Wednesday, 19 February 2020

In a world where you can be anything, be kind

A few weeks ago I started to write a post about women pitting themselves against each other purely based on their looks. I only wrote a couple of paragraphs and then I decided not to continue. This year I wanted to ensure that all the heavy feelings which I feel I get off my chest as soon as possible to stop it building up inside me. I can be hot headed and I am trying to be less reactive and let myself thoroughly think about my actions, so I have no regrets. I think this an approach we need to undertake as an online community. If you have any source of social media, you have to be responsible for what you write. When I first got Twitter, Facebook and Instagram way over 10 years ago now, the internet was a very different place. From my perspective, it was a more positive place; however there was a lot less responsibility in what we wrote. In that aspect I think we have moved forward. Where we haven't made any progress is the nastiness that people choose to write online.

In the light of Caroline Flack's death it has taken a bigger toll on me than I ever expected. I was on a galentines night out with my work friends when we all woke up to the news. We were literally all floored and in these short few days later I am struggling to process just exactly how she must have been feeling. I just cannot fathom how we can allow this to happen time and time again. You don't have to have liked or even known Caroline to accept that some kind of change has to happen and fast. It will be a few weeks of sorrow and tributes and then the media will be finding someone else to circle on a daily basis stopping someone from being able to leave their own front doors.

We now live in a society of cancel culture, and I feel as though it has become such a toxic place to be involved with. When I first started blogging back in 2013, the internet was such a different place as to where we are now. I can't remember everyday seeing on my timeline, someone slagging another person off not even a celebrity but a standard Joe Blogs who has said something slightly controversial. People tend to jump on the bandwagon and set fuel to the fire and within an hour a whole hate campaign can be started against someone, this usually stems from a tabloid story which has provided a completely biased and unjustified point of view. I used to buy gossip magazines and then one day I thought as a forward-thinking female why would I ever want to be involved and be contributing to a culture of picking at another woman's flaws and putting them in the worst dressed category. These small changes and distancing yourself from this type of source can be really refreshing for your thoughts. I recently realised that I had been following lots of people on Twitter who consistently have something to say about any bit of gossip that might arise. It has been noticed and talked about quite frequently about how toxic the blogging community has become, and this is what saddens me the most. I started blogging to meet friends, and be involved in discussions about things with people who shared similar interests. It's very much okay to unfollow anyone who you feel may be spreading consistent hate or is ultimately having an effect on your mental health.

This for me all stems down to just being a little bit kinder. In my every day job role I see on a daily basis the effects of online bullying and the harrowing realities of teenagers attempting and committing suicide as they have no way of coping. When I started high school nearly 15 years ago now, social media was just emerging and I feel that within my social group it was used as a way to interact with my friends. However, apps didn't exist and you couldn't just get on it with a click as we do now. We had top ups on our phones and to use the internet it cost, it provided you with a break away from the online world. Now, this doesn't happen. We don't give ourselves breaks from social media, and we have all fallen down a rabbit hole. The rise of memes in the Twitter world has taken online bullying to another level. I am not acting innocent in any way saying I haven't had a private little giggle on the group text with my best friends about something relatable. Imagine though everyday constantly being tagged in something negative about yourself and having to block users consistently, it must become draining. When you are in the limelight there is to a degree as expectation that you are going to be featured in the media, but I really don't think I would have the strength to constantly battle the negativity which is found daily online.

