you know you have found yourself a keeper. Luckily for me, I definitely think I have.

We were only going away for the night so we didnt want anything too far and Craig found this gorgeous hotel called Leasowe Castle, just through the tunnel and over the other side of the River Mersey in a place called Moreton in the Wirral. The hotel was just absolutely beautiful. It hosts functions and is very popular with Weddings, there was actually a Wedding on the weekend we were there, and it is set in stunning surroundings overlooking Leasowe Golf Course and Liverpool Bay. Theres also a really beautiful band stand with pretty lights leading up to it outside which I thought looks perfect especially of a night time when you could see it on the grounds all lit up looking gorgeous. The inside of the hotel is decorated beautifully with the interior of the hotel itself not too modern and keeping the castle vibes running through it, especially the staircase leading up to the corridor our room was situated on, which had a gorgeous huge iron chandelier hanging and flowers lining the banisters. At reception there was even a knights full suit of armour taking all the limelight as soon as you walked in which I thought looked so cool!

The room we were given was gorgeous, spacious and had a lovely view over the sitting area outside the hotel and the golf course. The staff were all really friendly and really helpful and in the evening we enjoyed a meal in the hotel restaurant called Brasserie 1593, which is open to the public too alongside hotel guests. The food in the restaurant was amazing, it was probably one of the nicest meals I have had in as long as I can remember. We both ordered the same main which was the tastiest burger I think I have ever eaten. It was a salt and pepper chicken burger with chunky home made chips and it was honestly out of this world. If there was a Burger Olympics, it would definitely have won 1st place and be rocking one shiny gold medal! I obviously accompanied it with a large glass of Rose Wine and we enjoyed some desserts afterwards as well. After our meal we went into the hotel bar which really nice as well and had a few drinks and cocktails. It was a really chilled atmosphere and just ended what a special evening so nicely. Although we didn't do much it was just so nice to get away from the stress of everyday life and spend some time together and even though we were only a 20 minute drive away, it felt like we were a million miles away.

The next day we spent the day in West Kirby and New Brighton wandering around and taking in the sea air together. I hadn't been to New Brighton since I was a little girl which is odd for a scouser with it being so close but now I can finally say that at the age of 31 I have been back and I have taken in it's sights! Haha! 
We went for our breakfast in a cute little cafe near the Marine Lake in West Kirby and afterwards we went for a lovely walk around the Lake and watched the wind surfers. It was probably the windiest day I've ever experienced and poor Craig was absolutely soaked once we were back the car but it was still nice despite nearly getting blown back over to Liverpool haha. In New Brighton we spent the afternoon on the arcades where Craig won me a little Teddy Bear off the grab machines (which now has pride of place on my bedside table because I'm a soppy cow) and we went for a walk down the beach. I love just going for walks and being down by the sea, it's one of my favourite things for us to do together so we both loved the whole day. Once we got home we chilled out and watched Love Island because like the rest of the UK, I am actually obsessed and couldn't think of a better way to end the weekend really, could you? ;)

So our first weekend away was a success, Craig didn't nearly gag at my morning breath, I didn't fart in my sleep (I don't think, he hasn't mentioned it...), he didn't annoy me in any way, neither of us woke the other one up snoring, and he didn't run a mile screaming when I took my make-up off!  And I think that getting over that first awkward moment of your boyfriend seeing you barefaced and make-up-less for the first time is something that every girl sees as a major relationship milestone! It was that successful that we have booked another one in a few weeks to a Log Cabin near Manchester, which is for two nights instead of one. And now all the first time worries are out the window, I am looking forward to this one stress free and cool as a cucumber! Roll on the 23rd July! 


Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Sarah's Life | Climbing Mount Snowdon

Sunday was a good day! I finally ticked climbing Mount Snowdon off my bucket list! *tries to happy dance but can't move properly because my bodies so stiff*
At the end of September I am travelling to Peru to trek the Inca trail to Machu Picchu and it's now May and I have hardly started training for it at all which isn't great. I'm going with my friend Stacey and we thought that to start our training we would give Snowdon a go. Stacey has already done Snowdon about 7 or 8 times for training when she went to Everest Base Camp but it was all brand new to me. I think I underestimated just how unfit I was, I mean I get out of breath just walking up the stairs in work to the meeting rooms never mind walking up a Mountain! I go the gym a couple of times a week but nothing prepared me for just how tough I would find this Mountain. Me and Snowdon are now sworn Nemesis's, although I do think we could become friends after a few more attempts!
My cousin Tricia came along with us too because Snowdon is something she has always wanted to give a go as well. Unlike me, she didn't struggle that much until we were nearly at the Summit but she found coming down the mountain much more difficult than going up. I am so proud of her because she managed to get up without using trekking sticks which is something to be so proud of, especially for your first time doing it. She actually said afterwards that it was harder than giving birth! Haha!
Snowdon is the highest Mountain in Wales and is used as training by professional climbers all the time. It's also one of the 3 peaks in the 3 peak challenge so for my first trek we definitely didn't start easy haha! We trekked the Llanberis Path which is the easiest in terms of steepness, although still very steep in parts, and is also the longest out of all the paths. To get onto the path you first have to walk up a steep road which I'm not lying was probably one of the hardest bits of the whole trek. That tarmacked road of pain is honestly sent from hell! Once up the road the path starts and that's when you are actually on the trail climbing the Mountain. I struggled from the very beginning and straight away I was thinking I wanted to turn back but I knew I couldn't. I wasn't coming all this way and falling at the first hurdle, not a chance! The views around were just absolutely breathtaking and we put some music on which definitely helped me get along the steep path. Even the bits that weren't as steep as other parts were a struggle purely because the ground is just covered in rocks and is so uneven so that just made it all the more harder than it would have been walking on flat ground. After what seemed like forever I managed to get to the halfway house which is a cute little cafe where you can get snacks and freshen up and have a rest, and we rested there for about half an hour for dinner. We sat on a little grass verge and just took in the gorgeous views around us while we ate. It was definitely lunch goals! It's one lunchtime I won't be forgetting in a hurry!
Stacey was saying that after resting at the halfway house you normally get a little burst of energy and you feel recharged and ready to go again, but I'm not going to lie, I was the complete opposite. Once I started walking again I just found it so so hard and had to keep stopping every 5 minutes to sit down and rest my legs and have water. A little further up and after about half an hour of waking we got to a spot which was a gorgeous photo opportunity and while Stacey and Tricia were taking photos, I just sat on a rock and burst out crying! I started saying I wasn't going to Peru anymore, I couldn't do the Inca trek, and I couldn't make it to the top here and I wanted to turn around and go back to the car but Stacey sat next to me and comforted me and gave me a little pep talk and made me realise that I just had to push myself but I could do it and I would do it. I knew I had to do it because I didn't want to have to go home and tell people that I had turned round but I just felt so crap at that point and was struggling so much. Also I have just started seeing someone and a week into a relationship you don't want your new fella thinking your a wimp do ya, so I knew I had to do it to make him proud of me haha!
After my little breakdown I was ready to set off again and this is the point I started using the trekking sticks and they helped me so so much, I really don't think I would have made it to the top without them, they were a lifesaver for me. As we set off again, I was warned that the hardest bit of the trek called the Allt Moses was just around the corner and it was seriously steep and tough but I just had to power through that bit and it would be a lot flatter and easier for the rest of the way, and then you would be able to see the Summit! Even people walking past were stopping and saying this bit is a killer but just push through the pain and they were not wrong. The Allt Moses was genuinely one of the hardest half an hours of my life, I was literally digging my sticks into the ground in front of me and just dragging myself up screaming how much I hated the Mountain haha. I do think the little breakdown helped me though because it gave me some new determination and I was not going to let some Mountain defeat me! Once I got past that section, I couldn't help but start crying again as I was walking along with the sheer relief that I was feeling. Knowing that after wanting to give up so badly and thinking that I wouldn't be able to go any further, that I carried on and forced myself up the hardest part of the trek was one of the most proud moments I have ever felt for myself.
Once we turned the corner and saw the Summit I think that's when my burst of energy kicked in. I think seeing the Summit there right in front of me just gave me the motivation I needed and I was off! It was probably the quickest I moved the whole trek haha. We all got to the Summit together and headed up the little staircase together and once I stood on that ledge with my two girls and put our hands on the Summit Monument I literally just started jumping up and down with happiness and we had a group hug to congratulate each other. It was one of the best feelings I have ever felt in my life, just the feeling of achievement and accomplishment was incredible and it was so overwhelming standing there after all the pain and tears of getting there. It's something I am so proud of myself for doing and at that moment I felt like I could achieve anything. Doing it with my two best friends and two girls who mean so much to me as well made it even better and I am so proud of them as well, I couldn't have done it without them.

