Everything I’ve learnt at 25

So today is my birthday and I officially feel really old! There are certain things about life that just feel very different now. I don’t think in the same way I used to, I don’t act the same way and I don’t want the same things. There is actually so much I’ve learnt, even over this past year and as 25 is a milestone (quarter of a century and all that), as well as a really strange birthday to have at the moment (during a global pandemic), I wanted to reflect on some of these things with you.

The first thing I’ve learnt is about myself. I feel like I’ve been learning so much about myself over the past couple of years and my character has really evolved. There are things I would do years ago that I couldn’t even dream of getting involved in now. The biggest one for me is confrontation and drama. There was a time when I would pride myself in being the type of person who would always say what was on their mind. That type of what you see is what you get person. But what I’ve learnt recently is that not everybody needs to see you. I’m very comfortable with who I am and I have nothing to prove to anybody. Having this mindset has led me to learn that there are a lot of things which are better left unsaid.

Things like gossip. I think there are plenty of us who love a gossip, but I’ve finally excluded myself from this group. In fact, there is nothing I hate more than gossip. I don’t want to hear it, I don’t want to spread it and I don’t want to be involved in it.

When it comes to drama, I try my best to avoid it all costs. But I’ve also learnt that it’s impossible for me to be on damage control the whole time. I can’t ensure that every little inch of my life will fall perfectly into place. Sometimes, things will erupt. It’s just life. There is no calm without chaos. And a lot of the time, there are very valuable lessons to be learnt through chaos. You learn about yourself, you learn about the people around you and I think you learn how to avoid being in the same situations again.

I’ve also learnt a lot about money! The shopaholic in me finds it extremely hard to say no to materialistic purchases. Just a few hours ago I was in Harrods, talking to a sales assistant at YSL about whether I should buy a bag for £1600. My new life motto when it comes to big purchases (or any purchases really), is only buy it if you can buy it twice. In this situation, I applied the rule and I could definitely have checked out and been good. I wouldn’t have had to use any credit to buy the bag but I would have been -£1600 in savings and at least a few months back from being able to buy a house.

At this age, I value my long term goals a lot more than I value my immediate ones. My immediate goal with that bag would be to take it on an evening out, take it out for lunch, take it out shopping (and I know I am talking about the bag like it’s a person but I just love bags, okay?!); but to do all of those things, I would be spending even more money. So really, buying the bag would be costing me more money long term and drawing me further and further away from my long term goals. There will be a time for me to buy a YSL bag without having to think about these things and when the time comes, it will be so much more worth it.

The last thing I’ve learnt is about emotion. I have the tendency to react on emotion and in the past year or so, it’s meant that I’ve made decisions which have diverted me from some of my most important goals. I’m the kind of person who needs to detach from a situation, think about it on my own and work out a plan. I live for plans. There has to be a plan for everything to keep me sane. And maybe to some people that’s unhealthy and maybe by the time I’m 30 I’ll realise that I ditched all of my plans anyway. But for now, the best thing I can do when I’m feeling emotional about anything, is to take a step back, take a deep breath and take as much time as I need to come up with a plan.

Valuing my sanity and my time is something I put above almost anything else in my life. If you know me, you’ll know that my favourite saying is “I don’t have time for…”. Well, this has served me very well. I don’t have copious amounts of time to feel things that will prevent me from moving forward with my life. Whether that’s resentment, heartbreak, embarrassment, fear. I will do whatever I can to keep moving forward in life and this is what keeps me sane. This is what keeps me valuing my time. Most of all, this is what has kept me focused and happy.

I’m beginning to learn that happiness is a choice. I choose to let things go and I choose not to harbour negative emotions because it makes my happier immediately and it makes me happier long term. This is a tough one to learn and it’s taken me a while, but it’s been very worth it. Always forgive. Holding onto grudges is one thing that I can promise will only ever eat you up inside.

So here’s to 25 – I can’t wait to see what else I achieve in the next quarter of the century!

Dismantling myths against “Black Lives Matter”

How to Best Adhere to Social Distancing While Attending BLM ...

