Sunday, 20 August 2017

Exploring Boston

Despite moving so close to NYC, Boston was the city I was really excited about returning to. Last weekend I got an Amtrak train up to visit Leda and enjoy more of Boston's relaxed vibe. I arrived pretty late on Friday night after a delayed train so we didn't get up to much - take away pizza and gins on the porch. On Saturday morning we slept a little late, devoured Leda's mom's amazing pancakes and headed into the city around midday to explore.


Our first port of call was the Boston Public Library, I've been before but it is my favorite building in the city so I just had to go back. The marble decor is absolutely exquisite and guided tours are available as well if you want to learn a little more about the building. The library also has a beautiful, bright courtyard we sat for a little to soak up the sun and the atmosphere. You can actually get married in the Public Library which I'm sure is extortionate but would be an absolute dream. Something tells me I'll return here one day to watch Leda get married.

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Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Serrano & Manchego, Edinburgh

Sometimes life gets in the way of blogging and this is the perfect example. I ate at Serrano & Manchego in May and have only just gotten around to writing my review! I love tapas and luckily there are lots of great tapas restaurants in Edinburgh. Some of my best friends live on Leith Walk and thus this restaurant was the perfect place to meet them for dinner. We met up in the midst of exams and therefore this was a welcomed opportunity to let our hair down and catch up over some yummy food and a pitcher of sangria.


We ordered a large selection of tapas (although several repeat orders of patatas bravas are always required as who doesn't need that in their lives) but started off with a pitcher of red wine sangria. It was delicious and fruity - a classic summer drink. We shared a pitcher between four and managed to get a glass and a bit each, it was great value for money. It went perfectly with their serrano ham and manchego cheese croquettes! 
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Sunday, 13 August 2017

How to Spend a Day in New Haven

Like any Gilmore Girls fan - I loved the scenes where Rory attended Yale. A historic and beautiful university. Moving to Connecticut gave me the opportunity to visit the university myself. Yale is located in New Haven, a beautiful city that luckily for me has hourly trains from Stamford. And who did I explore with? My good ol' buddy Leda. Just call us the New England Dream Team. Went with no real plans and just spent the day wandering around the city, eating good food and catching up. 




Leda has visited New Haven before and raved about the ice cream at the Arethusa Farm Dairy so that was our first port of call in the city. I opted for a single scoop of the best mint choc chip ice cream I have ever had. I'm glad we only ordered single scoops as the portion sizes were huge. We wandered from the ice cream store to a nearby park where we sat by a fountain and finished eating. There was some sort of music festival being set up in the park so we sat by and watched that for a while too.  




As I said we didn't really have exact plans but we just wandered around the city, taking in the beautiful architecture. Yale's campus is absolutely stunning. I've been considering trying to come back to the states for my PhD. so I'm keen to try and see campuses whilst I can. I could totally picture myself living here one day so that's really reassuring. It's been a while since I last watched an episode of Gilmore Girls so I can't remember the exact places they used to film but it did feel somewhat familiar. We even saw some wedding photos being taken which was lovely!

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Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Elm Street Diner, Connecticut

When I found out I was moving to the US, I took to Instagram to try and find out about things to do and places to eat in my new city. Which was when I discovered the Elm Street Diner. A classic American diner with a huge menu and a drool worthy Instagram account. When Leda was visiting me, I knew that we had to go and try it out for ourselves. We arrived at around 12 pm on a Sunday and waited about 10 minutes for a table - not bad considering this place is an urban legend around Connecticut. It's been voted the best diner and breakfast in the country for the past four years!


Leda ordered an iced coffee and I went for a fruit juice to cool us down whilst we perused the menu. The menu at this place is seriously huge, you could eat there every weekend for a year and not run out of new dishes to try. We'd previously agreed to go as unhealthy as possible and were drawn to the waffles and pancakes. The menu has some seriously crazy milkshakes that looked amazing but we knew we would be unable to finish one so we can leave that for another time. 

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Sunday, 6 August 2017

The Third Year Reflection

One of my best blogging and IRL buds, Leda, recently wrote this great blog post about her third year of university. I really enjoyed reading it and it reminded me that I haven't really written anything about my university life in a while. When I was in high school I used to write weekly updates about my life but I've let that fall by the wayside so I don't feel that my blog is as personal as it used to be. So consider this a tribute to Leda's post and a reflection on my third year of university.



