Towards the end of 2017, I re-discovered my love of writing and decided I was going to dust off the blog and start again. I set myself the goal of blogging every day in Jan (lol) and although I didn’t achieve that, I’ve learned a lot about blogging and how I blog this month, so I thought I would share.

Don’t Be Overly Ambitious

January was quite unexpectedly busy, so I didn’t get the chance to create the content I wanted too and reach my goal of writing every day. This was EXTREMELY ambitious and I would have loved to achieve this goal, but unfortunately, I didn’t, and this is ok.

I probably could have posted every day in Jan, but they would have been thrown together and I wouldn’t have been proud of them.

I’m not going to beat myself up over the fact I didn’t blog every day, ‘cos I believe that is how you get stuck in a hole of resenting your blog. Instead, I’m using my first month back as a lesson as to how many blogs I CAN write in a month, and schedule them accordingly.

If You Don’t Like Something, Fix It

When I started blogging again, I realised I wasn’t in love with my blog design and I absolutely hated Blogger. I feel like when you don’t like what you’re working with, it can really impact how you work.

I work with a lot of WordPress sites for work, and I knew I wanted to make the move, so one day I just did it. Fortunately, I hadn’t got a lot of posts on the blogger site, so instead of the faff about migrating the blog over, I decided to start a fresh, and copy the blogs over manually. It also had very little effect on my SEO, as Google wasn’t reading my blogs on Blogger.

WordPress makes blogging SO much easier IMO, and when it’s simple to use it’s not a chore to write!

I also purchased a theme from Pipdig that I’d been lusting after for quite some time, and isn’t it pretty? I’m really happy with how it looks, and my blog is becoming something I’m really proud of!

The last thing I want to ‘fix’ is my header, but that’s not too much of a big deal for now.

Inspiration is Everywhere

I’d always thought my main source of inspiration was reading other blogs and magazines, and while they are great sources of inspiration, I didn’t realise that I could be inspired almost anywhere.

I’ve found inspiration for posts in conversations in work, to something I’ve seen as I’m walking through the city centre, to a post on Twitter. It’s astounding how something that seems so insignificant could be the perfect seed for a great content idea.

I think now I’m loving writing again, I’m feeling more creative and this goes hand in hand with finding more inspiration.

So, that’s what I learned over this past month. I’m really exciting to be blogging again, and can’t wait to see what this little blog becomes!

I had been toying with the idea of doing a calligraphy workshop ever since I saw Lily Pebbles vlog where she went and did one, and Artsynibs was one of the first I found when I started looking. I’d put it off for so long though as they always seemed to fall on a weekend when I was busy.

Finally, I found a date that I was free and booked on as soon as I could! Artsynibs were offering two courses, an ‘Intro to Modern Calligraphy’ and ‘Brush Lettering Workshop’. After much umming and ahhing I decided to go for the brush lettering option, as the lettering looked a little less ‘technical’.

The workshop was based at the Form Lifestyle Store in Manchester city centre. The store is absolutely stunning, from the outside it looks like a little country store misplaced within the urban setting of the Northern Quarter.

Once I arrived I was welcomed to the course by Joyce and took my seat along with 7 other ladies who were eager to begin. Included in the workshop fee we also received a brush lettering goodie back which included a brush pen, ink and a brush, and the workshop sheets, with additional practice sheets to take home.

Joyce starting by telling a bit about what we were going to be doing over the afternoon and advising us on the importance of breathing as we practised. It’s actually a little bit silly how often I forgot to breathe because I was concentrating too much.

In three hours the brush lettering workshop covers a lot of ground. We started by practising our lines and other techniques that are used in almost every letter, this was so helpful when it came to actually writing a real word!

Joyce is SUCH a wonderful teacher, she explains the technique in such great detail and is happy to provide help where needed. Instead of learning to write the alphabet in order, she groups the letters into those that have similar styles to make it easier to practice, this really helped!

As well as teaching us the basics of brush lettering, Joyce explained what equipment we could use, and the best places to get it.

I thoroughly enjoyed my afternoon at the Artsynibs Brush Lettering Workshop and would fully recommend anyone who is looking for a similar course to book on this one! Below is my attempt at the alphabet, I’m not great but I’m going to keep practising!

I’m not new to Tinder. Scrolling through my messages there’s some on there from 2013, however, I’d never actually been on a Tinder date until last year.

Over the past five years, I’d never taken Tinder too seriously, and I hadn’t spoken to many guys where it had ever got to asking for a date. In the few times I had been chatting with someone who I’d consider going on a date with, I’d always panic and decline. In the past, I’d never dated anyone I didn’t know somewhat before, so I think I had a fear of the unknown.