Over the past week, I have seen so many people taking to social media to raise awareness for BLM. But with that, comes disagreement and ignorance. If you’ve only just started learning about the everyday horrors of racial injustice, then you might be reading comments online that confuse you. Well, this post is here to dismantle that confusion. I’m going to be taking popular arguments against BLM and dismantling them for you – so that you can fully understand what all of this really means.

“All Lives Matter is racist against white people.”

This is perhaps the most popular one I’ve seen. I firstly want to point out that the protestors of all lives matter only seem to care about “all lives” when they are faced with the option of protecting a disadvantaged group. Supporting an oppressed group is somehow so horrifying to them, that they have to counteract it instead. The fact is that all lives do not matter because black lives do not matter. And that is specifically why we are campaigning for them to. It’s not racist to speak out in support of the oppressed. It’s racist not to.

“The police have killed white people too.”

Indeed they have. Statistically, US police have actually killed more white people than they have killed black people. But the numbers are disproportionate. Based on the overall population and the percentage of black people that make up that population (13%), more black lives are lost to police violence than white lives. You have to actually care about the movement to research and understand these facts, which many people cannot be bothered to do. It takes time to look into individual cases and statistics but it’s important to do so. Have a look at the below, from Washington Post and Statista.

Infographic: U.S. Police Shootings: Blacks Disproportionately Affected | Statista

It’s also really important to understand that we’re not fighting just because they have killed us. The fact that we lose black lives to the police is just the fatal final step of racially motivated police injustice. There is unjust brutality that comes beforehand. So we’re fighting against an amalgamation of factors that have led to black fatalities. We’re fighting because they racially profile and arrest us either for trivial offences or crimes they “thought” we were committing. And when they do arrest us for these crimes, they subdue our right to live until they kill us. They fire several “warning” shots, they chase us and pin us to the ground like animals, they physically beat us. They use unjust force that is breaking the law, they group up on us and have other officers protect them while THEY commit crimes against us. All after arresting us for crimes that they will later admit we did not commit!

So to the all lives matter protestors, tell me, do you really believe that this is happening to all lives?

“Nobody is talking about what these black people were doing in the first place.”

If you had really looked into what many of the black people who have been killed by the police were arrested for, then you would see that the violence is unjust. Using a counterfeit $20 bill should not equal an on-site death sentence. Selling cigarettes without tax stamps, brandishing a toy gun, going for a run in your neighbourhood, visiting a family member, hanging out with your friends on the street. The list goes on and on. You’ll find that in many cases, “these black people” were doing absolutely nothing wrong. As I said earlier, they were racially profiled.

And no, I’m not saying that black people are not criminals. We commit crimes the same as any other race. But the point is, that when we commit the same crime as a white person, we are handled differently. Physically handled differently – because we immediately become victims of police brutality, whilst white people are cuffed humanely within the scope of their human rights. And mentally handled differently – as in the case of the Central Park Five, who were manipulated by police officers into giving testimonies that incriminated them for a crime they did not commit. We need black lives to matter as much as white lives do.

“When a white person is killed, nothing happens.”

The simple answer to this is that when a white person is killed by the police, it’s not based on the colour of their skin.

I also feel that if as a white person, you felt there was a problem with police brutality within your community, then why didn’t you address it? Black people have been addressing this injustice for years, across many sectors where racism is prevalent. Don’t attack us for supporting our own people and fighting for our rights when you have always been at perfect liberty to do the same.

The reason you haven’t had to do this is because you’ve always had rights. We don’t have as much reach or as much influence as you do. We live in a world that has been carefully curated to benefit you, so when we need help, it has to start from our own community. We literally had to create this movement, raise awareness and we are actively making things happen to try and create change.

There hasn’t been a movement against white injustice at the hands of the police because it simply does not exist.

It’s important to understand that we’re not saying Only Black Lives Matter. We have never said that. Arguing that all lives matter is the same as saying “I don’t see colour”. You need to recognise how people’s experiences differ based on their race. If you truly care about all lives, then you simply cannot refuse to acknowledge that not all lives are the same. Black lives are in danger. There is no racial bias within this movement because the very point of it is to fight against that.

