Sunday, 11 March 2018

Why We Must Celebrate Women Everyday

I was all set to publish a post on March 08th in honour of International Women's Day. But, after a busy few days and no time to finish the draft, I decided to give myself more time so I could really do it justice. Because such an important topic deserves nothing but our full attention and care.

International Women's Day

International Women’s Day is a reminder that women and issues affecting women, matter. We should all give a damn. Whether you are a girl or woman yourself, we all have women in our lives - mothers, teachers, wives, managers, sisters, neighbours, favourite musicians or authors, friends, daughters. For some, even leaders of the very countries that we live in. Women must be praised and encouraged, not just on International Women’s Day, but everyday.

Better Together

Before our very eyes, we are seeing through #PressforProgress and Time’s Up just how powerful and courageous women are, especially when united together. It's an important reminder that in our own daily lives we need to support the women around us. Build each other up, don't judge the choices of women you don't know or be silent when a woman is being undermined for unjust reasons. Vote! And encourage other women to do so too.

Today's Inspiring Women 

We also need to keep talking about the great things done and said by women today. I'm thankful for the many bold and boundary pushing women who young girls can look up. Role models including Michelle Obama and Malala Yousafzai, creatives like Lady Gaga and Lorde, JK Rowling and Rupi Kaur. Not forgetting business women and female entrepreneurs: Karen Brady, Oprah Winfrey, Ariana Huffington - founder of the Huffington Post, just to name a few.

Remembering and celebrating Women of History 

Our awareness of equality and refusal to accept discrimination is thanks to countless courageous women throughout history who paved the way for us to make ourselves heard today.  There are so many women of history who creatively and defiantly left their mark on the world and should be remembered and heroed; the suffragettes, Rosa Parks, Frida Kahlo, Virginia Woolf, Sylvia Plath, Mother Theresa. There really are so many inspiring women who I want to continue learning about and celebrating throughout the year. 

So today, tomorrow and every day to come, let's keep women at the forefront - think about women elsewhere in the world who are still fighting for rights we already have. And keep thinking about the change we still need to see in our own lives. Let's make everyday a celebration of women so girls can grow up knowing they too are strong, intelligent and fearless individuals who can achieve great things. 

Before I sign off, I also wanted to wish a Happy Mother's Day to all the mums out there. I for one am continually wowed by my hard-working, kind and inspiring mum who is my personal woman hero!

Wednesday, 28 February 2018

The February Review

I didn't want to be predictable and start this post by marvelling at how fast February has flown by but it'll be the elephant in the room if I don't so...seriously, how frickin' fast did February fly by! My goal for the month was to prioritise fitness and restore a normal work/personal life balance by bettering my time-management. I think I've made headway in both respects but some habits are hard to break and there's definitely room for improvement.

Borough Market London Snow

A slow but steady fitness update

My 10k run is just over three weeks away and I still haven't gotten round to running further than 5k in a single run. As much as I have enjoyed seeing London darling'd up in the snow, I am hoping that this cold snap will ease off by the weekend so I can actually get out and run, risk free of slippages. And ideally in above zero degree conditions!

Yoga has continued to be a great tool to unwind and calm my mind after busy work days. Even 10 minute routines before bed have made such a difference and are a healthier way to de-stress and switch off (although the occasional mid-week G&T is ok too, in my book anyway).

Gone Blogging February Review
Gone Blogging February Review

More 'me time'

I booked myself a 'me day' off work last week and whilst half the day was spent running errands, I did enjoy a rare Monday afternoon browsing the shops and ordering a sit in latte and Danish pastry at the heavenly Ole and Steen. I'd definitely recommend taking a Monday me day every so often. A short time out from the daily grind is a nice way to reset and start the week that little bit calmer. 

I also finished my first book of 2018, Marching Powder by Rusty Young. Admittedly, I did start it as holiday reading back in October 2017 but I'm pleased to have finally finished it. Better still, I found myself wanting to read again on my commute to and from work. Marching Powder is the true story of Thomas McFadden, an English drug smuggler who is arrested and imprisoned in Bolivia's notorious San Pedro prison. It's a gritty read and offers you a glimpse into the harshness of prison life, but there are also moments of humour and friendship throughout. I've lined up my next read, determined to make reading a priority again.

