12 Months of Simple Living: End of Year Thoughts

It’s been a year of this transformation journey and as January 2018 arrived, I thought this would be a good opportunity to reflect on each month and what impact, if any, it has had on the way I live my life now.

1. | January – Vegetarian |

Navigate: Part One | Part Two | Vegetarian Recipes

If there was ever going to be a controversial challenge it was this one. With opinions and beliefs splitting people world wide on the subject, it was always going to be harder for a previously strict carnivore to “try out” being Vegetarian for a month and then blog about the short lived and not hugely successful experience. But this journey is my own and now I can see this short lived month really did have an effect on my view, and now my lifestyle choices. However insignificant they might seem, they are still small steps toward a healthier life and a better world.

Since January, I’ve found myself increasingly choosing the vegetarian options whether it is in my work canteen, at home or out to eat with friends. I put this down to a change in my attitude towards meat as a result of understanding the vast amounts of waste, the damage to the environment and the inhumane treatment of animals all for the sake of corporate greed.

From a health point of view, I am so much more aware of the fats and greasiness of meat and how much heavier it sits in my stomach, I do tend to feel a little odd when I eat some types of meat now. It does make me wonder what sort of diseases we are potentially exposed to by eating meat.  That’s not to say I don’t crave the odd steak now and then but I am so much more aware of  trying to choose organic, free range, grass fed meat.

Having said that, I do want to aim to be even more veggie and I have concluded that being a full time vegetarian would be the ideal lifestyle choice and probably is how we were once meant to be. Not that any of my life choices are ideal- we’ll see!

Note: Spiralizers interest me now more than ever before!


2. | February – Forgiving |

Navigate: Part One | Part Two | Part Three

This one has to be the hardest of all as it’s a continuous battle and a continuous cycle. Choosing to let people off the hook when they have wronged you seems unnatural to our human instincts and makes us feel like a doormat sometimes. But this doesn’t have to be so. I am continually reminding myself that forgiveness does not mean reconciliation; if you are continually wronged, don’t let them wrong you again. But love them and show them kindness anyway.

I can definitely see improvements with the way I handle disagreements, knowing that just because we have differences of opinion doesn’t make us bad people, just unique individuals who handle things in different ways. I try to respect another’s perspective even if I disagree.

I still struggle with letting things go quickly, but I can usually get over it after taking a breather. And with my long term grievances, it will always be a battle to maintain forgiveness but I will keep trying.


3. | March – Positivity & Thankfulness |

Navigate: Part One | Part Two | Part Three | Part Four

This challenge is one that went beyond my natural disposition. I’ve grown up in an environment of complaining, from my family to the culture of the UK, so trying not to was a real difficulty. Being thankful for everything, including the bad times, just opens your eyes to how blessed you really are. Blessed you have arms and legs, and eyes and ears, blessed you are able to use them, blessed you have food, shelter and a job. There’s actually a lot to be thankful for!

I really struggle, still, to see the glass half full rather than half empty but I am working on it. A good way to start thinking a bit more positively is by writing a diary of your week noting, at various points of the day, how you felt – happy, sad, angry – and to what degree out of 100% you felt those emotions. When you look back, you will likely realise you have a much happier life than you initially thought. This is because our minds get conditioned just to remember the negative and not the positive.

Try it out and let me know how it works for you!


4. | April – Stick at It |

Navigate: Part One | Part Two | Part Three

This challenge  actually made me realise that my problem wasn’t so much giving up on things, as feeling like giving up every time something gets tough. Also it was about believing in my ability to achieve what I set out to do.

Through going travelling, something I needed to do for myself but was afraid to, it helped me build confidence in myself. I’m trying to maintain this confidence now that I am back; it’s actually the mundane things in life that knock the confidence out of you.

I have found myself being a little braver and taking those risks even if I might fail, but there’s still work to be done!


5. | May – Exercise |

Navigate: Part One| Part Two | Part Three

This one’s gone out the window! Seriously, I don’t like doing any of it – classes annoy me, I don’t even know where to start in the gym, I HATE running, going for walks in the cold British weather is not up there on my fun list… so what can I do?!

I know I have to exercise, I know it’s very important for mental and physical health, but I just need to find something I actually enjoy doing.

