Monday, 27 February 2017

10 ways to furnish a flat on a little budget

Moving is stressful enough, but moving into a place that is a stretch of your budget and comes unfurnished is absolute chaos. Some things in life are worth the initial risk and worth the effort made to maintain it. Below I've listed some of the ways I managed to go from a cheap little student house accommodation to a fully furnished penthouse flat.

1. Be prepared. I've always been the kind of person who keeps a little aside just in case. I'm very thankful to my past self for being like this. My savings created just enough of a cushion for me to be able to stay in the area I wanted to live in. This isn't just a pre-method but can be used each month. When my pay comes in at the beginning of every month I roughly plan out how much goes to bills, what I'd have each week, anything that I may have spare that month – this allows me to spread out my spending on treat items such as a new piece of furniture.

2. Work. Simple enough and yes sometimes paychecks don't stretch, mine didn't in the beginning either. When I left university I paid a couple months extra to stay in my student house and that gave me time to find my next place. During these months I worked a tiny twenty-hour contract at 6 am in the morning, pulling in about £100 a week. It was awful. But at least I was earning something. It was enough to get me started. So I took a massive risk and moved into a flat I couldn't afford. Two months later I got a full-time job that allowed me to comfortably afford the flat, because I didn't give up on looking for something better. Now I work those extra hours to earn those beautiful items for my flat.

3. Don't rush. You don't need a fully furnished flat right from the start. I lived without a table for six months and without a sofa for seven. (I still don't have a washing machine - but hey, pretty things are better than essentials right?) Build your home slowly, only buy things you really love and it'll soon be flourishing around you.

4. Buy cheap where it doesn't matter. Ikea. Ikea is great, especially if you know which pieces don't benefit from being expensive. Bookshelves serve their purpose whether they are £100 or £20... and sometimes the cheaper kinds have more character.

5. Build. Have a creative side? However big or small your ability to craft is, there's probably something you can make for your home. A coffee table out of old wood/pallets, a quirky photo frame, a key hook. Have a browse on Pinterest, you'd be surprised what items you already have that you could turn into something beautiful.

6. Charity. Chairty shops are little gold mines that many people overlook. If you live in a smaller village it's likely you'll find small furniture pieces for as little as a couple pounds. Don't be afraid to go hunting, you never know what you'll come across.

7. Facebook marketplace. Now, I was a little sceptical about this one. But just like charity shops, Facebook marketplace has some hidden gems within it. Scan through all the random posts and you may find something worth a lot more than advertised. Because sometimes people just want to get rid of something fast – or they have too much money to care for something they paid for a long time ago. These are the kind of people that'll go even lower than their advertised price as long as you can pick it up ASAP.

8. Plants. Put them everywhere; fill every room. Plants are a cost effective way to brighten up any living space – the bathroom, window shelves, your bedroom. Go to garden centres or big places such as Homebase on the right day and you'll find reduced priced plants that just need a little TLC.

9. Lights. This one may not be for everyone, but I expect there are many out there that can relate when I say: you can never have too many fairy lights. Battery powered lights are everywhere and very cheap these days, scatter a few of these around a room and you'll have transformed it. I also have a salt lamp in my room that was about £12 from Amazon and it's my favourite thing ever. Mood lighting is one of the main elements in making your space feel comforting and homely.

10. Goals and prioritising. Have all the elements of your home in your head but choose one to focus on. Having a goal to work towards not only increases motivation but means you won't get overwhelmed as you're not focusing on everything at once. Prioritise which elements of your home can wait – maybe a bedside is something you can wait for and maybe you would like a sofa as soon as you can afford it. Work on one goal at a time and soon enough you'll have it all.

Remember you manifest your own life. If you believe your home is already beautiful then it will become even more so. Be patient, wait for what you really want and it'll become something within grasp.


Thursday, 23 February 2017



It's been almost a year since I ticked this one off my bucket list. Skydiving has sat at the very top of my bucket list for many years, so when an opportunity arose during my final year of University I took my chance. One year later and I'm still not sure if anything I will ever do will top this one... but that's the goal, to find something that does.

(my best impression of a chipmunk)

This was written days after my jump... 

Skydiving has always taken first place on my bucket list. I've always been a little bit of an adrenaline junkie. I jumped with Bath Spa University, who chose to donate the money raised to their charity of the year, Ditch the Label – the UK's biggest anti-bullying charity. We jumped with the GoSkydive company in Salisbury. Luckily my friend, also my housemate of two years, wanted to take the jump too. I knew at some point in my life I would have ticked this off my list. It was just a question of when.

