Travel Diaries – Lisbon, Portugal

This Valentine’s Day I spent 4 nights in the rustic, rolling city that is Lisbon. I have to say that it’s probably my favourite country I’ve visited in Europe so far. Its culture, people and atmosphere all made my stay incredibly enjoyable. Going at this time of year meant cheap flights, mildly warm weather and more locals instead of tourists. So I would definitely recommend booking tickets during less busy seasons.

Here are all the details of my trip.

Flights:

We flew with Wizz Air for £39 return. £39! Wizz Air are a budget airline, with great service, smooth flights and no delays. I really enjoy my flights with them and I think that you actually get a little more than what you pay for. Compared to other cheap airlines like RyanAir (who offer cheap prices and poor service), Wizz Air is a really great option for those of you who don’t want to spend a lot of money but still want a decent level of service.

One tip that I would give you is to make sure that you pay for Wizz Priority. Wizz Priority gives you priority boarding, which actually comes in handy for fully booked flights. Who has time to be right at the back of the line? Not me.

But most importantly, Wizz Priority allows you to take a “trolley bag” (or in other words, cabin sized suitcase) on board with you. If you don’t want to get hit with a £28 fee, then just select Wizz Priority when you book. I believe it’s an extra £13 but is so worth it in the end.



Day 1:



On our first night, we landed fairly late. So we dropped our stuff at the Air BnB and headed out to Lisbon’s pink street. This is a lively area full of bars and clubs. With people drinking and eating outside, it’s a great social area with plenty of options for places to go.



Day 2:



The Time Out Market is a great place to go if you want to try a variety of different foods. There are plenty of options – from burgers and pizza, to spring rolls, to pork cheeks and codfish sandwiches. With lots of seating and an impressive interior, it’s definitely somewhere I would recommend visiting.


Castelo de Sao Jorge is a beautiful castle in Lisbon with amazing sprawling views of the city and Tagus river. Inside, there’s a cafe, archaeological ruins and the opportunity to wander the castle grounds. Entry costs 5 euros if you are under 25 and about 10 euros if you are over, I think. The best part of the attraction is the beautiful views from the top. We spent at least a couple of hours sitting on the top of the wall, staring out at the beautiful colourful city. You can even get a table at the top and enjoy the views over lunch, a glass of wine or even a cup of coffee.

There are plenty of restaurants to eat at in town. Many of the waiters will stand outside, offering you menus and trying to entice you inside. Often, I didn’t even look at the names of the places that we ate at. So just take your time, look at the menus and decide where you want to eat. There’s a good mixture of traditional Portuguese restaurants and restaurants offering more mainstream food.

Praça do Comércio is a yellow square next to the Tagus River. Aside from the fact that there’s a fountain and a beautiful arch with a carved statue depicting Zeus, it’s lined with restaurants that have plenty of outdoor seating. Here you get beautiful water and landscape views. You can also see the Castelo de Sao Jorge from here, so it’s a great photo opportunity.

If you venture down to the coast, there’s a small sandy beach where you can sit and look over at the bridge or some of the boats on the water. Very calming and very well-connected, so great for a quick pit stop between tourist activities.

Day 3:

The coastal town of Cascais was my favourite part of the trip. It’s a very calm and quaint fishing town with a beautiful beach and the most addictive views. We visited on a day that had clean blue skies and with all the boats out on the water, I absolutely fell in love. With its winding, cobbled streets and scatter of little independent shops, you can’t go wrong.

Restaurants here offer more traditional dishes. Porto di Mare Cascais was great. The garlic butter shrimp was fresh, juicy and so moreish. They have a range of different seafood options on the menu. We also ordered a seafood spaghetti and a pizza. Everything tasted great and I loved the rustic, exposed brick interior.

Garlic butter shrimp

Uber is popular in Lisbon. So that evening, exhausted from walking all day, we decided to order an Indian takeaway. So if you’re ever lost for options or too tired to leave your hotel room, then this is an option.

Day 4:

We took a train to Sintra on this day, which cost us a mere 5 euros. Sintra is one of those places that everybody will tell you you have to visit in Portugal. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the best experience here. Walking the grounds of Sintra castle took almost the whole day and there really isn’t that much to see apart from the castle itself.

I wasn’t particularly enamoured with the castle. I thought the exterior was beautiful – very colourful, with lots of interesting shapes and textures. However, the medieval interior was of little interest to me and once I had finished looking inside, there was the dread of getting back down.

You can either take a tuk tuk or the bus. Ubers generally won’t come up to the castle and if they do, it would take them far too long.

That evening, we came home, rested and then headed out to experience some more of Lisbon’s nightlife. We visited a club called Lust in Rio – which I highly recommend! The music at the club was mainly Reggaton – so great for dancing. But they also played a lot of current pop songs. The club has two levels, with the tables section on the top level balcony looking down into the main dancing area.


Despite the low reviews on Google, I had a really good time here. You’re given a drinks card upon entry and every time you order a drink at the bar, they stamp it for you. There’s a minimum spend of 20 euros. It’s kind of like a physical tab which you take to the tills at the end of your night and pay. This can get dangerous, as you keep ordering drinks without spending any physical money. But I had about 6 drinks and only paid 35 euros at the end of the night, which is so cheap!

