Winter Travels

I’ve been extremely lucky this year to have already gone on two holidays. Visiting new places and doing new things is really important to me. There is a whole world out there with different food, buildings, history, scenery and lifestyle that should be experienced.

For the past two Christmases me and my sister have not bought each other a present, but instead booked a long weekend away. Last year we went to Budapest and this January we visited Warsaw.

In Warsaw we stayed in the most amazing apartment (Old Town Snug), we arrived quite late and the apartment owner Chris had stayed up to welcome us and give us a great overview of what to do in the city. I’d definitely recommend staying at Old Town Snug if you were to visit Warsaw, it was great value for money, in the best location and the facilities were top notch.

Whilst there we went to many museums. Both of us have a big interest in the World Wars and it was devastating to learn what happened in Warsaw. During WWII 85% of buildings were destroyed, knowing this when exploring the city was fascinating because Old Town looks very authentic, however it is only about 40 years old. Whilst there we sampled plenty of the local delicacies. Everything was so so cheap! Which is quite lethal when it comes to vodka and pierogi (dumplings)…

After a fun weekend in Warsaw with Fiona  I then had another break to look forward to. Earlier this month I went skiing with my family and some friends to Cervinia in Italy and it was a brand new experience for me having never skied before!

Landing in Turin airport we took a coach on winding roads up the Alps to the resort. The surroundings were absolutely beautiful. Once we had booked ourselves on Ski School and collected our gear we were all set to hit the slopes. Every day after Ski School we would all convene in the bar, have a hot chocolate, aperol spritz or peroni and listen to each others’ tales of what mile per hour we got up to or how hard we fell. By the end of the week the skiing and all inclusive bar and buffet was taking it’s toll on our bodies. I’d had so much fun but was kind of looking forward to returning home for a detox and a little less exercise.

Whenever I return from holiday I like to have the next lined up. It keeps me going knowing that there is another adventure around the corner. Luckily me and Rob have Berlin booked for the end of April. A chance to see the places we missed on our trip there last year and practice our German.

Any suggestions for cool places to visit are more than welcome xxx

Be Bold For Change – International Women’s Day

Tomorrow is International Women’s Day. A day to celebrate the past, present and future achievements of women, and a day to remember how far equality has still yet to come.

I celebrate the fact that ever since I was little I have always believed that whatever a man can do, I can also do. Whether that be playing football, decorating a wall, drinking beer, wearing brogues, getting a good job, carrying heavy bags, travelling the world or paying bills. These things have been instilled into me by both the women and men around me growing up. And for that I am very very thankful.

As much as equality has come so far, especially in the UK, many girls and women today still do not have that support or opportunity. The things I take for granted are a millions miles from reality for some.

For some the ability to choose who to marry, have a vote, have a child or not, get an education, earn a decent wage, learn to drive, speak openly or wear what they want is unheard of.

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Even in the UK many women do not have the same job prospects or the same pay as men. Despite having a female Prime-Minister women are not always taken as seriously for fear ’emotion’ will get in the way. Heels, make-up and skirts are expected to be worn. Pressure is still given around marriage and having children.

International Women’s Day is asking us all to #BeBoldForChange. On their site you can vote for how you will take action. I decided to forge women’s advancements and pledge to:

  • buy from companies that support women
  • support or back a woman-owned business
  • invite women into situations where they’re not already present or contributing
  • measure and report on gender parity gaps and keep gender on the agenda

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Go ahead and make your pledge and Be Bold For Change.

Choose Love

As much as I bought a Choose Love item to help provide aid to the 60 million refugees fleeing brutal conditions, I was also drawn to the traceability of the t-shirt.

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The t-shirts are made from certified 100% organic cotton in an ethically accredited, wind-powered factory.

The below interactive traceability map shows the supply chain of their products. Starting with the cotton being plucked in India, transportation by camel to be sewn, shipped to Southampton, then taken to Isle of Wight for printing.

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This level of open, honest traceability is great. More brands should start doing this, because only when you know exactly where the supply chain is can you manage the risks in that area.

Many celebs have endorsed the t-shirt raising awareness not only on the refugee crisis but the importance of ethical and eco products. Lets hope us purchasing these tops can help in some way.

Choose Love.

Face and hair care

I suffer with spots and have very fine, limp hair. Last year these two catalysts, along with my escalating interest in sustainable products prompted me to overhaul my beauty products. I did lots of research looking specifically at natural ingredients, supply chain ethics and animal testing. It turns out there are loads of brands on the market. I was kind of spoilt for choice.

Skincare

Liz Earle‘s cleanse, tone and normal/combination moisturiser. I use this every morning and night.

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Gentle face exfoliator, eye bright soothing lotion and deep cleansing mask. These I use maybe twice of three times a week depending on how my skin feels.

Make up

I like natural looking make up. My go to base is Aveda’s inner light mineral tinted moisturiser with SPF 15 and Odylique‘s natural mineral concealer.

This is then topped off with Lily Lolo‘s mineral blush, finishing powder and make up mist.

With the cold weather my lips go very dry. My go to is Burt’s Bees beeswax lip balm and for a bolder look one of their new lipsticks.

Hair

Aveda‘s shampure shampoo and colour conserve conditioner.

To style I use their volumising tonic, pure abundance hair potion and air control hairspray.

I have been using these products for months and months now. My skin has improved massively and hair is in great condition. However I am always on the look out for a new brand to try. If you have any suggestions please let me know!

V-Day shout out to Curious Pancake

I feel Valentines Day as a ‘holiday’ is fizzling out. Unless this is an observation that me and my friends are very ‘unsoppy’, I do believe people are realising it is a money making scheme to buy tat that will never have any real use. Sorry for the pessimism.