Ticking it off at what I sometimes feel is the old age of 21, but is actually the very start of my life, feels amazing. There’s nothing to say that just because I’ve ticked off my number one bucket list goal in life that there is no topping that experience. I’m sure there's plenty I've yet to think of that I may cross off one day. Beating this experience is going to be pretty tough though.

I didn't dread the jump as such, but I'm not scared of heights. I find being up high quite relaxing. But for some, I can imagine skydiving would be a very daunting experience and therefore you may not believe me when I say it was amazing. You may be sitting there reading this thinking ‘she is mad, absolutely lost it’, and you wouldn’t be alone. All the members of my (small) family are scared of heights and tend to be a little more normal than me. My parents were very worried about my dive and hated to hear that I loved it.

There are a few factors that played into my skydive going well. I feel very lucky that I had a wonderful instructor to dive with, Mark. He's an experienced ex-military jumper, who happens to just be filling his weekend with this at the moment. (How amazing – I’d love to fill my spare time jumping out of planes all day – or you know, all of my time)

(I don't think I've ever smiled so much) 

I’ve always loved adrenaline-heightening things and heights make me feel on top of the world the majority of the time. As I’m from Cornwall, for me, there’s nothing better than standing on the edge of a cliff and feeling the wind in your face and taking in an amazing view. Jumping out of a plane basically took all those factors and added a little danger. (Plus a man strapped to your back – if you like that kind of thing. Oh, and if you've noticed from the pictures, you get to wear these really embarrassing hats. Enticed yet?)

I was so overwhelmed with excitement, so much so that my face could not contain my smile. There wasn’t a single second of the jump that I didn’t enjoy. My friend who jumped with me said she didn’t really know what was going on for the first part of the free fall. The instructors told us before hand that this can happen due to your mind catching up with how fast things are happening. I stayed as calm as I could during the build up to the jump. I think this helped me make the most of my experience.

If you’re one for views, there’s nothing better than the moment you steady after the parachute has gone up and you hang there taking in the Earth below you. I was in awe – and crying cause I took my goggles off and it was a bit windy up there – but I was mostly in awe. I jumped in Salisbury so the whole Plain was below me.

Overall, this experience really reminded me of the way I want to live my life – in a crazy, adventurous and unordinary way. And if I get to help people out (through charity fundraising or other means) then that's even better.

I can’t wait to see what adventures I come up with next.

Friday, 28 October 2016

21 things I did while I was 21

There are many reasons why my twenty-first year on this planet was my best year yet. But the key to a good year, the key to a good life, is living for yourself as much as for those you care about.

Twenty-one is known as the first proper step into adulthood in western cultures and is often the big birthday that is celebrated. With this in mind, I knew that my twenty-first year had to be a good one. And it was. Here are the twenty-one ways I made my year a memorable and a life-shaping one:

1.  I made real friends

I’ve always struggled to keep people in my life. Not because I’m bad at connecting with people, in fact, if I click with someone I’ll be their best friend in minutes, but mostly because people change quickly prior to this age. It wasn’t until this year that I truly found myself – but I’m still changing every day, maybe just not as drastically as before. I moved schools a lot in my early childhood and later on tended to only be part of friendship groups for a small amount of time, finding new groups with each stage of my life such as secondary school, college and for each year of University. I believe University is the place where people really come into their own being. I changed a lot over these years and ended up Graduating surrounded by the right kind of people because of it. After spending my first two years at Univeristy being secluded, I came back from summer break for my final year with the determination to make new friends. Those I thought I’d get along with were actually very different to the person I am, and it was actually circumstances and chances that gave me the friends I have now. But if I hadn’t kept myself open to these chances I may not have them in my life right now. I’ve always said that you attract your people by being the person you are, so you must be yourself in order to attract those you’ll honestly connect with. I also learnt through wrong decisions that you must remember to only keep those around who have a positive impact on your life. Negative people will only make you and your world negative too. 

2.  I made sisters

The two girls I met this year changed my life. We became friends by chance. After being put together in a class for a group project we decided to meet up for coffee to discuss the work. It all blossomed from there. Somehow us three misfit-non-look-a-like girls found a deeper connection with each other. Coffee became a weekly thing and we became the Sassy Sisters. They shaped me into a better woman and I hope I helped shape them too. I honestly wouldn’t be where I am now if it wasn’t for those girls. It’s been the first female friendship that has felt true. I don’t have to be anyone else with them. It's one of those friendships you know will last because they’ve become family.