Let’s talk about US Police Officers Killing Black People

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Over the past few days, people have been sharing and re-posting anything and everything to do with George Floyd. On Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and pretty much every other social media app, George Floyd’s name has reverberated. It’s amazing to see so many people, of all different races, coming together to talk about this. But sadly, George Floyd is not the first black man to be unjustly killed by a US police officer. Heartbreakingly, we know that he will not be the last either.

Racism in America operates on a colossal scale. And I want to talk about racism in America because, right now, America is one of the least safe places in the world for a black person to be. This does not mean that any other country is exempt. Or that, for example, there are no racist police officers in the UK. There are. But this post is going to be about racism in the US and racism as a whole. I’ve never shied away from talking about race on this blog and it’s important to me that I say my piece on this.

So here are some statistics. Black people make up 13% of the US population – just 13%. Yet, they are two and a half times more likely to be killed by the police. California, Texas and Florida have the highest number of killings of black people. In Minnesota, where George Floyd was murdered by a white police officer who knelt on his neck, while another police officer stood watch, until he stopped breathing, black people make up only 5% of the overall state population. Yet, they are nearly four times more likely to be killed by the police.

Racist police brutality is not a 2020 wave, let’s get this straight. This hasn’t just started happening now, it’s been happening for years. In 2012, Treyvon Martin was reported as a ‘suspicious person’ for going to visit his father in Sanford. A white neighbourhood watch officer then shot him. Treyvon was unarmed. He was not suspicious. He was not a threat. He was 17 years old, a black boy and a victim of institutional racism.

Tamir Rice was 12 years old and killed in 2014 by a white police officer for playing with a toy gun.

Eric Garner was choked to death by a police officer the same year, after being arrested for selling cigarettes from packs without tax stamps. He wasn’t, by the way.

Mike Brown was hit by six shots from a white police officer in Missouri, who fired twelve bullets at him as he ran away. He was 18 years old.

Freddie Grey was arrested for being in possession of an illegal switchblade in Baltimore. The blade was not illegal and he fell into a coma in the back of a police van 45 minutes after being arrested.

There are so many more names of black men killed by US police officers that I could mention. But then this post would run on for days and days. For anyone who wants to know more about black men specifically who have been killed by US police officers, then I’ve found this article. It compiles a whole list of them – see for yourself.

99% of police killings from 2014 to 2019 did not result in charges, or consequently convictions, of a crime.

Based on the above, I find it impossible to deny that America is facing a racism crisis. And it’s doing so with very little consequences. It takes mass outrage, protests and retaliation for these police officers to come under investigation. Even then, you’ll find that the correct language is not being used. Reports in the media will tell you that these men died, not that they were murdered. Charges are never severe enough. There are always justifications, which I really do fail to comprehend. Unarmed, unthreatening, innocent black people are being killed in America simply because police officers have the power and the status to do so. We need to change this.

Up until this point I’ve been talking about black men. Black men in America are perceived as violent and dangerous simply for being black. They are the most racially profiled members of the black community. But please do not think that police brutality begins and ends with them. Black women such as Sandra Bland and Breonna Taylor, who was shot by police officers in her own home, are victims of institutional racism too.

I don’t think that we have ever expected police officers to protect us. After all, they have a long history of doing the exact opposite. But in this day and age, we have the knowledge and the influence to at least fight for consequences. It’s very difficult to imagine a time when racism will not pervade our identity as black people and the generations of black people that are to come. So, I feel that the least we can do is fight for equal consequences. So that when a black life is lost, accountability does not lessen simply because it was a black life instead of a white one.

What is happening in America right now is opening the door even wider for overt racism. This is why we have cases like Ahmad Arbery’s, who was shot by two white men while he was out jogging. Racists don’t feel like they will face consequences for their actions because even the police officers don’t!

Then there are people like Amy Cooper, who called the police in New York on a black man because he told her to put her dog on a leash. She threatens that she’s going to call the police is “going to tell them there’s an African American man threatening my life.”

I’ve even seen a video of a white woman being pulled over on the highway and being told by the police officer not to worry because she’s white. “We only kill black people,” he jokes.

