The Bigger Picture

Look up. I had no idea these trees had Christmas lights on until I looked back through my photos and found this accidental selfie on my phone. 
Hello friends,

I had the intention this week of writing a post all about our fascination with documenting our lives. It’s a subject that intrigues me and I want to delve into it a bit more. But in the lead up to the festive period, I’ve been getting distracted by the hustle and bustle of it all. That post will have to have its big moment another time.

I’m currently sat in one of my favourite places as of late, good old Caffè Nero, listening to a budding American comedian talking to a quiet Irish man, slightly older than her, about her craft. She's talking in depth about the presence of her peers when they perform on stage. They're smart. They're serious.

It's like a window to another world.

This alone got my attention as everything she was saying was a truly fascinating look from an outsiders perspective looking in. A whole new light shone on a world I'm not privy to.

But it was something else she said which really got me thinking.

When people are in the city, we all live inside our own heads. We’re all on our own mission, trying to achieve our work goals. We stop noticing the bigger picture.

When we’re in the countryside, we see everything through a completely different set of eyes. We learn what time it is, just by noticing where the shadows fall on the pavement and by the position of the sun in the sky. We look at the trees, we notice the leaves changing colour. We observe the seasons. We pay attention.

We learn to appreciate time passing and we learn to notice what's happening around us.

And this is how I feel right now. So often I find the days and weeks rushing past me. I’m constantly planning things in advance so I have a nice full calendar to look at in my bullet journal. But sometimes I forget to stop for a moment and take it all in.

It’s just over a week until Christmas and I’m still not completely sure it’s hit me that the festive season is in full swing.

I’ve always been the type of person to enjoy the lead up to Christmas almost more than the main event. I enjoy the anticipation, the excitement, that fuzzy feeling you get inside when you reconnect with friends you’ve not caught up with for a while.

And so I’m using this cold winter lunchtime tucked away in a coffee shop as a moment to reflect and see things from a different perspective.

As an early 2018 New Years resolution, I'd like to spend more time next year taking a step back and observing what’s going on around me. Get my head out of my phone (as I touched on in this week's Pillow Talk), and look up, and pay attention to the seasons changing. To time passing. To the bigger picture.

The End.

Pillow Talk #2

Mornz everyone!

Picture this, an Instagram worthy bed shot, complete with chunky woollen socks, perfect white bed sheets and a cuppa...

Oh, how I wish I could be spending my Sunday morning like this, but instead I'm sat here on tenterhooks waiting to pick Jim up from the airport. I've got an hour's drive ahead of me and I'm not looking forward to hitting traffic on the M25. Such fun.

Hopefully, you're having a more laid back morning than me. If you're new here, this is my weekly series, Pillow Talk, where I like to write down all the things I've been loving this week. Usually content I've found on the web which I think needs sharing.

Last week I wrote to you from snowy Budapest, an amazing weekend trip which you can read all about here. It's long but has pretty photos and had a fab video.

Letting go of the social meeds

Okay so let's have a show of hands, who here is addicted to their phone? I am and it makes me weep a little inside when I realise just how much of my time is spent gazing at the screen in the palm of my hand, and it seems I'm not the only one.

This week I stumbled across Helen Anderson's post on forgetting the phone, and this prompted me to really have a think about what I can do to get away from my phone. At the moment the thought of leaving the house without my phone makes me feel like an anxious mess, but it's something I want to do. Actually doing that is another story, but hey there's hope. I particularly like Helen's idea of having a phone bowl at social occasions - one to put into practice during the festive period, me thinks.

Following the same vibes, I saw Grace Victory's post on her 24-hour break from social media. It's about a month old but I was browsing the archives and it is well worth reading my friend. A 24-hour break sounds doable for me and got me thinking that I'd like to, perhaps as a new year's resolution, schedule one day per month where I go social media free. It's a bit difficult considering my job and fave hobby (blogging, duh) are so intertwined with social media, but I think it would be worth it. I crave the idea of having a clear head space and I think this would help a lot with it.