The decent down was far easier for me than that climb up. We got down much quicker but my whole body was aching, my feet were throbbing and I was shattered where I had been battered by the wind all day. Getting back to the car and being able to sit down was the best thing ever haha, and afterwards we treated ourselves to some nice fish and chips in Betws-y-Coed, a little village about 15 minute drive away and it was some of the nicest fish and chips I have ever eaten! The drive home flew by because we spent most of it belting out Mariah Carey's greatest hits at the top of our voices, is a drive with your girls complete without some bad car singing? I don't think so!
It's been two days now since we did Snowdon and the pain I am feeling is still very much real. My legs feel like they are made of wood and I am walking like Pinnochio probably did when he was a wooden puppet but every time it hurts I just remember why and I feel so proud again.
I think I definitely learnt something up that Mountain on Sunday. You can achieve anything you set your mind to. No matter how much you want to give up or want to quit, just keep going, think positive and you will get there. Mind over Matter and you can achieve things you didn't think you could.
To do this I would definitely make sure you wear some proper walking boots because I honestly think it would have been so much harder without them, and make sure you drink plenty of water and have lots of layers you can take on and off. The temperature and weather changes in the blink of an eye up there so it's always better to be prepared.
I would highly recommend giving Snowdon a go if you want to challenge yourself. It was one of the most rewarding things I have ever done!


Saturday, 1 April 2017

Sarah's Life | Things I've Learnt by 31

Back in January I turned 31 and I have grown into a young woman, and yes I am still young thank you very much, even if it does make me feel old when young children now refer to me as "lady" in shops. Makes me shudder just thinking about it!!!

Throughout my 20's and the first year of my 30's I had some of the best times of my life, I had crazy holidays with the girls, made some amazing friends, I had the funnest times ever with my crazy gangs, I look back on the majority of my 20's with a smile and feeling happy at the memories. As well as that though, I've also had my heart broken, I've lost people close to me, I've been through rubbish times and I have had roller coaster friendships which resulted in losing friends I never thought I would.
I have definitely learnt a thing or two along this crazy ride we call life, and I thought tonight while I am sitting here watching Ant & Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway and feeling rather hungover, I would share some of the things I have learnt with all of you.

1. Love Yourself.
This is something I am still mastering to this day. I was never self conscious about my looks until I hit my 20's and then BAM, in came the self conscious body shaming person I am now. Being from Liverpool where girls get their makeup professionally done just to go out for Sunday lunch, always have the perfect spray tan and hair extensions and are always done up immaculate no matter what, it's hard sometimes not to feel like a "Plain Jane" or that you just aren't pretty enough and that you will just get forgotten in a crowd of super skinny gorgeous and glamorous girls. But I am starting to realise that you know what, I might not be a size 6, I might not have extensions down my back (apart from my clip ins sometimes!) and I might not have legs that go on for days but I am me, there is only one of me, and there will never be another me. And I think that's pretty amazing. I have good legs even though they are short, I get complimented on my eyes all the time, I have been told I have a good set of Lady Lumps on me, and I think I am a loyal, caring and rather funny person, even if I do say so myself. Everyone is unique and different and I am finally learning to appreciate what I am rather than hating myself for what I'm not.
2. Don't follow the crowd.
Whether it being the latest fashion trend, the newest film everyone's raving about, the newest 'in' band that everyone fell in love with at Glastonbury, the latest new bar that's opened or going on holiday to certain places where every one and their dog seem to be going to this Summer. If you don't like it then don't pretend to. Following on from number 1, everyone's different and pretending to like something just to fit in is only going to make you unhappy. Give things a go, but if it's not you, be proud and say so. Find the bands and films you do like and love those things instead. Dress for you and no one else. Don't force yourself to feel uncomfortable on a sunbed in Marbella if that scene isn't for you. Do you and be proud of who you are. Be yourself in a world full of sheep.

