Our first day in Amsterdam started with a bit of a delay. Our flight was due to leave at 9.05, but due to low visibility Amsterdam's end, we didn't leave until 10.30, cue a lot of airport boredom... But, we were grateful our flight went at all, as two other flights to Amsterdam that were scheduled the same morning as ours were cancelled. We flew with KLM from Southampton, and it was nice, it was £70 return each, so an absolute bargain. The flight was just over an hour, so by the time we'd sat down and put our seatbelts on, it was pretty much time to get back up again... 

We flew with hand luggage only, so when we landed at Schipol airport, all that was left to do was pass border control, and then we were free to wander around Amsterdamto our hearts content. Once we were through the other side, we headed to the train station to buy our travel passes. We bought the 3-day train/tram/bus passes from GVB for €26 and they were so incredibly handy. I can't tell you the number of times we used them. They were ideal for us as we didn't have to faff around with tickets and could just hop on and hop off as we pleased.

Once we'd sorted ourselves out, and found the right train, we headed to our hotel to drop off our bags. We couldn't check in until 2pm, but after the delayed flight, the time difference, and the time it took to get to the hotel, we arrived at bang on 2. We stayed at the Ibis Budget Amsterdam City South, and it was good. I mean, it wasn't centrally located in the slightest, it was about 25 minutes on a tram to Centraal Station, but it was clean, modern and cheap - so no complaints here. 

After a very brief wander around, we headed straight to the A'DAM Lookout and the swing. (Which, involved a free public ferry across the water, whaaaat?) The weather forecast for the 3 days we were in Holland was pretty rainy, but the day we arrived was really sunny, so we decided to head straight to the swing. We didn't book in advance, we just turned up, and there were plenty of slots free. We had our slot booked (4.20) and headed for a little wander before ascending the tower. The lookout was really nice. You could see for miles, and the skybar was really pretty, but I wouldn't say it was massively worth going to if you weren't doing the swing. 

So, the swing was great fun. It's 'Europe's Highest Swing'. It's 100m tall, and you swing over the edge of the lookout building, with the water beneath you and the city all around. You're not allowed to take photos whilst on the swing, but the staff do take photos for you which you can download for free from their site. It was really really good fun. If you're heading to Amsterdam anytime soon, I'd highly recommend doing it!

Because of our excitement to get on the swing in the sun, we missed lunch. Big mistake. My sister and I are pretty big eaters, so, by the time we'd got back to Centraal we were starving. We went for a bit more of an explore and stumbled across an Italian restaurant that looked nice. I can't remember what it was called, but it was one of the 35384 pizzerias in Amsterdam, and the food was good. Nothing to write home about, but good nonetheless.

After getting up at 5.30am to head to the airport, it's fair to say we were pretty tired after all our travelling and wandering, so, after dinner, we just headed back to the hotel to sleep, ready for our second day of adventures... 
I'm going to say it, I think my twentieth birthday was one of my, if not my favourite birthday. I had such a lovely day, full of the best food, time with my favourite people, lots of lovely gifts and messages andddd a shopping spree. What a day. We even had some snow - something I've never had on my birthday before, which was nice but totally disrupted my outfit plans. First world problems.

The day started with banana and chocolate pancakes. Delish. Pancake Day reminded me just how much I love pancakes, and they've become a fairly frequent occurrence ever since. They're particularly good with half a melted Easter Egg on top, thank you Easter.

I opened my cards and gifts and was so blown away. My sister bought me a canvas with the two of us on and I absolutely love it, even though I do look like an absolute spanner. She also decorated the house, so thank you Hoob if you're reading, and thank you also for the 'brother' card, much appreciated. My parents bought me lots of lovely things including the trousers in the fourth photo; they're from Zara and I'm so in love with them. Thank you parentals!

For lunch, we went to TGI's as I really fancied some of their JD chicken strips... For my main, I had a chicken burger and a huge pile of fries, yum. Because it was my birthday we also got free cocktails and a slice of cake too, so a good time all around. 

As for the shopping spree, I made a good start on my holiday shopping for Summer 2018 and made a fair dent in my bank balance. If you follow me on Twitter you'd have seen that we booked our family holiday the night before my birthday... And we're off to Bali!! So, it's fair to say all the shopping I bought had that dreamy trip in mind. (For the nosy amongst you, rest assured, there's a haul post coming soon!)

We popped into Lush for a browse and ended up making our own bubble bars whilst we were in there. As we walked in, one of the lovely members of staff asked if we wanted to make a Brightside Bubble Bar, and yes, of course we did. Right place, right time and all that. It was really fun and they smell really good.

By the time we'd finished shopping, it was pretty much dinner time, and the day just got better. My Mum made one of her roasts (something I'm severely deprived during term time at uni) and it was incredible. The best way to end a birthday, hey??
For my 20th birthday, my sister Holly and I are heading to 'Dam for four days of wandering, eating, shopping and exploring. I haven't been before, my sister has, so she will be my official tour guide for the trip. That being said, there are a few things I'd like to try and do whilst we're over there, so I thought I'd compile them all into a blogpost for future reference...

