Posted in Holiday Happiness

One day on the island of Capri in Italy

One day on the island of Capri in Italy

The last part of our Italy adventure was to be one day on the beautiful island of Capri. We were up early, the birds were singing, the sun was shining… what could possible go wrong?! Let’s just say the day didn’t get off to such an easy start… my son was not in the best of moods as I had bollocked him for losing his new trainers! But as he sulkily wandered down the jete to board the boat I took what would become one of my favourites shots of the holiday. It’s funny how the images we share, seemingly perfect do not always portray what’s really going on in the moment. A photo can say a thousand words but it can also hide them…

Vico Equense Harbour

Getting to Capri

As mentioned on a previous post we were staying right by the harbour in Vico Equense so this was ideal for reaching our destination. It took around 40 minutes to reach Marina Grande, the busy main port of Capri.

Marina Grande Capri

Here there are lots of souvenir shops, cafes and restaurants to choose from. We had a wander about and then decided it was probably best to take a boat tour of the island. It was soon easy to see why Capri is said to be home to some of the worlds most amazing natural scenery…

Island of Capri

The islands majestic peaks and rocky terrain contrast with the most turquoise blue waters. Sat peacefully on that boat with the wind blowing through my hair and the smell of salty sea air I was in heaven (Note to self: must buy add buy a yacht to bucket list!!)

Highlights of a boat tour

Our boat tour was about an 90 minutes and had the waves not have been so choppy it included a trip into the blue grotto. This is the famous sea cave where the sunlight reflects off the amazingly blue water illuminating the cave. It can be entered only via rowing boats and is suppose to be spectacular… I was really gutted to not go inside. However the water around the island did not disappoint in general… this photo below was taken at the Emerald grotto.

Blue Grotto

The Faraglioni rock formation is probably one of the first images that springs to mind when you think of Capri. The rocks jutting out of the sea range from 80-150 meters high. The middle one has an arch which legend says that if couples kiss as they sail through they will forever stay together. The rocks jutting out of the sea are really quite something…

Faraglioni rocks Capri

Other sites included Marina Piccolo and Punta Carina lighthouse that’s been there since 1866. A boat tour of Capri is really a must… it’s a fantastic way to appreciate the Island.

Anacapri

We docked back in Marina Grande keen to explore further. Anacapri located on the higher west side of the island was to be our next stop. Catching a bus seemed the easiest way to get there. But let me tell you it was crowded!! They literally stuff the bus but thankfully it was only a short ride.

From the centre of Anacapri you can catch the chair lift up Monte Solaro to the highest point on the island. I was excited but my son decided to sit this one out staying at the bottom with a gelato. Honestly he missed out, it’s not scary!

Monte Solaro chair lift

It was amazing going up, at first you could see people’s gardens below, little vegetable patches, I even spotted some bird of paradise flowers growing. As you get higher the only thing you can hear is the birds singing beautifully then silence… just total peace and quiet. The views you are treated to on the way up are spectacular…

Mont Solaro view

The ride is about 15 minutes long and upon reaching the top you must get off. There is a cafe if you want refreshments or simply take in the views… I didn’t stay up there long at all given my son was waiting at the bottom but my head was literally in the clouds.

Top of Mount Solaro

Once my feet were back on the ground it was time to explore Anacapri. Said to be much smaller, quaint and authentic than Capri town itself it did not disappoint. We meandered around it’s little streets, browsed some of the boutique shops and stopped for some baked goods and a cocktail (for me only obviously!) by the beautiful church of San Michele.

San Michele church Anacapri

Capri town

Conscious of the time we caught the bus back to Capri town. It was much busier, but no less charming to explore. Designer stores and expensive boutiques were plentiful, catering to the rich and famous the island attracts. We stopped off for Pizza where my son actually fell asleep with his head on the table… could I finally have burnt him out? Ha ha!

Time to head back to our ferry. Many use the funicular to transport them between Marina Grande and Capri town but the queue was too long so we braved the descent walking instead… not too challenging but probably not recommended if you have bad knees. Just before heading down one last look at the view…

View from Capri town

Stay in Capri!

We were ready to leave Capri as a full day exploring left us hot and tired. But honestly it was a mistake not to stay on the island. I suspect once the day trips depart much like Positano a different more relaxed Capri emerges. I would have liked to have sampled some cuisine, fine wine, done some walking and just soaked up all it has to offer.

Will I return to Capri? For sure… along with Positano it was definitely the place I loved most on my Italy Adventure. I feel I have only just brushed the surface of this amazing country so guess what?! I return in May but to a different region… stay tuned!