Gone Blogging February Review

February music favourites 

Working in an open plan office means I listen to music on and off throughout the day and what I'm listening to is definitely dependent on my mood. This month, I've alternated between three playlists in particular;
80s hits - totally inspired by Stranger Things 2 which I finally got round to watching 
Early 00s indie anthems - songs which take me back to my student days of drinking cider and blackcurrant and dancing away in sweaty Liverpool clubs. Bands like The Killers, The Strokes, The Wombats, pretty much every band starting with 'The'. And perhaps my favourite playlist of all...  
American punk rock - the likes of Sum 41, Blink 182, Good Charlotte and Fall Out Boy - I actually cant stop smiling and wanting to shout out along to these songs. I'm also impressed at the amount of lyrics I still remember, over ten years on!
ASOS ALL FOR IT Leather Buckle Ankle Boots

Animal print obsessed 

My style favourite of the month is definitely animal print shoes. I've been wanting a faux fur animal print coat but with Spring around the corner (despite a visit from the Beast from the East this week) I'll hold off buying one until next Autumn. So until then, I've got my fix via animal print shoes. I snapped up a pair of printed slingbacks from Topshop which I've since spotted all over instagram so I know I'm not the only one having a thing for animal print right now. Sadly it's still far too cold to wear them out so I'm thinking of them as my Spring ladies in waiting. In the meantime, a recent ASOS order brought the All For It buckle ankle boots into my life. They are EXTRA to the max and there's something very man-repeller about them; the print, the texture and the silver buckles. Teamed with jeans and a jumper or slogan Tee they add a statement touch to otherwise regular outfits. Definitely my favourite fashion purchase so far this year.

So that's my February in a nutshell. My 10k is frighteningly close and the Easter bank holiday weekend is in sight. I wasn't able to plan a mini break away in February so I am determined to make the most out of the upcoming long weekend. What are your March goals and plans? I hope you all have a happy and healthy month ahead and let's hope for some long-awaited Spring weather!

Sunday, 18 February 2018

Travel Destinations For Coffee Lovers #2

Hanoi coffee guide

Last week I blogged about two travel destinations which offer visitors a bloody good cup of coffee. Today, we are travelling to the South East and focusing on the wonderful delights of Vietnamese coffee culture. 

Coffee culture in Vietnam 

Ca Phe Su Da
Hoi An Roastery coffee guide
In October 2017, I jetted off with a backpack in tow to explore Vietnam. There's so much I loved above this trip - but if there's one thing which particularly evokes my time there, it has to be the coffee. 

Kicking off in the capital Hanoi, I ordered my first Ca Phe Su Da of the trip (coffee served with sweetened condensed milk) and was hooked from day 1. Quite simply, Vietnamese coffee is an experience. The teasing aroma and sight of your coffee brewing and slowly dripping through a phin, a delicate metal filter, makes each sip all the more enjoyable.

I can't say I had a single bad coffee during my travels from north to south of the country but I particularly enjoyed spending time in the charming town of Hoi An where it's lantern filled streets were packed full of welcoming cafes. A favourite was Hoi An Roastery which serves delicious coffee grown in the farms of Da Lat.

Ben Thanh Market coffee guide

Ben Thanh Market coffee guide

Saigon Roastery coffee guide

Heading south to bustling Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) where crossing roads is an experience in itself, our days were spent sightseeing and shopping in the famous Ben Thanh market. Full of souvenirs, clothes and produce, I of course remembered to buy myself a phin filter and some freshly ground coffee to bring home. The market is an Alladin's cave of goodies - the perfect place to buy tea, instant coffee and coffee beans - whole or freshly ground before your very eyes.

In need of an afternoon caffeine fix, some googling led us to Saigon Roastery. This little gem was a lovely surprise, hidden away in a shabby looking building full of winding staircases and small restaurants, cafes and independent shops. Saigon Roastery is a speciality coffee house which offers high quality arabica coffee. Once inside, grab a seat with a street view and take in the hustle  and bustle below.

For those interested, this useful guide to Saigon coffee houses includes a comprehensive background on coffee production in Vietnam.

Gone blogging Coffee Lover Travel Destinations

Hearing great things - about the country and its coffee - Colombia is high on my 'to visit' list. Any suggestions/hints on planning a trip here are very welcome! 

In case you missed it, my first coffee guide is live here and covers my highlights and recommendations for coffee in Costa Rica and Jamaica. 

Tell me, where does your favourite coffee come from? And if coffee isn't your thing,  how do you like to spend your downtime when travelling?