Successes and achievements in 2023

 Well hello to you my reader chums! 2023 has been one of the best years yet and I'm grateful for all the incredible experiences, achievements and life lessons I've learnt across the way. It started out with the trip of a lifetime backpacking again, launching my business, settling into home life and many moments in between.

As the year ends, I'm in reflection mode and want to share my successes and achievements in 2023.

Successes and achievements in 2023

Backpacking across Asia for 3 months

I've been dreaming of returning to the backpacking way of life and Asia since 2019 and the dream come true this year for a longer time, across 3 months and the blessing of visiting 7 countries. I had the best ever time roaming around Sri Lanka, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, the Philippines and Indonesia. I still can't believe all the sights I witnessed, the food I ate, the people I met and the memories I made with my partner. It's a dream I think about regularly and wish to relive every single moment.

Falling in love with my new home town

I moved away from home a few months before travelling but didn't get the chance to settle in properly until I returned home from backpacking. Since that point, I've been welcomed with a warm feel by the wonderful local community. My seaside town has plenty going on, from the beach, the sights, the creative community to the calm in the air.

Kickstarting my full-time business

I finally made my dream come true this year by launching my freelancing business, The Violet Network. I'm now a full-time freelance copywriter and social media specialist and I've spent 2023 learning many business lessons and the realities of freelancing life. I've enjoyed every minute, even the harder times of building up the business and the opportunities it has brought me. I can't wait to see what the next year or so brings.

Started writing my 6th book

I'm still trying to figure out how I've already written 5 books and this year, I've started my 6th. I've always wanted to write a book with a twin potline as I have a twin sister and wanted to share my experience through a fictional tale. I've loved working on it and can't wait to develop it further. 

My first public speaking gig

Public speaking was always something that terrified me and I really wanted to finally do it, and this year I had the chance. I joined a writing club and part of it was reading out our work in progress - and I did it, I read a book I've written in front of a room of people.

Building a community around me

Moving to a new town, I dealt with a lot of adjustments getting used to my new surroundings and meeting new people. However, I've managed to attract the most amazing community of people in my town, made loads of new friends and adapted my relationships with home friends which are still thriving.

Living with my partner

I moved in with my partner a couple months before we went backpacking together and I didn't get to fully embrace how much I loved it. This year when we returned home, I fell in love with having our own place, living in each other's pockets and doing life with each other - and I'm forever grateful for that.

What a year! There have been a million other successes and achievements over the past year that I'm grateful for. From the travels, the lessons, the friendships, and my family to wholesome moments, it has been a brilliant, insightful and loving year.

I hope you enjoyed this post. What are your achievements this year?

Thank you for reading <3

Book review: My Policeman by Bethan Roberts

Well hello to you my reader chums! I’ve seen the book ‘My Policeman’ everywhere especially as it was made into a film last year and I wanted to see what the hype was about.

If you’re looking for a book about forbidden love, here’s my full review of My Policeman by Bethan Roberts.

Book review: My Policeman by Bethan Roberts


Set in 1950s Brighton, the plot follows Marion when she first meets Tom and is completely smitten, convinced their love will be enough for both of them. A few years later, Patrick meets Tom and is in awe of him straight away. Tom is their policeman and in the time of the 1950s, it’s safer for Tom to marry Marion. The two lovers have to share him until someone breaks and their lives are destroyed.

Characters and relationships

The plot is told from Marion's and Patrick’s perspectives, flipping between the two helping you understand their true feelings.

Marion is a strong-willed woman with set opinions and an intelligent mind, and I love her attitude. Working as a school teacher and with the ambition to thrive in her career, she’s already defying the odds of what a woman should be like in the 1950s. Her love for Tom is precious, endearing and obsessive. She falls in love with him from the first minute she sees him and it grows with time as she develops into a woman. I enjoyed how Marion describes her everyday life including her relationship with honesty, making her more relatable and likeable as a character.

