1 year of full-time freelancing - everything I've learned

 Well hello to you my reader chums! It has been a year since I launched my freelance writing and social media business, The Violet Network. I feel incredibly lucky with the year I've had, the lessons I've learned, the connections I've made and the clients I've acquired. Despite the hard times, I've enjoyed the ride so far of being a business owner and can't wait to see what another year brings.

It's no doubt that freelancing is hard work - I didn't go into freelancing thinking it'll be easy but I didn't think it was going to be as hard as it was. Finding work, networking, building packages, doing my own marketing and getting the work-life balance right is challenging. Although the rewards are great, it takes a lot of courage and motivation to make it worthwhile.

If you're starting your freelance business or new to the business world, here are the lessons I learned in my first year of business.

1 year of full-time freelancing - everything I've learnt

Networking is key

I wouldn't be where I am without the people I've met along the way. From the creative community in my home town to other marketers and business owners. The local events have helped me build confidence, meet clients and learn the best ways to run my business. I've been lucky enough to get my best leads through people I know and word of mouth for those recommending me. The more people I meet, the more I learn and the more I can put myself out there with new faces.

Personal branding is essential 

Putting myself out there has helped me learn what I stand for and am passionate about, and help people get to know the real me. Creating a personal brand takes courage, consistency and good planning, and it's something I've thoroughly enjoyed. It has meant thinking of fun ideas and sharing my honest thoughts, experiences and opinions, which has helped many understand who I am and what my business is all about. Being consistent has helped me grow my following, gain some great connections and put my stance out there in the business world.

A work-life balance is crucial 

Finding the time to take breaks and switch off is difficult as a business owner because everything to do with freelancing is constantly on my mind. But, I've managed to get better at the work-life balance, creating boundaries, booking regular breaks, having an organised schedule and when I close my laptop, it means the end of the working day. Having that balance supports my mental health and makes me more productive.

Enjoy the rollercoaster 

Freelancing is a roller coaster and highs and lows are inevitable, it's either feast or famine with workload and enjoying the journey is all part of it. Granted during the low periods it's hard to enjoy the rollercoaster as it feels like the high periods will never come again. However, trying to enjoy the journey, trusting the process and putting in the work means you'll come out stronger, more knowledgeable and ready to take on anything.

Keep going 

Everything worthwhile in life requires hard work and freelancing is just like that. Despite this level of hard work to gain success in my freelancing business, I adore working with people I love; it's the most incredible feeling in the world.

Learning never stops 

Being a freelancer is all about learning, whether it's honing your craft or learning more about running a business. Each day is a life lesson and business lesson from mistakes you make to building professional skills. The more you learn, the more you can build on your success. After a year of learning it makes me even more excited to see what's to come.

I've made myself proud

This year has been full of doubts but when I look back at everything I've achieved this year, I'm incredibly proud of myself and grateful for those who took a chance to hire me or collaborated in some way. I've achieved many goals personally and professionally, from the projects I've completed and how I've pushed myself out of my comfort zone in many ways.

I hope you enjoyed this post. Are you new to freelancing?

Thank you for reading <3

11 years of my blog - my favourite things about blogging

 Well hello to you my reader chums! I cannot believe I'm writing a post to celebrate 11 years of my blog, Della Loves Nutella. That's over a decade of sharing my thoughts on my own corner of the internet from my experience of mental health, my travels, and book reviews to lessons I've learnt so far in my twenties.

11 years of my blog - my favourite things about blogging

I've loved every minute of using this blog as a creative outlet, an amazing tool to develop my writing, creativity and build on my digital marketing skills and be involved in the blogging community.

As an anniversary post, I thought I'd share all my favourite things about blogging over the years. I'm excited to see what happens with another 11 years of this blog. It's so amazing to me that I began this blog at 16 and now I'm nearer to 30, turning 28 in June. 

Every time I write an anniversary post, I can't help but feel incredibly grateful that I've got this space on the internet that is mine to share all my thoughts and experiences. 

If you're new to my blog or a loyal reader for years, here are my favourite things about blogging.

Writing about the things that make me happy

Writing is my biggest passion and I love how this blog has allowed me to write about anything my heart has desired. I've shared my mental health journey, my travels across the world, my self-love journey, books I've adored, memories I've shared with loved ones and topics I'm passionate about, such as confidence and budget travelling.

Writing is therapeutic to me and it can help me process thoughts and experiences, such as living with anxiety and overcoming insecurities. I love sharing any thoughts or topics that pop into my mind, and over the years, I've really seen how those interests and passions have evolved.

Documenting parts of my life 

One of the best things about social media is an online log of my life and one of the things I've loved about blogging. Most years, I've shared my goals, lessons I've learnt, where I've travelled and books I've loved. I've also shared mental health experiences, pictures of friends and family, and tips to navigate my twenties. My blog has kind of been like an online diary at times, especially when I first started writing on it as a teenager. I sometimes love going back to my 2013 posts and reading my blogs as I was so innocent and young.

Reflecting on life lessons through my writing

Growing and evolving is all part of being human and having a place online to write about those reflections has been gold. From lessons I've learnt from friendships, and relationships, loving myself and developing my confidence, I've written some amazing thought-provoking articles, processing my thoughts and experiences.

Working with brands I love

I don't work with brands anymore and mainly use this blog as a place to write my thoughts and experiences. However, over the 11 years, I've worked with some brands I've adored and been sent amazing PR packages from brands. I feel lucky that my little place on the internet was significant enough to receive such presents and that brands enjoyed what I have to say. 

Chatting and connecting with other bloggers

The blogging community is one of love and support and I'm grateful I've been a part of it for such a long time. Over the years, I've had the chance to connect and chat with many bloggers, collaborating with them, guest blogging and running competitors. I loved reading other blogs and receiving such lovely feedback from other bloggers. It gave me another motivation to continue blogging.

Improving my writing and digital marketing skills

Having a blog has been a great asset to my digital marketing career and building my freelance business. I ran this blog before I even got my first marketing position and it helped massively in building my creative writing and SEO skills and learning more about content marketing. It's also an asset that has helped me gain jobs as they saw it was a fab project to run on the side.

That I've gained a regular hobby 

Hobbies are incredibly important and I'm happy I've had a dedicated hobby for over a decade and committed to it for such a long period. I've loved how I've always had something to come back to every week.

I hope you enjoyed this post. How long have you been reading my blog?

Thank you for reading <3

Book review: The Missing Pieces Of Me by Amelia Mandeville


Well hello to you my reader chums! I’ve been meaning to read Amelia Mandeville’s second book The Missing Pieces of Me for a while as I adored her first novel, Every Colour of You. I downloaded it on my travels and it’s safe to say I was hooked from page 1, I couldn’t put it down!

If you’re on the hunt for a page-turner, here’s my full book review of ‘The Missing Pieces of Me’ by Amelia Mandeville.