Rachael x

Posted in Holiday Happiness

Italy Adventuring… Visiting Pompeii and Sorrento

Leaving behind Positano for the third part of our adventure was exciting. It was an hours drive to get to our destination, a little town just outside Sorrento called Vico Equense.

Where we stayed

Hotel Le Axidie was situated by the harbour and had it’s own beach, a swimming pool (my son was over the moon!) and was far enough from the crowds of tourists that flock to Sorrento. On arrival the reception staff were most welcoming and helpful. The hotel also offered a free shuttle to the train station and into the centre of Vico Equense which was perfect.

The first day there was spent relaxing on the beach and my son made an English speaking friend (always a bonus!) playing in the pool which meant I could wile away my day with a good book and a few cocktails. From the beach you could see mount Vesuvius… if you look to the left of this photo it can just be seen.

After a good nights sleep we were up and ready to go to Pompeii. My son was so excited for this trip… he had learned quite a bit about Pompeii at school and had been sharing all the facts ever since we got on the plane. First though we fuelled up with a good breakfast… a great continental selection and views of Napoli bay, the harbour and mount Vesuvius made it extra special.

Pompeii

We took the hotel shuttle to the train station and easily bought a ticket to head to Pompeii. On arrival it was pretty confusing… there were lots of options of tours, I decided we should take a guided one after regretting having no guide at the Coliseum. This was definitely a wise move, aside from the museum part I would literally of had no idea what I was looking at other than a bunch of ruins! Also it quickly became apparent you could easily get lost in there… it’s huge!!

Get a guide if it’s your first time!

The guide very informative about the ancient Roman city and the catastrophic eruption of mount Vesuvius in 79AD. She pointed out all the different areas of Pompeii – former streets, tracks of the chariots, and the stepping stones in the street – so you didn’t have to walk in the actual street if it was flooded -, to water “fountains”, to uncovered ovens for baking bread, the baths, the amphitheater and of course the brothel!

Please note: don’t let your kid climb on the ruins… you will get told off! Which thinking about it makes sense… they need to preserve the area. This photo was taken before we got a royal telling off, whoops!

Wandering around Pompeii is very hot… there is not much shade so be sure to take some water in. I think our tour was two hours and it was enough, my son was getting bored towards the end. Definitely not ideal for children younger in my opinion. It is really a fascinating place and must be seen to be fully appreciated. Remains of mosaics and paintings can be seen through out the site – it amazing how well preserved they have remained.

Where’s all the bodies?

Like many visitors we were intrigued to see the bodies. Excavators who uncovered the human remains noticed that the skeletons were surrounded by voids in the compacted ash. By carefully pouring plaster of Paris into the spaces, the final poses and faces of the last residents of Pompeii were revealed and can be seen today.

A little research would have told us that the bodies are not just strewn all over the site and that many have been moved to a museum in Naples. Apparently a few can be seen on the southern western side of Pompeii but on our two hour tour we didn’t see any whilst walking around. However we did see them close to the entrance in a little museum.

It was originally assumed that most of the victims were asphyxiated by volcanic ash and gas but further studies have shown there was no time to suffocate. The contorted postures were not the effects of a long agony but were the result of spasming due to heat shock. So devastating and pretty eerie to look at.

I know we only brushed the surface of Pompeii but I was happy with what I saw and learnt. I have to confess I’m not massively in to history but it held my interest and was definitely worth the trip.

Sorrento

We hopped back on the train foot weary and hot and guess what? Accidentally got one that went straight to Sorrento. Much to my sons dismay I decided we may as well get off and explore it. We had planned this for another day but no time like the present!

A short walk from the train station is Piazza Tasso, the bustling centre of Sorrento. From here you can catch the land train for a tour, begin your walk down the alleyways and main shopping street or eat and drink in the bars that are located on this square. 

We meandered down the little cobbled streets where lemon themed goods are the name of the day. Be sure to try some lemoncello – after all it is here that is originated. Shops selling gelato, clothing, leather goods and ceramics are plentiful.

Sorrento is a lovely town to wander about. We reached Marina Piccola and could see down below the little spots for sun bathing by the sea on little piers that jutted out. I would have liked to spend some time down there but we didn’t have swimwear with us. Soon after we headed back to the hotel after our busy day.

Sorrento is very charming but not a patch on Positano in my opinion… definitely worth a visit though. Have you been to Sorrento and Positano? Did you prefer one over the other? Let me know!

Rachael x

P.S Don’t miss my next post all about the beautiful island of Capri!

Hotel Le Axidie – http://www.booking.com/Share-d2D5VQ

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Posted in Holiday Happiness

Italy Adventuring… Perfect Positano

If you had asked me a few years ago where Positano is I would have had no clue. I’d never heard of it or the Amalfi coast for that matter if I’m honest. Instagram has a lot to answer for when it comes to travel. You see I know it’s a big wide world out there but Instagram has really opened my eyes. So many beautiful places and I want to visit them all. When I first clapped eyes on Positano I knew I had to go… that cliff side village cascading down to the pebble beach is the epitome of the Amalfi coast.

