sustainable fashion: my move towards it

I’d like to thank each and every one of you for your support so far, and hope you’ll continue with me on this journey ūüôā


AROUND one year ago, I did something I’d been thinking about for a long time, and finally mustered up the courage to start a fashion & lifestyle blog. Distil My Style was born.

SINCE then, I’ve mainly produced (some good, some bad, some ugly) fashion content, but recently I started to feel an unease about posting it. I noticed I was getting more enjoyment and satisfaction from lifestyle posts such as 6 places to visit in Sao Miguel, Azores¬†and¬†3 gym classes to try¬†and in most cases they were being better received by you guys ūüôŹ

AFTER reflecting on this for some time, I realised the reason for my angst was the fact I wasn’t giving much consideration to the fashion brands I was promoting. Plenty of thought was going in to the fit, the print, and the price of the clothes, but none given to whether they’re sustainable and/or ethical. Did the production of these garments carry a negative external cost to the people making them, or to the environment?

EVEN though I’d shopped loyally with many of these brands for over a decade, the seed had now been sewn, and I had to look more deeply into the issue. I soon found many amazing people had been researching and campaigning for an alternative fashion industry ever since the rapid emergence of fast fashion in the late 90s/early 00s.

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LUCY Siegle is a pinoeer of this movement, and in her revolutionary book To Die For, she discusses how:

“As consumers we’ve been completely anaesthetised by the seemingly incredible value of fashion over the last decade. The kick that buying cheap items gives us makes it easy to forget the reality of their production.”

THE more I continued to read about the devastating affect the fashion industry is having on certain people’s lives and the environment, the more I began to angle my blog and Instagram content towards sustainability.

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Some charity shop outfits ūüėĚ

MY mind was made up when I watched¬†Stacey Dooley’s documentary Fashion’s Dirty Secrets, which focuses on the environmental impact of the fashion industry. Dooley cleverly and candidly tackles the topic from a consumer’s point of view:

“The few pounds we spend for an item of clothing isn’t the true cost – the real cost is the millions of gallons of clean water that was used to grow the fabric, or the millions of gallons of fresh water that was polluted with toxic chemicals to dye the clothes.”

AFTER watching this I felt I had no other choice than to focus Distil My Style completely on sustainable fashion, making it the unequivocal topic of conversation on the blog.

WHAT YOU CAN EXPECT TO SEE

  • More charity and vintage outfit posts using recycled clothes
  • Practical life hacks on how to shop fashion more sustainably
  • Interviews with established, and upcoming, sustainable fashion brands

SO, I hope this slight shift in focus is as exciting to you as it is to me, and that you’ll continue with me on this journey. To those who have been with me since the beginning, and to those who are just joining, thanks again for your support!¬†

A

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6 places to visit in sao miguel, azores

Written below are some of my favourite places and experiences (there were too many to write in one post) in Sao Miguel, Azores, which I travelled to in September, 2018.

Earlier this year, I sat at my desk at work on a dreary Tuesday morning, but only in body. As I stared into my computer screen, like most Millenials, my mind started to wander: where on Earth could I have been at that moment, rather than sat in the office? I then spoke out to my colleague sat opposite, who is a master at wanderlust conversation having once worked in the travel industry, and asked her where she reckoned I should go.

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As though she already knew where my mind had veered off to, instinctively and immediately she answered the question with a question – “have you heard of the Azores..?

Upon gazing at its beautiful, kaleidoscopic landscapes on Google images, I searched and found some super cheap flights from Manchester Airport to Jo√£o Paulo II Airport in Ponta Delgada, Sao Miguel, Azores (mouth-full). Then I found a travel companion, and we booked for early September, when the temperature is consistently low to mid-twenties. Even though, as we soon found out, you can have four seasons in one day, and the temp is hugely variable depending on your altitude on the island.

The flight took four hours, and then we landed on Sao Miguel island. After speaking to tourist info, some locals and some fellow tourists, we decided Logoa do Fogo should be our first stop.

FIRST DESTINATION: LAGOA DO FOGO

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We climbed up into the clouds in our Ford Focus rental (renting a car definitely seems the best way to get around the island), from the city of Ponta Delgada below, and instantly got a sense of island life. We were happy to be stuck behind a herd of cows up a windy lane for four miles as it gave us a chance to take in some of the breathtaking views and wildlife. Once over 3,000 feet above sea level, we parked and began the hike down to the lake.

