It’s been nearly twelve months since I have changed career and as I’m coming up to my one year anniversary of working with a fab team in a great company, it has got me thinking about how change has done me a world of good. I’m still in a bit of shock with just how much has changed in the last year and a half and it really does resonate with me that things are sent to try us. I’m trying to keep on top of things a little more these days, and this includes a bit of life admin. After searching for a new job, it made me realise that keeping my CV updated was one of those jobs that takes a few moments to do but makes such a difference when it comes to saving time. After all, who wants to write a ten year CV at the drop of a hat? I’ve put together my top tips when writing a CV, ready for any moments notice when looking for work.

CV life hacks

I have two current CVs; one solely for my past work experience in travel and customer service, the other includes my skills that I have developed since the launch of Anoushka Loves, which if you are a blogger you will know that covers a lot of ground. I prefer my CVs to be relevant to the job that I am applying for, and there would be no point in sending a CV that goes into my WordPress analytics and SEO skills to work in an unrelated customer service role. Whilst this isn’t something that most people would need to do, I do think that it shows a level of commitment to future employers that you have been able to keep it specific to a relevant job sector.

If you are unsure of how to write a CV, you can use a template to plan it out. This not only helps create a nice flow to display your skills, it also makes it easier to read and you can see where you need to add more information. My CV shows the company that I have worked for, the dates and a bullet pointed list of key skills that I utilised within the role. If it is a more technical job that you are applying for, you can add programs and software that you have used or any other important characteristic of your career history.

As a blogger, one of the biggest tips that I can recommend is proof reading. I do often fall foul of this, especially when I’ve over read articles, but there is nothing worse than seeing an article littered with spelling mistakes, poor grammar and badly constructed sentences. If you are unsure, ask a friend to check it over or use an online spelling and grammar programme, such as Grammarly to check this for you. Check your dates of employment do not overlap, and that your contact details are correct.

As mentioned before, I wish I had kept my CV updated. It’s very hard to briefly describe your past job roles, skill and to try and sell yourself when you are covering several years. Should you be a freelancer or change jobs often, it only takes a small period of time to list your key points and save it into your CV going forward.

The hardest part of a CV is making yourself stand out. As a writer, I find it very difficult to stifle my personality when it comes to constructing pieces of work, but a CV is not the place to show this. Save that for the interview. In your CV, you should be positive in the language that you choose. Be specific and relevant to the job role. Provide evidence of previous roles and sell your skill set. Research the new job role and look into the requirements that they are looking for. Make note of their company cultures and mission statements and utilise this to your advantage.

I do hope that these tips help you when it comes to writing you CV to find jobs in Manchester or around the area that you live. Do you have any top tips for CV writing and nailing the job application process?

*Collaborative post

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With more canals than Venice, more bicycles than people, a notable number of houseboats and over 1,500 cafes and bars, Amsterdam is a city like no other. From art and culture to a thriving nightlife scene, there is much to explore and enjoy on an Amsterdam holiday. Have a look at this handy tourist information guide for lots more interesting and helpful material.

Six reasons to visit Amsterdam

1. Discover the Anne Frank Museum
The story of Anne Frank is one that has touched many and the Anne Frank Museum is one of the most profound reasons to visit Amsterdam. The secret annex in her Amsterdam home is the building which now forms part of the Anne Frank Museum, helping to bring her story to life.

During her two years of isolation, before she was arrested, she kept a diary that documented her life. While you can’t help but admire her spirit and bravery, her evocative story will bring a tear to your eye. Her diary was published in the Netherlands in 1947 and is considered to be a seminal read, worldwide.

2. Lose yourself at Rijksmuseum
Housed in a beautiful building that first opened for business in 1800, the Rijksmuseum has an Aladdin’s cave of artistic treasures which is the envy of many of Europe’s other galleries. In Amsterdam, the Rijksmuseum and Rembrandt, perhaps the most famous of the 17th century artists, go hand in hand. The museum has the largest collection of his work, including his most famous painting, Night Watch. This is a must-visit spot for art-lovers and a Mecca for Rembrandt fans.

3. Say it with flowers
For something really different, visit the world’s only floating flower market. Amsterdam’s floral extravaganza, housed in a series of barges that are moored on the canal, is truly one of a kind and should be high on your list of reasons to visit. You can buy tulips during the spring months and in December, the firs and spruces announce the imminent arrival of Santa. It’s a lovely way to spend a couple of hours.

Six reasons to visit Amsterdam

4. Feel like a king or queen at the Royal Palace Amsterdam
The Royal Palace Amsterdam is open to visitors, when the royal family is away. It’s a truly magnificent building, with some equally impressive works of art, including a huge canvas by Jacob de Wit, which tells the story of Moses and the promised land. You will be mesmerised by its beauty and the subject matter. The palace is also used for royal occasions, receptions and a host of other ceremonial occasions.

5. Explore Amsterdam’s canals
The Canal Ring Area of Amsterdam was awarded UNESCO World Heritage status in 2010. Today, you can take to the water on a glass-topped boat tour for an unrivalled view of Amsterdam. With so much to see, it’s worthwhile having the Amsterdam travel guide from Expedia on hand, to help explain things as you go along.

The kids will love it, in particular, when you tell them there’s a yummy Pizza Tour, featuring their favourite toppings, with ice cream to follow. When the sun goes down and the lights start to twinkle, there’s a romantic onboard gourmet experience to share with your special person. This will be the highlight of your trip.

6. Shop ’till you drop
From cheese emporiums to the ultimate in chic design, Amsterdam’s shopping districts might well have it all. If it’s luxury brands you’re looking for then De Bijenkorf is the place to go. Another high-end area is P.C. Hooftstraat, which is definitely worth exploring, for a slice of glamour.

For something a little different, check out the picturesque Nine Streets neighbourhood. Perhaps more lanes than streets, but nonetheless, the area is filled with small and authentic boutiques, restaurants and cafes. Or for an indulgent treat, get yourself along to Beethovenstraat to pick up some cheese, wine and handmade chocolates
What are your reasons for visiting Amsterdam? Let me know in the comments.

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Brunch. That perfect excuse to have a glass of something alcoholic before Midday. I’m quite the fan of a brunch, and I have spent a lot of time over the years in visiting those highly sought after brunch spots. Not quite a breakfast, and not quite a lunch, I like the element of being able to graze over food and drink whilst spending quality time with my gal pals. When I heard that Kahlua were bring a brunch club to Manchester, I felt that it was definitely worth a visit. An espresso martini masterclass followed by a two course menu and rounded up with cocktail sounded perfect for a Saturday morning. Based at the newly refurbished The Loft on Quay Street, Manchester, I was really looking forward this.

The Kahlua Brunch Club, Manchester

The Kahlua Brunch Club, Manchester

The Kahlua Brunch Club, Manchester

The Kahlua Brunch Club, Manchester

The Kahlua Brunch Club, Manchester

The Loft, for those Manchester dwellers, is the building where Walkabout used to be. It has been totally stripped back inside with exposed brick, vaulted ceilings and concrete floor giving it a really industrial feel and a perfect blank canvas for Pernod Ricard to hold events. Pernod Ricard look after brands such as Absolute Vodka, Chivas Regal and of course, Kahlua. The Loft isn’t going to be a public bar, but an event space and it’s a really gorgeous space.