Academia
Third year has been really fucking difficult in terms of class and I'm not even ashamed to say I've had the worst grades I've ever had this year. Of course, I'd like to have done better but I genuinely don't think I could have worked any harder. Despite not having the grades to show it, I feel a lot more confident in my abilities. Especially with lab work. I'm doing my placement year which is worth the same % of my degree as the third year, so hopefully, I can boost myself up a little with my grades this year. If not, worse things have happened. 

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Wednesday, 2 August 2017

July Reading Wrap Up

July has been a fantastic month for me in terms of reading. Since I moved to the USA I've joined my local library and it is fantastic. I don't want to buy books here because I'd have to donate them all before I left and it seems like a waste of money. But the selection of books is amazing. And as I have no academic work to do outside of work I have so much more time for reading so I've read so many books this month. I've also read a lot of graphic novels, the library has loads, which are super quick reads. Not having to pay for the books I read is great and it encouraging me to take more risks with my reading as if I don't like something, it's not as big of a deal.


This is a graphic novel about a girl called Anya who is struggling at school with her self-confidence, her culture and popularity. She ends up meeting a ghost who appears to be helping her improve her life but is everything what it seems? I loved this one so much! It wasn't a very long read but I felt it was the perfect length and it was really impressive how much Anya developed as a character across the story. 5/5 stars. 

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Sunday, 30 July 2017

The High Line, New York City

I always love meeting new blogger friends so when I heard that Ellis was coming to visit NYC we arranged to meet up. The irony is that in Scotland we lived about an hour apart but had never met each other but met for the first time in New York City, 3200 miles from home. One thing that I really wanted to do during my first trip to the city last year was to walk the High Line but I never got around to it! Luckily Ellis was also interested in doing this so we met at the closest subway station to the most northernly entrance and walked the whole way down together.



The High Line is an old, unused overground railway line that has been converted into a beautiful public park. The 1.45-mile long park stretches across the top of the city which allows you to walk around and see the beauty of New York without the same overwhelming feeling of the busy streets. We arrived around 10 am which was really nice as we managed to avoid the peak of the summer heat.

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Wednesday, 26 July 2017

4th of July


When the 4th of July rolled around, I was really excited to get the opportunity to celebrate it in America. As it's a national holiday here, I even got the day off work. The other interns decided they wanted to go and watch the fireworks in New York. However, I decided to hang back. I've never been the biggest fan of huge crowds and I knew it would be packed. Plus we'd been in the city two days before and I was still absolutely knackered (we'd walked 10 miles in the one day).  Instead, I decided to take a cycle into Greenwich. 

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Sunday, 23 July 2017

The First NYC Day Trip

The beauty of living in Connecticut is that New York City is under an hour away on the train. It makes for the perfect (but exhausting) day trip. On my second weekend in the US, I went into the city with some of the other interns to check out some of the sites. Our train arrives at Grand Central Terminal so we stopped to admire how beautiful a building it is. I actually watched a documentary about Grand Central once (I think it was on the BBC) and it has a fascinating history. I stopped in briefly when I was in New York last May - but as I didn't know too much about it I didn't fully appreciate it. 


From there we hopped onto subway over to Prospect Park in Brooklyn. We were visiting Smorgasburg, a street food festival that runs every Sunday in the park (and on Saturdays too in Williamsburg). It's very hipster and there are so many options to choose from! I visited a taco stall and had some fish and shrimp tacos. Fish tacos are my absolute favourite and the Mexican food in the US is just phenomenal compared to what you can get in the UK (don't worry Wahaca - I still love you). Washed down with an ice-cold lemonade which was seriously welcomed in the very intense heat. 

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Wednesday, 19 July 2017

My Lush Spa Experience, The Comforter

Lush is one of my all-time favourite companies. They tick all my boxes – exciting products, great quality, cruelty-free, affordable, fun etc. I could go on about how much I love it. In fact, I already have, if you remember my post about 5 reasons why you should be shopping at Lush. But one thing that I’d never tried was one of their spa treatments. I put it on my 101 things in 1001 days list and a few days before I left the UK I finally got around to ticking it off. I booked my appointment at the Lush Spa in Edinburgh by giving them a call, it was super quick and easy. I’d ideally wanted to try The Good Hour but they didn’t have any therapists trained for that treatment on the day that I was planning on visiting so I opted instead to try The Comforter. And I’m very glad that I did because it was such a great experience!