The hike is steep, and slippy when wet, but completely worth it. The views are some of the best I’ve personally ever seen. The calm lake is juxtaposed against the jagged terrain which gives a supernatural air to the surroundings. And the quietness and lack of people makes you feel as if you could be back in the Jurassic period, or even in the theme park itself…

SECOND DESTINATION: CLADEIRA VELHA

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You will def feel like jumping into a Jacuzzi after hiking to see Lagoa do Fogo, so why not jump into a natural one? Cladheira Velha is a twenty minute dive from there, and the perfect remedy.

You pay 8 Euros in to the park for access to the natural hot pools, where you can sit, relax, and take in the tropical atmosphere. It’s geared up for tourists with changing rooms, lockers, and man-made walkways, but this doesn’t much take away from the feeling of being in and amongst nature. You also get to witness water at boiling point that isn’t coming out of a kettle ready to make a cuppa with. Pretty cool.

THIRD DESTINATION: PONTA DELGADA

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After doing quite a bit of driving on the first day, we decided to check out the capital of Sao Miguel island, Ponta Delgada. The city centre and main square were around a 15 minute walk from our Air Bnb, which offered a leisurely coastal stroll into town. The city has so much variety to it, it seems to have something for everyone. This includes a stunning harbour, from which you can go on boat tours to whale and dolphin watch, something we regrettably missed, so will have to do next time. There’s an impressive market (Mercado da Graca) to buy fresh fish, fruit, and veg, a natural and man-made swimming pool, with cool buildings spread throughout the city. For the evening, restaurants and bars are aplenty, and the city comes alive with live music. Epic.

FOURTH DESTINATION: SETE CIDADES

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Sete Cidades requires another 40 minute drive from the centre of Ponta Delgada, but man, is it worth it! It is a little parish, with a population of around 1,000, located at the centre of a volcanic crater. Before arriving at the village, there are various viewpoints at which to look down over the lake – definitely stop at one of these because your mind will be blown. It’s also worth having a quick look around the village; it feels relatively untouched by tourism, and the colourful buildings and beautiful church again give you a sense of being transported back in time. However, the main attraction of Sete Cidades is the lake. Check out the images above because I can’t do it justice with words. One very cool thing they’ve only started doing this year is watersports on the lake. As such, we kayaked to our hearts’ content. Also, there were only around 10 other people on the lake which is why I’d urge you to visit this place sooner rather than later.

FIFTH DESTINATION: SAO ROQUE BEACH

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BEACH DAY. In need of another break from the car, Sao Roque beach was around a 90 minute scenic walk from our accommodation. On our way we actually passed another natural swimming pool overlooked by some giant rock formation. The beach in Sao Roque is awesome – it has black sand, fairly warm water, and somewhere to get a beer. Perfect. It is also overlooked by a 400 year old, stunning church. I’ve never been laid on a beach listening to church bells ring before, I’d recommend it. When the sun had set, we strolled 5 minutes up the road to a beach front restaurant where we ate fresh fish and drank white wine. Again, couldn’t recommend it enough.

SIXTH DESTINATION: FURNAS

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As our adventure came to a close, there was one last village and lake we needed to visit – Furnas. We drove straight to the lake, which is encircled by a walking path. I didn’t think there could possibly be another breathtaking lake on one small island, but I was proven wrong. And the cool thing about it is how different they all are. Furnas lake has lots of greenery surrounding it, and you get a chance to see volcanic steam coming out of the ground. The locals make use of this steam, and use it to cook a traditional dish called cozida, basically a meat stew cooked in big pots under the ground. After walking around the lake, we went into the village and ate at Tony’s restaurant. I would recommend this restaurant for its vibe, and wine, but not sure the cozida was for me. Not gonna lie, it was pretty tasteless, but I can’t argue with the huge portions Tony served us up.

 


 

Jordan Peterson: “When you explore boldly, when you voluntarily confront the unknown, you gather information and build your renewed self out of that information. That is the conceptual element. However, researchers have recently discovered that new genes in the central nervous system turn themselves on when an organism is placed (or places itself) in a new situation. These genes code for new proteins. These proteins are the building blocks for new structures in the brain. This means that a lot of you is still nascent, in the most physical of senses, and will not be called forth by stasis. You have to say something, go somewhere and do things to get turned on. And, if not‚Ķyou remain incomplete, and life is too hard for anyone incomplete.”