I was thinking in depth as to what I could do to contribute to this change which is so necessary within society. I can't imagine how it must feel to spend your day being a keyboard warrior or consistently trolling someone. We need a forward movement in spreading a little more kindness, as things have to change we can't allow ourselves to continue like this. I feel helpless to some degree as to what I can do to help. Deep down I take pride in knowing that I do not spend my days spreading hate. On Instagram, I wrote a post about how lucky I feel to be surrounded by a group of girls who cheerlead me on in all I do and how grateful I am. I often show my appreciation to these girls as they have helped me through a lot. Imagine having no one to talk to, and all you read everyday is how people want you to die. No matter how strong you are, this will start to chip away at you and there is no doubt that your thoughts and feelings will start to alter. I am a very sensitive person and I myself have experienced people publicly staring and pointing at me due to my looks. I don't know when or where my strong-minded resilience to block out these people came from, but boy am I glad it did. I literally do not let anyone's negative thoughts or words to process in my brain. I literally let it in one ear, and straight out the other. There is no doubts this took time, but I normally just tell myself what sad lives they must lead, and I am sure they are fighting some demons of their own.

I am just so sad that it has taken yet another person's death for us to think about the absolute need for change. We choose how we use our social media platforms and we choose whether we choose to be kind or not. We are presented with these life choices and we choose whether to spread hate or comment on a trolling feed, or whether we share someone's achievement and champion on a campaign for change for women. This the opportunity for us all to make some changes if we need to, if you have said things in the past which you regret look forward with a new perspective and strive to change. We all make wrong choices at some point, but its ensuring we don't make those choices again is where the progress happens.

In a world where you can be anything, be kind. This quote has resonated with me and had been swirling around my brain. I have been thinking about my impact on how the words I say can affect others. I think this is where we need to place the emphasis on the impact of our actions. I promise being kind and sharing a bit of love can make you feel warm and fuzzy inside. We can use our kindness to help those who need it most, who may need a glimmer of hope in their lives. We have a choice about what choose to share and do online and let's all choose to be kind. Get rid of negativity from your timeline, and spread some positivity.

If you are struggling or going through a hard time, or you know so someone who is, I know it's so easy for everyone say to just reach out. I really think that is somewhere you can start so I will leave a few numbers and websites of charities who you may feel can help you.

Mind - 03001233393 /
Samaritans - 116123 /



Friday, 7 February 2020

How I am planning on budgeting and saving in 2020

For 2020 I have made goals about what I want to achieve and where I want to go. I am going through some kind of mid-20 crisis and it has been a light bulb moment in where and want I want to be spending my money on.

I have tried to look at my wage each month and look at the areas where I can definitely make savings and places where I am spending and essentially wasting money. I have made end of year saving goals and also have adjusted it depending on what is happening in my life. For example, I am lucky enough to be going to Florida in May and it is going to be a holiday of a lifetime. Therefore, I am paying off the holiday and want to have money to spend whilst I am. However, after that from the mid until end of the year that it where I am looking at being able to save the most money.

I think you have to really look at the finer details looking at exactly what is coming in and going out. My monthly wage changes slightly each month. I have created an average which is a nice round figure which I can work off. My first tip is using the notes app on your phone. I have a list off all my out-goings that I pay month to month. I total at the bottom what I will have left. I then look at my calendar as to what social events or other things I have going on in the month and list those. Next to each item I give myself a budget, for example a meal out with my friends £20. I then finalise the total costs. You can then see what if anything is left over whether this is £20 or £200. That is your target for the end of the month. After this every time I pay the bill or buy something it goes on the list I deduct the money each time. Once you have done it for one month you will realise exactly what you are spending your money on.

Patricia Bright is the queen of all aspects of money. This YouTube video she did on her channel - The Break Platform on how she budgets her salary is fabulous. She uses an excel spreadsheet which lays out clearly exactly what she has coming in and out of her wage. She gives hints and tips as to what areas you can make little savings, and she talks about how should always be investing which is something which has never crossed my mind. She makes reference to how she suggests spreading your money around so you always have pots which you can dip into where necessary.

I think it it always good have an approximate end of year goal whether it is £1000 or £10,000. It is important to stay in your own lane and stay focused on your own goals as it can be easy to compare yourself to others. My end of year target is to have saved at least £5,000 to put towards my house savings. I have looked at all my outgoings and realised it is a realistic goal. There is no point saying you want to save a huge sum of money if you are literally going to have absolutely nothing left.

