Tuesday, 29 October 2019

Life Burnout

I know that one of the most common themes I see of memes for people my age are the ongoing jokes about how impossible it is to find a work/life balance and honestly, I relate. I constantly want to pick more hours up in work so me and Josh have more money behind us, especially now we're looking at moving out and taking holidays together, and I constantly want to blog more, I want to make sure I see all of my friends and keep up with fun things (because FOMO, am I right?) but the truth is, there just aren't enough hours in the day. I know, as Instagram keeps telling me, I have exactly the same amount of hours in the day as Beyonce, but honestly, I think she's got a Bernard's watch of some kind because she doesn't seem to end every night lying in bed with the sheer panic of what needed doing today that hasn't been done flashing through her brain (or she might, but she hides it better, in which case? I feel you, Bey.)

Being an adult is no joke. I should be getting 8 hours of sleep, but also I should be working a decent amount of hours to make sure I can live, I should be doing what I love but at some point? Something's got to give. I definitely don't regret starting Little Fickle back up, it's always been my passion, it's something I love doing and I really, really want to put the effort in it deserves - but in doing so? I've definitely realised just how little time I realistically have spare when trying to keep all of my plates spinning. When I'm working and working on my blog? I'm definitely putting my all in and when I get a chance I have a whole plethora of things to do when I finish my shift or blog work; try and fit a nap in, remember to eat food and find the time to do so, see my boyfriend and my friends. But equally, when I'm not working and I have time for that break and a nap? I find myself filled with the sheer anxiety of what else I could, and should, be doing with that time. It's a constant cycle of working, blogging and slipping into my days off feeling exhausted and guilty.

I know I said something's got to give, but what can? I obviously need and want to work, I want to put my all into Little Fickle like I am, I want to spend time with Josh where I'm not glued to a laptop making sure I keep on top of my emails, I want to see my friends, but every piece of my life really does feel like the piece of a jigsaw puzzle from a completely different box than all of the others. I feel like there's such a push and pull with every single little thing that in pulling one thing to give it my all, I'm pushing something else away, just to swap it back the next day. And the sad thing is? I know most of my friends feel like this too, we're a whole generation of people too guilty to use our free time in the ways that we want. I'm giving as much to my work and my blog as I can, but I can't help but feel there's definitely other things being neglected as a result.

This is massively just a brain dump of how I'm feeling right now in the hopes that somebody out there might feel similarly and I'll feel a little less alone, or that someone somewhere might have cracked some universal equation and can provide me with the solution for what to do, but as it is now (and proving my point) it's nearly 1am writing this and I really, really need to sleep to give my best to the things I have to do tomorrow - maybe between the hordes of washing, hoovering and everything else I have to do after I finish work, I might find time for that nap.

Definitely share with me if you have some tips for making the most of what seems like so little time, and how you keep on top of everything!

Sammy xo.

Sunday, 27 October 2019

Frost Burgers Vegan Burger Review

I’m all for doing what you can for the environment where you can, and cutting down on meat products is a huge part of that. Luckily, in Liverpool, more and more meatless options are springing up for us to try, and Frost Burgers is just one of those options that’s quickly becoming a cult favourite. When you really want fast food, but don’t want the meat? Frost is definitely a good go to, with it’s reasonable pricing, plentiful options and food that definitely doesn’t leave you wanting. It’s instagram aesthetic makes you feel like you’re somewhere really up and coming and that’s because, there’s no doubt about it, you definitely are; it might be just a burger joint in Liverpool now, but I have no doubt it’s about to grow into something much bigger, very very fast. 

There’s only a few tables in Frost’s cosy and welcoming restaurant, but if you can take the time to hang around it’s definitely worth it. It’s a very easy order at the till and wait for your food type of deal, and there’s more options than you might imagine. We went for the Bacon Free Burger (£6.95, plus £3.00 to make it a meal) and the G Mayo Chicken (£4.95, plus £3.00 to make it a meal), with the meal add on to add chips, a sauce (both mayo) and a drink each. The G chicken mayo was my choice and, though it’s a lot less like meat than the Cheezburger I’ve had in the past, it’s definitely not a bad option at all. It has a juicy patty, lettuce, cheese and mayo (all vegan) and it’s absolutely belter. Josh opted for the much-more-like-meat option of the Bacon Free Burger and, though it would never be my personal choice, said it would very hard to distinguish it from a similar meat option. 