3. You don't have to have your life figured out by the time you are 18.
I still to this day don't have a clue what I want to do for a living, but in this day and age it doesn't matter. I did Travel and Tourism for my A-Levels and now, 13 years later, I have never used it. I have worked in a steady secure job for the last 11 years and I am now being made redundant later in the year meaning I have to start all over again. My Auntie gained a Law Degree when she was in her 40's. My sister-in-law (to be, hopefully!) is doing a teaching degree now at the age of 30. If you don't have your life figured out by the time you are 18 it's not a problem. Take your time and find the right path for you at the age you feel ready.

4. Don't "settle" through fear of being alone.
My longest relationship was just over 4 years and that ended two days before my 24th Birthday in 2010. I had been unhappy in the relationship for a long time, it was a very argumentative relationship and I wasn't treated like I should have been, but I stayed in the relationship for longer than I should have because I was settling and scared of being by myself. Looking back now, I was stupid but I don't regret it because it taught me one of the most valuable lessons I have ever learnt. Never settle for someone who doesn't excite you, make you happy and bring more unhappiness than happiness to your life. Stay single until that person comes along that blows your mind.

5. Spend quality time with your family.
The last few years have taught me that you never know what is around the corner. A lot of my friends have lost parents and loved ones, I have lost relatives throughout my life, and it just makes you realise that your family will not be there forever. Yes they might annoy us sometimes, but spending quality time with your family and making memories with them while you can is so so important. It's something you will never be able to get back once the moments gone and in later life you will wish you could. Make time for your parents, don't begrudge not being able to go out with your friends 1 time out of a millon to attend a family thing, go and see your nan you've been too busy to see. Your family can't be replaced so appreciate them while they are around.

6. Travel whenever you can.
I genuinely think this is one the best lessons you can learn. I feel like travelling around places really opens your eyes and makes you learn so much. See new places and make memories with your friends, I promise you those memories will last you a lifetime. My favourite memories from my whole 31 years so far are my memories I've made on holiday with my friends and from the wonderful new places I have experienced. It just cannot be beaten. Take in the sights of a new place and experience different ways of life. Eat the local food of the places you visit, don't just live out of the McDonald's and Burger King, try the local cuisine. See the world through someone else's eyes. Breathe in the foreign air and feel the warmth of a different countries sun. You might be spending money but the experiences and memories will make you so much richer. Your not a tree, you may have roots where you live but you are not bound into the ground. Life is a book, don't live your life only reading one page.

7. Friendship's don't always last.
When you are young you think the friends you have in school will be the friends you will have all your life. I am telling you now, it is very rare to have all of your school friends in your life when you hit 30. Up until I was 30 I had a grand total of 2 school friends who I saw all the time, now I have 1. Things change, situations change and as hard as it is people outgrow each other and friendships fizzle away in front of your eyes. Sometimes it's through your own choice, and sometimes it's through absolutely no choice of your own, and it will hurt a lot, but not everyone is supposed to make it to your future. All of my friends now are family, friends I have met in jobs and other people I have met along the way. Sometimes the friendship thing is a tough thing to go through but sometimes it's necessary to move on from certain friendships and when you get older it's definitely something you realise.

8. Do what makes you happy.
Live your life un-apologetically. Do things that make you happy and not things that keep other people happy. Again this is something I am still trying to get to grips with as I am the worlds biggest people pleaser but I know that for my own happiness sometimes I have to be selfish and put myself first. Don't feel like you have to explain yourself to people all the time for decisions you make. I'm still working on this one but I am definitely slowly getting there.