When I arrived I was escorted down into the spa. I’ve been before when I visited for their Tales of Bath bloggers event but this was my first time going for an actual treatment. Despite being located under the busy Princes Street store, it’s a totally serene environment. The spa is designed to look like an English country kitchen, you’d never believe where you actually are! Here, my therapist explained the procedure to me whilst I filled out some paperwork (basically to displace any medical conditions they’d need to be aware of). Then I was escorted into my treatment room for it to begin.

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Sunday, 16 July 2017

My Favourite European Countries

I've now travelled to 13 countries, and I'm certainly not feeling unlucky. When people ask me about my travels, the ideas of 'favourites' always comes up. I don't dislike any of the countries I've visited per se but there are some that really stand out to me. My goals at the moment are to try and visit as many countries as possible so I think that it says a lot if I plan to go back to a country any time soon - at the cost of not ticking another one off of my list. These are my top 3...


Sweden
I actually only spent about 24 hours in Sweden, but it just made such an impression on me! Sweden just had such a relaxed vibe to it. We spent so much time just walking around soaking up the atmosphere. The Swedish people especially were so stylish. Sweden has lovely sunny weather in the summer and great snow in the winter so no matter what you're looking for weather wise it can provide. A lot of people say that Scandinavia is expensive and that's definitely the case unfortunately. We found Malmö to be much cheaper than Copenhagen but I've heard that Stockholm can be very expensive. But don't let that put you off visiting this beautiful country!
Read more about my trip to Sweden

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Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Review: Dyson Supersonic Hairdryer

My mum's a hairdresser and as a result, I've always been a bit snobby when it comes to hair dryers. I'd rather not use one at all than use one that's not very powerful. My mum works from home and recently invested in the new Dyson Supersonic Hairdryer. I've been trying it out too and I thought it would be a great thing to review as it's very expensive and therefore you'd really want to make sure it's a great hairdryer before you invest.


The motor is connected to an air multiplier which boosts airflow. Meaning it can dry hair much faster. There are three different air speed modes and 4 different heat modes. These are really easy to switch between and are indicated my lights. The hairdryer comes with attachments like a diffuser which attach magnetically to the front of the hairdryer making them really easy to switch over. It also comes with a heat proof mat and a storage hanger.

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Sunday, 9 July 2017

Edinburgh Edit: Brunch

Ah, the humble brunch. The perfect meal from when you've had a well deserved lie in on the weekend and you're looking for something that's going to set you up for the rest of the day. It's became the hip thing over the past few years and it now seems like every place has it's own brunch menu. Luckily for you, I've tried out a few brunches in Edinburgh in my day. And I'll be sharing them with you in this handy guide to the best brunch in Edinburgh. 


The Huxley
If you're a fan of breakfast smoothies then you'll need to check out the Huxley. Their fresh fruit smoothies are a great, refreshing way to start the day. They have everything from the full Scottish breakfast to sweet American pancakes with blueberry compote (with a lot of eggs in between for good measure). The Huxley is a favourite of mine for any meal of the day so you won't be disappointed, whenever you plan to visit. 
Read my full review of The Huxley.

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Wednesday, 5 July 2017

What I Learnt From My Bullet Journal Failures

If you're even remotely familiar with social media, you'll have seen the bullet journal making the rounds. This extremely organised journalling system proves a great way to organise your to do list, calendar and entire life whilst giving you the flexibility and creativity that a traditional planner lacks. I do fell for the idea and quickly got obsessed with scrolling through #bulletjournal on Instagram. After starting my own over a year ago, I've really found what worked for me and what didn't. As there's no strict rules to bullet journalling, making mistakes is actually great. It allows you to identify what didn't work for you - so that you can carry this on into your future journalling. Here are the mistakes that I made and what I learnt from them.


-Using a bullet journal to track long term goals isn't for me.
When I first started my bullet journal I set up a few lists, that were of long-term goals. Countries travelled to etc. But I found that as these things weren't being updated regularly, they were really just a waste of space and I didn't every look at them or use them. Instead, I prefer to track monthly or weekly goals in my bullet journal as these are the sort of things I'll update and look at more regularly.

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Sunday, 2 July 2017

June Reading Wrap Up

June was a great reading month for me as I had a lot of free time now that I'm finished with uni/holidays for the year. Plus our 7.5-hour flight to the US becoming a 9-hour flight meant I managed to read a whole book just on the plane. I've read 7 books this month and I really, really enjoyed them as I've not rated anything below 4/5 stars. July should hopefully be a good reading month for me. I've run out of paper books in the US so I'm going to spy out the local library situation, see if I can scrounge anything off my colleagues or make the most of my Kindle.


