Sorrento – June, 2015

Have you ever been to a place that when you leave you have to soak in every view in case you never return? A place that fills you with joy, radiates beauty and is everything you ever imagined it to be?

I have, and for me that is Italy.
My first visit was when I was 11, and it was my first holiday abroad. We flew to Tuscany, rented a car and drove to the top of a hill shrouded in mystery to find our perfect little rented house. This house was in a heart of a quaint village where we soaked in the Italian culture, this started the love I felt for the amazing country.
On June 8th 2015 the fire in my heart was ignited once more when me and my fiance landed in Sorrento.
Day 1
 

We were up at 6am sharp ready for a long day of travelling. By 11:30 we were at Birmingham Airport which is a lovely airport to get around and before we knew it we were on the plane, by 7 we were in Naples on the coach for the drive to Sorrento and then finally at 9:30 we were at the hotel, where we were greeted by the staff who had kept the kitchen open so we could have tea. We stayed at the lovely Hotel Admiral which was nestled into the cliff on the Marina Grande. I cannot recommend this hotel enough, it had excellent food, very lovely and welcoming staff and the BEST views.

View from our balcony

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A little bit more about me.

Self love is a journey. One that I feel I am on a better road to.

I’ve made several steps so far, one of which was to talk about my journey and general musings on this blog. So, with that in mind, I thought I’d share a bit more about me personally.

I’ve found that speaking about why I feel the way I feel and the things I’ve dealt with in the past is a way of trying to move on from it. If you identify your torment, you can try to overcome it. So, here I go… (I’ll try break it up with random photos!)

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Me at my hen do 🙂

I’m originally from Hertfordshire and we moved to Norfolk when I was 9. I was moved from a school of normal size to a primary school that had a total of about 28 pupils (years 1-6)!

Now then, you have bullies in every school, no matter which one you go to. And sure enough, I encountered them when I moved. The trouble was, I had very few people to fall back onto when it happened.

As you can tell from the photo, I have dark hair and dark eyebrows, and this was the main crux of what I was bullied for.

The first was that I had eagles on my face (my eyebrows). This was said to me aged 9 by a boy in the year above me, repeatedly.

I had no friends at the primary school I moved to (same old story), so I moved up to high school very shy, very quiet, not feeling too great and very alone.

Year 7 I had to get the bus to school, it took about an hour from our little village.

While on the bus, these boys starting taunting me for the hair by the side of my ears and rather inventively mercifully called me ‘sideburns’ for about 2 years, every day. For a long time, I couldn’t even bring myself to say that word, and would cringe when I heard it.

I’ve also not shown them since, they are always covered, even when my hair is up.

It then extended to the hair on my arms, and my back, and I was called Chewbacca, a bit more inventive that. This was quite constant throughout the rest of high school.

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Me, aged 16, at my schools leavers day

So yeah, from the age of 9/10 I was bullied for my looks, by boys and most of which was the fact I looked like a man.

It is entirely because of this that I have a problem believing I look good. I was made to care way too much about how I look at a young age and I’ve not really stopped.

I had little to no confidence in everything I did. My self esteem plummeted and I hated the way I looked most days.

And the fact that it was all from boys, when I got with Sam I still didn’t believe him when he said I was beautiful.

It’s not a shocking story, it happens to everyone, I’m no different to a lot of people who have been bullied, but I wanted to share it anyway.

I am A LOT better than I was, I do look in the mirror now and see things I like. But, like everyone, I get days when I can’t find anything good.

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Baby Hayley and Sam

I get so annoyed that I feel this way sometimes, but that’s just part of me. When I get ready, it sometimes takes me longer to accept that I look good, I’ll often go through a few outfit changes before I feel comfortable, and that’s okay.

It’s never going to leave me, feeling like I do sometimes, but over the years it has got easier. And at the moment, I’m the best I have ever felt, and I am well and truly embracing it.

Thank you for reading, I hope that maybe by me opening up it makes others want to do the same, I honestly feel much better for doing so.

 

Paris

After our wedding we wanted to go on a little city break, instead of just lounging about the house, you know me, I love to see the world! So we booked a little trip across the channel to Paris!

