Wednesday, 20 August 2014

TRAVEL // MY TOP CITIES FOR LONG WEEKENDS AWAY

Some of us haven't yet had a holiday this year, which means the idea of a long weekend/mini break somewhere is ever so tempting this winter. I've never been a massive fan of sun or clubbing holidays and enjoy the idea of going on an adventure or visiting somewhere where I can really soak up the culture, which is probably why a city break always sounds so appealing to me. Even in the middle of winter with cold weather I think these type of mini weekends away can be really fun. And if you're really not planning to go for a full week, even a short Thursday-Monday break can be really cheap whilst still giving you enough time to get a perfect taster of a city.

Luckily it's not too late to arrange something with your girlfriends, family or other half for towards the end of this year. But the tough part is deciding where to go! Here are some places I think are definitely worthy of a little visit this autumn/winter.

AMSTERDAM
We're actually hoping to go to Amsterdam towards the end of next month and, despite what people say, I think there's a lot more to this scenic city then just drugs and sex! Amsterdam is actually really cultural and filled to the brim with museums (Anne Frank House, Van Gough Museum & Museum Van Loon are just a few) and it also has a lot to offer in terms of art galleries too. The city is super stunning with many canals, which are perfect to ride alongside on a long bike ride, and tons of open air green spaces, that some of which host free music concerts in the evenings. I'd suggest slumming it in a cheap hostel when in Amsterdam to really get a feel of the place when saving money.

Inspire Magazine Online - UK Fashion, Beauty & Lifestyle blog | Travel // My Top Tips for Long Weekends Away; Bruges; Inspire Magazine; Inspire Magazine Online; Travel
A beautiful view of Bruges from a boat tour
BRUGES
Bruges is one of the most beautiful cities I've ever visited and with being such a short journey away with the Eurostar, it's no doubt a place I'll definitely return to. In terms of culture, other then it's museums and galleries, the place itself doesn't have much to offer, but if you go close to Christmas then you really won't care. The stunning city is transformed into a total winter wonderland come Christmas with Christmas markets, a huge ice skating rink and even horse drawn carriage rides. The decorations are out of this world and Bruges is also great just for sight seeing. When my mum, my sister visited last Christmas we spent long walks along the canals and would definitely recommend a boat tour along them, to see an alternative view of this Belgium wonderland. We stayed in a town house kind of hotel which was right by the center and was really cheap too.

YORK
York is a little closer to home and is one of those places that will make you feel like you've traveled back in time. For lack of a better explanation, it's all very oldy worldy with lots of narrow cobbled streets and hidden gems like beautiful boutiques and an actual open-all-year-round Christmas shop. York has a rich history and you'll find yourself spoilt for choice here. There's the gorgeous York Minister, the York Castle Museum (you'll need a whole day to look around this!), the York Dungeons, and my personal favourite, Haunted - which is a genuine haunted house over 700 years old. There's also lots of outdoor stuff too such as a walk along the walls or a creepy ghost walk. If you're going to visit here then the best place to stay would be in a cosy and local B&B which are super cheap and always hosted by lovely people.

Inspire Magazine Online - UK Fashion, Beauty & Lifestyle blog | Travel // My Top Tips for Long Weekends Away; York; Inspire Magazine; Inspire Magazine Online; Travel
A hidden gem found when exploring York
If you're looking to go all out, then somewhere like Paris or New York is your answer. Paris is beautiful whatever the weather but being so popular it isn't that cheap! The Gothic Quarter is particularly ideal for wandering around and the Catacombs and Monmatre should also be visited too. I've never been to New York but I really don't think there's much I can recommend because the top attractions are pretty straight forward! I will say that I'm absolutely itching to spend a Friday night watching some obscure band in a typical American dive bar though...

However, if your budget can't quite stretch to cover a weekend away in somewhere like Paris or New York then hopefully Amsterdam, York or Bruges will be on your 'must visit' list this winter! If you could go anywhere on a city break this Christmas, where would it be?! Let me know!

You can also find me on

Monday, 18 August 2014

TAG // WHAT MAKES YOU HAPPY

I'm at one of those points where I have so many ideas about things to blog about but I just simply don't have the time to get around to it! So for the meantime, I thought I'd have a go at Shona Louise's tag that she created, since I haven't done a 'personal' post in a while. Additionally, as she stated in her post, I think sometimes it's far too easy to forget what things make you happy when you're having a bad day.


WHO MAKES YOU HAPPY?
My family and friends make me happy. I'm a real home body, so some nights I'm happiest just sat at home watching a movie with my parents or going out to dinner with my family. It might sound boring, but it's true. A few weeks ago, everyone got together for a family wedding and we had a great time. My friends make me happy too and I feel I can rely on them for even the stupidest of things. If I need a night out to let my hair down, we'll go out. If I need to chill after a long week at work, then we'll have a quiet evening at the pub. My friends are great at advice or just helping distract me from what's wrong, and I don't know what I'd do without them.