The Other Half of Happiness by Ayisha Malik
I was a big fan of Ayisha Malik's first book, Sofia Khan is Not Obliged (click for review), so I was happy to see this book in the airport bookstore when I needed something to read! This is the second diary in the Sofia Khan series - marketed as the hijabi Bridget Jones. This book was really funny and was a nice continuation of the story. I love Ayisha Malik's writing and I'm so glad I carried on with the series. I gave it 4 stars as I thought it wasn't quite as good as the original book in the series but I still really enjoyed it. 

Love & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch*
This YA novel sees teenage Lina going to live with her father in Italy after her mother's death. The catch? She's never met her father before. Lina's not happy about the arrangement but things don't quite turn out how she expects. This is actually one of the best YA novels that I've read in a really long time. The characters were actually really well written and there was a lot of realistic character development through the book. This is her first book but she's got another scheduled for release in 2018 and I'm very excited for it. 5/5 stars. 

Truth or Dare by Non Pratt* 
I've heard many great things about Non Pratt's novels but this was my first one. I'm very glad I got around to reading one! This book is about two teens who start up a truth/dare based YouTube account to raise money for one of their brothers, who is disabled after being involved in an accident. The book is told from two different perspectives one after the other which is really interesting - especially as things aren't quite what they seem from the first perspective. I gave this 4/5 stars because whilst I enjoyed it, it didn't quite have me totally hooked.

Lonely Planet's Best Ever Photography Tips by Richard I'Anson / Loney Planet's Best Ever Travel Tips by Tom Hall
I got these little guides as a goodbye present from a friend when I was leaving. They were both fun, little reads to pass the time. I really enjoyed the photography one but found the travel one quite focused on 'less safe' countries so I didn't really feel I could apply a lot of the tips in my own travel, as I generally visit quite safe places. I gave these both 4/5 stars. They made a great present!

Nina is Not OK by Shappi Khorsandi
This YA novel is about a girl who is battling alcoholism. Think is one of the most unique YA novels I've read in a really long time and I'm so glad I did. Normally when we address addiction in literature it centres around adults, not teenage girls so I think this was a really interesting perspective. I don't want to talk too much about this because I feel like it's one of those books that you should go into not really knowing much about so I just want to say READ THIS BOOK. My favourite of the month. 5/5 stars.

Bossypants by Tina Fey
What's not to love about Tina Fey. Her autobiography is laugh out loud funny at times and has a really nice mix of stories. Sometimes when I read an autobiography there are sections that just don't interest me. But I absolutely loved this one! Plus it was given to me by the lovely Lis which makes it even better. 5/5 stars.

June Reading Wrap Up 2014 / 2015 / 2016

Did you read any good books this month? Leave me some recommendations in the comments or on GoodReads.

Twitter @honestlyrussell // Instagram  @honestlyrussell // Pinterest @honestlyrussell
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Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Making Cocktails with Revolution

Revolution is bar chain that graces every great UK city. With an extensive cocktail menu, 30 flavours of vodka and a well-priced food menu: there's something for everyone. I'm very familiar with the Edinburgh branch as they sponsor the Chemistry Society so I've spent many a boozy night there with friends. However, I was recently invited along to a blogger's cocktail class at their Glasgow branch. I've looked at their cocktail masterclasses before as a potential birthday idea and I've seen a few people go to them for hen parties. 


When we arrived we were greeted with a bubblegum daiquiri - a fun blue cocktail topped with flying saucer sweeties. This cocktail is really sweet and made with their bubblegum vodka. If you've ever been to Revs before you'll know that they have lots of flavoured vodkas that are made in Manchester. We were introduced to our barman for the night, Jim, and started learning about the history of Revolution and all about the cocktails. 
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Sunday, 25 June 2017

Meltmongers, Edinburgh

I've always been a big fan of the humble toastie. But when a grilled cheese sandwich store opened up in the Bruntsfield area of Edinburgh, I have to admit that I didn't quite see the appeal. Toasties are something I've always made for myself at home so I didn't quite get the appeal of going out for one. 

Well, ladies and gentleman, this blog post is about how I was WRONG. 



