8th August 2019No Comments

Plastic Free July – There’s more than meets the eye

I'm quite a few days beyond July, but wanted to wrap up with some thoughts on Plastic Free July and beyond. There's definitely more to it and lots of layers, so wanted to share that with you. Some rambling thoughts, so let's get to it shall we?

Plastic is for sure a massive problem in our world. It pollutes our oceans, water systems, food and is one of the biggest nuisances the world has ever had. BUT - it's just one part of an overall web. Everything is connected in some way or another.

You can't support plastic free living without thinking about sustainability. For example how our food is grown and how we consume, to then thinking about carbon footprint (hello meat and dairy industry), to then ethics. How people in the supply chain are treated and animal welfare, how transparent is the production? Oh so many questions.

As we all become increasingly aware of the various environmental and sustainability issues in the world we live in, we try to learn and do our bit right? The first thing to realise, is that being completely plastic free or zero waste is actually impossible in the current linear economy and way of living. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't try - do what you can whenever possible.

For so long, big corporates have got away with keeping their production processes a secret so allowing them to keep standards low and mark ups high. What we don't know won't hurt us right? But what about when it's micro plastics in fish or chemicals in the water we drink? Those are things we know to be true now. Netflix has some pretty special documentaries about the meat and dairy industry and food so definitely worth a watch to swot up.

Luckily as consumers we hold a lot of power in how we buy and how much we put pressure on brands and companies to clean up their act. The more we become aware of our habits, spending and educate ourselves, the more they have to change. Change in society sure takes its time but it can happen. With this in mind, you might have seen lots of brands pop up with a solution - reusables, ethically made fashion, plastic free alternatives. It's pretty amazing that individuals have taken it upon themselves to create a solution to help people buy better and change habits.

So why haven't we changed as quickly as the solutions have become available? Well, here's where things get messy... Societal change is a big shift that needs to take place which involves both individuals and big organisations to be on the same page. On one hand, we should keep piling on the pressure so that big corporations have to change. But the majority of the population are none the wiser about the problems or solutions because these ideas aren't so freely available everywhere. Or publicised.

On the other hand, the big corporations need to fix their consumption and ways of production to stop hurting both people and planet. But guess what? That's the more expensive and cumbersome way. For too long, it's been about having the most speed and cost efficient way to make something. The disregard for Earth's materials and thinking that human kind is more important is part of the reason we are in this mess. So in short, it comes down to money, money, money. Profit is the name of the game at any cost. Quite literally.

By covering up production processes and material sourcing, we've never thought twice about it and neither are these things ever talked about or shared. Until you dig deeper and educate yourself. This is also why the mass majority of people don't question it. Here's where another layer called privilege is added. By me being able to talk about these issues, address them and provide solutions is for sure a privilege. There's been some articles and writing around the zero waste movement being quite a privileged thing and I have to agree to some extent.

The knowledge is freely available if you've gone out to make a change yourself and become part of the bubble. But what about those that are limited to their lifestyle or don't have access to the same things both material and financial? How can we make it so we can spread the awareness? For some, there's certain health conditions that limit the types of food they can eat, disability can limit consumption or mobility, so sometimes it's not an option to go plastic free. Living a low impact lifestyle doesn't have to be expensive, you do what you can that's all. The small changes often make the biggest difference.

I've seen another side to the various movements with a lot of shaming around not doing 'enough' or having flaws in the way you consume or share your views. But the truth is no solution is perfect, no one knows everything there is to know and neither does everyone have the access to things that ensure the perfect zero waste, low impact life. So what I mean to say, is that we should most definitely try, but not feel bad for when we can't get it all right.

Aside from educating ourselves on the problems and their solutions, it's also about a mindset shift. We can take action by buying better, reusing and so on, but you might find that it takes a bit of getting used to. A bit like building a good habit, it's about training yourself and you will forget in the early stages - I know I did! From remembering to take your reusable cup and ordering your first pack of reusable wipes, to taking reusable bags to the food shop. We've been so used to one thing that it takes a bit of work to rewire ourselves! Just taking a second before making a decision can be all it takes.

Phew that was much longer than I had expected! These thoughts are all off the back of my own reading, education and hearing from others. I don't claim it to be perfect or right, but this is my understanding. I'd love to hear if you have any thoughts, comments or questions!

11th December 2018No Comments

When giving goes beyond just a nice gesture

Giving is the ultimate nice thing to do and it seems everyone feels a bit more generous at this time of year especially. It should really apply all year round, but that's a conversation for another day I think! Whether you're giving a physical item or your time and attention, they still mean something. What if you could go even further and know that your gift does good for more than one person?

