Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Why I'm glad to be drifting away from the blogging industry.

I think it's safe to say that the blogging industry is not what it once was. It's not even modified slowly over the past few years, but instead it's morphed and snowballed into something that is almost completely alien to me; a competitive, sneaky and ugly monster compared to the friendly, supportive and inclusive community it was when I first started out. And honestly, I don't like it.

There I said it. I don't like it anymore. Of course, I still follow and support many amazing and talented bloggers and influencers, who's output I have loved over the years; those who still blog of course. But I feel this constant need to keep up with the latest Twitter drama, to beat Instagram's algorithm and having to almost force myself to find time to work on posts, quite frankly, fucking exhausting

It's near enough impossible to keep up with the industry when you have career and personal goals that exist outside of it. What happened to blogging for the hell of it? I've never wanted to become a full-time blogger, and it sucks that there is this constant pressure that you have to want to be one in order to blog at all. It feels like you have to have the biggest following, the best magazine-style shot photos, the most "put-together" Instagram feed in order to successfully blog these days. And if you can't make it to the top organically, then just buy a load of followers as cheating the system works well too, you know? Go figure. 

Okay. Maybe I'm over exaggerating (total drama queen), but I just enjoy sharing little snippets of my life, writing rambling posts about whatever's on my mind that minute, photographing the shit out of any days out I go on, and working with wonderful brands as and when the collaborations are workable. Isn't that enough? 

I'm not sure it is anymore, and that sucks. I scroll through my blog reading list and continuously find that more and more of my favourite bloggers are feeling uninspired by the state of the industry at present. This recent post I read by the lovely Nicole, who writes Sleek Chic, really opened my eyes to the crazy lengths some bloggers go to in order to live up to the blogging cliche. Likewise, this post Alice wrote a few months ago about the "old" blogging industry and how warped the current community is still resonates. I, myself, even wrote a rambling post about the sustainability of the blogging industry back at the start of the year. 

In recent weeks I have distanced myself from the blogging industry, and have certainly eased the pressure I used to put on myself to find and produce content. A lot of it is down to the fact that time is really limited when you have a full-time job, a social life and a training regime which leaves you feeling pretty pooped at the end of the week. Living the life of a full-time blogger when you have a full-on life to keep up with is completely unattainable, and I don't feel as much a part of the industry as I once was. Unless you're constantly glued to your phone or wired up to your laptop, skipping social events to work on content and are willing to burn the candle at both ends to make it work, it's impossible to keep up, and that doesn't seem like much of a life to me, especially when I'm so career-driven already. 

So, it's safe to say I have distanced myself from blogging and all that comes with it. I have no set posting schedule. I've been enjoying writing when I've felt like writing, and I've also explored different topics and have gone weeks without bothering to think about blogging at all. It's pretty refreshing if I'm honest. It's nice to go out and not have to factor in some outfit shots before hand, and it's nice to lie on the sofa like a sloth, absentmindedly scrolling through Instagram without thinking of my own feed and the lack of photos I have scheduled. 

In many ways it's sad, because blogging has been such a huge part of my life for the past four (nearly five!) years and I do miss it. I miss the excitement of logging onto my blog each day and seeing who has interacted with my most recent post. I miss reading blog posts on a Sunday morning and being greeted with authentic, refreshing content, that's not scripted or shot to mimic that of a magazine. But sadly, things just aren't the same anymore. 

I've posted before about how I'm now blogging for myself, and not others or the "blogging ideal", and I'll continue to do just that. But I still can't help but feel like my time in this industry is somewhat limited. Or is it just me?

Lots of love. xoxo

Thursday, 23 November 2017

Five ways to boost your mood on dreary autumn days.

I'm currently sat on the sofa, snuggled in a blanket, feeling utterly sorry for myself. I've come down with a sickness bug/virus, but the rain is hammering against the window outside and I have my fairy lights and candles lit while I catch up on reality TV, so I guess every cloud has a silver lining (even if this lining is not particularly shiny). 

I love the autumn, but I have to say that I am struggling currently. The seriously dark days, the fact that the sun never shines, and working my butt off which means rarely seeing daylight all takes its toll. I think it's definitely contributed to the fact that I'm currently poised on the sofa, ready to run to the bathroom to vom at any moment (sorry, TMI), so in a bid to boost my mood I've compiled a list of ways to cheer yourself (and myself) up as the days get darker in the lead up to Christmas. 