One very (rainy) day my friends and I decided to go to Meltmongers for lunch after our lab. After walking there (quite a distance from the science campus I'll have you know), we were so happy to escape into somewhere dry! I ordered a cheese and bacon toastie and some fries. The toastie was absolutely delicious! Unfortunately, I found the bacon to be a bit too fatty for my liking so I'd probably order a plain cheese one if I were to go again. So rich!

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Wednesday, 21 June 2017

I'm Moving To The US!

There's a US visa in my passport and a one-way flight to JFK with my name on it. Tomorrow I'll be leaving Scotland to move to the US for 12 months. I've mentioned it before but I thought I'd write a proper blog post about it. I'm moving to undertake an industrial placement as part of my degree so I'll have a full-time job for the next year. I'll be living in the New England area of the US, on the east coast, and will hopefully get to do a lot of travelling whilst I'm there.


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Sunday, 18 June 2017

Topolabamba, Edinburgh

I am always on the hunt for two things. 
1. New places to go for food in Edinburgh. 
2. Fish tacos. 
So when I was searching for somewhere to have lunch with my friend Kathryn, Topolabamba ticked all the boxes. Situated on Lothian Road, it brings fun, tapas/street-style Mexican food along with more substantial dishes and fresh margaritas. We visited at lunch time and discovered that they have an express lunch menu of three options from a selection for £9.95. That's a great bargain so we decided to order from that. 


The lunchtime deal included fish tacos so I had to order them! They did come with a three chilli warning and I'm glad these did as they were spicy. The tacos were fresh and delicious but the chilli in the coleslaw made them very fiery. In the end, I had to scrap the coleslaw off as I couldn't handle the heat. I still really enjoyed them, however! The fish was lovely and fresh, with really crispy batter. 
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Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Exploring Riga

Considering I'd already booked Berlin and Rome, it was a bit cheeky for me to be looking at more holidays. But seeing as I'm moving to the US for a year, I wanted to make the most of my time in Europe (whilst I still have EU citizenship and easy border crossing!). So when Becky and I started talking about maybe doing a trip together, I just couldn't help but book another holiday. We settled on Riga as we both wanted to go to a new country and it was easy for us both to get to. I went to Latvia with low expectations but it ended up being one of the best trips I'd ever been on...


We arrived too early to check into our hotel so we left our bags and headed out in search of lunch. We'd already spied a cafe on Instagram that served delicious looking pancakes so our minds were pretty made up. Street Fries Kitchen was a good choice! I ordered American pancakes with syrup, bananas and fruit whilst Becky opted for a chocolate and banana pancake. Our meals were both delicious and set us up for a day of exploring. And at only €5.50 each, we considered it to be a bargain!


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Sunday, 11 June 2017

Afternoon Tea at The Balmoral Hotel

As a good few of my friends are graduating this year, we wanted to celebrate the end of their time at university in style. Plans were made to have afternoon tea at The Balmoral Hotel, one of Edinburgh's most prestigious hotels. Afternoon tea is taken seriously here, it's five courses long, and is a real treat. We were a group of 9 in total, some who had had afternoon tea here before and some novices like myself.


The first option is to pick from the extensive selection of teas and coffees - but don't worry, they're unlimited so you can try as many as you'd like. I started off with the Royal Scottish Balmoral Blend - a blend of Assam and Ceylon teas. Essentially a classic breakfast tea to start me off and then swapped to white peach with flowers after scones for a lighter, fruitier option.

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Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Rome Travel Diary

Due to industrial placements and study abroad, my group of friends is getting flung around the globe next year, from Connecticut to Taiwan. We wanted to have one last hurrah which was when we started to plan a holiday. We settled on Rome as it would have the perfect combo of sunshine, sights to see and of course - Italian food! And what a fantastic trip it was, a few days after I returned from Berlin we went off to the Italian capital for 3 nights.



After we arrived at the apartment we were renting we decided to just walk around the city. We popped by the Trevi Fountain for a look and I have never seen a tourist attraction so busy, it was absolutely crazy. I didn't even get to throw coins into it as it was so crowded I couldn't actually get to the front! We also popped by the Colosseum for a look around the outside before we visited in the morning. After a quick pizza dinner, it was an early night seeing as we had to get up at 4 am for our flight and were all pretty tired!

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Sunday, 4 June 2017

April & May Reading Wrap Up

As I was very busy with exams towards the end of April I decided to lump my April and May reading wrap-ups together. So I apologise if you missed last month's post but hey - extra long one today! Now that my exams are over I've had much more time for reading which feels like a real treat. I've also been trying to finish all my unread books before I head to the US so I'm racing against the clock. I read a good few books over the past two months, some of which I really enjoyed! 


