Ladies Who Lunch

Today I met up with a friend who I haven’t seen in years and it was so lovely to catch up. It’s also nice to get out of the house and actually make an effort with my outfit rather than just throwing something on! We enjoyed an early lunch in Byron followed by some window shopping and I must say, I’m loving all the spring florals, peasant tops, bright colours and 90s inspired pieces in stores at the moment. Roll on Spring! I went for quite a matchy matchy look with camel and beige tones and a hint of black.

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I love my Camel coat from New Look which was a bargain at £30 and my patent boots from the Zara sale. I wore them with a mini skirt from New Look, that I can just about squeeze into as it’s a size 8 and a roll neck jumper from Uniqlo. I’m looking forward to the warmer weather when I can wear lighter clothes and get away with bare legs.

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Ways to boost a Low Mood

I often have days where I feel pretty down and would rather just go back to bed than face the day but over the years I have learnt what can help lift my mood. These ideas may not help everyone but hopefully at least one of them will help or will inspire you to think about what will perk you up personally.

I feel down for various reasons but one of them is due to recovering from illness which I know that some other bloggers can relate to. Some days or weeks I feel almost normal but other days I’m in a lot of pain with my head which gets me down as I should have made a full recovery by now. Things like stress and alcohol make it worse or can trigger pain so I try to avoid them as often as possible but it means that I now live a life with restrictions. I miss being free to do a day’s work or drink a couple of cocktails without ending up in pain. One thing I can still do is eat and I definitely make the most of that!

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Food, Glorious Food

I like to go out for meals with my boyfriend, friends or family but I also like to treat myself occasionally to something sweet such as these Lorchidee macaroons which I picked up yesterday. I was a complete greedy guts and ate 7 of them which I wouldn’t encourage but it really did help to cheer me up! Obviously, eating treats like this everyday becomes expensive and isn’t the healthiest but it’s a great pick me up on those days when you need extra help. An alternative is to attempt to make your own healthier baked goodies or dishes which provides a distraction and something yummy at the end of it!

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Take a Bath

One thing I look forward to daily is a nice, relaxing bath which is great for de-stressing. Being in the bath always feels so warm, comfortable and safe and it’s like almost washing your cares away, albeit temporarily. There are also so many bath products available that can help lift your mood, from aromatherapy oils to fun bath bombs or bubble bars. Lush is my favourite bath time treat emporium so I always enjoy a Lush bath.

Exercise

Even if you don’t fancy sweating it out at the gym, something as simple as going for a walk can release endorphins to beat the blues. As there are no pleasant walking routes where I currently live I try to get to the gym at least twice a week and despite struggling to motivate myself to go, I usually feel much better afterwards. If you have a garden or open space that you can use then using a skipping rope is great exercise. I did try this myself but unfortunately I’m useless at skipping!

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Reading

Getting into a good book or having a blog or magazine reading sesh definitely takes my mind off things and provides a positive distraction. I’ve been known to read a book in a day when I’m really engrossed and I find it easy to get lost in the story which is strange as films or TV programmes struggle to hold my attention.

Music

When I’m feeling down I like to listen to songs that remind me of happier times or novelty ones that make me laugh. (I’m talking ‘It wasn’t me’ by Shaggy rather than ‘Bob the Builder’) Party music is also a great mood lifter and is usually my genre of choice on my iPod at the gym as it gets me through the workout.

If you find yourself feeling down when you’re at work try to get away from the desk for a short break if you can or plan something exciting for lunch, whether it’s reading a new magazine, meeting/calling a friend or treating yourself to your favourite lunchtime dish. When I worked full time I’d often plan to get myself something tasty for lunch which helped get me through the day. One thing to avoid when your mood is low is constantly scrolling through social media. I made the mistake of doing this yesterday and it make me feel much worse. Just make sure you take time to do what makes you happy and look after yourself.

Valentine’s Outfit Ideas

If you’re lucky enough to have a special romantic meal or a date night planned for or close to Valentine’s Day but aren’t quite sure what to wear I’ve put together a couple of outfits that will hopefully give you some inspiration. I’ve gone quite literal with the theme of love with a red and black colour palette but pink also works well or you could completely avoid anything valentines related and go for a different colour scheme altogether.