Where we stayed

We stayed at the Moulin Plaza in the Montemarte area, right near the Moulin Rouge.

It was a good enough hotel, it did what it had to do. We booked quite late so could only really afford 3 stars. But, we literally used the room to sleep and get ready, so it didn’t really matter, plus actually, we had a great night sleep each night, really comfy bed!

And the area was PERFECT! Right near the metro for ease to get places, and Montemarte is lovely, a really cool chill vibe and right on top of that is a beautiful cathedral called the Sacre Coeur. (below)

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Quick note: if you choose to stay at this particular hotel, they take your key card each time you go out and then you just say your room number when you come back. It’s just a safety thing, but just a heads up!

Day 1

We stayed in London the night before to get the train super early Saturday morning. Our train was meant to be at 6:18am but it was delayed an hour, boo.

After we arrived we decided we would walk all the way to the Eiffel Tower to get tickets for another day, so we pre-book essentially. We knew it was going to be a long walk, but we were in no rush and that way we would get to see other things.

Like this huge palace..

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It was about here we were getting pretty hungry, so we stopped off at this little café. This was a bit of an unfortunate experience as the waiter we had was very rude, and the food wasn’t great. I think this impacted us a bit more than normal because we were so tired, we’d walked a lot already and it was the first interaction we had with anyone.

We finally got to the Louvre and it was wonderful, and we could see the Eiffel Tower peaking out in the distance, which was really cool! We stopped to take a few photos and then started the walk to the Eiffel Tower.

Note: it’s a lot further away than it looks!!! (45 minutes to be exact)

But pretty cool:

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WEDDING!

So there’s a pretty big reason I haven’t blogged in ages, and that’s because I have been planning and then GETTING MARRIED!

It was quite simply the happiest day of my life. A day where I got to marry my best friend, share our love with the people we love the most and celebrate the night away!

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Everything was perfect and I just wish I could do it all again! The day really does go quickly!

My favourite bits:

  • walking down my stairs into my living room and having my dad see me for the first time and cry.
  • walking down the aisle and seeing Sam cry when he saw me
  • going into our reception room briefly before the ceremony to chat to the registrar and seeing all the beautiful decorations just how I had visioned it
  • watching from a distance as all our friends and family chatted to each other, some for the first time
  • being ridden on a golf buggy by Sam down to this little stream to take couple photos (he can’t drive so….!)
  • dancing the night away with everyone, right up until the last song at midnight

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After our wedding, we whisked off to Paris for a cheeky mini-moon, so now I’m no longer planning a wedding, that will be the next travel-themed post I write 🙂

A different kind of post…

Hey! So this is me, loving life on Cromer beach.

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I’ve struggled quite a bit with loving my appearance, and I’m not really what you would call confident. I am a heck of a lot better than I was, and gradually, with the help of my parents, friends and husband, I can see the beauty in myself. I also had enough confidence to stand up and do a speech recently at my wedding.

I posted this photo on my Instagram recently with this caption:

“I’m finally, well and truly learning to embrace who I am. I now look at myself and instead of pick out the negative things, like my thick thighs and apparent missing top lip when I smile, I find the positive ones, like my eyes and lashes, small waist and my personality. I’ve constantly battled with trying to love myself, some days are good and some aren’t, just like everyone. And for the first time in a long time I’ve had so many good days. I’m fully embracing this at the moment. I typically care way too much what people think about me, about my appearance, and I think I’m truly on the right road to stopping that.”

I received a lot of great support from it, and it encouraged me to put myself out there in ways I haven’t done before, to spread the love and positivity and practice mindfulness.

So that’s what I’ve added to this blog, a tab aptly called ‘not travel’ where I will post all things related to the above 🙂

London – again!

(Can you tell I love London?)

So once again, off to London I trekked, this time with Sam in tow. We wanted this trip to be where we only did new things, and that’s exactly what we did.

We were there for 3 days, and boy were they jam packed!

Day 1

I had such brilliant plans. We arrived in London about 1pm and I planned to get the major girlfriend points and go watch the Liverpool game that was on at one of the supposed ‘Liverpool football pubs’ in London.