Upon arrival to The Loft, we were greeted with complimentary tea and coffee. Although I went for a peppermint tea, I did notice that they catered for the non-dairy folk and had soya milk to add to the hot drinks. Brownie points from me. Around the venue, comfy seats and cacti decorations, soft sofas with plump cushions and an interactive games room made for a great atmosphere.

The venue was filling up and they started to move us over to the long picnic tables. Whilst I don’t mind sharing benches with others, I did feel that there was one or two too many people crammed onto each bench. There was a further place setting however we couldn’t move up any further without being too invasive of each others space. On the tables, there were ice buckets, martini glasses and the lids for the cocktail shakers, ready for our masterclass. We were brought the shakers, pre filled with equal amounts of Kahlua liqueur, Absolute Vodka and espresso. We added the ice, and learnt how not to make a vacuum by adding the lid in two pieces. Shaking the cocktail shaker until you can hold it no more and shaking it in such a way that it adds the air makes the perfect foam on top. My cocktail was reasonable in looks with the three coffee beans on the top, but it tasted divine.

The Kahlua Brunch Club, Manchester

The Kahlua Brunch Club, Manchester

The Kahlua Brunch Club, Manchester

The Kahlua Brunch Club, Manchester

The Kahlua Brunch Club, Manchester

The Kahlua Brunch Club, Manchester

The first course served was the Eggcellent Kahla Stack; smashed avocado and poached hens egg on an English muffin topped with Kahlua and maple infused ham. The egg sat to the side of the stack was filled with hollandaise sauce that was absolutely perfect. The ham was delightfully crispy, and I have never seen such a perfectly poached egg in my life. So well poached that it had a really smooth oval exterior, with a yellow runny yolk that soaked into the English muffin. Avocado will always be my favourite, and the smashed avo was seasoned beautifully. It did make it quite difficult with how many people were on the bench as unfortunately there wasn’t a lot of space to move your arms to eat properly. Not great when trying to eat a runny egg whilst wearing white!

I have an issue with pancakes and I cannot stand the pancakes that are more like crepes, so I was so thankful to see a colourful stack of scotch type pancakes placed in front of me. Three pancakes liberally coated with warm Kahlua chocolate sauce and chocolate coffee beans, which we were able to decorate from the Kilner jars full of sweet toppings. Marshmallows, chocolate drops, strawberries and blueberries were available to use, so naturally I used them all. I did feel slightly uncomfortable dishing out the toppings as I was aware of the others on the table and that they also had some allocation out of each jar. The pancakes were mediocre; they were quite dry and cold, but the Kahlua sauce was beautiful. Rich and warming, with that hint of Kahlua. It does make me want to experiment at home when I am baking.

To round off the brunch, a Chokahlua Orange cocktail. Now, this did give me a bit of a va va voom as I got the hit of tequila straight away. The cocktail was made using Kahlua, Olmeca tequila, creme de Cacoa and orange, poured over crushed ice and garnished with a dusting of chocolate powder. Once the initial tequila taste merged with the Kahlua and orange, it was very palatable but with that cheeky potent finish. It was the ultimate palette cleanser after the brunch.

I wouldn’t be me if I wasn’t honest, and I have to say that I was a tad disappointed with the set up. Whilst I don’t have any complaints about the food and drinks as such, I was really uncomfortable with the lay out. I felt that there was far too many people on the benches, which were packed so closely to the tables behind, that you were penned in. I couldn’t get out from the bench until everyone sat next to me had moved so I could manoeuvre my 6ft body out of the space. In a dress. With a bad back. I wouldn’t have been able to go to the loo during the brunch for love nor money. I simply had no room to get out. This also had an effect on how the food was served to us. As the waiting staff could only get to the end of the table, we had to pass plates of food down to each other. It was confusing because plates were being passed everywhere, people were being missed out and no one really knew what we were doing. It almost felt like I was on a school dinner bench. With all due respect, I should not be paying for food, and have to hand over a strangers dirty plate after eating to the waiting staff, or hand down plates full of food down a table.

That being said, the atmosphere and vibe of The Loft was great, the bar staff attentive and we weren’t kept waiting in between courses. Considering than an Espresso Martini costs roughly £8 in Manchester bars, the brunch is £20 which includes 2 cocktails and 2 courses which is really good value for money. There is also a discount voucher on the Kahlua Brunch site where you can get a 20% bringing the cost to £16. If you don’t mind being in quite an intimate seating arrangement, then I would say that it’s worth the experience. We don’t have many brunch clubs in Manchester, so to have a Kahlua brunch in such a vibrant space is brilliant.

I’m actually really keen to see what event Pernod Ricard next hold at The Loft. Lets hope it’s a good one! The Kahlua Brunch Club event is running over the May Bank Holidays before it leaves town for good.

Kahlua Brunch Club, #kahlua, #kahluabrunchclub, #brunch, #eggsbenedict

*I was invited to brunch as a plus one of a fellow blogger and I dined FOC. All opinions are my own

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A childhood dream of mine has recently come true, and it all started with the iconic phrase ‘Start the fans, please!’. Of course, that dream is the Crystal Maze, the programme that we all grew up watching on a Friday night back in the 1990s. The show, hosted by the eccentric and in my opinion, pretty wonderful Richard O’Brien was a show that holds such fond memories for both my sister and I. Shouting at the TV screen, telling the contestants to move it to the left and jump to grab that all important crystal that would lead them to the crystal dome. I wanted to wear the jumpsuit, I wanted to watch a game through the little windows and I wanted to run through the maze that’s actually not a maze, but four connecting zones. For all you 90’s kids who want to bring your childhood to life, then you need to head to The Crystal Maze Experience in Manchester. Quite possibly one of the best evenings out I’ve had in such a long time.

The Crystal Maze Experience, Manchester

The Crystal Maze Experience, Manchester

The Crystal Maze Experience, Manchester

I was lucky enough to attend the 1st Birthday party in Manchester, and I wasn’t actually sure what to expect. I got excited just walking down to the venue as you have to walk past the old Coronation Street studios, which at that point were still intact but in the process of starting to be torn down. Reaching the venue, a large image of my hero Richard was painted on the wall outside. The excitement was rising. Heading into the venue, we were taken to the lockers where we had to store everything – no phones inside the maze unfortunately. Pictures taken underneath a ‘Start the fans please’ board whilst wearing team jackets and holding signs to show our intentions, before we we taken, with the rest of our team, into the maze. I took my two work colleagues, whilst Gina from Culture Bean brought her dad, Dave and two gals from Pretty52 made up the team. We named ourselves ‘The Friday Conundrum’ because well, why not!

Heading into the maze, with the iconic music playing throughout, it really was a goosebump moment. Guided by our Maze Master, Marty McLie (who was absolutely fantastic), we headed through the zones. We managed to play around 14 games over four zones, and came out with a not too shabby 8 crystals. Out of the four teams playing, we scored highest with the number of crystals that we scored, although the maze really did highlight how equally intelligent and stupid we were. Roman numerals are not my friend, whilst pie fillings left me perplexed. We experienced giant hamster wheels and chess boards, a deep ball pool filled with just a handful of coloured balls, skill games to get your thinking, and a cart on a train track game that has had me laughing for weeks. Marty was a brilliant character, keeping us entertained throughout. He had a great sense of humour and he really made the evening special.