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I think heart print is so cute and really fitting for the occasion! I got this shirt from New Look a couple of years ago but printed shirts are all over the high street at the moment. Teaming the shirt with a red faux leather pencil skirt from Primark, lace tights and heels from New Look dresses it up for a slap up meal or cocktails.

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Red is a classic colour to get you in the mood for love and romance and it also happens to be one of my favourite colours, particularly this bright, pillar box shade. This Topshop flute sleeved dress is one of the favourite pieces in my wardrobe and although I bought it last autumn there are plenty of similar colour block dresses currently available. I teamed it with thigh high boots from Public Desire and attempted to slick back the front of my hair by pinning back my fringe but the wind messed it up a bit! The joys of British weather. Speaking of our climate, you will need to throw a coat over these outfits and I would suggest a smart crombie in black or camel or a faux fur number. You also can’t go wrong with red lipstick, even if your outfit is pretty casual. I’m ashamed to say that the one I’m wearing is really old from Rimmel and has probably had its day but I can’t bear to part with it.

I hope that this has given you some outfit ideas and however you spend your Valentine’s day, I hope you enjoy it.

Winter Sun

It’s always nice to escape the chill of winter in the UK so when the opportunity arose to spend 10 days in Spain to celebrate my nan’s 70th I had to grab it! I love getting away from it all and spending time with my grandparents, who live on the Costa Del Sol but I don’t get to visit as often as I would like. I’m not the biggest fan of flying or travelling but it’s definitely worth it once I’m there. The first few days were mostly sunny and warm so we made the most of those days by going out for walks and taking pictures.

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I just love palm trees (maybe because you don’t get them in London?!) and thought this view was the perfect tonic for the past tough few months. I picked up the skirt (Forever 21) and top (New Look) recently and can see myself getting plenty of wear out of them during the warmer months.

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The last 4 days were much cloudier and cooler but still a huge improvement on the current weather in the UK, which was a shock to the system when I landed today!

Health, anxiety and stress

I’ve previously touched on my health issues and anxiety in earlier posts but I’ve been going through quite a bad patch with both recently so I thought I’d share my experiences. I’m sure there are other people out there who feel similar so just know that you are not alone. (Please pardon the MJ song pun).

Since around mid October my head pains have been bothering me everyday and after a period of feeling slightly better it feels like I’m moving backwards rather than forwards. I have a neurology appointment next Friday so hopefully they can give me some answers and perhaps send me for another scan as I haven’t had one since June. I do worry that scans cause more harm than good in the long run but I need to know what’s going on in my head as it doesn’t feel right. I want to earn some money for Christmas so I’m signed up with a job agency to do some temping work and I tried my first assignment last week which involved covering a reception desk. The morning went really well and I quite enjoyed it apart from getting a bit stressed during the manic periods but come the afternoon, the pain in my head was overwhelming and I started to feel sick. I struggled on and saw the day through as I didn’t want to let anyone down but I’m scared to take on any similar work in case it makes me feel really unwell again. I’m still getting pains everyday and have to be really careful not to push myself too far or overdo things.

It didn’t help that I worried about it so much the night before that I hardly slept so felt really tired and anxious until I settled in. I’m terrible at leaving my comfort zones (including lie ins, being at home, going to the gym or visiting family) so I often panic when I have to do anything else. I worried that I’d be incapable of doing the job and let everyone down. The thought of not being able to work the systems, being rubbish on the phone and making mistakes flooded my mind from the moment I found out about the assignment. Once I got the hang of what I was doing I was absolutely fine but this won’t stop me from panicking about exactly the same things the next time I have an assignment lined up.

My anxiety manifests itself mostly through feeling sick, losing my appetite and not being able to sleep. I also become very on edge and jittery so I can’t settle until whatever it is that is making me anxious is over. Luckily, I don’t suffer from panic attacks but can understand how scary they must be. Often when I feel anxious about something tensions are high so I can snap or lose my temper over the smallest thing because I’m so close to the end of my tether anyway. This isn’t ideal for friendships or relationships as people can take things personally or get offended when I snap at them. Does anyone else get really irritable as a result of their anxiety?

On top of all this I also get stressed out very easily and things that probably wouldn’t bother most people tend to affect me. It probably stems from being a perfectionist and wanting everything to run smoothly so when it inevitably doesn’t I panic and worry that I won’t be able to cope. I don’t exactly flourish under pressure and I’m yet to find a job that’s laid back enough for me not to get too stressed about which is no easy task! However, the panicking doesn’t last long and I do tend to get on with things but the constant adrenaline rushes and ups and downs don’t seem to do my health any favours.