6 essential summer shoes

The right pair of shoes can transform your outfit and look, with minimal effort. Whether you’re heading to the beach, going for a sizzling city break, or glamming up for the evening, I’m here to help with the most on trend summer shoes this summer! So, pack away your wellington boots, and get ready for all the¬†loafers,¬†boat shoes,¬†trainers,¬†espadrilles, and¬†flip-flops¬†coming your way.

1. White Trainers

Minimalist white trainers are¬†the¬†2018 summer essential. You can opt for timeless trainers such as the¬†white Converse Chuck Taylor All-Stars, which have remained largely unchanged since their introduction decades ago. Or, a less recognisable model such as the¬†Levi’s Malibu trainers, which are virtually unbranded. Team your white trainers with matching white laces and add a pair of¬†light denim shorts¬†for the ultimate summer outfit.

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2. Boat Shoes

Also known as deck shoes, boat shoes are now some of the most popular styles you’ll see in any summer resort. Boat shoes were originally a popular preppy choice, but have now turned into a summer classic, which must be worn without socks for that nautical touch. Style a blue pair of boat shoes with some¬†beige chinos¬†for the ideal Riviera look.

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3. Loafers

Every man needs at least one pair of loafers in his shoe rack. The loafer is a staple shoe style that is extremely versatile, whether you need to dress up for a summer wedding or dress down for a garden barbecue, loafers are both sophisticated and relaxed. When dressing up, choose a pair of leather loafers, and team with a seersucker blazer and linen trousers. To dress down, match a pair of suede loafers with denim shorts and a polo shirt. Remember, unlike boat shoes, always wear socks with loafers! And choose a lighter coloured pair for greater versatility with other lighter tones in your summer wardrobe.

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4. Sliders & Flip Flops

Flip flops & sliders might be the most controversial shoes on this list, but fashion attitudes are changing towards them, and both have their place in your summer capsule wardrobe. Summer is all about relaxation, and these shoes are perfect for that. Whether you’re at home or abroad, slip either of these bad boys on with a¬†neutral coloured pair of shorts¬†and a¬†white vest, and you’ll immediately feel chilled out.

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5. Espadrilles

With the huge variation in¬†espadrille¬†colours and prints, you’re bound to find a pair that will go with your summer outfits. I’d recommend getting a day-pair to head down to the beach in, and an evening pair for al fresco dining, without the formality of leather shoes.

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6. Suede Desert Boots

As the name suggests,¬†desert¬†boots were originally designed for hot conditions, and became a popular men’s fashion item during the 1940s and 50s.¬† The fab thing about desert boots is the numerous ways in which they can be styled, allowing many different looks for summer. Wear them with cropped trousers or¬†shorts, and¬†invisible socks, to epitomise smart-caj. Desert boots are also perfect for dressing up; wear them with a smart pair of chinos, or even a¬†suit, on a summer’s evening.

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how to dress for a wedding – men’s guide

What to wear for a wedding is rapidly becoming just as important for guys as it already is for the ladies. I understand there’s limited information out there for men on the latest styles for each season, but that doesn’t mean dressing for a wedding needs to be a fashion nightmare. Do not fear, whichever time of year the wedding is, I’ve got you covered!

what to wear to a spring/summer wedding

For a spring/summer wedding, it’s all about lighter colours to keep you cool. Team a blue suit with a crisp white shirt, and some brown or black brogues for a classic, James Bond-esque look. A smart, cotton suit is ideal, but if expected temperatures are going to reach boiling point, you could even opt for a linen suit for extra comfort. Adding a pair of blue suede shoes will give you the perfect summer get-up, and will mean you’re ready to hit that dancefloor when the time comes.

shop the look

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what to wear to an autumn/winter wedding

For an autumn/winter wedding, the most important thing is keeping warm. After all, the photographer will be snapping away all day, and you want to be smiling, not shivering! A woollen blazer is ideal for battling those autumnal winds, and if you’ve entered the most bitter months of the year, you could even rock a smart overcoat for a suave entrance to the wedding. Earthy and darker tones are the name of the game for weddings at this time of the year, so why not complete the outfit with a pair of taupe ankle boots?