As a couple me and Rob don’t really celebrate it, despite our anniversary being around this time (5 years this year!). The most we do is get each other a silly card.

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Unsure where Rob gets his cards from, but I always get mine from Curious Pancake.

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Based in Nottingham, Curious Pancake create stylish greetings cards, with hilarious illustrations and no inner verse. Their cards are perfect for most occasions.

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Their cards say ‘i love you’ without the cringe and providing a little giggle. And I love it.

 

Saturday Shop

I don’t often go shopping. It’s always busy, people are annoying and on most high-streets I HATE what’s on offer. Yesterday however I braved the grim weather  and annoyances and spent the day shopping in Nottingham.

Before going I did some research on vintage and independent stores to go visit. Nottingham, it turns out, has plenty!

Vintage

I love vintage, not only is it the most sustainable kind of purchase (apart from not buying at all) but the quality and design of retro clothes are just so much better.

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On my visit to Nottingham I went into Cow, Wild, Braderie and Hopkinson‘s and managed to treat myself to a new dress and cardigan.

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Not going to lie, vintage shopping takes more effort than browsing an organised rail in Marks and Sparks. But it is fun having a trawl through rails and piles of retro clobber. Laughing at some of the styles, being slightly frustrated that an amazing item is 10 times too small or big and falling in love with something that has a little rip or stain is all part and parcel of the experience.
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Vintage items are not just “used clothes”, they’re a piece of history, both in the historical sense and on a personal level. Think about the people who wore them, what’s their story?

Other advantages – Tonnes and tonnes of clothing ends up at landfill every week. Buying vintage lessens this waste. The cost of creating a brand new piece of clothing is not only expensive monetarily but environmentally, through the use of natural resources and the creation of pollution. Buying something that already exists reduces that cost.

Give it a go, shop vintage!

Independent

Hidden up a side street a pretty window display caught my eye. I decided to pop in and have a browse. Stick and Ribbon is one of the friendliest shops I’ve ever been in. Filled with one off, independent pieces I was welcomed and shown what was on offer.

A few weeks back when I was doing research for ethical lingerie I came across Kinky Knickers, and to my delight Stick and Ribbon stocked their items. Kinky Knickers is a British handmade lingerie brand that partners with Mary Portas. Sewn in Manchester with love and care, their pants are designed to be comfy, have no VPL and to look pretty.

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I couldn’t resist. Bought myself a pair. Not just a great quality pair of pants, but they provided a giggle. Hidden in their washing guidelines was a handy tip:

“Wash similar colours together. Use colour safe detergent (or give it to your mother – she’ll know what to do.”

It is these personal touches that make buying independent so very worth it. But don’t worry Mam, I’ll wash them myself!

Spotlight on ethical fashion

In just the past few weeks there have been two very interesting broadcasts around ‘fast fashion‘. Channel 4 Dispatches and a podcast by The Guilty Feminist have placed a spotlight on the issues surrounding today’s clothing production and consumption.

Dispatches – Britain’s Cheap Clothes

Channel 4 uncovers issues in UK factories and warehouses of brands such as Boohoo, Misguided, ASOS, New Look and River Island. The factories that were investigated were based in Leicester, literally on my own doorstep. Workers were being paid £3 an hour, less than half the national minimum wage. The workings conditions were poor, fire hazards were rife and employees worked extra long shifts. In the warehouses workers were searched and given strikes for ridiculous reasons such as clocking in one minute late, taking compassionate leave to look after a sick parent and even smiling!

“They see pounds not people.”

The two Dispatches episodes are a must watch. Seeing the conditions, the attitudes and just how poorly made the items are is definitely motivation to keep asking the question – “How was it made?

The Guilty Feminist – Ethical Clothing with Aisling Bea

If you do not listen to The Guilty Feminist, then I suggest you start. Alongside being hilarious, their discussions really make you think. Whether it is about a man being seen as powerful, yet a woman being seen as BOSSY. Or apologising for eating chocolate then ordering slices of cake. Or finding that when surrounded by men you speed up your speech to make sure you are not interrupted. What they discuss is real, and it the feminism where you don’t shave your armpits and hate on men, it is about equality and empowerment and generally feeling happier in who you are.

This podcast episode focuses on how consumerism has changed. We are wanting to buy more for less money. A celebrity wears something one day, we want it the next. Brands are under pressure to make clothing quickly and cheaply, resulting in unfair labour practices. As the consumer we are the only ones that can change this by not buying from businesses that exploit their workers and driving consumerism to being about buying less at a fairer, better quality.

However The Guilty Feminist made a poignant point, for instance a single mother of 3 children, how is it possible for her to purchase ethically on a budget to continually replace her ever growing children’s wardrobe? At the end of the day it is about making sensible decisions when buying clothes. Some handy tips were discussed, such as buying vintage or from charity shops, trying the 30 wears challenge (if you are not going to wear it at least 30 times, do not buy!), doing some research into your favourite brands, and not just buying a new outfit because of the pressure of wearing something never been seen before.

I am 100% positive we are all guilty of treating ourselves to a new pair of shoes, just because. Or searching high and low for a new outfit for a party, despite having a wardrobe full of great outfits, but because people may have seen it before there needs to be a new one bought. Or refusing to buy from a charity shop because not matter how many times you wash it, it still smells a little foisty. But having the media place a spotlight on these issues will hopefully keep reminding us to just think more about what we are buying. Long may this unfurling of the fashion industry continue.