Patrick is a unique character with a sophisticated flare and an obsessive attitude toward love. He’s an artist and has that stereotypical personality of a creative, liking the finer things in life, and being cultured in the way of art, opera, literature and music. His prestigious personality is intriguing with the need and wants to understand him better. Patrick is also brave, sticking to being who he is in a time when such things are forbidden.

Tom as a character is misunderstood, and weighed down by caring more for others' opinions than living a life he knows he truly wants, even if it’s forbidden. He’s loyal with a hard-working attitude and needs to impress those around him. My heart went out to Tom as I could see how much he would have loved to live his truth and couldn’t.

The relationships in this book are intense for different reasons. Marion and Tom’s because essentially, it’s a lie. Marion’s love carries that relationship and she adores every inch of him that her desperation hides Tom’s true feelings. Patrick and Tom’s relationship, on the other hand, are mutually passionate and obsessive, however, Patrick more than Tom in a sense, is more open to the risky side of their being together. Patrick and Marion’s relationship grows to be intense once she understands what’s really going on.

Overall thoughts

Overall, I liked this book and can see why it’s raved about by many. Initially, it took me a while to get into it and understand whose perspective was being told. However, once I was hooked on the characters and their story, I was intrigued and also saddened. It’s heartbreaking reading a story of forbidden love due to societal views in what seems to be a modern time.

The book overall is eye-opening, heartbreaking and insightful of what love can mean in a time when it isn’t allowed to be expressed.


As the book went on, I wasn’t exactly sure how it was going to end, there weren’t any hints or expectations. However, the ending to the book was a content one, with a heartbreaking feel like the rest of the novel.

I hope you enjoyed this review. What are you currently reading?

Thank you for reading <3

Boosting your mood in the winter months - my best tips

 Well hello to you my reader chums! Cold season has arrived which means darker nights, shorter days and the lead-up to Christmas. I'm going to admit, I struggle immensely during this time of year with the freezing mornings and dreary atmosphere. I'm a summer baby and thrive in hot weather, with blue skies and a peppy atmosphere.

If you're someone who struggles with seasonal depression or low mood in the cold weather, here are my best tips to boost your mood in the winter months.

Boosting your mood in the winter months - my best tips

Get outside for a walk a day

With limited daylight hours, it's more important than ever to make the most of the daylight when it's there. Whether that's just popping outside for ten minutes or an hour, going for a walk a day will do you wonders. I prefer this either first thing in the morning or during my afternoon slump to give me the boost I need for the rest of the day.

Stay social with friends and families

It's incredibly easy to go into hibernation mode in the winter months, especially if you're an introvert like me. Due to this, staying social is key to helping you feel part of the community. Try and make plans with friends and family, whether that's popping around someone's house for dinner, planning a games night or a day out somewhere. Whatever the plan, implementing social situations can boost your mood as you can bounce off people's energy.

Keep to your usual routine

I know it's hard to stick to a routine when it's dreary outside, however, I find a usual routine keeps me feeling much better. Even if you wake up later, keep to that morning routine and night routine. For me, it's waking up and reading a chapter or two of my book and then doing some form of exercise before breakfast. It really helps to start my day on a high.

Treat yourself with kindness

Beating yourself up is a lot easier when you're feeling glum or down due to the weather. This is why something like a positivity log is helpful, using affirmations or treating yourself to something that makes you happy, will boost you up. You can also set boundaries, talk kinder to yourself and give yourself more breaks to help with this.

Eat nutritionally-heavy food 

Diet and what you eat really can change how you feel. I'm not going to advise you on what to eat, however, what I would say is to eat the foods which make your mind and body feel good. Whatever these foods are, introduce more into your diet for this period.

Doing something you love every day 

Filling your day with positivity and joy can help boost your mood immensely and doing something you love every day helps. Whether it's reading a book, baking a cake, doing a yoga class or having a film night, whatever the activity, ensure it's something that makes you happy. 

Ensure you're getting enough vitamin D intake

The problem with the winter months is the lack of sunlight and therefore, the lack of vitamin D. During this time, ensuring you get enough vitamin D is crucial. This could be by getting sunlight where possible, taking quality vitamin D supplements or eating more foods rich in the vitamin.