Day 5:

On our final day, we had our suitcases with us so there wasn’t much we could do. We did a bit of shopping in town and picked up ice cream from Amorino (which they also have in the UK). After spending a couple of hours on the beach watching the sunset, we finally headed to the airport and back to the UK.

Overall, Lisbon is definitely one of my top European destinations to visit. I also want to highly recommend the Air BnB we stayed at. Although it was a little far out from the centre, Ubers are incredibly cheap (3 euros roughly to get in and out of the centre) and it took about 10 minutes.

Below is a link to their profile on Air BnB, with plenty of apartment options to choose from. They are a sort of holiday rental apartment service. So we had an arranged check-in time with a member of staff there to meet us and hand over the keys. We had a 24 hour number to call with any issues. We had a professional check-out clean included in the price of our stay. And best of all, the host sent through a long list of Lisbon recommendations for us. I will leave these in a list below for you.

BnBird Homes – Air BnB
https://www.airbnb.co.uk/users/76223539/listings


Host Recommendations:

Beaches: Portinho Árrabida, Tróia, Cascais, Costa Caparica, Ericeira , Carcavelos (surf)

Green spaces: Jardim Estrela, Gulbenkian gardens, Parque Eduardo VII, Parque das Nações, Jardim do príncipe real

Viewpoint: Santa Catarina, São Pedro Alcântara, Portas do Sol, Santa Luzia Graça, Santa justa Elevator (Build by Eiffel’s apprentice)

Old Barrios: Alfama, Graça, Príncipe Real

Sightseeing: Castelo S.Jorge, Rossio, Praça Comércio, Sé de Lisboa, Panteão, Belém (Descobrimentos monument, Mosteiro Jerónimos, Torre Belém)

Museums: MAAT, Museu Eletricidade, CCB , Gulbenkian, Museu Coleção Berardo

Nightout & food: Cais Sodré, Bairro Alto, Lx Factory

Out of city: Sintra, Cascais

Cascais amazing restaurant: Baía do peixe, Tasca da Linha, Pátio dos petiscos

More far: Tomar, Évora, Óbidos Setúbal.


Some of the best bookstores:

Ler devagar – In an old printing press factory building, it’s inside of Lx factory that is really worth seeing

Livraria Sá da Costa – Old world charm, there are books that are 200, 300 and 500 years

Bertrand – “ The oldies bookstore in the world” according do Guiness book

My suggestions for restaurants are:

Casa do Alentejo (in Rossio): Traditional Portuguese food, from an area called “Alentejo”. The restaurant is present in a historic and very elegant building.

Mercado da Ribeira (in Cais do Sodré) : The food court, with canteen-style communal tables, it mixes stalls from top chefs with different brands of local products

Solar dos Presuntos (in Avenida da Liberdade): Portuguese tradicional, cuisine with fish, seafood and meat options in a family atmosphere.

Cabaças (in Bairro alto): Restaurant known for its hot steaks, in a very cultural and busy neighborhood. If you’re a meat lover, it’s the right place to go.

Ramiro (in Anjos) : This restaurant is probably one of the best known in Lisbon. It has been open since the 1950s and serves traditional Portuguese food, but its excellence comes from seafood. I advice to go early, because there’s usually a big line.

Santa Clara dos cogumelos(Graça): Every dish has mushrooms in it it’s absolutely amazing


Zé dos cornos(in Mouraria): This downtown venue is perfect for locals, it’s not very comfortable since it’s a small place but the food is delicious and cheap

Cantinho do Avillez and Belcanto(in Chiado): a really none chef who already win 2 Michelin stars, it ain’t cheap but it’s worth it

Ponto final(in Almada): This restaurant is located on the tip of a dock at the other side of the river, you would have to catch a boat in cais Sodré, that takes 6/7 min that has fresh fish and views you will never forget

Best non Portuguese restaurants:

Restaurant Indian Gate(in Sé): Best Indian restaurant in Lisbon!

El Clandestino(in Príncipe Real): One of the best Mexican restaurant in town, amazing tacos, amazing cocktails

O Asiático(in Príncipe Real): I have no words, amazing asiatic food. Right by El Clandestino.

Tantura(in Bairro Alto): Israeli restaurant and cocktail bar. The nicest staff

Chapito(in Costa do castelo): it’s actually Portuguese food, but it’s one of the restaurants with the best view ever.

Cantina Peruana(in Bairro Alto): Food from Peru, best ceviche that I had.

Best Brunch:

Amélia(In Campo de Ourique): normally it’s really crowded but it’s a wonderful space, with a lot of healthy food.

Bar 35(in Mouraria): It’s located and really old neighborhood, really good food

Nicolau(in Baixa): really really popular but worth it, it really central.

DeliDelux(in Alfama): Right on the water in alfama, watch the boats go by it’s also a place where you can buy gourmet cheese

Supermarkets:
Pingo doce
Mini-Preço
Lidl
Continente

Normally to go out here in Portugal we always go to 2 neighborhoods, bairro alto and cais do Sodré (PINK STREET).