The Crystal Maze Experience, Manchester

Taking our eight crystals to the Crystal Dome, we got the 40 seconds to try and catch as many tickets as possible. In the experience, the silver tickets aren’t minused from the gold so the full total is calculated from what has been deposited in the box. Now, I have always spent my life thinking that it looked so easy on the TV, but I can tell you, it really isn’t as easy as it looks. The fan is intense and catching slivers of metallic paper does not make for an easy task. Even trying to deposit it through the letterbox posed a problem. That being said, it was absolutely brilliant to try it for myself.

I had such an amazing time that I want to go back and play again with my sisters, as I know that they will love it just as much as I did. I just hope that we get Marty next time we go round the maze.

The Crystal Maze Experience Manchester tickets start at £29.99 but do fluctuate depending on the day, with weekend slots being of a higher price. You can book an individual ticket, or in groups, whilst corporate event tickets are also available. What an awesome team building day that would be.

Thank you to the team at Crystal Maze Experience for inviting me to celebrate the 1st Birthday with you!

#crystalmaze #crystalmazeexperience #startthefansplease #richardobrien #90sshows #90sgameshows

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It feels like such a long time since I’ve jetted away to some far flung land. It’s been well over a year since I last stepped on a plane and now I am getting very excited for my upcoming trip. I feel that after spending so many year travelling around, that I lost the joy that comes with the travelling. The trip to the airport, the browsing of the duty free shopping and that knot of excitement in your tummy when the aircraft takes off. I’m actually really excited for my holiday, and although it’s not long now, I feel like wishing my life away so it gets here. Travelling in style is of course very important. I want to be dressed comfortably whilst looking effortlessly stylish, with all my travel necessities safe and secure in one place. This is where some serious organisation comes into play, and Ted Baker, once again have nailed it. I’m currently filling my Ted Baker Travel Lifestyle organiser with all the items I think I could need.

Travel in Style with Ted Baker

Travel in Style with Ted Baker

Travel in Style with Ted Baker

Travel in Style with Ted Baker

Travel in Style with Ted Baker

The organiser itself is relatively large, meaning that all your essentials will fit right in. The thistle coloured leather effect planner with rose gold detailing zips open up to reveal the delightful porcelain rose pattern across the interior. I adore porcelain rose. It’s such a classic and beautiful design that is synonymous with Ted Baker. On the left of the organiser, a large pocket can be found to hold items such as your passport, and boarding cards. A card holder with three slots, a loop to slide in your pen, such as this Bowtiful rose gold pen from Ted Baker, and three loops for holding things such as iPhone cables and headphones. On the right hand side, a compartment for your phone, which I have been most surprised to see that my iPhone 6s Plus fits in comfortably. Below that, a detachable wallet for your notes and loose change.

I am absolutely over the moon with my Ted Baker organiser. You all know just how much I love the brand, so having a little slice of luxury to take away with me feels so good. I’m also very tempted to try and get hold of the Ted Baker Astrina ruffle trainers before I go, and I can be fully decked out in Ted To Toe!

Amara Living have a great selection of Ted Baker Lifestyle items, such a luggage, the travel organiser and to make your travel even more special they have the laundry bags and passport holders to match.

I don’t know whether I’m more excited to be going on holiday to a destination that I’ve never been to before, or because I’m an aircraft geek and I’m going to get to travel on an A350 aircraft. Either way, I’ll have my Ted with me to keep me in order!

Ted Baker Travel in Style #travelorganiser #tedbaker #travelplanner #travel #traveldocuments #documentholder #tedbakertravel #tedtotoe

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Japanese food is still a rarity in my life. Although I love nothing better than picking up a six pack of sushi from Boots, or popping into Tampopo for an Asian-fusion dish, I still am very much a novice when it comes to the delights from Japan. Last week, I headed over to Shoryu, based in the heart of the city at Piccadilly Garden. I haven’t stopped thinking about it since.

Shoryu Manchester

Shoryu Manchester

Shoryu Manchester

Shoryu Manchester

Shoryu is the brainchild of Tak Tokomine aka the Ramen Shogun. Tokomine settled in the UK in 1975 and with him he brought his Hakata home town speciality – the tonkotsu ramen. Working with Kanji Furukawa, they have worked hard to showcase the dish with precision authenticity. After opening several branches of Shoryu in London, the Manchester Shoryu is the first to be opened outside of the capital. In a prime location within Piccadilly Gardens, with great people watching tables at the windows, each person is welcomed into the restaurant with a traditional Japanese welcome and a sounding of the gong. It really is quite a welcome.

After being seated, we had quite an in depth conversation with the assistant manager who gave us a really good explanation of the dishes on the menu. As usual, I had looked over the menu several times before my visit, and I knew that I was going to go for the Shoryu buns and a bowl of traditional ramen. Having the conversation about the menu was actually really very helpful and I did change my mind after he had explained each dish.

Starting with the Shoryu buns, I ordered the halloumi buns, whilst my dining partner ordered the char sui barbecue pork belly. I have always been intrigued by these buns as they look like they should taste like clouds or marshmallows, but in fact, they just taste like light, fluffy bread. Rather than being baked, they are steamed. They are also very delicious, and make a perfect starter. The halloumi buns do come with mushrooms, however I swiftly whipped these off, and enjoyed the grilled cheese and slightly spicy dressing that it came with. The pork buns melted in the mouth with a fruity dressing.

Shoryu Manchester

Shoryu Manchester

Shoryu Manchester

The buns definitely kick started my appetite for my traditional Tonkotsu ramen noodles. Each ramen dish is made with the signature Tonkotsu style; a 12 hour pork broth topped with char sui barbecue pork belly, nitamago egg, kikurage mushrooms, spring onion, sesame, ginger, nori seaweed. I chose the Dracula Tonkotsu which comes with caramelised black garlic mayu and garlic chips. I added a side of Kim Chi (not the drag queen, but that would be awesome) and went for the soft noodles. I also asked for a fork because chopsticks are not my friend. Luckily, there’s no judgement if you can’t use chopsticks.

You could quite clearly see the difference between myself as a ramen novice to those who were very well versed in the noodles in broth. There was a lot of slurping, twisting of noodles and emptying bowls around me. Meanwhile, I took it slow, I savoured each morsel that touched my lips. The belly pork fell apart in my mouth, whilst the pork broth was beautifully seasoned and tasted meaty and hearty. The garlic chips and kimchi were a perfect accompaniment and each flavour danced on my tongue. I got a bit sidetracked when I saw the hot chilli oil on the table and added even more flavour to my dish.

The bowls are large, and the food plentiful, so much so that I couldn’t finish my portion. I felt that I was eating a lot, and trying to drink more of the broth to get to the noodles but it did defeat me in the end. I feel like I need to go back and give it another go because it’s really not like me to not be able to finish a meal. My friend felt the same, and could not finish her bowl of curry ramen.

Shoryu Manchester

Shoryu Manchester

When we first got to Shoryu, just before 5pm, the restaurant was fairly empty. By the time I was defeated by my ramen, nearly every table was packed full. It’s such a popular place and I can see exactly why. There’s a great atmosphere; warm and friendly with a really relaxed vibe. The floor to ceiling windows with the benches against the windows, looking out on the bustling gardens makes it a prime people watching spot, whilst the open plan kitchen where you can watch the chefs prepare your dish makes you feel right at the heart of the action.