You can find footage like this almost everywhere now. You can find even worse footage, of black people actually being killed, too. The fact that there is video footage of black people being killed by police officers is strangely eye opening for some people. It doesn’t sit well with me. Do you see the same footage of white people being killed? And, at this point, do you really need to see video evidence of somebody being killed to believe that it happened unlawfully? Mutilated black bodies have become a spectacle and I am not okay with that. So the next time you see a video circulating on Twitter or Instagram, please think twice before sharing it. Your words can be powerful too, you should use them.

Racism is a very complex structure of barriers that has been set up to guarantee and maintain the success of white people. It means that there are socio-economic systems that have been set up to make the success of a person of colour harder. As a white person, there are things you will never have to worry about. I’ll give you some examples of things that I face all the time as a black girl, that you don’t.

You never have to worry about seeing people that look like you represented in your dream career. Chances are, the leading figure in your field is white and your dreams seem more achievable because of this.

You’ve never had to explain your achievements to anyone because its not puzzling for you to be smart or well-spoken.

You’ve never had to dilute your appearance to make yourself seem more appealing – for example, at a job interview or at school. It’s well known that black girls’ natural hair has been regulated in the workplace and in schools. You’ve never experienced this.

You’ve never received a backhanded compliment about your race. “You’re so pretty for a black girl.” “You’re light skin so its okay.” “When I was tanned, I was pretty much your colour.”

Your natural features have never been seen as ugly on you but beautiful on someone else that looks completely different to you. We all know about the Marc Jacobs show that used dreadlocks on white models. It’s fashionable on you but as a natural hairstyle on us, it’s messy and unkempt. Or what about lip fillers? Having naturally full lips is unattractive on a black girl but sexualised and appealing on a white girl.

You’ve never gone to a cosmetics store and struggled to find something in your shade. Or been disappointed to find that a big beauty brand has a line of products that they haven’t even made in your shade, even though you and other people that look like you, are a big part of their consumer demographic.

You’ve never walked into a store and realised that the security guard is following you because the colour of your skin makes him think that you’re going to steal something.

Imagine having all of these experiences in your mind everywhere you go. These are things you never forget because they characterise your identity. People always want to celebrate black culture without understanding what the implications of being black are, on your everyday experience of life.

These things don’t leave you. I don’t have the privilege of just ignoring what’s happening in America today. I can’t fathom really, how anyone as a human being could disassociate themselves from the fact that innocent lives are being taken based on race. I really can’t. But that’s white privilege – feeling entitled to dip in and out of a culture as and when it suits you. Being able to say you don’t see colour when it suits you. Being able to say and feel like a racial fight is not your fight, simply because its not your people that are being killed. And exercising silence over situations like these because of that.

To me, that’s the same as saying black lives don’t matter.

So, if you are the kind of person that thinks a person’s life should not be valued by the colour of their skin, then you will have something to say about this. Hopefully, you won’t just take my word for it, but you’ll do your own research, you’ll form your own opinion and you’ll help to fight against racism. Whether that’s going to protests, donating to charities in America that are fighting for black lives, not being afraid to call someone out on their racism, or whatever else you want to do to help.

There are so many things you can do. Lead a life that is anti-racist, not silent – this is perhaps the most important one. But you really can’t sit back and expect an oppressed group of people to fight against their own oppression.

IDRU: March – London Design Week, Olga Polizzi and Rocco Forte Hotels

Interior Design Round Up has been shortened to IDRU.

The highlight of this month was, of course, London Design Week! Although this took place on my doorstep, at the Design Centre Chelsea Harbour, I unfortunately wasn’t able to go. Trade dates were 8-10 March and the show opened to the public from 11-13 March. In this post, I’m going to be talking about hotelier Olga Polizzi, who gave a speech at London Design Week that inspired me to go and explore the Rocco Forte Hotels.

Olga Polizzi of Rocco Forte Hotels

I read that Olga Polizzi gave a speech about her process of hotel design. I would love design commercial settings like hotels, bars and restaurants, so this would have been a great talk for me! Hearing this, however, led me to go and explore the Rocco Forte Hotels website. And all I can say is, wow.

The hotels are honestly what dreams are made of! If you’re picturing yourself in a beautiful dress, wandering through the hallways of a very grand and decadent building, then The Balmoral, Edinburgh is perfect. Or, if you see yourself lounging in a king sized bed wearing a silk dressing gown (I often do), then the suites at Brown’s Hotel, London are ideal.