Bars:
Pensão amor
Rive rouge
Double 9
Cinco Lounge *really good cocktails
Pavilhão chinês
Lounge
Rio Maravilha
Damas
Monkey mash

Rooftops:

Skybar
PARK
TOPO( Martim Moniz or Chiado)
Hotel Mundial
Memmo Hotel

Discos:

Lux – electronic music
Lust in rio- Hip hop, reggaeton



Interior Design Round Up – February

I want to start off by showcasing this gorgeous guest room at the Santa Monica Proper Hotel. Designed by Kelly Wearstler, this monochrome room is just beautiful. The colour scheme may look simple, but working with different textures, tones and tints of the same colour actually makes this room quite visually complex. It’s a really great way to keep things simple (ish) yet still create a really impressive interior. You can read more about Kelly Wearstler’s commissioning of the Proper Hotels & Residences here on the Interior Design magazine website!

Talking of colour, I want to mention that Dulux’s colour of the year is stunning! I absolutely love it. It’s called Tranquil Dawn and is supposed to represent that moment of calm that we are all seeking in a world full of chaos. It started out with the idea of humanity and what it means to be human and was refined and developed into this meaning. I really love the story behind this colour and I think it is also such a beautiful one. Unlike Pantone’s, which I talked about in January’s round up – I don’t really like that one!

Dulux Tranquil Dawn

Next up, I want to showcase this really unique pendant light fixture that I found whilst sourcing. The below pendant is by Seattle based manufacturer Graypants and is crafted by hand from recycled cardboard. Yet, it looks incredible! It’s warm, textured and definitely a striking standout piece to use in a design scheme. All of the lights are precision cut with a laser, use non-toxic adhesive, and all have been proofed with a non-toxic fire retardant. These are part of the Scraplights range and you can get them in different shapes. I love finding pieces that are beautiful and environmentally friendly!

Graypants Products ScrapLights Natural
Graypants Scraplights

Also interesting was this read from The Guardian (who I interned with – yes, I have to throw that in there at every opportunity possible thank you!), discussing how it is possible to liven up a property that you rent. Obviously follow the rules set out by your landlord, so as not to breach your contract, but this South London (Crystal Palace) interior is colourful and personal and you would never guess that the tenant doesn’t own it.

The artist, Anna Jacobs, who owns the house also produces some beautiful homeware which you can have a look at on the Anna Jacobs Design website here. Her pieces are really colourful and in the article she talks about how colour effects her mood and why it’s therefore important to her to have lots of it around. You can also browse the rooms in her home on her Instagram account.

Anna Jacobs House
Anna Jacobs Website

Finally, I have to mention The Wing London, Oxford Circus. I’ve been seeing this advertise all over my Instagram. If you haven’t, then it’s a co-working and community space for women. The first Wing opened in New York (the coolest, chicest city ever) in 2016 and now we have one here. It’s a private club, uniquely and brilliantly designed of course. Women use it for running their own businesses or just to be part of a community of empowered and elite women who inspire each other. I say this as if I’m a member myself, which I’m not, but perhaps one day. You can glimpse some of the room below and find out more on their website.

The Wing, London
Roof Terrace at The Wing, London

Interior Design Round Up – January

Image from Crittall

This year, I plan to start a monthly interior design post on this blog that brings you all of my favourite trends, designer showcases and just general chat about the industry. If you’re not following my interior design Instagram, then please do! @tanyasinteriors for all of the inspiration you need to re-design your home.

The first thing I want to talk about this month is Crittall windows and doors. Don’t worry, for months I didn’t know the proper name for these either and I’ve actually just been calling them grid windows and doors. Regardless, this style is my absolute favourite for kitchen and bathroom partitions. It feels like such a modern trend but it’s actually named after an ironmonger called Francis Henry Crittall; who, in 1860, created metal windows in this style. Paired with neutral tones, plants and lots of black and white artwork, it does feel very chic. I’m just glad I finally know exactly what to call them!

Image from Crittall

The colour grey has been a safe choice for many when it comes to re-designing their home. It was a safe choice for me when choosing what colour to paint my childhood bedroom, which was previously a colour called Jazberry that I picked up in Homebase when I was maybe 14? It was only at 21 did I remove the awful floral border in my bedroom and paint the walls grey. You can read all about that transformation here. But I’ve heard that blue is actually the new grey!

Image from Pantone


The Pantone colour of the year is classic blue and it’s been met with a lot of mixed responses. I don’t know about you but I would find it difficult to incorporate this shade of blue into any kind of cheerful design. To me, it screams of sadness and mourning. I’m far more comfortable working with rich or pastel blues. Deeper blue kitchen cabinets with gold knobs or handles for example, is a pairing that I absolutely adore. Or, pale blue metro wall tiles in a bathroom, which immediately brings that sense of freshness to the room. Either way, I think I’ll be happy to see the end of the safe grey phase.