There’s always room for dessert, no matter how full you are and I went for the Sakura and Azuki chiffon cake with cherry coulis. A large wedge of cake, pale pink in colour and dusted with icing sugar for that extra sweetness was given a slight tartness with the couli. The texture of the cake was dry but when you bit into the areas where the azuki beans were, it created a pop of moisture in your mouth. It was quite unusual but it made for a delightful experience. My friend chose the light and zesty Yuzu cheesecake.

With ramen being a popular as a sandwich is to us Brits, you can see why it is perfected. I would definitely go back to Shoryu for my lunch, brunch, dinner and supper anytime as I was blown away by the beautiful flavours. A bowl of ramen is around £12, which for city centre standards is not too unreasonable, considering I went away full and satisfied with my interest in ramen definitely at its peak.

*I wasn’t charged for my meal, however all opinions are my own

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When I moved into my own house back in 2008, I had no intention of getting a pet. I was flying around the world, enjoying my free time with friends and loved ones and trying to build a home from scratch. Being away for sometimes five or 6 days at a time meant that I didn’t have the adequate time to invest in nurturing a small life, and constraints of where I live meant that I didn’t have a garden or the facility for an animal to head outside with ease. It was a definite no to having an animal, and I did really well for just under a year.
Fate does play a part in how I came to be the owner of Thomas, my cat who has become so well known that even my friends ask me how he is. In the September of 2008, my now ex boyfriend mentioned that his Mums cat had a litter of mixed black and white babies. Back in 2008, camera phones weren’t nearly as advanced as they are now, but when I saw this grainy image of a little black cat with bright blue eyes, I let my sister know immediately. She was thinking of getting a new addition to her family, and when she saw the kitten, she jumped at the chance.

Thomas - My Pet Story

Thomas - My Pet Story

Thomas - My Pet Story

Thomas - My Pet Story

Thomas - My Pet Story

Thomas - My Pet Story

At 8 weeks old, baby Kitten came to my house ready to be collected by my sister that evening. I spent the whole day with this tiny little baby, who I absolutely fell in love with. When he fell asleep on my chest, purring away, it started to make it more difficult with the thought that he would be going to his new house. Off went baby Kitten who was lovingly named Tallulah, a pretty name to match a pretty girl.

Tallulah was a boy. After a trip to the vets and confirmation that she was going to grow up male, her name was switched to Lucius. Baby Lucius loved his trips to Aunty Anoushka’s whilst he was a baby, where he would stay from Friday night up until Sunday. Attachments were forming, and although a lot of these attachments were Lucius’s claws on my silk curtains, he made me laugh with his little personality.

After a particular long weekend at mine, we came to the decision that Lucius was going to stay for good. It was too late. I had fallen in love with his little furry face, the love that he showed me and just how much his little personality was developing. By the time the newly renamed Thomas was mine he was just 12 weeks old and we had such a bond.

Setting myself up to be a pet owner whilst I was flying the world was something that caused a lot of organisation. Thomas took holidays with his Granny whilst I was away and luckily there was never any periods of time that were longer than a week where I would have to leave him. Further down the line, and with Thomas being a house cat, I came to a great solution where my neighbour would babysit him so he could stay at home in his own surroundings. This calmed him down a lot.

Thomas - My Pet Story

Thomas - My Pet Story

Thomas - My Pet Story

Thomas - My Pet Story

 

Thomas - My Pet Story

Being a protective mother, I wanted to make sure he was looked after properly. Thomas has had all his injections and boosters, and he even has top level pet insurance to cover him for any eventuality. I went with Petplan Pet Insurance for the best cover. The amount per month that is taken for the premium is minimal and it gives me such a peace of mind to know that he is covered. Especially as he loves to frolic around on the balcony, whilst trying to hunt bugs and flies.

Thomas has really changed my life. He’s not just a pet and he really is part of the family. I love nothing more than getting home from work, curling up on the couch whilst my little boy comes and curls up with me. He has such character and personality that he makes me laugh with his antics each day.

Thomas isn’t just a cat, he’s more than that. Friends even ask how he is! He loves to get involved with blogger mail and he is the most loving little boy. I couldn’t imagine my life without him. He’s 11 this year and so I still have many many years with him. I’m so grateful for that day when fate came knocking because we really do make the perfect pet partnership.

Do you have any pets? Tell me some of the funniest things that they do in the comments below.

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Even beyond the season of new year’s resolutions, many of us are looking at 2018 with a goal of improving body and mind. While you might have already seen my advice on getting active, it’s just as important to make sure you’re eating well. So where to begin?

Achievable ways to factor healthy eating into your 2018 Plans

Be generous with portions

While there’s plenty to be said for the ‘grazing’ style of eating little and often, sometimes it does more harm than good, especially if it’s crisps and chocolate that you’re grazing on in-between tiny meals. Make sure you’re in the know about the smaller portions myths that sometimes go around.
The golden rule seems to be that limiting portion sizes should only actually apply to sweet treats or the junk food you might tuck into on cheat days. As far as healthy mealtimes go, just eat until you are full. It’s more energising to stock up on the healthy home-cooked meals three times a day than to reach for processed nibbles because you haven’t eaten enough.

Respect the plant proteins

Whatever your dietary habits, it’s safe to say that society’s recent fascination with proteins has taken off. And while there are more supplements, powders and bars to consider than you can count, the natural world has plenty to offer thanks to plant proteins.
These aren’t always as obscure as you might think, either. While soy beans are a vegan mainstay, top advice often also promotes peas, pumpkin seeds and almonds, which are all simple enough to get hold of and, perhaps more importantly, pretty tasty. Mix almonds and yoghurt for a snack that’s filling and healthy all at once.

Don’t make it about punishing yourself

A really interesting piece in the Chicago Tribune suggests that dieting can do more harm than good. One of the best bits of advice shared is to get back into the habit of intuitive eating. It’s explained that, over the course of our lives, we’re conditioned to clear our plates and eat set meals at certain times of the day. Intuitive eating is closer to what very young children or animals in nature do, eating when hungry and obeying the urges that come up. By eating when hungry, you’re giving your body what it needs.

Achievable ways to factor healthy eating into your 2018 Plans

Make your favourites count

Similar to the above, it’s not about beating yourself up to eat healthy. If you’ve got a particular favourite meal, by all means enjoy it. Just make sure you get some transparent insight into the nutritional value of what you’re eating.
Take the humble roast dinner as one example. Brands are doing their bit to not only make what they produce healthier, but also better communicate what their meals contain. You’ll find that much more easily in leading brands than a supermarket’s own brand, so the likes of McCain Season and Savour Roasts feature an at-a-glance overview of what goes into their goose fat roasts. That makes those indulgences much more fulfilling, because you know what’s gone where.

Less sugar, more multicultural meals

Even after its overview of how much sugar gets snuck into our favourite foods, That Sugar Film keeps a blog that’s full of expert advice. And while minimising processed sugars is a good idea, advice from nutritionist Jennifer Peters suggests that even our modern fondness for delivered meals isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
That’s because interest in world cuisine is growing, and that means cultures with naturally wholesome meals, like Morocco, Korea and the Mediterranean, are entering our diets quite naturally. In other words, broaden your horizons and you’ll likely find a fair few new favourite recipes that are good for you.