Due to these aspects of my personality I do often worry about my future, particularly career wise but once I’m settled in somewhere things do get easier, I relax more and end up doing a pretty good job. I just need to believe in myself more and try to keep calm whenever possible. I would love to hear from anyone who battle similar feelings or suffer from anxiety and any tips you have for coping with it all. There are definitely good days and bad days or I find that I’ll go through a bad patch for a few weeks then be fine for months. All part of the ups and downs of life I suppose.

Feeling Alone

It’s hard to admit this but sometimes I feel like a Billy no mates. I have a handful of close friends who I love but I don’t get to see them as often as I’d like due to where we both live and family or work commitments. I’m currently planning drinks for my birthday and some of my friends are making an effort to come which I really appreciate but I’m worried that something will happen to stop them from coming nearer the time and without that group I only have one other friend who has confirmed that she’s definitely coming. I’ve always had different groups of friends rather than just being part of a particular group so I’ve never really had that sense of belonging and since I’ve been ill I’ve felt that sense of isolation more than ever. I just don’t feel like I truly fit in anywhere. It doesn’t help that I’m feeling down, mostly due to my grandad being terminally ill which has left me feeling lost. Nothing can comfort me and I’m no longer the fun person to be around that I once was.

I just hope that most of my friends can make it to celebrate my birthday with me and temporarily take my mind off what has been one of the worst years of my life. I can still occasionally let my hair down and have a good time so I want to be that person again before that side of me becomes completely buried. Does anyone else feel this way or is it just me?

Coping with invisible illness in your 20’s

Good days and bad days are such a cliche but this is how life is when you are living with an invisible illness. Thankfully, the blood clots on the brain that I was diagnosed with last December shouldn’t be permanent and I should hopefully make a full recovery but being so unwell, even for a short time has made me really empathetic towards those who live with illness long term.

For the past two years my general health and wellbeing hasn’t been quite right. In early Autumn 2013, after months of feeling constantly tired and gaining a significant amount of weight quite suddenly I went for tests which showed my thyroid gland as verging on under active. To regulate my hormone levels my GP prescribed medication but after a month of taking it I started suffering from incredibly painful headaches which often caused nausea and sometimes lasted days which left me incapable of getting on with life so I had to stop taking the medication. After a few weeks the headaches and sickness stopped and a blood test showed that my hormone levels had returned to normal.

For a few months I felt quite normal until around Spring 2014 when I started to feel run down and low in energy. I also had regular headaches but managed them with over the counter medication. 2014 was a busy year and I was worried that my thyroid was on the blink again and that the doctors would prescribe me the medication that made me so ill before so I just tried my best to get on with things and gained energy by eating healthily, exercising and cutting down on alcohol which no longer agreed with me. In 2014 I lost a significant amount of weight, dropping from over 9 1/2 stone down to 8st. My exercise and healthy eating seemed to kick start it but even when I calmed down with the gym routine and started eating more junk food the weight continued to fall off. It was the first time I had ever had abs and although I lost all my womanly curves, being so slim became addictive so alarm bells didn’t go off for me at the time. I was just happy that I could finally wear crop tops and body con! In autumn last year I was at my slimmest and suffering from headaches so often that I had to have pain relief tablets in my bag at all times. Life and work was manic and pretty stressful but I was still managing to hit the gym at least once a week and go out for cocktails most weekends.

On November 30th 2014 I was rudely awoken at 6am by a sharp, stabbing pain in my head behind one eye. It was relentless and seemed to spread to other parts of my head over the next couple of days until my head was pounding. No medication provided any relief so the next day after calling in sick at work, I booked an emergency appointment at the doctors who gave me migraine medication. It didn’t work and the only tablets that provided some temporary relief were ones we had at home that contained codeine. I only took one dose as my headache came back with a vengeance after a few hours so the next day, which was 3rd December I went back to my GP. As I looked so unwell my boyfriend came into the surgery with me during my appointment which turned out to be one of the best decisions we could of made as whilst the doctor examined me I had a seizure, passed out and stopped breathing for a few seconds. Before that I’d never had a seizure but I can’t remember most of it, apart from trying to move my hands at the start of the episode and my body just freezing. I remember looking at my hands thinking ‘why won’t they move?’ but after that I don’t remember anything until the paramedics pricked my finger in the ambulance. Apparently when I came around I didn’t recognise my boyfriend or know where I was and was trying to force my way out of the room! I have no idea where I thought I was going.