Image from Clare Gaskin

Mixing textures but using the same colours is also something I have seen quite a bit of recently. It’s a great way to create some variety in a room if you’re not that comfortable splashing out on colour. I was shown this Surrey fun house at work by Clare Gaskin last month and I love it! It’s just exactly what it says it is – fun. This is the kind of home that calls for constant entertaining and is all play and no sleep. Plus, I adore the wallpaper in the image above. I first saw it on an Instagram account called @oakappledecor – picture below. I rave about Cole & Son all the time but their wallpapers truly are to die for and so varied too. This is the Circus wallpaper from their Geometric II range.

Image from Instagram @oakappledecor

But, if you can’t bear the thought of mixing so many vibrant colours in one room, then try playing around with textures. As you can see here, you’ve got the plants, the sheers and the wood textures coming through in the furniture but the colour palette remains very stable.

Image from Curbed

If you follow me on Instagram, then you’ll know how much I love kitchen design. I think the kitchen is the most sociable and important room in the house, closely followed by the bathroom. I’m still deciding whether I want to focus on kitchen and bathroom design in the future because I’m literally obsessed with both! Earlier, I came across a trend about concealed kitchens. This is basically where you have cabinet doors covering all the worktops and functional spaces in the kitchen but you can open or pull out different parts as and when you need to use them.

Now, I haven’t really heard of this much. I once was involved in a project where the designer was working on a pull out kitchen table, which turned out very nicely in the end. But this was to try and maximise quite a small space. I haven’t really thought about concealing parts of a kitchen in a room where you already have that space. I’m not sure how I feel about it either!

Images from Hub Kitchens

Finally, I want to remind you all that the Surface Design Show takes place next week from the 11th to 13th February. Unfortunately, I can’t go as I’ll be working and then flying to Lisbon on the 13th. I do hear that it’s a great event for picking up news on the latest material trends for interior and exterior surfaces. There are talks and events happening throughout the day and it’s a great way to network. I’m sure you know the usual! You can get tickets here on the BIID website.

Natural hair wash routine and hairstyle

Today’s post is a really short and easy explanation of how I created this curly updo for my best friend’s wedding. It was super quick, very easy and extremely effective!

The first thing I did was wash my hair using the Shea Moisture Extra Moisture Retention Shampoo. I really like this shampoo because it does exactly what it says on the bottle – you can immediately feel how soft your hair is after using it.

Next, I conditioned my hair with the OGX Coconut Curls Conditioner. This is my absolute favourite conditioner. I’ve been using it for about two years now. It smells incredible and it really revives your curls. Recently, I’ve ditched my tangle teezer and have only been finger detangling. This is a great method of detangling your hair for a couple of reasons in my opinion. First, it doesn’t stretch your curls. I find that using a tangle teezer really stretches my hair out and then it sort of pings back up. This means that some sections of hair end up curlier than others. However, when I finger detangle, every strand of hair is gently conditioned without compromising my natural curl pattern. Second, it’s a lot more gentle on your hair. I’ve realised that finger detangling makes me lose less hair and has shown me that my hair actually isn’t as tangled as I thought. If you’re wondering how I do this, then it’s really very simple. You just start from the bottom and sort of gently rake your hands through each section.

Once this is done, I dry my hair with a t-shirt. Yes. I use a t-shirt because a towel actually makes my hair a lot frizzier. After carefully finger detangling and conditioning, I don’t want to lose any of that natural definition. Wrapping my head in an old t-shirt and squeezing out the excess water works really well for this purpose.

Now for the hairstyle… Super simple really! The first thing I did was apply my Shea Moisture Extra Moisture Detangler (this is from the same range as the shampoo but I have also been using this one for years). Next I applied my Cantu Curl Activator. This is a recent discovery of mine but I absolutely love it! I apply it to half of my hair and again sort of rake it through in rough sections.

For the hairstyle, all I did was side part my hair and pull it into a ponytail on one side. Then I twisted it round and pinned it up. I have naturally thick hair so I didn’t have to use a donut clip or anything underneath to give volume, but if you need to then you absolutely can – you’ll just need more pins! After this, I used some of my gold clips and scattered them around my hair for decoration. You can leave a couple of curls out to frame your face but I liked the curls showing in my bun so I chose not to.

This is a style that works best on freshly washed hair! Perfect for any kind of family event or celebration.

How I maintain clear(ish) skin!

Having a skincare routine has been a really important part of my day-to-day routine for years. Cleansing morning and night, using a face scrub or exfoliator once a week and throwing a mask in here and there when I feel like I need to detox or am having a really bad skin week. I’ve tried all kinds of skincare – from Boots cucumber range (a cult favourite) to Tatcha dewy skin cream (maybe a little over-priced). But have you ever tried not having a routine at all?

I treat my skin intuitively. No one skincare regime works for me across the board, in every season, throughout every month. Your hormones can effect your skin, your mental health can effect your skin, the environment, the products that you use and the way that you use them. There are so many factors here and there that it would be next to impossible to say that this one specific routine is a sure way of achieving clear skin.