9. Don't worry what people think of you.
Another one I am coming to terms with slowly but surely, but I am definitely getting there. When I was in my 20's I was so insecure and constantly worrying about what people thought of me any time I spoke or did anything at all. I would over think everything I put on facebook incase I came across as someone people would think was a loser, I wouldn't be photographed in the same outfit more than once incase people called me a tramp, I was scared to voice an opinion or answer people back incase I came across in a bad way, but as I am getting older I am definitely starting to not care and I am such a confident person now. I may not be as comfortable as I would like within how I look, but the person I am inside is definitely someone I am confident with and now I just think, I am me and if people do not like it then that's fine. Not everyone in the world is going to like you, but as long as you like yourself then that's all that matters. I would rather be one persons glass of champagne than everyone's cup of tea.
10. Stand up for yourself.
Following on from the last one, always always stand up for yourself. I used to be so scared of this but now I always make sure I stand up for myself when needs be. I have came across some awful people in my career that seemed to get happiness out of tearing me down at every opportunity. I took it for so long but then I stood up for myself and carried on standing up for myself and it's such an important thing to learn and it is definitely something that a lot of the time I feel comes with age. Always stand up for yourself because you will find a lot of the time, you're the only person who will.

11. Eat the cake.
Everything is OK in moderation. If you want the cake, eat the god damn cake!!! Life is too short to be depriving yourself of things and as long as you don't overdo it and make sure you exercise, a slice of cake, or a piece of chocolate is not going to hurt you. Everything in moderation.

12. Cut ties with the toxic people in your life however hard it may be.
This is probably one of the hardest things you will ever have to do, but if someone is constantly bringing bad vibes and unhappiness into your life, no matter who they are, sometimes you just have to let them go. I have learnt this the hardway recently with someone who I cared about so much but created a very toxic situation in my life. It was making me extremely unhappy and I was becoming a completely different person because of it. I had to get all my courage and walk away even though it killed me. Looking back it was the best thing I did and opened up doors to so many other amazing things. Cut away that toxicness and bring light into your life.

12. Don't judge people.
It's so easy to sit there and judge people because they dress differently to you, or they like different music to you, or have different interests that you couldn't imagine ever being interested in. Sometimes though you find the nicest people or the best friendships in the most unlikely of places. A few of my friendships have come from people who, before they knew me, thought I was a snotty cow haha. Now they are some of my best friends. I've recently spoken to people who I've known of for years and never really liked and always thought wouldn't be my cup of tea, and after speaking to them, I think they are genuinely boss people. Leave your judgemental head in bed of a morning and you will be surprised what happens.

13. Be positive,
Pretty self explanatory. Your vibe attracts your tribe, and your attitude greatly affects your life. If you are a negative Nancy you will attract negativity in all aspects of life. Be a positive Polly instead. Or try to be whenever you can. There will always be times when you feel down, or you feel fed up, and that's fine, allow yourself to have those days. But on the whole, if you try to be a positive person, the impact on your life will be far greater than the impact of negativity.

14. Life isn't a competition.
Just because all your friends might be at different stages in their lives than you, it doesn't mean that you are a failure or that you are falling behind. If your friend has a boy interested in them don't get jealous and bitter because you aren't getting the attention, be happy for them. If someone gets a promotion or a new job, congratulate them and celebrate their success. Everyone is different and has a different path, things will happen for you when they are meant to and not a moment before. The attention will come when it's meant to. The great job will come when it's meant to. The babies and marriage will come when it's meant to. Don't compete with your friends or people you know. The only person you should be in competition with and try to be better than is yourself.

