2018 In Review - Part 1

30 December 2018

Hello all, welcome back! Are we all here safe and sound? Did we make it through Christmas without eating so much that we exploded and getting lost under a mountain of wrapping paper? Things have been oh so quiet over here on becc4.co.uk lately as it's fair to say that blogmas well and truly took it out of me. I successfully managed to upload 25 posts over the festive period. so if you haven't already seen them, do go and check them out! For today's post, however, I thought we'd have a little whistlestop tour of my 2018. Well, the first half of it at least, I have so much to say that I've split this post into two halves so expect the other installment soon. Now, on with the show...

Becc4s 2018 in review - January


I brought the New Year in with a few of my best friends, bevs in hand and it was lovely. We had a really good night and drank waaaay more than we should have. A few days later I then jetted off to Edinburgh with a few other friends to spend a few days in Scotland. I'd never been to Edinburgh (nor Scotland) before and absolutely loved the city, the weather? Not so much. I've told myself that I definitely need to go back in summer, there are quite a few things we didn't manage to do and I can imagine it's a totally different place in the summer! 

Towards the end of the month, I headed to London for the day. I spent the morning wandering around Oxford Street, going to all of my favourite shops and then headed to meet some friends in the afternoon. Now, they weren't just any friends, they were all the friends I made whilst volunteering out in Cambodia in 2017. It was so so nice to catch up and chat about everything we'd been up to since being back home. One girl even flew over from the States specifically for our meetup, cuuuute. 

Becc4s 2018 in review - February


The biggest thing that happened in February was the booking of our Southeast Asia trip. Now, I know I've mentioned it a lottttttt, but, in case any of you weren't aware, I spent this summer backpacking around Asia with one of my best pals. We'd been talking about it for ages and finally got round to booking it in February - eeeeek. 

February also contained a lotttt of nights out and, oh, how things have changed now. How I managed to go out so many times a week and still get things done I'll never know?! 

When the 14th rolled around it was time for our annual Galentine's Day tradition; dinner and fifty shades. This year, we made our own pizzas and garlic bread from scratch before heading to the cinema for another installment of Christian Grey. 

Becc4s 2018 in review - March


Ayyyy, my birthday month, and as you can see, a very busy one! The first thing to mention is of course the Beast from the East... Snow in March ?! Mental. It's fair to say we made the most of the uni closure days messing around in the snow - is there anything better than lobbing a handful of snow at your best friends? I think not. 

We hosted a big house party at our student house for my birthday and I had the best time ever. It was so nice to have all of my friends together in one place and to get dressed up. I then celebrated my actual birthday at home with my family, including the delicious pancakes I made myself for breakfast. Mmm mmm.

Then, it was time for the last of the birthday celebrations; a trip to Amsterdam with my sister. This was the first time we'd ever been away just the two of us and we had a really good time. I loved Amsterdam. We did all of the typical touristy things, ate a load of good food and just spent our days exploring the city.

Becc4s 2018 in review - April


A fairly uneventful month except for a few incredible highlights. Firstly, my friend Chris came to stay with me at uni. Now, I met Chris on my first day in Cambodia and we got on really well. He lives in the US but was travelling Europe and decided to make a stop to sunny Southampton. I took him for a Sprinkles, out clubbing and to a pirate house party - the classic uni experience if you ask me. 

I also went on a helicopter ride in April... My Mum bought my Dad, sister and I tickets to go on a helicopter ride over Portsmouth for Christmas, and in April we went and did it. It was a really cool experience but certainly not one for those with a fear of flying... 

Lastly, I took my sister to her driving theory test and she only went and passed first time! We went for lunch afterwards and the chef made our pizzas into heart shapes ??? Okay hun. 

Becc4s 2018 in review - May


The first signs of summer and freeeeeeeedom! After a heavy few months sweating the textbooks exams were finally over! Well, at the end of the month they were, but we were treating them like they were over before they'd even started. May was the month we got into our BBQing and had the first of many at our student house. 

I also attended the Excellence in Volunteering Awards at the uni where my society and I were given an award for all of our efforts over the academic year. We won the award for both being inclusive and for all of our charitable efforts. Yay, go us!

My pals and I attended Mutiny Festival and I had a fantastic day.  It was a really hot, sunny day, I had a really cool outfit, we'd bought VIP tickets and so had access to above average portaloos, and a load of our favourite artists were playing. Whatta fantastic day. 

Becc4s 2018 in review - June


And with that, second year was over. Exams were completed and forgotten about, the sun was shining and all was good in the world. I actually ended up going to two boat balls on consecutive days, and considering we had our drinks paid for on the first, you'll be unsurprised to hear that I felt a little worse for wear on the second. Now, for those of you who have never been to a boat ball before, it's essentially just a load of people dressed up, drinking, dancing and taking photos whilst onboard a boat that sails around for a few hours. It's a really fun expereince, and definitely something to try at least once if you get the opportunity. 