My skin is usually quite good. I don’t suffer from acne, enlarged pores, hyperpigmentation, blackheads or any kind of serious skin problems. Generally, it’s okay. To tell you a little bit about my skin type, I have naturally oily skin – especially on my cheeks and just between my eyebrows. However, I do feel that my skin requires deep moisturisers to keep it hydrated. Contrary to the belief that people with oily skin don’t need to use as much moisturiser, I actually double moisturise. Yes! Every morning I use two moisturisers. One to hydrate the skin and the other to soften it. The first is the Boots Cucumber Moisturising Cream. You can pick this up for about £2.00 in store and it lasts forever. It’s fast-absorbing but it really hydrates your skin. Because it sinks into my skin quite quickly, I then go in with a deep moisturising cream on top. The second one is Tatcha Dewy Skin Cream. This is an expensive product for sure, as it costs about £50-£60 and comes in a very small tub. But I have to say that it is absolutely beautiful. First of all it feels like silk. It smells amazing and a little goes a long way. I like this moisturiser because you can really see and feel the effects of it. Unlike the Boots cream, once you work this one into your skin, you can see how hydrated your skin is. It feels plump and it gives you this sort of sheen that completely alleviates any dryness – so I highly recommend the splurge for this one!

Something I have noticed that really keeps my spots at bay is drinking lots of water. I hardly ever drink juice. All I drink is peppermint tea, coffee (here and there) and water. Hot water and lemon is my absolute favourite. Not only does it taste refreshing but it’s a great natural detox for those days where you feel really unhealthy. And then there’s just plain and simple cold water. I feel like this tip is age old but drinking water is honestly the best thing you can do to keep your skin hydrated. Dry skin peels, is flaky and doesn’t look good with make-up on.

Speaking of make-up, my next tip is to give yourself some make-up free days! Before I started working full time, I was under the impression that I would have to wear make-up everyday to work. This is the biggest myth ever. First of all, I don’t have time to apply make-up every morning and if I do find the time, I’m usually late. Wearing make-up everyday means cleaning my brushes more regularly, which is what I should be doing right now but am too lazy to go and do. It means using more of my make-up remover in the evenings and consequently having to buy it more frequently. It means tapping my eyebrow when it’s itchy because I don’t want to scratch the make-up off and smudge them. But most importantly, not wearing make-up on some days means that you’re giving your skin that needed time to breathe. The key to no make-up days is having good skin and one of the keys to good skin is having no make-up days, so they really work hand in hand.

My final tip for you is to try just washing your face with good old water. There are so many products on the market now that will claim to do all sorts of things – anti-blemish, anti-ageing, removes blackheads, reduces the appearance of pores, targets redness, evens skin tone. Honestly, having a look at the ingredients on the back will make it easy to see that sometimes these products are doing more harm than good. Just like we love a low-manipulation hairstyle, I also love a low-manipulation skincare routine. Sometimes that just means washing my face with water and moisturising with my favourite creams. Keeping it simple and not layering my skin with product after product, which can almost feel the same as putting on a full face of make-up sometimes!

What are your skincare tips?

Wand Curls on natural hair

This year I have vowed to experiment more with my natural, curly hair. Straight hair always holds a certain appeal in my mind and then when I actually straighten it, it’s never as good as I planned. I have realised that I don’t really like wearing my hair down and straight. I like to wear my hair tied up or tied back when it’s straight, which kind of defeats the purpose of straightening it. If I’m only straightening it to tie it up then I might as well save myself the heat damage and not straighten it all!

I’ve said many times before that I think natural hair is a lot more versatile than we like to think. I can wash my hair and go out in about forty minutes when I leave it natural, even less if I’m in a rush. But if I want to wear it straight, then I have to wash, blow dry and straighten it – a process that takes about 3 hours in total. I find that my scalp gets very itchy when my hair is straight and that I’m more likely to re-straighten my hair when straight because of the kinks that the hairbands make in my hair. So overall, straight hair requires a lot more effort to maintain and causes a lot of damage.

To keep my hair moisturised in weather that’s either really warm or really cold, I like to protective style by moisturising and twisting my hair in to small sections. I keep these in for 2 days maximum and usually wash my hair every 3-4 days. So here is an easy hairstyle you can do on the 3rd or 4th day.

When you take your twists out, your hair will already be curly – as below. If you separate these curls with your fingers, then you have a very easy no-heat curly hairstyle.

If you’re going out in the evening or you have an occasion coming up, you can spruce the curls up using a curling wand. Mine is from Tresemme and comes with a glove and a heat protectant spray. If you have a lot of hair, then this could take you a while. But it also depends on how small you want to go with curling each section. Wand curls are really easy. You just start wrapping from the thick end of the barrel, hold for a few seconds and then pull the barrel out. No need to pin it up in sections or hold it either.

There is also no need to blow dry or straighten your hair beforehand. Keeping your hair in twists for two days will already have stretched it and it also gives you pre-selected sections to wand curl. You don’t even have to curl every section. All you have to do is go over the ones that you want to be a little bit bigger. The twists themselves will already have created quite defined curls.