We got to what we thought was the pub, we were stood outside where it was meant to be and zoomed in further on Google Maps only to read that it was permanently closed! *face palm* – time for a plan B! We decided to walk from where we were (I think Temple at this point) to our hotel in Covent Garden. It was a nice walk, we walked past Somerset House and The Waldorf Hotel.

Here is a photo of us on that walk 🙂

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We checked into our hotel, nice Travelodge, simple, and then headed out again for the next part of our plan which was to take Sam to the same pizza place (Home Slice) I went with my mum in the last post. He LOVED it, I mean who wouldn’t?!

We also went to M and M world afterwards for pudding…… 😀

Day 2

BRICK LANE – my favourite part of the trip.

I had been here before, but never on a Sunday morning. Everyone must go on a Sunday morning. There was stalls of clothes and food everywhere, the old brewery was open to tonnes of local artists showcasing their work, huge buildings housed food from all over the world. It was beautiful.

We started off right near the end of Brick Lane walking the long walk past all the wonderful stands, for one reason – Cereal Killer Café. I was finally going to have breakfast in the best place ever. The place was sooo cool, it was like going back into the 90s. Downstairs you could actually sit on single beds, there were old school box TVs showing classic old shows and all around the room were posters and memorabilia from things like Friends, Hey Arnold and Clueless!

After here we decided that we’d walk back through all the stalls and head off towards another part I had planned, promising that we’d return to Brick Lane to get some tasty lunch!

We got the tube to Barbican where I was told on a Sunday the botanical gardens were open, so I thought that would be worth a look, and something we had never done. We arrived at the Barbican, and the one day out of the whole year we chose to go, the gardens were closed for a private event…. *second face palm*

So we decided not to get the tube but walk to our next destination which was rooftop cocktails. WIN. Our rooftop also just happened to be at the top of a swanky shopping centre (One New Change) that stood right. next. to St Pauls Cathedral. SECOND WIN. Look at these…

I was very aware that I was sipping a £12 cocktail, next to St Pauls, and wearing all Primark.

By this point we were getting very hungry and decided it was time to head back to Brick Lane, we needed to sample that amazing market food!

We stopped at a stall called Pigling Street and had a ‘Pork Box’ which was just fab. We sat on the pavement to eat our glorious food and thought about how in London you can go from drinking fancy cocktails in a fancy bar to then eating top notch street food on the side of a bustling market street in the East End. Truly awesome.

Foooood.

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We wandered around the markets and picked up some wonderful things from various sellers. One was a print from a french designer who had moved to the east end a few years ago and started designing based on what he saw around him. We have this 🙂

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Later that evening we ventured to something we actually pre-booked for our trip to London. I’d always seen those outdoor cinemas screens and wanted to go to one…so we did. And a pretty awesome one at that!

It was at Stratford, just the other side of the Westfield Shopping Centre at a place called Roof East. It was suuuper cool up there, there was a large bar with deck chairs to sit on, random old cars with plants in and then at the back….a cinema.

We sat on a giant deck chair, or what they called a Love Seat (ha), in the rain, with a beer watching Dead Poets Society. It was a pretty cool experience watching a film outside, but I reaaally wish it hadn’t rained, as we just couldn’t stay til the end, we were freezing!

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We made our way back the along the tube to our hotel, but not before stopping to look at the Olympic park. (I’d never seen it before)

Day 3

Our last day in London, and still many more plans to be had!

The first stop was in Notting Hill and Portobello Road, I had been told by a few people to check out the market and all the vintage shops and so wanted to see what the fuss was all about.

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I thought the colourful houses were really pretty, and the place was really vibrant with the stands and shops – but I have to say I prefer Brick Lane. Also the stuff in the vintage shops were cool, but gosh I couldn’t afford anything in them!

Oh, but guess what we did find…

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Hugh Grant didn’t let us in 😦

Right, next on the list was to head back on the tube to Paddington Station for the next part of our journey. While at the station, Sam couldn’t resist going to find the Paddington Bear statue and get a photo – it was his childhood fav!