Buying from businesses that support communities and groups of people has proven to be possible, through the social enterprise business model and when other brands provide the opportunities for them to have a voice. One of these places are Edge and Company. A newly launched online shop, they're all about giving back in some way which stems from the people who make their products, through to its customers that can buy knowing they're giving back too.

Milly and Steve got in touch after following each other for a little while and they wanted me to experience the products they had on offer, so very very kindly gifted me a selection.  We have similar missions so it was match! There's been no obligation to share in a specific way or what I do with it, but I wanted to share some of the products and the goodness they spread.

All the products are a mix of businesses that I already know as well as some I don't which is exciting, plus they're all perfect additions to the home so is there any other excuse?!

The beauty is in the simplicity when you look closer at how each piece is made. There's no bells and whistles, unnecessary packaging or details that serve no purpose. Just pure, functional quality. Plus the low waste factor is a huge plus point. 

Just in my gift selection, there are already five communities and organisations being supported! You can learn more about some of them here and on the product pages if you're having a browse. 

There will be all the cosy vibes for me this winter; I've lived in my slippers since I've had them, enjoyed a hot cup of tea with my husband and basked in the warm glow of the candles. There's no better feeling knowing that something I have helps another life flourish. Now that's some radical giving.

You can see more at edgeandcompany.com or follow on Facebook and Instagram


All the items seen here were very kindly gifted by Milly and Steve at Edge and Company. All the thoughts shared here are my own and I would never promote a business I don't believe in. 

1st September 2018No Comments

Oslo: Small and mighty

Oslo. What can I say? This city is a special place, because it’s still very young and has so much potential. Lots of regeneration and energy is transforming this city so I’m excited to see its progress. On our short trip here, it rained pretty much every day with one of the days having torrential rain! Not so different from London then…

Oslo is mainly renowned for the Nobel Peace Prize and most recently the Freedom Forum. So lots about humanity and helping others. We got the chance to make our way around and see a bit of old and new Oslo and I have to say we really loved it.

To See

Operahuset Oslo — In other words the Opera house. This was like the Southbank Centre but much bigger and all about the design of the building. Both the inside and the outside of the building can be used — the inside for Ballet and Opera in a clean and contemporary setting with the roof providing amazing views of the city from all angles. We met with someone who led the project of redesigning it several years ago and they explained the thinking behind it all. The design came from the essence of being on a journey, so you can walk all around the roof of the building and have a different experience from each point which will of course be different to someone else. A truly phenomenal place even if it was raining!

Ekebergparken — The national park overlooking the city. Like the other Scandinavian cities we had to explore the outdoors. Ekebergparken was literally on the edge of the city and was a really nice trail to walk around, with lots of sculptures and contemporary art hidden along the path ways. We had the smell of wet woodland at twilight hour and it was really nice. Lots of runners and evening walkers.

Nobel Peace Centre — Of course we had to visit! This world renowned award has a house for all of its beliefs and achievements so I was extra excited to visit. Funnily enough, they had a temporary exhibition on about something that I feel heavily about: Refugees and displacement. Lots of video, photography and installations that reflected their stories and feelings about being torn from home which was actually quite emotional. The history of the Nobel Peace Prize and all that had won it was eye opening to the amazing people and their efforts to better the world. Truly amazing.

Sognsvann — As usual we went on our hunt for the beautiful outdoors that Scandinavia is so known for. It was rainy and drizzly and we’d already got soaked the day before so had to psych ourselves up for another wet day. A place very popular with runners, it’s a massive lake with lots of woodland around it and just a calm and serene view from all angles. There’s a few places dotted around for picnicking and bathing, so you can imagine how nice it is when it’s warm and sunny. Just a really nice outdoor place to walk, talk and get in the way of runners.

Holmenkollen Ski jump and Museum — We don’t ski, neither have we ever tried but we just decided to go and learn about it at the very least. The ski jump is a little bit outside the city by train and quite a hilly walk up so not the nicest thing on a drizzly day.

To Eat and Drink

Stock — This was a random find whilst out and about in the wind and rain. In Oslo, most places will stop serving food between a certain time to separate lunch and dinner and to prep for the evening. We managed to catch this place serving just in time and so glad! I don’t remember anything I ate apart from the Fish soup. It was literally mind-blowing — bite sized pieces of white fish, prawns, squid and mussels in a light soup. It was so fresh and wholesome, just what we needed after being wind chapped! They also do great gin cocktails.

Restaurant Eik — This little place was right around the corner to where we were staying another small plates type of place. The menu changes weekly along with the wine selection that can be paired with each meal. We went for a good mix of food and each was put together really well and equally well presented. We asked a lot about the wine pairings and the lady looking after us was really knowledgeable about which regions the wine was sourced and why it complemented that particular dish. The restaurant was buzzing and quietened as the evening went on, but the overall ambience felt like we were in a slightly modernised restaurant scene from a 90s film.