There are lots more ideas to share and talk about, and how best to approach healthy eating in 2018 is always a lively discussion. What advice would you pass along?

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You don’t need to save the all-out, ‘New Year – New You’ philosophy for January, as there’s never a bad time to adopt some simple life hacks that are easy to stick to. I already try to keep fit and eat well, so it’s time to work on some other areas – you might want to try some too.

10 Totally Achievable Life Hacks to Adopt this Year

1. Have more phone downtime

As a blogger and Instagrammer I nearly always have a phone in my hand to capture my meals and life events, so it’s hard to switch off sometimes. After all, I can’t really follow the ‘no phones at mealtime’ rule. I’ve been reading about some other good ways to cut phone time though, one of which is to go phone-free after 9pm.

2. Get more sleep

This links in nicely to being able to switch off when it comes to bedtime. Getting a good night’s sleep is incredibly important to me and something that I plan on investing more time in over the coming months.

<img src="http://anoushkaloves.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/breaking-egg-flour-spices-407073.jpeg" alt="10 Totally Achievable Life Hacks to Adopt this Year" class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-11937" />

3. Eat more

Self-improvements and life hacks aren’t usually about eating more of anything, but that just makes it all the more achievable. There are always so many new things I want to try and new places to eat, so it’s time to tick some off my list.

4. Take the stairs

I have a real passion for food so I have to balance that out with a bit of exercise, but strict regimes never last and you end up throwing the DVD or putting the ab-cruncher in the loft. So, I’m starting easy and taking the stairs whenever I can.

5. Enjoy more ‘friend dates’

Date nights are usually reserved for that special someone, but I’m planning on heading out on a few more dates this year with my closest friends. Next on the list is the Harry Potter Studio Tour, poking around the Gryffindor Common Room and finding out how they filmed the scenes at Hogwarts.

6. Make more food from scratch

So many foods taste better when you make them from scratch, it’s just about finding the time to do it. I’m going to start with one thing a week, like fresh pasta or a pie – and know that I’ll thank myself for it when I’m eating it.

10 Totally Achievable Life Hacks to Adopt this Year

7. Save money

I’m going to make a budget spreadsheet so I can save a bit more for a couple of treats here and there. I might not stick to it completely, but at least it’s a start! Making food from scratch is bound to help save the pennies too.

8. Have a clear out

De-cluttering is so satisfying that I find this one really easy, and anything half-decent will go to a good cause at the charity shop. The problem might be when it comes to the kitchen. I totally need every tin, utensil and gadget I have – honest!

9. Read more

I always seem to have an excuse for not picking up a good book, which is something that I’m desperate to change. Getting really lost in a fiction book is so cathartic; I can spend that new phone-free time to do it.

10. Learn a new skill

I haven’t decided what new skills to learn yet, but taking up a new hobby the perfect way to broaden your horizons. I might take up self-defence classes or go to more art galleries and learn about new and emerging artists.

What achievable life hacks would you recommend?

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When the new year hits, it’s time to consider that spring and summer are once again creeping closer – bringing bare limb season with them. It’s never too early to prepare for warmer weather, especially when it means looking and feeling healthier too. If you’re a relative newbie to all things exercise, here are a few top tips for getting a little more active in the new year.

sainsburys TU

Try a taster session
If you’re not sure what type of activity you want to take up, there’s no harm in trying out a few tester sessions. Begin by speaking to your local leisure centre, as you can often try one of their drop-in classes or do a one-day trial at the gym free of charge. This is a great way to figure out what you like before you commit to a gym membership or training package. If you feel nervous about your taster class, or have no idea what to expect, have a look online to see if there are any video clips of similar classes to get a sneak peek at what you’ll be doing.

Broaden your horizons
There are so many options out there that you don’t need to stick to running on a treadmill or lifting weights – especially if neither are really your thing. Try a hip hop class, belly dancing, hot yoga, pilates, spin class, aqua aerobics or a combination of them all. If you’d prefer to get active in the great outdoors, look out for a local bootcamp course, take up cycling or even have a go at rowing or canoeing. The options really are endless – you just need to find something that fits your personality and that you’ll enjoy enough to stick with.

sainsburys TU

Invest in your active wear
Getting active means organising your workout wardrobe, starting with a good sports bra and working down towards dependable trainers. Women’s sportswear comes in all manner of shapes and styles, but if you really are a beginner you may not have the pieces necessary to help you work up a good sweat. Luckily the sportswear selection from TU has a huge selection of active-wear pieces, including jumpers, joggers, shorts, leggings and sports bras – the likes of which will have you feeling better about exercise before you’ve even started.

Make a schedule
Sticking with your new found activity can be difficult – especially if you’re not used to having exercise as part of your regular schedule. It’s a good idea to decide on a time of day you’re going to work out, whether in the morning, evening or even just a class once a week. Make it a priority by adding it into your calendar and ensuring you don’t make plans that overlap. Of course, if you’ve found a form of exercise you enjoy this won’t be as difficult.

Get a support system
Reaching your fitness goals will be a lot easier if you have a good support system working alongside you. Find friends who have the same goals in mind and who can exercise with you and keep you accountable. An easy way to do this is by joining a running club or going to a dance and aerobics class every week so you’ll meet the same regular people. Whatever you choose, there’s lots of ways you can make new exercise buddies and keep each other motivated.

There you go, a little beginner’s guide to getting active. Let me know how you get on in the comments below.

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I never thought I would be so happy to see the back of 2017. A particularly bad year for me, with changes in my career, health and of course with the loss of my Grandad, 2017 isn’t a year that I will look back on fondly. The amount of situations that have been thrown my way have been extensive and I’m pretty amazed that I have dealt with them so well. Life going forward will never be the same as what it was, however I do feel that I have been shaped somewhat as a person. I’ve set myself some realistic goals for what I want to achieve – not resolutions, not things that I will beat myself up about if I don’t succeed and certainly not unattainable targets that will make me unhappy trying to reach them.

Lulu Guiness vaseline stationery diary ballpoint pen

Lulu Guiness vaseline stationery diary ballpoint pen

Lulu Guiness vaseline stationery diary ballpoint pen

The beginning of 2017 started my journey of change, and what a change it has been. At the end of February, my back finally gave way. I had always had underlying issues with back pain and sciatica but it was never anything as bad at the afternoon where it left me floored, and where I had to call the paramedics and police to break into my house to rescue me. From there on, I’ve been on a path of finding the right dosage of medication, and making sure I take it. I’ve gone from taking no medication at all, to up to 16 tablets a day. I think I’ve found an even keel now where I’m on around 10 to 12 tablets which suits me a lot better. Until they operate, my back issues will always be there, and although highly medicated each day, it still does go back into spasm and leaves me immobilised for a few days. Although managed, I am struggling a lot with the amount of medication I’m on and how drowsy it makes me, especially when trying to work but I have no alternative right now.