Following on from my last blog post we left Rome for part two of our adventure. The thought of driving the narrow winding roads through Italy made me feel anxious so we travelled on the train from Rome to a place called Salerno south east of Naples. The trains are really easy to navigate in Italy, they were clean, efficient and station staff were very helpful. The journey took about 2 hours.

Salerno looked a lovely little place but we were to head straight to the ferry port and onwards to Positano. Ferry’s to the Amalfi coast only run in summer and this essentially was the start of the season being the end of May. Tripadvisor had warned me that if it’s even slightly choppy they don’t run but we were lucky, the ferry was set to go shortly, yay!

Sat on the top of the open top ferry was the best place to be… a little breezy but let me tell you it was well worth it for the views. The Amalfi coast is beautiful… lush green rugged cliff sides dotted with white washed buildings, the odd church steeple, villas and small pebble beaches. I literally sat on top of that ferry breathing in the sea air and pinching myself… it was indescribably magical. We stopped off at Amalfi first, time for a quick selfie!

As we approached Positano I recognised it instantly… you know when you see things on Instagram and think is it really that nice? With all the filters and editing these days you could be disappointed. It’s safe to say I wasn’t, it was everything the picture perfect images promised. Even my 10 year old son was impressed. I don’t actually have a photo of when we docked… I was far too excited and taking it all in.

We were staying at Casa Teresa situated 100 meters above sea level! Paying for our luggage to be taken up by porters on a golf buggy was definitely a smart move. We wandered through the town resisting the temptation to stop at any of it’s boutique shops and up the steep winding hill. The views were spectacular…

Casa Teresa was the perfect base… if your fit, healthy and don’t mind walking. It may have been a climb but the views from up there are totally worth it. The rooms were antique style and charmingly Italian. Breakfast was plentiful and served on the sea view terrace. But what I remember the most is the birds… throwing open those wooden shutters and standing on the balcony with the sun streaming on my face to the beautiful songs of those birds is a moment that will stay with me forever.

We had scheduled only two nights in Positano which would be plenty if I hadn’t fallen in love with the place but I challenge anyone not to. Our days were spent meandering down the 300 hundred steps to spend time on the Arienzo beach.

Marina Grande beach is where the ferry’s come in and much busier than Arienzo. We spent time on both but favoured the smaller quieter one. The beaches on Amalfi are made up of pebbles which I wasn’t sure I would like but honestly it made it all the more charming. I loved sitting there watching my son play in the water and the world go by. Reading my book, paddling and having some lunch in the beachside cafe.

Positano is a lovely place to wander around. Littered with boutiques selling handmade goods, chic linen clothing, ceramics and what they are particularly know for is sandals. Of course I had to indulge. Just a little further up the hill out of the main shopping area (if you can even call it that?!) I found Mastro Positano to make the most exquisite handmade Italian sandals. Honestly it’s so hard to choose… they make and fit your shoes right away. Not cheap at over €100 but well worth the little indulgence.

You are spoilt for choice when it comes to eating in Positano. Locally sourced ingredients, fresh fish, seafood and homemade pasta make it hard to choose. The area is known for its lemons so be sure to make sure you try something lemon infused whilst there. The lemon sorbet is served in an actual lemon by Marina Grande and is so refreshing. I didn’t pay massive attention to where I dined (being pre blog attention to detail is lacking here) but I can tell you to wander about as restaurants are in the town and scattered up the hill. We didn’t have trouble getting in anywhere but we did dine rather late one night waiting for a table at restaurant with a spectacular view… so worth it!

I spent 2 nights and 3 days in Positano… and that is a good amount of time to absorb its charm. Day ferry’s are in and out of the port through out the day and honestly if I had come for the day I would have felt completely robbed. When the day guests depart and the sun sets a different Positano emerges, a more relaxed vibe.

We were really sad to leave Positano, although I know I will return one day. It stole a little piece of my heart… it definitely earns the title of this post… it’s simply perfect.

Have you been to Positano? Or the Amalfi Coast? I would love to hear what you thought…

Rachael x

P.S Keep an eye out for Part 3 of our Italy Adventure – Sorrento and Pompeii.

Posted in Holiday Happiness

Italy Adventuring… Two Days in Rome

Italy has long been on my bucket list… my Grandma was a real lover of Italy and the Italians, when she talked about her eyes would sparkle. With my son getting a little older (he’s now ten) I decided last year it was time to break away from your typical European holiday destinations (we’ve pretty much done them all and more than once) and go and see for ourselves what this wonderful city had to offer.