To cut a long story short, I spent two nights in hospital and was diagnosed with blood clots in the exit of my brain and bleeding on other areas of the brain as a result of the blood having nowhere to go as the exit was blocked by the clots. I had another seizure in A&E but once I was put on medication the seizures where I convulsed and passed out stopped but i had a few partial ones for the next month. These are quite scary as you’re very aware of what’s going on and I’d get a pins and needles feeling which started in my wrist and travelled up my arm to one side of my face. They only lasted around 20 minutes but the first two were scary. After increasing my medication dosage these abated and the only physical side effects I was left with were headaches, (but thankfully much less painful than before) tiredness, some memory loss and a reduced ability to concentrate. Almost 10 months on I feel nearly back to normal but I still get tired easily along with occasional headaches and head pains. Some days I struggle to get out of bed and can be really grumpy all day. Today is a good day but yesterday morning was a grumpy one!

It was really hard at first not being able to go out over Christmas and enjoy the festivities and then missing friends’ birthday celebrations as they were in lively bars and I was scared that the lights would cause me to have a seizure. I gradually started going out again in late Spring, although I still tend to avoid overly busy bars and clubs and don’t go out every weekend anymore. Until I saw a neurologist in July I didn’t know if I was allowed to drink so I was teetotal for 7 months until I found out that I was allowed to have a couple of drinks but not get drunk. My first Pimms tasted so good!

I’m currently out of work but would like to start some part time or temping work soon. I used to work in Insurance and the company I worked for were very understanding and accommodating when I was ill but the stress and pressured nature made my headaches and tiredness worse so I left in July. I would like to do something that’s either more laid back like general office administration or something more creative like working on a magazine. It’s always been a dream to have a career in publishing or journalism but if that doesn’t happen I always have my blogs.

Why I love Autumn

Most people are happiest during the summer but apart from the rain, I actually prefer Autumn. Once we start heading towards mid September when the leaves turn brown and start falling from the trees, the air gets cooler and the nights draw in my favourite time of year begins. I’m a real winter baby and love cosy nights in, snuggled up with a book or watching reality TV whilst burning a seasonal scented candle. Once the X Factor starts it signals the beginning of the build up to my favourite season.

I also prefer Autumn fashion to any other season because warm, loose clothes disguise the flab as a result of the extra calories from the stodgy food and hot drinks that I start to crave come September! I love coats and boots and can be partial to a bit of layering, especially involving roll necks. Autumnal colours such as burgundy, camel, teal and khaki tend to bring out my hazel eyes and are a good antidote to the summer brights worn in the months prior. Autumn or Fall marks the start of your build up to Halloween, my birthday on Bonfire Night and then Christmas which I always get ridiculously excited about.

Of course, there are some downsides to the end of summer such as the dark morning and evenings, feeling too cold at times and the depressing abyss between Christmas and Spring but being able to sleep better, fresher air and being cosy makes up for it. As does the excitement of Halloween and the magic of Christmas. I’ve already started Pinterest boards for those two holidays aswell as one for Autumn/Winter fashion. Does anyone else love Autumn?

Five reasons why I’m no longer a fan of London bars or clubs

I’ve had some good nights out in my time but I’ve also noticed some reoccurring unpleasant parts of many nights out, especially in popular venues in the city or Central London. Here are the five factors that can put a downer on your night out and should be avoided if possible;

Overcrowding

It’s Friday night, it’s payday and the weather is decent. You’ve got that Friday feeling and can’t wait to meet up with your friends and let your hair down. You go through the effort to get dressed up (usually my favourite part of a night out) whilst feeling excited anticipation for the night ahead, only to arrive to a packed out venue with barely enough space to scratch your nose. The queue for the bar is 12 people deep and after waiting 20 minutes and still not even close to getting served your enthusiasm is beginning to wear off. That annoyingly catchy chart song is blasting through the speakers so you and your friends are forced to shout in eachother’s ears in order to be heard whilst overly drunk, ignorant people with no concept for personal space elbow or bash into you every 5 minutes. By the time you get your drink you’re so on edge that you’d rather down it and leave than spend another minute in what feels like a packed tube during rush hour, with the added bonus of people spilling drinks down your new dress and soaking you through to your underwear.