Roll on 2017 and me and a friend made it our new years resolution to bite the bullet and say yes to a Tinder date. I’d been living in Manchester for 6 months at this point and I think not living with my mum and having to explain where I was going and who I was seeing helped me to actually do this.

So, around summer time I got speaking to this guy who we will call ‘E’. We’d both moved to Manchester in the past year, had a few similar interests, and the chat seemed to flow nicely.

We must have been speaking for around 2-3 weeks before I’d had one too many wines and had the courage to ask him out for a drink. Thankfully he didn’t decline and strip me of all my self-confidence!

It turned out we lived in the same apartment complex, he was just in another block so we decided to go for a drink somewhere close, as I didn’t know any decent bars near I let him decide (really wish I’d hadn’t!)

The evening arrived, and safe to say I was SHITTING myself. I’m such an overthinker, and all that was running through my head was what do I do when I meet him?! Do I go in for a hug? Do I just say hi? Do I shake his hand? Do I bloody curtsey. No that would be weird…

I tried to get to where we were meeting a bit earlier so I didn’t have to be the one to find him (again, overthinking) but he beat me to it. So I went over (probs physically shaking with nerves at this point) and said hi, and he went in for the hug. It was SOOOO awkward, but I realised at this point he was also really nervous, and this put me slightly at ease as I realised we were in the same boat.

So we walk to this local pub, the walk over is fine and the awkwardness is subsiding. There’s not been any awkward silences which is a good sign. As soon as we walked in that door it started to go downhill.

Now I want to clarify, I’m not at all a snob. I LOVE going to your standard ‘old man pub’ with my friends for cheap drinks and a great laugh, but for a first date, this pub was the absolute worst setting.

We got in there and it was busy but SO quiet. You could tell most of the people in there were locals and we were not. I asked if he knew anywhere else nearby that might have a better atmosphere, he said no this was the best place he knew and that was that. (Oh how I wish I’d suggested somewhere in the city centre!)

He ordered us a drink and we sat down, I could have been being overly paranoid but it felt like everyone was staring at us, so my awkward levels obviously rose again. We’d been sat there ‘chatting’ for about half an hour when it dawned on me that I hadn’t really said much… ‘E’ didn’t know when to shut up.

I’m guessing it was his nerves, which is totally understandable, but the fact I’d not spoken made me more nervous. ‘What if he thinks I’m boring’, kept going through my head. So I had to fight to find a gap in the conversation to try and tell him a bit about myself. Every time I managed to get a word in edgeways he would just bring the conversation back to him (speak about what you know I guess?)

Eventually, we got on to his friends, and how most of them were settled down, married with kids and this was what he was looking for the same thing. At this point, I had to get up and get another glass of wine, because I did not expect to hear such serious chat on the first date in an old man pub. I swear I heard one woman choke on her drink when he said this.

Now I’m not saying I wouldn’t like to settle down one day, BUT THIS IS NOT FIRST DATE CHAT. Saying that this is my first ever Tinder date, so what do I know?!

The vicious circle of ‘E’ talking about himself, me trying to butt in, and him going back to talking about himself carried on until we’d finished our second drink and I said I best be off as I had work the next morning. Completely forgetting he lived near me so we’d have to walk back together!

He nipped to the loo before we left and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t tempted to just leave and avoid 10 more minutes of sheer awkwardness. I’m not that much of an awful person though.

So we walked home, nice and awkward, and got to the entrance to my block. We had a ‘lovely’ awkward hug, and I stupidly said, oh we should do something again, while inside my head I was screaming ‘NO NO NO, WHAT ARE YOU SAYING YOU STUPID COW’. To which, he just sort of grunted and said goodbye.

Turns out, we both thought the date was terrible as I never messaged him, and he never messaged me. We’ve literally not spoken or seen each other (thankfully) since the date, and I honestly couldn’t have wished for a better outcome.

So my first ever Tinder date wasn’t a success, but it did throw me out of my comfort zone and I have been on Tinder dates with two other guys since this one, so I have ‘E’ to thank for something!

I was lucky enough to spend a month in Rio De Janerio, Brazil at the end of 2013, and oh it was incredible! If you’re travelling South America, or just jetting off to Rio for a break, here’s part one of my guide, covering all the major sights!


Copacabana Beach

“At the Copa, Copacabana…”

Anytime I hear the name of this beach I can’t help but get THAT song in my head, anyone else?

Anyway, Copacabana is a MUST for anyone travelling to Rio, not that there’s much chance you can miss it. Set in the South Zone of Rio, Copacabana beach is absolutely massive and runs for over 2 miles of the coast.

You’ll know when you’re on Copacabana beach once you see the famous black and white Portuguese pavement that spans the entire promenade of the beach.