I am working on it!!! The only classes I do quite enjoy are yoga classes, so I will try to keep those up at least. Any suggestions? Let me know!


6. | June – Meditation |

Navigate: Part One | Part Two

A very interesting challenge, in that, I thought this would be the easiest, but it turned out to be much harder than I thought.

I enjoyed it when I did it, but I found that I had to make time for it, rather than try to fit it in my day.

I haven’t kept it up on a daily basis but have naturally found myself meditating on life, faith and positive thoughts when on my own and spending time enjoying the beauty of Nature.

“Beauty is the purest feeling of the soul. Beauty arises when soul is satisfied.”
― Amit Ray


7. | July – Water |

Navigate: Part One | Part Two

A challenge that you either understood completely or didn’t get at all. Fellow water haters, I confess, I was doing so well and then I reverted… But I have a plan to get me back on track!

Drinking water has always been at the bottom of my to do list, and something happened when I realised, in my sugar free month, that (some) wines only had naturally occurring sugars; I started drinking more wine… And more… Not like an alcoholic, but just like with my dinner and in replacement for water…

Okay jokes aside (sort of), I just struggle in this already damp and wet, cold English weather to feel thirsty. I feel somehow I’m absorbing so much water just through breathing damp air. And even when thirsty, I’m so cold I opt for a dehydrating cup of tea (that’s right, tea is a diuretic so you ultimately lose more water than you take in).

But the plan? I bought this from Kikki.K and I intend to use it.
New Year, new pee… I mean me.

8. | August – Say Yes |

Navigate: Part One | Part Two
Climb every mountain

This challenge was certainly the most adventurous and the most rewarding, delivering me to exciting new places, giving me more out of life and connecting me with the best people the world has to offer!

It’s an attitude that takes courage and takes self-belief. You need to be a risk taker, taking chances when there may be disappointment. Worst, you need to be prepared to be disappointed.

I have definitely carried on with this type of attitude, but I have to remind myself. I am naturally cautious and if left to my instincts, I would let opportunities pass me by. I struggle with disappointment and so when I am let down it hurts, a lot! But life is not going to get more interesting, fun or exciting if you don’t take risks.

I hope 2018 will be a year that I don’t hold myself back with my own self-doubt, but a year which I open my eyes to opportunities and take them with both hands!


9. | September – Slow Down |

Navigate: Part One | Part Two

slow down 1
Image Credit: ryangoggin.com

This one is harder to keep up when life just gives you busy schedules week on week. Certainly, my technology diet assisted with this and I naturally slowed down in most aspects of my life.

I have since had to remind myself to enjoy beautiful moments, the first full moon of 2018 for example, and a stunning sunrise the following morning.

Slowing down ties in with meditation, with reducing social media and other time fillers and many other parts of my yearly challenges.

I hope to carry on a slightly slower, more purposeful pace into 2018.


10. | October – Sugar Free |

Navigate: Part One | Part Two | Part Three | Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner | Dessert
Home Made Ice Cream1

This is the challenge I am most proud of. It was complex and required a lot of effort; cooking, reading ALL labels, turning down tasty office junk food etc. But I smashed it!

I honestly saw the health benefits (especially when I returned to sugar), I realised the effect that sugar had on my asthma!

Sadly, the return to sugar has been a full submersion due to the time of year, but I would like that to change in the new year and I’d like to greatly reduce my intake. If not for my overall health, for my asthma (which has suffered greatly due to the return to sugar and all the other factors that trigger it).

I will proudly say though, that I have not returned to putting sugar in my tea!


11. | November – Technology Diet |

Navigate: Part One | Part Two

Being cut off from the world of social media came with mixed feelings… It was strangely freeing but at the same time isolating.

Yes, I missed out on social events, life updates from all my 900+ facebook “friends” (ha! I have more than you! JK) and ultra-hilarious memes, BUT I gained an independence, learned a new language (slash carried on learning Spanish from all my years of dabbling) and met people in more organic ways.

Being back on social media, I actually am not as bothered anymore… It’s sort of an effort to post so I’m doing it less. And I’m only really scrolling through facebook for the “12 times you failed at life” style posts, because … they make me giggle.

So, although I won’t keep off social media, I think I have struck a balance along the way.