Fuglen — Breakfast was normally the time to visit specialist coffee places and Fuglen was no exception. A long and thin coffee shop with dark, glossy wood interiors and golden lighting features. It had a classical feel but still contemporary in its design. Of course a strong coffee and cinnamon bun, we were good to go!

Tim Wendelboe — This micro-roastery houses a small coffee shop that serves up specialist coffees and that’s it. You choose coffee by what kind of flavours you like and then how you’d like it made. Their wholesale business is run out of this small space and all coffees are available buy by the bag. Serious coffee at its finest.

Mathallen — Food halls are clearly a thing so we visited this one down the road to Tim Wendelboe. It’s a good 15–20 minute walk so maybe down the road is an understatement. Lots of choice here so we went for Nordic fish and chips, dumplings and gelato to finish off. If you’re a foodie this is yet another haven to try!

Baker Nordby — We kept walking past this place every day and stared at the cakes and pastries in the window. When we did go in we went full throttle and got three whole pastries. Sugar fiends much? Coffee was good, pastries even better. We found it was quite a popular lunch place for nearby office workers for toasted sandwiches and coffee.

Grand Cafe — We came to this place the day before and they were fully booked so booked for the next evening. The food was vary similar to Restaurant Eik in that they served up small plates with unusual combinations of ingredients. The presentation was also similar but a bit more quirky, with a side coming in a tiny saucepan, bread and butter in a wooden box and cutlery stacked neatly in a special holder. We got talking to the lady looking after us who turned out be a Scotswoman living in Oslo with her Norwegian husband. She gave us a really honest insight into life in Norway and how it differed from the U.K — let’s just say she’s glad to be in Oslo!

General tips and experiences

Opening times — Most places stop serving food by 10pm so it’s quite hard to find food that’s fresh and healthy after this time. That’s not to say they’re not open, they just don’t serve food.

People — Again this is a diverse city but maybe not as much as Stockholm and Copenhagen yet. There’s a shared love of the outdoors and quite a homely feeling about everyone we interacted with. The city in general isn’t crowded at all, with most streets free of cars by 8 or 9pm!

The City in general — Oslo feels like a young city in the middle of change and innovation with lots of energy. Yet it has a global status through the Nobel Peace prize and most recently the Freedom Forum.

1st September 2018No Comments

Copenhagen: The great Danes

The next journey was to Sweden’s neighbours and long term rivals — Denmark. Stockholm is the larger city of the two, but Copenhagen still packed a punch!

Whilst the Danes are included under Scandinavia, it’s not their design that comes to mind. Most recently their claim to fame has been for the idea of ‘Hygge’, aka ‘that warm fuzzy feeling.’ I also remember my mum buying those blue tins with the biscuits in cupcake cases when I was a kid — they were the ‘posh’ biscuits that came out when we had guests over. Anyone remember those? No? Anyway, here’s some of what we saw, ate and drank in Copenhagen!

To See

Tivoli Gardens — Never seen anything like this! The gardens house a massive vintage amusement park with rides, game booths, food stalls and restaurants. There’s a lot of different events from children’s dance performances to even Parkour! You could easily spend a few hours here just on the rides and games.

Copenhagen Contemporary — Museum of modern art that is monumental in size and overlooks the waterside. With that much space it was no surprise to see huge works by Anselm Kiefer. There were also a variety of installations by some well known names in the art world. It was just a really pleasant experience to be able to walk around in such a large, well-designed space.

Louisiana — This is probably most similar to Artipelag in Stockholm where it’s a contemporary art centre situated outside of the city. There is lots to see here and each room leads you on to the next, taking you around the entire building. We saw an extensive exhibition of work by south african artist, William Kentridge amongst others. Again we explored the outdoor area with lots of green and the water close by. A really nice place to take in some art, have some lunch and chill by the waterside.

Christiana — Also known as ‘Free town’, this part of the city sits almost on its own little island. We were in awe of this place because it operates as its own town, without any relation or interference from Danish government. The town is made up of a mix of homemade houses, workshops, organic eateries, and art galleries. Everyone just lives there free, no cars are allowed and you can walk around and end up in someones back yard, but they’re not bothered by it. Not only that, the smoking or selling of the green stuff is illegal in Denmark but completely legal in Christiania so you literally have a load of little stalls selling it in the centre! Christiania is somewhere you’ll never forget.

To Eat and Drink

DOP — Hipster hotdogs is the best I can describe these! It’s like a traditional burger van visually but really well designed and branded. Lots of options of sides and hotdog types to choose from, including a tofu hotdog or pickled veg with mash as a side. Great as a snack to refuel whilst window shopping!

