Sunday, 19 August 2018

Dear Past Loves

Dear Past Loves
After reading Caroline Flack's feature in August Cosmopolitan, I was so inspired and thought it was about time I wrote open letters to the loves I've found, lessons I've learnt and experiences I've had along the way.h

Dear First Crush Weren't you just the sweetest. I'm pretty sure we'd never spoken before but between classes one day, you caught my eye and I spent my whole science lesson talking about you. Fast forward a few weeks and in true twelve-year-old style, my friend asked your friend if you'd go out with me. The summer holiday soon followed and we spent almost everyday hanging out with friends and rope swinging into the river. When my parents told me we were heading to Devon for a couple of days, I was devastated at the thought of leaving you for a weekend with just £5 credit left on my phone. We dated for a couple of months afterwards until some kids in school thought they'd interfere. They teased us for dating each other just because they could and eventually it ended when people deliberately told us that the other wanted to break up. Neither of us knew that it was a lie they'd made up and despite me hoping we'd remain friends afterwards, you never said another word to me. I still think you thought it was me that wanted to end things, not just mean kids who stepped in between us. It was fairly dramatic considering we were so young but it's so nice to see that you're happy now we've grown up and I certainly learnt about kids I didn't want to associate with.

Dear Not So Nice A classic case of someone I hope to never see again. You made me feel absolutely terrible on a daily basis. You were 18, working and rented your own place, I was 16, sitting my GCSE's with just my pocket money to fund the 60 minute bus ride to you. You constantly compared me to other girls you knew and made me feel bad for leaving on your day off because I had an exam to sit. You never showed compassion or empathy towards me but if I were to say one thing 'out of line', you'd ghost me for weeks. Looking back, I don't quite know how or why I even continued to date you but back then, I guess having a boyfriend was cool and crying myself to sleep at night seemed normal. I've never been happier than the day I finally plucked up the courage to tell you I never wanted to see you again and though your little chuckle down the phone suggested I would be back one day, I'm so glad to say that I never was. 

Dear Ready For A Baby We met bizarrely through a bartender I'd gotten to know after far too many midweek wines.  My friend and I had planned on walking home but it started raining and you offered to give us a lift. Before I knew it, you'd asked the bartender for my number and it wasn't long before we were heading out on dates and spending weekends away. You were older than me though it never really felt like it and for the first time, in my life, I felt like I was in a real relationship. It was all so grown up, having dinner with your family and deciding which car to take out for a day in the countryside. At one point I really did see us going somewhere but after having 'the chat' a few months in, you told me that you were ready for a baby. I could completely see your perspective but at 18, it wasn't something I was ready or prepared to do for the sake of salvaging a relationship. After things ended I bumped into you in a club and though I was happy to see you, you weren't so pleased to see me - Being engaged and now a Dad suggested to me that you were in a good place but it still didn't stop you giving me shit for not wanting to have a baby just to make you happy. Though I could see a future with you, I'm glad that I walked away. 

Dear Older Guy We met in a bar one Tuesday night and though your friend wasn't shy about hitting on me, you and I hit it off right away. I was working as an admin apprentice and you were a pathologist 10 years older. On paper, you had it all worked out but the reality was so much different. A constant stream of nights out and ex-girlfriend drama coupled with an unhealthy drug habit meant that it was never going to work between us. Nevertheless we had fun and hung out for a few months - Just when I thought it was a waste of time, I learnt some valuable things from you, the biggest being how much I didn't want my life to pan out like yours. I'd never really thought of it until then but it was almost as if I'd learnt what not to do in life. I swore that at 30 I wouldn't be doing anything nearly as stupid as you but as far as I know, you're almost back on track. It's a long, hard road but I really hope you keep going.

Dear Never Going To Work Where do I begin with you? I honestly think I could write a novel. We met online, through mutual friends when I was 15, you were 17. You were the coolest guy I'd ever hung out with and though we were never officially dating, we saw each other almost every weekend. I quickly started liking the same music as you and bought my first leather jacket because you told me it would look good. Despite me thinking we could make it work, you always told me we couldn't be together - You thought I was too young and soon enough it came to an end. I was hung up on you for years and truthfully, you effected every relationship I had afterwards. Whenever you'd creep into my inbox, I'd jump at the chance to chat, hoping there was something there but you were quickly engaged to a woman 20 years older and married a year or so later. In 2016, despite receiving numerous emails claiming you'd made a mistake, I was in a happily committed relationship and so I swore I'd never speak to you again - Realistically after the ups, downs and heartache of it all, I just didn't need or want to hear it 6 years too late. In June this year and after hearing you were going through a tough time, I was mature and wanted to be there for you after initially having reservations. I never let my feelings for you come back but you did. It became clear from then on that we could never form any kind of relationship. 

From the moment I read Caroline's article I was inspired to explore the past loves of my own and the things each one of them have taught me. If you have 5 minutes, be sure to read her letters. I'd love to know if you recreate this post!


Wednesday, 15 August 2018

Why I Feel Like I Should Do More

Why I Feel Like I Should Do More
As millennials, we want to be busy. Rather, we want to appear busy to those on the receiving end of our Snapchats and those navigating our Instagram grids. We want to give the impression that our work life is hectic yet fulfilling and that our social calendars are thriving with midweek cocktails and weekend stay-cations. But what's the reality?