When you start looking into Italy you realise that it is indeed going to take several trips so we had to choose carefully where to go. Now I have to confess here travelling around Italy via train, boat and taxis was very daunting. I’m the girl who won’t even get the train alone at home. This was a self planned trip, it was all on me. We planned 10 days at the end of May/beginning of June.

No trip to Italy would be complete without Rome I don’t think so that was our starting point. I’m not a great city lover… I can appreciate them but show me the beach or rolling green hills any day over the hum drum of a busy city. But let me tell you there was a lot to love about Rome. Every corner you turned was steeped in amazing architecture.

We stayed in B&B Roman Rooms which was chosen based on location. It’s was only 3 blocks away from the Termini train station and next to the metro. The apartment was good for a budget stay close to everything. Worth a mention here is the manager who met us there was so helpful in advising us about sightseeing. He gave us a map and carefully pointed everything out.

Day One

Our first stop was the Vatican. We had pre booked our tickets through viatour thankfully as the queues outside were huge. We stopped for gelato right outside the Vatican and as expected it was not cheap. I took this photo of my son and right after he realised there was some slight toffee sauce on it and refused to eat it – bloody kids!!

The Vatican felt huge… the museums displays are endless and it was VERY busy. In fact it was a little overwhelming. We wandered around and tried to take it all in. They reckon you can do it in half a day and that is correct, but if you want to absorb every bit of information I guess it would take weeks! Luckily I’m more of a admire it and tick it off kind of girl so I was happy browsing for the afternoon. The Sistine Chapel designed by Michelangelo is absolutely incredible… not to be missed it! That was by far my favourite part. They don’t allow photos or filming but just to give you a slight idea… here’s just one of the ceilings in the corridors leading up to it.

We spent the rest of the day into the evening just wandering about taking Rome in. A bit of shopping, pasta, pizza and of course red wine was consumed. It’s a lovely city to wander around. It felt like every corner we turned there was another amazing building, we stumbled across many.

Day 2

Day two’s adventuring started at the Coliseum. We had pre booked tickets and got there early, it was busy but not as bad as the Vatican. Now the day before we didn’t end up using the audio guides we had booked… so we opted for a tour without them this time. Admiring the coliseum from outside was magical… the sun was shining gloriously through arches. Time for a quick selfie!

From both outside and in it’s easy to understand why it’s considered one of the greatest wonders of the world. It stands 48 meters high and covers a total area of 6 square meters. We wandered round taking in the information boards and just marvelling at the thought of the entertainment that it once housed.

I kept hearing other snippets of information from other people’s private guides. I quickly regretted not getting one myself… as it sounded very interesting. I would advise a private guide so you can ask questions and really take it all in. We stopped at the gift shop and bought a book – which was great as we did learn more from this when we walked around again.

Afterwards we checked out the arch of Constantine, Palatine hill and the Roman forum. All worth a look round and probably better without a bored hot 10 year old… he loved the coliseum but tired soon after. It is a lot to take in and makes you foot weary. I loved just looking around it all but by mid afternoon I was done with looking at ruins too.

We still had a few other sites to catch so after some lunch in a cafe, the Spanish steps was next on the list. I can’t lie we were a bit underwhelmed, but your probably bound to be after seeing the worlds largest amphitheatre! The area was busy, we hung around for a while people watching but being the animal lover I am I enjoyed stroking the horses, ha ha!

Next it was off to Trevi Fountain – one of the oldest water sources in Rome. It is simply stunning but it was absolutely heaving. It was near impossible to get some nice photos. Whilst there we witnessed 2 proposals which would have been so lovely and romantic of it wasn’t for the sheer amount of people!! Still we spent a bit of time around it and threw in a coin each. I would have loved to have gone back at night to see it lit up but we were pretty exhausted by dark.

I think Trevi fountain was my favourite sight I saw in Rome, closely followed by the Coliseum. My advice for the fountain would be to get to and go super early – in the hope everyone’s not had the same thought! We would have done this the next day but it was time to move along in our Italy adventure.

Rome is a fascinating city and it is indeed one of the rare ones that I would definitely revisit. I enjoyed my time there but I definitely need to return to fully absorb the wonders of it. Have you visited Rome? How many days do you think would be perfect?

Keep an eye out for part 2 of my Italy adventure… all about the beautiful Positano.