So then, we left the station and started our walk all along a river/canal that runs past the station. I think it’s called the Paddington Basin. I had looked into a little place called Little Venice where you can see loads of canal boats and beautiful scenery, and you can walk to it from Paddington Station.

It was very pretty 🙂

We then carried on along the canal/river (I have no idea what it’s classed as) aaaaall the way to Baker Street. It took a long time. Like, a long time.

And then that was the final part of the journey, going to see 221B Baker Street 😀

We love Sherlock, so we had to go see the famous door (another famous door hehe) and have a look in the little museum they have there – it was really cool.

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After doing this, we are both knackered from lots of walking, and so then we had a proper pub lunch right near Baker Street.

And…..that brings me to the end of our 3 days in London! It was such an awesome trip, what I loved most (apart from spending it with my guy) was all the new things we did! When I go to London I always like to try new things, and I’m so glad that we stuck to it and only did new things.

What I would recommend the most:

  • Brick Lane on a Sunday – food, markets, amazing vibe and people.
  • One New Change – amazing views!
  • Roof East – mainly cause I’d never done anything like that at all!
  • Little Venice – you really don’t think you are in London, and that’s hard to do!

 

Thanks for reading! Byeeeeee!

 

Harry Potter’s London

I think I may have mentioned that I like Harry Potter…

In case you missed it, I really am quite a nerd for it, I’ve seen the films countless times, read the books equal amounts and have gathered quite a collection (some may say shrine) of things. Oh and I also have a tattoo… so yeah, big fan.

Anyway, for the third time I trekked off to the Warner Brother’s Harry Potter Studio Tour, this time with my mum.

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As per, the tour was amazing, I had last been 2 years previous and in that time they had added quite a lot, which I was very impressed about. Obviously they added the Forbidden Forest (which is the reason I need to return), they added a table near Hagrids hut which was designed to be ‘forced perspective’ so the person at the front looked huge (like Hagrid), near the Quidditch bit there was the chance to ‘summon’ a broom by saying ‘up!’ (I loved that), there were loads more costumes out on display, like Slughorn’s dressing gown, and….THEY OPENED PRIVET DRIVE!

Here are some geeky photos.

It was sooooo good! The best moment though:

We were in the room with all the wands, just before the gift shop. The man working there challenged me to name an actor he couldn’t find in the wand room. I said Rhys Ifans, and he found it straight away. My mum then let slip that I was a huge fan (thanks mum) and he started to challenge me to see what I could tell him about the actors. After getting all the questions right (oh yeah), we then talked some more about the films, how the books are better and generally about how amazing HP is. He then reached behind his ‘station’ and pulled out a bag, he said not to show any of the children, because what he gave me was one of the ACTUAL letters used in the first film in the scene where they all come out of the chimney. I was beside myself. It just made the whole day even more amazing, and I can’t thank him enough! 

We finished the tour at about half 6 and we had one of those crystalising moments that due to the long journey to get to the tour and back, being on our feet for nearly 4 hours and generally being tired, we decided it was best to have a quick meal at the Travelodge restaurant and back to bed *insert laughing emoji*.

Day 2!

We kicked off the second day by having a delicious breakfast at a café on Drury Lane called, funnily enough, Drury 188-189. We both had eggs, mine scrambled, mum’s poached, both tasted great.

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Next stop – shopping! We made our way to Oxford Circus on the tube and our first stop was of course Hamleys, on the top floor. Why the top floor? Well, it’s only filled with Harry Potter stuff! (same stuff as the tour but cheaper)

My haul included (some stuff came from the tour):

  • A Hufflepuff flag
  • Two cute postcards
  • A pymgy puff keyring
  • Newt Scamander’s briefcase keyring
  • A quill pen
  • A greetings card with a picture of Voldermort that says “you’re my number 1 Horcrux”
  • A mini cauldron
  • A figurine of Fawkes the Phoenix

After perusing around the shops, the next stop was for cocktails! But these weren’t just any cocktails, oh no, I had ALCOHOLIC BUTTER BEER! This was found at a bar called the Blind Pig in Soho, and it wasn’t easy to find, I’ll tell you that! We found exactly where it was on the street, expect we could only see a restaurant called Social Housing… nearly defeated, my mum saw a door to the right of the restaurant with a metal bust of a pig…so, we hesitantly pushed the door open, walked down the dimly lit corridor and found some stairs, we figured we’d go up and sure enough a man was there to greet us who confirmed it was indeed the Blind Pig!