Vondelpark // A wander around one of Amsterdam's many parks is definitely on my list, it's one of those must-dos don't you think?

Anne Frank House // Unfortunately, there are no more tickets available for the entire time we're in Amsterdam, so this is one thing we won't actually be able to do.

Red Light District // Another of those that features on many 'Things to do in Amsterdam' lists. Again, something I'd like to see for myself. Not somewhere to be hanging around for too long though

Ride a bike // This one is pretty self-explanatory considering there are apparently more bikes than people in the capital. 

Jordaan District // Is said to be really nice for eating, shopping and wandering. It's slightly less busy than the city center, so could be a nice place to explore of an afternoon.

Coffee Shops // What would a birthday trip to Amsterdam be if a few coffee shops weren't included...?

Rijksmuseum Gardens // Are home to the  I amsterdam sign, so we will definitely have to pay them a visit. I fully intend to get allllll the cliche tourist photos.

The Sex Museum // My sister has visited it before and didn't particularly rate it at all, but I think it's one of those you should do at least once.

Flower Market // What is Holland without its tulips? The flower markets are said to be really pretty and will make for some beautiful photos.

A'Dam Lookout / Over The Edge Swing // Is weather dependent but one that my sister hasn't done before. It's Europe's highest swing. My housemate has been on it and said it was really good fun. But, at €17,50, it will be one for a nice, sunny day. What's the point in going to a lookout if it's dark, foggy and grim?...

So, there we have it, a list of some of the things I'd like to try and do whilst in Amsterdam next week. 
Last night saw me attend my first event with this blog, Becc4, and it certainly set the bar for future events extremely high. It was hosted by the lovely @sotonbloggers (not to be confused with @soton_bloggers which is a whole other story. You can read about that here) and Supermarine in Southampton.

The lovely Rosie drove Nicole (on the right and left of the first photo, respectively) and I to the event, which if you're local to Southampton, was the other side of the Itchen Bridge in Woolston. (Sidenote, I actually met Rosie many moooons ago at another blogging event, when I was more awkward and not legally old enough to do anything, so it was an absolute blast from the past seeing her again.)

When we arrived, I was blown away. The restaurant was beautiful. Gorgeous Moroccan tiles, low hanging lights, fresh flowers, and marble tables. The absolute bloggers aesthetic, right? We were offered drinks when we arrived, wine, cocktails, the lot and all sat at a long table chit-chatting away about everything under the sun. I won't mention what, it's perhaps not wise considering my parents are avid readers of this blog...

Anyway, we ate so much good Italian food including cured meats, crostini and olives to start. The highlight of those three for me was the sausage and mozzarella crostini, it was delicious. I'm not an olive person at all, the last time I ate one I was sick on our dining table, but the other girls said these ones were really good. Two of the girls I was sat with were vegan, and there was plenty on the menu for them to eat, so that's a thumbs up from me.

But, onto the main course, the part we'd all been thinking about all day. The pizza. I say we, that might just have been greedy old me. Supermarine use a wood-fired pizza oven, and can I just say the pizzas were incredible. I tried one with lots of different meats on and it was really really good. The base of a pizza, for me, is always make or break, but this one was really soft and doughy, a definite pass with flying colours.

For dessert, we had a nutella and strawberry pizza ?!?? Which, can I just say, was just as confusing for my brain and taste buds as it sounds... It was tasty, but not something I'd have again. Pass me a cheesecake or some ice cream, something a little less strenuous on the old brain.

The staff in the restaurant were extremely welcoming and friendly, and with pizzas being between £8 and £13, it's definitely somewhere I'll be visiting again. 

I've been getting quite stuck into my blog's Instagram recently, so much so, I've even been trying to stick to a theme and have added an Instagram widget to my sidebar, professional hey. If you've come to this post hoping for some algorithm-busting magic then I'm not sure I quite have the answers (not that I think anyone does at the moment, by the looks of it)... What I can offer you, however, is an easy step by step rundown of how I edit my photos.

As for taking the photos, I always just use my iPhone 6s camera, but if I'm uploading a pic from a blog post then those pictures were most probably taken on my DSLR. I tend to take a good 38592 photos and then sort through them afterward looking for the one where my eyes are slightly more open or the products are in slightly crisper focus.

The main app I use to edit my photos is VSCOcam. I love it. It's free and the filter I always use is 'HB2'. Yep, the secret's out, that's how I get the cool moody tones. I tend to then play around with the brightness, contrast, and temperature until I'm happy with how it is all looking.

If I've taken a photo against a 'white' wall, eg in my dingy student house, then I tend to add an extra step in before I go into VSCOcam, Facetune. I will take the paint tool in white and lighten the background so that the walls actually look white, and not the dirty greige shade we've got going on in my house. (Now that I've actually just written this down I've realised just how extra this sounds, lol and have been debating not admitting to doing such).

The last step is Instagram itself. By this point, the photo tends to be looking pretty good but sometimes I'll adjust the contrast or shadows a little more and voila... You have a photo edited in the style of Becc4