Rachael πŸ™‚ x

Link to B&B Roman Rooms – http://www.booking.com/Share-JGXGEL

Posted in Personal Development

36 Things I’ve Learned in 36 Years…

I’ve had a blogging break. Not intentionally but life has been so busy as usual! I’m feeling slightly inspired this morning so here I am. This Saturday just gone I turned 36 years old, happy birthday to meee! The past few years I use to dread being another year older. I’m so over that now… a quote I read had a really profound effect on me…

I am fortunate enough not to have lost anyone my age that I’m close to. But I know of people I went to school with, friends of friends my age who didn’t make it to the age I am now. Sure when I take a selfie I might try a million angels so the light hits right and round my eyes look better! But who doesn’t?! It is an absolute privilege to grow older and we should never forget that. Cliche it may sound but every day is a gift and you never know what tomorrow may bring. I am grateful for every one of my thirty six years. My life has been the winding road that it’s meant to be… lessons have been learned but memories have been made.

I feel like it’s only in the last two years I have really become comfortable with being me. I was far too worried about what others think and afraid of looking bad. Whilst this does still bother me occasionally I’m so glad most the time I’m confident enough stay true to myself. This is my life and I realise I must do what’s right for me… I value others opinion but I’m the one holding the pen to my story. You will never keep everyone happy. So here’s 36 things I’ve learned in my 36 years so far…

1. One of the best things that can happen to you in life is to have a happy childhood

2. If you know what you want to do when you leave school then you are lucky, I’m still doing now what I did at seventeen and I love it just as much now as I did then

3. Do something you love and you will never work a day in your life… so true… when the thing that you do to get money doesn’t feel like work you are living your best life

4. Child birth was the most excruciating pain ever and maybe you will forget but I certainly haven’t

5. Being a parent is the hardest job you will ever do. It’s basically giving up the life you know for a completely new one

6. There is no love quite like being somebody’s mummy

7. You will discover your parents were always right even though you probably still won’t admit it to them

8. Don’t strive for perfection in everything you do, it’s just an illusion. Striving for perfection will leave you in a constant state of frustration

9. Travel will make your soul soar, money spent on holidays is never money wasted

10. A few good genuine friends are better than many. As you grow older you will learn which ones are in it for the long haul with you. Cherish them

11. Not everyone has the same heart as you but don’t let that change yours

12. Know what you need and be unapologetic about caring for yourself. Self care is not selfish it’s necessary to your wellbeing

13. Gratitude is the way forward. Wake up every day thankful for all the amazing things in your life. Remember there’s always something to be thankful for

14. Forgiveness is a super power. Forgive others not because they deserve it but because you deserve peace. This is one of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned

15. Learn the art of growing without loosing your inner child… some of my favourite days now are still spent colouring, going to the zoo, building sandcastles or playing on swings

16. Never ignore the feeling in your gut… trust your vibes… energy doesn’t lie. I have learnt to listen to my intuition more as I have got older

17. What you say about other people says more about you than it does about them. Be kind with your words, never gossip

18. Protect your energy… surround yourself with positive people who lift you higher

19. It’s never too late to start over in any area of life. Don’t let anyone tell you you can’t do something. Yes you can! You can do anything you put your mind to!

20. It’s free to dream but dreams only come into reality with hard work. When you look at people who seemingly have it all, respect the hustle they went through to get there

21. Your reality really is a projection of your thoughts. Keep them good, positive and inspiring.

22. Good manners will take you far in life

23. Always Smile… smile when you wake up, smile to yourself, smile at strangers – better to be the one who smiled than the one who didn’t smile back. Smiling make your eyes sparkle…

24. Having love in your life is everything… family, friends, relationships. Without love… there is nothing

25. Look after your body… it’s the only place you have to live. Nourish it with good food but don’t deny yourself treats. Keep it moving… remember your only as young as your spine is flexible

26. Read… the more you read the more things you will know. A good book is a wonderful way of escapism

27. You can never take too many photos! Snapshots of moments gone by will make you smile in your future, even when you ‘weren’t looking your best that day’

28. Practice mindfulness, savour the moment you are in. We live in a fast paced world… remember to pause and smell the sea air, the cut grass, savour the taste of the food you eat, hug someone a little longer

29. You get what you pay for. Quality over quantity every time

30. You can’t change other people… you can only change your reactions to them. Walk away from people and situations that no longer serve you

31. Keep an open mind… it takes all kinds of people to make a world and what a wonderful thing that is

32. Never make a promise you can’t keep

33. Disappointments are part of life but never loose hope… keep pushing forward

34. Mistakes are our greatest teachers. Don’t linger in regret about them, acknowledge them and move on

35. Not everybody will like you or understand you and that’s okay… they are not your people

36. Happiness is an inside job. It’s letting go of what you think your life should look like and embracing every moment. Always strive to find joy in the day to day.

So that’s it! Cheers to me and my 36 years… let’s see what lessons my next 36 will bring me – I hope I’m blessed enough to see them.