The change of career has been a blessing in disguise. I never realised just how much that this decision should have been made well over 12 months before but I just couldn’t admit it to myself. Having some much needed routine, a set pattern of shifts and a solid working environment has been a real game changer. Knowing that I won’t ever get called from work at 3am to come in makes a massive difference on my mental state. I’m sleeping better, I’m enjoying life more, and I’m not as on edge as I once was because I couldn’t plan my life. It’s also amazing to not have to pack a suitcase to go to work. Sure, I miss the trips and I miss the people, but I don’t miss the job in the slightest. Having a new office based career is also giving me the time to continue with my blog, and this year I want to reach higher heights and taking more control of my working life. Whatever that will be, I do not know yet, but I’m sure I will figure it out.

Losing my Grandad in September has been one of the most difficult situations that I’ve ever been placed in. Having never lost a close family member, I am struggling with the grieving process and how to logically deal with it. Maybe one of my issues is that dealing with it doesn’t need to be logical, and I should let it all out and let it go. I think that I do put a lot of pressure on myself to try and make everything normal, when in fact it’s far from it. I don’t know if this is due to having a bereavement or it’s just the state of my mental health right now, but I feel like I want to isolate myself away from everyone, I feel anxious after spending too much time with people yet I want people to ask how I am and feel paranoid when they don’t. It’s the strangest of feelings and I know that I worry my close family, and that they ask if it’s anything else that’s bothering me but it’s not. I just don’t know what it is. I don’t know if I ever will. I’m trying my best, but again I feel like I should be doing what my body is telling me to do, and not trying for other people.

Lulu Guiness vaseline stationery diary ballpoint pen

Lulu Guiness vaseline stationery diary ballpoint pen

Lulu Guiness vaseline stationery diary ballpoint pen

For the new year, I am not going to pin all my hopes on it being ‘my’ year, but instead I am going to use the next twelve months to achieve my personal goals. I won’t be jotting them down here because they are personal. That being said, there are two things that I really do want to share. The first may sound exceptionally selfish but I need to stop caring so much. Stop caring about what people think of me, stop worrying about letting people down and stop caring about the small stuff that shouldn’t have an effect on my life. In short, I will be taking Sarah Knight’s advice and reading her book ‘The Life Changing Art of Not Giving A F*ck’.

My second goal is to write. Write about the things I do care about, the things that make me happy. The things that I want to change and the things that I love. Write about me, what I’ve done that’s great, what I have succeeded in. Write things to look back on, to make me smile and to make me laugh. Write proper notes whilst completing my Diploma, write in my diary, write in my Happiness Planner. Write positive quotes on post notes and write about how I feel.

My diary of choice this year comes from Lulu Guiness. Ticking all the boxes with the glossy coloured paper, week to view pages and a page for notes, it is ideal for my daily and blogging life. I am spending time making sure that everything I need to do is jotted down so that I don’t forget things, I know where I am up to and that life may become slightly easier. With my matching pen, notebook and even a gift wrap folder, I’m feeling decidedly extra this year. I’ve even got the matching Vaseline x Lulu Guiness beauty products.

So, to a New Year. May this one be pretty good to you.

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A very quick post for you this evening. Yesterday I was asked about the recipe for the Spiced Apple Cake that I made. I shared it across social media and I mentioned that I had made it so it was entirely dairy free which means my tummy is happy. It’s also practically made of apples so in theory, it’s really healthy. I suppose that you could make this as a vegan cake by substitution the eggs with an alternative or using this quick alternative – 1-1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil mixed with 1-1/2 tablespoons water and 1 teaspoon baking powder per egg. I originally found the Spiced Apple Cake recipe on The Hairy Bikers, who I have grown to be a tad obsessed with as their recipes are so simple, but so delicious and I haven’t had a bad experience. As the recipe has been drawn up to include dairy, I have substituted the semi skimmed milk for soy milk. It’s as easy as that.

Spiced Apple Cake Recipe

Spiced Apple Cake Recipe

Spiced Apple Cake Recipe

Spiced Apple Cake Recipe

Spiced Apple Cake Recipe

Serves 12
Prep Time – 15 mins
Cooking Time – 1 hour

Oil, for spraying – I used Fry Light
750g Bramley cooking apples ( around 3 large apples)
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
Finely grated zest of ½ lemon
250g self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground mixed spice
2 large eggs at room temp
100g demerara sugar, plus 2 tbsp for sprinkling on the top of the cake
200ml semi-skimmed milk ( I substituted this for soy milk)
100ml sunflower oil
½ tsp sifted icing sugar, for dusting

Set your oven to 190°C/Fan 170°C/Gas 5, whilst you prep a 23cm springclip cake tin by spraying oil on the base and sides and lining with greaseproof paper.

Peel and core your Bramley apples, before cutting into quarters and finely slicing. You want around 500g of sliced apples. Put in a bowl, mix with the lemon zest and drizzle with the lemon juice

In a mixing bowl put your dry ingredients and mix.

In a separate bowl, add your wet ingredients together and whisk until smooth.

Slowly pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients as you mix, making sure there are no lumps. Once all combined, stir in the sliced apples until they are evenly distributed.

Pour the cake mixture into your prepared tin, and sprinkle the two teaspoons of sugar across the top.

Put in the oven for an hour whilst you have a cup of tea and clean the kitchen.

Leave to cool for ten minutes before serving with a cream alternative such as Alpro Soy Cream.

Being ever the miss fancy pants, I had to get my gorgeous Hollywood Deco tea set from Marks and Spencers out, as well as my personalised Mary Berry Bakewear from I Just Love It. I love feeling fancy.

Spiced Apple Cake Recipe

*Teapot, cake plates and cup and saucer setMarks and Spencer

Tray, cake slice and cake tinsI Just Love It

Is this cake something that you would make? It’s absolutely delicious and so easy to prepare. As it is quite a moist cake, it should keep for a few days. Alternatively, you could freeze it and save it for a later date.

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I shouldn’t be left alone with my thoughts as I end up going from a sprightly, joyous little creature to a sullen and sad excuse of a grown up within moments. Having so much going on at the moment is really difficult to understand. I can’t explain what’s going on in my head, and I also don’t understand what is happening in my head. I think I’m ok, but then I think I’m that far from ok that I don’t know how I’m going to be ok again. It doesn’t make sense. This week, I have really had to get my bum into gear. I’ve got blog post content that needs to be shared before my Christmas content, and all my Christmas content needs to be photographed and planned. I’ve been working my little socks off, which has kept me busy and brought back the passion that I have for writing. Whilst trying to organise another at home photo shoot for one of my posts, I had a thought. Instead of dressing up and putting on a full face of makeup to show off my gorgeous lounge wear set, why not show you it being worn in it’s natural habitat. Glasses on, not a scrap of makeup. This is me.

Happiness planner pour moi grey marl loungewear

Happiness planner pour moi grey marl loungewear

Happiness planner pour moi grey marl loungewear Ugg scuffette

Happiness planner pour moi grey marl loungewear  ugg scuffette

If I could live in lounge wear, I would. In fact, any lounge wear that is suitable for leaving the house to nip to the shop is all I need. My laundry basket is literally made up of pjs and joggers as that is the majority of what I wear around the house, and I relish getting home from work and putting on fresh pjs before sinking into my marshmallow bed and letting go of the day. I’ve recently been trying to work through my Happiness Planner, as I’ve had to start a new one. My last one ended up being victim to some very angry thoughts and deep pen scrawls, so apologise to it profusely. My new navy planner, courtesy of Joanie Clothing, couldn’t have come at a better time. A time where I want to share my feelings to a journal to help me work through my issues.