Have you taken a social media break? Any tips for an addict?

Friendships. It's complicated.

Does anyone else find friendship in your early twenties bloody difficult? I've touched on it briefly before, but Nicole's post on leaving certain types of 'friends' behind in 2017 summed it up so well. Annoyingly, I can think of people in my life which fit into the three categories Nicole mentions; the canceller, the me me me, and the one who never replies. It's a shame but a girl's gotta put herself first. If a friend is draining the life outta you or making you feel shit whenever you see them, LET THEM GO. They're not worthy of your company - and this is something I need to remind myself of in 2018.

Something a little more lighthearted...

I feel like we need to brighten things up around here, and so, I bring you Vix's 11 Sex Positions for Millennials. This post cracked me up and you need to read it now if you haven't already. A post of satirical sex positions, what more could you want on a Sunday morning?

Rock n Roll

I've been blasting my ears with soft rock this week and I think I might actually have nailed a playlist which includes all my faves, and I've used this handy tool to order tracks by how much energy they have. The result? Rockin tunes which gradually increase in hype. Sound like your kinda thing? Do help yourself and have a listen here.

Vlogs and blogs binge

One of my all-time fave creators is Jessie from sunbeamsjess. I adore her vlogging style, her fashion sense and just everything really. Lurveee it. Yesterday I spent way too much time than I'd like to admit watching some of her vlogtober vids (yes I'm really behind lol) and saw on Twitter that she's just launched her blog. Guess what? I love it! (Who'd have thought it?) The website itself is fabulous and it has Jess' personality written all over it. If you haven't seen it yet go check it out and prepare to be wowed. Her whole aesthetic is on point.

I think that's all for this week! I'm off to the airport now, once I'm home I think I'll be spending the rest of the day finding out how Jim's trip was and doing a spot of bullet journaling. If you follow me on Insta you'll see that a new journal arrived yesterday ready for the new year and I'm so excited to start setting it up!

Have a lovely Sunday ~

72 Hours in Budapest

Hello you lovely lot,

If you follow me on the ol' social meeds you've probably noticed that I have just been on a trip to Budapest. Totes haven't been going on about it at all. Nope!

This trip was a bit of a weird one as it was booked pretty spontaneously so even up to the point of getting on the plane it didn't feel like we were really going!

Arriving on Friday night, we hopped in a cab and tried to learn some lingo from our driver, and travelled to our Air Bnb which was the cutest. Set in the centre of the city, we'd rented a studio apartment with gorgeous almost floor to ceiling windows, a cosy living area and a lovely little spiral staircase up to a mezzanine over one side of the room where we slept. Lucy and I are not ashamed to say we acted out Rapunzle over the balcony.

We live a wild life, I know.

Anyway, we actually arrived pretty late on Friday night so we spent the rest of the evening looking through an array of leaflets and recommendations that were in the apartment (thank you Viktoria, these came in so handy!) and plotting all of the places we wanted to visit into Mapstr. (Great app btw, would recommend!)

Saturday came along and we woke up to blazing sunshine flooding the apartment. It was very aesthetic and we couldn't wait to set off. We took a walk through town, ate pretzels the size of our heads at a Christmas market and then decided to brave climbing up Gellért Hill to reach the famous Liberty Statue.

Elisabeth Bridge

We crossed over from Pest (the flat, trendy side of town) to Buda (much posher and mountainous) by walking over Elisabeth Bridge (Erzsébet híd). This takes you across the River Danube.

It was a walk and a half and I'm pretty sure halfway up the hill I lost feeling in my fingers because I kept taking my gloves off to film snippets on my phone. #firstworldproblems.

TLDR - This post is a long'un - don't say I didn't warn you. If you want the bite-sized version of events check out my video of 1-second snippets:

When we reached the top of Gellért Hill (more like a mini mountain ngl) it was just before sunset and the views were beautiful. We could see the whole of Budapest and the lighting was stunning. I couldn't stop taking photos and looking around in awe.