ASOS have a built up a wonderful, extensive wedding boutique for men over the last few years, though they seem to avoid promoting it too heavily. Check it out for a great range, at mostly competitive prices.

shop the look

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what to wear to a beach wedding

If you’re lucky enough to be attending a beach wedding this year, it‚Äôs time to focus on casual-chic. This doesn‚Äôt mean it‚Äôs advisable to turn up in your Speedos and beach towel, but it is perfectly acceptable to keep it caj. Linen will keep you smart, cool and casual, and the whiter the better. Pair your white linen suit with blue leather loafers for that relaxed feel, and to wow the rest of the guests. If you’re not keen on the look of linen, wear a seersucker cotton blazer¬†for a lightweight, breathable alternative.

shop the look

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style it with

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how to wear linen – men’s guide

Linen is the ideal fabric to keep you looking and feeling cool in the warmer months. However, many still avoid it as it isn’t the easiest look to pull off, so I’m here to help with these linen guidelines designed just for you!

do I need to iron linen?

There’s no need to iron linen. It is time to embrace the creases, reflecting your tranquil summer attitude. Why not use the time you’ve saved not ironing to knock up your favourite G & T, throw on your linen t-shirt, and sit out in the sun? If you can’t possibly resist ironing your linen garm’s, make sure to¬†iron them inside out.

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which colour should I go for?

Are you feeling experimental this summer? If so, linen is a great way to get new shades into your wardrobe. There are green and blue tones which you simply don’t get from winter wool or denim. If you’re playing it safe, classic summer colours such as beige, navy and white are always on trend.

White Regular Fit Crew Neck T-Shirt

how should it fit?

The optimal linen fit is relaxed. You might want to try ordering one size up to give that ultimate chill vibe, also make sure to leave linen t-shirts and shirts untucked. If you are precious about a close fit, you can always get the clothes tailored, this might be recommended for a linen suit where a close fit can be a challenge.

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what do I pair it with?

I’ll admit, head-to-toe linen is a tough look for anyone to pull off. If you’re feeling it, go for it! If not, complete the look with a¬†denim jacket,¬†suede shoes¬†and shades to maintain that idyllic feel.

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7 summer tees for men

Come summer time, you’ll need¬†at least¬†one tee for every day of the week. T-shirts are an eternal summer staple that can be worn for so many different occasions. Dressing up or dressing down, read on for my picks of the most on trend t-shirts for summer 2018.

1. the striped tee

A striped t-shirt is a must for every summer. Tuck it in for that elegant, Riviera look, or leave it out for more of a casual, daytime barbecue feel. I love this breton tee by Weekday, its slightly longer back and raw edges at the hem are ideal for that relaxed look.

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2. the graphic tee

Graphic t-shirts are perfect for standing out this summer. For me, when introducing a graphic into my outfit, I like to keep it monochrome so there isn’t too much going on. But if you’re feeling a louder graphic, go for it! Rules are made to be broken in summer ūüėČ

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3. the basic tee

The essential staple for this summer, the v-neck has made a comback in 2018.¬† Top tip for the v-neck – find your ideal fit, and then purchase that specific tee in 50 different shades. Wear brighter tones when the sun is out, and vice versa. I find La Redoute’s v’s work well for me, but there’s so many out there, so have a search and take your pick!

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4. the slogan tee

Let your tee speak for itself. Slogan tees are¬†the¬†trend of 2018. Be fun, be flirty, and be on-trend. You’re bound to find something to bring out your personality with the abundance of slogan tees on sale this season.

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5. the “going out” tee

Polo shirts are an ideal way to look smart-caj this summer without overheating. Shop this Zara striped polo to add some oomph to your outfit when you’re hitting the town.

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6. the plain white tee

Jack & Jones have designed some of our favourite simple, crew neck t-shirts for this summer. White is going to keep you looking and feeling cool in the warmer months, and this classic tee also comes in 3 more shades!

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7. the sleeveless tee

Whether you’re travelling abroad for a city break or to be by the sea, a sleeveless tee is just the ticket!