As you can see below, this is what the curls look like when you take them out of the twists. I haven’t separated them here, but all you would need to do it put some oil in your hair (for shine) and begin to separate and fluff them out.

No heat curls

If you do opt for going over them with the curling wand, then the end result should look like this – shiny, soft and bouncy curls! It’s really easy and a great way to glam up a very simple natural hairstyle without straightening or blow drying your hair.

Tan’s 2020 Fitness Goals

Hello! Here we are in 2020, at that time of the month when everybody is thinking about how to keep those new year’s resolutions. Save more? Commit to dry Jan? Hit the gym? That last one is always my favourite – I love the fact that people are so motivated to work out at the start of year but hate that so often, many of us fail to keep up with it.

I feel like I say this all the time but working out is really important to me. Over the past two years, I would say, of consistent exercise, I’ve picked up on very noticeable differences in the way I feel and in the way I feel about myself. It’s definitely been a journey.

I started working out because I wanted to lose weight. There was a time when I looked in the mirror and honestly hated my body. I would find a list as long as a lamppost detailing how fat my legs were. I think as girls, regardless of whether we love our bodies or not, we all have that one part that we have never been satisfied with. So, when I first started working out, I pretty much only trained lower body.

Then, I started to notice that my legs were getting bigger because I was building up muscle. I scrapped the weights and started training cardio only. But even then I wasn’t happy.

It took me about a year and a half to get to the point I’m at now, where the way that I look has moved down the list of reasons why I work out. When I started working out, I wanted slimmer legs. Period. Now, I work out because it makes me feel energised, it gives me something to work towards, it gives me the opportunity to train new parts of my body and see how they progress over time, it stops me from getting bored, feeling sluggish and lazy. There are lots of different reasons why I continue to workout.

Over the Winter months, my workouts have changed to home workouts. I still have a gym membership but I haven’t used it in about two months. I’ve been trialling how much more successful it is to workout at home, rather than at the gym. I think that for me, it all depends on the season. I really don’t want to get dressed and go out into the cold to workout – I just don’t. So I roll out my exercise mat and I workout at home instead. At the moment, I’ve literally only been doing MadFit workouts on YouTube. I think they are amazing! They’re usually between 10 and 20 minutes so I would normally do two in a row, but the 10 minute ones give you the option to get some high intensity activity into your day even if you’re feeling sluggish or if you’re low on time.

The reason why I enjoy home workouts so much at the moment, is because I can target my workouts and train in a guided way for free and without anybody around me. The one thing I always struggled with at the gym was finding space. At home, I have my own little space and I can train in exactly the way that I want to. I also sometimes film my workouts. No, not because I’m a narcissist! Simply because it’s good to watch them back and see where I need to improve my form in order to get the most out of the different exercises. Again, this is something that I couldn’t do at the gym.

This year, my main fitness goal is to be able to do a press up. Easy for some, hard for the rest of us who have very minimal upper body strength. All those lower body workouts two years ago meant that I completely neglected my arms! I have been doing a lot of ab workouts recently and many of the exercises involve having good upper body strength. So this year, (well, really towards the end of last year) I have started incorporating upper body exercises into my routines. I’m really excited to see how far I can go with this. After we nail the press up, it’s on to pull-ups!

I love the feeling of setting yourself goals and achieving them. It’s honestly the best feeling when you think about something that you’ve said you want to do and then realise that you’ve managed to do it. Fitness achievements are probably up there on my list of most gratifying successes. Again, I say this a lot but there was a time when I couldn’t do lying leg drops or planks and here we are doing them as part of 3-4 part ab sets.

If you are on a fitness journey this year, then I urge you to do two things:

1. Set small and achievable goals for yourself rather than saying “I want to lost a stone by Summer”. I really think you will feel so much better and stronger if you break that down into achievable little parts and work even harder to hit those mini goals before the big one.

2. Find free ways to get fit. Go running, play a sport with your friends or honestly, just start doing YouTube workouts. As I said in my fitness influencers post (linked below), I really recommend MadFit workouts. They’re challenging, really well-paced and I have really seen and most importantly, felt results from them.

If you want to read any of my other fitness posts, then click on the tag below.

What are your fitness goals in 2020?

Happy New Decade!

I can’t believe we are in a new decade! How crazy is that? I can’t find a straight answer on whether a decade is 10 or 12 years (I’ve always known it to be 12), but if I think back to all those years ago, then I was still in secondary school. I was 14 years old. I really never could have imagined that I’d be where I am now. My life was set to take a completely different path and it’s changed so much. But change has been incredibly good for me and I can say honestly, that I am very happy with where I am now and with where I’m heading.

2019 was a fast-paced year for me but I definitely got a lot out of it. At the beginning of the year, a little switch flicked in my head and I realised that I wanted to look into pursuing interior design seriously. Almost a year later, I really managed to shift careers and manifest what was just an idea into something very tangible. In January 2019, the most designing I had done was on The Sims and I was working for an estate agent. Since then, I’ve worked for an interior design firm and assisted with the design of two bathrooms, as well as helped with the sourcing for various different projects. I’ve been on site visits where I’ve seen my designs manifested – which was honestly so gratifying and surreal! I paid a lot of money to study at KLC School of Design and learnt how to use drawing programs that are going to be key to my career. I started an Instagram page (@tanyasinteriors) purely based on design to help me figure out my style as a designer. I’ve spent so much time drawing that I have actually managed to create a portfolio of all of my work so far.