Book review: The Missing Pieces Of Me by Amelia Mandeville

Plotline

The plot line follows Willow and Dustin, two people who fall head over heels in love and after having their baby, Dustin feels like his world is complete. To everyone around them, they are the perfect couple. This is why when Dustin comes home one day with a note from Willow and discovers she has disappeared, his world crumbles. He starts to question why and the more digging he does, the more answers he learns, discovering who Willow really is.

Characters and relationships

In this book, I loved the diversity of the characters, how different they all are, and how everyone had a different type of upbringing. The character Willow, I really related to them on many levels as her anxiety was a large theme throughout the novel and some of the scenes, when she was having panic attacks, were on point. I understood how she was feeling growing up, and that level of shyness, wanting to hide away from the world. My heart went out to her when I learnt more about her upbringing, feelings and how it affected her happiness. The way the author describes Willow’s feelings is insightful, raw and human, and helps bring the character to life more.

Dustin is the type of character I can see at every social event, the confident, loving guy who everyone is a fan of - and you can see that love for him, even when he faces struggles throughout the book and his own family disputes. He definitely has more layers than initially shown and I enjoyed learning more about who he was and the love he has to give.

Willow and Dustin’s relationship was the most bittersweet thing to read about as it was incredibly honest, innocent and true to wanting to make each other happen. And when things go wrong, they still want that, they still love each other. I love how the waves of the relationship are described in the novel, it felt real and beautiful. It shows that no relationship is perfect and it takes work to keep the same level of love.

Overall thoughts

Overall, I adored this book in every way! From the first page, I was hooked on finding out what happened to Willow and learning more about the layers of the plot unfolding. It’s one of those books where more happens than first meets the eye. I expected it to be a romance novel, but it was more than that, it had a deeper meaning with honest dialogue. The book discussed many crucial themes, including anxiety, panic attacks, post-natal depression, childhood trauma and grief. With all of these themes woven into a beautifully planned story, it made the book a memorable and insightful one for me.

Ending

The ending I won’t give away, however, what I will say is that although it’s not what I wanted to happen after learning about the relationship, the ending occurred realistically. It felt human and right and perfect for both characters’ growth.

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

Thank you for reading <3

Seeing the best of Portugal in 8 days: where to go

 Well hello to you my reader chums! Portugal is a country that just keeps on giving with its sunny skies and warm weather, historical wonders, panoramic views and delicious grub. Although I had visited the country before, I knew there was so much more to it than first meets the eye. 8 days is a wonderful amount of time to see 3 different locations, the best sights and get a feel of the country's culture and overall vibe.

If you're planning a long break to Portugal, here's my guide on seeing the best of Portugal in 8 days: where to go, featuring Porto, Sintra and Lisbon.

Seeing the best of Portugal in 8 days: where to go

Porto: 4 days

Day one

I fell in love with Porto when I arrived in the city as it has a modern, hipster appeal, gorgeous weather and plenty of activities to keep you busy over 4 days. Plus, it's a hub for day trips with many northern destinations in Portugal not too far away.

Clerigos Tower

To get a gorgeous look at the city, climbing Clergios Tower is a great place to start your venture around the city. Tickets cost 8 euros and I'd recommend booking them in advance as it can get pretty busy, especially in peak season. The climb can be steep and claustrophobic so I would bear that in mind if heights or tight spaces worry you. The view of the city, especially on a blue-sky day is glorious.

Wander around the city and get your bearings

Porto has hidden gems wherever you look, from quirky coffee shops, independent stores, characteristic roads, parks and beautiful art dotted around, and the best part to see it all is to wader. With any location, everyone has their favourite spots but this is your opportunity to find the places you love and get your bearings where the main attractions are.

Igreja Do Campo

Porto is renowned for the staple blue mosaic tiles with plenty of buildings and art featuring them. The Igreja Do Campo is famous for its exterior, showcasing the stunning blue and white tiles, ideal for the perfect candid photo backdrop. Inside, there's a church, just as beautiful (if not more beautiful) than the outside. 

Porto Cathedral

I adore cathedrals and roaming around them and Porto Cathedral blew me away. It gave me a Hogwarts vibe and the exterior was just majestic in every way. Entrance is free but you'll need to pay 3 euro for any extras, such as the cloister.

Day two

Bolhao Market

I love a market and to get a taste of the local culture and this place hits both nails on the head. Bolhao Market serves up all the produce for a grocery shop, plus drinks, bakery items and hot food. You can grab something for breakfast, smoothies on the go or local produce for a food shop, cooking up a meal in your Airbnb.

Explore Riberia

Riberia is completely different to the main hub of Porto, located on the water's edge and boasting colourful and rustic homes throughout. It's a charismatic area of Porto to explore, roaming around the independent shops, stunning riverside restaurants and market stalls. 

Go to Mercado De Gaia 

Over the river from the main part of Porto is a strip of shops, restaurants, market stalls and the Mercado De Gaia. This is like a typical indoor food market of dreams with plenty of choices from pasta to sandwiches. I'm still dreaming of the focaccia sandwich I had here and would love to eat it again and again.

Gardens of Crystal Palace

To experience a taste of nature in the city, the Gardens of Crystal Palace is a manicured garden, perfect for sitting and eating ice cream, reading your book or sunbathing. As it's a free spot, you can spend as long as you like here, walking around the wonders of the green space.

Liberia Lello

I'm a book lover and when I heard about this bookshop, I had to visit it. I have to admit, it is incredibly crowded so you don't get the usual peace of a bookshop, but the beauty of it is something else. And, they even offer special editions of classic books, such as The Wizard of Oz.

Watch the sunset over the city

Sunset is my favourite time of day and seeing it over a city is everything to me. The best place in Porto to see the sunset is Jardim do Morro as it's set perfectly above the river and the city. Especially as most nights, they have live music here so it adds to the ambience.

Port and chocolate tasting 

Portugal is home to port and I couldn't leave the country without trying it. Although, I wasn't sure I liked it and that's why I decided to try it at Vintevinte with a chocolate tasting as well. I was right in that I didn't enjoy the port, but the chocolate was absolutely delicious! You can book port tastings throughout the city, whether you'd like it at a local bar or at the nearby Douro Valley.

Day three

Day trip to Douro Valley

As I said, Porto is the ideal location for many day trips up north, such as Douro Valley. The Douro Valley is the heart of where port and port wine is created and a must-see when you're staying in Porto. You can easily get the train down to one of the towns within Douro Valley and explore as much as your heart desires. We got the train to Regua and spent our time exploring the town, going to the museum there and wandering along the natural beauty of the rolling hills. Here, you can also book tours to sample the port and the other wines on offer.

Day four

Day trip to Braga 

Porto is also easily accessible to Braga by train, which is a sweet town with a few sights and humble appeal and a bus ride away from Bom Jesus Do Monte (a must-see). In Braga, you can spend your time walking around the shops and the cathedral and chill in the many coffee shops. A bus ride away is Bom Jesus Do Monte, a religious retreat with a gorgeous church and open green space. I loved it here as we could just sit and take in the gorgeous lake, marvelling at the buildings.