Spectacles by Sue Perkins
I love Sue Perkins so I was really excited to read her autobiography. And it didn't disappoint! It was funny, personal and a great read. What I liked the most about this was that Sue didn't take a chronological approach per se, but instead selected topics to write about. There were a few bits that didn't pique my interest so this made it a bit easier to skim over them. There's also a pretty big part on GBBO so you get to find out some fun behind the scenes secret. I loved this book but I wish I'd gotten the audiobook as Sue narrates it herself! 5/5 stars.

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Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Berlin Travel Diary


The day after I finished up my exams, I packed my suitcase and got on a plane to Berlin. In advance of my upcoming US move, I wanted to make the most of my short summer holiday and see as much of Europe as I possibly could before moving. I travelled with my best friend from high school, Sarah, and we stayed in the gorgeous Charlottenburg area of Berlin. Sarah and I took German class together in high school, so it seemed quite fitting that we travel to Germany for the first time together with each other. 

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Sunday, 28 May 2017

So CoCo, Inverness






When visiting Inverness there was one place I knew I had to visit. After recommendations from both Lucy and Anastasia, I had my heart set on So Coco, a chocolate based cafe. We actually went for breakfast. Churros for breakfast? We were on holiday! 

We arrived about 10 am after having a short walk through the city centre and it was very quiet. After bagging a window seat we sat down to peruse their menu. We opted to go for the churros for two platter which comes with 6 churros and two dipping pots. We selected white chocolate and milk chocolate. The two pots were more than enough and the chocolate was so rich and creamy. The churros were excellent but missing the cinnamon which I thought was a bit unusual. I ended up completely covered in chocolate and icing sugar - can't take me anywhere! 

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Wednesday, 24 May 2017

York in a Day

I'm getting a bit nostalgic about leaving the UK and have been trying to make the most of my time left here. That means I've got a few places I still want to see. York has always really stuck out to me for being a really old and historic city, one that I definitely wanted to explore. It's only 2.5 hours from Edinburgh by train so when I saw some cheap tickets going I decided to book myself a spontaneous day trip! A day was long enough to walk around the city and see the sites but a little longer would be needed if you want to see museums etc. I loved that York was so accessible for a day trip but at the same time somewhere you could definitely spend more time too. 




My train arrived in York around 12 o'clock after a slight delay due to an accident. I'd had lunch on the train so when I met my friend Emma we headed straight into the city to have a good old look around. Emma is from a village really close by so she was an excellent tour guide to have! York is such a small city so it was a really nice one to just walk around. Can easily see everything on foot without having to walk more than maybe 15 minutes. 
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Sunday, 21 May 2017

Books To Give You Wanderlust

One of the things that I love about reading is that it can transport you anywhere: to a different city, a different country, even a different galaxy. But sometimes that doesn't quite seem enough. Sometimes after reading a book I feel overpowered with feelings of wanderlust. Sometimes it's not enough to simply read about it: I'm inspired to travel there myself. Here are some books on my shelves that have filled me with wanderlust.


All The Lights We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
This is a bit of a weird one to include but stay with me here. This book follows two children during WW2 - one in France and one in Germany. The French girl is blind but has been built a model of Paris by her guardian. The way that things are described in this book is so rich and deep as they are using descriptions rather than sight. Even though this book is set in wartime I found myself daydreaming of long walks through Parisian streets and idyllic French life. 

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Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Cross Highlands Road Trip

On my recent trip to Inverness and Skye, we saw some amazing scenery. Outside of the cities, there is so much to see just driving around. The roads are a bit twisty but that means that you really get to go along with the landscape. We literally went from heavy snow to blazing sunshine in the space of a weekend. I don't think I've heard of anything so Scottish! 


We stopped to take these snowy photos when driving to Inverness. The snow got really heavy not long after this but was so beautiful. We didn't have to go anywhere special to get a view like this either, this was literally at the side of the main road between Edinburgh and Inverness. We had pulled into a little lay-by so we could stretch our legs after we had been in the car for so long. 
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Sunday, 14 May 2017

Breakfast at The Huxley, Edinburgh

I am a woman on a mission. Despite having lived in Edinburgh for almost three years, I've tried very few spots for breakfast/brunch. And I want to change that! So an invitation to try out the breakfast menu at The Huxley was the perfect thing to find in my inbox. Located right at the West end of Princes Street, The Huxley is in a fantastic central location in Edinburgh. With modern, cool decor and a great atmosphere it makes a great spot for a meal. You may remember my previous review of dinner at The Huxley. I enjoyed my dinner there so much that I had real high hopes for the breakfast menu. Lucy and I headed down on a sunny Friday morning for a catch up over breakfast (or brunch, whatever you want to call it). 


