My Favourite Reads of the Year So Far

Wednesday, 24 July 2019
"Wait is that Hayley writing a blog post?"

Yeah you're just as surprised as I am. My final year of uni was a toughie but I'm now a fully qualified Master of Chemistry (with Environmental and Sustainable Chemistry with Industrial Experience). Now that I'm a graduate with a nice certificate with my name on it (and the longest degree title in the world), I've got free time and really want to get this blog up and running again. You may notice it's even got a new design! I've decided to ease myself in with a little reading wrap up. Instead of including every book I've read since I stopped writing my monthly wrap-ups, I thought I'd include my favourites from what I've read so far this year. 


Almost Love by Louise O'Neill
This harsh contemporary fiction novel follows Sarah. A girl who is so hopeless in love with Matthew. But Matthew is twenty years older than her and treats her like shit. This book isn't necessarily an easy read. Sarah is frustrating. Again and again, she makes decisions that are hard to agree with. Everyone has a friend like Sarah. And at times I'm pretty sure we've all been Sarah. This book presents you with reality, like all of Louise O'Neill's books. It's harsh, raw and beautifully written.

My 2019 New Year's Resolutions

Sunday, 3 February 2019
Long time no blog! The last few months have been very hectic. I've been focusing on my final year of university and the post-grad job hunt so unfortunately, the blog has had to be on the backburner for a few months. Having a little time off over Christmas has really motivated me to do some writing again, so I thought I'd share my new year's resolutions for 2019. And yes, I know it's February, but better late than never?


1. Continue rock climbing. 
2019 will be my third year climbing but it's only over the last few months that I've started to take it more seriously. Now I have my own equipment and some buddies to climb with, I'm really noticing myself improve. Over the next year, I want to carry on climbing frequently and hopefully improve to meet two mini goals: bouldering a V4 route and to climb to the top of a lead climbing route for the first time. 

2. Read 52 books (but not necessarily new ones).
Reading 52 books a year has been my goal for the last few years. A book a week is a good pace for me so whilst it's a goal I know I'll meet, I'd like to be a bit more mindful about how I get my hands on my books. First of all, I've got a few books on my bookshelf that I'd like to reread before donating to the charity shop. I'm trying to downsize my book collection so that it fits onto one bookshelf. And I'd also like to start using the library/my Kindle rather than buying more books. Not that I don't love books, but I'm moving so I've been trying to declutter.

3. Visit 8 new countries.
This sounds like a very ambitious goal but technically it feels like cheating. In January, I visited Dublin to hang out with Becky. I've also booked myself a trip to the Balkans for after my exams which goes through 5 different countries. So at the moment, I already have plans to visit 6 new countries within the first few months of the year. I'd also like to try and visit a new continent - I'm thinking maybe a winter sun trip to Morocco or South East Asia, we'll see. 

4. Eat less meat.
I'm becoming increasingly uneasy about the effects of meat on the environment. Whilst I can't see myself becoming a vegetarian anytime soon, I'd like to try and reduce my meat eating. I'm aiming to only eat meat 4 days of the week. And I'm hoping that once I'm used to eating less meat, it will be easier to eat it even less frequently. Send me your favourite veggie recipes, please.

5. Pass my driving tests.
I started learning to drive in 2015 but stopped after about 20 lessons. Which I really regret. I think that if I throw myself back into it, I can definitely pass both my theory and practical tests this year. Ideally, I'd like to do it either before or just after graduating in July. I feel like it's definitely something I just need to get out of the way before I start my 'adult' life. 

And those are my big goals for the year! I want to wish you all a very happy 2019. I'm hoping to also stay more up to date with this blog but I hope you can appreciate this is just a really busy time for me!

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Electro Brunch Feast at Gaucho, Edinburgh

Wednesday, 30 January 2019
I love brunch. When living in the States, it was a staple in my calendar. New York is big on bottomless brunches and I've definitely been missing it on returning to Edinburgh. Thankfully, the Argentinian restaurant, Gaucho, is on hand to help with that. Their Electro Brunch Feast is not one to be missed with bottomless food dishes and 4 drinks for £39.95. They recently invited me down to try it out and I was more than happy to oblige.  This is no ordinary brunch menu, with delicious steak and churros. Available on Saturdays between 11am and 4pm it's a fantastic bit of luxury to start the weekend off right.


Gaucho is located in St Andrews Square. This is a fantastic area and very up and coming at the moment. It's close to both the train and bus stations and is also located close to Princes Street if you want to go shopping before/after. On arrival, you'll find yourself in their upstairs bar area. The staff were so welcoming and friendly, offering me drinks whilst I waited up here for my friend. When we were taken downstairs to be seated, it was like stepping down into a tranquil getaway. With wonderful lighting and sleek furniture, the dining room feels instantly calming.

Dinner at The Urban Fox, Edinburgh

Sunday, 16 December 2018

A few weeks ago, I was invited down to The Urban Fox in Edinburgh to try out their festive menu. The set menu had lots of great options and I had some fantastic company with some other bloggers (Lorna, Charlene and Beth) so I was certainly set for a good night. The Urban Fox is relatively new on Edinburgh's restaurant scene and is located in Newington. On arrival, we started with a lovely mulled wine which helped me warm up as it blowing an absolute gale outside.  

A No Knead Bread Recipe For Beginner Bakers

Sunday, 16 September 2018
We all know by now that I'm a girl that loves her bread. For the last few weeks, I've tried to make bread on a weekly basis. I've been trying out various 'easy' bread recipes after a burned challah incident that I do not want to talk about. I've adjusted a few and found what I think really works for me. For this recipe, you'll need a big casserole dish with a lid that can go in an oven. Regular ovens don't get as hot as a bread oven would. By preheating the covered dish in a regular oven, the higher temperature can be reached and this gives the bread a really nice crust. 

This bread is no-knead so is perfect for those that would maybe shy away from bread baking because they don't think that they can do it. It does require at least 12 hours of proving time but this means that it can be prepped well in advance. I usually mix the dough together on a Saturday night and bake the loaf first thing on a Sunday morning. There's nothing quite like the smell of freshly baked bread to start off a lazy Sunday!


Underwater Exploring at Deep Sea World

Wednesday, 12 September 2018
Recently I was invited along to Deep Sea World for their media evening alongside lots of other bloggers and journalists. Deep Sea World is an aquarium located in North Queensferry, about 20 minutes from the city centre of Edinburgh by train. I had visited several times before as a child, but this was my first time visiting as an adult. So I was very excited to see what had changed.


I got the train and it was about a 5 minutes walk to the aquarium. By car, there's a large car park and it is right across the bridges. Very accessible. On arrival, we were taken on a tour of the aquarium. As it was after the regular closing time, it was very quiet and we had the chance to ask the keeps any questions etc. The aquarium has lots of different exhibits with fish from lots of different countries.