Life Rambles: Friday Favourites #75

Happy Friday! {Disclaimer: I’m actually writing this on Thursday, so I’m nicely unaware of what the outcome is of the General Election. Something tells me I’m gong to wish I could stay in this limbo for longer…} I’m very glad we’re almost at the weekend, this week feels soooo long. Tell me that’s not just me? I’m not sure what’s made it so long, perhaps it’s the hideous weather? Who know! Anyway, as it’s Friday we’re on to my favourite things post, I wonder what’ll have made it on to the Friday favourites list today, hhhmmm? Read on to discover more!

So first on the Friday favourites list, we have Wonder Woman. I watched it on Sunday and it was perfect. It’s so refreshing to have a superhero movie with an actual story line. Not to mention properly developed characters, in particular female characters. The female characters in this film were just brilliant, from the incredibly strong, fierce Amazonesque warriors to the hilarious Etta, but most of all Wonder Woman herself. She was the perfect mix of compassion, strength and naivety. She’s the superhero I’ve been waiting my whole life for, without even realising it. And that scene when she runs across No Man’s Land, simply incredible.

Getting to vote and have my say is always going to be a brilliant thing for me so that’s definitely on today’s Friday favourites list. It doesn’t matter what we’re voting for, the simple act of democracy in action is always a good thing. Does anyone else feel that immediate sense of pride once you’ve ticked that box? It can’t just be me, can it? Also bringing me great joy yesterday was the #dogsatpollingstations. Such a lovely idea and it’s just full of so many cute pupsters. Although I’m outraged that the parents wouldn’t join in and take Lunabean there – what a missed opportunity.

This week has been chocked full of lovely friends. Whether it’s been sharing lunch, constant WhatsApp messages or perfectly planned emails my friends have been pretty awesome this week. I love that I have friends all over the country and world and from all aspects of my life and that they’re always there with just the right response. That’s pretty awesome isn’t it?

A day of no plans. Yes you read that right, one of my Friday favourites was the fact that last Saturday involved absolutely zero plans. It’s been a while since I had a day like that and it was blissful. I went for a run, made a yummy breakfast, caught up on loads of emails and life admin, before settling down with a good book and then Gilmore Girls. Just what I needed!

 

I’ve read two brilliant books over the last week and after a book that I didn’t enjoy at all – More than This I’m looking at you – that was pretty awesome. So while it’s not my June book post yet I thought I’d add both of them to my Friday favourites list. So here’s to When Dimple Met Rishi and The Keeper of Lost Things. If you’re looking for a new book to read then definitely give those two a try. You won’t regret it!

So there we go, my favourite things from the last week. What would be on your list?

-Fi x

The Book Corner: May Reading Update

Happy June everyone! So were well into month sixth of 2017 and so far, I have to say I’ve had a pretty good reading year. I’ve read some absolutely glorious books and still have so many more on my TBR pile. 2017 looks set to be a pretty epic reading year! So without further ado let’s jump straight into May’s reading update. Read on to discover what books I loved the most and those I wouldn’t necessarily recommend to anyone else…

May Reading Update #1 and #3 – Siege and Storm and Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo

There’s absolutely nothing to hate about Leigh Bardugo’s glorious Grisha trilogy. These books are insanely good. Packed with incredible characters and a jaw-dropping storyline all wrapped up in the most wonderfully realised world I couldn’t even begin to imagine. Everything about the Grisha verse is a joy and I’m bereft that I’m caught up on Bardugo’s epic books now. What will I read next?!

May Reading Update #2 – The London Eye Mystery by Siobhan Dowd

I didn’t read this book when it first came out in 2007, but with Robin Stevens’ much-anticipated sequel due out later this year I thought it was high time I gave it a whirl. And guess what? I loved it! This is the most perfect middle-grade mystery story. You instantly feel part of Ted’s world and there are just enough clues peppered throughout the book for you to feel like you know where the story is going and that maybe, just maybe, you’ll work out the mystery. If you’re a detective novel fan, this one is a must read for you.

May Reading Update #4 – I Am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes

The sisterlings have been waxing lyrical about this book for ages and ages. So I knew I’d love it. I just needed to find a time where I’d be able to read for a couple of hours uninterrupted so I could get stuck in. At almost 900 pages I knew it was imperative I was hooked straight away. Really I shouldn’t have worried, Terry Hayes has a way of hooking you in from page one. This book is incredible. I totally get the hype and it’s not been exaggerated at all. This is possibly the best twisty, thrillery spy novel I’ve EVER read. And I’ve read a LOT!