Anyone who knows me knows how important my career is to me. There is nothing I want more than a successful career and I’m willing to do what it takes to make that happen. This year, I manifested lots of little components of this big dream (which is more than just being an interior designer) into real successes. Today, as I worked on my portfolio, I realised that every move I’ve made since having that little spark of realisation in January last year, has been absolutely worth it. I’ve learned so much, I’ve met so many new people and I’ve come to know even more of myself. I faced a few setbacks where I thought the dream was dead, but I’m so proud of myself for picking myself up and making sure I kept going. Now I can look back on 2019 happier than ever. It was a very successful year for me in terms of my career.

I’ve become a lot more confident in my abilities and in myself this year. I know who I am and exactly what I want out of lots of different aspects of life – friendships, money, housing, family, fitness, leisure. I want to make sure that the energy I keep around me is only positive and I think that I have been really good at that this year. I haven’t given negative people the leeway to stay in my life long enough to have any real effect on it and I’m proud of that.

This year, I’m looking forward to even more success and happiness. Although happiness is not as easy as saying this year, I would like to be happy, I would like to commit to taking more time to do the things that will maintain my happiness overall.

On the whole, I’ve had an incredible year. I wish everybody all the best for their New Year, all of the blessings, success and happiness. I hope that you are able to leave any negativity behind and move forward focusing on you and all of the things that will make you happy.

Reduce your waste this Christmas

Photo by Lucie Liz on Pexels.com

It’s Christmas Eve! No, this is not your usual Christmas Eve post, where I give out last minute gift ideas or tell you how much I love Christmas. In typical me fashion, my brain is ticking away thinking about how much paper and plastic is going to be wasted tomorrow. *queue the eye-rolling*

If you’re wondering why I am concerned about the packaging waste this Christmas, it’s because a lot of it ends up in landfills and does not break down quickly or does not break down at all. The average household will get through four rolls of wrapping paper. UK consumers will use 227,000 miles of wrapping paper each year. 125,000 tonnes of plastic packaging will be thrown out rather than recycled.

I’m conscious of making this post as short as possible as I don’t want to bore people, but it would be great if we thought more about how we can recycle and re-use packaging this Christmas. So, here are five quick tips for things you can do to help the environment this Christmas.

1. Save your wrapping paper and re-use it next year! Very simple, very easy, very quick. Or, buy recycled wrapping paper. It’s only going to get torn to shreds anyway!

2. Cut out the pattern on your Christmas cards and use them as gift tags next year.

3. Take re-usable shopping bags with you if you are going shopping on Boxing Day! A canvas tote or shopper would be perfect for this.

4. If you have a real Christmas tree, find out how you can recycle it – usually with your local council. They can usually get shredded and used as compost for planting new trees or chipping for covering pathways.

5. We all love unwrapping a present, but gift bags can be re-used. If you don’t want to re-use your wrapping paper next year, then shred it and use it as lining in your gift bags instead.

Hope everybody has a lovely Christmas!

My thoughts on the UK election result…

Photo by Element5 Digital on Pexels.com

This Thursday 12th December we held a general election in the UK. I was at the polling station at 7am on the dot. In fact, I was the first person to vote at my polling station – that’s how bloody eager I was. Now, I hope that those people reading this post who were able to vote in this election, did. Nothing frustrates me more (apart from the Tory win at this election, but we will come to that…) than people who don’t vote when they are eligible to do so!

I made sure to read the manifestos of the parties thoroughly – apart from the Lib Dems, whose manifesto lacked so much clarity that I personally didn’t see the point in continuing. In my opinion, the Conservative manifesto was all about Brexit. In fact, that’s not even an opinion – they proudly claim this themselves. Get Brexit done. Get Brexit done. Get Brexit done. Although Brexit is very important to me, it’s not the only thing that influenced my vote. Over the next 5 years, we have more to worry about than just Brexit. This should not have been a Brexit election.

If you have read my post on climate change (you can do so here), then you will know that I am extremely concerned about the future of the planet. So any manifestos that speak thoroughly to solving this global issue, go down favourably with me. I also care about issues like the cost of living, accessibility to skilled jobs, affordable housing and homelessness, crime and the way that we view and respond to immigration.

Now, with all of this in mind, I read the manifestos of the Conservative and Labour parties. My constituency has a majority Conservative hold so I was torn between tactical voting (Lib Dems) and genuinely just voting for who I most found my beliefs aligned with. I simply cannot support a Conservative government, when it means that the prime minister is a man who has repeatedly insulted every minority and under-privileged group in this country. Everyone that’s not a rich white man essentially. He is sexist, homophobic and he’s a racist. Referring to Muslim women as letterboxes and black children as picaninnies – are we just going to excuse this along with the long list of offensive things he’s said in the past? For a quick run through, you can read about them here. Or, you could just research him yourself and become informed about the kind of man that is going to be running this country for the next 5 years. Anyone who supports or even worse, tries to defend this man – well, frankly I don’t want to hear it.