12. | December – Volunteer |

Navigate: Part One | Part Two
volunteer 1

What a feel-good way to end the year; by volunteering! I honestly got such a sense of achievement by helping these charities in the skills that I had to offer. I really cannot urge you enough, if you have any spare time, to give some of it to a charity of your choice. You will form new friendships, new connections and it can even help you gain more skills.

One thing that is overlooked when people are looking for jobs but lack the experience, is volunteering. The way I gained my administrative experience was by volunteering for the Lifetrain Trust. So if this is where you find yourself, just go for it – if not to help, then to look better on your CV. But you will feel good when you see the contribution you have made to these charities.

Charities do amazing work, and I will be more than happy to give more of my time to volunteer during 2018!


So that’s it, my end of year update! Let me know how you have found my challenges and if you have a resolution for 2018!

Thanks for reading!




13 Weeks of Wandering – In Cambodia

Bangkok | Cambodia | Vietnam | Laos
New York >> Miami | Portland >> Vancouver

Where To? Cambodia
How long? 7 days
Status: Temples, Tarantulas and Treks

13WoW – In Cambodia

Getting to Know the Cambodian People

To summarise Cambodia in 3 words, it would be temples, tarantulas and treks.

Cambodians are beautiful people, kind, warm and friendly. And all this is despite the horrific genocide that took place by the Khmer rouge nearly halving their population not even 40 years ago. This genocide affected everybody and most will have at least one family member who was killed by the regime. I highly recommend you educating yourself on this if you choose to visit Vietnam by visiting the interrogation camps and the killing fields in Phnom Peng.

The killing fields
People have left bracelets around the “burial grounds” as a sign of respect. I added mine also.

And make sure to book a tour guide to get the not-so-official full story that you will not get by listening to the government approved audio guides (I recommend a tour guide called Nay – just ask if you want his details).

I was also lucky enough to have been able to have met 2 of the 5 survivors of the interrogation camps. I bought one of their books for $10, the proceeds go to a charity to help those affected by this genocide.


Tasty Little Creatures

Actually, the one of the first things I came across when entering Cambodia was Tarantulas.

Yes, that’s me, holding a tarantula, trying not to cry!

Believe it or not, deep fried tarantula is a delicacy in this part of the world, as well as many other insects.

A couple of my tour group were brave enough to try some insects. I was not!

There was a fiasco where a member of  the group was holding a bigger tarantula than the one above and then it started to quickly crawl up their arm. In that moment we all screamed like little girls and dropped the poor thing in a puddle. The seller was not amused as taranulas can die in water.

I was glad when we stopped at this restaurant to get a real lunch. Needless to say, Beef with Fire Ants was just one of the wonderful options on the menu.

The view at lunch

And later that day visiting the New Hope restaurant (see my previous post) deep fried crickets were brought to the table alongside other (more delicious) Cambodian dishes; coconut curry with pumpkin, beef lok lok, crispy vegetable parcels and more!



Ankor Wat

With Asia being predominantly Buddhist, you don’t have to look far to find a beautifully designed temple. But some of the oldest and best temples are located in Cambodia.

Here are some of the temples I visited:

‘Wat’ Else?!

Aside from the many temples that you could lose yourself in for days on end, Cambodia has lots to offer.

We visited the circus which is produced and performed by the locals and tells a story about the Cambodian people. You will be pleased to know there were no animals involved.

If you were feeling like interacting with some animals, you can pay a visit to Wat Leu temple where monkeys freely roam and like to hang out with man (especially with a food incentive).

Cambodia also has a number of trekking spots, some great beaches and even waterfalls!

And if you’re thirsty, they are not short of good bars!


Overall, Cambodia has a bit of everything! You have a lot of choice and a lot of variety – just watch out for the street food as it’s slightly less reliable than some other parts of Asia and be prepared to pay more if you stick to dollars rather than convert to Riel.

Next stop, Vietnam! X

13 Weeks of Wandering: The Prequel

Bangkok | Cambodia | Vietnam | Laos
New York >> Miami | Portland >> Vancouver

Where To? Bangkok
How long? 3 days (don’t worry, I’ll be back)
Status: I was packed like two weeks ago…

13WoW – Destination: Heathrow

It’s 2 weeks until I set off on my travel adventure and I finished packing last week. Yes, you read that right, enjoy that glimpse into what it’s like to be me!