15. Experiences are more valuable than material things.
I have found as I have gotten older that it's far more valuable to spend your time making memories with my friends and family, experiencing things I will remember forever and taking amazing trips than it is buying Valentino Shoes or buying a designer bag. Don't get me wrong, if I had the money I would still absolutely love a pair of Louboutins, or a gorgeous Chloe bag, but I don't have that money to spend and I know that it's not worth missing out on new experiences or making memories with my friends for a pair of shoes, so the cheaper dupes will do me. What good comes from sitting in your house surrounded by expensive things and not being able to actually live your life? Don;t try and live a Champagne lifestyle on a Prosecco wage.
16. You can't trust everyone.
Not everyone who listens to your problems has true intentions and not everyone will be true to you behind your back. Trust but be careful. I used to trust everyone but now my trust has to be earned. Always trust peoples actions rather than peoples words. People can promise you the world, or promise you they have your back and will be there for you through anything, but when it comes down to it they aren't. Be picky with who you place your trust with. Once you break my trust, it's near enough impossible to get it back.

17. Trust your gut.
If your gut instinct is that when you meet someone they aren't good for you or your life, or that a job you have started isn't for you or that a situation you are in gives you a bad feeling. Trust it! 99.9% of the time your gut is right. Your heart and head can play tricks on you, but that gut feeling is never wrong.

18. Get excited about the small things, not just the big things.
People tell me sometimes that I get excited over the smallest things and it hardly takes anything to excite me and they don't get how I get so exited over such small stuff, but I don't see anything wrong with that. As you grow up you begin to realise that sometimes the smallest things create the biggest and best memories from your life. Even just starting your day driving to work and getting excited because Britney Spears Toxic comes on the radio and you haven't heard it for ages, get excited. Love the small moments not just the big ones and your life will be so much more satisfying.
19. Alone time is very important.
Let yourself be alone. Take time out to spend the day watching netflix or go for a drive or a walk by yourself. Take yourself off to get your nails done. Set aside an afternoon to have a nice bath and pamper yourself. Alone time is essential to find out who we are and de-stress. After a hard day at work, if you need some alone time, take it. Do not feel like you have to be busy all the time and be doing things constantly to be happy. Sometimes an afternoon watching a series on netflix, lighting some candles and making yourself a nice hot chocolate can make you just as happy as a night out with your friends.

So they are some of the biggest things I have learnt and realised as I have grown from a girl into a woman. I have grown so much throughout my 20's and the person I was at 18 is so so different to the person I am now. I have changed from a shy quiet girl into a loud confident woman and I have grown and learnt from all the things life has thrown at me. I am still struggling with a few things I have listed myself, but I know that will come in time. I loved being in my 20's but being in my 30's brings a new confidence, I 100% know who I am, I am not afraid to be myself, and I know what's good for me and what I want my life to be like. It's a good feeling. :)

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Sarah Travels | Paris

Bonjour mes amis!

Just before Christmas I went on a weekend away to Paris with my Cousin/Bestie. I had previously been to Paris way way wayyyy back in 2006 with an ex boyfriend but to say it was a nightmare trip is an understatement. We went for our first year anniversary, and considering it's meant to be the capital of Love, we spent our whole 4 days arguing and the only touristy thing we saw was the Eiffel Tower. How that relationship lasted for 4 years I will never know! 
Despite all the arguments though I did fall completely in love with the city of lights. My bedroom is proof with Eiffel Tower and Paris stuff everywhere, and ever since 2006 I have been so desperate to go back, see all the sights I missed out on and make better memories there. It's such a good feeling to finally be able to sit here and say I have done that and think about Paris with the biggest smile rather than the memories being plagued with arguments. :)

We only went for 2 days but we crammed so much into it that it definitely feels like we went for longer. Our flight was at 7:00am and we just literally dropped our bags off at the hotel and then off we went to explore the French Capital. Our hotel was so cute with the prettiest view over the rooftops of the city from the balcony which looked extra special in the morning when the sun was coming up.

Before we went we had pre-booked our tour bus tickets which meant we could travel freely around the city just  jumping on and off the buses at each tourist spot. The first thing we did was visit the Arc de Triomphe. The Arc is situated right at the very top of the Champs Elysées and we bought tickets to go up to the top. The Arc itself is incredible and such a gorgeous memorial for the veterans who lost their lives in war. The views of Paris from the top was just amazing. There is A LOT of stairs to climb to get to the top but the views just make it so worthwhile. I definitely recommend doing it.