The interior at Brown’s Hotel was designed by Olga herself and effortlessly “harmonises stunning period features with contemporary flair.” As an English graduate, I can’t help but gush over the fact that Brown’s Hotel has its origins in Lord Byron’s history. It was his butler, James Brown, who acquired it in 1837 and expanded it to create Brown’s Hotel in 1838. The literary links continue, as the hotel has had George Orwell, Agatha Christie and Rudyard Kipling, who started The Jungle Book during one of his stays there. Agatha Christie is said to have based At Bertram’s Hotel on Brown’s and Stephen King supposedly started his novel Misery, whilst sat at Kipling’s desk there!

Deluxe Suite at Brown’s Hotel, London
Dover Suite at Brown’s Hotel, London
Dover Suite at Brown’s Hotel, London

The rooms are interesting because they’re a mix of traditional and contemporary design. The cornice and colour scheme in the Dover Suite above feel Georgian, yet the furniture and ornaments are very much contemporary.

Hotel de Russie in Rome, another Rocco Forte Hotel is the perfect luxury getaway. I love the Nijinksy Suite at this hotel. The patterns, fresh, light colour palette and gorgeous Italian views really make it the type of European getaway I picture when I close my eyes.

Nijinksy Suite at Hotel de Russie, Rome
Nikinksy Suite at Hotel de Russie, Rome
Nijinksy Suite at Hotel de Russie, Rome
Nijinksy Suite at Hotel de Russie, Rome

Finally, perhaps the dreamiest of all, is The Westbund Hotel, Shanghai. The luxury, futuristic feel of the hotel’s bars and restaurants is incredible. The rooftop bar sits on the 59th floor and offers panoramic views of the West Bund. There’s also n Italian restaurant, a Chinese restaurant and a British tea room.

The Westbund Hotel, Shanghai
The Westbund Hotel, Shanghai

Plus, the ceiling on this spa would honestly make me feel like I had left reality completely and entered heaven. It’s almost as if this whole room sits amongst the clouds…

The Westbund Hotel Spa, Shanghai
The Westbund Hotel Spa, Shanghai
The Westbund Hotel Suite, Shanghai
The Westbund Hotel Suite, Shanghai

I won’t pretend as if any of the rooms I’ve mentioned in this post aren’t wildly unattainable. All of this superior, considered design comes at a very high cost. The Kipling Suite at Brown’s Hotel starts at £4,200 a night – definitely not pocket change!

Kiping Suite at Brown’s Hotel, London
Kiping Suite at Brown’s Hotel, London

Pink eyeshadow look using Make Up Revolution products!

Today’s post is all about Make Up Revolution! Make Up Revolution is an affordable drugstore brand of cosmetics that you can find in Boots and Superdrug. In the past couple of years, Make Up Revolution has really made a name for itself. Influencers like Patricia Bright, Rachel Leary and Soph have all collaborated with them to create gorgeous palettes – one of which, I used to create this really simple pink eyeshadow look.

The palette I used is the second Soph x Make Up Revolution palette, in ‘Extra Spice’. I really like this palette. For every eyeshadow look you’ll see on me, I use this palette. It’s £10 but the quality and pigmentation of the shadows is amazing. I am not someone who is highly skilled at make up, so working with shadows like this that have a buildable quality to them makes me feel a lot more comfortable. I wouldn’t go straight in with a Natasha Denona palette for example, because its pricey and I would have no idea how to use it properly! For this look I used the shade ‘Twenty One’ all over the lid and blended out with the remains on the brush towards the edges and under the lash line.

Please excuse the messy quality of my palette – it just shows you how much I use it!

The foundation is a new one that I’m trying out from the Conceal and Define range. The foundation has a thin consistency, is an almost perfect shade match for me and provides a clear full coverage. It blends out really nicely as well – I apply with a wet beauty blender.

Because it’s so full coverage, it would probably look a lot better if I contoured my face to bring some dimension back in. But unfortunately, I don’t know how to contour.