June also saw me take some of my uni pals for a day in Bournemouth, my hometown. We ate lots of food, did some shopping and then had an ice-cream on the beach. What would a day in Bournemouth in June be without a 99? 

And there we have it, the first 6 months of my 2018. Full of food, travel, drinking, good friends, festivals, birthdays and awards - a very good few months if you ask me...

Becc4 Blogmas Roundup

25 December 2018

HAPPY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE! I hope you all have the best day ever, filled with incredible food, family and festivities. I'm probably knees deep in roast potatoes right about now as you're reading this (no matter what time it is) and having the best time with my family. For today's post, I just thought I'd do a quick roundup of all of my blogmas posts for 2018... The perfect accompaniment to a snooze on the sofa after too much dessert, no? Dive in.

Day 1: Christmas Gift Guide: Stocking Fillers For Her
Day 2: Sick Tings 031
Day 3: Christmas Gift Guide: Mum's 
Day 4: Christmas Gift Guide: Dad's
Day 5: Christmas Party Outfit Picks 
Day 6: 7 Things I'd Rather Do Than Eat A Sprout
Day 7: Cracking Christmas Tag
Day 8: Becc4's 2K Blogmas Giveaway
Day 9: Sick Tings 032
Day 10: Winter Fashion Favourites 
Day 11: DIY Eco-Friendly(ish) Christmas Wrapping
Day 12: Festive Beauty Picks
Day 13: Triple Chocolate Christmas Tree Brownies
Day 14: The 15 Best Christmas Songs Ever Made
Day 15: Bloggers' Christmas Traditions Around The World
Day 16: My Three Days In Iceland
Day 17: Christmas On The South Coast
Day 18: 11 Things I Love About Christmas 
Day 19: The Becc4 Christmas House Tour
Day 20: Finding A Christmas Day Outfit
Day 21: The 2018 Christmas Ads As Rated By The Martin Fam
Day 22: The Best Of #ahomelychristmas
Day 23: Sick Tings 033
Day 24: Christmas Through The Years

Thank you for all of the support with my blogmas posts this year, love yaaa

Christmas Through The Years

24 December 2018

Becc4 Christmas through the years
Becc4 Christmas through the years
Becc4 Christmas through the years
Becc4 Christmas through the years

Firstly, can you believe that it is Christmas Eve?!? The main man himself is popping down the chimney tonight, and tomorrow we'll be sat down enjoying the best meal of the entire year - I love Christmas. I always have and always will. 

As a child, I used to be a really fussy eater and didn't used to like roast dinners. I know, what a travesty. I'd pick around the good bits but turned my nose up at roast potatoes... Oh, how times have changed. It's almost as if I'm making up for missed time with my newfound obsession with roasts.

A permanent favourite of mine have always been pigs in blankets - I confessed my love for them in this post and this one, so yeah, it's fair to say I love them more than the typical person does. I've recently become more of a mince pie person, but only those fancy puff pastry ones. Miss me with those shortcrust ones - I don't fancy a mouth full of sand.

As for gifts, my sister and I have always been really fortunate and to quote my Dad 'our house used to look like a bloody Toys"R"Us store some years'. Rest in peace to the holy land that was Toys"R"Us at Christmas. Gone but never forgotten.

We received some incredible gifts over the years but I will never forget the year we were given a Nintendo Wii. They were the thing to have and my sister and I really wanted one. Christmas day rolled around, with no sign of a Wii, when my parents whipped one out on Boxing Day. My sister and I nearly weed with excitement (haha, geddit). It's fair to say that year, the rest of the festive period was spent challenging my relatives to a game of Wii bowling and pretending I knew what the heck I was doing.

Other presents of note include a nurses outfit and doctors case, a toy washing line (yep, I'm not sure why) and a wooden dolls house (that my sister ended up writing her name all over and scribbling on).

Back in the day, an absolute highlight was singing my heart out on Singstar with my neighbours, belting out Avril Lavigne's Complicated at the top of my lungs. We also used to have a board game called Rumble in the Jungle, (I'll link it on Amazon here) and it was genuinely the best thing ever. I remember being so excited when my parents agreed to play as it was a Christmas-only thing.

I've mentioned my family's Christmas tradition over here on becc4 before, but, in case you missed it, I'll mention it again. We all dance around my kitchen, whilst Fairytale of New York plays, waving bits of kitchen roll around. I think this tradition was started by my Nannie, yeaaaaaaars ago, and it's one of the highlights of Christmas.

Also, one more thing, shall we just take a moment to discuss how blonde I was as a child ?! I know I've dyed my hair darker, but wowee, I really was blonde.