Next stop was the Eiffel Tower which I had seen on my previous visit to Paris but only managed to get onto the first floor. This time we ventured right up to the top! This was the highlight of my whole trip I think. Standing at the very top of the Eiffel Tower with one of my favourite people, drinking champagne was just the best feeling. You can literally see for miles around and I was strangely not scared which shocked me because I normally get the worst jelly legs with anything to do with heights! It just feels so safe up there though which surprised me a lot. The amount of time you have to queue to get into each lift was pretty ridiculous though, it was just never ending! But definitely worth it. Not only that, I got to see the most beautiful sunset from the second level when I was making my way down. No words for that!

 After the Eiffel Tower we decided to do our river cruise which we got included in the price of the sightseeing bus tickets. Now bearing in mind we went at the very end of November, the cruise was absolutely FREEZING but we got to see the Eiffel Tower light up the sky with its twinkling light display from the River and I have never see anything so pretty in all my life.
The next day we started at the Louvre and I finally got to see the one and only miss Mona Lisa! Plus we got to take the tourist photos outside which I was dying to do haha. I was really shocked at how small the Mona Lisa actually was but I was so excited when I saw it. You can't get too close as there are barriers around it and it's in a glass box but just being close to something so famous was definitely a wow moment. I couldn't get over how grand and extravagant the Louvre was, I thought it would be quite small but it was huge and the interior is probably one of the most gorgeous places I have ever seen! Every ceiling you looked at, every new room you went in was just so beautiful. We didn't have enough time to look around the whole thing so we just went and saw the Mona Lisa and a few other things my cousin wanted to see but I definitely want to go back and have a proper stroll around without worrying about the time.

Next for us little tourists was the absolutely gorgeous Notre Dame. Unfortunately, like with the Louvre, we were on a time limit and the queues to get in were about 2 hours long so we just didn't have the time to go inside but the outside was stunning and I was dying to go hunting for Quasimodo haha. if you are going to visit here and want to go inside I definitely recommend leaving plenty of time for queueing. Next time I'm in Paris this is definitely on my list to re-visit!

After there we headed over to the love lock bridge. I know it's meant for people in relationships but me and my cousin had a best friends lock made and we wanted to put it on. We locked it onto the bridge, and we had 3 keys, we threw one into the river, and we both kept one each and have them on our house keys :) it was such a special moment which I'll never forget and I'm glad I got to share it with my girl! I feel very lucky to have a best friend who is also family and this was a perfect way to put a little extra special stamp on our trip!
The rest of the day we just went shopping down the Champs Elysées. The Christmas markets had just started and they stretched down the whole length of it! It was so gorgeous and Christmassy  and we treated ourselves to a nice mulled cider and some pancakes!
Over the two days we also decided to try some tradition French delicacies so we tried both frogs legs and snails! I was absolutely terrified and my inner wimp definitely made an appearance both times haha! But when in France! The snails were not what I was expecting at all, you have to pick them out of the shell with a little metal fork and they are very very chewy. The frogs legs were also quite chewy and were so much bigger than I was expecting! I nearly had a heart attack when they came out and they were nearly the size of my plate haha! I don't think I will be in a rush to eat either again but at least I can say I have tried a snail and frog! We also had some French Crepes, Creme Brulee, Macaroons and waffles! We definitely ate very well on this trip! You have to try the local food when you travel to a new place, it would be rude not to! Bon appetite!

The trip was just such a lovely and fun weekend and it's made me fall in love with Paris all over again. It was my cousins first time there and she absolutely loved it as well. It's definitely one of those places I know for sure I will be returning to over and over again throughout my life and it will always hold such a special place in my heart. I could spend so many days getting lost in the beautiful streets, sitting on street corners drinking hot chocolate or wine and eating pastries, taking afternoon walks down the Seine and I don't think I would ever get tired of seeing Miss Eiffel in all her glory spreading light all over the city and twinkling like stars in front of my eyes. It's such a magical city and somewhere everyone should experience at least once in their life.

"There is but one Paris, the french air clears up the brain and does good....a world of good" 
- Vincent Van Gogh

Paris, je t'aime ❤️