1. Embrace nature

This, without a doubt, is the best way to boost my mood, and it's something I definitely haven't done enough over the past few weeks due to various commitments (and crap weather!). I love nothing more than getting my coat and bobble hat out, wrapping up warm and heading out for a stroll in the crisp autumn air. The world is so pretty at this time of year and I love going out and seeing it all, although trying to schedule this in to the dwindling daylight hours can be a challenge. 

2. Open your windows

I actually asked Dan for a way to boost your mood in the autumn and this was his suggestion, but I have to say, funnily enough, I agree with it! It might be bloody freezing, but opening your windows after dragging yourself out of bed in the morning is an instant freshener and really helps to wake you up when the sun still hasn't risen, even if it is bloody freezing. 

3. Buy yourself some fairy lights

Okay, this may be just be the fact that my flat is completely covered in cosy lights and candles, but I consider these an autumn/winter essential. A Saturday night in in front of the telly just isn't complete without them!

4. Get lost in a book

While I do manage to get through a good few novels whilst on my summer travels, the darker nights have me yearning for my bed and a book. It really helps me unwind before bed and it's nice to escape to other worlds if you can't get outside as the latest storm is hammering against your window.

5. Run a boiling hot bubble bath

If all else fails, get in the bath! Sounds ridiculous but there's nothing that makes me happier than a steaming bubble bath filled with autumnal products, followed by a little pamper. Scrub your skin, apply some moisturiser and treat yourself to a mani-pedi for an instant mood boost. 

Lots of love. xoxo

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

A holiday, a promotion, and a crazy work schedule... A little life update.

It's been months since I sat down to write up a rambling post about where I've been and what I've been up to, and it feels bloody lovely to finally find the time to update you all on the craziness that is my life. I don't know where to begin as so much has happened since my last life update. I've been up, down and across the country with work, I've flown over to Majorca for a mini break, I've been away with friends to gigs and events, and I've worked harder than ever to secure a new role within the BBC. It's been extremely hectic, loads of fun, sometimes pretty stressful, but amazing nonetheless.

A step up in work...

It's now been a whopping 9 months since I started my role as a production runner within the BBC, and I can honestly say it's been the best thing I ever did. I was so torn between going to work in London within the magazine journalism sector, or pursuing a career within television in Wales, and in the end I opted to work in Cardiff and I am so happy I made that decision. I work with an incredible team, I get to travel all around the country, I'm close to family and I have my adorable little flat. I have a life that is fulfilled in a way that it couldn't be if I'd opted to live in London.

Over the past few months I've strived to boost my skills and experience in the hope that I could apply for researcher roles in the new year, but an opportunity came up in October for a promotion from runner to researcher within the production I'm working on. I decided to go for it, putting my all into the application and interview prep, and after a week or so of nervously waiting, I found out I'd got the job! It was an insanely stressful few weeks - I even was revising whilst on holiday by the pool - so to have all my hard work pay off was an absolute bonus.

As of December I will be a BBC Researcher and I'm just itching to get started! It will be so nice to get back into researching and writing, albeit in a different way to how I originally thought I would be.   It's going to be even busier than my job already is, and I know it's going to be a challenge, but I'm determined to make it work.

I've been here, there and everywhere...

More work-related waffle, but these past few weeks have been consumed by filming and I've been so lucky to work on some fantastic shoots in some wonderful places. The most memorable has to be filming in London with BBC Bargain Hunt for BBC's Children In Need. We filmed with several BBC radio DJs in Spitalfields, before spending a day at BBC Broadcasting House, where I was Pudsey Bear's glamorous assistant. Last week I also returned from filming in Belfast and instantly fell in love with Northern Ireland and its people. It's such a beautiful country - it reminds me of Wales in many ways - and I'm already looking forward to heading back there as a researcher next month.

Work hard, holiday harder...

While my life mostly revolves around my job at the moment, I did manage to squeeze in a mini-holiday to Palma Nova in Majorca in October and it was a wonderful break that was much needed. Dan and I hadn't been away together since going to Center Parcs with my family in June, and since I've moved back to Cardiff we've only seen each other about once a week to every ten days, due to our work schedules. We only ended up going for three nights (which became four seeing as we got booted off our over-booked flight and had to fly home via Barcelona... nightmare) but it was actually where Dan and I met, so we really enjoyed reminiscing and visiting all the places we'd been to before.

Days were spent chilling by the pool, and for October the weather was extremely warm. Nights were spent wining and dining, and strolling by the sea front. It was really relaxing and the perfect time of year to go, as it was quiet and peaceful. It's true that many of the bars and restaurants had closed for the winter season, but for the most part the island was open for business. I wish we'd been able to spend a full week there, but the time we did spend was really lovely, and it was lush to actually see Dan for more than 24 hours at once!