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For something that had scotch, beer, butterscotch, thyme and egg whites in, it was surprisingly very good! There was a whole book of different cocktails all based on different children’s books – you had Chronicle’s of Narnia, Peter Pan and of course Harry Potter 🙂

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Next it was time for lunch, and for this we went back to Covent Garden, down in Neals Yard, to a place called Home Slice. If you’ve never been there before…you need to!

One pizza cost £20 and it’s literally the size of the table. You get to choose from two toppings to have a half and half pizza, we chose pork belly with crackling and veg on one half and rocket, salami and Parmesan on the other – delish!!

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I’d definitely recommend everyone to go there!

After eating our body weight in pizza, we walked around the Covent Garden market, one of my favourite places in London, and then made our way back to the train station.

So there you have it, the story of when my mum and I went to London to do all things Harry Potter and eat great food! It was bloody brilliant – as Ron would say. 

Leeds.

We trekked up north for 3 days to finally experience the penguin feeding that I gave Sam for his Christmas present. The feeding was at Harewood House, in between Harrogate and Leeds, and we chose to stay in Leeds as there was ‘more going on’, as my parents put it.

Well, I’m very glad we did!

Where we stayed

My parents were lovely and gave us money towards a hotel and we treated ourselves to a stay at the Hilton.

Normally we just stay in a Travelodge or Premier Inn, and I have to say that the Hilton really was no different inside our room than those two. But the interior of the hotel was lovely, and the breakfast was lush! They had pancakes!

It was also very central and in a perfect location for us to walk anywhere within the city.

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Where we ate/drank

Our first stop on the Friday was just behind our hotel at a place called the Candlebar (the huge tower) for a swift pint. Let me just start by saying that Leeds has amazing beer, loads of local brews, lots of variety and great tasting!

After Candlebar we went to Archie’s Bar and Kitchen for more beer and a very tasty stonebaked pizza. We went here with my Auntie and cousins and had a fab time!

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On the Saturday we went to a Brew Dog a little way out of the city, it was called BrewDog North Street and it was pretty darn awesome. 3 words… beer and shuffleboard.

So as it was a Brew Dog there was plenty of beer to choose from, and I had this really fruity tasting beer called Elvis Juice which was divine! And then for the second night running we had stone baked pizza, I think this was one my fav.

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And what made this Brew Dog even more special, as I mentioned above, it has shuffleboard, yes shuffleboard. And vintage arcades.

I won shuffleboard (the beer helped) and Sam won arcades. 1-1.

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Where we went

Friday was just beer and pizza (which I’m totally not complaining about) and then watching 2 episodes of RuPaul’s Drag Race in our hotel bed. We know how to live.

Saturday was jam packed! We started off our day by strolling to the Corn Exchange to browse in its selection of wonderful vintage shops and boutiques. First we popped into a shop called The Great Yorkshire Shop  and picked up some gorgeous smelling dark hot chocolate and an A4 print of cute illustrations of the tourist spots in Leeds. Then we went to THE BEST SHOP EVER called Giant Kitten where I bought a duck print dress…yes, that’s right. (oh, I love ducks)

The till was also made out of lego…

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After that we went to the Royal Armouries Museum which was really cool and free! Don’t you just love a freebie. Then we drove up to Harewood House to do what Sam had been waiting 4 months for…to feed penguins! Hungry little fellas they were!

That was an awesome experience, and the look on Sam’s face was priceless. I would definitely recommend going, with the feeding ticket you also get to look around the ground floor of the house, which is stunning, and the grounds are to die for. They have acres of beautiful scenery and various owls/birds to look at.

Sunday we spent the afternoon at my aunties for a top notch Sunday lunch!

I love Leeds!

It’s one of my new favourite places. I had such an amazing time exploring the city, discovering little shops, walking by the canal and sampling the great food and beer.

And there is still so much more to explore – definitely going to book a trip back!