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would versus could

Disclaimer: Right! You’ll have to bear with me here, and excuse any pseudoscience/lack of historical accuracy; this is just a bit of a brain dump of some thoughts I’ve had recently on ambition and personal development, inspired by books I’ve been reading. If you dig any of what you read below, I’ve put a list of books with similar ideas in the footer ūüėČ


It’s my belief that we all have the potential to achieve anything.

We all could, but the question is, would we?

Back in the prehistoric day, humans lived in a much tougher environment than modern day Western civilisation. This meant taking persistent action was essential because it was literally the difference between life and death. Everyday Caveman John woke up, he had to fight for his food and shelter, otherwise he was dead. Clearly this isn’t the case for us today – I could wake up tomorrow and decide to do nothing – and there would be zero consequence to my imminent survival.

So, what’s my point?

Should we sack Western civilisation off, and revert to living in a prehistoric manner, just so we have to work harder? Absolutely not, I think the security and free nature of our modern civilisation is absolutely admirable and amazing. However, it does mean, in order to be successful at something we usually have to put evolutionary pressure onto ourselves.

Now I’m not talking Caveman John pressure, where we are acting purely out of survival, but enough pressure so that we get a little out of our comfort zones – something I’ve talked about before in¬†3 gym classes you should try.¬† We all¬†could do this,¬† but would we be willing to push ourselves, and experience some discomfort, in order to achieve?

I’ve had instances of pushing myself to my potential over the years, but also innumerable times when I have taken the path of least resistance. Last year, I landed an interview for a job I really wanted at a fashion retailer in London. After the preliminary stages, I was fully aware I would have to improve my Excel skills quite dramatically, and I had 3 weeks to do it in. I definitely¬†could have learned the Excel skills, but the point is that I wouldn’t¬†commit to doing it.

So in order to develop, I need to take the lessons from this experience, and implement them. For instance, this is something I really want to put into practice with blogging.

I know that I could:

  1. Keep to deadlines to produce regular, scheduled blog posts
  2. Put myself out there to meet and collaborate with other bloggers & photographers
  3. Optimise social media accounts to drive traffic to my blog

But will I?

I’ll have to make sure I put enough pressure on myself everyday, and not let myself off the hook. I believe that if I do commit to these 3 points, a longer term snowball effect might occur, and I’d get to a situation where people are reading the blog regularly, and most importantly gaining value from it.

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Yet, as I’ve said, this will only happen if I stick to small DAILY habits that then compound into long term progress. For example, regularly planning and writing blog posts,¬† and shooting and editing imagery, as well as indirect (but critical) habits such as getting 8 hours sleep per night and hitting the gym. I’ll also, in the short term at least, have to be willing to give more than I will necessarily receive.

Finally, it’s important to say that I have friends, colleagues and mentors who are much further along their journey than I am. So I write this post from a place of humility, a place of noticing that there is at least one thing all these people have in common, and that’s their persistence in taking action. They put enough pressure onto themselves to make sure they’re habitually taking action and, as a result, developing themselves. This is why I strive to be around people like this as frequently as possible. They make it a matter of course to step out of their comfort zones with a willingness to learn,¬† which is something I’m trying to do every single day.

Thanks so much for checking this post out – follow me on Insta for updates on all new blog material ūüôā


Source material and self-development books I’d 100% recommend:

my first audiobook

If you’re anything like me, you LOVE the idea of reading.

Like…

  1. One of your New Year’s resolutions was to read more often because of the obvious benefits to your mind, body & spirit
  2. You bought a lorry full of books from Amazon (with an Xmas gift card from ya fave Aunty)
  3. You proudly stacked them somewhere in the house (with that smug #winning feeling)

However…

The road to hell is paved with good intentions”

For some reason there just doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day to begin this literary odyssey of the mind. To pick up that book and read from cover-to-cover seems a daunting challenge at best, a crippling one at worst. I mean, after commuting to and from work; hitting the gym; cooking; and doing whatever else may fill your day, little time is left to #read.

But wait! They said,

What about that period of time between jumping into bed and falling asleep..?

Fair point. I thought.

But, to be honest, I tend to read four and a half pages before beginning to nod off (the way you do on a flight or long car journey, where you snap awake in panicked, embarrassed confusion). Either that, or I have¬†every intention of reaching for my paperback, I instead opt for the adrenaline fuelled, passive satisfaction of scrolling through Instagram, Facebook or whichever social platform we’re all currently addicted to.