3.  I stayed singled for most of the year and enjoyed it

This is an important one. After being in a relationship from eighteen, I knew I still hadn’t quite found myself while being on my own. I needed this time to grow – to be reckless – to kiss all the wrong ones. It was a lot of fun and I don’t regret it at all. When you don't get emotionally attached you can actually enjoy dating; enjoy going places and laughing with people and talking about random stuff through the night. It’s actually really cool to get to know new people, even if they’re only around for a short while. Never underestimate the effect people have on your lives, no matter how fleeting their stay.

4.  I celebrated myself 

For my twenty-first birthday, I chose to go to London with a couple friends for the weekend and also had a night out with everyone back in my city. Some people think this is a lot for a birthday. But why shouldn’t we celebrate ourselves? I think each occasion should be made the most of it. In fact, you don’t need an occasion to make the most of a weekend, a day, your life. I've always tried to live each day for that moment not for anything else, and this year this way of living really worked out for me. Make memories. lots of them. All I want for my birthday each year is a great memory, not presents, people. 

5.  I found myself, again

We as people are ever evolving and changing and adapting. This can be influenced from those around us – and this is almost always the case. So surround yourself with beautiful, positive souls who share the same kind of values as you and you’ll realise you are being true to yourself. There’s no better feeling. 

6.  I gained so much confidence

I think this point comes hand in hand with finding myself. When you know who you are you can hold your head up high. The longer you feel comfortable in yourself the more confidence you will feel, which just escalates like a rolling snowball. It’ll radiate off you and people will notice.

7.  I jumped out of a plane

In my twenty-first year on this planet, I ticked off my number one from my life bucket list by skydiving for the charity Ditch the Label. I did this as part of the volunteering society for University in my final year. It was incredible and I don’t think I’ll ever find something more thrilling to tick off my list, but I’ll keep searching and I will most definitely be jumping again. (I also learnt that I'm a massive adrenaline junkie... but then I guess I knew that when I jumped into the deep end of a pool at the teeny age of three just because I felt like it)

8.  I graduated with a degree

I guess I always knew I would go on to University level as I was a hard working child when it came to education. But to have actually achieved it, knowing all the hard work that went into it, is still something I am proud to say I have done. And although it may not mean much to the world anymore, it may not get me any further in life, or into the field I studied for, it means a lot to me. I chose the degree I did for me in the first place, not for prospects of the future. It was the best decision I've ever made. And University topped all previous years of living. 

9.  I stayed in my university city after graduating 

I think this is a bigger point that some people may realise. A lot of the people I went to school with barely left the county, many didn’t go on to college or University and those who did stayed in the area. Even fewer stayed out here in the world. Where I’m from can be a trap for people my age. So I’m very glad to say I got out. It was tough making a home for myself completely independent and hundreds of miles away from my roots, but that’s what personal growth and life is all about – move forwards always. 

10.  I moved into my own flat with my best friend

Another wonderful thing that seemed to just happen easily this year. Without plan, one of my girls and I found ourselves looking at a beautiful flat and ended up putting a deposit on it that very same day. I may have had to blow through all of my travelling savings to do so, but I don’t regret it for one minute. Yes, I am adulting to the max and it has been very challenging and I've had to work my little bum off for this life, but it's so worth it. I always thought that living with people created a divide no matter who they are, but luckily I've not ruined a friendship by living with her. Our jobs help, meaning we actually go days without seeing each other, but space is good for everyone. 

11.  I got myself an adult job

This took a couple trial and error jobs, but eventually the right one fell into place. Literally. Just like my friends, my partner and other good things this year, my job kind of stumbled upon me. I knew support work was something I planned to do in the future, as I wanted to be able to help people and well I’m just a massive people person. But I didn’t think I was ready. I almost didn’t go to the interview for this job that I now love. But I’m very glad I did, cause I think it’s set me on the right career path. Nothing is more rewarding than helping people, if only in small ways.

12.  I said YES a lot

Yes, I will jump out of the plane. Yes, I will get up on stage and perform a poem without notice in front of an entire Student Union. Yes, I will kiss that stranger and forget his name. Yes, I will give you the chance to make me laugh. Yes, I will meet those girls for coffee again. Yes, I will always say yes to something that could bring me joy, even if I fear it. Especially if I fear it. It’s ok to make mistakes, regrets even – sometimes – but it’s not ok to be sad that you said no. Just do it. You’re young. This is your time to be wild.