Sintra: 2 days

Day five 

Explore the historical old town

Sintra was a charming town to spend a couple of days and explore the main sights. The old town area isn't big at all but there are a few gems to see, such as the quirky stores, restaurants, coffee shops and museums. It's lovely to spend time wandering here and grabbing some souvenirs for you or your loved ones.

National Palace of Sintra

Sintra is renowned for some phenomenal sights, such as the National Palace of Sintra. Tickets cost 13 euros and the palace is located in the historical centre. This palace is a gorgeous spot to learn more about the history of Sintra. 

Quinta Da Regaleria

Classed as a UNESCO sight, the Quinta Da Regaleria is a must-visit, near the main historical centre with tickets costing 12 euros each. This site is a 16th-century property and has a taste of nature and majestic buildings, giving you a look at what a Renaissance manor is.

Day 6

Moorish Castle

The thing about Sintra is all the sights are pretty far away from each other and you have to get on a bus to see them. There are different bus routes for different sights and I'd recommend Moorish Castle as one of your top choices. This castle gives you a stunning glimpse of Sintra and beyond as you climb your way to the top. The stone castle has walkways which wind up into the heels and if you get a blue sky day, the sights are even more beautiful.

Pena Palace

As the colourful picture you see on all the postcards, Pena Palace boasts red, yellow and blue coloured buildings and is a dream to roam around. The Romanticist castle is seen wherever you look in Sintra and it makes the long walk up the hill worthwhile, through the park. The price for this palace is 13 euro each and I'd recommend booking in advance. Out of all of the sights, this one is the most popular and you'll likely be queuing for a while before you let in.

Lisbon: 2 days 

Day 7

Praca do Comercio

Lisbon is an hour's train ride from Sintra and as the capital city, it's a little pricier than the other locations. Praca do Comercio is set on the harbour and has a little beach area and plenty of waterside restaurants to enjoy. It's also the entrance into the main hub of Lisbon with gorgeous shops, restaurants and cafes.

Wander around the city

Lisbon is a colourful and rustic city with trams everywhere and a charismatic look, compared to modern Porto. With that in mind, there are plenty of areas to wander around, such as Alfama. Take a browse around and discover your favourite gems in the city, from tucked-away shops, independent coffee spots and local restaurants.

San Jorge Castle

San Jorge Castle is one of the most popular sights in the city and it's worth buying your tickets in advance for (15 euros each), otherwise, you may end up queuing for a while. The historic castle is located up one of the many hills in Lisbon and is wonderful to walk around. You'll witness the significance of history as you admire the structure and see the gorgeous city views as well.

Lisbon Cathedral

I love a cathedral as I've mentioned and Lisbon's sits on one of the corners of the city and doesn't shy away from beauty. It's definitely worth ensuring you visit this cathedral just to say you've done it.

Pink Street

Pink Street has become some sort of tourist hotspot with the iconic 'pink street' and the range of bars and restaurants available throughout. It's a great location to wander at night, and grab some dinner or a refreshing drink after a day of city exploring. 

Timeout market

If you're a foodie, the Timeout market should be top of your list. This market is a food lover's paradise with a variety of cuisines, drinks and desserts. It features some of Lisbon's best restaurants, allowing you to sample food, from classic Portuguese to gelato.

Day 8

Head over to Belem

Belem is near Lisbon and offers many sights, such as the Belem Tower and the Jerónimos Monastery. You can spend the morning here, exploring these sights. The tower isn't massive but it's great for a view of the water and ticking off another sight on your list. The Jerónimos Monastery is one of those buildings which blew me away with its beauty.

LX Factory

The LX Factory is a great way to spend your last afternoon in Lisbon and Portugal overall as it's a hub for arty shops, cafes and restaurants. You can find yourself a gift, grab the iconic chocolate cake at Landeau or have some lunch.

Take a tram ride

The city is the heart of trams and you can't leave here without jumping on a tram, whether it's the classic 28 route or one of the more modern rides.

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

Thank you for reading <3

My experience of the overrated Gili Trawangan

 Well hello to my reader chums! Gili Trawangan and the rest of the Gili islands are raved about online and across the media, boasting their paradise status. For me, Gili Trawangan has to be one of the most overrated places I've visited.

Dreaming about clear-water beaches, hot sunshine and the best marine life, I thought Gili Trawangan would blow me away, but it showed me the detrimental effects of tourists and the climate crisis. 

If you're considering travelling to the Gili Trawangan, here's my honest experience of the overrated island.

My experience of the overrated Gili Trawangan

The journey

The experience of this island didn't start off on a high with one of the worst and most stressful boat journeys I've ever been on. The journey from one of Bali's ports was the busiest I've seen a port of that size - it had hundreds (or what felt like thousands) of people with luggage and impatient energy. A few different boats were heading over to Gili Trawangan and the system was incredibly disorganised with multiple boat companies and times. It seemed like forever for our boat to arrive and ended up being the last boat in port. 

The journey itself wasn't too bad, what I really expected from a cheap boat ride in Asia. It was loud, overcrowded and not the comfiest of seats but to be honest, on a backpacker budget, it's what I thought. I think I'd be a bit unsettled if it was a luxurious honeymoon and they were throwing my luggage around like it was nothing. The boat took 1 hour and 15 minutes which despite the delay made good timing.

The accommodation

This is where the issues really began as arriving on the island feeling stressed and overly hot from a delayed boat, I wanted to put my head on a bed and rest up before getting on with our day. However, when we got to the hotel which we thought we booked, the owner said that the place was fully booked and we didn't have a booking. Due to this and our frustration, we had to book the only place left on the island which wasn't a ridiculous price (but still four times what we originally paid). This accommodation granted was lovely, private and even had a communal pool. The only thing I would say is I think it was pricey for what it was compared to what we had booked for a similar level of luxury at a smaller price tag.

The beaches/marine life

I was most excited about Gili Trawangan for the beach scene and going snorkelling, seeing the phenomenal marine life and what was beyond the island waters. However, I've never been so disappointed with what lay beneath the waters. The beaches weren't exactly spacious as most of the sands were covered in sun loungers, and parasols, like a resort rather than spots to make the most of the soft sands.

The water was clear but not as clear as I thought it would be and you could tell the quality of the clear waters has been affected by too much tourism and the mass of boats that go in and out of the island every day. Also, this goes with the marine life. Unfortunately, as I snorkelled, I could see the dead coral reefs below me and the remains of what once was paradise for the underwater world. When you swim further out, you can see various coloured fishes, yet it wasn't the 'wow' factor that I expected compared to more untouched places, such as Pink Beach on Komodo Island.

The island itself

The island has the effects of tourism all over it. The front of the island looks quirky with its strip of restaurants, Instagram brunch spots, spas, ice cream shops and tour hire places. Whilst, behind that strip, the unpaved roads and shack-like houses emerge of residents who have the island as their normal, everyday life. As it was rainy before we got there, muddy puddles were everywhere and you could only ride around on bikes, meaning it wasn't the 'luxury' you'd expect from a 'paradise' island.