Of course, it's different for anyone but in my life my midweek mostly sees me getting home from work, making dinner with my other half and no doubt watching too many shows on Nat Geo. Occasionally I'll head the gym and once in a blue moon I'll head out for a midweek pint. Weekends are very much go with the flow and it's rare that we'll make plans in case opting to watch Toy Story with cheese and crackers seems more appealing. I live a pretty chill life and honestly, I have no complaints. 

Sure, everyone's life is different. Everyone has different hobbies/interests/commitments but sometimes, when my other half and I snuggle on the sofa, I can't help but feel like I should be doing something productive rather than bingeing through episodes of KUWTK. 

Don't get me wrong, I know that we only show our 'best bits' on social media and of course I'm going to see someone cooking dinner from scratch rather than ordering from Perfect Pizza after a shit day at the office but it doesn't take away that I, myself, am starting to feel obliged to be 'more busy'. 

There's of course two ends to the spectrum, the 'live each day like it's your last' and the 'screw it, I wanna Netflix and chill' but is there room to sit in the middle of that spectrum considering it's inevitably becoming 'cool' to be one or the other?

I wish I had an answer but truthfully, I don't. 


Monday, 13 August 2018

5 Points To Consider When Selling Your Skills

5 Points To Consider When Selling Your Skills
I don't know about you but the idea of having to sell myself terrifies me. Picture this, you're applying for a job that you know you're more than perfect for. Your skills match the description and your experience is second to none. Your personality fits the bill and though your potential boss has already read your CV, they want more - You need to sell yourself. Similarly in the blogging world, whether you want to pitch to a brand or another creator for a collaboration, your work can speak volumes but you need to go that extra mile - Again, you need to sell yourself. 

In theory it sounds easy but truthfully, it takes more than just a list of things you're good at. Couple that with the fact that us humans are hardwired to disagree with anything positive about us and we ourselves in a bit of a pickle. Having had to attempt to sell myself for various reasons over the past few months, I wanted to share the hints and tips I've taken into account. 

Be confident in your work You know yourself better than anyone so when talking about yourself, be confident in what you're saying. You want to tell whoever it may concern, why you're the best person for the job whether it's a promotion at work or a collaboration campaign. Using a phrase like 'I know I am..' is far more powerful than 'I think I am..'. As I mentioned, you know yourself and your work better than anyone else so only you can make judgement on your full potential.

Use a mix of examples Whether you're putting pen to paper, key to email or even face to face, you want to be armed with a range of examples. Previous work is key to showing what you've already accomplished but also noting your goals if you were to take on the project, shows initiative and forward thinking. Also, don't forget to utilise your skill set and show how they relate to what it is you'll be doing. 

Stay on point In my opinion, it's better to be short and impactful rather than detailing a 342 page novel. In the same way that your CV 'should' be on one page, when pitching to a brand or a potential employer, you want to keep them engaged while getting across everything you want to say. When discussing a new project at work I made a long list of everything I wanted to include, starred the most important and then worked everything into about 4 paragraphs with a summary at the end. I made sure there was no scroll bar on the email so that the recipient could have every word right in front of her without the need to start taking notes because it ran on too long.

Remind yourself why you're doing it If you're struggling to come up with reasons why you're the right fit, sit back and ask yourself if it's something you should be doing. Even if the flow doesn't come to you at first, if it's still not there when you come back to it a few days later, evaluate if it really is the best move for you. Going back to being confident, you want to be in it for the right reason  and that reason is, because you're the best person for the job. 

Don't be afraid of knock-backs What I try to keep in mind throughout processes like this is what's the worst that could happen? Sure, you apply for a promotion but someone beat you to it, it's probably  because they were a better fit the job. Similarly, when pitching to brands, if it doesn't work out, I know that at that moment I'm not right for it but next time I might be. It's difficult being rejected when you know you meet the criteria but more often than not, it's nothing personal, someone else was better suited and sometimes, that's a blessing in disguise. 

How do you deal with selling yourself or your skills whether it's for a job or within the blogging industry? Tips are always welcome!


Wednesday, 1 August 2018

Summer Glow Beauty Essentials

Summer Glow Beauty + Skincare Essentials
I'm all about that summer glow. I want to look good but natural and have myself wondering 'Wow, do I really look that fresh?' every time I look in the mirror. It's been an uphill struggle for me to find exactly what works for me but as I've mentioned time and time again, I'm committed to adding staples that I truly love to my regime to keep myself looking good as often as I can. 

When it comes to summer beauty, it's been hard for me to find the balance. Of course, I want to keep my face and body as fresh as possible and I want to look nice without having makeup melting off my face. One thing's for sure, since we've been graced with the glorious (and sometimes ridiculous) British summer time, gone are the days of heavy moisturiser and full coverage foundation, I'm finally allowing my skin to breathe but still look as healthy as it can. 

Before I went to Las Vegas, I reflected on a similar post I wrote last year and how my wants and needs have changed. My want isn't only for great makeup but for great skin to go underneath so this year I've switched it up and tested a few different products that have really hit the spot so much so, they're now essential to my daily regime. 