How much?!

You withdraw £50 for your night out thinking that it should be enough but by the time you’ve left the first bar and are moving on to the second one or a club, you’re down to £7 and have to find a working cash point just in case you need to get a cab home. Sometimes I keep a certain amount aside for cabs and club entry then pay for drinks by card but this can be dangerous as you lose track of what you’re spending, especially if you buy drinks for friends. Even happy hour can work out expensive as I find that you drink more than you usually would as it seems cheaper.

Power tripping bouncers

For some reason I haven’t always had the best relations with bouncers. Maybe I have one of those faces? I’ve had a couple of words in the past with one who lost our belongings in the cloak room and had a bad, arrogant attitude and another who refused to believe that my I.D was actually me and was pretty rude when I tried to protest. I’ve met other bouncers who have been really friendly so I won’t tar all with the same brush but some just take an instant dislike to me and want to exert some power or status to make them feel important.

Drunk people

Maybe it’s my age (28) but the older I get the more drunk people irritate me! Some people can handle their drink well and are a riot when they’ve had a few so they just make me laugh rather than annoy me but sadly this isn’t the case for everyone. I had my drunken days about 6 years ago but that level of alcohol hasnt agreed with me for some time so I can’t actually remember the last time I was properly drunk. The medication I’m on at the moment limits me to about three light alcoholic drinks so nothing too concentrated like wine or shots. Much to my annoyance this restraint doesn’t apply to most other strangers around me and too many of them can’t handle their drink or whatever else they’ve taken so stumble about, bash into me and my friends, push in at the bar, spill drinks, want to start fights with other revellers and talk a load of drunken rubbish which you don’t have the time or desire to listen to.

Getting home

There have been times when a good night has been tainted by the palava of getting home. Sometimes you have to walk for what feels like miles in inappropriate shoes and rain or wait on a street corner for ages in the early hours for a cab to turn up. Also, as a young woman I often don’t feel safe getting into cabs alone. Even if I share with friends more often than not I’m the last to be dropped off due to where I live in relation to everyone else. Nowadays, I often leave early and get a train home but that’s not always without its problems and I need a family member to meet me at the other end as I don’t feel safe walking home on my own.

I’m aware that this post has made me sound like a miserable, old git but despite the rubbish year I’ve had I can still let my hair down and enjoy myself occassionally. On Saturday I went to a local pub with good friends, watching people sing on the karaoke, singing and dancing along. If the conditions are right I can really enjoy myself but as I get older I find that this happens more often in intimate venues or birthday parties with the right group of people (e.g. close friends and family) rather than in the usual bars and clubs.

Homebody or Hermit?

This time last year I was going out for cocktails in the city most Friday evenings, wearing fashionable outfits and glam make up, staying out late then posting my pictures on Facebook and Instagram the next day. Fast forward a year and I spend most Friday nights at home either in front of a tablet or TV screen or reading a magazine or book. Lots of the clothes I wore last year for nights out barely fit me anymore and lots of the friends I used to go out with have either fallen by the wayside or usually aren’t able to go out when I’m free. It’s amazing how much illness can change your life. Until July I didn’t know if I was even allowed to drink alcohol and my tolerance to loud, busy places is now a lot lower than it used to be. I also get tired easier than I used to and although this is gradually getting better as my health improves I’m still ready for bed by 11pm. The strange thing is as exciting as getting dressed up and as distracting as those nights out were, most of the time I didn’t really enjoy it. Sure, I’d have a laugh and let my hair down for parts of the night but the long queues at the bar, barely being able to move in packed bars or clubs and rude, drunk people began to grate on me.

However, now I’m mostly stuck at home I can’t help but feel like I’m missing out a bit. I am only 28 after all so not quite over the hill yet. I think this feeling is stronger in the summer though as when the sun is shining it feels like everyone but you is out, having a great time and drinking Pimms in the sunshine. This is why I’m such a winter baby as I love being snuggled up and cosy indoors when it’s cold outside and the FOMO is less prominent. I’m quite a homebody anyway and like to do most of my socialising during the day or early evening. Does anyone else feel this way? That said I could do with a good night out soon, even to just get dressed up.