It seems simple when you first decide to go travelling. Step one: Purchase Flights. Step two: Pack. Step three: Go! But it’s not that simple and there were a lot of questions.

Hoping to save other potential travellers time in the future, I am going to go through some of my preparations pre-travelling.


Step One: Purchase Flights

Actually, step one is figuring out where you actually want to go and then when you’ve done that it’s finding out whether it’s realistic for you to go to all those places in the time (and budget) that you have.

My plan at first was not restricted to the locations listed above, wanting to include the Philippines, Indonesia, Australia and all sorts! But after speaking to some lovely people at STA Travel, I had a reality check.



Turkish Airlines Flight

Then the next thing, booking flights. My advice is to look on your own first to gauge an idea on how much flights will be and what the logistics are. It takes a lot of time and is really annoying but it helps you decide on the cheapest times to go and shape out your itinerary. When you are armed with your timeline with where you want to be and when, then approach the travel agents, they have a lot of knowledge and advice they can offer even if you don’t go with them. Having had an idea of prices when speaking to them, they would always try to compete with what I had found. Most companies would match if you could genuinely prove you found a cheaper fare yourself.

Spoke to Flight Centre and STA Travel and in the end went with STA only because they could sort out my internal USA flights as well as my international flights. Everyone seemed friendly and offered honest opinions on the cheapest way to do things. It was Flight Centre who advised me that booking a round trip to Bangkok and then doing USA as a separate trip would actually work out cheaper. And actually, coming back for a day means I have a chance to re-pack my bag and drop any souvenirs off before jetting off again.


So it turns out that the splashing out doesn’t stop at flights, but depending on where you are going and how long you are going for, you are going to have to shed even more cash on visas.


UK Passport holders currently (as at 17/05/2017) get a free 30 day visa on arrival in Thailand.
At first thought this meant I didn’t have to worry about it seeing as I was going to be in Thailand for all of about a day before shooting off to Cambodia/Vietnam and returning to Thailand in July to then get another free 30 day visa at the border.
But after speaking to the Thai embassy (strongly recommend speaking to the embassy where you are going), I was advised I would need a visa due to the round trip booked and my overall stay according to my flights being longer than 30 days. Otherwise would have to have flights out of Thailand within the 30 days to gain the free visa.

Now am having a bit of a mare because I’m not sure if I got the right visa having opted for the Single entry visa (which will expire upon entering Cambodia a day into my trip) rather than the much more expensive multiple point entry visa (£35 or £150… it was a no brainer). So hoping that I will get the 30 day free visa when I try to enter Thailand through Laos but will have to let you guys know how that goes.

Update: I think I could have got away without purchasing the visa above but I had no issues entering and exiting Thailand at all. On the way back from Laos (via train) I had no problems getting back into Thailand.


Have it on good authority (the internet and a couple of friends) that a visa will be obtainable at the border so long as I have at least two passport pictures to hand and around $35. I don’t normally do vague but as I have booked a tour, I know I wont be the only one in need of a visa so am going to just chill on this one.

Update: I had no issues entering Cambodia by foot, but that was all thanks to my  G Adventures tour guide (read about it here). I’m sure you could wing it going by public bus or on foot yourself though!


At present, UK Passport holders can enter Vietnam for 15 days without a visa, but this is only until 30 June 2017 when they will be reviewing this and deciding whether or not to extend this. So after seeking advice from the consular, I applied for a Vietnamese visa online. It was ridiculously easy as you didn’t have to send your passport or anything, just fill out their documents and scan them over via email. It was also ridiculously expensive to do it that way. Say goodbye to £80.

Update: I definitely wasted £80, I could have easily got a 15 day visa on arrival at the border (which I crossed by foot) but things may have changed now so keep checking the gov.uk website.


There seems to be little information on the internet about getting a visa for Laos other than here. But it looks like UK passports get a 30 day visa on arrival and I should expect to pay around $42. Again, will need to be armed with mug shots.

Update: Getting a visa on arrival by public bus was easy enough, make sure you have plenty of cash as they seem to charge you for the most pointless things (read more here) and try to pay in kip if you have already converted your money by this stage.


UK passport holders do not need a visa but must apply for a visa waiver. Was lucky here though as I had a trip to the US last year and the ESTA visa waiver that I got for $14 actually covers me for 2 years.