The result of this election has been angering me all weekend. Genuinely, I am so disappointed. I think that the Conservative party is the worst party of them all and I just cannot understand why so many people voted for them. The only explanations I have for this, are that voters secretly share his controversial views and that he gained much of his support through leading his manifesto with Brexit.

Brexit has been going on since 2016. It’s now almost 2020. I know that this has been drawling on tirelessly. We’re all fed up of hearing about it on the news because we never get any clarity as to what is actually happening. We voted and the result of that vote, four years later, has not been fulfilled. It’s shambolic. During this time, we saw David Cameron immediately resign, Theresa May continually lead us into more and more disarray and then we got Boris as prime minister – who promises to get this whole ordeal sorted quickly and finally. To debate Brexit is really a separate topic on its own. I want to remain in the EU for several different reasons – the freedom to travel, work and live in any other EU country, access to emergency healthcare in any EU country as well as the option to seek help from an EU embassy outside of the EU if I’m abroad, the fact that the single market and trade sustains masses of UK jobs and businesses, which keeps the country thriving and the wider influence that we have from being part of a large union. These are just my reasons laid out simply, as I’m not going to be debating Brexit in this post. But I do feel that people voted Conservative not because they want to leave the EU with Boris’ deal or because they want to leave at all, but simply because they want to Get Brexit done. I’ve watched interviews with members of the public on this and even many of the remain voters say they just want to get this over with now. Boris promises to do that. People like Boris because he promises to do that and they believe that he will.

But for me, this vote was not just about Brexit. The Labour manifesto advocates change: It’s time for real change. There is a whole section on how they will lead a green industrial revolution through switching to renewable energy. This will create one million more jobs and reduce the cost of energy bills. Labour also recognise that the biggest polluters of our planet are in the wealthiest percentage of the population. If you read the Labour manifesto and compare it to the Lib Dems, you will find that Labour clearly details the how and the Lib Dems simply state that they are going to make sure they do this and that, without actually explaining the workings behind any of it. Saving the planet is my biggest concern and I felt that the Labour manifesto was the only one, out of all three manifestos that I considered, that gave this the detail and attention it deserves.

There is a whole section on tackling poverty and inequality – something the Conservatives only mention in passing. Not to mention that the homepage of their manifesto is scattered with images of white people and nobody else, when this is a multi-cultural country. Labour consider lots of different types of people in their manifesto – unemployed, self-employed, households with one person working, teenagers on minimum wage, people working full-time but facing too-high living costs, excessive working hours and the recognition that a healthy working environment allows you time to switch off. They also speak to several different injustices – gender differences and closing the pay gap, racial and religious injustice, taking care of our younger workers to make sure that they are not exploited with low pay and zero hour contracts. It’s the most inclusive manifesto.

Labour talk about making the NHS a zero-carbon service and investing in mental health to ensure that more people have access to the help they need. When they talk about the police, they talk about improving the relationship between communities and the police, providing more training and proportionate stop-and-searches. Unlike the Tories, who pledge to put 20,000 more officers on the streets and increase their powers to stop-and-search. They mention making stop-and-searches fair and proportionate, without even acknowledging the ways in which it currently isn’t. So how are we supposed to believe that they know what is fair and proportionate? There is one mention of the word minority in their manifesto and it is in reference to the ‘criminal minority’. There is one mention of ethnicity and religion, lumped together can I add and not addressed as separate entities. It simply states that a Conservative government will protect people from physical attack and harassment, without stating how and again, without recognising the specific problems that people are facing within these contexts. They just mention this for the sake of mentioning it.

The Conservative manifesto talks about ‘prevent[ing] any foreign interference in elections’. Which brings me on to the fact that there were so many European citizens who were turned away from their polling stations on Thursday and refused the right to vote! At the same time, there were people who didn’t receive their postal votes or received them the day after the election. I mean, really? These are the things we need to be talking about. If you ever want to get a sense of what is really happening to people in this world, read your Twitter feed. I’m not saying that Twitter is the voice of truth, but in a way, it is the voice of many people’s truths. The voice that speaks to the things you won’t be able to read about or hear on the news.

I voted Labour because, in my opinion, their discussions are holistic. They have detail and numbers in their manifesto to ensure we clearly understand the what and the how. You can question those numbers if you like but there are explanations behind what they say. It’s the most thorough and detailed manifesto I have read. I’m disappointed that more people didn’t vote Labour, I really am.

As I’m sure you can tell, I am really frustrated by the result of this election. In fact, it’s been irritating me all weekend. I know that the result is the result and we can’t change it now but I’m allowed to have my views, I’m allowed to be annoyed and I’m allowed to express why. For the next 5 years I have to have Boris Johnson as my prime minister and I really couldn’t think of anything worse.

What are your thoughts on the result?