Find a form of exercise that works for you

Exercise does wonders for my mental health, especially during the winter months. Every person likes different types of exercise to boost their mood. For example, I like to go running (weather dependent), pilates, yoga and walks. 

I hope you enjoyed this post. What other tips would you add?

Thank you for reading <3

Mai Chau, Vietnam: everything to know before visiting

 Well hello to you my reader chums! I fell in love with Mai Chau as soon as I arrived. It's a quaint village located in northern Vietnam, renowned for endless rice fields and a wholesome, nature appeal. There isn't much going on but that's the beauty of it, an opportunity for peace. 

If you're planning a trip to Mai Chau, here's my guide to everything you should know about visiting Mai Chau in Vietnam.

Mai Chau, Vietnam: everything to know before visiting

It's completely residential

Mai Chau is a village that is mainly filled with locals. You're essentially staying in a residential hub of those who work on the rice fields and because of that, don't expect an over 'tourist' appeal. The village is gorgeous and the perfect opportunity to switch off and just be. As it is pretty rural, don't expect attractions everywhere, just pure wonders of natural rice fields.

Restaurant options are limited

I'm not sure if it's the time we visited or what, but the restaurant scene wasn't massive. I'm talking a handful of restaurants around to choose from and that's why I ended up dining in the homestay, my partner and I were staying at. 

Enjoy homestay living

Speaking of homestays, expect those in the bucket load here as it's the main form of accommodation with many to choose from. And, a chance to enjoy countryside views and live with the locals, learning more about them and their culture. I loved my Mai Chau homestay, it was a quaint cabin with a balcony, overlooking the rice fields.

Rice fields change throughout the year

The rice fields change depending on the season and the weather. In springtime (March to May) and autumn (September to November), the rice fields turn a golden-yellow colour before harvesting. Whilst, for the classic green rice fields, February and August is the optimum time to witness this. I visited in February and was blessed with gorgeous green rice fields - a sight I'm still not over.

Hiring a bicycle is the best way to get around

Cycling around picturesque green rice fields on a bike is an experience like no other. If you want to explore the village and beyond, hiring a bike is key and what most visitors do to see the natural sights and get a taste of village life.

Spring and autumn have the best weather

The weather changes and can influence when you'd like to visit. The spring and autumn months have the best weather as it's mild and warm. The summer season is monsoon/rainy season and floods are known to create havoc on the roads. Wintertime is pleasant enough in terms of temperatures but gets cooler at night so it's important to bring layers.

You can reach Mai Chau by bus from Hanoi

Mai Chau is easily reachable from Hanoi and buses are pretty regular. As it only takes around three and a bit hours, you can leave early morning and arrive by lunchtime.

I hope you enjoyed this post. When are you planning to visit?

Thank you for reading <3

How to Choose an Adventurous New Hobby | AD

Well hello to you my reader chums! Adventure is my top priority in life and I love exploring the unknown.

How to Choose an Adventurous New Hobby

AD - This is a paid content placement 

Remember that old saying about all work and no play making Jack and Jill dull? While a lot of work might not make you dull or less sharp at your job, a lack of downtime does not encourage a healthy work-life balance. This is why you should always have hobbies that you love and are ready to jump into at any given time.

By taking the time to enjoy recreational activities you are actually setting yourself up for more success in your freelancing adventures, business journey, or just as an employee. If you like a bit of adventure in your downtime then here are some hobbies you need to try.

Get On Your High Horse

One of the first things that you need to try out is polo. Maybe you have never heard of this sport before or maybe you have but have never thought that this could be for you.

Climbing up on horseback may be something that you find yourself gravitating towards after you have tried it.

This sport is called the Sport of Kings in part for its gallantry. Get an excellent horseback ride and learn some equestrian skills while you chase after a ball. Polo is also a uniform sport so if you get on a team you will have gorgeous Polo team shirts given to you.

If adventure is your middle name then you can't afford to miss this one.

Jump About With Parkour

Parkour is one of those heart-pounding sports that is rated Grade A for adventure. You'll be vaulting, leaping, and flipping on the landscape with this sport.