Rachael πŸ™‚ x

Posted in Personal Development

10 Ways to Stay Motivated to Exercise!

Well it’s 2019 and I bet plenty of you have muttered these words… ‘right that’s it after Christmas… I’m going to get fit/loose weight/diet. But come February is your determination wavering after the usual hum drum of life sets back in? Your so tired after work, the kids need you, you’ve not got time, blah blah… we’ve all been there. So how can you start and more importantly stick to a new you fitness routine? I was thinking about this on the treadmill the other day. What sparked me to is knowing that January will be a manic month in the gym but come February it will trail off. So here’s my advice on how to stick with fitness this year.

1. Make it a health mission

Firstly I think it needs to be just that… a health mission. This is about you feeling better, brighter, more energetic and full of life. That needs to be your on going goal to feel good… notice how I say ongoing… there’s no end goal here this is your life and you should strive to feel the best you can through out it.

2. Find something you love

You need to find something you love. You can’t make this a chore! If you know you hate the gym don’t pick that!! Maybe you could go swimming? Walking or jogging? Tennis? Zumba? This is all about committing to exercising. Don’t let you mind just jump to the gym… what did you enjoy as a child? Could you join a local team? Bottom line… if you don’t enjoy it it’s harder to stick to it.

3. Get the right gear

What ever you choose get the right clothes to wear. You want to look the part even if you don’t feel it. Also if you buy yourself a new fitness outfit it will spur you on into going to… I mean you don’t want to have wasted your money! The wrong gear can also make you sweat more. I once had some trainers that I swear made me hotter when I trained… they just weren’t breathable enough.

4. Find the right place to train

So this doesn’t apply if your exercising at home but if you are doing it out the house not all places to train are the same. Just because you didn’t like one gym doesn’t mean you won’t like another… some are large and spacious, others more intimate. Some are women only which might appeal, some are aimed at body builders/heavy lifters. I wasn’t a fan of swimming unless it was on holiday… pools are not warm enough and I’m always cold in the changing room after. I recently changed fitness club and guess what? I tried the swimming and I loved it! The pools not busy, temperature is good and the changing rooms are lovely.

5. Find the right instructor

Much like the right place to train an instructor that is good at what they do and train at a pace you enjoy is worth their weight in gold. Personal trainers vary massively I’ve learnt over the years… yours should really make you feel at ease and listen to you but also motivate you to go that extra mile. Instructors of fitness classes styles will vary too. I’ve found this a lot though in yoga. I once went to a class where the teacher literally whispered what we were doing through out! I struggled to hear and kept having to crane my neck to see what she was doing! Some people may have enjoyed that but I preferred to hear the direction clearly. If your trying a fitness class, try several! Find an instructor you like.

6. Don’t set unrealistic goals

I love goal setting, goals are great as they motivate you! But try not to set super challenging ones. You will only be disappointed when you don’t achieve them. Instead set goals in bite size pieces… if you are just starting out running and your aim is to run a marathon keep it in mind but maybe write down run 5k first and keep upping your goal. Another one is promising yourself you will go the gym five days a week when you know it will be a struggle. Why not aim for three which is more manageable and if you go any extra it’s a bonus.

7. Schedule your workouts

Life is busy! Get those work outs in the diary like you do with work appointments and drinks with friends. If it’s in the diary it has to happen! This is my mentality anyway. If it’s right in front of your eyes as you look at your day/week which is bound to be full of non negotiable stuff your exercise regime becomes a part of this too. I also find finding fitness classes where you have to book in helps. I’m on the fence about exercising with a friend thing though… if you do this be careful who you choose as their just not feeling it tonight can rub off on you. If you come dependent with going with someone.

8. Create the ultimate playlist

It’s amazing how much music can motivate your work out. Obviously if your going to a fitness class they are mostly done to music. But that music is carefully selected for a reason. Get together a playlist of songs you love but ones that make you want to train faster and harder. Also if you’ve got headphones in people are less likely to speak to you and interrupt your work out – BONUS!

9. Take progress photos

Okay so you may well hate this at the beginning if your unhappy with how you look… but take the photos trust me. You might think your not progressing or changing but you can miss these little changes as you go along. Progress photos will help you to notice better and will serve as a reminder of how far you’ve come. That said I’m a big advocate of its about how you feel as much as how you look.

10. No such thing as a bad work out

You’ve heard this before but it’s totally true. I’ve had days where it’s just not happening for me, I’ve done half a work out and literally left the gym! Then the next day I’ve come down with a cold. Listen to your body… it knows. However be realistic with yourself… make sure it’s your body that’s not feeling it and not your mind. If you really feel unwell don’t push it. Any form of getting your body moving is better than none. Also if you have a bad day don’t let it set the tone for the whole week!