Sitting in my big chair in my bedroom, I can get comfy with Thomas, my planner and sit and wind down in my cosy lounge wear. This set is by Pour Moi, from UK Lingerie and the grey marl bottoms and oversized belted cardi are so cosy. Too warm and cosy to wear in bed, they are ideal for wearing around the house.I love the design of the Pour Moi cami but I am disappointed that the cami length is a bit short, especially when it’s for us busty girls. It means that I need to wrap my cardi a little tighter around me, which isn’t a bad thing. With it being so cold at the moment, I want to be warm constantly. Just give me some lounge pants and a hot water bottle and I am a happy bunny indeed. There’s nothing like being warm and comfortable to make you feel safe and protected. I cannot bear it when my feet are cold, so being able to slide my feet into my Ugg slippers from Amara Living is like a little slice of heaven. It’s been quite a few years since I last owned a pair of Ugg Scuffette slippers and I didn’t realise just how much I missed having furry slippers in my life. Oh yes, more fur for me. I think I have fur attachment issues.

Happiness planner pour moi grey marl loungewear

Happiness planner pour moi grey marl loungewear

Happiness planner pour moi grey marl loungewear

Happiness planner pour moi grey marl loungewear ren and now for sleep

Happiness planner pour moi grey marl loungewear  ren and now for sleep

The only other issue that I’m having at the moment is my sleep. I have been trying so many things in order to get a good nights sleep – no technology, relaxing scents in my room, essential oils. They all have been working to an extent and now I’m managing to fall asleep with ease. My only issue now is that I’m having fitful sleeps in which I’m having horrifically vivid dreams where I am waking myself up, jumping bolt upright in a cold sweat. I have spoken highly about my love of pillow sprays, and I am flying through bottles of them from various brands. The newest one to hit the nightstand is the Ren & Now for Sleep pillow spray which is so relaxing. Using relaxing essential oils such a lavender and Frankincense, then blend is traditional but it’s proven that it works. Lavender is especially good for alleviating tension and anxiety which is just what I need right now, whilst Frankincense to relax your mind. I am quite liberal with my pillow spray, and I also like to spray some in the corners of my bedroom to envelop me as I lie in bed.

It’s been quite refreshing to show the side of me that I wouldn’t usually share on my blog. Makeup free, au naturel and just as I am. Life doesn’t need to be a polished editorial magazine, with a glossy curly blow, an expensive foundation covered face and perfect nails. My nails are bitten from stress and anxiety, I’ve made a total mess from ripping the skin around my fingers. My hair is still tinged green and needs a good cut and shape, my brows need taming and tinting. My stretch marks on my boobs are visible, my rolls of fat are there, but do you know what? This is me.

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It’s been just under two months since I went through on of the most difficult situations that have occurred in my 35 years. Two months in which I’ve not really managed to understand things, nor compartmentalise things. The logical side of me can’t make sense of it all, yet the erratic side of me feels like things are too erratic. It’s a very odd situation to be in, and for want of a better word I feel discombobulated. And lost. Totally lost.

Anoushka loves

2017 has been an absolute horrific year for me. It’s brought to me situations that I’ve not been able to deal with, as well as changes in my life, and of course, that big Grandad shaped hole that has been left in my life. It’s been quite tough as someone who is usually so level headed and logical has suddenly become so irrational and disjointed from the world. I’m drinking more than I should, I’m sleeping more than I should and I go through each day wondering just how long it is until bedtime. I’ve lost the care that I once had for my self presentation; my hair, nails and even my home. My blog has slipped, my lust for life has dwindled and it’s because I have this sense of loss. I don’t feel that I belong.

To an outsider, it’s probably quite easy to say ‘but you don’t seem lost’ or ‘you’re always out with friends’, which to an extent is true. I try and keep things as normal as possible. It’s nice to keep things as normal as possible. I want to be around my friends; they’re the people who love me for being me, without judgement, and they make sure that I’m ok. They know when I’m not quite myself, and they can read the signs that I need a gentle nudge to snap me out of the glazed stare I’ve fallen in, when I get so engrossed in thinking of things, I literally am miles away.

As a sociable person, it’s something that I am finding really tough at the moment. I feel that my once bubbly persona has been overtaken by the need to be around just one or two close people and I don’t want to stray from my security net. The ‘How are you doing’ answer has gone from ‘yeah, great’ to ‘I’m ok’ and I can’t even tell how long I’ve just been ok for. I am ok, but I want to be better than ok. I want to come home from work and not just want to get in bed and hibernate. I want to have some lust for life again, rather than going through the motions. I don’t want to be reliant on medication. I don’t want to be reliant on 12 hours sleep. I want my verve and vigour back, my zing and zest, to be the life and soul of the party again. I want to go for a drink, without it ending in me sobbing in a corner, or getting angry for the reasons that I can’t explain when I’m sober.

I recently had a good chat with my Dr, and the things that can be addressed are being addressed. I’ve also been referred to speak to someone unbiased and impartial who will hopefully help me make sense of this jumble of thoughts and feelings that are swirling through my body. I want to be able to understand, and make sense of things. To feel like I have a grip on life and all it has to throw at me rather than cowering under the covers and hoping that it will go away. I need to feel motivated and wake up each morning, looking forward to the day ahead rather than going through the daily grind until I return home and can hide under my blanket in a clean set of pjs. I didn’t think that at 35, that life would be so hard.

Maybe I have been exceptionally lucky over the years in that I’ve been able to deal with the tough stuff that is thrown at me, and maybe this is just something that is going to be the making of me, but what I do know is that it’s been really quite difficult to grasp. Maybe 2017 just needs chalking up as a shite year and that 2018 will be my year. Hell, I may even send out one of those cheesy Facebook statuses on New Years Eve to say how it’s going to be my year. All I do know is that I will get through this, and I can get through this. It’s made me realise just how important certain things are in my life; my family, my friends and love.

“All it takes is a beautiful fake smile to hide an injured soul and they will never notice how broken you really are.”
— Robin Williams

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I have a particular food craving, and it happens quite frequently. It’s not a dish that is that easy to get hold of, and I have yet to find it on a takeaway menu close to home. I’m talking about the classic Pan-Asian dish, Pad Thai. My ultimate love in food. Just who would have thought that a giant dish of noodles would be the way to my heart? In Manchester, I know of just two places that do a superb Pad Thai, one of them being Tampopo. With the newest location of the restaurant at the Corn Exchange, I had to go and visit, and take my little flame haired beauty Hayley for a good old catch up.

Tampopo at Corn Exchange Manchester

Tampopo at Corn Exchange Manchester

Tampopo at Corn Exchange Manchester

Tampopo at Corn Exchange Manchester

Starting the feasting session with a traditional Tiger beer, we sat and perused the extensive menu, practically salivating at the dishes that were on offer. Now, although I love Pad Thai and knew that it was my dish of choice, I was tempted for a moment by the Katsu Curry and Chicken Massaman curry. I have found that Grand Pacific in Manchester create one of the finest Massaman curries, so I will definitely have to go back to Tampopo and compare. We had the sharing platter to start, which was a great choice as we could try several of the favourites from the menu. Spring rolls, corn fritters, sticky wings which fell off the bone, pork dumplings, coconut prawns and satay skewers, it’s a good job that we had an appetite. I don’t think that I could have picked a favourite from the platter but if I really had to to, I’d say the coconut prawns and pork dumplings come highly recommended. With a selection of dipping sauces, we got stuck in to the delicious flavours and mouth tingling spicy sauces.