One saving tip which I have been doing since I qualified in my job three years ago is whatever I have left at the end of the month I move into my savings. Whether this is 10p or £100, I move it over in my savings so that each month I start on a clean slate. This means each month I can go through and make the list which I mention earlier, and budget for that month on what I have earned. I love doing this as you realise that you can actually make more savings than you realise.

Another way how I make little savings here and there is using apps. One which I have loved to the latter end of 2019, is an app called Airtime Rewards. You can attach all of your debit and credit cards to your account and if you shop in an shop which is attached to the app you can a reward to your account this may vary from 1%-15% cashback. Once your account reaches £5 you then cash it in and it takes if off your next phone bill. If you are wanting to join if you enter my code: WRPHF3MJ then we both get 0.50 added to our accounts. Other little saving regimes which I use all the time are the good old supermarket clubs. Tesco is always me favourite as there is nothing better than getting your clubcard vouchers through the post. I have found myself shopping in Morrison's recently so I have recently signed up for their points regime. It is so much easier now you can upload these cards to your phone so you don't have to carry them around with you. I also love the good old Boots and Superdrug cards as you can collect points and spend them. These little amounts of money add up and for real little effort.

So here's to 2020 and making the goals a reality. Let's stay in our own lanes and smash those savings goals!


Wednesday, 22 January 2020

Disneyland Paris at Christmas

How lucky was I that I had the opportunity to go to Disneyland Paris at Christmas. As soon as we got back from our first ever trip in February we literally booked this trip a few weeks later. We had the disney blues bad. We thought what could be better than going and combining both disney and Christmas.

As my sister is a teacher and I am a nurse trying to find a weekend in December where we could go was proving impossible. We managed to find some dates and booked to go from the 21st- 23rd. With our previous two trips we have always got on the first flight available out and then come home on a late night flight. This time we got a flight from Manchester to Paris at 06.10 and the flight took 55 minutes. We then got our luggage and got on the magic bus which took around an hour. We then arrived at the hotel which was the Hotel Cheyenne (post here). We checked in, and dropped our luggage off as we couldn't get into our room until 3pm. After this, we headed straight into the park and we were in there for about 09.30 which I think is pretty good going. It is such a short flight you can still have your entire first day.

We had made a bit of a schedule as to what we wanted to do each day. This day was dedicated to meet and greets in the main park. We were really excited about the meet and greets, but as always the queues can be big. We queued for Thumper and it was definitely took way over an hour. The most exciting thing on the first day was the parade. My sister had seen sneak peeks of the parade, but I wanted to save it to see it for myself. It was such a fabulous parade and they definitely went on all out with theming. Everything was as you would expect Christmas themed, but it was really magical. There were lots of new characters on the parade who I hadn't seen previously, which is always exciting. It completely got me into the spirit and I watched it twice on the first day.

Before we went this time we had fully prepared ourselves that it was going to be sooooo busy especially as it was the weekend before Christmas. To our surprise it was the same kind of busyness as at Halloween. The queues for the rides were big, but a few of the bigger rides were down due to the heavy spouts of rain. As always we took advantage of the fast passes and used the disneyland app to keep up with the waiting times of each ride.

There was no denying that they have decorated Main Street amazingly as they had a huge Christmas tree at the start of the street. It looked incredible and as soon as you walked through the gates, and it put an instance smile on my face. My sister and I did however find that some areas had no decorations at all and it didn't give me the same excitement the entire way round the parks. It was slightly disappointing and I think there was actually more decorations when we visited at Halloween (post).

My sister and I decided to treat ourselves to breakfast with the characters at Plaza Gardens. It was a lovely experience. We met lots of characters including Eeyore, Piglet, Winnie, Minnie Mouse and Donald and Daisy duck. The experience did however feel a little bit rushed as it was a very quick picture and they move on. With some of the characters if you were not ready and waiting, you literally missed your opportunity and there was no going back. Overall though, we had a fabulous time and I would definitely book and treat myself to a character breakfast again on another visit.