The view of Liberty Statue from Gellert Hill

To give you a little insight into what Liberty Statue is all about, so if you plan on visiting you can be informed (I was most definitely not), the statue was built in 1947 after World War II. It's to remember the liberation of Hungary and to remember those who sacrificed their lives for independence and freedom.

After taking as many photos as possible we decided to start walking back down and make our way to Buda Castle. On our way, we came across a few Christmas market stalls dotted around the place and one was selling hot apple cider. Now friends, if you're visiting Budapest in the winter, make sure you buy some of this! It was like drinking apple crumble and helped bring my frozen fingers back to life.

Budapest Skyline at Night

At this point, we lost the sun but took a walk to the castle anyway. By the time we arrived it was actually freezing. I've been to Iceland before a few years ago so thought I knew cold, but this was SO COLD. I think it didn't help we'd been outside nearly all day, and so after getting a few night time snaps (hella worth, the city is so pretty all lit up) we retreated back to our flat to warm up for a bit.

Once we'd defrosted, Lucy and I popped back into town and played it safe with the Hard Rock Cafe. Perhaps not very Hungarian but hey, we wanted food asap and were saving the Hungarian cuisine until Sunday.

Lucy and I at Hard Rock Cafe

After stuffing our faces and perhaps having one cocktail too many (oops) we went for a scenic walk through town where we took in the sights. Everything is very pretty at night in Budapest all lit up, especially at Christmas time. It all feels very festive and you'll be reaching for your camera constantly.

Once we made it back to the flat, we popped open a couple of ciders we'd bought earlier in the day (from a Tesco's would you believe!) and rocked out to MTV on the TV. Music channels were the only thing not in Hungarian so we stuck to them. It was that or BBC News which was a little too depressing for a holiday.

I'm well aware that this post is mighty long and boy did I not mean for it to end up like this, but I feel like I need to do each part of the trip justice!

Sunday Funday. We had a blast on Sunday and I think it was my favourite day of the two full days we were in Budapest. We woke up to snow! Not crazy amounts but this was very exciting. After publishing a post on Sunday morning (catch up here, it's a good'un) we set off for the castle again. This time we'd wrapped up extra warm, (we wore tights under our jeans - I couldn't feel my legs lol) and began.

This time we took a different route through town, walking along the riverfront and crossing over Chain Bridge (Széchenyi lánchíd) where we got a lot of great snaps of surrounding buildings. Once we reached the base of Castle Hill, we had two choices. Either walk or hop on Buda Hill Funicular. This is a type of train which goes up and down steep hills. It's pretty sick, but there was a long queue so we opted to walk.

Funicular in Budapest near the Castle

Honestly, if you've never been on a funicular before, try it, but the walk really didn't take that long and was much quicker than the walk up to the Liberty Statue on Saturday. That really was a hike.

When you get to the top, it's really magical. The castle itself is huge - although it doesn't look like the castles we have in the UK, it's amazing to look at and admire. The views from the city up there are amazing and you must stop and take a breather whilst looking around. It's so, so, so worth the walk.

After admiring the view, we went back down to the base of the hill and then started off a lot of steps in the direction of Fishermen's Bastion (Halászbástya). With hindsight, I think there is a way to walk across between the two without going up and down in between, but yolo we got so many Fitbit steps.

Fisherman's Bastion, Budapest

To me, it looked like we were entering Hogwarts and was truly beautiful. The stones were all so white and everything looked uh-maz-ing. This was probably my favourite place we visited just because the detail in all the architecture was mindblowing. This again is another place where you need to stop and get loads of photos of the city. You can get really good views of Parliment from here and I'm sure if you went in the evening everything would look even more magical.

Matthias Church in the (light) snow

This is also the location of Matthias Church (Mátyás-templom), a Roman Catholic church which is quite simply, stunning. Seriously if you like architecture this is the place to visit.

Once we'd filled up our cameras with lots and lots of photos, we went in search of food. We were freezing again and wanted to gorge on food and hot chocolate.

And we found the perfect place.