Dew The Hoola, Benefit Before we start breaking old habits, you should know that this is still a huge part of my summer makeup bag. It's brilliant for makeup and no makeup days and I don't I'll ever get tired of how effortlessly it blends into my skin. It adds the perfect flush of colour without the need to sit out in the sun or use fake tan. I'll definitely be using this right through to Autumn. 

Ready Steady Glow Daily AHA Tonic, REN Clean Skincare* If you've been following my skincare trials and tribulations, you'll know that exfoliating tonics have been a recent addition to my regime. I've been using this one from REN every evening and a few mornings and I can only scream about how it makes such a difference to my complexion. I often suffer from sensitive skin but I don't find any red patches after using this and don't experience any stinging during application. My makeup has applied so much smoother since using this and I can't wait to see what more it can do.

Instant Tan Finishing Gloss, St Tropez Fake tan maintenance has never been my thing, especially in the summer months, so this has been the perfect alternative. I caught the sun a little while I was away so adding this to my chest, shoulders and arms before heading out has been a great way to keep my skin looking dewy while adding a no fuss tint. It goes without saying that you need to wash it off of an evening to avoid the inevitable stained sheet fiasco but it's nothing a quick rinse can't  help with. 

AHA Smart Renewal Body Serum, REN Clean Skincare* Another product that has really changed the game for me is this body serum. It's a lotion consistency, smells absolutely incredible and I can't believe how light yet moisturising it is on my skin. Miraculously it makes my skin tone look more even and, like the tonic, I find it's kind to my sensitive skin which is bloomin' brilliant if you ask me. 

Glow Mon Amour Highlighting Drops, L'Oreal No summer makeup bag is complete without some highlighting drops. I mentioned these back in my L'Oreal No Makeup post and I still stand by the fact they're so versatile and that they still work wonderfully on my skin. Since the weather has been warmer I've been using them on their own or adding a very small drop to some CC cream before application. I didn't realise before but wow, when the sun hits them, they really shine. Such a good staple, highly recommend. 

The Beach Wave Mist, L'Oreal Although it's not strictly beauty, I'm mentioning this because it's been one of my favourite hair essentials to use over the past few months. In my post about styling short hair I touched on how this is one of the finest salt sprays I've tried and every time I use it, I'm fascinated by how it does such a great job without making my hair feel crap and crispy. It's such a lovely addition to my hair care routine and I actually get excited to use it whenever I feel like styling my hair.

I'd love to know what your favourite glow-to (yes, you read me right) products are for the summer season. Do you switch up your regime at all? What products do you swear by? 

Products marked with an * are PR samples. This post may contain affiliate links.

Wednesday, 18 July 2018

A Little Catch Up + Reflection

A Little Reflection + Catch Up
I'm not one for catch up/life update posts. I love reading them from fellow bloggers but when referring to myself, I've always wondered if they're something I really need to write. I actually have a draft sitting on my dashboard titled 'Should I Be Writing Catch Up Posts?' - Two weeks ago I would have shrugged and said 'Probably not' but when I had the sudden urge to write today, it seemed like a good place to start. 

So what've I been up to? In short, not a whole lot. 

It's been about three weeks since my last post and whilst I was super happy with it, it kind of left me in a bit of a flump. I was somewhere between working on my NVQ and holiday mode and though throughout that phase I'd planned on writing a few travel bits before I went away, I just felt bored by the idea. 

Stay with me. 

I love travel content, both creating and consuming, but there are so many posts out there talking about what to take in a carry on or airport routines etc that I just couldn't help but think how shit my version would be. Now, I'm in no way putting myself down but listing how I check in, ransack duty free and grab an obligatory airport pint, doesn't exactly make for great reading and I'm kind of at a stage where I want my content to be entertaining and useful, not just punched out because of an occasion/event. I feel similarly about posting my own Christmas content - Whilst I love reading through other bloggers Christmas dinner prep, I don't want to feel obliged to share my version containing an unhelpful tutorial on how to wrap presents, drink prosecco and let someone else do the cooking. You feel me? 

In terms of what is actually new, on Monday my other half and I returned from the Las Vegas trip I booked for her birthday. It was bloody fantastic and so unlike the two trips we'd taken there previously. We spent the week relaxing, drinking cocktails and eating some amazing food. We dabbled in a little gambling, hit the jackpot and fulfilled our Vegas dreams of hanging out in a  cabana all day. The week went fast and slow all at once and though I'm sad to be home, I'm looking forward to getting back into a routine.

On Monday I posted a photo on Instagram and the caption was something I've been wanting to mention for some time. I touched on how people comment that we visit Las Vegas so often however when someone revisits the same beach destination - Like my parents with Cyprus - No one bats and eyelid.. Very annoying and I can't understand the mentality of caring what other people are doing. I don't think it helps that Las Vegas has such a stigma attached to it but it's the kind of thing where just because it's not your thing, don't judge me or anyone else for liking it.

Moving on, I'm heading back to work tomorrow after basically two weeks off and I'm so excited to see my pals and catch up on what I've missed. Today I've got one more load of washing to do before heading into town to bank the dollars I managed to change back. Later on I'm heading out for food and a couple of drinks with a good friend but before that, I plan on updating my Las Vegas post with my recommendations from this trip - If that's your thing, make sure you take a look.

See, I envisioned this post being longer but really, that's all I had to fill you in on. How do you feel about catch up posts? Should they be long, short or just whatever floats the writers boat? I'm so torn.