It might not be easy at first but persevere. In my experience there will come a point when it is part of your routine and you feel almost guilty if you don’t go/do it.

Any other tips you would add here? You’ve got this… in 2019 your going to feel amazing!

Rachael πŸ™‚ x

Posted in Personal Development

What’s not to love about January?!

I have to confess… I’m a total lover of January! I know this month is not favoured by many… so I thought I would sell it to you. Let’s look at the first month of 2019 through rose tinted glasses, let’s have a positive start to the year!

1. You get to put away the tree, decorations and all the Christmas presents and other bits of random crap that have gathered through out the festivities. You can’t deny it… there comes a point when you just want your house back. Bonus – your living room feels huge now!

2. Normal life resumes… now you might challenge me on this but I love my job, I love working (I know I’m lucky) I love to get back to routine. None of that ‘what day is it even?’ If it’s not got a name (Christmas day, Boxing Day etc) we have no bloody clue.

3. It signals the start of a brand new year! You can put the past year behind you good or bad and think about your hopes and dreams for the year ahead. Added to this is the fact you can start using a brand new diary (sorry – stationary lover here! I still adore a paper one)

4. GOALS… I love to plan, try to be organised and set goals. What are your plans for 2019? Don’t just saunter through life from month to month with no direction… go plan those goals… you will feel great when you achieve them. Make this a great year to look back at!

5. New year, new me! Post Christmas it’s time to get fit! Everybody loves to make January the month they commit to fitness, motivation is at an all time high and it’s great to see! Be a cheerleader for your friends and offer support as they start out on a new fitness journey… help them to see it through… not just in January.

6. Everyone is skint in January so nobody will be wanting to do much therefore you will be able to save money by staying in. Which is only a good thing after the hectic month of December where endless nights out and activities with the kids are sure to have left your bank account crying… not to mention the gift buying. Embrace the cold dark nights with a new Netflix series.

7. You can actually see things in shops… no but seriously… I love to shop but December is torture, saying excuse me every few seconds as you navigate yourself through crowds to find what you want and don’t get me started on the queues!! Added bonus is the sales if you can be bothered rummaging through (I fast lose patience!)

8. With Christmas done and dusted January is a great month to look at holidays. Where do you fancy going this year? Planning a holiday will give you something to look forward to.

9. It’s my birthday! Ok so that’s a reason for me to love it not you unless you are a January baby too! If so Happy Birthday!

So that’s it… is there anything you would add here? Happy January guys! Make it the start to a fabulous year.

Rachael x

Posted in Personal Development

New year, new goals… How exciting?

So with 2018 drawing to a close like many of you my thoughts are turning to the year ahead. Apparently this is a late post for 2019 goal planning as a quick google told me a lot of people were writing such posts back in October. But in my opinion it’s better late than never and technically were not even late as there’s still two days of this year left!

I totally love having goals, it makes me feel excited about the future. But it’s rare I write them down… it’s usually all just in my head or in the notes of my phone. But I read somewhere that a study revealed that by writing your goals down you are more likely to achieve them. So I spent yesterday afternoon finalising how I want my year to shape up by actually getting them down on paper.

I’ve always loved drawing and colouring so there was something therapeutic about cracking out my felt tips and making my 2019 goals oh so pretty!

For optimum goal planning I found it’s helpful to break them down into categories as oppose to having a long list. I decided to divide my goals into the following eight categories as I feel it covers all areas of life. But choose categories that you feel are relevant to you.

  • Fitness
  • Family and friends
  • Personal enrichment
  • Fun and adventure
  • Spirituality
  • Self care
  • Financial
  • Career

For each of the eight categories I wrote 2-5 goals down. Some could have fit in more than one category but I just put them in the one I thought they were most relevant too. Just to give you an idea here’s a few of mine…

Fitness – To improve the time I can run on the treadmill

Family and friends – spend more time with my adorable nephew Noah

Personal enrichment – read more often

Self care – Have a green smoothie a day

Fun and adventure – sea lion trainer experience

Spirituality – meditate every day

Financial – stay out of debt completely

Career – finish setting up my clothing company for dance and cheer

These and several of my other goals could be further explored. For example read more often – I could then write a list of books I want to commit to reading. The sea lion trainer experience could be pencilled in my diary or even booked. Look how you can further develop your goals to make it more likely for you to achieve them.

Finally I made sure my list had space still so under each category as I may decide to add more. It’s important though to not overwhelm yourself initially so remember your list is adaptable. Who said goals are just to be planned at the beginning of the year? Goals can be set at anytime but January is obviously the perfect month to look at the year ahead with optimism and excitement.

