Showing posts with label lifestyle. Show all posts
Showing posts with label lifestyle. Show all posts

MY TOP 10 COMFORT TV SHOWS

Saturday

Let me start off by telling you what a comfort series is and why I'm writing about it. A comfort series is a series that you watch over and over again because it brings you what? Comfort. You can have comfort films too, my comfort films seem to be Disney films a lot of the time because I watch them a lot to make me feel happy.


Why do we watch comfort series' over and over?


Television in living room with bojack horseman

Watching a series over and over usually brings us comfort because it brings an element of predictability to our lives, especially at times that are unpredictable in our lives. For example, when the pandemic first hit, I took comfort in watching old series that I love because it brought stability in a time when I didn't know what was going to happen. Not to mention the lack of Covid in the series distracted me from the Covid in real life.


We can always rely on our favourite TV shows to bring us comfort, laughs, and even cries when we need them most.

Related: 30 things to do before I'm 30

There are probably a lot of psychological reasons why we find comfort in watching TV shows over and over but for me, I just feel like I can't beat my favourites.


I am ALWAYS trying to find new TV shows that compare (I don't always watch old ones), and it is very rare that I find any that make me feel the way my favourites do.


My top 10 comfort series


1. Gossip Girl

2. Pretty Little Liars

3. Desperate Housewives

4. 9-1-1

5. Glee

6. Waterloo Road

7. Peep Show

8. Blue Planet (or pretty much anything David Attenborough)

9. Hannah Montana (yes I am 23 but this one is for my inner child)

10. RuPaul's Drag Race

If you are judging me, I know at least one of your comfort series is probably on this list too!!
What are your top comfort shows?

THE STRUGGLES OF BLOGGING IN 2022: THE LOW DOWN

Does anyone actually read blogs anymore? Well, you are reading this right now, so the answer must be yes but the truth is, it can be difficult to get people to read your blog.


I have heard a lot of people saying that nobody reads blogs anymore, even Amira from Gogglebox said it in an episode not too long ago.


My opinion on blogging is still a big thing is mixed. However, I do love writing my blog posts so either way, I am going to keep writing them.


Laptop at desk next to plant


The rise of video content


For me, it feels like a lot of people get their entertainment on social media through watching videos on TikTok and Instagram reels at the moment rather than reading through a whole blog post.


I really like making video content as well as writing my blogs, so I have been doing both to stay relevant online and to just make things that I enjoy making. 


If you are a blogger who struggles with reader numbers but want to make a big impression online, I do think video content like this can reach a lot of new people organically.


I feel like with blogging, you have to put a LOT of effort into making it SEO friendly so that people can find your blogs through searching on Google. Also, a lot of my readership comes from sharing my blog posts on social media anyway.


Advantages of blogging


There are a lot of bloggers out there that are really successful at the moment and I think a lot of people don't realise the success you can make for yourself blogging.


Some bloggers I follow, have left full-time jobs to pursue blogging, and they can make thousands a month by doing freelance blog work. Paid opportunities include paid blog posts, affiliate marketing (which is adding links to your blog and getting a commission whenever anyone purchases something through your link), creating digital products to sell, and many more.


Although people may come to the conclusion that people don't read blogs anymore, the ways to make money online are definitely on the rise, so for this reason I would say blogging is still very much a thing.


Don't give up


If you are an avid blogger and love doing it - don't give up! I have to admit, since the world has started opening up more since Covid, I have been getting a lot fewer reads on my blog. I am not taking this as a negative though because I would much rather everyone be able to go out and do stuff than being stuck in reading my blog!


This also makes me more appreciative of the readership I have now, and even though the reads on my blog posts have declined a little, I am still getting exciting opportunities and growing my social media following.


My advice would definitely be to stay current and keep up to date with new platforms that come your way, but if you really enjoy doing something, there is no need to stop just because there are new things coming.


What are your thoughts on blogging in 2022?

THE ULTIMATE FOODIE GUIDE TO SALISBURY

Disclaimer: Some of the restaurants I have tried have been from a PR invite, but all opinions are my own. I have a put an asterisk* next to the ones that were a PR invite.

So a few years ago, I did actually write a blog post about where my favourite places to eat in and around Salisbury were, but I thought I could do it even bigger and better now. A lot of new places have opened since then, and I have also tried a lot of new places since then.


Also, I wrote that at a time when I didn't like Salisbury as much as I do now. When I was at uni I was so anti-Salisbury because I much preferred Bournemouth (where I went to uni) I still do prefer Bournemouth because I love the beach, but I have learned to appreciate my home city more.


If you didn't know, I live kind of near Salisbury but not really that close. I am about a 25-minute drive but because it is my closest city and I live in the middle of the countryside, I just say I'm from Salisbury.


I am making it my mission to try as many new things while I'm in my 20s as possible, that's why I have also written a list of restaurants I want to try in and around Salisbury, as well as showing you my favourite ones.


Anyway, enough about me - let's get onto the foodie info you really want to know! I have split them into categories of chains and independent restaurants in Salisbury. Then I have included some other faves that are worth driving to from Salisbury if you can.


Restaurants in Salisbury


Independent restaurants


Tinga*


tacos and quesadillas at tinga salisbury

passionfruit margharita cocktail at tinga salisbury

I have only been to Tinga once so far but had such an amazing experience at one of their bottomless brunch events. They have these events every few months and usually post these on their Instagram @tingasalisbury. 

I was a bit scared to try Tinga as I don't like spicy food but there were a lot of amazing non-spicy options. The cocktails were amazing, especially the passionfruit margarita, and my favourite thing on the menu was the steak and cheese quesadilla.

The portions at Tinga are small so you can try a lot of different plates, however, this can add up in £££. I would still say the plates are reasonably priced though. AND they have a lunch and early evening set menu if you want to try Tinga and save the cash.

Maul's 


cheese board at mauls cheese and wine bar salisbury

Maul's is Salisbury's one and only cheese and wine bar AKA one of my favourite places to go. They have a great selection of cheeses and wines and the staff are so friendly and knowledgeable about it all.