Along the beach in Rio you will find so much to see and do. From open-air bars with live music, or little cafes if you fancy something more relaxing. There are many different sports played along the beach, from volleyball to football, and even if you’re not that sporty, it’s great to sit and watch!

Sugarloaf Mountain

The Sugarloaf Mountain is without a doubt the place to get the best views of Rio. To get to the top you have to take two cable cars, one to Morro da Urca (which also has some pretty good views!) and a second from Morro da Urca to Sugarloaf.

Once you’re at the top there’s surprisingly a lot to do, considering you’re at the top of a mountain! There are places for food, drinks and souvenirs, and seating areas to just relax and enjoy the view.

Apart from the amazing scenery, the best part about the Sugarloaf Mountain IMO is the marmoset monkeys that aren’t afraid to get up close to you. You’re not allowed to feed them, but they will try and steal any food you have in your hands!

Another thing to do on the Sugarloaf Mountain is to watch the outdoor rock climbers and abseilers, there are lots of rock climbing spots on the mountain so you should be guaranteed to see some.

Christ The Redeemer

This is probably the most obvious tourist spot you HAVE to visit on your trip to Rio. When you’re in the city you’ll catch a glimpse of this Christ the Redeemer every now and then when there is a break in the buildings, but this doesn’t do it justice until you’re up close.

Standing on top of the Corcovado mountain, the statue is 98ft tall and from finger to finger the arms stretch 92ft.

As you’d expect with most tourist spots, the viewing area is really busy. It’s near-impossible to get a photo without anyone else in if you’re there at peak times, but you can still get some really nice shots.

The best time to go would be about an hour before sunset, as you get to experience it during the day and then as it goes dark. The views over Rio De Janerio are also stunning from up here.

Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon

If you watched the Rio Olympics in 2016 you would of certainly seen this lake – it’s where the rowing  took place!

Situated in the South Zone of Rio De Janeria, Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon is MASSIVE, and there’s a lot to do around, and in it.

We spent a lot of time near the lagoon as it was close to where we were staying. We spent a day cycling round it multiple times (it killed me) which was a great way to take everything in. There were lots of bike rental places around the lagoon, so it’s easy to find one for a few hours.

While cycling round you’ll find loads of quiet areas to sit and chill, which made quite a nice change to the hectic streets around Copacobana. Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon is also a great spot to see Christ the Reedemer from the ground.

We also hired the swan boats (like the ones at Alton Towers) and went for a spin around the lake for an hour, which was fun!

So there it is, the first part of my travel guide to Rio De Janerio, there’s definitely many more sights to Rio but those were my highlights.

(Disclaimer: I had some fab photos from my trip to Rio, but I lost them on an old laptop and only had the crappy quality versions saved on Facebook, so please excuse how rubbish they are!)

Mackie Mayor, Manchester's Northern Quarter

Eagle St, Manchester, M4

Mackie Mayor has been in Manchester’s Northern Quarter since the 1800s, but in October 2017 the Grade II listed building underwent a massive refurbishment before reopening as a communal seating food hall.

I recently visted Mackie Mayor for the first time as I’d heard a lot of hype about it, and I’d already visted Altrincham market (owned by the same people) and loved it. Safe to say Mackie Mayor didn’t disppoint.

Mackie Mayor in Manchester

The venue is massive, spread out over two floors with 10 food and drink traders around the bottom floor. The communal seating idea works really well, we were able to find somewhere to seat really easily despite it being a busy Sunday.

The food choices are incredible, we were seriously spoilt for choice (and tempted to get multiple meals!) In the end I went for a steak sandwich and chips from Tender Cow, and it was SO tasty!

The Tender Cow at Mackie Mayor

Consisting of really tender steak, bernaise sauce, caramilised onions, rocket, all on a soft ciabatta bread, I devoured the lot. Considering the trader stalls are quite small, the Tender Cow menu options were really varied so I’d say it’s definitely worth a try if you’re ever in Mackie Mayor or Altrincham Market.

The Tender Cow at Mackie Mayor, Northern Quarter

I’ll definitely be going back to try some of the other traders, next on my list is either a soughdough pizza from Honest Crust Pizza, or a bao bun from Baohouse!

As well as food, Mackie Mayor also has a great selection of places for a drink. There’s a coffe shop, a wine bar, and a brewery so you’ll definitely find something you like. We stuck to water this time (dry Jan…) but I’ll definitely go back for a few glasses of wine in the future.

Mackie Mayor Menu

The Northern Quarter is already my favorite area of Manchester and Mackie Mayor is the perfect addition. Great for a lunch date with friends, and even a good first date spot!

Have you been to Mackie Mayor yet? Do you have any suggestions for places to eat in Manchester that I may not have been too? Let me know in the comments!