Normally if I'm having brunch I'll get some fresh orange juice or a cup of tea. But Lucy and I were drawn to the fresh smoothies. Lucy chose a raspberry based smoothie and my smoothie of choice contained carrot and pineapple. They were absolutely delicious. Very refreshing and a perfect accompaniment to the brunch. You couldn't tell the smoothie had carrot in it, great way to sneak in some veggies. 
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Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Isle of Skye Travel Diary

I've always wanted to visit the Isle of Skye so in a spontaneous decision we decide to book one night there for our weekend road trip. We booked this air bnb which was actually beautiful but in the south of the island. We opted to drive rather than get the ferry but if you do take the ferry this is a perfect location! We arrived on the island about 2 and drove straight to the fairy pools, stopping to take photos on the way of course.


To get to the fairy pools you park up and walk from there. It's a very short walk and only takes about 20 minutes but involves a lot of hills and stepping stones so maybe not the best if you aren't too steady on your feet. The photos I've taken don't really do them justice but they are so beautiful. The pools consist of a series of waterfalls and pools of the bluest water. It's supposed to be good luck to swim in the pools but considering it was so cold we gave it a miss. We did watch one brave man take the plunge however!
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Sunday, 7 May 2017

Switching to Mac: 2 Years On

When I first changed from PC to Mac I wrote this post about switching to Mac. I didn't expect it to be popular but it's slowly grown into one of my most popular posts and I get a lot of questions asking about how I've gotten on. I decided to write this follow-up post for that reason! Long story short: I love my MacBook. I don't care if this is the 'dark side'. I love it and I'm not going back. Despite being almost two years old the laptop still runs like brand new. I can see myself having it for a good few years yet. Yes, the transition is a bit odd - it's the little differences that really through off - but in the end, it's worth it. This is how I made the transition as smooth as possible!


Google Is Your Friend
When I first got a Mac I was very confused. Everything seemed so different and I just kept thinking - what have I done?! However, I swiftly realised that there was an answer to every question I had and all I had to do was Google it. Seriously, not matter how stupid and small the question may seem - someone else has already asked it and the answer is out there waiting for you. 

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Wednesday, 3 May 2017

How To Get Rid of an Instagram Shadowban

The Instagram community appears to be in a total frenzy at the moment, with bot outings and shadowbans galore. I've never used a bot before but unfortunately, I was shadowbanned a few weeks ago. Thankfully I managed to overcome it and I'm back on track. Instagram shadowbans are really designed to catch out spam accounts but unfortunately, real people get caught up in them too. I've been reading up on them so I'm sharing all the information I've learnt and hopefully letting you know how you can solve the problem if you've been affected yourself. 


So what is an Instagram Shadowban?

This is the name given to Instagram blocking your post(s) from appearings on hashtags or locations. It makes it really hard to have your photos found by new people. Essentially, if you're attempting to grow your following then it is a real life nightmare.

Why do they occur?

There also doesn't seem to be a set of rules that will get you shadowbanned but here are some things that people believe have gotten them banned:
  • Repetitively using the same hashtags.
  • Repetitively using too many hashtags.
  • Putting hashtags in the comments, not the caption.
  • Using some sort of automated bot to like photos/follow accounts.
  • Bulk replying to comments.
  • Using Instagram pods.
  • Liking or engaging with 'dodgy content' like porn etc.
Personally, I think my ban occurred because of using the same hashtags. But generally, anything that could be considered as 'spammy' behaviour is looked upon disfavourably by Instagram 

How to find out if you've been shadowbanned:

The best way to find out if you've been shadowbanned is to ask an account that doesn't follow you to check if your photos are appearing in the hashtags. If not, then you've probably been shadowbanned. It'll be easy enough to find someone to do this on a blogger's FB group or by asking on Twitter.

Also normally if your photo is appearing on hashtags then your photos will be liked by people who don't follow you. If the only people liking your photos are your followers then this can also really easily hint at a shadowban.