Maul's is great for date night with your friends or partner. If you are in Salisbury and haven't been to Maul's yet, what are you doing? (I will let you off if you can't eat cheese).

Reeve The Baker


Reeve's is a childhood classic for me. There are 2 in Salisbury, a small one with just takeaway, and a bigger one on Butcher Row with takeaway and sit in upstairs. They also have Reeve's in Amesbury, Wilton, Warminster, Ringwood (and probably a few more places).

I am not sure if it's because I grew up with Reeve's but it genuinely is my favourite bakery and if you're in Salisbury - you MUST try it.

Pizza Venti*


salisbury foodie pizza at pizza venti salisbury

Pizza Venti is the best pizza in Salisbury (sorry Nole I love you too). When I was first invited to Pizza Venti, I was able to see straight away that the owners really care about the quality of the pizza they're making.

Not only that, but they are always helping the local community and giving to charity. I would go as far as saying Pizza Venti is up there with the best pizza this side of Naples. 

If you are lucky enough to live in the centre of Salisbury, you can get Pizza Venti delivered. But, sitting in the restaurant gives it that homely family feel. I am already thinking about my next pizza!

Nole Pizza


Nole pizza

I do love Nole Pizza too, I feel like I need to try their pizza again to make a fair judgement on which is the best pizza in Salisbury as the pizza I got from Nole last time had blue cheese on it which I didn't like. This is my fault I should have asked for it without.

Nole has one restaurant in the centre of Salisbury, but they also do their pizza at a couple of pubs around Salisbury such as the Dog and Gun in Netheravon and The Pembroke Arms in Wilton.

If you get the chance please try Pizza Venti and Nole and make your own mind up which is the best pizza in Salisbury because it is a huge debate.

The Salisbury Orangery


full english breakfast and avocado on toast at the salisbury orangery

I was wanting to try The Salisbury Orangery for ages and I finally managed to recently! I had a lovely Full English Breakfast, however, I am really fussy on fry ups, they have to be perfect for me. Basically, I have such great ones at home that I need them to match that when I go out and my breakfast didn't quite but I'd still recommend The Orangery.

I feel like I need to try something else next time. The building it's in is really nice and it's in a lovely part of Salisbury. Definitely worth a try for brunch.

Naked Bagel


Naked Bagel is a great place for breakfast or lunch and it's fairly central. If you are shopping around Salisbury and want to get a bite to eat for lunch and want to go somewhere independent (i.e not Pret or McDonald's) then Naked Bagel is worth a try.

I definitely prefer trying out new and independent places when going somewhere, although I do love Pret and McDonalds.

Chain restaurants


There are quite a lot of chain restaurants in Salisbury, some that I don't like as much, but I have included the below list as ones that you just can't go wrong with.

Cosy Club


cosy club burger

There are so many restaurants in Salisbury that I haven't tried yet and need to try, and somehow I always seem to go back to Cosy Club. I think it's just because it's so easy and it suits most people if you are going out with friends. Also if you are wanting cocktails and food then it's a winner, especially at happy hour.

They do a great brunch, good cocktails, tapas and good mains so you can't really go wrong.

Zizzi


carbonara at zizzi salisbury

Again, a classic Italian that you can't really go wrong with. I have never had a bad meal at any Zizzi, it is pretty safe and at a pretty good price too.

Cote Brasserie


beef bourginion cote brasserie salisbury

Now I have only recently tried the Cote in Salisbury, but I think Cote is my new favourite chain restaurant. I had the most amazing Beef Bourginion there a few weeks ago and I haven't been able to stop thinking about it since.

I am torn between wanting to try new restaurants and wanting to go back to Cote for every single meal I have out now.

Byron


byron burger

If you are in need of a good burger in Salisbury then Byron has got you covered. The price is good and I am pretty sure it is the main burger restaurant that Salisbury has (excluding Mcdonald's).

Wagamama


I don't actually like the stuff at Wagamama because I'm fussy, but I included it because I thought a lot of you would like it - you're welcome!

Restaurants a short drive from Salisbury


If you like good pub food, there are lots of great pubs hidden around south Wiltshire that you probably wouldn't hear of unless you are local.

The Boot Inn - Shipton Bellinger, 26 min drive from Salisbury


The Boot Inn is another classic I have grown up with. I have been for many birthday meals and Sunday roasts here with my family. They have quite an eclectic menu with different dishes from different cuisines. Their portion sizes are very generous too.

Piazza - Amesbury, 17 min drive from Salisbury


pasta from piazza amesbury

When I used to live in Amesbury we used to walk there a lot, sadly we don't live within walking distance anymore but it is still our closest Italian.

You just can't go wrong they have great pizza and pasta and their staff are really friendly too. It is probably the one and only 'nice' restaurant in Amesbury so it is definitely one to visit if you are there.

Rosebourne - Weyhill, 28 min drive from Salisbury


Rosebourne afternoon tea weyhill

Rosebourne is a big garden centre with a cafe near Weyhill, just off the A303 on the way to Andover. I love the whole experience of Rosebourne, having a look around the shop and getting something to eat too.

I have only had lunch and afternoon tea at Rosebourne, both are really nice. I would like to try their breakfast too, but it finishes at 11am and I am not normally up early enough.

The Crown Inn - Cholderton, 22 min drive from Salisbury


Roast dinner at the crown inn cholderton

The Crown is another out-of-the-way pub in the village of Cholderton that you probably wouldn't know about if you weren't local. It has recently been taken over by new management and has been super busy and of great quality ever since. Definitely worth booking if you go here.

My favourite thing I have had so far at The Crown is their beef roast dinner. Such a generous portion for only £12.50 and everything was amazing! Also, their seafood cocktail starter is another highlight - it's huge!

They also host a pub quiz once a month (I think it's on a Wednesday evening) where you have a curry and a quiz. The quiz questions are really hard, but luckily I went with intelligent people so we ended up coming third place and winning a bottle of rose.