May Reading Update #5 – Mad Girl by Bryony Gordon

This book should be required for everyone. Bryony talks so articulately and beautifully about mental health and it really made me stop and think. I thought I was quite aware and sensitive to how others feel and what mental health is and how it affects you, but I clearly didn’t know anything. Bryony’s book really is eyeopening and I was amazed at her strength, not only in dealing with such a dreadful disease but in articulating it so well. My eyes have definitely opened and hopefully I’m more sensitive than I was before. No more insensitive ‘I’m so OCD’ jokes from me ever again.

May Reading Update #6 – Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han

I can always count on Jenny Han to pen a book that’s the perfect mix of joy and pain. That has me racing through 300 odd pages in a day. If you’ve not been introduced to Jenny’s writing now’s the time. Her books are beautifully written contemporary YA tales and are the most perfect escapism. The final book in the P.S I Love You series is no different. This is perfect holiday reading material. I promise.

May Reading Update #7 – A Dangerous Crossing by Rachel Rhys

This book surprised me. From the blurb I was expecting a kind of Agatha Christie detective novel, instead I got an intriguing novel about secrets and lies, adventure and loyalty. It was definitely a surprise, but a good one that’s for sure. I flew through this book in a couple of days and was sad to say goodbye to the characters I’d met.

This novel follows a young girl as she emigrates from London to Melbourne on the eve of World War Two. As she makes the three-week long journey by boat she meets a cast of characters from all walks of life all with different secrets. The book opens with the end of the journey as a young girl is led from the ship in Australia having been arrested, we then go back six weeks to see what happened on the ship. Who can she trust, is everyone as she seems, and just which women is arrested as they’re leaving the boat…

May Reading Update #8 – The Guggenheim Mystery by Robin Stevens

It’s no secret that I’m a huge Robin Stevens fan, I’m a big advocate that everyone should read her Murder Most Unladylike series. It’s tremendous. I don’t care if you’re ten or 40 or 99, if you’re a detective novel fan you’ll love her detective tales. The Guggenheim Mystery is a slight departure for Robin as she writes the second book in Siobhan Dowd’s London mystery series. Siobhan passed away before she could write book two, all she had decided on was the title – The Guggenheim Mystery. Thankfully Puffin got Robin to pick up Siobhan’s mantle and we’re left with this glorious book. The Guggenheim Mystery is a brilliant detective novel, which sees our favourite characters reunited in New York as a painting is stolen from the Guggenheim. Once again the ‘who dunnit’ element had me completely stumped!

May Reading Update#9  – More than This by Patrick Ness

I so wanted to love this book, so much so that I stopped reading it last year as I didn’t love it straightaway. This month I decided to give it another go, not least because I currently have ten started and not finished books on my Good Reads ‘shelf’. While I definitely enjoyed it more than on the first attempt at reading, I didn’t really like it. It was well written and an intriguing concept but it still felt like a chore to finish it. I just wasn’t really that interested. Although I still raced through it – it was an easy read – and I did want to know what would happen. I just didn’t really enjoy reading it at all. This is very unusual for me as I loved the other Patrick Ness books I’ve read. Perhaps I was in the wrong frame of mind this time around, who knows?

So there we go, that’s my May reading update. Nine brilliant, or not so brilliant, books that I read last month. Have you read any of them before, what were your thoughts?

-Fi x

Out & About: Top Three Salzburg Sound of Music Sites

So you may have heard tell of our recent Salzburg trip, which was amazing. We’d been building up to this family trip for ages so I couldn’t want to get a visiting! I was excited about this trip for many reasons – time with the family, four days off of work, exploring a new city, going to Austria for the very first time. the list goes on! But the main reason I was so excited about visiting Salzburg is that I’m the world’s biggest Sound of Music fan. I must have watched it a hundred or so times and always pop it on if I’m feeling ill. It’s the ultimate in comfort watching. So to visit the many Salzburg Sound of Music sites was definitely a bucket list moment.

However, the rest of the family were not so keen. They’re not big fans of The Sound of Music, in fact I don’t think Becca, my youngest sister, has even watched it. Craziness. So early on in our Salzburg planning they put their (collective) foot down and so no to an organised Sound of Music tour. I was devastated. Gone where my visions of us singing together on a bus tour and posing for photos at all the film spots.

Eventually I picked myself off the floor and started to look at what else we could visit in Salzburg if we weren’t going to do a Sound of Music themed tour. You can imagine how surprised I was to discover that there’s a lot of stuff you can visit from the film without going on an organised tour; as the city itself was the film set for much of my beloved film. Phew. Who knew? Not me that’s for sure. So if you’re a Sound of Music fan and you’re visiting Salzburg with heathens that don’t want to go on the organised tours then read on as I share my top Salzburg Sound of Music sites!