There have been various websites going around that can apparently check for you but I'm not sure how accurate they really are. 

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Sunday, 30 April 2017

5 Types of Travelling I Want To Try

With exam stress looming, my mind can't help but wander to what I'd rather be doing instead - travelling. I've got two trips booked after my exams - Rome and Berlin and I cannot wait to get away. That'll bring my total up to 12 countries. Not bad for a 20 year old on a budget right? Most of my trips are very similar: short European city breaks with friends. Which I totally enjoy. However, as I travel more, the more adventurous I start to feel and the more ambitious I get. There's so many different ways that you can travel and so many I'd like to try for myself. 


Organised Tours
When I finish my placement year next June I have 30 days to stay in the US before my visa effectively kicks me out. I've been thinking about what I want to do with those 30 days and an organised tour seems like my best bet. It takes the stress away from planning the trip and it also allows me to see a lot of different states in a short amount of time. I'll be working on the east coast so a tour of the west coast would allow me to see more of a different part of the country. 

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Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Heads and Tales, Edinburgh

One of my favourite things about Edinburgh is that there is no shortage of cosy, intimate bars. Huddled away on Rutland Place is Heads and Tales, an underground gin bar with an amazing cocktail menu. Charlotte was invited along and I came as her plus one. We hadn't seen each other in over 6 months so we were well in need of a catch-up. The low lighting, lit fire and comfy chairs made this bar the perfect place to chat away whilst trying out some fantastic drinks.  


Heads and Tales offer a GIY cocktail - gin it yourself cocktail.

Step 1: Pick a glass.
Step 2: Pick a gin.
Step 3: Pick a flavour.

I chose a rocks glass, Hayman Old Tom gin and cardamom flavouring. I wanted something unusual! It was a great choice as it worked so well. Charlotte opted for an orange blossom cocktail and really enjoyed hers too.
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Sunday, 23 April 2017

Inverness Travel Diary


Third year has been a very stressful time for me and as I kept finding myself saying down the phone to my mum 'I just want a break from uni for a while'. And so an impromptu weekend away occurred. We drove from Edinburgh to Inverness on the Friday afternoon. A 3-hour drive that ended up closer to 5 due to roadworks. When we arrived it was raining heavily so we checked into our hotel and headed straight back out for dinner. Starving! After doing a quick google I found a highly rated Italian restaurant called Little Italy and we decided to go there.  The food was beautiful and the restaurant was really cosy. After that, we went back to the hotel and essentially crashed as we were so tired. 

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Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Edinburgh Edit: Caffeine & Cake

I was originally going to title this post: Coffee & Cake. But seeing as I don't actually like coffee, I felt it would be a tad unjust as I don't actually know if any of these places sell good coffee. But what I've gathered here are bakeries, coffee shops etc that are the perfect places to go if you're looking for somewhere for a 'coffee and a catch up' with a friend.

August 21


I first discovered this place as it's located between Edinburgh's central campus and the science campus (AKA my second home). A little bit off the beaten track but worth the visit. I stopped in one day on my way home with a friend and we had some tea and a little tart each. My choice was banoffee and my friend went for the classic strawberry. They were so beautifully presented and absolutely delicious. Because it's not in the centre of town it's pretty quiet so would be an ideal spot if you're looking to get some work done.


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Sunday, 16 April 2017

5 Cities I'd Love To Visit

I love city breaks. I've never really been one for a pool holiday, I have a short attention span, and it wasn't until I started university that I started travelling for myself. On a city break, I can always find something to catch my eye. I've been really privileged in how much travelling I've been able to do over the last few years. But I've still got my eye on a few cities when that I'd love to explore. After getting my scratch-off map for Christmas, I'm obsessed with travelling to as many countries as possible. I have trips planned to Berlin and Rome for the end of may. After that, I've ticked off most of Western Europe. My travel plans now are set on exploring Eastern Europe and different continents with these beautiful cities. 


Dubrovnik

I don't normally associate European city breaks with sunshine but Dubrovnik allows you to take in the best of both worlds. Plus EasyJet have recently opened up a new route flying from Edinburgh so I can't really say no. After seeing Charlotte talking about her day trip there on her recent visit to Croatia I'm really keen to go and see the city for myself. It looks very historic and so, so beautiful. Another great thing about Dubrovnik is that you can go on day trips to Montenegro and Bosnia & Herzegovina. Perfect opportunity to tick off a few countries in the one trip. 

Photo credit: Colours and Carousels

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