Cholderton Farm Shop - Cholderton, 22 min drive from Salisbury


chickens at cholderton farm shop

Another hidden gem not too far from Salisbury is Cholderton Farm Shop. This food is breakfast and lunch stuff so mainly toasties, jacket potatoes and they have a full English too.

The actual farm shop itself is quite small, but they have a sheltered outdoor seating area. I love having brunch at the farm shop because you can sit there and watch chickens walking around while you eat.

I have heard of some other farm shops around Salisbury but haven't tried any others as of yet.

The Malet Arms - Newton Tony, 22 min drive from Salisbury


If you are looking for an old school pub in the middle of the countryside then The Malet has you covered. They have great local produce and they don't actually have a set menu. 

Their menu changes each day depending on what produce they have that day so you can tell it is fresh. Not great if you are fussy or have had your heart set on something you had the last time, but it is pretty much along the lines of typical pub food.

Places I want to try


The Chapter House - Salisbury

Boston Tea Party - Salisbury

Wafflemeister - Salisbury

Lalahan - Salisbury

Grillado - Salisbury

Allium - Salisbury

Haunch of Venison - Salisbury

The Wig and Quill - Salisbury

Southern Quarter - Amesbury, 19 min drive from Salisbury

The Greyhound Inn - Stockbridge, 25 min drive from Salisbury

The Hawk Inn - Amport, 33 min drive from Salisbury

Marco Pierre White Steakhouse - High Post, 12 min drive from Salisbury


And there we have my ultimate foodie guide to Salisbury. Once I have tried restaurants from the list above, I will add them to my recommendations if they are worthy.


There are a lot more restaurants in Salisbury that I have heard good things about but I am still quite fussy with food even though I am trying to be better. There are some Indian and Thai restaurants that I have heard good things about if that is your thing!

Related: Greyhound at Corfe Castle review

Have you tried any of these restaurants? Let me know which ones you like the sound of, or if you have some Salisbury recommendations I haven't put on this list.

ALPACA WALK EXPERIENCE WITH HENSTING ALPACAS

So for my mum's birthday in February, I got her two tickets for an alpaca walking experience with Hensting Alpacas near Eastleigh and luckily she chose me to go with her!


We went for the 2 people 1 alpaca experience which was probably better for photo-taking opportunities than one each. I did try to take some selfies with our alpaca but he flinched every time I got my phone out.


Our walk started at 10am, but we had to be there around 9:35 to be ready for the walk. The drive from our house took about 35 minutes which is quite good considering we are in the middle of nowhere so days out for us are usually an hour's drive.


The alpaca walk


Alpaca walk

The 'walk' lasted 2 hours but I say that in quotation marks as it wasn't a full-on walk for 2 hours, there was a lot of stopping.


First of all, we had a talk to learn a bit about the alpacas, then we all lined up and were introduced to our alpacas. You got the opportunity to walk an adult or a baby but because of the time of year, the babies seemed to be almost as big as the adults. They had both males and females but I believe they only offer walks with the males as they are much calmer, whereas the ladies seem to be a bit more feisty.


Our alpaca was called Ironwood and he was around 10-12 years old (their lifespan is around 15-20 years old so he was a bit of an oldie). As soon as we started walking with him, I was attached! I wanted to take him home, but did you know you are only allowed to keep 3 alpacas or more or they might die of loneliness?


Hensting alpacas


We then did a walk, stop, walk stop kind of walk. The first stop was for a feed which was great. Although Ironwood was a little more hungry than that, he kept stopping to eat the grass the whole way around.


Because we were sharing him, mum walked him halfway round and when it was time to turn back, I walked him for the second half.


When we first saw the alpacas I was a little nervous, just because I am used to walking with a tiny shih tzu and they were almost the same height as us so I didn't know what they'd be like. But they were all so calm and well-behaved - it was amazing


I would definitely recommend this experience to anyone. It was actually the first thing I have ticked off my 30 things to do before I'm 30 list.


After the walk, they gave us some more food and we were able to go into the alpaca pen and feed the girls. It was only fair as we fed the boys while we were out walking with them. 


I'm glad we walked the alpacas before going into the pen as it could have been a little scary with all these alpacas running at us for food, but because we were used to one by that point, we knew they were harmless. And once our food had gone, they left us alone.


Selfie with alpaca


Hensting Alpacas


All opinions on Hensting Alpacas are my own, and this was not a gifted experience - I just wanted to let you know about the great time I had!

An alpaca walk for 2 people with 1 alpaca shared between us was £39 which I think is quite reasonable. For 1 alpaca each, it was a little more.

They seemed to look after the alpacas really well and they give very clear instructions about how to handle them and walk them which I was really glad about. We knew exactly what we were doing with them so felt confident walking them.

Brown alpaca hampshire

They also give the opportunity to walk adults or babies. There were only a few people who had the babies and they were so cute! I'm not sure they can walk for as long though.

They have a little shop at the farm, and one portaloo but not really anything else. The shop mainly sold items made from alpaca wool.

At the shop, they have a leaflet that gets you 10% off at the garden centre which is close by, so mum and I had our lunch there afterward and a walk around.

Would I recommend this experience? 100%! I want to walk alpacas every weekend now.
Have you done an alpaca walking experience?

30 THINGS TO DO BEFORE I'M 30

I'm 23 ... well, nearly! 


I am posting this the day before my 23rd birthday so if you are reading this after 3rd April then I'm 23! I usually like to write blog posts about my birthdays, I think I wrote one in 2020 about having a lockdown birthday, then in 2021, I don't think I wrote one because I already had one lockdown birthday before that one, and didn't really have anything to say.


This year, I thought why not make a list of 30 things to do before I turn 30. Seems like a good time to start it as I have 7 years to complete it. I feel weird writing this as I started my blog when I was 17 and I do not feel as old as 23 but there we are. Factually, I am 23 but in my head, I am about 19.