Sunday, 24 June 2018

Styling Short Hair with L'Oreal Stylista

Styling Short Hair with L'Oreal Stylista
Believe it or not, I'm a hair care junkie. I've been around the aisles more times than I'd care to count, trying to find the best - and sometimes worst - products to tame my locks. I'd nailed a pretty good combination of shampoos and serums until very recently when I tried something new to me, the blunt bob. 

Whilst I've kept my shampoo, conditioner and dry shampoo staples the same, after the first chop, I ran into a bit of difficulty styling my new do. My hair sways more towards the straight and fine end of the spectrum so creating volume and texture was something I struggled with. The L'Oreal Fibrology Air range that I've used since January gave me a great head start but ultimately my dreams of creating that messy 'I woke up like this' look seemed a little hazy.

I rummaged through my hair drawer pulling everything that claimed it added 'texture', 'grip' and 'volume' but no matter what I tried, every product left my hair feeling pretty rank and like it needed washing the next day which, hello, I'm not a fan of. Naturally, L'Oreal's latest styling range had started cropping in both vlogs and on Instagram so, being the L'Oreal lover I am, I decided to give it a go.

The first product I test drove was The Big Hair Hairspray. I've always been a huge fan of light yet strong hairspray, especially ones with flexible hold, so this sounded right up my street. I'm happy to confirm that not only does it smell delightful but it does a bloody magnificent job of holding my hair while still giving me the chance to run my fingers through it if I need to. Up to now, I've not had any problems restyling the next day and if anything, it adds just enough texture to almost rework what you've done prior - Something I've always found incredibly helpful. After using it for over a month, it's undeniably a product I wouldn't be without, so much so that I actually fancy purchasing 20 cans to last me through the foreseeable future.

Since my #hairgoals mostly consisted of volumised beach waves, the second product I reached for was The Beach Wave Mist. I have to say, this is one of the finest salt sprays I've tried which basically means it doesn't leave your hair feeling gritty and horrid. It does, however, mean that you need to use just that little bit extra to achieve that really tousled beach look but that's a small price to pay so I'm all about it. 

According to the internet - though not always a reliable source - I found that the perfect way to get that 'I just rolled out of bed' look was to use some form of styling clay or putty. Since the one at the back of my hair drawer had well and truly dried up, I opted for The Pixie Cream which is a short hair styling wax. My hair probably isn't the desired length for a product like this but it comes in surprisingly useful for just picking out sections to give that extra 'I didn't brush my hair today' oomph. It's worth noting that I don't use this whilst my hair is straight because frankly it doesn't do an awful lot but with nice waved style, it adds the perfect finishing touch.

The most recent addition to my stash and one that I know I'll use a lot whilst I'm away is The Braid Milk. I was skeptical about this product at first after it claimed to 'Create grip' for none slip braids - I thought that was just a fancy way of saying it was going to make my hair  awfully sticky but, plot twist, that's definitely not the case. I'm not sure how it does it but this deliciously coconut scented cream some how just gives your hair a little.. something. It isn't sticky but smooths any stray hairs whilst still allowing a comb to run through with ease. It's going to be brilliant for my hair over the summer since braiding it is currently near impossible and though I initially thought it could be a little gimmicky, actually seems to work.

A post shared by Hollie Ann (@itshollieann_) on

After initially thinking cutting my hair was a huge mistake despite the lesser hair admin appeal, I'm now so happy that these products have made the whole job that little bit easier. Potentially, if my hair had a natural wave and lift it wouldn't be so challenging but having fine, straight hair really does suck when it comes to wanting that Kardashian like bob. 

I'd love to know your thoughts on these products if you've tried them and what your favourite hair styling products are!



Tuesday, 19 June 2018

Do I Need A Five Year Plan?

Do I Need A Five Year Plan?
There's no denying the fact that there are trends online. Whether it's a trip to Positano or orange and teal edits guilty, there comes a time when a topic is all the all the rage. Lately, certainly on my online feeds, that topic of conversation is having  a five year plan. 

What is a five year plan said no one ever? Its pretty self explanatory - As the term suggests it consists of rounding up where you hope to be in five years time in terms of career, relationships, financially and other miscellaneous categories. This week, as I've been eagerly skimming through these posts online, I've began to wonder if I need a five year plan?

Truthfully, I'm not really a long term plan kind of gal. I struggle sticking with new years resolutions, haven't yet put my finger on where I want to take my career and the thought of waiting for years to achieve something really isn't for me. I'm impatient, don't judge.

At first after reading a couple of posts, I was quite envious that these girlbosses knew where they wanted to take their lives but gradually, I began to dwell on the fact that I didn't have one of these carefully thought out plans and that my path was very much unknown. I couldn't help but think, whilst there's absolutely nothing wrong with setting yourself goals, should we feel this pressure to try and map our lives out? I don't want to worry at my desk because I don't know what direction I want to take my career in or feel guilty for spending twenty quid on ASOS that could have gone into my savings.

Occasionally, the conversation comes up in real life and again, I find myself questioning 'Do I need a five year plan in order to feel like my life is together?' The answer of course is 'Absolutely not' but do I feel like I'm shunned when people ask me 'Where do you see yourself in five years time?' and I shrug then say 'Ooh I'm not really sure', absolutely yes.