WHAT MAKES YOU HAPPY?
Music makes me happy! No matter what mood I'm in, there's something I can listen to to make me laugh, cry, think, or even just escape my own mind. It also helps me in other ways too. Music has brought me closer to friends, has helped me make new friends and has even sent me on fun adventures that have left me with amazing memories. Other things that make me happy are movies, food (haha) and big hugs. Sometimes you just need a big hug.

3 PLACES THAT MAKE YOU HAPPY
My local pub is one because me and my friends always seem to migrate there, whether its for a summer drink, Rock 'n' Roll bingo or our yearly Christmas meal. We've had so many great memories there and even if we're just stopping for one or two non-alcoholic drinks on a quiet Sunday evening, I still find myself leaving with my cheeks hurting from laughing so hard at our many topics of conversation.
South Shields beach - although I no longer live up North - always has been and always will be a favourite place of mine. It holds so many great memories and just signifies an important three years of my life.
Finally, don't judge me, but my bed makes me happy! Obviously I love catching up on sleep but I love reading in bed or watching a movie or even just snuggling up in the warmth and listening to music on the rare occasion in the middle of the day!

What makes you happy? I'll certainly refer back to this post when I'm having a bad day and do something mentioned here!

You can also find me on

Friday, 15 August 2014

FASHION // WOOLOVERS 25TH BIRTHDAY

To help celebrate Woolovers 25th birthday, I thought I'd do a little post today on some of my favourite picks from the site. At work, we're beginning to bring in our autumn wear which has me longing for those cold winter nights when I can finally start wearing some lovely fluffy jumpers! Being that it rained almost all day yesterday, I'm definitely eager to put away my summer clothes and admit defeat; it seems summer has been and just about gone, and so come out the jumpers.

Luckily, Woolovers have a wide range to offer and I love how much variety they have in terms of colour. Here are some of my favourite picks that I'll no doubt be purchasing come payday.

Inspire Magazine Online - UK Fashion, Beauty & Lifestyle blog | Fashion // Woolovers 25th Birthday; Inspire Magazine; Inspire Magazine Online; Woolovers
Images taken from Woolovers.com
A thick striped top is first on my wishlist because I've really been loving the whole nautical look lately. This will take the place of the favourite stripy vest top I wear for casual, as a vest top is just going to be too cold this winter. This jumper will keep me warm and is a perfect example that jumpers don't have to be plain and boring.

I also absolutely adore this ladies fair isle jumper because it's SO cute and stylish! I love how it's seasonal without being too over the top. I think we had our fair share of corny Christmas jumpers last year and this is a subtle nod to that trend, without actually trying to re-create it and thus being out of date. It's colours are really cute and I can just imagine wearing the cream one on Christmas day, going for a long walk in the countryside - or even just in the last month leading up to Christmas!

Finally, you can never go wrong with a simple and basic crew neck jumper. It's fitted, it's long sleeved so keeps you really warm and these are often quite stylish too. What I like about these jumpers is that they're great to wear just on their own - you don't necessarily need to keep this kind of jumper just to throw over something else.

These are just three of many jumpers that have caught my eye and I am very sorry for talking about Christmas and winter already, but with the horrible and gloomy weather yesterday, I have to admit, I'm really in the mood for winter now!

What do you think? Is it too early to start thinking about winter fashion, even though the shops are beginning to stock their autumn ranges? Have you got your eye on any knitwear from Woolovers? Let me know!

"Sponsored post

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

REVIEW // SIMPLY COOK MONTHLY SUBSCRIPTION BOX

Although beauty boxes began the trend, it seems there's a monthly subscription box for everything these days. Recently I've heard about craft boxes, sweet treat boxes and even a box called 'Mantry' (I absolutely love the name) which is aimed at men! There's not really been a box I've felt worthy of subscribing to so far though as some can be quite pricey and I've not really seen the point in wasting money on something I won't use.

But when I came across Simply Cook, I changed my mind. I'm not a great cook, EVERYONE knows that. I mean sure, I can make basic things like pasta dishes or beans on toast but that's where my culinary skills end. I don't think I'll ever be the type of person who can look in the fridge, see a bunch of random ingredients and just throw something together.