Gorrilla — We booked for dinner and there’s lots I can say about this place. The restaurant is situated in what I can only describe is an old industrial area that’s got a mix of cool restaurants and cafés and Cash and Carrys. They’re all single glazed windows and doors, with neon signs, wood and plants everywhere. Wish I took more photos! The food here is all small plates that have a down to earth feel about them. Well put together, with a good wine list.

Mad & Kaffee (Food & Coffee) — It was recommended to us so we rocked up late morning in steady rain and it was bursting at the seams. Full inside and queues outside. Once we finally made it in, it was very cosy and of course the coffee was amazing. Brunch is served slightly differently — you tick the separate bits and pieces you’d like from breads and pastries to vegetables and cakes. Everything comes on a chopping board in various little bowls or just on the board, so you just go for it however you like! Great place but not so sure about the queues.

Prolog Coffee — We had a brief stop here for breakfast and loved the workshop vibe. Just real simple wooden interior, makeshift shelves and old school stools and tables. It’s quite small and is perfectly slotted in, sharing space with a company that makes some pretty cool terrariums. Great specialist artisan coffee with a simple pastry did the trick.

Coffee Collective — There were a couple of these in the city and went to the one in Godthåbsvej. This branch has a micro roastery taking up one side of the shop with the rest made into an open plan café with some nice brunch food. Great place to work from or catch up on emails from. There’s something homely about it that makes you just want to spend a few hours there.

Geist — Oh where do I start. This was a real treat for us and it didn’t disappoint! The atmosphere and decor was moody — black doorways, coves and stairs, with dark neutral walls and a touch of black marble. The light further added to the drama. A lit bit on the bougie side but what the hell. So the food, the food, the food. Literally art from the way it was served on the plate to how the ingredients were used to add shape and colour. Really simple dishes with only a few ingredients but damn they were good. Oh and the wine list is extensive so you have plenty to choose from.

Copenhagen Street Food — Just next door to the modern art museum is a massive Street food market housed inside with an extensive outdoor area. It was a sunny day and heaving with people but the vibe was good. Everyone was just out socialising and enjoying the food and drink. There’s literally every type of cuisine topped with a few bars across the market. We tried a little of a few types of food but my favourite has to be a place called Latienda, serving vegan latino food — plaintain chips with a choice of three burgers that were packed with flavour!

General tips and experiences

G0Boat — If you want to see the city by water, you have the option to rent a little solar powered motor boat to drive yourself around a route on the main canal. There’s a table in the centre so lots of groups were taking their own food and drinks on to have dinner and socialise. It works out to approximately £50 for an hour which is plenty of time to make it round.

Illhums Borghus — This is basically the Liberty of Copenhagen and feels quite traditional but contemporary at the same time. This is also where I found a HAY Design pop up to obsess over and lots of amazing design to be see.

People — We ended up being in Copenhagen on a Danish Bank Holiday (Can’t remember the exact name!) and we got to see the Danes in their true colours. They’re lively, like to have fun and a bit friendlier than the Swedes (Sorry Stockholm). Again we saw diversity with lots of different cultures living and working in the city.

Global events — Copenhagen is the host city for the Copenhagen Fashion Summit that addresses issues about Sustainability in the Fashion industry. It’s got bigger and bigger as interest grows.

Copenhagen has lots to offer and this is just a snippet of our time there!

31st August 2018No Comments

Stockholm: It’s not all meatballs!

Only 6 months in to 2017 and me and the husband had already done a lot of travelling around. Whilst I’m no travel blogger, I’d like to share the experiences through my eyes of places we’ve seen, food we’ve eaten and coffee we drank. So I bring you — Stockholm!

Scandinavia has long been the epitome of minimal, contemporary design that just oozes cool. Stockholm is known for its pared back style with clean lines. They just know what they’re doing. Period. Sweden to me brings images of snowy treetops, oversize scarves and all black ensembles. Stockholm in May however was completely different — but still amazing. Its down to earth and well designed as you’d imagine, just with better coffee and amazing architecture. But here’s lowdown of what we got up to…

To See
Fotografiska — Photography exhibition space that’s known for having some high profile names exhibit there. We caught two exhibitions on our visit; One about the role of Horses through history, their symbolism and importance. Followed by work from artists Cooper and Gorfer, who blur the lines between photography and painting with their ethereal portraits. Using actual people they meet as their muses, they tell their stories in the most unique ways.

Moderna Museet — As the name suggests, museum of contemporary art. The biggest exhibition was on artist and designer, Josef Frank. A retrospective look at his work throughout his career from architecture and furniture design to textile design and paintings. A great place to enjoy the space as well as grab a snack in the outdoor garden.

