Countdown to 100 countries

Thursday, 31 August 2017

Things to replace your crippling GOT Addiction

Yes, I'm there too and it's terrible. I actually tried to write an email to Rob.Stark at my workplace today and realised I had forgotten the persons surname...whoops.

Desperate times call for desperate measures so I suggest you make yourself some loaded-nachos and start watching these to tackle the withdrawal symptoms...

1) Stranger Things - The new season is coming in October so if you get into it now you'll just finish in time for the new release. A dark, spooky series that I was so addicted to I watched the whole season in one night. As soon as you start watching, you'll know exactly what I mean. Definitely one to watch.

2) Narcos - So addictive and there's a new season out tomorrow!!! A take-on Pablo Escobar and his infamous drug business.

3) Deathnote - I haven't watched the series as I couldn't find it on Netflix but they do have a film on there and it's pretty bloody good. It's about a teenager who discovers the deathnote, a book belonging to a Death God where he can write anyone's name and they die...he has big plans for making the world a better place but soon discovers the Death God has a different plan in mind...

4) GBBO - It's back and with 2/3rd's of a new presenting team but bloody hell it is wonderful. Maybe being British I'm being biased but it is a bit of a National treasure *heart eyes emojii*

5) How to Get Away With Murder - Amazingly addictive. Although I was disappointed to realise this is the first EVER TV show I've watched where a black female has been the lead and not just there to support the man or a white actress, hopefully the amazing performance of Viola Davies, who is one of my favourite actresses after this show, changes that.

6) Orange is the New Black - Nods all round, a great show based on a true story of a woman jailed for drug money smuggling in her youth. Crazy eyes will be one of your favourites I'm sure.

7) 13 Reasons Why - Not massively my cup of tea but everyone else seems to rave about it so hey, maybe you will too. I've had a bit of a dip in now and then and since GOT is over *uncontrollable sobs* I might be driven back.

8) DEXTER - Absolute bloody brilliant series that I would definitely recommend (just promise me you wont watch the last ever episode, kay?). If you like this you'll also probably like Hemlock Grove (another one to avoid the last episode on).

9) Shameless - Watch the US version it is so much funnier than the UK one. It's actually the first show where I properly 'got' US humour and it wasn't just slapstick. It's ironic, dark, gripping but also makes me cry with laughter.

10) Trainwreck - because I'm a bit in love with Amy Schumer. I've got a crush on her and after watching this you will too.

11) Poldark - Uber British Drama and it's amazing. A little bit like Downton Abbey on crack.

12) Modern Family - Good God I love this. So unbelievable funny. Another one where I was like...'wait...what...I like American humour now?' I LOVE IT and I can guarantee that you will too.

I hope this helps you in these difficult times...after all Winter is coming (but it's looking like 2019),



Tuesday, 29 August 2017

How do I afford to travel?

I get asked this question quite a lot by friends so I figured a few of you might also be curious about it. I always find this quite an odd question because I afford to travel the exact same way everyone else does; working really hard at my job! What amuses me is that usually the people asking me how I afford it earn a lot more than I do and so I'm always like...??? hello??? I'm obviously not going to talk about the actual amount of my wage since that is massively taboo but basically half of my wage goes on my house, bills and food, some goes into my savings and after that the rest I spend on what I want. I could save more but for me it's also about balance and saving more would mean not doing the things that I want to do. Since travel is a massive priority for me that's what I choose to spend it on.

I am quite frugal with everything else. I don't really spend money on clothes very often, or on meals out since I love cooking from scratch. Although I like going for nights out I'm a lightweight and don't tend to drink that much. I have a phone bill, gym membership and always spend something on a type of sport (I tend to go through hobbies quickly) but that's it so the rest I put towards travel. Even when I'm away, although I'm happy to spend money on activities and sight-seeing, I save money on my accommodation by staying in B&Bs, with friends or in AirBnB's for the most part. For example, in Barcelona recently I stayed in a rooftop pool hotel with my friend because we decided to splash out a little - it ended up being really far out, very expensive and the pool was tiny but for the same price as the hotel I could have bought flights somewhere else - lesson learned.

I have a lot of friends who spend like me but then save everything, some who spend lots every month on meals out and fancy drinks and some who travel a lot and save nothing. I don't think there's anything wrong with any of those options, it's just finding what works with you and your budget. I personally would love to be able to go shopping all the time, eat out and have drinks all the time, after all who wouldn't want to be in that situation...but I can't, not without giving up on travelling so that's what I choose to go without to afford my trips away. I would also love to travel even more but I don't want to end up without any savings either. I feel that so long as I pay my bills and have some money put aside for a rainy day then I can travel with the remainder. I also really enjoy travelling and I feel that I work hard so that I can enjoy my life; I don't want to just sit on a (v.small) pile of money feeling miserable, I want to gain experiences and see the world.