Top Salzburg Sound of Music sites

The Mirabell Palace and Gardens

The Mirabell Gardens are right in the heart of the city along the river, so you don’t have to go out of your way to visit the best stop on my Salzburg Sound of Music sites list! To me this is the location out of all on this list that’s the most recognisable from the film. They filmed the ‘Do-Ri-Me’ scene in the park and there are so many spots that still look exactly the same! One of the main things in the Mirabell Gardens is the beautiful Pegasus fountain, which the children run around during the song. You’ll definitely want to stop and pose here.

From there you’ll spot the hedge tunnel that the kids run through, before stumbling into the Dwarf Garden. This is where (unsurprisingly) loads of dwarf statues reside, which the Von Trapps pat during the song. Although I guarantee it’ll take you a while to work out which one they patted! But perhaps the most famous of all the spots in the gardens are the steps in front of the Rose Hill. These are the steps the children jump up and down toward the end of the song. You’ll definitely recognise it and need to stop for a picture or three at this point!

Schloss Hellbrunn

Next on my Salzburg Sound of Music sites list is the most stunning yellow castle, Schloss Hellbrunn. It’s only about fifteen minutes out of the city by bus and is the site of the brilliant trick fountains. So really easy to get to and somewhere you’ll want to visit anyway. Schloss Hellbrunn itself doesn’t actually make an appearance in the film, so you won’t recognise it. But the pavilion that Liesl and Rolf dance around when Liesl is singing ‘I am 16 going on 17’ has since been moved into the castle’s grounds. And it’s free to wander around the gardens – even better!

Residenzplatz Square

This square is in the heart of Salzburg and just a stone’s throw from the tourist information and Salzburg’s Cathedral. So you’ll probably wander into it without really realising it! The Square is seen when they’re singing in the carriage as it passes the fountain. Plus, at the very start of the film, Maria splashes water from the fountain as she’s leaving the Abbey for the Von Trapp family home.

So there we go, my top three Salzburg Sound of Music sites. I hope it’s useful if you’re travelling with people who don’t want to do the tour either!

-Fi x

Life Rambles: Friday Favourites #74

How is it Friday already and how are we into June? Seriously where is the time going? It’s totally flying by! And now I sound just like my parents! But seriously I’m not ready for it to be the summer yet. Can we rewind just a little bit please? Just a month or two? In order to cheer myself up, or at the very least ignore the upsetting passage of time, let us jump right into today’s list of Friday favourites.

First up on on the Friday Favourites list is the bank holiday weekend. I was off work on Friday afternoon so I actually had 3.5 days of bank holiday fun. Which was glorious. I wrote this post a couple of days ago about everything that I got up to, so head that way if you’re interested. Suffice to say I managed to do all the cliche bank holiday things – gardening, a trip to Ikea and lots of baking. Totally blissful.

Friday favourites number two is my organisational skills and the fact that I made these muffins on Monday, which means that I have been eating these for breakfast all this week. Although not this morning as they ran out yesterday, but still I had bacon and cheese goodness for breakfast three days in a row. Hooray for that.

Next up is Thresholds, the Mat Collishaw virtual reality exhibition that is currently on at Somerset House. I nipped over to see this on Monday lunchtime, not really knowing what to expect. And left utterly amazed. Basically it’s a virtual reality retelling of one of the first photography exhibitions bak in the 1800s. So you get led through a talk on what virtual reality actually is, before getting hooked up to headsets and headphones and entering the exhibition to see the recreation. It’s a bit odd to start with, but it becomes normal super quickly. I now get what VR actually does, and I can’t stop thinking about how we may use this technology in the future.

I’ve had zero plans this week which has been great, especially as Fi has been a busy bee and out and about a lot. Which means I have been able to binge watch my way into season three of The Americans. Anyway, last night we decided to have an evening in together, with good food and the last in the series of Grey’s Anatomy. Spoiler, I balled my eyes out during the show! Anyway we stocked up on salad, pitta breads, vegetable couscous and prawns ready for optimum food situation, because who wants to think about cooking something when it’s as warm as it’s been this week? Plus I walked passed the newly opened Crosstown Doughnuts and had to nip in for a couple of sugary treats. We shared the jam doughnut and the chocolate ring and it was the perfect combination.

To round up today’s favourites list is a couple of recent reads. First up is The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas which is excellent. It might just have become my favourite book of the year. The characters are well-written, fully formed and interesting and the story is so important. The book explores the issue of race in America and to me it feels like a must read for everyone.