The only positive I would say is the places you can eat and drink at are fab and that gave the perfect holiday vibe, quirky bars and mini golf added the fun element to the island. But for me, it wasn't enough to override the over features of the island.

The tours

As an overpopular island, known for pub crawls and snorkelling tours, the range of water activities is endless. Snorkelling tours are the most popular and honestly, a massive disappointment. As they try and cram so many people onto a boat, you end up touring with 20+ people and when you arrive at a snorkelling spot, it's overcrowded and sometimes, you can barely find what you're meant to be looking for, such as turtles.

The overall vibe 

Overall, Gili Trawangan was overrated in many ways from the beaches, marine life and general vibe. It didn't have the 'wow' factor that many travel magazines and Instagram accounts chat about. I expected relaxation and dream-worthy experiences, but I got the opposite. The crowds stressed me out, I didn't feel entirely safe moving away from the tourist strip and generally, I left feeling disappointed. Despite enjoying some yummy brunches, and soaking up the gorgeous weather and sunsets, there are many better places in Asia to grab the wow factor.

I hope you enjoyed this post. What was your experience of Gili Trawangan?

Thank you for reading <3

Feeling insecure: how to cope and overcome your insecurities

 Well hello to you my reader chums! Feeling insecure is more common than you may think and everyone has insecurities personal to them, whether it's certain features or traits. Struggling with insecurities is normal and a part of everyday life. 

If you're struggling with particular insecurities and unsure how to overcome them, here are some tips on overcoming your insecurities. 

Feeling insecure: how to cope and overcome your insecurities

Create a list of positive affirmations

Affirmations have honestly been a blessing and something to reaffirm a positive thought of myself, whether I'm feeling low or even feeling good about myself. Positive affirmations are great to boost me up when I'm not feeling great and when I'm feeling good as a good reminder. These affirmations are different for everyone, from hyping up how you look to your personality traits.

Speak to people about your thoughts

A problem shared is a problem halved and speaking with others about how you're feeling and thoughts you have can give you the reassurance you need. They may offer you guidance on how to change your thoughts, share their personal experience, hype you up or give you a listening ear. The most important thing is opening the conversation as then you can ask for exactly what you need from the specific person, whether it's your partner or sibling.

Read other people's stories and experiences

Everyone has a story and a journey they've been on, especially with insecurities. Some people gain insecurities from experience and others inherently always have it, and learning about that journey can gain some perspective. This perspective can give you some tips, advice and guidance but also help you understand how strong you are.

Accept everyone has flaws including you

Nobody is perfect and having flaws is what makes you human. The sooner you understand that everyone has flaws, the sooner it can help you learn to accept and love your insecurities as they're the things which make you who you are. I used to have terrible body confidence and large insecurities about what I looked like but over time, those insecurities lessened and I've learnt to accept who I truly am.

Create a more positive image of yourself

A positive image of yourself is key to thriving and overcoming your insecurities. It's so easy for us to dislike who we are and compare ourselves to everyone around us as that's what society tells you to do. However, positive messaging and learning to love yourself, builds your self-esteem, self-love and that positivity to live a content lifestyle. 

Learn techniques to self-soothe

We all self-soothe in different ways because we're all unique and have different triggers. Some people like to get out and about, exercising whilst others prefer to journal their feelings or channel it all into creativity. Whatever the activity, there are many methods which can help you self-soothe and you can learn how to do that through trial and error. Over the years, I've tried many ways to soothe myself, some have worked and some haven't, or made me feel worse. Keep going until you find your method for all types of circumstances.

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

Thank you for reading <3


Book review: The Last Thing to Burn by Will Dean

 Well hello to you my reader chums! As many of you know thrillers, especially crime thrillers are my thing and when I was recommended this book on my trip to Bath, I couldn't wait to read it. I actually ended up reading it in only a few sittings as I couldn't get enough of the hard-hitting plot.

If you enjoy a crime thriller and an honest, first-person perspective, here's my full review of The Last Thing to Burn by Will Dean.

Book review: The Last Thing to Burn by Will Dean

Plotline

Set on an isolated farm in the UK, a woman is trapped by the monster who kidnapped her over seven years ago. The everyday motions she goes through and the punishment he gives her if she doesn't obey his every order. He films her every single move meaning that when he's away from the house, he knows what she's up to. When she discovers she's pregnant, she strives to protect her child no matter the cost and begins planning an escape away from him. In the meantime, another woman is kidnapped into the farm and it's down to her to escape with the woman and her child - but will she save them all?

Characters and relationships

Told from the perspective of 'Jane', the name her kidnapper gives her, I really came to grips with her raw feelings, the everyday emotions and what she has been through. The rules of the land she has to live, the pain she feels, the abuse she tolerates and the punishment she endures. It's an honest and heartbreaking account to hear the trials she deals with every day by this monster. 

'Jane's' relationship with her monster is honestly hard to describe or write as at times I could feel her pain and desperation for how he treated her. It made me so angry to see a human treat another human being in that way like they were absolutely nothing. 

'Jane's' relationship with her child, however, is the most beautiful thing to read. It really does show the power a mother's love will have to protect their child and sacrifice everything to do just that. The love she shows for her daughter broke my heart in every way as I wanted to leap onto the page and help her out. 

Overall thoughts

Overall this book is an intense page-turner and one which is impossible to put down. I could have easily read the entire book in one sitting as I desperately wanted to know she gets out and ends up okay. It's a gripping book, a psychological thriller showing the rawness of humanity and the desperate things people will do when they're truly suffering. 

It's a book highlighting the awful truth of what happens to victims of human trafficking and the abuse they endure every single day. Even though this story is fiction, I know it's based on many of the real stories of people who are kidnapped, trafficked and abused. If you read it, expect that sense of desperation in the words of 'Jane', the fear factor on every page and feeling every kind of awful emotion as you make your way through the story.

Ending

Like always, I won't give away the ending and honestly, with this book, I wasn't sure which way it was going to go. I sat in hope throughout the entire book as I wished for a happy and content ending. Luckily, the ending is positive and hopeful, everything this novel needs.

I hope you've enjoyed this post. What's next on your TBR?

Thank you for reading <3

Exploring the wonders of Bath: 3-day guide

 Well hello to you my reader chums! Travelling around England and the rest of the UK and seeing more of what's on my doorstep has become a goal of mine, as I'm usually travelling abroad. Bath is a city that has been on my must-see list for a while and my partner and I decided to book a long weekend there so I could see what it was all about.

If you fancy a trip to Bath and want some personal insight, here's my 3-guide to Bath and everything I got up to.

Exploring the wonders of Bath: 3 day guide

Day one - Getting to know the city

Brunch at The Courtyard Café

When I arrived in Bath, the first thing on my list was grabbing something to eat (after a long drive) and through recommendation, I went to The Courtyard Café, tucked away down a quaint road. This café was cute, the best way to describe it with a tiny, homely feel and reflective ceiling. They also had an outdoor dining space but it was too cold. I loved it here because of their cheesy crumpets - such a moreish and wholesome dish to set us up for the day.