There are of course, many sides to the debate. Some people don't believe in five year plans as we should 'always be striving for success'. V true. Others believe having set goals in mind provide motivation. Also true. No matter which way I look at it, I can see the pros and cons to both and I think we all should be able to do so, no matter which side of the fence we sit on. 

So, in short, I personally don't think I need a five year plan to motivate me for the next couple of years. If you do, brilliant, I'd love to know what direction you're heading in but please, don't turn your nose up at those who are happy with not knowing. 



Tuesday, 12 June 2018

My Makeup History + Why I'm Changing My Habits

My beauty journey started when I was about 9 years old. I had a monthly subscription to Groovy Chick magazine and as soon as it came in, I begged my mum to let me run down to the newsagents after school only to discard it hours later in favour of playing with the freebies. As much as the blow up chair made me the best-thing-since-sliced-bread in the classroom, what I actually adored was the shimmer stick that came a few issues later. I thought I was the epitome of grown up, sporting that to every school outing and when the shimmer dust came a couple of weeks after, my 9 year old life felt complete. 

Fast forward 5 years and I was going to town with my friends on a Saturday afternoon. Armed with £5 in our pockets, we headed straight to the Beauty Box in our local market to spend every penny on whatever makeup we could find. Whilst my friends were busy buying foundation that didn't match their skin tone, I was falling in love with a chubby green eyeliner. In fact, I loved it so much, I repurchased it a further 4 times until I eventually realised I wasn't quite as cool as I'd hoped. 

By the time I was 16, I started to understand make up a little more. I had the makeup I'd wear to school which consisted of tinted moisturiser with a touch of mascara and the makeup I wore at the weekends which, from what I recall, was a very pale foundation, Collection eyeliner (still my fav) and 17's Hot Chilli lipstick. Bronzer had just come into our lives though nobody, especially the girls at school, knew how to use it effectively. At this point, my pocket money had increased to £10 and when I wasn't spending it on cheap alcopops or bus rides to Chester, I was spending it on makeup.

Gradually I was building up a few different products and as soon as I got my first job, that was it. Working every hour I could in the local bowling alley meant I was earning just under £100 a week throughout the summer which was unbelievable. I had enough money to do cool things with my friends and enough left over to treat myself to 3 for 2 in Boots whenever I was on my way to work. My collection started to grow and I begged my mum to buy me some plastic storage draws to house my new hobby - I divided the bottom one with cardboard and soon the face, eyes and lips sections were born. 

Soon enough, I reached 18 and was starting to frequent clubs with my friends. I often hosted my friends for predrinks - much to my parents dismay - and thrived, telling them  about my latest mascara find or which lashes would see them through tears and a kebab. A few months later, I moved in with my partner, grew up a little and began the attempt to organise my ever-growing  collection in our 2 bed apartment.

Then there's now. I'm 23 years old currently sat in my office come guest bedroom. I have a dressing room next door with an incredibly overcrowded dressing table and a tower of Ikea Alex draws that no doubt still house that Groovy Chick shimmer stick. My love for makeup and sharing my knowledge has continued tenfold but recently I had an epiphany. 

My goal with beauty products isn't to have the biggest collection or to recommend products to everyone under the sun. My goal is to find the products that work best for me and ultimately, the ones that make me feel good. You can follow along with my struggles in my latest beauty posts but as a brief round up I eventually want one of each go-to product and for that be my staple. Of course because of my blog and unhealthy habit of spending money, I'm always going to try new products but going forward, if I don't get on with them or they're not suitable for me I either want to donate them or give them away.

I know this is quite a long post and kudos if you're still with me but I had these thoughts came to mind after purchasing a few bits from Crayola Beauty. Whilst they were a lot of fun and undoubtedly nostalgic, they weren't actually that great. The Fuzzy Wuzzy Cheek & Lip Crayon is lovely but as for Mango Tango and the highlighter, I'm not in love. As I stashed them away in amongst years of expired and unused beauty products, I knew something had to change.

What's your favourite beauty product from the past? Have you tried any of the Crayola Beauty bits? Would you pick them up or do you think they're just a gimmick?



Sunday, 3 June 2018

5 Apps For Travelling + Why Social Media Comes In Handy

5 Apps I Use For Travelling + Why Social Media Comes In Handy
I don't often spend time on my phone when I travel. Of course, I'm partial to the odd Instagram story because hello this is 2018 but for the most part I only use my phone when I need to find something. That something could be anything from flight times to dinner spots, a taxi or a place to stay. With that being said, I thought I'd share my five go to apps for when I'm travelling.

Airline App Whenever my partner and I travel abroad, we tend to only keep our passport and phone on hand in the airport. We use the airline app to download our boarding pass so that they're on hand and we find it so helpful to have our flight information to hand. They also tend to include notifications of changes or delays which is a bonus. So far I've used the Virgin Atlantic, British Airways and Thomson apps and they've all been great. 

Uber/Lyft Very self explanatory but I would always rather use Uber or Lyft than hail a taxi. They're reasonably priced and you can see a rough cost estimate beforehand. Plus, having all of the drivers information on hand makes me feel safer when I'm away from home and the ability to report issues directly to Uber/Lyft if there are any makes for a great experience. 