After having 2 lockdown birthdays and spending the first couple of years in my 20s stuck in and being very restricted, it made me think that the rest of my 20s is not for wasting. However, it has also taught me to not be too hard on myself if I don't do everything on this list because there are so many things that could affect it.


Anyway, in my 30 before 30 list, I have included lots of things I have always wanted to do, some things I am a bit scared to try, and some things I feel like everyone has to do at some point.


It's only really fun things as I didn't want to include anything serious like getting married or buying a house because sometimes life goes in weird directions and I don't want to put pressure on myself for serious things like that - that can be for later maybe, well after I'm 30.


I did struggle to come up with 30 things at first, so I turned to Instagram and asked people what they thought. A lot of people said to add skydive which I have not added. I know that is a bucket list item for many people but I just feel like I won't do that so why set myself up for failure?


There are a few ambitious things on this list, but mostly I wanted to include stuff I actually will do so when I do turn 30, I can look back and hopefully have done most, if not all of the list. 


I also remembered that I can do lots of additional bucket list-worthy stuff if I eventually do decide I want to, I am not just limited to the things on the list.


So here we go! I will be updating this page accordingly, ticking off each thing that I do so keep up to date and bookmark it if you are interested.


Girl in a dress holding a glass of wine

30 things to do before turning 30


1. Travel to Asia


I have always wanted to go but couldn't decide on a country so I just picked the whole of Asia to be safe. My top choices at the moment would be Thailand, Bali, or Japan.


2. Cook a roast dinner


I have managed to go 23 years (including 3 at uni) without ever making a roast dinner. This is definitely something I need to do to get my imaginary certificate for adult life. Stay tuned for a pic of the most banging roast you have ever seen - it will probably be chicken.


3. Reach 10k followers on Instagram


Exceeding 10k followers on Instagram has always been a goal of mine. My goal for the end of this year is to get to 6000 so add 4k in 7 years that's not too unrealistic. Although, if Instagram is not a thing then anymore and there is something new I will change this line.


4. Get a tattoo


Only a tiny one, I hate pain and wouldn't want a huge one. Just a little one to say I've done it. Obviously of something nice.


5. Try a new cuisine


You may know I am really fussy with food and I find trying new food difficult but lately, I am making it my mission to try new things so I am going to try something from a cuisine I have never had before. Wish me luck!


6. Go to Disney World


This is probably my most unrealistic and ambitious goal but I really want to go to Disney World in Florida. Is it embarrassing to go to Disney World in your mid-late 20s? NO. I would just love to go and do the whole shabam with Universal as well. My only issue is I need to find someone to come with me!


7. Move out


Let's hope I move out before I'm 30 although in this economy, who knows?


8. Eat at a Michelin Star restaurant


Even though I am a fussy eater, I love food, and going out for meals and eating at a Michelin Star restaurant is just something I have to do.


9. Buy a designer handbag


I have only recently started becoming interested in designer bags and have always just bought random ones from Asos (or even Shein, don't come for me fashion gods) so I would love to treat myself with a timeless, designer bag. My only problem is I always like THE most expensive ones of all haha I am not going to be spending more than I earn in one month but definitely will splurge on the perfect bag one day.


10. Make new friends


First of all, I have to say I love the friends I have (don't hate me guys) but I would think there is probably something wrong if I haven't made any new friends at all between now and the time I'm 30.


11. Visit Lisbon


Such a pretty city that keeps coming up on my For You page on TikTok so why not include it?


12. Try sushi


I took my first step by trying Japanese food a few months ago. I tried Sashimi which is raw fish, so my next challenge is to try Maki, the more traditional sushi that you see rolled up with rice.

13. Night out in Manchester


I have never been to Manny so would love to go for a weekend.


14. Winter sea dip


It may not surprise you that I did not come up with this myself. This was a suggestion on my Instagram from my friend Skye. Then I thought, why not include one that is a bit horrible and scary? The rest are a bit too nice.


15. Visit Scotland


I have been to Wales and Ireland, and obviously I live in England so need to go to Scotland to complete it.


16. Watch Pulp Fiction


Yes, I still haven't seen it. At least if there are more pandemics between now and when I'm 30 I should get at least one of these.


17. Go on a solo trip


I am looking for Eat Pray Love vibes. I keep seeing people go on solo trips and having an amazing time. I just think this would be sooo good for my confidence. Don't get me wrong, I will be absolutely petrified to do this because I get anxious just going on a shopping trip by myself but once I have done that, I will feel so good, like I can do anything.


I will probably just go on a solo trip in the UK though, I am too scared to go abroad.


18. Read 100 books


This seems like loads but my reading goal for this year is 30 books so it's actually not that much if I do 30 books every year.


19. Visit Harry Potter Studios


This goal is secondary to Disney World, if I can't go there I will at least go to Harry Potter Studios.


20. Watch a musical in the West End


I absolutely love watching musicals, I have seen a few now in the Mayflower in Southampton but I have never been to see one on the West End.


21. Go to Pride


As an ally to the LGBTQ+ community, I have always wanted to go to Pride and celebrate the community and the history of LGBTQ+ people.


22. Visit Barcelona


OK, I have actually booked Barcelona for this year so maybe it's cheating? But I booked it after I wrote this list a few weeks ago!


23. Go to Bombay Sapphire Distillery


The Bombay Sapphire Gin Distillery is actually so close to where I live so I need to go!


24. Go to Notting Hill Carnival


Again, Notting Hill Carnival looks so much fun. (I am running out of reasoning as to why I want to do things this far down the list - can you tell?


25. Go on an Alpaca Walk ✔️


Alpaca walk

26. Take Joe to Longleat


I live about half an hour from Longleat and I went loads as a kid and I really want to take joe because we love animal things like the zoo and aquariums but we haven't got round to it yet. We will go!


27. Progress in my career


As I have pretty much only just started in my career I would hope to progress to a more senior role in the next seven years. At the moment I just need more experience so I will definitely have that as time goes on.