I love the thick applicator that you get with the foundation – it reminds me of the Tarte Shape Tape concealer. Having an applicator like this means that the foundation is quick and less messy to apply. I don’t know about you, but I hate pumping foundations straight onto my face and I also don’t really like pumping them onto the back of my hand either. So this applicator is great.

Yetttt, at the same time, I also do have a problem with it. Having an applicator for your foundations makes them really unhygienic! Each time I use this foundation, the applicator is going to pick up all of the dirt and oils on my face. This is not ideal.

But I do love the way that the foundation looks on the skin. It honestly gives a flawless, smooth and unblemished coverage. Plus it’s only £9.99!

Finally, I used a gorgeous shade of the sheer lip gloss. If you have dark skin… well, you’ll know how difficult it is to find a flattering nude lip gloss. Particularly for a drug store price. Most of my nudes lip products have been bought in the high end section, costing me around £20 per item. In terms of lip glosses, I only have two nudes that work for me at the moment and this is one of them. This one is my favourite because its so shiny, giving you the perfect glossy pout. And it has pink undertones, which not only is my favourite colour (surprise surprise) but it also matches my natural lip colour perfectly. It’s not sticky or thick and it has a great lasting quality to it.

For a more dramatic, evening look, you could easily add lashes and intensify the colour a lot more by building it up. I just really like the look of colourful shadows on the eye with mascara only. But it’s all personal preference and if I was going on a night out, I would absolutely add a pair of falsies to glam this up!

Make Up Revolution Products used:
Make Up Revolution x Soph Extra Spice Palette (I use this for all of my looks)
Make Up Revolution Conceal and Define Full Coverage Foundation (Shade F13)
Make Up Revolution Sheer Brilliant Lip Gloss (Shade 124 Sheer Gone Rouge)

Easy paprika, garlic and red onion lamb meatballs and spaghetti recipe

Yesterday I made these really easy paprika, garlic and red onion lamb meatballs with spaghetti for dinner. They are honestly so tasty, I can’t wait to have the leftovers for dinner today. They’re also really quick and simple to make – so perfect for feeding the family. If you want to know how I made them, then keep reading. Everything is detailed below!

Ingredients:
1 x pack of minced lamb
2 x garlic cloves
1 x red onion
1 x egg
2 x tbsp caster sugar
1 x 400g can of chopped tomatoes
2 x tbsp paprika
1 x pinch of garlic sea salt
1 x pinch of ground pepper
1 x tsp thyme
1 x tsp mixed herbs
2 x tbp flour (any)
Spaghetti (however much you want!)

Method:

  1. Dice your onion and garlic cloves and put them into a mixing bowl
  2. Add your minced lamb and season to taste. I added lots of paprika, garlic sea salt, pepper and thyme but you can season them however you want. This is just how I think it tastes best
  3. Crack your egg into the bowl and start grinding the mixture together in the bowl, with your hands. This isn’t as messy as it sounds! Make sure that you’re evenly distributing the seasoning so that every bit of lamb is covered and that there are equal chunks of onion and garlic throughout the mixture
  4. Pour your flour into a plate and prepare a plate or dish to put your meatballs in. Then, take even chunks of the seasoned meat mixture and roll them into balls. After rolling each one, roll them into the flour as this will help them to keep their shape
  5. Then, pop them onto your plate or dish and put them in the fridge for at least 20 minutes to chill and soak up all the flavour
  6. Set aside a pot of boiling water for your spaghetti. Also take a large frying pan with a bit of oil (I used olive oil) and wait for it to heat up on a medium-high heat. I put the hob on 5 for this step
  7. Once your pot is boiled, add enough spaghetti. The amount is entirely up to you
  8. Take your meatballs out of the fridge and fry them all until they are golden brown. You can do this in batches if you have lots of them to fry and they don’t all fit
  9. While the meatballs are browning and the spaghetti is cooking, pour your chopped tomatoes into a bowl and add your sugar and mixed herbs
  10. Once the meatballs are brown, add the chopped tomato mixture to the pan and leave it to cook for 8-10 minutes. I turned mine over while they were cooking to make sure each meatball was coated in sauce
  11. Drain your spaghetti and add this directly to the pan with the meatballs and sauce. Serve straight from the pan and enjoy!