Location App Obviously this depends on what's available but most major cities seem to have some form of travel guide on the App Store. Whilst in Vegas, I like to use the app to get a feel for what's on in town but if I'm in London, I'll always download a tube app because no matter how many times I go, I'll never know which line to get on. 

Airbnb I mostly like to scout Airbnb before I travel to see get a feel for where to stay. So far I've only used it in Scotland but I couldn't believe how easy it was. I've got a tonne of saved properties which will come in handy for planning a big trip to the US or a little getaway to Spain. 

Instagram Since there's so much travel content online at the moment, Instagram can also be a great place to find places to eat/drink/take photos and even for inspiration before you book a trip. While in Las Vegas, I've found some incredible places through location tags and hashtags so it's well worth a look.

When looking for recommendations, I always turn to social media first over the likes of TripAdvisor. On my recent trip to Leeds, I asked on Twitter which bars people would recommend - Joe asked me a few quick questions and came back with the best suggestions and it was bloody great to firstly, go somewhere really cool and secondly, find somewhere that wouldn't have necessarily shown up on a quick Google Search. 

What apps do you like to use when you travel? Are any of these on your list?


Tuesday, 29 May 2018

A Bank Holiday Round Up + Why It Was The Best One Yet

A Bank Holiday Round Up + Why It Was The Best One Yet
For me, bank holidays usually consist of lazing around. Why? Because no matter how much I try, the thought of having basically two Sundays and being able to drink prosecco on a school night is way better than tackling the DIY furniture I've been meaning to put together for 12 months. That coupled with the fact my partner and I thinking we're too old to to brand ourselves as having a 'Sunday Funday' means that our bank holidays are usually spent drinking tea and watching movies. For once, this weekend was different - We had an absolute blast so much so that I had to share it. 

This bank holiday saw the return of Slam Dunk and it's without a doubt our favourite music event of the year. Since we love Leeds so much, we always like to make a weekend of it so I booked a half day in work on Friday so we could hit the road early. Inevitably we got stuck in traffic and the journey, that should have taken us an hour and a half, actually took us four hours. Annoyingly this meant pushing back e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g we'd planned to do that evening but we still managed to make the most of it. 

We decided to exchange our wristbands on Friday evening so after a lovely walk through the city to the uni, we headed to Byron for dinner. We planned on finding somewhere new but since it was getting on, it made sense to stick with what we know, plus, it's bloody delightful. 

A couple of greasy burgers later, our friend Chris came down from York and we headed to Headrow House following Joe's recommendation. I LOVED this place. It had everything from delicious food and a beer hall, to a cocktail bar and two terraces. We opted for Redondo Beach and sat out on the terrace since the rain held off - It had such a cool vibe and I honestly could have sat up there all night, laughing and catching up. We ended the night watching some TV with a brew back at the hotel in true rock and roll style.

Next morning we headed to Ox Club at Headrow House for brunch. The food was absolutely delicious and it was so unbelievably chill. I was dying to try their Steak and Eggs but couldn't resist the Ox Club Breakfast - For once, I decided against a mimosa in a bid to pace myself for the rest of the day. Sensible adult decision? Tick. 

The next nine hours were bloody fantastic. The sun shone down on Millennium Square and bands were on FIRE. We caught the end of Dream State before reliving our youth watching The Audition - For me, it felt like 2009 but with lager and without an MP3 player. We strolled around to a few other stages before returning to the main stage for Twin Atlantic. I was so excited to see them and they didn't disappoint - They'll definitely be one to watch when they're out on tour. Later in the day since it was so warm out, we headed back to the hotel between sets for a quick outfit change and to drop off the cameras I didn't even use - I had all intentions of getting some great shots but I was having so much fun that I didn't think about it. 

We had a cheeky Archers and lemonade before heading back to the festival for Taking Back Sunday. My god, it was BRILLIANT. The crowd were unreal and much like The Audition, it took me right back to my early teens. I've never heard so many people sing to Cute Without The E and truthfully, it felt like a real moment. Jimmy Eat World closed the show and wow, it was emotional. They played some absolute gems along with the best from Bleed American. We swayed, we chanted and we sang at the top of our lungs. It was an incredible end to an incredible day. 

We stopped off for a cocktail at The Liquorist on the way back and accidentally ended up in Greek Street Social - Hats of to two women on the dancefloor who knew every SINGLE song and danced to their hearts content as everyone cheered them on. Saturday night at it's finest. 

The drive home on Sunday didn't take half as long as Fridays and we spent the afternoon relaxing in the garden before watching Coco - It was so emotional and I definitely didn't see it coming. It's an absolute must watch but bring the tissues. 

Yesterday we cleaned the house and caught up with my parents over a coffee. It felt like the perfect end to an amazing weekend and it made a change for us to actually make the most of it. Slam Dunk was brilliant as always and I already can't wait for next year!

What did you get up to this bank holiday?


Wednesday, 23 May 2018

Who I'll Be Watching At Slam Dunk 2018

Who I'll Be Watching At Slam Dunk 2018
I can't believe it's almost time for Slam Dunk 2018. It doesn't seem like five minutes ago I was dancing the night away, beer in hand and doing my best to sing to the likes of Deaf Havana, Don Broco and Enter Shikari. With bank holiday weekend right around the corner, it seems the right time to sift through the clashes and decide who I'll be watching at #SDF18.