As a UK passport holder, you can get an Electronic Travel Authorisation (eTA), but if you’re travelling by land or sea, you won’t need an eTA when you enter Canada. However, you must travel with “acceptable travel documents and identification“. I hope that just means my passport… Update: Yes, it did.



Image Credit: topsy.one

Did you think that was it with the expenses? No, there’s more!

You should prepare yourself to spend around £200 – £300 on jabs and travel medicines such as anti-malaria tablets. And you need to make your initial visit to the travel nurse at least 6 months before your trip. My surgery has an online travel questionnaire you complete first before you book your appointment.

Again, was lucky because I had recently visited Ghana and got nearly all of my jabs then. So only needed a Hep A booster. However, I went in too late for my Hep B and Rabies jabs and was instead warned drastically not to go anywhere near animals, not to get any piercings or tattoos and to take my own sterile needles (which I got from amazon) in case I need a jab or stitches whilst I am there.

I am going to order my anti-malaria tablets (Doxycycline) online as they are available OTC but I will only need them if I enter certain parts of Cambodia and Laos. With Doxy, it’s cheap but you have to carry on taking the tablets for four weeks once you are out of the affected area. Always take them with food otherwise you can feel very very sick.



The final part to the oh so simple “stage one” is planning your adventures!
I’m travelling alone and so wanted something to kick-start my adventure where I would meet lots of people doing the same thing as me. So booked a tour with G Adventures (through STA Travel). It’s a 10 day adventure that will take me from Bangkok, through Cambodia and into Vietnam and it is £599 (or was when I booked it). If you want to look at the itinerary of this “Cambodia on a Shoestring” tour, you can do so here.

Hint: When you book with G adventures make sure you register on their site because there are a number of details that they require you to complete before they will send you the official voucher. It wasn’t until I called asking for more information that I found out; by then a lot of information was overdue.
The G adventure expert I spoke to was chirpy at first but seemed to get grumpy real fast with all of my questions. He then directed me to the wrong site to register. So in case you need to know, you register here.

That tour starts on 5th June, but I arrive on 4th of June so needed to book somewhere to stay for the night.

South East Asia are famous for their very cheap accommodation and food, so it was easy for me to find my first night’s Hostel @Hua Lamphong for only £9. There were cheaper options but this one stood out and I can’t wait to give you guys a proper review when I get there! I booked this one through booking.com and what I like is that it’s free cancellation up to 3 days before and you don’t pay until you get there.

The only thing I need to do is find out how I’m going to get there…


Step Two: Pack

This step starts with the right backpack. And I have no idea about backpacks, I didn’t even know until recently that they are measured in litres!

After seeking inspiration from other girls’ travel blogs, I saw a “how to travel on a 16L bag” post and thought “yeah, I can do that”! Thankfully a gentleman in Millets was there to talk sense into me and convince me to settle for the Eurohike Pathfinder 35L (£25 down from £35). My boyfriend still does not think it’s big enough, his argument being I won’t need to be carrying it for long periods of time as I will leave it in the hostel most of the time. He makes a fair point but #YOLO!

I nearly splashed out on a waterproof rain cover for my backpack but held back and then found out there is actually one that comes with this bag. Bonus!

I think the biggest struggle with this was deciding what clothes to leave behind, had to remind myself about the shopping heaven that Bangkok would be.

Now, I have a question for anyone really… How do you padlock a backpack?!?!

Anyway, here is my packing list for anyone curious, and you will be pleased to know it fits snugly into my backpack even with the sleeping bag inside!