I feel that I really need to express my love for Pad Thai somewhat. I don’t know whether it’s because of the sauce, the delicate noodles or the fact that it’s topped with chopped peanuts but there is something about this dish that I find incredibly comforting. It reminds me of a great night out I had in Mexico, where my dish was cooked fresh in front of me. It makes me feel satisfied, and I mean really quite full – so much so, that I couldn’t finish my plate in Tampopo. A simple plate of noodles, chicken and prawn and it’s just perfect.

Tampopo at Corn Exchange Manchester

Tampopo at Corn Exchange Manchester

The Tampopo Pad Thai was everything that I was dreaming of. Fresh, soft and almost translucent rice noodles, with beansprouts, egg, Asian greens and lime brought the most tantalising flavours to my tongue. The chicken was cooked perfectly, whilst the Asian greens had the slightest crunch to them. Chopped peanuts, served on the side, soon got mixed up into the dish whilst I twirled the noodles around my fork. Absolutely beautiful. Now, I will say, that although it doesn’t look like a huge plate of food when it’s delivered, I really struggled to finish it all, and I love my food. I was so full, that I had to pass on dessert, and that is really not like me!

I do have a Tampopo around the corner from work, the original venue in Albert Square. I must admit that now I have seen the menu for the express plates of Gyozas, that I am very much inclined to pop in and get some take out to eat at my desk. If you like Asian dishes, then Tampopo is a great place to head to, to try out some classic dishes at quite a reasonable price for centre of Manchester dining.

*Meal was provided FOC however my love of Pad Thai is my own.

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Well, as with all best laid plans, things get in the way and make me very very late with getting my content out for you. Although Gay Pride was celebrated over August Bank Holiday, there is absolutely no reason as to why I can’t share everything from that weekend to you now. After all, Gay Pride isn’t just a weekend thing, it’s an all year round thing and looking back over these pictures, I finally feel that I am in a position to do it all again. Hurrah! From what I wore, to what I drank, this is a little round up of one of the best weekends of my entire life. Are you ready?

Hair Preparation

On the run up to the weekend, I used my trusty L’Oreal Coloristas to colour not only my hair, but my sisters as well. Having had multicoloured hair for the past few months, I let the majority of it wash out before getting my roots done with Natasha at Barn It. She used the balayage technique to brighten my hair from the root, as well as giving me an all over pink toner. From there, I used shades Lilac, Pink, Peach and Mint green to colour random sections of my hair to give a mermaid/unicorn effect. I found that by taking individual strands, applying the colour and twisting them whilst they developed, that it picked up different tones for a 3D effect, and I was really pleased with the outcome. For my sisters hair, I separated the top section, and used the same colours to make a rainbow effect going from pink to peach, to lilac to mint green. My Sister loves to wear her hair up so I knew that this effect would be ideal as it showed all the colours and was very reminiscent of My Little Pony.
For the Saturday of Pride weekend, I used the Beauty Boulevard Stardust to add some sparkles and I’m really happy with the creations that I made.

The Very Late Gay Pride 2017 Round Up! Loreal Colourista wash out colour

The Very Late Gay Pride 2017 Round Up! Loreal Colourista wash out colour

The Very Late Gay Pride 2017 Round Up! Loreal Colourista wash out colour

The Very Late Gay Pride 2017 Round Up! Loreal Colourista wash out colour

The Very Late Gay Pride 2017 Round Up! Loreal Colourista wash out colour

The Outfit

For Gay Pride, I had to be comfortable. It’s two very long days of walking, standing around and getting trampled on as it’s so busy. My Saturday outfit was my favourite and although I originally had a different skirt and footwear planned, I changed because I didn’t feel as comfortable as I wanted. I wore my trusty denim skirt which is around 10 years old and has lasted so well. I teamed this with my Rock On Ruby Proud AF tshirt, a grey faux suede biker jacket and a pair of white Converse. For the ultimate in Gay Pride chic, I wore my amazing Barbie handbag from Prezzybox. I knew as soon as I saw this bag that I had to have it. It’s so me; kitsch and quirky and so over the top. My Converse were wrecked after the Saturday but it was so worth it.

The Very Late Gay Pride 2017 Round Up! Rock On Ruby Proud AF Prezzy Box Barbie bag

The Very Late Gay Pride 2017 Round Up! Rock On Ruby Proud AF Prezzy Box Barbie bag

Makeup

Using my Marc Jacobs Re(Marc)able foundation for a long lasting, full coverage base, and my Clarins pressed powder, my makeup stayed in place all day. For my eyes, the Urban Decay Full Spectrum palette combined with the Stila Magnificent Metals in Rose Gold Retro gave a rainbow look, topped with Nouveau Lashes Volume 2 lashes for a statement eye. On my lips, Beauty Boulevard Glitter Lips in Cherub; a kiss proof, party proof, long lasting glitter lip that was perfect for the day.

The Very Late Gay Pride 2017 Round Up! Urban Decay Full Spectrum Stila Magnificent Metals Nouveau Lashes

The Parade

Thanks to the Radisson Blu Edwardian Manchester, we had a prime position for the parade, right outside the hotel. We were treated to music from Gaydio Radio, easy access to the bar (and toilets!) and were able to watch the parade right up until the end. A perfect spot if you ask me, and I hope that we can stand there again next year to watch it.

The Very Late Gay Pride 2017 Radisson Blu Edwardian Manchester Gay Pride Parade

The Very Late Gay Pride 2017 Radisson Blu Edwardian Manchester Gay Pride Parade

The Very Late Gay Pride 2017 Radisson Blu Edwardian Manchester Gay Pride Parade

The Very Late Gay Pride 2017 Radisson Blu Edwardian Manchester Gay Pride Parade

The Very Late Gay Pride 2017 Radisson Blu Edwardian Manchester Gay Pride Parade

The Drinks

Before we headed out to watch the parade, we got in the party spirit by drinking Smirnoff cocktails. In the Love Wins Gay Pride designs, this years Smirnoff bottles are definitely collectable. I made Blueberry and Mint cocktails using Vodka and Lambrini Hey Blueberry and they were absolutely delicious as well as being very refreshing for what turned out to be quite a warm day.

The Very Late Gay Pride 2017 Radisson Blu Edwardian Manchester Gay Pride Parade Smirnoff Love Wins Vodka Lambrini Hey Blueberry

The Very Late Gay Pride 2017 Radisson Blu Edwardian Manchester Gay Pride Parade Smirnoff Love Wins Vodka Lambrini Hey Blueberry

So, all in all, it was a pretty spectacular weekend and one that has taken me considerable time to get over. All these frivolities and staying out late is not good when you are as old as me. However, I can’t wait until next year and I’m wondering if I can make it three nights out in a row this time! Did you go to Gay Pride in Manchester? What did you think?

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