28. Buy a new car


I still currently have my first car that I bought when I was 17 so definitely deserve to get a new one at some point in the not too distant future.


29. Go on a skiing trip


I have actually been skiing but I went with school so it would be great to go as an adult and be able to stop at the pubs on the way down. Not too many though don't drink and ski!


30. Visit Brighton


I have never been to Brighton before and it's only about 2 hours from me. I've just always wanted to go!


And there we have it. Feel free to use any of these items to build your own list of things to do. It doesn't end there, there are loads more things I want to do than this but I suppose I can add them to the list of things to do before I die - don't have to do everything before I'm 30.


Have you done anything on my list?

GETTING STARTED WITH INSTAGRAM REELS

I finally feel qualified to write this as one of my reels reached 11.5k views so I am pretty impressed with that.

If you are an avid Instagram user like me, you will have seen many Instagram reels by now but I won't assume EVERYBODY knows a lot about them. Basically, reels are taking over Instagram now. Before, Instagram was all about sharing photo content but now, Instagram is pushing video content by allowing users to create short videos called reels, which are very similar to the videos we see on TikTok.

I have been having a lot of fun creating reels lately, and as you may be aware, I am always wanting to grow my Instagram and blog so I can reach more and more people with the content I love creating.

At the moment, any reel content I post gets more reach than my picture content, and now that I have gone viral (yes I am counting 11.5k views as viral), I thought I'd give you some tips on creating successful reels. To put this into context I currently have 4.7k followers at the time of writing this so either way I count reaching that many people as a success.

Disclaimer though, sometimes I feel like it is random which videos do go viral. I have seen some really pointless videos go viral that have taken no effort, whilst seeing other well-thought-out videos that you can tell people have worked really hard on getting fewer views.

So before we start, it's important to remember it is a learning experience, and sometimes Instagram can be cruel that way. I am still learning and am not an expert, I am just sharing why and how to get involved for beginners!


Person holding iphone

Steps to creating successful reels


1. Watch reels


Before creating any kind of Instagram reels, you need to watch them. This might seem a bit obvious but it's a fundamental step. By watching Reels, you can see what kind of things are coming up on your page and the kind of things that are going viral. You are also able to see trends in what people are posting and you will probably notice popular sounds that get put over reels.

2. Be confident and go for it


Once you have watched reels and thought, maybe I could give this a go - then go for it! If you want to grow on Instagram this is a great way to do it. I used to feel nervous about filming content while I'm out somewhere or would be worried that they would get no views, but once I stopped caring about things like that I started to have a lot of fun creating reels.

I will admit, I could post them a lot more and I hope to soon, so keep your eyes peeled for more video content from me on Instagram.

3. Make a list of reels you would like to create


If you want to be a regular reel creator on Instagram, it's probably important to list the ones you want to make and be organised with the content. You can do this by seeing what similar accounts to you are making, or just thinking of what represents you.

This step is my downfall at the moment. I usually just create reels at random and put together videos I take when I'm out. This is fine too.

4. Create saveable content


I always find points like this kind of ambiguous but what I mean by this is, create content people will want to save for later. At the moment, the more saves you get on an Instagram post the more likely your post is to get pushed to more people - they are way more valuable than likes as it stands.

So for example, if you are a foodie blogger and post a reel of a restaurant, people are probably likely to save this if they want to visit this restaurant. If you are a fashion blogger and post some summer outfit ideas, people will be likely to save this if they want outfit inspo.

The reel I posted that reached 11.5k views was of my time at Ballie Ballerson, a ball pit bar in London. As a lot of people want to try this place I got quite a few saves which could be a factor in the number of views.

5. Try to hop onto trends


When you are watching reels and see a trend that you might be able to hop on, then why not try it? For example, if you see a small business trend and you have a small business account - see if you can try joining in. 

Jumping onto a trend gives you a lot of potential to go viral because if you see a lot of videos in the same trend, it means that Instagram is clearly pushing videos that are trending.

6. Use trending sounds


When posting reels, you will notice you have the option to put music or sounds over your video. Similarly to trending videos, if you notice a sound going around your reel for you page, it is clear that Instagram is pushing reels with that sound so see if you can use it over one of your videos.

I usually try to use popular music for my reels, you will be able to see which music is most popular when posting.

Side note: If you are using original sound like you talking or a voice-over - apply subtitles. This makes your content accessible to more users. Also, a lot of people scroll past videos with no sound so this gives them a chance to read your captions.

7. Add text to your reel cover


The cover of your reel is something you can choose when uploading. You can either choose a part in the video or upload your own image. If you include a line of text on these, people will be able to read what your reel is about before choosing to watch.

For example, if you are reviewing a restaurant, you could write "McDonald's Salisbury Review" on the cover so it's easy for people to pick out from your profile or from their saved videos (hopefully). Also, McDonald's was the first thing that came to my mind - clearly, I need it.

8. Share your reel on your story


Did you know if you post a reel on your story, the views on that count as reel views? This way if someone is clicking through stories but not necessarily watching it on their home page, you will still get your reel across to them through stories. I do this every time I post one!

If you can, try tagging people who are likely to share your reel on their story too because views from their story also count as reel views. For example, if your reel is a restaurant review - tag the restaurant if you can as sharing it is good PR for them, and will help to increase your views and reach.

9. Trial and error


My first reel didn't get very many views and I could have easily given up and said that's not for me. However, you need to keep trying and seeing what works for you, it's definitely a learning process. 

Also, as I said earlier, sometimes Instagram can be cruel with what it pushes and what it doesn't. But hopefully, after following best practice (AKA the tips above) you should reach a good amount of people.

10. Be authentic


If you were wondering if I was going to end the tips with a cringe one then I hope you are satisfied. Yes, this is cliche and again, quite ambiguous but if you are not being yourself in your content and posting about stuff you are passionate about, what is the point? 