Our Beef Goulash at Ramazuri Bistronomy

Ramazuri Bistronomy is just down the road (literally) from Matthias Church and it feels a bit strange because it's so, so quiet outside, then you walk in and it's full of hustle and bustle, delicious smells and most importantly, it's warm and cosy. We ordered a hot chocolate #obvs, and the Beef Goulash which was just what we needed. It was real comfort food and my goodness did it hit the spot. I probably could have eaten two bowls of the stuff it was so good. I'd really recommend visiting here if you've been out in the cold for a few hours.

Nearly there, you've neeeeeearly reached the end.

As we were, after warming up we walked back into Pest, and after a little confusion as to how to validate our newly bought metro tickets, we hopped on to Budapest's underground.

Both trains and trams really look like toys - it's very cute. And they're both yellow - double cute.

We headed to Heroes' Square (Hősök tere) and as soon as we came out of the station we like "Wow". The scale of these statues is like, unbelievable and it's hard to capture the scale of it on camera. It's hard to fit all of it into one photograph - it's huge. But it's beautiful, and by this time it was dark so everything was lit up and, although I've said it way too many times already, it looked so pretty.

Heroes' Square, Budapest

After this, we walked past a lake behind the statues which looked exactly like a Lowry painting - no joke and made our way to Széchenyi Medicinal Bath (Széchenyi-gyógyfürdő). This is the largest medicinal bath in Europe and you'll probably see it in everyone's snaps from Budapest. I wasn't up to actually going in the baths whilst we were there, but Lucy went in and had a fab time. If you need rejuvenating, this is the place to go.

Ice Skating in Budapest

Finally, don't worry the end of the post is near, we went downtown to Spíler, this is near all the ruin pubs. It was super cute here (a tiny bit cold but they do provide blankets) and very red - my fave colour of the moment. Lucy and I drank a lot of cocktails here because we had to try as many as possible right? We shared some chicken wings to start which were coated with a really sweet sauce. Tbh I'm not usually a fan but this changed me and now I want them again. Right now. 

Dinner on the last night

Lucy then had a Hungarian pizza for main, and I had Chicken Paprikash with buttered Spaetzle - that's chicken in a sauce with these noodle/pasta things. The texture is really hard to describe but the whole meal was lovely. It was more make us feel good comfort food and I was stuffed by the end of it.

The waiters here were also top notch, full of bants.

That night we went back to the apartment and drank the rest of our cider and got very merry. If you're on holiday, you gotta do it! Then the next morning we headed to the airport after a fleeting visit to Parliment (which was very pretty but so, so, so cold because I was wearing a jumper with holes in. Do not make the same mistakes as me)

Honestly, I have rambled on way too much and I'm pretty sure no one will scroll this far down but YOLO sometimes you just gotta write stuff like this down ya know. For the memories. Whilst I was in Budapest I couldn't really tell if I liked it or not, I've never been to that part of the world before so it was very different to what I'm used to, however now I'm home and have poured my heart and soul into this post - I think it's clear I enjoyed it. I think I'll go back someday.

If you got this far, THANK YOU. Mad respect, you have the patience of a saint.

Pillow Talk

Hello you, 

It's Sunday morning, it's mighty cold, but chances are you're still wrapped up in the best place on earth. Bed! 

This weekend I'm lucky enough to be spending my Sunday morning in the heart of Budapest with one of my besties. It’s actually just started snowing and I’m so excited! We're just here for a short break but it certainly makes a nice change to normal. I also don't think I've been away EVER in December before so it's pretty rad seeing another city abroad in the lead up to Chrimbo. Today's our last full day before going home so we're going to make the most of it. Check out my Insta to see what we get up to. 

So, if you caught my Unattainable Expectations post last week you'll know that I've been a bit of a blogging funk. I had it all 'together' at the start of the summer, and then, well I just didn't. I've been going back and fourth in my mind on how I want to write up content like this. See, I want to share with you what I've been reading, what I've been listening to. I want to have a good old natter on the interwebs with like-minded folk whilst keeping it nice and low key. It is Sunday after all. 