Artipelag — This was a random find and is accessed by bus just outside the main city. But it was so worth it! Whilst this is a contemporary cultural centre that showcases all kinds of design, we mainly went for the building itself and its surroundings. The clean lines and angles with floor to ceiling windows and brightness we a stark contrast to its surroundings of lush woodland. We just had to go and explore so had a little hike around the entire area before settling on an area right next to the water. It was pure bliss.

Kulturhuset Stadsteatern— The best way to explain this is that it’s the equivalent of the Southbank Centre but with more art. You can find the latest in Art, Design, Dance and Literature to peruse at your leisure. Plus there’s a shopping centre kind of attached to it so you can always go shopping. We caught a small exhibition on the ‘dark side’ of nature — death, symbolism, war. It was different take on things with a mix of fashion, video and art.

To Eat and Drink

Hermans — A great Vegan/Vegetarian buffet place that came highly rated, so we rocked up in the peak of lunchtime and it was pretty packed but we braved it anyway. After climbing some rocky steps we made it to a canteen style area with a load of outdoor seating a few steps down (a load of school benches in rows) and a small buffet room with everything from salads and pastas to noodles and curries. With an ‘All you can eat’ policy, what’s not to love?

Johan and Nyström — This is basically the Starbucks of Sweden but with WAY better coffee. Specialist and artisan but commercial at the same time. There’s lots of these shops around but the one went to had indoor seating all based in the windowsills with cushions and lots of light. The blends have quirky names and sold in beans or can be ground — I bought Bourbon Jungle, dark roasted and a blend of African and South American beans ‘cos I like mine stroooong. Plus they’re all about the Fair trade and sustainability so all round a good’un.

AtSix — I originally booked in advance after doing some searching around whilst planning our trip and we had no idea until we got there, that this hotel had just recently been inaugurated! ‘Tipsy Tea’ is a boozy take on the traditional Afternoon Tea that serves up cocktails infused with tea, with all your usual trimmings. But — even the nibbles are inventive. A milky, coconut rum shot in a ‘glass’ made of chocolate biscuit, blue (literally) raspberry macaroons and homemade nutella.

Hobo Hotel — This is right next door to AtSix and couldn’t be more different. Sustainability and looking after the environment is a key ideal in Sweden and Hobo uphold this at every level. There’s even an urban garden in the lobby that grows herbs that are used in the dishes and cocktails. Plus a seriously good RnB selection.

Aifur — Now whilst we try not to have meat in our diet daily, we do allow ourselves if some dishes come highly recommended. Plus, YOLO right? Aifur is one of the only restaurants that cook up meals from the Viking era. They really set the scene from low candle lighting and faux hide covering the seats, to the staff wearing traditional attire and a horn blown to indicate your arrival to the rest of the restaurant. Yes — it got announced to everyone that we had arrived and where we’d come from with a round of applause. Meat heavy menu but some seriously good stuff — Honey roasted dwarf chicken, Rack of Lamb ribs and the Charcuterie style tasting board are a must!

SMAK — With SMAK translating to ‘Taste’, the menu is unique in that they don’t go by start, main and dessert. Instead they go by flavour — Chilli, Hazelnut, Garlic, Coriander with those flavours being dominant in each but paired with other things. ‘Elderflower’ for example, was grilled chicken and pointed cabbage with a herby, elderflower soup and elderflower jelly. You choose between 3–7 small plates both savoury and sweet — definitely worth it.

Meatballs for the People — In the trendy SoFo area (Southern area of Södermalm) we popped in for a quick lunch with a Swedish classic. Far from the IKEA offering, Meatballs for the People use organic meats and aim to use local produce as much as possible. There’s even a map telling you where everything is sourced from across Sweden. In true hipster style, everything is repurposed and relaxed with cutlery on tables and free crispbread and butter. We went for the classic meatballs with mash and gravy plus a meatball salad for good measure and it was YUM. Great place to walk in for a quick but filling lunch.

Chokladkoppen — In the old town, this little place overlooked the square, nestled between other equally small and cute cafés and restaurants. I saw raving reviews about their Hot Chocolate so naturally, had to try. The classic hot chocolate came in a massive cup the size of a small bowl — a lot of hot chocolate but oh so good! But this is in keeping with the Swedish tradition of ‘Fika’ (explained below). This will easily serve as a dessert or afternoon snack in itself, you don’t even need the vast amount of pastries they also serve there!

General tips and experiences

Fika — This is a Swedish tradition to go for coffee and cake, definitely my kind of vibe! So it’s more to explain the act of going than a physical object of that makes sense.

People — We naturally interacted with lots of people everywhere we went and found the city to be more divers than we thought and saw there’s a few different cultures residing in Stockholm. We spoke to a few that aren’t native to Sweden and one point that kept coming up is how the Swedes aren’t the most friendly or open and so they’ve found it difficult to make friends, find work or generally meet people.