It can be easy to just want to create reels for marketing as they are good for reach but if you are inauthentic, it will really show to viewers and be reflected in your reach and engagement. You have to actually enjoy what you create and post meaningful content.
And there we have it. If you end up creating reels using these steps, let me know how it goes! If you have any tips for me that I haven't mentioned then I'd love to hear them - my goal is to beat 11.5k.

FLESH AND BUNS LONDON REVIEW

Visiting Flesh and Buns in Oxford Circus was a very big deal to me so I had to write about it. I am really fussy with food - you may know this if you have read my Being a Fussy Eater blog post. This was the first time I'd tried Japanese food or have been to a Japanese restaurant. 


Full disclaimer, my go-to cuisine is usually Italian but I am on a mission to venture out, especially when I visit London. I live in a place where the only Japanese food you can get is from Wagamama or Sushi in a Tesco meal deal.


Spoiler alert, I loved it here and this has opened me up to trying more new restaurants and trying more Japanese food.


I had seen Flesh and Buns reviewed on TikTok a lot and thought it would be the least scary place to try for Japanese food.


You might be thinking Flesh and Buns is a bit of a weird name, it's because their main thing is bao buns and meat, but they also have lots of small plates, sushi, and Poke Don bowls to choose from too. I am not sure if bao buns are technically Japanese. I believe they originated in China but they may have them in Japan too.


Just from walking into this restaurant, it felt very central London kind of posh vibes already so I knew we were in for a special meal just from walking in. Basically, the decor sets you up for the meal. We also sat right next to the lucky cat wall which I was excited about.


Lucky cat wall flesh and buns


The drinks


To drink, I got their signature cocktail, the Lucky Cat. I had to go for this one even though it was their most expensive cocktail. It came in a lucky cat cup with a sparkler. They definitely use this novelty cocktail to make money and it worked on me! I thought it tasted quite nice but if it was in a different glass and didn't come with a sparkler, who knows if I would have felt the same? I can't even remember what flavour it was, I was too excited by the presentation.


Lucky cat cocktail flesh and buns


Joe got Sake which he'd been wanting to try for a little while. He really liked it and I wasn't so sure when I gave it a try. It kind of just tasted somewhere between a strong white wine and a weak vodka to me, and I don't really like either of those things, but I'm glad I can say I've tried it.


The food


Now onto the main bit! First of all, we got some Seabass Sashimi to try which was so pretty and it was nothing like anything I have ever tasted before. It was amazing to try and I was so impressed with myself for liking it because I'm so fussy with food.


Seabass sashimi flesh and buns oxford circus


Second of all, we tried some of the small plates. I really wanted to try the beef fat potatoes as they looked so nice but sadly they had run out. Instead, I went for the corn tempura and Joe had chilli squid. The corn tempura was really nice, again, nothing like I'd had before but it got quite filling towards the end.


It was at this point I had to ask for a knife and fork as it turns out, I'm a bit of a chopper at using chopsticks. But I will keep trying! That was my first time so hopefully, I can become a pro soon.

Related: Gordon Ramsay bottomless street pizza review

For the main course, I had crispy duck leg with bao buns and Joe had the Chicken Teryaki Poke Don bowl. The bao bun and meat mains are quite expensive, it was just under £20 for my duck and you only get 2 buns and there other meat options that were closer to £30, but this is what I wanted to try. 


Crispy duck leg flesh and buns

Crispy duck bao bun flesh and buns

Chicken teryaki poke don flesh and buns


The Poke Don bowls are way cheaper and are around £12, so you can end up spending a lot here, or you can have a more budget-friendly meal.


And if that wasn't enough food, we both went for a dessert. I had the s'mores which came with a fire for you to roast your marshmallows on, and biscuits with chocolate. This was so messy but so good. I had to use a spoon in the end. Joe had a chocolate brownie with match ice cream that was also presented in a really impressive way.


Smores flesh and buns

Chocolate brownie flesh and buns


I can never normally fit in a pudding but the food was so light and not too filling I was able to have one.


The bill


Our bill for basically 4 courses and a drink each came to around £106 for two, including a 12.5% service charge, which I didn't mind paying because we had great service. Because this was in central London, I don't think that price was too bad for all that food. The beauty of this place is, you can get as many or little courses as you want and can end up spending loads, or you can spend less than we did.


Flesh and buns logo oxford circus


There are probably loads of restaurants similar to this around London that cost way less but it was a special meal and we loved trying new things here.


I would definitely recommend it here and can't fault anything.

Related: 7 fun things to do in Shoreditch

Will you be trying Flesh and Buns next time you're in Central London?

5 REASONS WHY BOOKS STILL MATTER

This is a guest post from Jamie at JamieAdStories.

I was really pleased to get the chance to write a guest post for the brilliant Wool of the King blog. After thinking about what I could discuss, I decided to explore why books are still very relevant and important in our modern world. 


Reading is a skill that is not readily available to thousands of people around the planet, so it is definitely worth celebrating and protecting. Books take many forms these days, but however you imbibe them, they provide education and entertainment for so many of us. In effect, books are the keys to other worlds and information; they provide inspiration, stimulation and make us think reflectively about our lives and the way we live them.


So, let me outline some of the reasons for my believing that books really do matter. The following suggestions are open for debate and I would welcome any thoughts on these in the comments below.


Books and plant on windowsill


1. Books are flexible


Although some people still think of books as printed papers that stem back to Victorian times and oily printing presses, we all know that books have changed with the times. These days, if you want to read a book electronically, you can lap up a story using a kindle reader or iPad. As well as this, audible versions of popular novels have helped to establish a big market for audiobooks.


When buying a book, you can choose how to access that text. For me, I still like to peruse a book shop and flick through the pages of freshly printed stories. But it is possible to get hold of a book right away if you find you cannot wait to get your hands on a physical version. Gone are the days of queueing up at midnight for the latest J.K. Rowling book. You can now download an ebook instantly, should that take your fancy.