But then… I had a brainwave… Wait for it…

I spend at least an hour every weekday on my commute; so why not take advantage of this time?

Whether, like me, you walk and get the train to work, or if you drive, audiobooks are the perfect way to get those pages (figuratively) turning. I’d considered listening to audiobooks before, however, this wasn’t as practical when CDs were the order of the day. Now, it’s as simple as downloading an app to your smartphone, and you’re good to go.

I decided to try the Kobo Books app (there are tonnes to choose from) because of the ease of signing up for the free trial, where you get one free credit which you can exchange for one audiobook. Nice if you want to give it a go without commitment (something I’m def¬†NOT afraid of…ūüė≥). It’s also a fair price thereafter, ¬£6.99 per month for one credit. If you’re a data-saving-warrior like I am – it’s great – you can download the audiobooks so you don’t have to burn through data every time you fancy dipping into your latest listen.

The app, too, seems awesome across different genres of audiobook. My first download was Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari, which I’d highly recommend if you’re interested in evolution and how we’ve got to where we are as a species… Obviously some pretty¬†heavy content at points, but the book is clearly read, and funnily enough, I probably maintained more focus than when actually reading it. The second book I listened to, in contrast, was Agatha Christie’s The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, a fantastic fiction detective novel, which was read aloud in an equally gripping manner.

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Overall I’d def recommend at least giving audiobooks a try as it’s a great way, with the busy modern lives we lead, to read without needing to find the time to actually read. Ideally, I’d like to get to a position where I am both reading and listening to amazing books that will enhance my mind and life outlook, but for now, I’m ‘appy with my little app ūüėČ

As always, thanks for listening reading ūüôā

Peace.

A

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Feature image taken by Charlotte L. Owen

holidaying at home

I’m not gonna lie, the term “staycation” makes me cringe a little bit. Reminds me of Sam Smith, or something…¬†The staycation concept, on the other hand, I’m starting to love.

Over the years, my appreciation for what’s on my doorstep has def increased. Having grown up in West Yorkshire, England, the Yorkshire Dales are a perfect example of this. Like a lot of kids, I always took the Dales stunning countryside for granted, and to be honest,¬†believed it to be bang average ūüėģ Now, though, when I’m out there breathing easy, smelling the fruitful fresh air, with an array of kaleidoscopic colours bouncing into my eyes from the luscious landscape, I have a slightly alternate view. I now have gratitude and appreciation. And so, as often as I can try to take trips to the different country villages, such as Malham, and their surrounding countrysides.

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Take a read of¬† Charlotte’s poem, inspired by one December afternoon in cold, wet, wonderful Malham

So, inspired by our outings to the Dales, last week my proverbial wifey and I headed even further up North, for a couple of nights in the beautiful county of Northumberland.

After looking over different accommodation options, we decided to use Airbnb to hire a place for ourselves, and ended up staying just outside Alnwick, at Sue’s cottage. If you haven’t tried Airbnb, I’d highly recommend it; you can always find a gem that suits your needs, and at such reasonable prices. Our place had views of rolling hills for miles, fresh coffee, and a log burning stove. Perfect.

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The view from Sue’s (excuse the rhyme) kitchen window

When you’re in Northumberland, you have to take the opportunity to experience its stunning walking routes. We did a supposedly simple walk along the coast from Warkworth to Alnmouth, and still managed to get lost! But the sights were 1000% worth it, and that’s not to mention the Red Lion pub waiting for us at the end of the route where we piled the calories back on with pints of Guinness, and steak & ale pie with chips. Yum.

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Some sights during our walk from Warkworth to Alnmouth

So, if you’re thinking about a summer holiday, or even just a long weekend away, I’d urge you to consider exploring somewhere in your own country! There’s bound to be lots of¬† extraordinary places to go, and you shouldn’t have to break the bank getting there.

As always, thanks for reading ūüôā

Peace.

A

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3 gym classes you should try

Disclaimer: I am by no means a fitness guru. I have worked out for a number of years, but have no qualifications in this field; I’d just like to show you some things I’ve personally found to be of benefit to¬†my body & mind.