And so this idea was born. Pillow Talk. I'm going to try making this a weekly thang where we can have a good old chinwag on what's been going on, and I can share with you the content I've been loving this week. It's nice to share the love isn't it? 

I love reading other posts like this so I thought what the heck, lemme put my own spin on it! Grab yourself a hot choc or a cuppa and let's get going. 

Posts that have stuck with me: 

Firstly the lovely Emma Gannon, always speaking the truth, Emma discusses emotional click bait. This caught my attention and has stuck with me since, as she puts it "Right now, it's kind of weirdly normal to sell your life online". And isn't it true! Linking into my post last week, this got me thinking about how there's this expectation to be online and reveal all of our deepest secrets to the world. Is this right? What's the implications of this in the future. It's a bit of a scary thought, isn't it? 

Why are people so rude? Chloe struck a chord with me the other day in her "Why Can't People Say Please Online? (Stop Being A Dick)" post, and it's something I'm finding myself getting more and more irritated by as time goes on, irl and online. Unfortunately it seems that manners aren't in fashion as of late as many are forgetting their Ps and Qs. Chloe touches on the demanding and somewhat rude messages she gets on the daily and it just makes me sad that people are like this. There's a human a the receiving end of comments and I think we can all take a minute to remember this. As my mum would say 'treat others how you want to be treated'. 

Finally, I gotta admit I've fallen head over heels in love for my current gal crush Megan Ellaby. I'm fairly new to Megan's content and boy have I been missing out! I came across this post the other day (and lots more to be honest - totally stalking the archives) about self confidence and all I can say is SLAY.

Number 1. The photographs from this shoot are stunning, like seriously girl you're smashing it. But if not more importantly, the message behind this post is legit. Self confidence is something we all battle with, I'm sure, and it's so refreshing to see that everyone, no matter how confident they might appear, can also have 'normal' struggles. What the hell do I mean? It's all about this culture of being online, and all appearing to have our shit together all of the time. Bit of a recurring theme today isn't it? Lol. It's important to realise that we've all got our strong points and we've all got our insecurities, but we can all help to lift each other up.

This post really resonated with me as lately I've been trying real hard at the gym and I think finally I'm feeling 'my best self'. I dunno, I've started rambling to be honest but I found Megan's words really motivating and it gave me that feel good factor. Go read it, she explains it much better than me! 

Easy Listening: 

I don't stay as up to date with the YouTube community as I used to, but I have been loving Marcus Butler's Lower Your Expectations podcast as of late. Okay, so does anyone have this thing where when you start a new pod you have to listen from ep 1? Even if that was like 2 years ago? I do this, so I'm actually still quite a few episodes behind (currently on ep 29) but it's a refreshing, laid back listen with some laughs between Marcus and Matt thrown in for good measure. I like the fact that we hear more about the behind the scenes aspects of YouTube in this pod. I find a lot of the old Brit Crew cater for a younger audience on their channels, so this is a nice way to hear about it, adult to adult.

Instas I've been swooning over:  

Ngl, if you follow me on Insta you'll have notice that I've fallen back in love with my bullet journal in the last week or so. Yep, expect me to post about it a lot more than usual. Soz. Why? Well, I'd been experimenting month after month with washi tape, different colours, different designs, but I just wasn't happy with it - there was too much going on! I've decided to take it back to basics this December and go with a much more minimalist look and design and gal, I'm loving it.

I've been swooning over @minimalistbujo on Insta which is actually a pretty great account where lots more minimalist loving bujo junkies are regularly featured. It was here I stumbled across @wezz.bujo and got inspo for my monthly spread - something I'd fallen out of love with the last couple of months, but I'm now very much back in love. That kicked everything off really, and now I'm in a minimalist heaven in my journal. I've said that word so many times in the last few minutes it's gone weird when I say it now. Haha! 

Well I've rambled on a little more than I intended to (oops) but I hope you've enjoyed your Sunday slumber whilst reading this. Do give the humans I've mentioned some love and check out their work, and with that, I'll leave you to enjoy your Sunday.