ALPACA WALK EXPERIENCE WITH HENSTING ALPACAS

Saturday

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?

48 HOURS IN CARDIFF

Wednesday

I have recently turned 23 and it was my first birthday out of lockdown where I could actually go away and do something since my 20th birthday. I spent both my 21st and 22nd birthdays at home so I really wanted to go away somewhere this year and I chose Cardiff!

Getting to Cardiff


One of the reasons I chose Cardiff was that it is only a 2-hour drive from me, and I had to travel back on my actual birthday so I didn't want to be driving for too long. Also, I had been before very briefly for some work experience so got to see a bit of Cardiff, but obviously, I was working so not as much as I'd like.

The drive from mine was so easy, it was just through to the other side of Wiltshire then the M4 straight to Cardiff. There was no traffic and it did only take 2 hours like it said on the sat nav.

We got there at around 1pm on the Friday and left at around 10am on the Sunday (ok not sure if that equates to 48 hours but it makes a good blog title). 

I also got a little too excited driving over the bridge into Wales - made my Gavin and Stacy-loving brain happy.

Activities in Cardiff


So first of all, we did some shopping. If you have been to Cardiff, you will know that the St David's shopping centre is absolutely huge so I thought we could have a look around some shops. Especially because they had a lot of shops that I don't have anywhere near me living in the countryside of Wiltshire. Sadly, I didn't really like anything though.

A lot of what we did was go for food which I will write about separately because it deserves its own section in this post. 

After checking into the hotel, we went back out and had some cocktails in Be at One before dinner.

Cardiff castle

The next day, we went to Cardiff Market and had a look around. We also went to Cardiff Castle, then walked around Bute Park which is absolutely huge and lovely for a nice walk. There were loads of cute dogs there out for walks so I was happy.

We then got on a boat from Bute Park to Cardiff Bay and learned about some history.

Later on, we met my friend Siobhan who lives in Newport, and had a catch up which was lovely! Then we went for some food and drinks. I went to Cardiff with my boyfriend Joe, I forgot to mention that part.

Cardiff food


If you are a foodie, then this is the part of the blog you will be most interested in. Before going anywhere, I like to look at foodie bloggers in the area and look for the best places to try. It was difficult to choose because I'd seen so many recommendations I would love to try.

Day 1 food


On day one for lunch, we tried Shake Shack in the St David's Centre. We wanted something quick and easy and neither of us had tried it before. I got a cheeseburger with caramelised shallots, cheese fries and a strawberry and lime lemonade. The drink and fries were amazing, the fries did get sickly for me after a while though and the burger was good but I have had better.

Shake shack cardiff meal

For dinner, we went to Viva Brazil, an all-you-can-eat Brazillian Rodizio. Basically loads of different types of meat come round and you have a card that you can either put on green for go or red for stop. It's safe to say me and Joe were so full and had to go back to the hotel after this to lie down. It was so good though, just don't make any plans after.

Day 2 food


On day 2 we got pizza for lunch at Cardiff Market from Ffwrnes Pizza which was incredible. I had seen this recommended on Instagram and I just had to try it as I love pizza so much. I would definitely recommend this place, it is upstairs in Cardiff Market.

Ffwrnes pizza cardiff

For dinner, we went to The Corner House pub which is in the centre of Cardiff by all the shops and it was posh pub food, one of my faves! I had a bacon chicken and brie pie and mash and Joe has seafood linguine.

Pie and mash the corner house cardiff


Day 3 food


Day 3 was actually my birthday as well as our going home day so we booked in for breakfast at The Ivy. It was my first time visiting The Ivy and I absolutely loved it. The breakfast and service were fab and even the toilets were impressive!

The ivy breakfast cardiff

Thoughts on Cardiff


I did really enjoy our time in Cardiff and I like how they have got great shopping, bars, and restaurants. If you go to the strip of bars in Cardiff, it is hen and stag do central so I feel like next time I go should be for a full-on night out.
It is definitely worth a visit, especially if you are not too far from Cardiff like me.

Have you visited Cardiff?

30 THINGS TO DO BEFORE I'M 30

Saturday

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. Watch a Liverpool game at Anfield


I'm not the biggest football fan but I do support Liverpool, as does most of the rest of my family and I just want to go and watch a Liverpool game at Anfield at least once to join in the fun.


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✔️


I tried Thai food! Turns out I’m a big fan of Pad Thai.


Pad thai giggling squid


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✔️


Park guell gaudi house


I went to Barcelona in September 2022 and absolutely loved it!


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✔️


I have been promoted from a coordinator to a Digital Communications Officer!


28. Buy a new car✔️


Grey volkswagen polo

I bought my new car in June 2022, my second car. She's called Paris the Polo. The car I had before this was my first car since passing my driving test so this is a big flex for me.


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.