After The Hate U Give I started reading The Power by Naomi Alderman. Now this I actually gave up on after only five pages as I wasn’t feeling it, but I decided to persevere and give it another go. It turns out that all I needed was a slightly slow commute to work and suddenly I’m hooked. I guess technically it’s a sci-fi book but it’s more than that. It’s got a really clever concept, girls suddenly (and literally) hold The Power in their hands. The book follows four different characters as they adapt to this power and the changes that it brings to the whole world. I’m about a third of the way through and I can’t wait to read the rest.

So there we have it. My Friday favourites list for the week. How has your week been? What’s been your highlight and what are you looking forward to this weekend?

Laura xxx

 

Life Rambles: Bank Holiday Life Lately

I do love a bank holiday. It’s the perfect chance to do all the things, or to do nothing at all. These last three and a half days have been lovely. I say three and a half days, because I had Friday afternoon off, which has given me an extra long weekend. I’m pretty sure that going back to work tomorrow will be horrible. Does anyone have a timeturner that I could borrow? Thanks.

I did have grand plans to be super productive in terms of blogging this weekend – I wanted to prep lots of posts and take loads of photos, but that hasn’t happened. In all honesty I’ve been having too much of a good time doing other things. So the blogging has had to wait until now, 4:30 on a bank holiday Monday (although this post will come to you a little later in the week. Because I’m trying to be organised!). Today’s post is a little life lately update about what I got up to over the bank holiday weekend.

So without further waffling here’s what I’ve been up to this bank holiday weekend.

Reading: I started The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas on Friday afternoon and it is such a good book! I’ve got one hundred pages to go and I really really just want to sit and read them right now. However I’m not doing that as I want to savour the book too, I don’t want it too be over too soon.

Shopping: It’s a bank holiday so of course I’ve been to Ikea. Fi and I popped in on Sunday afternoon to pick up some picture frames and a bag of meatballs (don’t judge us, they are delicious). We managed to also get a plant and a couple of waste paper bins, but all in all we didn’t go too far off list, which is always a relief. We also found ourselves in Zara and Next after brunch on Monday. Oops! It’s okay though as I limited myself to just £30 of spending (I picked up this, this and this).

Eating: It’s been a pretty good bank holiday food wise too. Aside from the baking, which I’ll discuss later on there’s been brunch at The Breakfast Club – yum! Plus I’ve feasted on this salad and snuck in the odd Snickers ice cream too.

Wandering: I was back in Surrey on Saturday to catch up with friends. We wandered through the woods whilst walking the dog. It was so lovely on the top of the hills with the wind blowing through to cool us down as we walked. We did get a little lost, but we found our way back to where we needed to be, and we just had more time talking instead.

Baking: I made a batch of cookies with some leftover mini eggs on Sunday. I used this favourite recipe and substituted the chocolate chips for mini eggs. They turned into wonderful gooey cookies, which were enormous. If they’re in the house then I will eat them all. Also on Monday I made a batch of my bacon and cheddar muffins ready for the coming week. I figure that way at least my food situation will be sorted, which will make being back to work that little bit less painful.

Gardening: One cliche bank holiday tradition is gardening and I did not disappoint here at all. After a quick trip to the garden centre I was soon out in the garden, doing all the jobs. I mowed the lawn, weeded the flower beds and planted some tomato plants. Plus we now have flowers in our front garden too. Hooray for my green fingers!

Exercising: I only made it on one run this weekend, and it was under three miles, which is a little disappointing. However I’m not beating myself up about it as there’s really no point. Yes I could have done more, but oh well. Here’s to next weekend being better. Also I have done a lot of gardening and a lot of walking, it’s not like I’ve been sitting on the sofa all weekend.

Watching: I’m still making my way through Gilmore Girls, I’m on Season six, so the end is so close! I’ve also started a new documentary on Netflix called The Keepers. I’m only one episode in and I am suitably intrigued by what’s to come.

As you can see it’s been pretty epic. What about lovely lot? What have you been up to this bank holiday weekend? Are you all set for the coming week or is it going to be hard?

Laura xx

Life Rambles: May’s Favourite Online Reads

favourite online reads

It’s been a while since I shared a list of my favourite online reads, in fact it was way back in February! How on earth did three months pass – that’s insanity?! If you didn’t read the original post have a gander over here: Interesting Online Reads. So anyway back on to today’s post. Read on to see some of my recently spotted favourite online reads. You lucky things!

Favourite Online Reads: The Articles

First up we have the interesting articles portion of the list, and link one is a good ‘un. Do you know what 2000 calories looks like at your favourite restaurants and fast food chains? No, me either. But now you do and it is fascinating! Some of the meals are obviously ridiculous, but some I found surprising. What about you, anything shocking on this one?