We booked onto a full board meal plan for this trip. If you book through the disneyland website itself you can build your holiday and adapt it to what you want. I think I would always opt for some kind of meal plan whether it is half board or full board. There is no denying that the food is expensive, and even if you eat at the counter service rather than the restaurants you will easily spend 50 Euros each on food a day. The meal plans are normally less than this for and you can eat in the restaurants and fill your boots.

On the last day we decided to treat ourselves and eat at one of the Disneyland Hotel's restaurants called Inventions. It was another character meal and it was such a special end to the holiday. The food was incredible at this restaurant, it is part of  the premium meal plan and you could tell. On the standard meal plan which is what we opted for each meal has a worth of 35 Euros. You can exchange this worth in and pay the difference. I think we had to pay an additional 35 Euros which is a lot and I would never have paid 70 Euros. However, with the meal already being half paid for it was one last treat to us.

In 2019, I was lucky enough to visit Disneyland Paris three times. We went for the first time in February and were instantly hooked. If you have read my recent travel plan post, you will know that my sister and I have booked to go to Walt Disney World Florida at the end of May and I couldn't be more excited.



Wednesday, 15 January 2020

Hotel Cheyenne at Disneyland Paris

When we went to Disneyland Paris back in February we stayed at the Hotel Santa Fe and we loved it. This time when booking to go at Christmas there was literally no difference in price between the Cheyenne and the Santa Fe, so we decided to go for somewhere new. This trip was for 2 nights and I have to say we spend very minimal time in the hotel.

In comparison to the Santa Fe there really isn't that much difference between them. The differences are the theming of the two hotels. I was interested in staying at the Cheyenne as its theme is western and the rooms are decorated surrounding Toy Story. My favourite disney character is Jessie so I thought this would be cute. On arrival, I loved how the outside of the buildings looked as they are in blocks spread out around the site. Initially I loved it and I couldn't wait to get to our room. However, when we entered our room I was a little underwhelmed. I thought that the rooms looked a little dated. The rooms are never massive but they fit everything in that you need. I thought it looked quite plain and could do with a refurbish. My sister felt the same way.

On this trip we opted for the standard full board option so we had breakfast in the hotel. The breakfast was really lovely, as it was on our last trip. It offers everything which you can want. It has cold food options, hot food, cereals and pastries. It definitely sets you up for the day and you are able to fill yourself up. If you are going with children, even the fussiest of child would be able to find something to eat. The breakfast in the hotels open really early so you are able to get in, eat, and get into the parks for 8am to be able to take advantage of your extra magic hours. My little tip would be that if you want to meet a princess at the princess pavilion, we always get to the park for 8am and head straight there. The queues for the pavilion can be soooo long. If you go and it is less than an hour then you have been lucky. They normally vary from 75-90 mins.

We didn't actually book to eat in the Cheyenne restaurant on this trip for our evening meal. However, you can book to eat in any of the disney hotels if you want to. With the standard meal plan you can eat in the Santa Fe or Cheyenne and you do not need to pay any additional costs. If you chose to get an afternoon flight and you arrive in disney later in the evening, I think it is a good idea to eat in your hotel on arrival at 6-7pm and then if you choose to you can then head into the park for the fireworks. We did this on out first trip and it worked fantastically.

As always the staff in the hotel were lovely and the check in process was easy. From the airport, we got on the magic bus. This time we booked through Hey's Travel and you got the magic bus included in the price which was a bonus. Back in October, we got on the train from the airport and it was 19 Euros each way and it took about 20 mins. The bus takes about 50 mins as it goes to the different hotels. The Cheyenne was the second drop off so it was a really easy journey.