Visit The Roman Baths

The biggest and renowned tourist site in Bath is undoubtedly the Roman Baths and you can't go to the city without a visit here. Tickets cost around £20 each for adults (depending on the day you go) and I'd advise booking in advance. It wasn't too busy when we went all things considering but for a Friday in January, busier than I would expect. Seeing the Baths in person was such a fascinating and insightful experience and I love roaming around, listening to the history on the free audio guide. You could easily spend one to two hours here, depending on how much detail you'd like to learn.

Afternoon snack at Mrs Potts Chocolate House

I'm chocolate obsessed and when I saw the Mrs Potts Chocolate House on TikTok, I made sure to give it a visit (twice) during my time in the city. On the first occasion, I tried their delicious and rich 'Matilda' chocolate cake and it tasted like heaven (giving me a sugar high for sure). I absolutely loved it and because of that made sure on day two, I tried their hot chocolate to take around in the city.

Mooch in Toppings and Company Booksellers

I'm a bookworm and one of the things I adored about Bath was their gorgeous bookshop scene. The most famous that I saw wherever I researched was the Toppings and Company Booksellers. This place was like a maze for books and there were too many to look at but I loved the variety and how busy it was - it makes my heart happy to see many people invested in the book world.

Get your city bearings

As Bath is such a beautiful city with typical traditional architecture, it's wonderful to take a walk around and gain your bearings around the city. Whether you love boutique shopping or admiring the architecture, taking a walk around allows you to get your city bearings and know your way around.

Visit Pulteney Bridge

When mooching, you'll probably come across Pulteney Bridge and I would take some time to admire it in all its glory and take a wander along the river and across the bridge itself. 

Dinner at The Hope and Anchor

Bath boasts a diverse range of restaurants, from classic British pub grub to pizzerias or Thai restaurants that it can seem impossible to know where to dine. We were staying slightly out of the city in a nearby village and had dinner at The Hope and Anchor. This pub is slightly upmarket with a delicious menu and cosy vibe.

Day two - Exploring the sights

Visit Bath Abbey

On the second day in Bath, you'll have more of an idea of where everything is and delve more into other gorgeous sights, such as the Bath Abbey. I walked past the Abbey plenty of times on the first day but only went inside it on the second day. I'm obsessed with churches and Bath Abbey was certainly unique and glorious to admire. Tickets cost £7.50 each for adults and you can buy in there but if you're visiting during a busy time, I'd suggest buying them in advance.

Wander in Mrs B's Emporium

This bookshop has to be one of my favourites ever and I came home with a stack of books from it. Like Toppings and Company booksellers, it was a maze of endless book varieties with a quirky interior. But the best part was the staff were all trained to give personal recommendations based on genres and authors you like. I told them how I adore thrillers, murder mysteries and a list of authors I read a lot of and they recommended so many apt books I've not heard of but were right up my street.

Visit The Circus and The Royal Crescent

You can channel your inner Bridgeton with a visit to The Circus and The Royal Crescent. Both are quite near each other and are free to roam around and get that much-needed photo. I loved walking around these sights because they made me feel a little royal and fancy. I'm pretty sure you can also go on a Bridgeton tour and they'll show you the houses/streets used in the series.

Go to Bath Artisan Market

I'm a market girlie and love roaming around markets wherever I am, including Bath. The Bath Artisan Market was a local paradise with fresh produce, crafts and second-hand books. You can easily spend a while here walking around and finding some gems to take home as souvenirs.

Try the classic buns at Sally Lunn's 

Bath is known for the 'Bath Buns' and at Sally Lunn's, you'll have the complete traditional experience, trying a bun (sweet or savoury), in a quintessentially British café. I loved Sally Lunn's as not only are you enjoying a delicious treat but knowing there is a lot of history in the building makes the experience even more authentic. 

Eat gelato at Swoon Gelato

When I'm on holiday, ice cream is a must and I couldn't resist trying the gelato on offer here, even if it was January! Swoon Gelato had an authentic feel to it with an array of delicious flavours to offer - I had the hazelnut and adored every bite.

Play games at Thirsty Meeples

My partner loves board games and he found a board game café right in the centre of the city. We decided to book and spend a few hours playing games and honestly, I loved the energy here. Everyone was enjoying their games, the staff were fab at recommendations and the café offered various foods from cakes to cool alternatives of fizzy drinks.

Dinner at The Circus Restaurant

I wanted to try out one of the higher-end restaurants in Bath as the weekend we went was also our anniversary and we wanted to celebrate with a lovely dinner. The Circus Restaurant blew my taste buds away. Their menu was small but well-thought-out with a variety of dishes for the different palates. I'm still salivating over the starter, main and dessert.

Day three: Visit sights nearby

Go to Prior Park Landscape Garden

You can easily spend more time in the city on the last day, soaking up more of the shops, endless museums and cafes, or head out of the centre to one of the nearest National Trust sights, Prior Park Landscape Garden. Tickets are around £8 and there is no parking onsite, yet you can easily get a bus from the centre or park on one of the local streets nearby. Prior Park is a breath of fresh air from city life. The endless greenery makes for an impressive nature walk around. Plus, the main bridge and buildings are superb to admire as you soak up the open space.

Head over to Castle Coombe

Bath is near the Cotswolds, around half an hour (depending on which part you visit). With such close distance, I'd recommend spending your last afternoon heading over to the Cotswolds. We went to Castle Coombe, a small village in the Cotswolds which is stunning but exceptionally small and we only ended up needing 2 hours here. I would say come and see Castle Coombe as it is charming and what I'd picture the Cotswolds to be but there are also many other spots in the Cotswolds you can venture to.

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

Thank you for reading <3

How to maintain a long-distance friendship

 Well hello to you my reader chums! As an adult maintaining friendships can be challenging as many people can be busy with other commitments. Adding long distance to that can make maintaining friendships even more difficult. One of my closest friends has lived in another country across the world for nearly six years now and at times, it has been hard, yet, our friendship is still strong and I'm grateful to have our connection.

If your friend has moved away or you're struggling with distance in a friendship, here are my tips on how to maintain a long-distance friendship

How to maintain a long distance friendship

Schedule call and face time dates

The most practical way to stay in touch with someone, not in the same country or time zone is to schedule time in to spend and chat with each other. Whether it's a phone call, Face Time or Zoom call, having that regular time with them in the diary will guarantee a catch-up. In the same way, you have catch-ups with your friends who live in the town at coffee shops, do the same virtually. Grab a drink and get comfy as you have a good old chinwag.

Text or voice note them as much as possible

Texting and voice notes are the quickest way to communicate with someone, especially a friend in a different location. If they aren't available to answer your call there and then, a text or voice note will give you the chance to share your thoughts with them and wait for them to respond when they get a spare moment. I find when I don't have time in a week for a call, I can still stay connected by sending a quick text or voice note here and there.