When I was younger and earned genuinely minimum wage (working full-time) I used to have another part-time job just so I could still afford to go away. I've also had jobs abroad to mix travel and work when I wouldn't have otherwise been able to afford it. For the most part I've travelled between jobs and I would massively recommend that because when you are not limited by time you can be much more flexible and save yourself a lot more money by taking that flight with the long layover or catching the train where you can. Of course, it's not an option for everyone and I understand that might be impossible for some to get away often but I think if you are really determined and careful with money you can still get away on trips every now and then. It helps that a lot of my friends live abroad (I made them working abroad and at University) so I can also save money staying with them and going to the more local type places when I'm away.

I work by the philosophy that you either have time or you have money. It's rare to get both so if you're ever in a position where you do then I would personally book some flights because you don't know when you will get the chance again. It seems harder and harder to get away as the years go by and responsibilities slowly creep up. I think you have actively carve and shape the life you want to create for yourself or it will pass you by. Another thing that spurs me on is that you really don't know whats round the corner. I hope I don't develop an illness and die young *touch wood* but there are no guarantees for a long life so I want to make the most of it and for me, my current goal is getting to see 100 countries. I'll be 31 countries down after my next trip so there's still a long way to go.

Anyway, I hope that's cleared a few things up and that you manage to get away on some trips this year.


Monday, 28 August 2017

Why is my blog anonymous

I figured I owe you lovely readers a little bit of an explanation as to why this blog is least for the moment.

When I first started blogging I was so set against having a blog with personal photos. I just couldn't see the point in risking people I knew seeing it - nothing especially bad about it really but I just found the whole thought of it cringe-inducing. I also didn't see a benefit in putting myself out there and then having the inevitable hateful comments that come hand-in-hand with having a long term blog; if there were identifiable photos on here it would just make everything feel that bit more personal. So I've been just trying to avoid the whole thing and up til now it's been a good decision for me.

At the start I found blogging quite embarrassing and I didn't know if I would enjoy it so it was helpful for me to be a bit more private. Things have changed now I know I really enjoy blogging and now that I'll be doing it long-term I'm not as bothered about keeping it a secret. Another big factor for me was the realisation it must be hard for you as a reader to relate to me if you don't know who I am. I am a twenty-something blonde but for all you know I could be an ancient bearded man with a catfishing obsession; so yanoo I think it's about time I was a bit more open. Plus it also can't be terribly exciting looking at photos of the back of someone's head all the time and it's a nightmare for me too since I can't see what my hair looks like from the back. 1st world problems and that eh?    

So I'm saying that I wont be anonymous for much longer and I'm planning to be more open in (hopefully) a couple of months, I hope to see you then.


Thursday, 24 August 2017

Rhubarb Liqueur

A few weeks ago I made rhubarb liqueur; if you've never tried it then you have to give this ago. I like rhubarb but I'm not crazy about it - Rhubarb liqueur is something else entirely though. It's really really delicious to drink both neat and in cocktails; one of those mildly dangerous drinks where you feel like you're drinking juice then BAM everything is a little blurry and you're telling people how much you love them haha.

If you'd like to give it a go you will need:
5 stalks of rhubarb, chopped roughly into 3cm sized pieces
200g of caster sugar
Vodka (I used one of those little bottles - see photo below)
Grand marnier (orange liqueur)
1 litre kilner jar

Make sure your jar is clean then add your rhubarb pieces. Next dissolve the sugar is hot water to make a syrup and let it boil on the hot for a few minutes. Let it cool then add it to the kilner jar. Fill the remainder of the jar with the vodka and orange liqueur (aim for 1/3rd syrup, 1/3rd liqueur and 1/3rd vodka). Then mix thoroughly, seal and leave for 1 week.

After a week stir it through. The rhubarb will have begun losing it's colour if it's not lost it all already. Stir your mixture every week until the rhubarb starts to disintegrate slightly (this should take 3-4 weeks). Then - it's ready to enjoy.

If you want you can strain it and then store it neat but I couldn't be bothered and left my rhubard in. It would be great as a gift so I'd say strain it and put it in a pretty bottle if you're going to do that but if not then it's finished! I struggle to drink most liqueurs and spirits neat but this is so nice I love having it neat and really savouring it. It's great in a cocktail with prosecco and mashed strawberries, neat with soda water and even added to wine. You could always make frozen rhubarb lemonade if you prefer not to drink as much,


Monday, 21 August 2017

Parc Guell Barcelona

Parc Guell was my favourite place in Barcelona.

Built by Gaudi in the 1900's it's a park full of buildings and passageways that look as though they've been designed by someone who has never been constricted by what they thought a building should look like. It's amazing. Every single part of it is curved and colourful and I can't even imagine how 'out there' all of this must've been a hundred years ago. 

We wandered around taking it all in from the passageways to the princess style tower... my favourite building ever; I don't know the official name but to me it looks like a gingerbread house come to life.