All in all, I would stay at the Hotel Cheyenne again. The room was clean and it provided us with exactly what we needed which was to sleep and shower. Me and my sister always love getting back to our hotel and having unlimited disney on the TV. Come on there's nothing better than coming back from the fireworks and being able to dance and sing along to High School Musical from your bed! Like I have already mentioned, I think they could do with an update and a lick of paint. Maybe this will come after they have the new Marvel hotel which is opening in autumn 2020 and to be fair looks like it is going to incredible. It is my sister and I's goal to stay at the Disneyland Hotel but unless we win the lottery, that is definitely in the distant future.



Wednesday, 8 January 2020

new year, new me?

Some people love new year resolutions, some people think they are pointless. I sit somewhere right in the middle. I am a big believer in setting goals and trying to make them realistic. There is no point me pledging to save £10,000 and buy a house by the end of the year as 2020 as it is clearly not going to happen. However, telling myself I am going to try and save an extra £50 a month is a goal which can be achieved.

I really like to make a few goals and try and think as to how I am going to keep them. For example I want to continue to run as often as I can. I am making it a realistic target to go at least twice a week. With my shifts I can't say I will go every Tuesday as my rota changes from week to week, so just simply stating twice a week I can plan it and make it much more manageable.

What I do not think is achievable is wanting to implement multiple resolutions which are simply not going to happen. If you have had a really rubbish 2019 and you are in need of an urgent change and a fresh outlook, then I really believe you can see a new year as some kind of fresh page in a new book. In every day life I am a reflective person, and I often seek ways of improvements and how if something was to reoccur how I would manage/ change the situation differently. If you struggle with the idea of wanting to implement a change no matter how big or small, it can helpful to think ahead as to any if unexpected barriers do occur how you will overcome them. I do this often, but you have to try and balance a fine line of managing it without taking too much on, and being disappointed when the outcome you expected or needed does not happen.

I have been saying for years I want to start writing a diary. This is my main goal of this year. I want to mainly focus it around my work and have it as a mixture of personal reflection but also gratitude. I want to be able to look back in years to come and see how I was feeling in the moment. I feel as though I sometimes struggle with my emotions and how to express them, and I know that writing things down can be great as it feels like a relief as you leave it on the paper.

I think have been thinking a lot about my blog recently, and the direction which I am hoping to take it in. I am still unsure as to what I want to do with it, so at the moment I have decided to not put too much pressure on myself and dedicate the time to it as and when I can. I find the management of this blog quite a stressful aspect of my life. I want to get so much out of it, but at the end of the day it is a hobby not my career and I have to constantly remember myself that.

For me 2019 was the year of the to do lists! You may be thinking, to do lists have existed since time began, and you'd be correct. However, I only really incorporated them into my life in the mid to latter end of 2019, and I found they helped manage my busy days so much more easily. I would make my to do list at the start of the day, and then rearrange it in to a chronological order so I know where to start first. Honestly, there is nothing more satisfying than ticking things off one by one once they are completed. Sometimes there simply is not enough time in the day to get everything done which I would hope to have completed. I will therefore look at my list and prioritise and think what do I have to get done today that cannot roll on into tomorrow. I then underneath write an ongoing to do list - things which need to be done and can't be forgotten about, but it's not imperative in that moment there and then. Going forward the do list is definitely coming with me into 2020.

Where I am trying to go with this post is make the new year what you want it to be. If you had a really rubbish 2019 and you feel you need that fresh start then grab it with both hands and go for it. Make sure you stay in your head space and I find that constantly reassessing where you are and where you want to be, can definitely help you to keep on track and continue to move you closer to accomplishing what you set out to achieve. I also learnt in 2019 that the reassessment of goals can be imperative in order for them to be achieved. Life isn't simple or straight forward and you can be thrown many obstacles into the mix when least expected. But, however upsetting or rubbish the change can make you feel, it is about readjustment and getting back on track ensuring that that goal is achieved one way or another. One thing which I think can be the most important of all, is not putting all your time and energy into something which you are not sure of. I definitely learnt the hard way last year and accepted that many things need to be taken with a pinch of salt.

Here is to making 2020 whatever you want it be.

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