Show them love on social media

Being your friend's hype person can be challenging when you are miles apart, but this is where the power of social media can come in. Whether they post something they're doing or have a business venture, give all the support through likes, comments and messaging. It can remind them you're still there for them even miles apart.

Include them in group chats

I feel like as an adult, the best way to communicate with multiple people is through group chats. Ensure your long-distance pal is included in the relevant chats as it can help them stay in the loop with the everyday things going on, and gives them another level of connection.

Organise to meet up when they're in the same country as you

It may be once a year or twice a year but whenever they're in the same country as you, organise a meetup. This could be a coffee, a simple walk, dinner out or an activity you enjoy together. Whatever the occasion, any form of quality time will help keep that connection alive.

Send out cards on birthdays and special occasions

Special occasions are a wonderful reminder of the important people you have in your life. If someone's in a different country, it can be expensive to send a physical gift or organise to do something for their birthday. Due to this, a card is a happy medium as it shows you've remembered and thought of them, a simple gesture of love.

Arrange to go see each other

Again, this is down to your personal circumstances. But when you're able to, see if you can organise a trip to see each other, whether it's once a year or every few months. Flying out (or driving) to see them can mean the world and give you dedicated time to spend with one another.

I hope you enjoyed this post. Where in the world does your friend live?

Thank you for reading <3

3-week itinerary to Indonesia

 Well hello to you my reader chums! Indonesia is a country that was full of surprises and I adored every minute of travelling around the country for three weeks. With its level of diversity from the countryside, islands, and cities to religious significance, there's plenty to see and learn. I'd happily jet off to Indonesia again and explore more of the island scene, its history and sights.

If you're planning a long trip to Indonesia and want to explore a diverse range of locations, here's my 3-week itinerary to Indonesia.

3 week itinerary to Indonesia

1/2 nights in Bali/ Nusa Lembongan

Any trip to Indonesia begins with Bali and this itinerary is no different. I flew into Bali and wanted to explore the other islands around it as well as the island itself. If you're coming from the UK it can be a long flight, whereas I was coming from the Philippines as part of my backpacking trip. I landed in Bali, late in the night and stayed in a hotel close by to the main airport. The next morning, I took a boat to one of the tiny islands Nusa Lembongan and spent the night there. 

Nusa Lembongan is a tiny island, yet the perfect place to soak up a taste of chilled island life, eat smoothie bowls, cycle around and see famous landmarks such as the Devil's Tears. It's a great base to start your time out in Indonesia as you can relax and ease yourself in for three weeks around the gorgeous country. Nusa Lembongan is also a popular day trip from eastern Bali as it's only a half-hour boat ride away.

3/4 nights in Ubud, Bali

Get the boat back from Nusa Lembongan to Bali, hire a taxi, and head up to Ubud. Ubud has to be my favourite part of Bali because it has that hipster, quirky appeal with DELICIOUS food places and endless things to see and do. 3-4 days is a good amount of time to see the main sights, slowly travel around, soak up the vibe and hit up the many restaurants. Like any place, you're more than welcome to spend longer in Ubud if you fall in love with it - I could have happily done so.

Ubud features the Monkey Forest, rice terraces, plenty of nature walks, markets and many historic temples you'll fall in love with. It's a place that just keeps on giving and has that familiar sense to it you'll fall in love with.

2/3 days in the Gili Islands OR stay in Bali

My plan altered when I was travelling due to Silent Day in Bali where everything shuts down on the island and I decided to visit the Gili Islands first before roaming around the rest of Bali. I have to admit I wasn't the biggest fan of the Gili Islands because it was overcrowded and overhyped and the damage to the reefs was pretty apparent. Despite that, I only properly saw Gili T and don't want to make assumptions about Gili Meno and Gili Air as people rave about those two islands more.

If you choose to visit the islands, 2-3 days is a great amount of time to lap up the beaches, go on a snorkelling tour, eat delicious brunches and spend as much time possible in the water. It's up to you which of the three islands you stay on and which you visit, depending on what you want to do.

Alternatively, if you want to spend longer in Bali, it's an opportunity to choose one of the other areas to visit, such as Seminyak, Canggu or Kuta, depending on what you're looking to see during your time here.

3 nights in Uluwatu, Bali

Whether you're heading back from the Gili Islands or continuing time in Bali, I'd recommend the area of Uluwatu for 3 days. I loved this area of Bali as it had a gorgeous beach scene, the surfer appeal and restaurant heaven. 3 nights in Uluwatu allows you to enjoy the wonders of Bali's beaches, visit the Uluwatu temple and soak up the sunshine.

2 nights in Labuan Bajo/Komodo Island

Saying goodbye to Bali is always a sad moment as I could easily spend more time on the island, however, it's your chance to see more of Indonesia. From Bali, fly to Labuan Bajo in preparation to do the Komodo Island tour. Komodo Island has to be one of my favourite experiences in Indonesia and a must-visit. You can do tours that span from a day to several nights long, depending on your budget and what you'd like to see. I flew into Labuan Bajo because many of the day tours begin there and 2 nights gave us a chance to rest up before the long tour, enjoy the tour and rest up that night before you explore more of Indonesia. 

2 nights in Malang

The next stop is heading over to Malang and whatever way you can go about it can be long. In hindsight, I wish I had done an internal flight rather than flying back to Bali and getting an 11-hour car ride to Malang (which ended up being 18 hours long). Like Labuan Bajo, I headed to Malang for a tour of the incredible Mount Bromo. I'm happy I booked 2 nights here because it gave me a chance to rest up before the midnight start of the tour and revel in the beauty of it. There's not loads else to Malang, however, you can visit the Jodipan village and embrace the local life of the city. I found Malang to be one of the cheapest places to eat in all of Indonesia.

4 nights in Yogykarta

Yogyakarta is the last stop on the trip before jetting home and a city I absolutely adored in many ways. As your last stop, 4 days is a solid amount of time to make yourself at home, see the sights, travel here and eat all the delicious food. The train journey from Malang to Yogyakarta is around 6 hours long and an easy route.

Yogyakarta is renowned for the Prambanan temple, Malioboro Street, the art scene, and markets and has a cool vibe to it. I could have easily spent more time here because it's such an easy city to exist in and slowly travel around, and enjoy the best sights. 

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

Thank you for reading <3

How to look after your mental health as a business owner

 Well hello to you my reader chums! Running a business is hard work and can be constant so it's a challenging thing to switch off. Whether thinking about your workload, money, networking or how to grow, being a business owner is constantly on my mind. Mental health is a priority to me as taking care of my mind, helps me feel more fulfilled, work productively and appreciate the business growth. 

If you're a business owner and need advice about your mental health, here are my tips on caring for your mental health as a business owner.

How to look after you mental health as a business owner

Set a schedule

I love organisation as it keeps my anxiety at bay and helps me understand my expectations for the day and week. Setting a schedule is vital in planning out your workload, whether you're a freelance marketing specialist like me or a photographer. I find it helps to book slots across the week and month for my retainers and block out time for projects, networking, admin and my own marketing. Then, I know what free time I have to take breaks, run errands and book in social plans. 