So off you go to plan your goals! I hope I have inspired you if you haven’t already done it… I hope in 2019 you achieve all you want to.

Rachael πŸ™‚ x

Posted in Baking

Making easy all butter shortbread

I have always loved shortbread. It was a firm favourite of my Grandmas, I can remember it always being on offer at her house. Shortbread biscuits can be baked all year but I love to bake them at Christmas in particular. My cousin Sarah is an amazing baker so I have to confess this recipe is not my own but let me tell you these are the most perfect all butter shortbread I’m about to share with you.

You will need:

  • 340g plain flour
  • 60g sieved icing sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons of ground rice
  • 263g butter
    Sprinkling of caster sugar

Start by preheating the oven to 160c. Weigh out all the dry ingredients, cut up the butter and rub it in until a soft dough is formed.

Next role out the dough ready to cut out biscuit shapes (simple shapes are far easier as detailed ones are harder to get out the cutters!)

I was excited to find a baking stamp in my cutter box that I had forgotten I ever bought! I stamped some and left others plain to decorate later. Once they are all cut out place them on greaseproof baking paper and pop in the oven for about 15-18 minutes.

Please note: Do not overcook, as soon as they are starting to brown (even if only a couple!) remove from the oven.

If you are leaving them plain sprinkle with caster sugar as soon as they come out of the oven (the heat makes it stick) I put sugar on the stamped ones. I left them all to cool before I further decorated the others.

I wanted to use icing sugar to decorate the others as I had some little Christnas embellishments to add too. It’s important to make sure the icing sugars not too runny or it will drip off the edges. The easiest way is to put the biscuit face down to cover the surface and then you can use a knife to further spread it if necessary.

The icing took a while to dry fully so be careful if not to put them on top of each other. The finished results were eye pleasing and yummy! I will definitely be baking them again… I might try adding choc chips instead of decorating next time.

Have you made anything yummy in the run up to Christmas? I would love to hear!

Rachael πŸ™‚ x

Posted in Christmas Activites

Christmas Inspiration at Bents Home and Garden

If you were ever short of Christmas inspiration there is a garden centre in Cheshire that is absolutely killing it. Bents Home and Garden are well known for going that extra mile when it comes to Christmas. With Santa’s arrival around the beginning of November officially opening the festive period, people come from far and wide to marvel at the beautiful Christmas displays throughout November and December.

On Friday night we decided to go and have a little look and much to my surprise it wasn’t overly busy. I think it’s getting to the point now where people have done the majority of decoration buying. But this is more than your average garden centre selling trees and decorations. It almost an experience and I thought it would be lovely to share this with you through photos below.

Upon entry you are greeted with the big man himself – a delight for children.

Outside this house it’s snowed and the children are having fun in this winter scene. I love the topsy turvy snowman!

Unicorns have been all the rage this year and this little whimsical scene gives a nod to all things make believe and magical.

Check out the VW camper van parked up in this rustic log cabin scene (note the reg plate… great the attention to detail!)

A beautiful simplistic Christmassy living room… great of you don’t have kids, ha ha!

Dining in style here with a classic red and gold theme. I love the wreath hanging over the stags head.

Obviously the whole point of these scenes is to inspire you. I think pretty much everything you see is available to purchase – the decorations, dinnerware and soft furnishings.

Moving on to the Christmas trees now and I all I can say is WOW. Several colour themed trees are on display in the store, alongside them of course are the decorations beautifully displayed for purchase.

First up is ‘rural retreat’ and I absolutely adore this one! Not your average festive tree but still a head turner. Look at the birds perched on the branches at the top!

This one called ‘so magical’ takes on just that theme with unicorns, rabbits, fairies and pink and white colours.

‘Snow much fun’ would be one your children love! It had skating reindeer and plenty of snowmen hiding amongst its branches.

For a more extravagant tree theme this ‘festive fusion’ would add colour to your living room and is definitely a head turner.

These were just my favourite four trees there were indeed quite a few more to marvel at.

Worth a mention too are the miniature model villages and moving trains. They are also available to buy, although I think you would need lots of room to make a scene like this at home!

The traditional fairgrounds are so cute! I could stand and watch the moving rides for ages. They were always a favourite of my sons when he was younger.

We spent over two hours wandering round and also had something to eat. I purchased the most amazing thing though… scentsicles! For those of you who have a fake tree for ease and less mess but adore the smell of a real tree these are what you need…

You hide the little scented sticks in the branches of your Christmas tree and your home will be filled with lovely waft of a real one!

Are you all set for Christmas now? I think I’m just about there. I’m getting really excited… seven sleeps eek! Wishing you a Happy Holidays everyone!

Rachael x