Last years line up was absolutely brilliant, I had the best day and I managed to catch some of my favourite bands but undoubtedly, this years line up is one of the best yet. I spent so long on the app last night, carefully putting together my schedule and hoping to make the most of my day so without further ado, here are the bands I'll definitely be catching this year but no doubt there will be some other greats that fall between. 

Jimmy Eat World With two great headliners to choose from, the decision was tough. Though I'm a fan of Good Charlotte and think they're such a great band, I absolutely love Jimmy Eat World and out of the two, they're the band I'm less likely to see again. 

PVRIS Man, I am such a PVRIS fan that I might squeal a little when they come Lynn Gunn is the most epic front woman and each album they've released has been on top form. I'm so , so excited and you bet I'll be there singing at the top of my lungs. 

Lower Than Atlantis I wasn't too sure about LTA. I've seen them support a few bands in the past and almost forgot how great their music was until they cropped up in a playlist a few weeks ago. They're playing the Monster Energy Stage so I'll be enjoying it from the back, with a beer in hand.

Twin Atlantic Man I have so much love for Twin Atlantic. I planned on catching them at TRNSMT in Glasgow last year but unfortunately I didn't make it. 'Heart and Soul' and 'Free' are some of their absolute gems and I can't bloody wait to sway in the sunshine.

Dream State Dream State are a band relatively new to me but what I've heard, I love. For me, discovering new bands is one of the great things about festivals.

The Audition The comeback of all comebacks? I think so. When The Audition appeared on the line up, my other half and I were basically sold. It's going to take everyone back to the good ol' days and I'm sure I'll spot a few tears among the fist pumps. 

I'm ridiculously excited for Saturday and literally can't wait to hear all kinds of great music! There are so many great bands playing, these six are just the tip of the iceberg.

Are you heading to Slam Dunk this year? Who are you most excited for?


Sunday, 20 May 2018

The Product Working Wonders For My Skin

The Product Working Wonders For My Skin
I've been on a journey with my skincare for over a year now. Don't get me wrong, I've always washed and moisturised my face but it was only in March 2017, after a Saturday trip to Boots, that I picked up some skincare products that changed the game. Not all of the products ended up being part of my routine but I was fascinated with what they did for my skin.  

Since then, I've been on a mission to find products that work best for me. I explored different cleansers and found favourites in Elizabeth Arden's Visible Difference and Liz Earle's Cleanse and Polish. My micellar water of choice has remained L'Oreal and though I'm still deciding whether the L'Oreal Extraordinary Oil moisturizer is for me, toner soon became the last thing to check off. I'd been using the L'Oreal Fine Flowers toner since that first skincare haul and whilst I still love it and think it's a great product, I felt like my skin needed something more. 

Now with writing and reading beauty content, I come across new products on a daily basis. Products claiming to work wonders or be the next best thing are not unusual but most of the time they don't stick around - Apart from one, Pixi Glow Tonic. The Pixi Glow Tonic is mentioned time and time again as being a 'hero product' when it comes to toner. I've seen amazing before and afters and read more positive than negative reviews by a mile. 

What makes it so special? For starters, it's an exfoliating toner formulated with 5% glycolic acid - If like me, you're not acid savvy, Caroline Hirons wrote a great cheat sheet over on her blog. The Glow Tonic claims to firm and tighten the skin, reduce dullness and remove dead skin cells. It's also said to be great for blemishes since it exfoliates and purifies.

How did I get on? Honestly, at first, I was nervous about using it. I'd just got my skincare routine down to a T and though I was in search of a toner,  I didn't want anything that was going to cause me to break out or cause irritations.  However after using it for a month, I can confirm it's been a great experience.  

I have combination skin and use it every evening after cleansing. Over the past month, I've visibly noticed less breakouts and reduced scarring from previous blemishes. I've also noticed less and less dry skin on my face and for the first time in 10 years, I no longer need to use a heavier moisturiser after cleansing - Something I never thought would happen. During the first few days, I did experience some stinging when applying but it seems it was down to where my skin was most sensitive and it disappeared after a few seconds. My skin looks more radiant each morning and my need to wear make up is slowly decreasing as my complexion has evened out dramatically. 

Overall, I can't believe how much this product is working wonders for my skin. I really didn't expect to be as impressed with it as I am but it really is a great product and it's definitely worth trying out if you can - You can sometimes find travel sized ones in M&S. 

Have you ever tried the Pixi Glow Tonic? What are your thoughts or hero products?

* This post contains affiliate links. 



Friday, 18 May 2018

Four Months At The Gym + Why I'm Still Enjoying It

Four Months At The Gym + Why I'm Still Enjoying It
You may or may not know that in January I joined the gym. It was a mixture of 'new year new me' and just generally wanting to be fitter. Now I can assure you, I was the last person that thought I'd still have my membership more than two months later but surprisingly, I've actually come to enjoy it. Not only can I physically see how my body is changing and how my health is improving but oddly, it's actually become part of my lifestyle. Truth be told, most of my motivation stems from my bestie who basically lives and breaths fitness but there's actually a few other things that have helped me along the way so I thought they might help you too. 