2. Books are teachers


Yes, non-fiction books can open our minds to new nuggets of information – that goes without saying. However, fiction books teach us lots too. For instance, I have become interested in visiting certain parts of France, thanks to the novels of Joanne Harris (author of Chocolat). Many of my family are obsessed with crime dramas and, as a result, seem to think they know everything about courtrooms, having picked up lots of lingo from reading about detectives and hearings.


3. Reading is good for the brain


We all need to keep our brains busy so that they carry on working effectively. I am no scientist but I do know a dementia expert who says how important regular reading is in flexing the muscle and continuing to fire synapses. 


Reading expands our vocabulary, makes us think about contexts and storylines, and enables us to make connections with places we have been. Using our memories, we try to find settings we can recall which may help us to envisage a story location.


4. Books are social beings


Just like when you didn’t attend a party that all of your friends went to and you have a case of FOMO (fear of missing out), if others are talking about a new novel, you soon want to be a part of that conversation. Book groups and online forums are very popular these days and sharing thoughts about stories is widespread through blogs and podcasts.


I really enjoy engaging with other bloggers about particular books and often check out Booktube on YouTube where bloggers either ‘big up’ or rip apart new fiction. Personally, I only write about books that gripped me as less satisfying stories don’t hold my attention long enough to make me want to disrespect them. Not all books suit everyone, after all. But it is a reader’s market with so many genres and wonderful authors producing a wide range of stories.


5. Books make a difference


Over the years, books have played important parts in history. These days books provide the inspiration for TV shows and movies, as well as theatre plays. Books have encouraged social change and influenced revolutions. Even today, when a biography comes out about someone famous, the newspapers flock and people start talking about the issues that arise from it.


Books are relevant as they open minds, challenge perceptions, and inspire people to use their imaginations. It is well known that writers get their ideas from other authors. The more you read, the better the ideas you come up with.

Related: Books I read in 2021

Summary


Hopefully, I have convinced you that reading books is still worthwhile and suits the modern world well. Books got me thinking as I grew up and later inspired me to have a go at writing fiction and reviewing books on my blog JamieAdStories. For a previous post about this, please check Why Reading Is Important.


Thanks so much to Lauren for enabling me to write on her lovely blog. I love being able to share my passion for books with everybody and hope you will share your thoughts on the article.

GORDON RAMSAY BOTTOMLESS STREET PIZZA REVIEW

Since I have been trying a lot more foodie places lately, I thought why not review some restaurants as blog posts? Although, I only decided to write a blog after the fact and didn't think to get lots of pictures.


The latest place I have been that I thought would be good to review is Gordon Ramsay Street Pizza in Battersea. There are a few locations across London, but we decided to go to the Battersea one as it was the closest to where Joe (my boyfriend) lives.


It is located around Battersea Power Station, near the new tube station and it seems like everything around there is new - I'm not sure though. There are loads of restaurants around there and they have Birdies mini-golf and bar, so we went there beforehand.


The pizza


Gordon ramsay bottomless street pizza

For Christmas, Joe's mum got us bottomless pizza for two at Gordon Ramsay Street Pizza, so we went there for a kind of Valentine's Day celebration. I love experience presents like this!


Our table was booked for around 6pm and as soon as we got there, we saw people walking around with the pizza. For the bottomless pizza, I believe it is £16pp for 2 hours of pizza, they do have a few sides too but the pizza was SO filling I didn't even look at the sides. Although we did get the garlic pesto dip which I would highly recommend!

As they are bringing round pizza so frequently, pretty much as soon as you sit down and order a drink you can start getting your pizza, on a slice by slice basis. For this reason, we got really full in about the first 20 minutes and couldn't even last the full 2 hours. So my advice would be to take your time.


For a drink, I had the special lemonade cocktail (I forget what it's called now) but it had vodka, limoncello and lemon and it was really tasty and refreshing. To be honest, the cocktails on the menu weren't really my thing, lots had elderflower so great if you like that but I don't really.

Related: Greyhound at Corfe Castle Review

There were five pizza flavours including the special which was nduja. Surprisingly the nduja special was actually my favourite as it wasn't spicy at all, but I found the pepperoni really spicy. The pizza itself was really good and it was a good thing it was really thin because it's more practical for fitting more slices in.


After the pizza though, I was the most full I'd been in ages. Did I have to secretly undo the button on my jeans and hide it with my scarf on my lap? Yes. I would NOT have been able to last the full 2 hours.


The service


The service was generally good although the waiters did forget things a couple of times, I think a few of them were new but that's ok. It was a busy Saturday and the main thing was the pizza - which was brought round VERY promptly.


Also, we were well looked after and were asked multiple times how everything was.


For sport lovers, they had football on in the background. Important information for dates if you want your football-mad partner to talk to you, maybe go on a day they don't have football on. Thank me later.


Overall rating


For the food, service and general ambience, I would give our experience an 8/10. Everything was great but would have given the extra two points for more pizza flavours and if the waiters hadn't forgotten to bring us our water.


I would definitely go there again and it was such a great gift for Christmas!

Related: 7 fun things to do in Shoreditch, London

Did you like this review? I am thinking of doing more as I try new restaurants and experiences.

MAKING FRIENDS AS AN ADULT: THE LOW DOWN

Sunday

Welcome to another post in my The Low Down series, where I give you the Low Down on important stuff.

I don't know about you but I feel like it seems to be harder to make friends as an adult. When you're at school or university, you kind of make friends with the people you see every day because you are all put into a situation together.


Since leaving uni, I have made a few new friends but it is a very different process. My friends from uni or childhood, I don't even remember how I made friends with them, we just have a friendship. So when I think of making new friends it's a bit more difficult.


Having said that, I feel like people as adults are way more accepting and open to new friendships, whereas school kids are kind of mean and form cliques. 


The girls having fun

Tips for making friends as an adult


1. Network online


Through blogging and Instagram, I have met some really great people. You can find people who you have a lot in common with and it is a lot easier to approach people online too.


Obviously, making friends online can be dangerous with catfishing etc, so please be careful in doing this.