If you like a lot of physical activity then this is definitely something that you should consider.

Getting around obstacles becomes an art form for those who love this sport. You can blend athleticism with horses.

Trampoline Dodgeball

If you've never heard of this unusual adventure then you are not alone. Many people haven't. However, it's worth it for you to take a deep dive into this unique world of us sporting and hobbying.

You're going to be placed in a room full of trampolines, after which you will start bouncing and dodging balls to your opponent's throw at you.

Underwater Hockey

Get your feet wet with underwater hockey. You're going to get quite a rush when you try out this sport. Of course, since humans are not fish you're going to need some equipment to go underwater.

Masks and snorkels as well as a small stick should help you navigate your way around the underwater with this sport. This is all you need to get going and you are sure to enjoy all the time when you are practicing this sport.

If you're ready to take on a brand new hobby that is going to see you tackling adventures and having something to talk with your friends about, then any of the three hobbies that have been described here may be just what you are looking for. Always do your research into each of them before you select one you think is right for you.

Thank you for reading <3

Lessons I've learned about growing a business as a freelancer

 Well hello to you my reader chums! I love being a freelancer; it has its pros and cons but it's exciting and the best decision I've ever made. I went full-time freelance this year in April and within these 8 months, I've learnt a lot about how to build a business, develop my craft and made many mistakes along the way.

Freelancing is hard graft, it's challenging like any other business, however, it has taught me resilience, confidence and assurance that I can do it. If you're new to freelancing, here are the lessons I've learned about growing a business as a freelancer.

Lessons I've learned about growing a business as a freelancer

Networking is key

It's always about who you know, not what you do and networking is a great example of that. To build clientele, learn who is in the industry and gain confidence with others, networking truly is key. I've loved how I've put myself out there with networking as the thought of it did terrify me. However, the more I did it, the more I began to enjoy it and reap the rewards. 

Networking, whether it's virtually or in person, meeting new people benefits you when finding new work and can build up your referrals. It also helps with learning from others and you can ask for help with any business issues you have from like-minded individuals.

Freelancing is hard work

I knew starting a business would be hard and building up clientele. However, I didn't quite grasp the graft that freelancing takes. If I'm not looking for work, I'm doing the client work. Then there's also the admin aspect, marketing, networking and constantly following up to create and retain business. It can be hard to switch off but the benefits and rewards outweigh the work you put in.

High and low periods are normal

I had an idea about how up and down freelancing would be before I started but I realised it when I launched. Some months, I can be very busy and other months, things can be the complete opposite - and that's normal. It's all about embracing the waves, planning accordingly and enjoying the process. In the high periods, I'm exceptionally organised and thrive on my work, whilst during the quiet, I work on my marketing, admin and networking.

Failure is normal

Failure is all part of the learning process. If you don't fail, how will you succeed? With business, you need to make mistakes and take risks, otherwise, you're not going to thrive or make waves in what you do. If you fail, it doesn't mean you should give up. It means you should try again but try it differently. Accept failure and take it in your strive. It doesn't mean your business won't do well. 

Learning is a positive thing

The best thing you can do as a business owner is learn. Learning should never stop, whether it's online training or meeting other people, you will always be learning. Ensure as a business owner, you embrace the learning as much as you can and know, it's never a waste of time or resources.

Marketing is crucial to business growth

I've worked in marketing all my adult life and it's what I specialise in as a freelance copywriter and social media specialist. With that in mind, I know the power of marketing and doing it effectively. Don't miss out on investing time and money in marketing as it'll help your business stand out and build your brand awareness.

Running my own business is everything I ever wanted

I've dreamed of being my own boss for as long as I can remember. Now, I'm my own boss, I can live my life on my terms, choosing my schedule and picking who I want to work with. I can align my life with my values and overall dreams.

A support system is everything

As freelancing is hard, having a support system around me has done wonders when I'm struggling with the quiet periods. I'm forever grateful to my family, friends and partner for their encouragement, love and support.

I hope you enjoyed this post. What lessons have you learned if you're a freelancer?