Mosebacke Design district — All things art and design can be found in the western side of Södermalm. This was recently named and founded as part of Stockholm Design week and you’ll find lots of local designers and makers with studios or shops here. Everything from vintage records and furniture design, to a trendy pizza and beer spot and product design can be found here — true Swedish design.

Sustainability — This is something that seems to be ingrained in society and practised through everything the Swedes do. Nothing is wasted, everything is about looking after the environment and is instilled from a young age. Anything recyclable, sustainable and eco-friendly is a thumbs up here.

So there you have it — all the best highlights from our trip to Stockholm!

8th August 2018No Comments

10 reasons why travel is nothing but good for you

What do you think of when I say travelling? Is it images of far flung places of paradise? Young backpackers across Asia? Living humbly for 6 months in printed harem pants and flip flops? It can be all of those things but so much more. In the last two years me and my husband have travelled quite extensively, alongside full-time jobs for most of it but we did it in shorter, more frequent stints. We travel intentionally after knowing the transformation that can take place, no matter how long you’re away.

When I say travel, I mean exploration, curiosity and not necessarily the conventional idea of a ‘holiday’. I have guides on Copenhagen, Stockholm and Oslo over on medium if you fancy a read, but here’s ten reasons why travel of all kinds is nothing but good for you!

1. Inspiration

A change of place triggers so many new feelings and ideas and you will always come back with an abundance of inspiration. Sometimes whilst you’re exploring somewhere new, solutions to a problem can come to you, or the beginnings of something exciting can start to bubble. Either way, something is unlocked just by changing the space you’re in.

2. Perspective

Taking in a new city and people-watching you realise how big the world is and how small you are. You have all these things going on in your life but yet, here are thousands of others potentially feeling the same or living it totally differently to you. In Scandinavia for example, sustainability and environmental responsibility is a deeply ingrained value. Whereas in the UK this is still growing.

3. Personal development

No matter how long you’re away for, there’s always something you have the challenge of; learning a few words in the native language or navigating your way to the nearest supermarket. These seemingly little things are what push growth each time you do it. Taking the time to learn about the history of a place can help you understand the culture, and its reason for being.

4. Connection

If like us, curiosity gets the better of you, you can learn so much from a short conversation, with the guy making your coffee for example. It gives you an insight into how other people live and what factors might have shaped their life. Just by asking for recommendations on somewhere to eat or a gallery to visit, you’ll almost always get more than that. We got so many little snippets of how Norwegians live, just by talking to our waitress at dinner one evening.

5. Prioritisation

If you go on short trips quite regularly, look at the items you take with you every time, as well as the things you start to leave behind. I noticed I always packed the same three trousers and two pairs of shoes on every trip we took. But I started to leave behind a lot of jewellery and extra makeup. Packing more minimally really takes out the stress of all the extra clothes and accessories you know you won’t use, plus it clears the space for any goodies you want to bring back with you!

Scottish coast, Gifford

Rialto Bridge_Venice

6. Memories + Stories

Without sounding cheesy, this is the most priceless part of travel. For so many of us, our dream is to be able to see the world. The people you both travel with and meet, the smells and feelings in a particular place are all what you end up remembering the most. These memories stay with you forever.

7. Food

Food has such a deep meaning amongst all cultures and can speak more about people and history that a lot of other elements can’t. Again, by being curious and understanding how a dish is made or why there are certain flavours used, you learn so much. We found when we asked about food on a menu, most people are actually quite proud explaining the reasons behind them.

8. Finding yourself

Do you find yourself going out of your way to do something different when you go away? We do too. Similar to personal growth, doing something new in a new place can spark a sense of evaluation within yourself. Recently, after going on a tour of some wild beaches and caves in the Algarve, all by kayak, I started to feel more confident with my ability of navigating deep water and my overall sense of taking risks.

9. Gratitude

Travel has really opened my eyes to how lucky I am to have seen different parts of the world we live in. Every time I see a beautiful landscape or a city from a high viewpoint, I feel so grateful to be there at that moment in time. For some, regular travel isn’t an option or easy to do, so it’s an even sweeter experience when you do finally get to be somewhere else.

10. Anxiety + Stress

When we’ve been away in an intense period, being forced to step back from it has done wonders for anxiety. When you’re in transit there’s a limit on what you can do, especially if your Wifi connection is bad. So you’re forced to take a pause, do something else. You want to make the most of your new surroundings, so it doesn’t leave much room for anxiety.