We wandered around the gardens chatting and catching up on life. I don't see my friend very often but when I do it's like no time has passed. Definitely the best type of friendship with our hectic schedules and busy lives.  It was so nice spending whole days together rather than a quick coffee or film on a weeknight.

We spent the afternoon there before taking in one final view:

A little tip if you're planning on going (which I would really recommend) is that this part of the park is really hard to find so give yourself extra time. We left enough time to get there but no extra and were power walking in the sun at the end to make our timeslot. We went in the morning which I would really recommend because by the time we were leaving the heat was unreal. Also just be aware of the 'anti-tourist' feeling at the moment in Barcelona, we didn't have any trouble just saw a lot of 'go home tourist' type graffiti but I would just keep it in mind.

Let me know if you end up going, I'd love to hear about it. 



Saturday, 19 August 2017

Hangover-cure cheesy meatball subs (sorry Subway)

Jeez I had the hangover from hell the other weekend. On hindsight, probably having the flaming shots and the cocktails and the beer wasn't the best idea - still, it was so much fun at the time. These shots are swiftly becoming my favourite weekend drink for how exciting they are, but the next day is always a little terrible.

Clearly, I needed some recovery sustenance and quick. Cheesy-meatball subs were definitely on the cards.

If you want to make them you will need;
Meatballs (I used leftovers from a meal earlier in the week)
Cheddar cheese
Crusty bread

Dice up the chilli, finely cut the chorizo and add it to the passatta mix in a big pan. Let it cook on a low heat for about 20 minutes, before adding the meatballs and cumin. 

Once the meatballs have heated up add the basil and cover the entire thing with the ripped mozzarella and grated cheddar. You want an excessive amount of cheese but the amount is completely hangover dependant - don't be shy about adding more if you need it. There is a time and a place for salads, this is not it.

Put your creation under the grill until the cheese is browned and bubbling; then pile it up on the crusty bread and enjoy.

I ate mine watching beauty and the beast which I know isn't cool but I loved it. Definitely a perfect hangover combo.



Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Exploring Barcelona

I'm in love with Barcelona. 

There's just so much to do and see.  Our first stop was the Sagrada Familia and it really was as incredible as everyone makes out. There have been so many times I've gone away on someones recommendations only to find out the place they've recommended really isn't that great -  Barcelona was an exception and definitely lives up to the hype and more. Just look at it! 

The building of Sagrada Familia started in 1882 and wont be finished until 2026; it's a shame in way that we didn't get to see the finished thing but at the same time I love the idea of a building taking so long and no one giving up on it. Does that make sense? I just think it's such a really selfless thing to think of and be working on something that you are not necessarily going to see finished. I guess it just means I will have to come back when it's completed so at least it gives me an excuse to come back and drink more sangria haha. 

One thing that I really loved about the Sagrada was how different it was to what I was expecting. I thought it would be a dark hall with unnatural lighting (like most of the religious buildings we have in the UK) but it was so different, just full of colour and light. Such a beautiful place.
After wandering round the inside and outside twice (to make sure we didn't miss anything) we went for a walk around the city. 

Stopping for the all important snacks...Nutella and Straichella icecream <3

Taking in as many of the sights as we could...

...until, as a matter of survival, we stopped for Sangria at the harbour.

After a few drinks we headed for lunch which I loved because a) I'm greedy and spanish food = amazing food and b) there was an instagram husband outside taking photos of his lady for ages in lots of different poses and it was hilarious. He kept going over to show her the photos and she would just shake her head and start posing again. At one point a skateboard was brought in as an accessory and my friend and I just broke down into hysterics whilst simultaneously wishing we had instagram husbands to do that for us haha. It was just so fun to be drinking wine, taking in the view and watching this guy take approx 864868 photos at every conceivable angle. 

We ordered these amazing patatas bravas:

...with the red prawns and garlic.

...and more wine, because if you can't day drink on holiday then when can you?!

There's something so mischevous feeling about drinking in the day - it's just good fun every now and then isn't it?

Feeling a little tipsy we headed back to our hotel and spent some time relaxing and taking in the view from the rooftop pool. I say rooftop pool but it was actually tiny and nothing like the hotel had advertised. I have no idea the crazy angles they must've been leaning at to make it look so much bigger but it must've been really difficult so kudos to the photographer haha. 

After relaxing for a couple of hours we felt refreshed and ready to explore some more. We headed to Cuitadella Park for a wander.

Home of the prettiest parliament building I've ever seen...

...and this rather Game of Thrones themed water-feature...

...and this very beautiful University building...

...before heading for some more tapas. I can't remember the place that we ate at but it was opposite this building and is definitely worth finding. Good luck adventuring!

We had king prawns...

....a few more dishes which I would recommend but that didn't photograph well (the empadanas, the patatas bravas and the chorizo with the chilli sauce) and my favourite, the sundried tomatoes and anchovies on crusty bread with olive oil. Delicious.

We drank lots of sangria for the rest of the evening before an early start the next day to Parc Guell. I can't wait to show you,

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