This infographic makes a really valid point – how useful would it have been to have learnt the importance of failure or simple ideas, or to have been taught how to negotiate while at school. Far more important than surds if you ask me!

Favourite Online Reads: The Blog Posts

Now this might make me a super boring individual but I was very happy to come across this cleaning download over on I Heart Organising. I know, I know, super boring thing to say. But I don’t like my current situ which is to barely clean and then have to spend a whole day doing it as somehow I’m living in a pigsty. This download could be a game changer.

If you’re anything like me and Instagram obsessed you’re probably guilty of following a few million people. But, let me ask you this, how many of the posts you see do you actually like and engage with? I bet if you think about it you’ll realise not that many. That’s what I found when I did a recent Instagram cull and I’m glad I did, why waste my time on things that don’t bring me joy? Hannah discusses something similar in her recent post – she puts it best when she says ‘It’s about the person or the people behind the image’, it’s not about the ‘perfect’ Instagram shot. Preach!

I’m always interested in online marketing tips, so Holly’s recent post about blogs to help you improve your online marketing is most certainly a must-read. Get on that asap!

After reading Sara’s latest post I think it’s safe to say I’m 25% webtrovert. What about you, do you empathise with what she’s saying?

A Beautiful Mess rarely do a blog post that I don’t love, but most recently I particularly enjoyed their dessert dip trio post. I mean seriously, three sweet dips – including cookie dough. A-MAZE-ING!

Favourite Online Reads: From the Twitter/YouTube/Instagram Universe

I stumbled across Lily Pebbles’ vlog about bullet journaling recently and it reminded me just how much I love bullet journaling, despite the rut I seem to have got into with it recently. So now I’m upping my journaling game and reminding myself why I love it. If you have any bullet journal favourite layouts – send them my way!

Did you see the Notre Dame graduates who walked out of their own graduation ceremony in protest of VP Pence this past weekend? I am so proud that people like that exist on this earth. People should stand up for what they believe in, and when it’s a peaceful protest like this was how can you criticise? I think they made their point about Pence quite brilliantly, don’t you? And if anyone is criticising them let us not forget that Pence walked out of a theatre in protest when the cast of Hamilton asked him to show tolerance when he became VP.

I’ve seen a number of people talking about the lovely bedding currently in Matalan and now want it all, particularly this colourful set. Plus there has been a lot of love for this coral Joules bag, I wanted the blue version for my birthday but didn’t get it and now that it’s sold out i seem to have transferred my obsession to the coral version instead. Oops!

So there we have it, my favourite links from around the internet this month so far. What stories and blogs have caught your interest this week? Do share!

-Fi x

Life Rambles: Friday Favourites #73

For obvious reasons it’s been even more important than normal to focus on the positives this week. My heart broke when I woke on Tuesday to the awful news about the atrocities in Manchester. It’s just so difficult to comprehend something so tragic. Those poor, poor families. It’s been so wonderful to hear the stories of courage and kindness happening in the wake, and during, the traumatic events of Monday night. These amazing human beings are a very important reminder that heroes and goodness exist even in the darkest of times. And that’s point one on today’s list of favourite things over the last week.

Secondly, how nice is this sunshine. I’m loving being able to sit in the park at lunchtime, have the windows flung open as I cook dinner or live in my Saltwaters. It really does make such a difference! Welcome back sunshine and hello summer. Thanks for joining us!

Talking of the glorious sunshine, it’s meant I’ve been able to enjoy the return of my favourite drinks this week – the simple iced coffee. Hallelujah! This week I tried the new Starbucks Iced Cappuccino and so many iced lattes I’m surprised I’ve not turned into one. I’ve even started making my own iced coffees at home. Top tip, make a french presse of coffee, pour into a bottle and leave to cool in the fridge overnight. So, so good first thing in the morning! We wrote about our lovely iced coffee recipe ages ago if you’re tempted to give it a whirl!

If you follow my Instagram then you’ll have seen that on Sunday I had a day in London town with the sisters. The birthday adventure started at Wahaca where we fueled up! And then it was into The Vaults for Alice’s Adventures Underground, an immersive theater experience unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. Seriously it was phenomenal, you MUST go and watch it if you can get tickets. It’s so cool.

So what else has made it to the favourite things list this week? Well one lovely thing that I did this week is an evening of prosseco, pizza and pottery, well minus the prosecco because yuck. Yes on Thursday night I headed back to my hometown for a night of painting pottery and pizza at the local ceramics cafe. There were nine of us in our group, including the sisters, The Mothership and some of our oldest family friends. It was so nice to hang with these guys and have a relaxed and fun catch up. Also, who knew these ladies were so supremely talented – I was seriously impressed!