All this goodness from travel, there’s a whole world to see and one life to do it in! (Next port of call is to see how to do it more sustainably)

On the steps in Venice

3rd August 2018No Comments

A round up of thoughts on Plastic Free July

So July has been an interesting one hasn’t it? We’ve had an actual summer this year, to the point of having to do rain dances to bring some moisture back, the World cup and.. #PlasticFreeJuly. As I continually tweaking my lifestyle to be more mindful so joining in was a natural next step. However, it did throw up some thoughts and realisations as you’ll see…

It requires a bit of planning

After looking at my daily habits I knew coffee and water were absolutely something I needed to sort, so a Keepcup and Bobble were in my bag at all times. But, on the days where I was going to be out all day, I had to plan ahead to see whether I could eat lunch out or had to pick something up on the go. Our weekly grocery shop had a full overhaul too; we split our shop between three places to eliminate plastic which was a struggle to say the least

It’s not easy when travelling

We were away in Portugal for nearly two weeks so we took our coffee cups, bobble and steel straws which really helped keep us in check! Unfortunately, any supermarkets we went into, everything was covered in some kind of plastic packaging. Apart from the fruit and some veg. But anything that needed to last in hot weather was in some kind of plastic.

You will be on autopilot one day!

It wasn’t perfect every day and yes, I did end up with something plastic a couple of times. There were days I didn’t prepare in advance and found myself having to grab something in between meetings or appointments. Or I didn’t have time for breakfast and was starving and needed something quick before hangry set in. Sometimes it just wasn’t avoidable.

There’s not enough alternatives – yet

The beginnings of plastic alternatives like recycled outer packagings or compostable plastics are being introduced (Teapigs use one to package their teabags in). Lots of new materials are being developed that are biodegradable, but like anything new and different, it’ll be a while until it’s adopted into mainstream industries.

Convenience is a working progress

Finding plastic free products daily, generally hasn’t been too pressing until it came to replacing things around the house like foil, sandwich bags, laundry items. Local supermarkets or grocery stores didn’t readily have these, so I had to go on a hunt for them separately. It wasn’t ideal in busy periods when we didn’t have time to go and physically buy them from the handful of places we found. Convenience is still something that needs to be worked on, but I’m sure it’ll be come easier as the demand grows.

Take action no matter how small

One of the biggest things I realised, is that taking action and making even a small change will make a difference. I’m not sure why, but there seems to feel like a need to have an overnight change in our habits, but changing a behaviour takes time. Especially on a mass scale. Through education we can all make choices daily to lessen our impact.

There’s still plastic in my life

I’m far from waste free and still have products that are plastic, especially beauty products from my days in the industry. It’s just not practical for me to just throw things out – they’ll still end up in the same place whether I use them or not. Instead, I’ve taken the approach to do things bit by bit and use them all up, then replace with better choices as I go along.

This is a much bigger issue

The more I’m investing myself in altering my habits, the more I read and see that this is so much more than me. We’ve all seen the distressing videos of a sea of plastic, but we also see local supermarkets still receiving plastic bags. The production doesn’t seem to be slowing down and it poses the question – what exactly needs to happen for a lasting change? What part of the chain needs to be broken for it to be better?

22nd June 2018No Comments

Buy something you love and support refugees

This post nearly didn't get published... Had a moment of doubt where I was second-guessing my written work, whether I'd gathered enough, is this good enough quality and so on. But later thought that I should share these brands and my work regardless. So without further ado, here are four brands that are all small businesses and support refugees.

Aerende

If minimal, well-made and beautiful homewares are your thing, then you'll love Aerende. From handmade bowls and cups to chopping boards and towels, everything is made by those facing social challenges in the UK. In particular, the linen tea towels, napkins and some cushions are all made by refugee women. Enabling them to gain skills for further employment, these items are lovingly made from home and then become part of yours. When you order, everything is packaged in recycled or biodegradable materials even down to the stickers! So you know you're making an impact in more than one way.

Nemi Teas

Britain loves a good cup of tea doesn't it? Apart from me unfortunately, I'm a hardcore coffee drinker. However, when rarely in the mood I do like Indian Chai. Nemi teas employ refugees to run tea stalls in London. Through selling chai they boost their English, confidence and skills to enter the UK job market. They've popped up at many events, conferences and markets but you can also buy their selection of tea blends and syrups on the website. Complete with biodegradable teabags.

 
Images: from respective websites

Mazí Mas

Describing themselves as a roaming restaurant, Mazí Mas cater to events, food pop-ups and kitchen residencies. Rooted in tradition, food is cooked with soul and inspired by the many cultures found in modern London. They provide training and employment to women, some of which are refugees, in the food industry. The women all come from different countries and with them they bring their own take on how meals are cooked and shared. To experience this at home, you can buy their spice blends on the website.