My standouts though are definitely the chips and the mayo, the mayo is genuinely better than it’s non-vegan counterpart, with an almost sour undertone that definitely adds to the taste. The chips? A skin on, heavily salted choice that rivals 5 Guys any day of the week. I will say that the cola isn’t my personal favourite choice, but there are a ton more drinks options (including shakes) so it’s definitely not a deciding factor in going back or not. Not a burger person? There’s Frost nuggets on the menu, as well as a whole array of desserts including frosty cones, donuts and cookies. The price is, admittedly, slightly higher than the fast food options that I’m typically used to but I will say that it’s worth every extra penny, the food is delicious and fresh, the options are great and you’re doing your bit to help the environment, which is definitely not something to turn your nose up at.

Photos by @joshparkersnaps

Would I recommend Frost Burgers? Any day of the week (as would Josh). It’s great for a quick bite to eat, the food is made fresh and the options are plentiful; the queues for the tables during busy hours are definitely justified, and it’s definitely worth hanging round to get one where you can. Plus, the aesthetic is perfect for instagram photos if you’re waiting for an extra ten minutes. It’s easy to see why Frost has become such a popular choice in Liverpool, and I can see that they’ll be expanding elsewhere any time soon; so definitely get a visit in if you have the chance! 

Where are your favourite places to eat in Liverpool? Have you been to Frost Burgers yet?

Sammy xo. 

Friday, 25 October 2019

Making The Most Of Chester Zoo During The Winter

The thing about the Winter is, let's face it, I don't want to be anywhere that isn't either inside or serving alcohol; but the thing is, I also love the zoo. The zoo doesn't seem the optimal place to go in the winter though - it seems logical that the animals would be inside, there is a lot of open space for wind chill and, in the case of Chester Zoo, it closes a lot earlier than it does in the Summer. Having said that, it can be a great Winter day out if you know how to make the most of it, and luckily I'm here to help with that. So, without further ado, here's how to make the most of Chester Zoo when it comes to the Winter months this year.

Photo; @joshparkersnaps

1: Know what you can see and you can't
With the fire that happened at Chester Zoo in December 2018, the Monsoon Forest exhibition is still closed. It definitely doesn't affect the sheer amount of animals that you can still see, but it might change the route that you want to take if you don't have time to travel around the entirety of the zoo. Make sure you know what you can see, and where, to make the most of your time there. There's also a lot of animals moving exhibit and so make sure that you take the time to check that your favourite is still where you thought it would be.

2: If the animals aren't out, try and find feeding times
It's not always easy to see all animals in the winter because, much like me, they really want to be inside where it's a lot warmer. If you've looked both inside and outside their enclosures and you've seen neither hide nor hair? Make sure to see if they have a feeding time that day. Obviously the feeding times are there to, you know, make sure the animals eat, but it does also draw them out to an area where you'll likely be able to see them, and so it's definitely worth your time. Similarly, animal talks will likely ensure that the animals are within viewing distance so keep an eye out.

3: Download the app
Nobody wants to be messing around trying to find the nearest toilet on a paper map when you're already freezing, so make sure you download the app ahead of time. Not only does it show exactly where you are right now to avoid confusion, you can also search by things like toilets or restaurants for that much needed wee or coffee. Just trust me on this, it's a lot easier than trying to scrunch a paper map back together in a pair of gloves.

4: Dress for the weather
As aforementioned, there's a lot of open space (naturally), and so make sure that you're dressed with this in mind, and make sure to take advantage of as many indoor enclosures as you can. Also, not to sound like a nan, but if you are going to be indoors for a long period of time make sure you take off your coat, scarf and any extra layers that you can because you're going to be hugely thankful for feeling the benefit when you get outside again.