Thank you for reading <3

First-time advice for backpackers in South East Asia - my tips and tricks

 Well hello to my reader chums! Backpacking has my heart. I've backpacked on two occasions, once in 2019 and again, earlier this year. During those periods, I travelled for two months and three months and each trip taught me loads about myself, how I travel and what I love about the world.

If you're considering going backpacking for the first time or planning your trip, here's my guide to first-time advice for backpackers.

First time advice for backpackers in South East Asia - my tips and tricks

Don't overpack

You'll be carrying your backpack around the entire duration of your trip and the last thing you'll want is something to weigh you down too much. I always say, pack what you think you need and then half it. When it comes to clothes and toiletries, you can buy more when you're out there. Plus, the weather is incredibly hot, so you won't need to wear a lot. Backpacking isn't a fashion show, you don't need fancy clothes, and you should pack lightweight layers, which are practical and easy to wear for every occasion, and weather. Trust me, a lot of your clothes will get ruined!

Always overcompensate with budget - and have a safety net

South East Asia is cheap, that's why it attracts a large amount of backpackers every single year. Although, despite the cheap price of everything, you want to overprepare just in case. Whether you find an expensive excursion when you're roaming around, you see a souvenir you fall in love or you want to treat yourself to a posher restaurant. On the flip side, you never know what expenses will show up, such as getting in an accident, losing money or getting scammed. You can't plan for the unexpected and that's why it's good to overcompensate so you'll have the budget to cover it.

Buy travel insurance

Similar to overcompensating with money, you want to be prepared for the unexpected and that's where travel insurance comes in. Travel insurance is essential for medical needs abroad and anything else you need to be covered, such as cancellation of the trip or any outdoor activities you are thinking of going on. Travel insurance will help cover you for any instances or things that don't go to plan, saving you loads of money to shell out at that moment.

Have cash on you always 

South East Asia is renowned for using cash for all payments, such as restaurants, cafes, transport and souvenirs. Due to this, don't expect to show up and pay for everything with a card. Always have cash on hand, or load all your money on a travel card/bank card and take it out in one of the local ATMS. 

Research the 'dos' and 'dont's' of your destination's culture

Every destination has different rules and cultural norms and it's important to be respectful when you jet off somewhere new. Do all the necessary research when it comes to societal norms to ensure you're respectful of the location and the people. This could be covering up in temples or not breaking any laws of the land.

Prepare for the weather seasons

The seasons are wildly different, from dry to wet and it's important to prepare for both. Dry seasons mean it's hotter and you need to be packed and prepped for that. Whilst wetter seasons, you'll likely experience more dangerous weather situations and a lot more rain. This means packing waterproofs and layers and being mentally prepared for not having picture-perfect weather every day. Also, different countries in South East Asia have different seasons so also be aware of that.

Learn the scams of the land

As backpacking is incredibly common across South East Asia, scams are rife for tourists. Common scams are widely written about online and you should spend time researching what could happen where you're going. For instance, if you don't set a price at the beginning of a tuk-tuk ride, the driver may charge you a lot more.

Get used to haggling 

Haggling is key to getting the most out of your money in Southeast Asia and why you need to learn how to do it best. You'll be haggling when it comes to markets and tuk-tuk rides and sometimes in souvenir shops too - be alert and be the way to get the best price.

Book the appropriate vaccines

Your health is the most important thing, especially when you're travelling as it's that level of health which will keep you going. Before you travel long-term, speak to your doctors about the appropriate vaccines you need. Depending on where you live and your doctors, some vaccines may be free whilst others you may have to pay for. On my first trip, my vaccines were free but on the second trip, I paid around £400 for vaccines as I went to more rural destinations.

Go with an open mind

The beautiful part of backpacking around South East Asia is everything you'll learn along the way, the unique experiences, delicious food and welcoming people. It's probably one of the best experiences you can have and the perfect opportunity to be open-minded. You never know who you'll meet or what you'll experience along the way.

I hope you enjoyed this post. When are you planning this trip?

Thank you for reading <3