Book in regular breaks 

If you work all the time, you'll be burnt out and you won't work as productively. Booking in breaks allows your mind and body to rest, refresh and take care of you. When you've taken a break, you can start the day with fresh eyes, with a new perspective and motivation to work. Breaks can mean an hour in your day, an afternoon off every week, a week off here and there or even a sabbatical. Whatever break you need, make sure it's regular enough to help your mind.

Keep social personally and professionally 

Socialising can really help your mental health, especially when you're feeling low. Whether it's a friend, family or your partner, booking time with those who love you can boost you up, help you relax and enjoy your favourite things about life. It's also important to stay social professionally because it helps you connect with people on the same path as you and can also help build more opportunities.

Get out and about every day

You've probably heard it a million times but fresh air and exercise really are the key to a boost in your day. Whether it's only for ten minutes or for an hour, getting out and about will help you step away from the screen or focus on work. I love to take a stroll along the beach, through the town or any open spaces.

Create a nurturing lifestyle

Health is the most important thing to care for your mind and a nurturing life will help with that. Choosing the food and exercise which makes you feel good can shape a fulfilling and content every day. I love to start the day with pilates and a breakfast of delicious and filling foods that my body feels good after eating.

Don't overfill your workload

It's easy as a business owner to be constantly working or thinking about work and it makes it tempting to overfill your schedule. However, I'd always recommend not completely booking your schedule, leaving gaps for breaks and socialising. If you fill up your schedule too much, you'll likely burn out or resent your work.

Focus on the positives

I don't know about you but I struggle with the highs and lows as a freelancer because if it's a low period of work, the self-doubt comes in. I think about all the things I haven't done or achieved, rather than focus on everything I've achieved and my journey as a business owner. 

I hope you enjoyed this post. What else would you add?

Thank you for reading <3

Everything to know before travelling to Indonesia

 Well hello to you my reader chums! Indonesia is one of the best countries I've visited and surprised me in exceptional ways. I fell in love with its nature scene, the beaches, the temples, the food and how every day, the sense of adventure, roaming around. I'm in awe of all the incredible experiences I had and cherish all my memories from 3 weeks in the country.

If you're planning a trip to Indonesia, whether it's long or short, here's everything to know before travelling to Indonesia. 

Everything to know before travelling to Indonesia

The weather is different across the country 

When it comes to any trip to Southeast Asia, you need to consider other tropical climates. There's no doubt, it'll always be warm in Indonesia, however, the country does have a dry and wet season. Generally, the dry season is from April to October and the monsoon season, November to March. Although Indonesia is such a large country, the seasons can be different, depending on what part of the country you're in, such as the west is different to the east.

Sort your visa 

Depending on where you're from in the world, check what your visa requirements are. As I'm from the UK, I was able to buy my visa to Indonesia on arrival for around £35 which gave me a 30-day entry into the country. 

Respect the diverse religions

Indonesia is pretty diverse in terms of religion, however, the majority of the country is Muslim. The country also recognises other religions such as Buddhism and Hinduism. With that in mind, you need to be respectful of the religions, dress modestly in more residential destinations and be wary of how you act.

There's more to Indonesia than Bali 

Bali is one of the most popular destinations for backpackers and a large reason why many go to Indonesia. However, I had the pleasure of travelling to Indonesia for 3 weeks, visiting more than just Bali. I fell in love with what was beyond the ultra-tourist path, such as Yogyakarta, Malang, Komodo Island, Nusa Lembongan and the Gili Islands, plus many other places to discover. There's no doubt I still adore every inch of Bali and the surfer, hipster vibe it has with the markets, rice fields, beaches, food and serene atmosphere.

Use Indonesian rupees

The currency in Indonesia is the Indonesian rupee. You can order the currency before you jet off to the country or buy it when you land at the airport. I would say, it's always best to have cash across the country, especially when you're outside of Bali. In Bali and the more popular destinations, you can use your card - but it's always best to have cash with you.

Indonesia is rather cheap (outside of Bali)

I was surprised about how cheap Indonesia was for food, transport and activities when I left Bali. Bali is still cheap but a lot pricier than other destinations in Indonesia, due to the tourist appeal. Some meals I could get for £1 or £2 and they'd be delicious. 

Indonesia is massive

I think many travellers go to Indonesia and think of Bali but the country has so much more than meets the eye. As I touched on in my other point, when jetting into Indonesia, ensure you plan more for your trip than island life in Bali. Whether you fancy a taste of the city, visit more off-the-beaten-path locations, learn more about the cuisine or see the quieter beach scene, there are plenty of destinations to choose from.

Travel with an open mind

The best thing about Indonesia is witnessing the natural wonders of its countryside, beaches and meeting the locals and tasting the Indonesian cuisine. The greatest memories come from discovering quaint streets, off-the-path restaurants and new people.

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

Thank you for reading <3

Book review: Magpie by Elizabeth Day

 Well hello to you my reader chums! I love a thriller as there's something about a quick-paced plot with suspense that I adore. I heard many people rave about the book Magpie and honestly, I didn't actually realise what it was about until I bought it - and I'm glad I did.

If you love psychological thrillers or a book which will constantly surprise you, here's my book review of Magpie by Elizabeth Day.

Book review: Magpie by Elizabeth Day

Plot

Magpie follows the life of Marissa when she meets Jake and everything falls into place. However, when their new lodger Kae arrives, everything changes. Marissa thinks something isn't right about her because of the way she acts, what she says or that she's constantly asking questions about the baby they're trying for. But maybe it's all in Marissa's head? That's what Jake thinks and she thinks she trusts him. Marissa is determined to discover what is wrong even if it costs her everything.

Characters and relationships

Marissa is the protagonist and the book starts out with her, honestly, I love her as a character at the start as she's painted like a regular woman with insecurities and problems. She talks about her traumatic experiences and past relationships, friends and how she meets Jake. Their relationship in my opinion seems rushed from the beginning and a bit suspicious as if they fell into it all a little quickly and she doesn't really know him or trust him in fact.

Jake seems like a nice and caring guy but as it's told from Marissa's perspective I can't really get a full grasp of him as a character. With Kate, Marissa doesn't seem to like her but in all honesty, it sounds like she's jealous of her and everything she stands for.

It's hard to talk about Jake and Kate in more detail as characters without giving away the plot, however, the more I learnt about the characters, the more who they are shaped up and I started to really dive into the plot.

Overall thoughts

Overall, despite being a little uncertain when the book began, once I got a grasp of what the plot was about, I gained a full perspective of the characters' personalities and how they played a role in the story. I would describe this plot as a psychological thriller, even though at first it sounded more like a dramatic story where Marissa is making out Jake is cheating on her with Kate.

The book covers many themes, such as infertility, pregnancy, mental illness, troubling family dynamics and traumatic experiences. With plenty of problematic issues woven throughout the plot, it adds plenty of depth and suspense - and made me gain another level of appreciation. 