5: Pack a thermos
As part of their waste reduction programme Chester Zoo is no longer providing plastic lids for your disposable cups, which means that if you're going to want to carry one round, you're going to also want to make sure that you have a thermos or your own reusable coffee cup. This definitely helps even more with the environmental factor anyway, and so take the time to do your part if you're in a position to do so, plus you'll be thankful for it when your hot drink stays hot for longer (and you inevitably don't end up spilling it on your hands)

6: Most importantly, set your expectations
It is going to very cold, there likely are going to be less animals readily available to view; but that doesn't take away from the experience if you're ready for it and you have a plan in mind. Also do remember, as aforementioned, the zoo closes around 4pm/4:30pm in the Winter, and so you might have to get a lot more done in a much shorter space of time; so definitely plan for that the best that you can.

We went to the zoo last week and it was brilliant (not sponsored, we paid for our own tickets), winter is a beautiful time to be there and we really enjoyed ourselves, but it definitely helped that we set our expectations, and so here's hoping these tips  helped you to do the same!

Sammy xo.

Wednesday, 23 October 2019

European Christmas Market Breaks You Can Probably Afford

Let's face it, we could all do with a holiday right now, and with it coming up to Christmas I'm sure I'm not the only one who just wants to be wearing gloves, nine layers, and drinking some form of warm alcoholic beverage. You can, of course, do this most places (though it is sometime frowned upon re: the alcoholic beverage), however I would argue there's very few places better suited to doing it than at a Christmas market. If you're ready to get your Christmas cheer on, I've compiled a list of places that you can book for that December getaway right now, and it might not be as expensive as you think! As a disclaimer, however, before you read on - all prices were correct at the time of publishing this post, and all Airbnbs were free to book, I unfortunately cannot guarantee this will be the case when you get to them. Each price is for one person, however I have adjusted prices for 2 people should you be travelling with someone else, and each Airbnb does accommodate for said second person, no flight prices include luggage. 

A picture of tall apartment blocks at dusk
Krakow, Poland.

-UNDER £100-
Krakow - £98 for flights and entire flat Airbnb for 3 nights (or £121 for 2 people)
2/12/19-5/12/19, Luton Flights

Of course our cheapest trip away would be a London airport, however I do have to say you could get something very similarly priced from Edinburgh and so if you can travel a little, both are great steals. I can personally attest for Krakow Christmas markets which are truly beautiful, and I will maintain until the day I die that there is nowhere quite as magical as Poland in the Winter, so if you have a spare £100 and you're looking for that getaway, this could be the perfect choice. The Airbnb here is situated in the old town, which is walkable to the town centre (though Polish cabs are deceptively cheap), though there were also a good few others around the same price point. The one big thing here is the hellishly early flight home, though I do think I would happily sit in an airport at 4:00am if it meant I got a few days in Poland as part of the deal. Cheap? Yes. Cheerful? Definitely. Worth the price? I think so, to the extent I'm considering pricing up a train to Luton in order to see whether it would still be worth my time.

-UNDER £110-
Prague - £102 for flights and entire flat Airbnb for 3 nights ( or £134 for 2 people)
09/12/19-12/12/19, Stansted Flights

Prague is one of my favourite cities in the world and I honestly think that I'd find any excuse to go back, but I can only imagine how adorably festive it would be with the addition of a Christmas market. You are, realistically, getting less bang for your buck with this one - as you're staying in a glorified hotel room with nowhere to cook that is a little further out from town than I would like. Having said that, for three nights it's really not the end of the world to eat out, and there is a direct transport link from the area you're in to the main city centre, so it feels a little like swings and roundabouts when weighing it up. I do also think this might be better than my accommodation when I went to Prague, which was a glorified cupboard where the bathroom was larger than the bedroom, but that's a whole different story. The flights here are both night flights which is a little better all round generally speaking, and if you're willing to compromise a little on accommodation, I don't think it would be so much of an issue that it would ruin your trip by any means.

-UNDER £130-
Budapest - £128 for flights and entire flat Airbnb for 3 nights (or £164 for 2 people)
7/12/19-10/12/19, Edinburgh Flights

Like I said, Edinburgh are really rivalling London for affordable flights at the moment, and so if you can travel there it definitely seems like it would be worth a look. Have I just included Budapest because I want to go so badly I'll shoehorn it into any conversation? Absolutely, but the Christmas markets do look beyond amazing. This Airbnb is close to the middle of town, you have two morning flights so get a pretty full first day in the city, and the pricing of accommodation here seems really reasonable, so I can't imagine you'll be paying through the nose for everything you want when you're out there. Though it's a little more expensive than the two offerings that came before, this is definitely the one I'd be snapping up if I were close enough to the airport in question to do so.