What's next?

Just looking at my diary over the next few weeks gets me kind of scared of how I'm going to crash as soon as my Christmas break comes around. I have another four shoots as a runner before I start my new role so will be heading off around the country once more. I'm also going to have to start prepping for the shoots I'll be working on after Christmas, and there are lots of Christmas and friends' birthday celebrations pencilled into the diary. I'm also keen to fit in a little Christmas shopping trip away in the lead up to the big day itself at some point, and I'd love to do all the cute wintery things like go to the Christmas markets and Winter Wonderland, considering I missed out on a lot while living in a hostel for work last year. It's going to be bloody mental, but I wouldn't have it any other way.

Lots of love. xoxo

Friday, 10 November 2017

A Pamper Day at The Celtic Manor's Champagne & Beauty Bar.*

One treat I allow myself each month is a gel manicure. It's a little luxury and I always feel so much better walking out of the salon with fresh, brightly coloured nails. So imagine my excitement when The Celtic Manor, a luxurious spa hotel just outside of Newport, invited my mother and I along to try out their new Champagne & Beauty Bar as part of National Spa Week. 

I've been to The Celtic Manor previously to try out their spa and was completely overwhelmed by the fantastic facilities and wonderful service, so I was really excited to see what their new Beauty Bar had to offer. 
We firstly indulged in a facial at the Forum Spa, which was super relaxing and left my tired skin feeling bouncy and fresh. I had the Elemis Anti-Blemish Mattify and Calm Facial, which involved an arm, shoulder and neck massage, as well as a range of facial treatments using Elemis products including a scrub and face mask, before finishing with an indulgent scalp massage. It was great for me, as my skin is so oily and I'm always battling with pesky break-outs. I admittedly left there looking a bit frazzled, with my hair sticking up all over the place thanks to the oils, but I felt amazing. My skin was a little worse for wear over the next few days though, as all the impurities came out, so this is definitely a treatment to have if you haven't got a big event coming up. 

After our facial we went to try out the Champagne & Beauty Bar. It's a beautifully decorated with white and gold interior, sparkling chandeliers and pretty flowers surrounding the space. The space has booths to get your nails, brows, lashes or makeup done, and also doubles up as a classy cocktail bar. I love the whole idea. It's a great way to start a girls night out; cocktails and mani-pedis before heading out on the town! The Beauty Bar offers a range of treatments for the nails, brows, lashes and face, for both men and women, and even a Luxe Lock-In, so you can have exclusive use of the salon for you and your friends. I love this idea for a hen do or birthday treat, though it is a little pricey. 

I was given the Luxury Manicure, which includes a "luxurious conditioning hand treatment" and really cares for your cuticles and provides a gel-esque finish to the nails. The treatment lasts for one hour, so if you're short of time you're better off opting for the 30-minute express On The Go mani or pedi, but I loved how the treatment really lived up to the name. There were indulgent scrubs, hand massages, lotions and potions galore. There are even warm mittens that you wear, and this leaves the skin on your hands feeling super supple and soft. My hands had never looked so good!

My therapist, Emily, tidied my cuticles and shaped my nails expertly before painting. They use a semi-gel polish by the brand Jessica, which has the lasting power of a gel manicure without the UV setting. It was a pretty good idea for me, because I've worn gels on my nails continuously for about two years, so a little break was welcomed. I opted for an autumnal burgundy shade in the name of Well Bred, which I felt was perfect for this time of year.

While the manicure was ongoing, I was given some delicious strawberries dipped in milk chocolate and a glass of prosecco to accompany the treatment, and you get to keep the gel polish afterwards too! I loved this as I always like to keep my nails looking immaculate, so you can tidy up any chips easily. I'm pleased to report that the gels also lasted for a good two weeks, and stretched to three as I used the polish to keep them looking tidy, so this is a big thumbs up from me. 

All in all, it was a wonderfully relaxing day and I'm already looking forward to my next visit to the spa. Yes, the treatments are pricey. At £48 in the week, and £52 on the weekend, I won't be heading to the Beauty Bar for my monthly manicure, but for a one-off treat or a gift to a loved one it's so worth it. The manor itself is beautiful, the staff are wonderful and it makes for the perfect pamper day out.

Lots of love. xoxo

* This was post was written in collaboration with 
The Celtic Manor as part of National Spa Week.