Year on year, I try to take my fitness to the next level. I’ve been working out at the gym for around 5 years now, yet recently my routine became a little mundane. Don’t get me wrong, I would still hit the gym up at least three times a week, and go relatively hard when there, however it felt as though my body was getting used to the workouts I was doing. You see, working out is a bit like your sex life with a long-term partner, it needs to be kept interesting by trying new things.

So, one of my 2018 resolutions was to try some new gym classes, and having never done a class before, I was a little apprehensive. But, I thought, “F*CK IT – what’s the worst that can happen?”…

1. BODYPUMP

With a little help from my colleagues friends, I hit my first class.¬†Bodypump¬†was an apt class to start with as the gym, Kent’s, is close to my office, and you can pay on a class-by-class basis. This is ideal as I already have a monthly subscription at a different gym. I’d recommend checking out options near where you work; you need to make it as convenient as possible, so it’s difficult to find excuses for missing the class. And,¬†believe me, you’ll do your utmost to find the excuses ūüėČ

Growth tip:-¬†Every time you don’t give in to these excuses, you build your prefrontal cortex (PFC). I’d suggest reading up on the science behind it, but I like to think of it as my ‘willpower muscle’ which is strengthened by resisting, and pushing through, my excuses. For instance, it’s pissing it down outside, so you could easily decide against walking to the gym and getting wet. Making the DECISION to walk anyway builds your willpower, even if it’s by 0.0001%, so the next time you make a decision it’s easier to ignore your own excuses.¬†

Bodypump is a barbell workout, led by an (in my case, hilarious) instructor, which involves lots of squatting and lifting, to music. As it’s based on high repetitions, it’s more¬†likely to get you toned and lean, rather than helping you to build huge muscle mass (if you are looking to get ‘bigger’ the general consensus is to lift heavier weights for fewer rep’s). Bodypump is a great way to get into gym classes in general because you can use as light or as heavy weight as you like, depending on your ability at that point. Also, there is an element of rhythm involved, which seems to be the case in many classes, and so it gets you used to this. Alternatively, if you are looking to focus more on your rhythm as well as get fit, Zumba could be a great shout.

2. METAFIT

After a few weeks my body began to adapt to the strains of Bodypump, and¬†so I decided to join the class before it as a kind of ‘warm-up’. Little did I know what I had signed myself up for… Metafit¬†is a form of high-intensity interval training, which basically means quick, intense bursts of exercise, followed by short recovery periods. You’ll find yourself doing exercises like burpees, sit-ups and squats… and sometimes all three at once! This is a shorter class than Bodypump, normally half an hour, but you really get put through your paces. The first time I did it I thought my heart was going to explode out of my chest. Although there is no barbell, your body-weight is enough to get you seriously panting. I see Metafit as more of an intermediate class, and before beginning it, I’d recommend getting a base level of fitness. If you don’t feel you have this, you could try jogging around the block, just to get your body used to recovery after exercise, because re-paying that oxygen debt is what Metafit’s¬†all about.

3. SPIN

So, at this point, I was doing two classes a week at the gym near work and thought I’d mix it up a little by doing one at Energy Mill where I work out a few nights a week. I was slightly spoilt for choice by the number of classes available, but a friend recommended trying a Spinning class. In on respect, I’m grateful to this friend… In another, I’m questioning their friendship. SPIN IS DIFFICULT. It will really test you, both physically and mentally. Essentially, it’s a high intensity cycling workout (on a stationary bike, may I add) where you follow the instructor, pedaling against varying degrees of resistance. To alter the resistance you turn a knob on the bike, so you really do have to mentally tough in order to keep the resistance at a point where you are giving your all. There’s been many times, sat on that bike, where I’ve been SO tempted to turn the resistance down when climbing that figurative hill. But no pain, no gain. You must resist that temptation with all of your will. It is an amazing workout and I don’t think I’ve ever sweat so much. I really like the feeling of being part of a ‘team’ during Spin;¬†fighting against that resistance together, compared to my other two classes which feel a little more individualistic. To me, Spin honestly can feel as much like a spiritual practice as it can fitness.

So, there you are, 3 gym classes you should try. At the moment, I’m really enjoying these 3, and I think they complement each other nicely. I’ll be sure to update you with any new classes I undertake ūüėČ Comment below with any classes I should try ūüôā

As always, thanks so much for reading.

Peace.

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