Finding something you enjoy When I first set foot in the gym back in January, I took one look at it and thought 'Wow, this is going to be terrible'. It had been a long time since I'd been in this kind of setting and the fact I didn't know how to use any of the equipment terrified me - Thankfully, each time I went to the gym, I became more and more familiar. Since then, I've found that I really enjoy the incline programs on the treadmill for my cardio and upper body weight machines.

Create a routine I never thought I'd be the kind of person that knew exactly when they were going to the gym but surprisingly, I've really got myself into the swing of things. I go at least three times a week thought the actual days and times depend on what time I'm working. It's nice to be able to tick it of my list of things to do that week and since I wear a Fitbit, it's also great to see the results on there. If I can see one day that I burnt a little under my calorie goal, I'll add another workout in for good measure. I also decided that if I have one too many proseccos on a Friday then I have to gym on Saturday - Not only to make up for it but also, to help the hangover. Surprisingly it works! It's not about being strict, it's finding what works - I'm more of a goal setter so I like to have something to work towards.

Find a gym buddy It's such a good idea to work out with other people. The times my bestie and I worked out together were the toughest workouts I'd managed but it was so motivating. You almost don't realise you're doing it when you can gossip whilst on the treadmill. Whilst it's not imperative and I enjoy working out alone, sometimes it's nice to have someone there. If working out with a friend isn't your thing, you could always opt for a personal trainer. They can be as present as you want them to be and could really be the answer if you're lacking motivation too. 

Really, there isn't a secret to enjoying working out, I've found it's just something that comes with time. Finding what you like and creating a routine have really been the key points for me and whilst there are some weeks - hello time of the month - where I'm not so motivated, the thought that I'm paying for a membership that I'm not using helps get me through. 

What motivates you to work out?


Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Low Light Photos I Won't Post On Instagram

A month or so back, I decided to change my edits. I wanted to up my photography game by getting to know my camera better and explore the best ways to showcase what I'd captured. I've been having so much fun since then and I'm more in love with my blog and Instagram than ever before but of course, there are some photos that I haven't shared - Some aren't as good quality as I'd like and some are too dark for my aesthetic but I do, however, want to show them the light of day and give you a bit of an insight so here it goes. 

Low Light Photos I Won't Post On Instagram - ItsHollieAnn
Bala Lake, Wales I actually took this photo on a day drive out to Bala a couple of years back and completely forgot about it until I installed Lightroom. I enhanced the light flare from the sun to add a little something to an otherwise quite boring photo and I love how it turned out. Bala is honestly one of my favourite drives out in the summer. The views around the lake are stunning and the town is adorable.

Low Light Photos I Won't Post On Instagram - ItsHollieAnn
Las Vegas, USA This shot of Planet Hollywood and the strip is a classic example of Instagram vs Reality. Whilst this photo is quite composed, it was actually taken on a walk down to the Bellagio the night my bestie had arrived in Vegas. She'd been there a total of about 5 hours yet we'd consumed an obscene amount of cocktails and decided to go on the LONGEST walk. I don't even know how we made it - So, so drunk.

Low Light Photos I Won't Post On Instagram - ItsHollieAnn
Las Vegas, USA Oddly enough, this was taken the same night as the above photo. We got a yard drink from Beer Park and stood at the back of the fountains watching them in amazement. I didn't realise how well you could see Paris until I played around with this photo in Lightroom but again, considering we were walking around without a care in the world, it turned out to be a great shot. 

Low Light Photos I Won't Post On Instagram - ItsHollieAnn
Dublin, Ireland This classic Irish setting is actually inside The Auld Dubliner. We arrived in Dublin really early that day and around 10.30am, walked around Temple Bar deciding what pub would be our first of the day. The Auld Dubliner was quiet and charming when we arrived but as we made our way through many-a-Guinness, the live music started and the crowds came. It became so full of life and it was so great to see so many people having such a great time. 

Low Light Photos I Won't Post On Instagram - ItsHollieAnn
Manchester, UK I'm not usually one for having my camera out at gigs but I like to capture at least a couple of photos just to document my time there - and of course for a cheeky Instagram story. This was over a year ago now when we saw Deaf Havana in Manchester Ritz - Not only one of our favourite bands but also one of our favourite venues. They'd just released the incredible album, All These Countless Nights and it was their first gig in three or four years. As always, they were brilliant.

Low Light Photos I Won't Post On Instagram - ItsHollieAnn
Las Vegas, USA You know, I really wish this photo was better quality - It doesn't do this view justice at all. Whilst it may look like we were doing a bit of night time sight-seeing, this photo was actually taken from Voodoo Lounge, a club on top of the Rio that I mentioned in my Las Vegas post. We we're so hyped up after seeing Penn and Teller and jumped at the chance of free entry.  We spent the night dancing on the outdoor dance-floor and drinking a few too many oversized tequilas - It was such a great night and one that we still laugh about now. The Rio is set back from the strip so out front you can see it from top to bottom and from the side like here, you can just about see Luxor and Mandalay Bay as well as the surrounding areas. 

Well there we go, the low light photos I won't post on Instagram all out in the open. As I mentioned above, it's not that I don't like these photos. I just can't find a way to make them work. I really hope you liked seeing them and hearing more about each one since my Instagram captions seem to be more chatty than descriptive. 

Do you limit yourself to what you post on Instagram or do you share whatever you feel like?

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