The final thing on today’s favourite things list is the potential joy that will happen with a three-day weekend! I have quite a chilled one planned and I can’t wait. So far I’ve planned a catch up with my oldest friends that will involve a dog walk and lunch in the garden so we can enjoy the sunshine (and the Pupster) and a much-needed Ikea trip. But apart from that, the weekend is my oyster. Unless I fall down the inevitable Netflix hole of course! Yeah for three days of bliss. What are you up to this weekend, something exciting I hope!

-Fi x

Out and About: Packing for a City Trip

Before we jump in to my top packing tips let us start with a confession. It’s only in the last year or so that I’ve felt I’ve got holiday packing down to a fine art. Yes really. I’m clearly a late bloomer in this department as no matter what method I tried I just couldn’t do it. I could never pack outfits that coordinated, let alone the right clothes for the weather, and as for packing everything for a long weekend in hand baggage? I wouldn’t even consider it. Or if I did I’d always end up forgetting something vital or realise, on arrival, that I didn’t have any outfits that actually worked.

And then I turned 31 and it’s like a switch happened in my head. I was suddenly able to pack like a normal person. Miracle of miracles! So in case there are any of you that still struggle with this packing malarkey, or those who just want to refine your packing skills, I thought I’d share my top packing tips with you.

I’m also thinking that my future indecisive self might appreciate this post when I suddenly forget how to pack like a proper, organised human. Let’s be honest we know it’ll happen at some point!

Research, Research, Research!

There’s a reason this is number one on my top packing tips list. Quite frankly it’s absolutely vital. If you don’t know what the weather will be like or what activities you’ll be doing you’ll never pack properly. Also if you’re going on holiday with someone for the first time you need to chat to them and check you’re both on the same page. If they’re all about ticking things off a must-visit list and you’re more about drinks in the sunshine then you need to thrash that out from the beginning, because nobody wants to be walking 20,000 steps a day in just a pair of sandals.

Make Lists

I tend to make multiple lists when I’m packing. The first one is of what special items I’ll need. So do I need a sun hat or a waterproof jacket, or will my running trainers be needed. What about guide books, who is bringing those? Next up you need to make a list of everything you want to pack. I separate my list into clothes, accessories, tech stuff, special items, toiletries and personal stuff. That way things are parked with their counterparts and it’s easier to see if your toothbrush isn’t listed under toiletries. What’s key on the lists is to be VERY specific. If you’re taking four pairs of knickers, write ‘knickers x4’ or if you need a phone charger and a kindle charger make a note of it. Brevity is not key when it comes to lists.

Create a Diagram

Now bear with me here. I know this sounds like a weird tip… But once I’ve got my list I look very closely at the clothes part of it. For each pair of bottoms on my packing list I draw lines to the tops that will work well with it. If an item doesn’t work with multiple other items it gets removed or I switch in a different item that works with it. There are some items that I’ll allow in if they don’t have multiple lines connecting them to other things, I’m talking dresses or fancy shoes. But only if I know I’ll be wearing this item – i.e. there’s an evening event planned, etc.

Stick to Two Clothes Related Rules

I always stick to two clothes related rules when packing as it definitely makes it easier! Rule one, when it comes to clothes packing, is to stick to a certain colour palette. I tend to go for a lot of navy and grey with splashes of colour and stripes. That way everything goes together easily. Another top packing tip, and rule two, is to choose clothes that can be layered easily. That way if it’s colder than you anticipate you’re sorted. Or if you buy too many goodies while away you can wear lots of layers home! Plus items that can be layered tend to be thinner and take up less space in the suitcase. Fact.

Remove Items

Now let’s talk accessories, my rule of thumb? Make your choices and then remove at least one of each item. Let’s be honest you don’t need three bags or six necklaces. So put some back. Bag wise I find a smaller bag and a roomy tote are the way forward – that’ll sort you for most eventualities.

Think Carefully about Extra Stuff

By extra stuff I mean the guide books and reading books, magazines and extra fun bits. First up we have guide books. Firstly find out if there will be wifi where you’re staying? If not you need to pack a guide book, which can take valuable space. But if they’ll be wifi then leave the guide book at home, simply do your final research when you’re there and screenshot everything. Think of the space you’ll save! Book wise think about how much you’ll read. If like me, you’ll get through multiple books then pack your kindle instead. Love magazines? What about downloading one on to your iPad and also getting the Kindle app? That way you’ll have everything you could ever want to read on just one device.