Help Refugees

As a young charity, Help Refugees have already caused quite a stir. Their pop-up in London last Christmas (2017) was a huge hit. You could go in to buy products like any other shop, but this time you could choose to buy various items that would support refugees at different parts of their journey. For example, I bought a children's jacket, blanket and a pack of meal ingredients. They pledged to donate the exact items you buy and ensure they get to the various check points they work with overseas. I already wrote about it here and the shop lives on online but so does their t-shirt that has been all over the internet. The 'Choose Love' t-shirt is currently stocked on ASOS.


Image: Help Refugees website

So there you have a few brands you can buy practical, everyday items from, whilst knowing your making an impact on the lives of others. I'm certain there's more businesses supporting refugees like this, so do let me know if you come across them. In the meantime, happy conscious shopping!

(Banner image: Own content)

13th June 2018No Comments

5 things I learnt from goal setting

You've probably heard the key to success, or at least part of it is to set goals. As I went freelance this year, I knew I needed to keep organised and have something to work towards. So I invested in a journal to track my progress in the form of the Best Self journal. There's a tonne of productivity and goal setting planners on the market but I just happened to pick this one to have a go.

Best Self is set out over 13 weeks to work on shorter term goals and really detailed down to daily timings, weekly schedules and even helps you build in good habits. This kind of in-depth detail was new to me so I wanted to see how well I got on. It was intense but here's 5 things I learnt from setting goals.

1. Clarity on my goals and achievements

Having to write down at least two main goals with 3 progress goals for each, really made me think about the most important steps I needed to take to achieve them. Setting them out like this gave me more manageable actions to spread out across the coming weeks.

2. Tracking my progress is motivating

Although the initial groundwork took a bit of time, the journal encourages you to reflect on the week gone and what could be improved before planning the week ahead. My daily habits like meditation and fitness were being tracked too so the more I did them the more I wanted to carry on.

3. Feeling guilty when I slipped up

There were a few days throughout this time that I wasn't as productive or didn't complete my target of going to the gym that week. This made me feel terrible that I'd been doing so well and I'd not achieved the thing that week. This feeling was probably a self inflicted pressure to be honest and that on top of all the productive people I was seeing on social media smashing it.

setting goals

4. Getting better with managing time

Having reflected on the weeks where I felt I could have done better, I looked at my time management. There were definitely some parts of the day that I wasn't being realistic about like travel times and allowing for a proper break in the day. I was also taking too long completing certain tasks and I had to assess whether I should allow less time or speed up. It didn't help that procrastination played a part too!

5. Life doesn't work like clockwork

Having silly expectations of myself and how much I can achieve in a day or a week were one thing. I realised that it's ok to 'slip up' and not be 100% productive all of the time. I'm only human and I also have a life to live and enjoy. I know that's easier said than done when you're still trying to find your feet in the freelance life! Something small like a walk in the park, reading a book or going to an exhibition is all it takes to refresh.

How do you set your goals and what tools have you found effective for you? I'd love to know! Drop me a line or DM me.

18th April 2018No Comments

How to make change from your kitchen

Do you like to know the origin of the products you buy? Is how they’re made just as important as if they’ll work? This applies especially to the objects you use at home in your daily life. Now you can be sure you’re buying well AND have something beautiful with Aerende.

After discovering the brand on Instagram (where else?), I found their first popup in London and hotfooted it down there. Speaking with the founder Emily she described it perfectly — ‘A department store for impactful homewares’. It brings together brands and projects that all have a social mission. Total genius idea to be honest and so glad it exists.

Coming from the old English word meaning ‘care’ or ‘message’, Aerende is a social enterprise that sources pieces for the home, all lovingly handmade by makers across the UK facing social challenges.

Not only this, Aerende supports ethical business practice, sustainability and combined with support for smaller makers, each item has an impact well beyond your dining table.

I’ve built up a little collection now and absolutely love that each piece tells a story, has helped someone and is made to last. Just through my bowl, cups, chopping board and tea towel, there’s three communities being strengthened.

Ceramics — The Camphill Village trust provides employment for those with learning disabilities and other special needs to enable them to live meaningful lives. The cups and bowl were designed and made by them, with each piece having its own imperfectly perfect details.

Chopping board — Fruitful Woods is a social enterprise giving support to those with mental health issues through local forestry work and managing woodlands, but also transform surplus wood into functional items like my chopping board.

Tea Towel — The Refugee council support female refugees and those seeking asylum, providing advice and opportunities to gain life and practical skills in the UK. They do this through various projects like making tea towels and napkins for Aerende. They’re made at home whilst learning a new skill and giving them a better chance of getting a job.

If that doesn’t give you the warm and fuzzy and drive to buy mindfully, I don’t know what will! There’s so many businesses that both meet consumer demand AND give back to others without compromising their quality or integrity.

So next time you’re window shopping whether physically or digitally, take a closer look at brands and their values to see if they align with yours. Take the time to find out more, you’ll be surprised.