13.  I stopped being so tight about money and instead chose to live

I’d spent most my life working, but during University I focused on my studies. Despite this, I still I tried to save as much as possible, which meant I rarely did anything – because we should be living for tomorrow, right? Wrong. We live today. Go out for that fancy dinner. Go out for drinks more than once a week if you like. Have coffee dates with friends. Pay for that boy's drink. You can't take it with you. That life you're saving for may never happen. You should be investing in today. 

14.  I played the field

Maybe I played some boys back at their own game. Maybe I never stayed around for longer than three weeks. Maybe I broke one or two hearts (but I honestly didn’t mean to). But you know what, it was liberating. It was really good for me to learn who I connect with and those I don’t. I dated a boy once who fitted my ‘perfect type’ to a t, and he was boring. I dated boys with so much in common with me and it still didn’t feel right. So I stopped having a type. I stopped expecting similarities or differences to mean anything. People are people. I realised that the only thing that matters is if you can talk to someone. Like really connect with someone. I discovered that when dating just let things be what they are. If they're going to become someone special to you, they will, you won't have to force it. 

15.  I always had a story to tell

I did things like turn up to mid-day coffee dates still drunk from the night before. My girls often found this entertaining. A big part of my twenty-first year was spent being reckless and finding it funny the next day. It's not shameful to enjoy your life as long as you are doing it for you. The year coincided with my break free from a tough relationship as well as my third and final year of studying. Therefore, I was meeting new friends who went out a lot and we always used a deadline as an excuse to blow off some steam. It was really good to not be serious all the time.

16.  I gave relationships a second chance

It took me a while to get over the fear of relationships after my last one. This was because I was so scared of becoming someone I wasn’t again, scared of wasting precious years of my life, and just scared of being a part of something I didn't fully understand. I spent most of my twenty-first year wondering if 'love' or 'feelings' were real, maybe all people did was settle. I was confused but towards the end of all the fun and games, I started to feel like I wanted that bond again. And like my wonderful friends, I never saw my relationship coming. But because it was good and positive, I slowly opened up to the idea of it. And I haven’t been happier.

17.  I met new people but didn’t keep all of them in my life

Everyone you meet makes an impression on you. And even those that make good impressions can leave your life. This doesn’t have to be a sad thing. It’s good to be able to accept that some people will drift in and out but make things a little brighter in their passing. Maybe they taught you something, something practical or something about yourself. Maybe they just gave you some good memories. Either way, don’t feel like everything good must be held onto. Let be what is. 

18.  I learnt that if you have a connection with someone you do your best to keep them

In total contradict to the previous point, sometimes good people are worth a little effort. If people have a positive impact on your life, don’t let them fade away. If you haven’t spoken for awhile message them. You’re in your twenties don’t let pride hold you back in life. We’ve probably all lost a lot of friends this way. Good ones don’t come around often.

19.  I went on adventures

By myself, on a date, with friends. I’ve always been very adventurous. But you don’t have to travel around the globe to find breath-taking views, to go on hikes and climbs, to find somewhere peaceful to sit and think or to talk nothings with someone. Just jump in your car and drive in any direction. Maybe ask the passenger to shout directions at each junction. This kept my life exciting and was healthy for my soul. 

20.  I changed

I was once called secluded. But I spent all of the last year wandering around talking to strangers, pulling people into my life. I once thought I’d never be truly close to people, but now I have a family of friends. I once was very body shy, very anxious about all sorts of situations and although the anxiety can still crop up mostly I will just put myself out there and do things. I changed because I let myself be who I was supposed to. I didn’t let anyone suppress that. I changed because I made stupid mistakes and then learnt from them. I changed because I listened to myself, really listened. I changed and I couldn’t ever go back.

21.  I found out that life is all about balance

Work hard, play hard. This was basically the tag line for the year. I studied until I cried but then I’d go and party through till morning. It’s all about balance. It’s about taking time to relax after having a hectic week. And sometimes you have to find these things out the hard way. I ran myself into the ground until I realised I just needed to put me first and have time to do nothing. Balance in everything. Eat good all week, have a treat. Just give life what you can, not all that you've got cause you’ll burn out, but what’s necessary at the time.

You're twenty-one. Be wild, be young, be reckless while you can. And at whatever stage you are in your life, just be. Beautiful, wonderful things happen when you just be. The world can give you exactly what you need when you just be.