  • Sleeping Bag (Update: Don’t take a sleeping bag!)
  • Microfibre Towel
  • Waterproof rucksack liner & waterproof phone bag
  • Carabiners
  • Sandals
  • Flipflops
  • Plimsolls
  • Day Pack (Go lightweight foldaway)
  • Small Satchel Bag
  • Discreet Money Belt
  • Water Bottle (Water-to-Go 3 in 1 filter – be aware if you get this that it needs a 15 minute soak before you go)
  • Toiletries (incl. hand sanitizer, tea tree oil, suncream, spf lip balm, ear plugs & the usual)
  • Make-up, hair, nails & jewellery
  • Electricals (incl. phone, chargers, powerbanks, torch, worldwide multi adaptor & personal security alarm)
  • First-aid kit & Medication (incl. diorralyte, insect repellent, anti-malerials, sterile needles & the usual)
  • Padlocks
  • Watch
  • Journal
  • Book
  • Sunglasses
  • Camera (more on this in a minute)
  • Modest Clothing
    -Shawl/Sarong thing
    -Windbreaker Waterproof Mack
    -Warm Cardigan
    -Light Cardi
    -Spaghetti top
    -Tank top x2
    -T-shirt x2
    -Mesh top x2
    -Maxi skirt x2
    -Denim Shorts
    -Leggings (I went for sport/yoga leggings as these ones keep you cool)
    -PJ shorts
    -Underwear (incl. pop socks)

Made sure all of my clothes can mix and match/do double duty. For PJ’s could wear any of my tank tops, which is why I only took the shorts. The Brave Soul packamac was actually a men’s jacket but for £14.99 (down from £39.99) that didn’t matter to me, and it folds into it’s pocket!

The things that have taken up the most space (other than the sleeping bag) is honestly my toiletries – all those lotions and potions, and one maxi skirt which is really heavy but too good not to take.

I am going to take a moment to say how proud I am of being able to downsize my makeup mag drastically to my top 6:

  • Foundation
  • Bronzer
  • Eye Pencil
  • Liquid Liner
  • Mascara
  • Lipstick/gloss

Yeah, you’re thinking what more could there be? But somehow my normal makeup bag is the size of a large handbag!


Step Three: Go!


Speaking of “go”, I long debated whether or not to get a go-pro or whether to solely rely on my phone for photos. I procrastinated over this so long that by the time I came to make a decision,  it was quite clear to me that money would not permit it. So took a bit of a risk and opted for a budget alternative, the Camkong Action Camera HD 1080P. I’m not a camera geek so no idea if it’s a steal being reduced from £109.99 to £34.99 or if it’s reduced because it’s shit. Either way, I suspect I will find out! UPDATE: It’s shit, don’t get it! I got the Ion Snapcam instead which was much better.

Before I go, there are a few essentials that I must sort out:

  • Scanning & Photocopying all important documents
  • Have at least four passport pictures
  • Money – a pre-loaded travel money card, credit card & Cash
  • Sim Cards – either upgrade mine, get a world sim or ensure my phone is unlocked to buy a sim there
  • Spare phone for emergencies
  • Check in online
  • Figure out how to lock a bloomin’  rucksack!

Thank you for reading, more travel updates coming soon so subscribe!

April Month 4: Not Giving Up (Part One)

Challenge: Don’t Give Up, Stick at things!
Charity: The Natashas Project
Total £ accrued: £0
Status: Looking forward to this month’s task!

The Fourth Challenge: Not Giving Up


“One of the hardest parts of life is deciding whether to walk away or try harder.” – One Tree Hill

I have always struggled with being a bit of a quitter; when things get hard I struggle to find the willpower to put in the effort it takes to work at things. I’ve found myself (at different stages of life) wanting to give up on dreams, goals, people (including myself), relationships and even (to an extent) life.

I found a thought-provoking quote by an unknown author that said, “If you give up, it means you never wanted it.”

And to an extent, I agree. Because sometimes giving up is your way of telling yourself that you don’t value what you are doing. But I have struggled with depression, anxiety and the feeling of not being good enough. And I believe, a lot of the time, the desire to give up stems from the fear of rejection.

So I am going to be facing my fear of rejection and of failure, I will be focusing on finding value in what I set myself to do. The challenge will be to ‘stick at it’ with my goals and my challenges and not give up!


How will I do this?

What I love about the charity I have chosen this month is that I know how hard the founder, a good friend of mine, has worked to set up this amazing project which is a merger of two things she has been passionate about for as long as I have known her; dance and putting a stop to human trafficking. A perfect example of not giving up on your dreams and goals.

Don't let your dreams burn out...

I will be focusing on:

  • Persevering with my goals
  • Following up on my dreams
  • Sticking at tasks and goals I set myself out to do
  • Taking the chance despite fear of failure & rejection
  • Finding the value in everything I do

For every time I give up, I will give out £2 to The Natashas Project!

Part Two