Note: 1 pack of minced lamb made 6 meatballs and 3 burger patties for me. You could probably make about 10-12 meatballs with one pack, however.

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 – 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.

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.

Everything you (probably) shouldn’t do when dating.

Naming this post was almost as frustrating as the thought of writing it. But these kind of posts always go down really well on my blog and I do secretly enjoy writing them. They give me the opportunity to moan about all of the things that have been grating on me for a while now. I have the Summer Walker album playing, I’m comfy in bed, I have a cup of tea – which means that we have the perfect combination to start discussing my favourite (I’m being sarcastic) topic ever!

I think it’s been made fairly obvious in the past that I don’t really date but I somehow still manage to find myself involved with guys. Funny how that works isn’t it? On multiple occasions I’ve received texts from guys and had to stop to wonder how I even got myself into the position where they felt they needed to or could message me these things. Confounding, truly. I won’t tell you how many dates I have actually been on in my life as the figure is shocking in comparison to my age. But just know that it’s minimal.

In any case, I find myself somewhat equipped to share with you all of the things that you really shouldn’t do when dating. Probably because I’m ill-equipped to advise on the opposite.

First of all, you want to start with actually accepting some date invitations. That’s always a good way to kick things off. If somebody asks you out and you think they’re alright (at the least), say yes. You really don’t have much to lose. (I mean apart from wasted time, clothes, hair, make-up, effort etc…). Plus, you get a nice evening out! (Not like you would rather have spent this in bed with Pizza Hut cookie dough and The Sims. Ha no, never!)

I want to take this opportunity to remind you that accepting a date is not signing yourself off to marriage. Something I have to remind myself often. Accepting a first date can make you feel quite anxious if you’re a very independent person. You’re used to doing everything for you and it’s probably going to be somewhat difficult to start dividing your time. Maybe you don’t want to give them the wrong impression, hurt their feelings if it doesn’t go well or end up in a situation that you feel you can’t get out of. You probably don’t want it to be too intense either, right? I always want a first date to be very chilled out, see where it goes kind of vibe. If you feel too much pressure early on then you’re more likely to hit a premature boiling point…

Anyway let’s say the first date does go well. It’s exactly what you wanted and you’re open to seeing them again. My second tip is to be vocal about this. Girls especially, don’t wait for the guy to text you. If you ever wait for a guy for anything, I can tell you now that you’ll be waiting for the next few years. You don’t have to send a long paragraph, you don’t have to make it into a big thing either. Just let them know that you would want to see them again and… see what happens.

The whole seeing what happens thing is key for me. It’s my whole vibe. But, I have to advise from experience, that you shouldn’t cut this stage short too soon. Perhaps your patience is limited. I can understand this completely – mine barely exists. But, in order to see what happens, you actually have to see what happens. This can, unfortunately, take time.

But I would caution against you giving it too much time. If something is regressing or remaining at the same level, then you know what to do. There is absolutely no point in dragging something out for the sake of it. You might be bored or you might be lonely. Yes yes we’ve all been there. But you really don’t want to toy with anybody’s emotions. It’s also important to be comfortable on your own. You don’t necessarily have to be happy on your own. But you should note that nobody is ever going to give you as much attention as you can give yourself.

Now whenever you’re dating someone, there will always be those handful of boxes left un-ticked. For a control freak like me, some of those boxes have been checked before I’ve even gone on the date – which is why I’m there. They’ve been pre-assessed you see. But this is not a mentality I would recommend. Instead of looking for things that you like about someone, you’ll already be sub-consciously flaw finding. Flaw finding is a dangerous cycle of thinking to adopt, as it always leads back to the same point – disappointment.

What do I suggest instead? Well, forget the boxes. I almost (not quite, don’t get excited) feel that the person you’ll end up with, is not going to fit perfectly into your grid of yes and no behaviours. They’ll just be on a different scale altogether and you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how much you want to swap your normal scale for this one instead. Does that make sense? To me it does.

My final piece of advice and I swear by this one, is to never let a dating failure upset you. Annoyed? Yes. Frustrated? Absolutely. Upset? No. We don’t have time for that. Do what you need to do to pick yourself back up as quickly as possible (I mean it) and keep going. As I love to say, we move.