The book overall was certainly a page-turner as I was keen to see which way the story turns and the next layer is uncovered. I'd highly recommend it if psychological plots intrigue you. 

Ending

I can't give away the ending, however, despite the tragic element of the plot, this book has a content and happy ending, leaving my mind at bay and wrapping everything up in a beautiful way. It also shares how the power of caring for people is the most amazing thing.

I hope you enjoyed this review. Which book is on your TBR pile?

Thank you for reading <3

Dealing with health anxiety: my best tips

 Well hello to you my reader chums! Health anxiety isn't something I talk about a lot online, however, I do struggle with it an awful lot and always have. It doesn't help these days with Instagram and TikTok and the many creators talking about their health in full depth, making me think about all the illnesses I could potentially have.

If you have health anxiety or suffer from hypochondria, here are some tips on how to deal with health anxiety.

Dealing with health anxiety: my best tips

Don't Google your symptoms

Google is your enemy with health anxiety. As soon as I feel like something it's wrong, I'll jump on Google and search it up and it always brings up the worst possible scenario and suddenly, I think I have a terrible illness and the panic begins. With that in mind, try and prevent the temptation of searching up your symptoms and instead if the issue is really bothering you, call up your doctors and make an appointment.

Avoid scrolling on social media

Lately, social media has been the WORST for my health anxiety. The algorithm just knows me and I end up getting videos popping up of people talking about their health issues, how to improve health or all the million things in the world which are making me ill. Due to this, I try and prevent scrolling on social media as much as I can, especially when my anxiety is high. And, if I notice I'm going down a black internet hole of health videos, I immediately try and stop myself from watching more and more videos. I only follow accounts that boost positivity rather than trigger my mind.

Reassure yourself that is your mind against you

I find this is the hardest thing to do, especially when my mind is spiralling and I can't control my thoughts. However, I have to really be strict with myself and constantly remind myself that it is just my mind spirallling, it's not real, my mind is just being my enemy. If this is you, repeat it as much as you need to or have a list of affirmations prepared at this moment to run through.

Talk to family and friends with your concerns

Health anxiety can be so isolating and you can feel very alone with your thoughts. I always think I sound overdramatic when I'm talking about it but I can assure you, you don't. Your friends and family are there to listen and help reassure you with any concerns you have. Confide in those you feel safe with to express your feelings and tell people how they can help, sometimes it may just be a listening ear.

Put in place coping mechanisms when you feel triggered

Everyone has trigger points and they're different for each person and it's important to learn what yours are as you can put coping mechanisms in place. Whether it's going for a walk, or journalling your thoughts to putting on a comfort TV show, whatever the coping strategy, practice it as much as possible to learn how it can help you feel better.

Pursue hobbies that make you feel good

A tip I used for general anxiety is pursuing hobbies that make you feel good. Anxiety can be a killer for self-esteem or feeling good about yourself. With that in mind, finding hobbies that spark joy can really help in moments when your mind is spiralling. I love to travel, bake, read, try new restaurants and beach walks. All of these bring a lot of joy and help keep my mind at bay when my health anxiety is triggered. 

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

Thank you for reading <3

Best experiences in Indonesia

 Well hello to you my reader chums! Indonesia was a country which surprised me in many ways, and the experiences there were some of my favourite out of my 3-month backpacking trip. The country has some of the loveliest people, gorgeous countryside scenery, beautiful sunsets, the best food and the prettiest beaches. Many days I spent exploring, I couldn't believe my eyes at the sheer beauty, especially during certain experiences. 

If you're new to Indonesia or planning a trip, here's my guide to the best experiences in Indonesia.

Best experiences in Indonesia

Komodo Island

I have said it a thousand times, but the day trip to Komodo Island must be one of my favourite travel experiences. The trip to Komodo Island wasn't only about seeing the Komodo dragons, it was much more than that. The trip involved visiting Padar Island, the Komodo Island National Park, and Taka Makassar and Manta Point.

The first part of the trip had to be my favourite, hiking up Padar Island. The panoramic view was extraordinary when we made our way to the top. It featured three different beaches, the white beach, the pink beach and the black beach. Plus, with picture-perfect blue skies, the image will never leave my mind. And, snorkelling on these beaches, I witnessed some phenomenal marine life. The trip to the national park was memorable as seeing Komodo dragons up close was pretty scary but amazing! While Taka Makassar is so unique; a stretch of sand in the middle of the ocean - I loved it here!

Snorkelling at Manta Point 

This leads me to the Manta Point experience which was one of the last points during the Komodo Island excursion. At this point, we snorkelled and the sea was crystal clear, and not just that, the marine life was beautiful. We actually witnessed manta rays and I was blown away by their size and how mystical they looked - it's as if I was in the Finding Nemo film.

Witnessing the sunrise at Mount Bromo

Watching sunrise and sunset is my favourite thing and witnessing the sunrise over Mout Bromo was something else. We woke up in the early hours for a jeep ride around Bromo Park and waited in the pitch black until the sun rose and it was magical. Every stage looked more beautiful as the sun slowly rose and we could see the colours of the mountains and natural terrain. I loved how after, we got to see the volcanic crater, walk around the national park and experience the natural wonders.

Exploring Ubud

Bali is a hotspot for many travellers and I loved roaming around the island and visiting many locations, including Ubud, which was my favourite place. I loved exploring Ubud; it has a natural and hipster appeal which I fell in love with. I love the local markets, the endless rice fields, the beautiful river strolls and the many ancient temples to mooch around. Ubud is also a hub for quirky restaurants, coffee shops, bars and stores - and I'd love to return again.

Watching Devil's Tear on Nusa Lembongan

Nusa Lembongan is a tiny island next to Bali and a gorgeous spot to spend a few days relaxing on island life. This island is serene and a great opportunity to cycle around, eat smoothie bowls, and enjoy the natural beauty and the beach scene. And, this island is home to the famous Devil's Tears. The Devil's Tears is a cliff with giant waves and is mesmerising to watch.

Yoga in Bali

Bali is certainly the heart of wellness and despite loving every inch of the island, exploring its beach scene, temples, culture and food, doing a yoga class was on my list. I love practising yoga and doing a class in the sunshine with fellow travellers and my partner was dreamy. The class was in an ideal setting, tranquil and holiday-esque, the perfect place to relax.

Temple hopping in Yogyakarta

Yogyakarta was a complete surprise and I fell in love with the city, especially the temple scene. It reminded me of the Angkor Wat complex in Cambodia with the same level of 'wow' factor. I especially enjoyed walking around the Prambanan temple as it was phenomenal in terms of design and the overall setting.

Eating Nasi Goreng

Indonesian food is beyond delicious and one dish I was obsessed with, the Nasi Goreng. I pretty much ate it most days and it consists of this veggie-type rice with a fried egg. It's mooreish and incredibly inexpensive and I could eat it all the time now.

I hope you enjoyed this post. Where would you like to visit next?

Thank you for reading <3