Share Toiletries

Now I know this one sounds weird as people have very specific toiletries needs but if you’re traveling with good friends or family the chances are this will work! Think about it you can probably all use the same shampoo, conditioner and dry shampoo for a couple of days. And what about hand cream, most of us can make do using a different brand for a day or so.

Leave Space

Another of my top packing tips? Leave at least a layer on the top of your suitcase that’s empty. You’ll need it for the return journey once you’ve bought all the souvenirs!

So there we go, those are my top packing tips. What tips do you guys swear by?

-Fi x

Out & About: A Weekend in Salzburg

If you read Fi’s Friday Favourites post or if you’ve been anywhere near my Instagram feed then you’ll already know how much I adored my trip to Salzburg. It was everything I wanted out of a city break. It literally ticked all the boxes with its colourful and historic buildings, the gorgeous riverside location below the mountains, and of course delicious food. I mean if you were making a must-have list for a weekend getaway, would your list not include all of these?

I would absolutely love to right a super long post with a play by play account of every little thing that we did, but you’d probably get bored quite quickly. Instead I’m going to pick out my favourite bits of Salzburg. If you do want a play by play then I’ve added an itinerary for each day at the bottom of the page.

The Salzach River

We stayed a little out of the centre of Salzburg and therefore walked along the river into the town each day. There are cycle-ways and footpaths along the flat route and the views towards the town with the mountains behind are glorious. The water is so clear – which I guess is because the water has melted right of the mountains. As we walked the route we saw so many people enjoying the river banks. There were dogs frolicking along the water’s edge, families picnicking and runners and cyclists whizzing by. I wish we’d have had the time to sit and enjoy the view more, I think on my next visit I’ll be stopping for a picnic and taking in the view.

Trick Fountains at Schloss Helbrun

Without giving too much away the trick fountains at Schloss Helbrun are brilliant and well worth a visit when you’re in Salzburg. The fountains are over 400 years old. They were built by Markus Sittikus prince-archbishop of Salzburg to entertain friends and are still used in the same way today. Schloss Helbrun is a little way out of the city, but easy to get to via bus. Helbrun is also home to the summer house from The Sound of Music which can be found in the gardens.

Hohensalzburg Castle

Hozensalzburg Castle sits right above Salzburg, so you can see it from all over the city. It’s the biggest fully preserved castle in Central Europe and is well worth a visit. There’s a funicular railway up to the castle, which is always fun! Plus all the glass allows you to see the full city spread before you. Once at the top you’re free to wander around the castle, look out at the viewing points and visit the museum. The views of Salzburg and behond are stunning, don’t believe me? Take a look at the photo below and you’ll change your mind. You can also walk up to the fortress, and we saw people doing just that, but we decided that we had walked enough and took the funicular instead.

Mirabell Gardens

The Mirabell gardens are absolutely stunning. There are so many sections of the gardens to discover. From the fountains and formal flowerbeds through to the the orangery, the dwarf gardens and the rose garden. Plus there’s the Sound of Music steps and stunning views past the palace up to Hozensalzburg castle.

Just Wander

One of my favourite things about this long weekend was just wandering around the town. There are so many little alleyways, colourful buildings and views to discover and the best way to do this is to just walk around and see where you end up.

The Food

I’m not even going to apologise for the fact that I’ve included a whole section on the food. In my mind eating locally and discovering what a new city has to offer, in terms of culinary delights, is key. And I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t include that in this case. The one place I wanted to visit before this trip was Cafe Bazar. We didn’t plan a trip, instead we stumbled upon it on Sunday morning, and stopped for an early lunch. The coffee here was divine, and the atmosphere was very chilled out. Plus there was a dog in the corner – living the dream!

We also stopped for cake at Cafe Tomaselli. Here a lady walks around with a silver tray laden with slices of cake, you choose your slice and pay her straight away with cash. The Sachertorte from Cafe Tomaselli was divine. Finally I’d highly recommend a visit to a local beer hall. We were staying near this place, so wandered there on our last night. Apart from actually liking the beer, which is brand new for me, the food was traditional Austrian fare. We opted for sharing everything so that we could try it all, so we went with schnitzel, ribs, wedges, chicken and these spiral potato things that were out of this world.

Untersberg

Untersberg is a mountain that straddles both Austria and Germany. It’s a little out of the city, but only 30 minutes away by bus, so definitely worth a visit. To get up the mountain you take a cable car with 40 other people, which takes just 10 minutes. It’s hideous and I was not a fan, nor was anyone else. Luckily the views are stunning and will help distract from the journey. In all honesty it’s the two times you go over the pylons that are the worst, the rest is manageable. But the pylons make the car rock which is not fun at all.