Inspire Magazine Online - UK Fashion, Beauty & Lifestyle blog | Review // Simply Cook Monthly Subscription Box; Inspire Magazine; Inspire Magazine Online; Simply Cook; Monthly Subscription Box

But Simply Cook caught my eye because it offers such a wide variety of food. I like how I can use it do discover new recipes from different cultures and none of it is typical dishes we all know how to make anyway, or things that many people are familiar with but just have a new twist on them. It's a great way to not only widen your food choices but to improve your cooking skills too. It really does offer food from all around the world.

The box basically contains enough for a meal a week and includes three ingredients for each recipe, more so the spices or sauces for each. So you have to provide the basics or the fresh food like the chicken or beef or whatever, although I've found so far that when purchasing the additional ingredients of each recipe, it's never cost me much more then £5ish.

Most recipe cards state that the portions are for two people, but I've managed to cook for myself and my parents on these. The recipe cards are super cute too and I absolutely adore how you can rip off the ingredient list at the bottom of each and just pop it in your purse! It's actually really cheap too at only £10 a month with free shipping which I think is more then worth it considering how many meals you get out of it.

Inspire Magazine Online - UK Fashion, Beauty & Lifestyle blog | Review // Simply Cook Monthly Subscription Box; Inspire Magazine; Inspire Magazine Online; Simply Cook; Monthly Subscription Box

However you can get your first box half price using my referral URL here, and once you've received one box, you can then go on to choose what you want your next box to include. So if you're feeling stumped about what to cook or maybe you're just a beginner like me, you should try Simply Cook.

It really has helped me improve my cooking skills and has helped me actually want to learn to cook new things. I've definitely become more confident in the kitchen after subscribing to this!

What do you think? Are you a novice at cooking? Do you think a monthly subscription box like Simply Cook could help you? Let me know!

You can also find me on


Friday, 8 August 2014

NAILS OF THE WEEK // BLACK LACE

Once again, I feel like I'm in a real life version of The Truman Show because as usual a great idea I've had has been nicked by someone else. This time, it's Primark. Sort of.

Many years ago I told my mum I wanted to try nail art using lace after seeing a photo in a magazine, although if my memory serves me right the photo was of a lace nail art effect without actually using lace (to my knowledge anyway, it's entirely possible that it was actual lace and therefore Primark did not nick my idea as it wasn't my idea in the first place). None the less, I kept saying I'd buy some lace and try it out.

I did not.

The other week when I was mooching around Oxford Street Primark, I saw that they'd brought out their own Lace Manicure kit, so of course I bought one. The end result was fiddly, slightly messy and annoying (and it got more messy and more annoying the longer I wore them)...but it looked damn good, at least before it got too messy.

Inspire Magazine Online - UK Fashion, Beauty & Lifestyle blog | Nails Of The Week // Black Lace; Inspire Magazine; Inspire Magazine Online; Black Lace; Black Lace Nail Art; Nail Art; Primark; Edgy

I spent Wednesday evening at a gig, seeing the ever awesome Blink 182. I've waited at least ten years to see this band and honestly cannot fathom how happy I was to finally be able to see them live. They'd always been on my band bucket list - the one ultimate band I'd never had the chance to see but was always desperate to. When they split up I thought my chance was over, and as happy as I was when they reformed, I simply didn't have the money to see them then. So it was a really lucky day for me when I was able to get tickets this time around and of course, doing my nails like that was partly for the gig.

Inspire Magazine Online - UK Fashion, Beauty & Lifestyle blog | Nails Of The Week // Black Lace; Inspire Magazine; Inspire Magazine Online; Black Lace; Black Lace Nail Art; Nail Art; Primark; Edgy

They're soooo pretty and gothic and edgy. I used Nails Inc 'Hero Shade' as a base colour and then once that was dry, used a top clear coat before adding the lace. I cut off any excess lace and added a final clear top coat to help secure it. Some nails needed going over more than once, but for the most part, the clear top coat really held the lace down well. However for some of the nails, the thicker bit of lace came off & strands loosened more easily like when I was using my hands a lot and doing delivery at work. In future, I'll probably cut the lace less like the lace on my thumb and perhaps more like the lace on my forefinger - so that no 'thick' bits are at the very end of the nail. It was kind of hard cutting the lace to the correct size too, but the hardest part was doing my right hand (I didn't even attempt it, my sister did it for me ha). 

The end result looked fab, but I am considering maybe using some stick on designs that aren't actual lace. I think that'll be less fiddly, although at the same time I really like that it's actual lace and not just a painted on pattern!

None the less, that's my nails of the week and I've had lots of compliments on them. I do think with more practice they'll be less messy. From afar they look fine, but if you look closely overtime you can see where strands of lace have come up and loosened a bit on the end of my nails. But, I doubt anyone will be bothering to look that close!

What do you think? Would you try out the lace nail trend? Make sure to let me know with a comment!

You can also find me on