In Salisbury, there is a group called the Salisbury Social on Instagram where anyone is welcome to join social events including book clubs, drinks and more. Groups like this are great if you have moved to a new area and you want to make new friends because you're all in the same boat. 


Does your city have a group like this? If not, why not start one?

Related: Friendships: The Low Down

2. Put yourself out there


This is such a cringe piece of advice that I hear all the time but it's true. In order to make new friends as an adult, you really do need to be confident enough to put yourself out there and reach out to people. This can be really daunting, but the more you do it, the easier it will become.

Ask your work colleagues if they want to meet up after work, message people online to meet (safely of course) just do it without worrying too much.

A lot of people have a fear of rejection, but the only way to get over that fear is to face it head-on and think, what is the worst that can happen if someone doesn't want to meet up with me or be friends with me?

If that does happen and you do end up being ghosted or rejected, then that is just a sign that you aren't meant to be friends with that person and they probably aren't worth your time.

3. Don't be desperate


Not trying to be savage with this one, what I really mean is evaluate the reason you are looking for friends. Be careful and selective with who you choose to be friends with because it's important to surround yourself with people who make you feel good about yourself, rather than making friends for the sake of it.

I guess I'm just saying make sure you make friends that make you happy and if you end up meeting people who don't that's ok. The only way to find out if you will like someone or not is to actually get to know them first.

You may find that you have tried to become friends with someone and they have completely different views to you, or maybe they don't make you feel quite as good about yourself as they should. It doesn't mean you are stuck there.

As difficult as it can be to make friends as an adult sometimes, it's definitely way easier to lose them too (if you feel you need to).

At this age, I'm definitely way more selective about who I spend my time with. Especially because I am so busy with work and everything now, my free time is very precious and I usually try to spend it wisely with people who make me feel good.
How have you found making friends as an adult?

RUPAUL'S DRAG RACE UK SEASON 2 TOUR REVIEW

Saturday

Wow, that is a long title! When I was telling people I was going it was such a mouthful too. Either way, I had such a great time that I had to tell you about it.


If you haven't watched RuPaul's Drag Race UK yet then what are you waiting for? You can watch it here on BBC IPlayer.


If you are unaware of what Drag Race is completely, then it is a group of drag queens who compete in challenges and someone goes home every week until they crown a winner. There are many seasons in many countries so if you haven't watched any, do it!


A fun fact about me is that I wrote a 10,000 word dissertation on the representations in RuPaul's Drag Race for my final year of university (and got a first which I tell anyone, any chance I get).


Ruapuls drag race uk season 2
Image from the BBC.


A bit of background information about the event


So, this was my second ever drag show. My first was seeing Lawrence Chaney perform in DYMK in Bournemouth, who is incidentally the winner of Drag Race UK Season 2, so I got to see them perform again.

The event was held at the Pavillion in Bournemouth and lasted from around 8pm until 10pm (ish). I went with my friend Kitty who asked me if I wanted to go around a month before. I didn't even realise they were touring so the tickets we got were resale ones at about £65, so they were a bit more expensive than the ones that went on sale the first time around but I was happy to pay that as I love most of the queens that were on season 2 and wanted to see them live.

The queens


Every queen that was a contestant on season 2 performed at the show except Awhora, who had injured her knee a few days prior.

The queens who performed were as follows but in no particular order: Astina Mandella, Tia Kofi, Joe Black, Ginny Lemon, Cherry Valentine, Veronica Green, Ellie Diamond, Sister Sister, Tayce, Bimini Bon Boulash and Lawrence Chaney.

At the beginning, the queens all walked out and performed a lip-sync, giving us a bit of a taster of what they were going to be doing in the show.

After that, each of the queens performed one by one. Their performances mainly consisted of lip syncs, dancing and some singing.

I have to say each performance was iconic in it's own way. The only one I wasn't too sure of was Ellie Diamond dressing up as The Cat in the Hat. It was funny and I wasn't expecting to see The Cat in the Hat, but it just wasn't overly drag for me.

Even though I didn't like her too much in her season, I thought Veronica Green put on an outstanding performance. She can sing, dance and do it all and I want to wear her outfit on my birthday.

Another person I kind of slept on in her season was Cherry Valentine. After watching her documentary Cherry Valentine: Gypsy Queen and Proud, I felt like I got to know her way more, and when she performed it was amazing! I just don't remember seeing that on the show, I guess it just goes to show that they maybe give more air time to some queens over others. Her hips DID NOT lie.

My favourite acts


For me, the best acts of the night were Bimini Bon Boulash, Lawrence Chaney, and Tayce. Are you surprised?

First of all, let's talk about Lawrence Chaney. I had already seen them perform so was wondering if it was kind of going to be the same as that but it was so different. On her season, Lawrence admitted to not really being a dancer, but she is so good at entertaining the crowd and so creative! I love Lawrence, one of my favourite drag queens of all time.

When Tayce came out in a high fashion robot suit, I knew we were in for a treat. I did not know what to expect with Tayce, she always looks amazing but it was hard to tell what her performance would be like. 

I feel like I can't even explain it, she just came out and the whole time we were wowed and could not stop watching. But in the background, there was some sort of weird futuristic robo porn going on. Was it weird? Yes. Was it iconic? Also yes.

Finally, we have Bimini, one of the most talented drag queens out there. She really can do anything. Firstly, the visuals coming up on the screen behind her were stunning. She also had a pole that she was climbing up and doing all sorts of things on. At one point I was scared she was going to fall off.

She really is the bendiest bitch in all of East London and she was serving us kind of 90s grunge realness at the same time.

At the end


Towards the end of the show, each of the queens came out in pairs with the person they had lip-synced against in the bottom two of show and Bimini was wearing the biggest heels I've ever seen.

Then, they all performed a routine together and came out and took a bow as you do on stage.

We honestly had so much fun and I can't wait to see more drag shows. 

I also made an Instagram Reel video of some of the queens performing so please watch that here. Sometimes you have to see it for yourself.