It’s worth mentioning that the journey down is a lot better. Probably because you know what to expect, or because it will all be over so soon. Either way it’s 100 percent worth the terror. The views from the mountain at the top are simply stunning. You can see so far. One thing to note is that there will be snow, so make sure you are dressed appropriately. I just had trainers and a jumper and was warm enough for a May trip. However we didn’t do the walk to the higher up point because the pathways were so snowy. If you do want to do this, make sure you are prepared.

Writing this up is making me want to book another visit as soon as possible! Who is with me? Have you ever been to Salzburg, and if so what were the highlights of your visit?

Laura x

Day 1 in Salzburg: flight from Gatwick – check in to our apartment – explore the old part of the city – lunch at Cafe Mozart – Salzburg Cathedral – Mirabell Palace and Gardens – afternoon nap – dinner at Gösser Stub’n in the old town.

Day 2 in Salzburg: Headed South of the city to Grodig – Cable car up to Untersberg mountain – Schloss Hellbrun – Hohensalzburg Fortress – Cafe Tomaselli for Sachertorte – river wandering – dinner from the local markets.

Day 3 in Salzburg: lazy start (hooray) – watching the Salzburg marathon – Mirabell Gardens – Cafe Bazar – Panorama Museum – Salzburg Museum – Beer Hall for drinks & dinner.

Life Rambles: Friday Favourites #72

Happy Friday Favourites day people! Also we’re over halfway through May. How the fliberty jibbit did that happen? One minute it is Easter and the next you are on your way back from Salzburg and your next holiday is ages away. Woe is me times, hey?! This week has been a quiet one, which has been blissful. After my long weekend in Salzburg and a couple of long work weeks it is exactly what I needed. Once again I’d forgotten the need to schedule in quiet, no plans, time. Often times I feel guilty if I have a quiet week, I feel like I’ll have nothing to share in these Friday Fave posts. Which is silly, because while my week has been a case of wake up, work, home, sofa, dinner, bed, repeat. There have still be snippets of the good stuff in there. Like the fact that I had a swim lane to myself on Tuesday morning. Or that I added some great new music to my Spotify playlist. Or the fact that I ate cereal or toast for dinner two days in a row. Hashtag winning at life.

Fi has been away for most of this week which means I’ve had the house to myself. And it has been lovely. It’s not that I don’t love having a housemate, it’s just that having the house to myself has been especially lovely. No having to time showers in the morning so that you both get out of the house on time. There’s no one to fight with over the TV remote, so if I want to watch five episodes of The Americans in one go then I can. FYI I’m halfway through Season 2 and I’m obsessed!

After doing my daughterly duty on Friday and puppy sitting for the parental units, I stayed down in Surrey for a little longer. Basically I basked in the sunshine in the countryside, read my book and then joined my Dad for a long dog walk. We headed over to the woodlands which are close to my parents house and explored. We went completely off the beaten track for a good 50 minutes and found the most beautiful bluebells. Bluebells are my absolute favourites. The colour of a blanket of bluebells in the woods is just gorgeous, and photos just can’t do it justice.

Next up is the Sunday’s Streatham Kite Festival. I’ve managed to miss this event ever since I’ve lived in Streatham so you can imagine my excitement when I realised that I was around for it. The festival is basically a lot of people flying kites. They’ve got giant kites and professional kite fliers performing too. The common was full of families picnicking and flying kites. There were bouncy castles, stalls selling local produce and bands playing. The fact that it was a super sunny day made it that much more enjoyable too and I was still bemoaning the fact that we’d not brought our own picnic. We watched a couple of the shows; one where a team of two were showing off their kite synchronizing skills and the other where one man flew three kites – it was amazing. I have no idea how either show was possible.

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There’s a running joke between a group of my friends that I have a pajama obsession. I’m not even going to dispute that fact, as it’s probably true. What can I say, I love my bed and pajamas are an essential part of that! Anyway I spotted these beauties in Tesco’s over the weekend and I couldn’t resist them. Obviously I purchased them, and I’m adding them to this Friday Favourites list, because when you find good PJs you have to share!

And one more for the Friday favourites list: Riverdale. I finished the last four episodes of this Netflix series this week and it was a spectacular ending. I loved these comics as a kid and I’m pleased to see where the series has gone. Have you watched it? What did you think? Perhaps it’s time to update my favourite boxsets post

How was your week? I hope you had lots of favourite things to keep you going this week. Have a lovely weekend.

Laura xx