-UNDER £200-
Gdansk - £199 for flights and entire flat Airbnb for 6 nights (or £256 for 2 people)
02/12/19 - 08/12/19, Leeds Flights

Got a little money to splurge? I've never been to Gdansk but Katy made it sound so amazing without the Christmas market, I can only imagine what some fairy lights and adorable handmade toys will add to the situation. Though, as I say, this is a bit of a splurge, the truth is that the return flights are still only £20, so the money really comes into spending a little more time in the city than in the others, and having an Airbnb smack bang in the middle of the city. Though, I do have to say, you may want to consider a luggage charge on this one, because 6 days is a long time to go with just the bits you can fit in your hand luggage. A little more expensive than the other bits on this list? Yes, a bit, but still an absolute steal if you happy to want to spend a little more money on having a little more time to explore.

So there you go, there's something from a lower price point right through to a little blowout, and so if you have the time, money and holidays to take from work, there's really no reason not to book! I unfortuately do not have the latter, and so please do have a mulled wine or four for me, and do let me know if you book anything exciting for the Christmas season!

Sammy xo.

Monday, 21 October 2019

The Comeback Kid

I don't really know where to start writing this post. In July last year I was going through a really rough time, keeping up with my blog was difficult and keeping up with life was even harder and so I took a week break, that bled into a month, that ended up being over a year and though I kept meaning to come back, life seemed to get in the way, and doubt seemed to get in the way, and I never found the time to write. Something that seemed so cathartic to me for so long suddenly felt like so many people knowing the ins and outs of my life and I was so overwhelmed by even living it back then that telling people seemed wrong, and not telling people seemed like lying by omission when I created this big space where the primary concept was making sure that people felt less alone. Back then, I felt the most alone I ever have, and so writing telling people that it got better just seemed hollow and false.

When you convince yourself you're no good at something and nobody is going to care if you come back or not, you'll find any reason not to do the thing. For example between writing paragraph one here and paragraph two I've found a whole manner of things that must be done right now, including but not limited to; washing, brushing and drying my hair, charging my phone, watching an episode of taskmaster, shaving my entire body, texting my boyfriend to tell him I'm probably going to blog, making plans for future blog posts when this one isn't even finished yet... I could go on. I won't though.

Girl Smiling Wearing Grey Winter Coat and Glasses
You don't care about the feelings stuff though, you're just here to see what you missed, and so here's the rundown!

1: Met Josh properly, referred to him as pop punk guy on twitter for 2 months, promptly deleted tweets referring to him as such when he followed me, played it cool by spending every day with him for 10 months, played it cool by throwing him an elaborate surprise birthday party, played it so cool that he knew I liked him and asked me out, continue to play it cool by telling him he's pretty and I love him at any given opportunity.

2: Met all of Josh's friends who are now some of my best friends. Play it cool with them by being mean at any given opportunity. They know I'm joking though. I hope.

3: Went to uni and smashed Spanish. Hated Portuguese. Left uni. I do, however, like to make the most of being able to speak Spanish by slipping into it without really realising when I'm drunk. 

4: Laughed, a lot. Cried, a lot. Did more pub quizzes than is probably normal for someone who doesn't actually drink alcohol more than once a month. Heavily contributed to the stock price of Diet Coke (I have no proof for this, but I do heavily suspect it to be true). Did many more things that I really don't want my mum (or more importantly my boyfriend's mum) to read about on the internet, so we'll leave this point here.

Basically you've missed a lot, but also not much at all. It's been a wild ride, I laugh more than I cry these days, which is something I never thought I'd say. I'm ready to start writing again, I hope there's at least some of you humouring me by keeping reading. Now the awkward part's over, I've got no more excuses, plus I'm nearly up to date on Taskmaster and I've exhausted most of true crime YouTube, so now seems as good a time as any!

Sammy xo.