Do you have any favourite Christmas memories?

Sick Things 033

23 December 2018

A lifestyle roundup of my week at university featuring all I've bought, watched, eaten, seen and been up to. Featuring my sister's 18th birthday, the prettiest red nails and another ice skating trip
Aaaand here we have it, the most festive Sick Tings post there ever was. Ice skating, Christmas cards, Christmas trees, cocktails, and Santa hats - it's gotta be the lead up to Christmas. This week has been really good, and as you can already see, full of festivities. I've done the last of my Christmas shopping, we did the food shop today and all of my presents are wrapped and under the tree. IT'S NEARLY CHRISTMAS.

This week my sister turned 18 and I cannot believe it?! E I G H T E E N?! To celebrate, we spent the day shopping and then went for a meal at TGI Friday's in the evening - her choice, of course. I actually think this could be the only time I've ever been to TGI's and not ordered the Jack Daniels Chicken Strips?! Becca, were you feeling okay? Instead, I had a burger and it was almost as tasty, nothing quite beats the chicken strips. Afterwards we headed to the skybar in Bournemouth for cocktails. I had the 'softcore porn' in case you were wondering and it was delish.

On the topic of alcohol, I also had a very last minute night out this week. And when I say last minute, I mean my friend text me at 4.30pm suggesting we go out and by 8pm I was at his house having pres. Now, spontaneous nights out are very much the norm at uni, but where I live at a home is a bit out of the way, so a night out is always a bit of a logistical nightmare and requires a lot of planning. I had a really good time and certainly was feeling it the next day. Don't mix vodka, gin, whiskey and jaeger my dudes.

Look who has fake nails for the first time in forever! I'm not usually a falsies kinda girl but I thought if there was ever a time to stick some on, it's Christmas. These were just almond shaped ones from Primark that I painted red and they've received a lot of love so far. They're taking some getting used to but I lowkey love them and the sound they make as I type this.

I also attended a bloggers event this week and took my sister as a plus one. The event was hosted by the BIC to promote their new ice rink, the largest indoor rink on the South Coast, mind you. My sister was not loving it - it's fair to say skating doesn't come naturally to us Martin gals, but it was really pretty and the crepes were incredible. Maybe one day I'll get better at skating, I'm not sure it's going to happen this festive season though.

Potentially my favourite blogmas post of the whole lot went up this week; The 2018 Christmas Ads As Rated By The Martin Fam. I got my family to sit down with me and we watched this year's Christmas ad offerings one by one, rating and reviewing them as we went. Spoiler: we hate the John Lewis one and thought Asda was definitely the dark horse of the lot of them. So, if you haven't already given that post a read, definitely go over and check it out...

This evening I'm off to a carol concert by candlelight and tomorrow I'm going for drinks with some of my best friends from home. I'll then be in bed by 8pm waiting for Santa preparing for the absolute feast coming my way in the form of 37293 roast potatoes, 1265 pigs in blankets and a vat of gravy...

What have you been up to this week?
Can you ice skate?

The Best Of: #ahomelychristmas

22 December 2018

Back in November, I launched my very own Christmassy hashtag; #ahomelychristmas and it already has over 400 posts, yippee! For those of you who are new around these parts, I created this hashtag with a vision of it being the go-to place for festive content over on Instagram. I'm talking food, decor, outfits, gift guides, flatlays, the lot... And, guess what, the people have delivered. 

So, for today's post I just thought I'd collate a few of my favourite posts from the tag and post them over here. Now, I had a really tough time choosing which to feature. THERE ARE SO MANY GORGEOUS PHOTOS. If you haven't already checked it out, go and do so - there's much inspiration to be found. 

Also, when is it acceptable to continue posting about Christmas? I mean, Christmas Day and Boxing Day are a given, but for how much longer can I drag out my much loved festive theme? Maybe New Year's Eve? Who knows. What I do know, however, is that come January I'm going to be at a loss of what to post. I better start thinking of some content, hadn't I... 

The 2018 Christmas Ads As Rated By The Martin Fam

21 December 2018

Becc4 / The 2018 Christmas Ads As Rated By The Martin Fam
The Christmas ads are very much a hot topic of conversation these days when November rolls around. I mean, who else was eagerly anticipating this year's John Lewis ad and was bitterly disappointed with this year's offering? Particularly after some absolute festive tear-jerkers in the past... So, for today's blogmas post, I thought I'd rope my family in to help me rate and review a selection of this year's most talked about Christmas ads and decide whether they get the Martin family stamp of approval or not. Do let me know if you agree with our reviews. Does anyone like the John Lewis one?

John Lewis

'Oh God, I don't wanna see it again. I hate it.'
It would be rude to start this post without discussing the most anticipated ad of them all first... As you've probably already guessed from the introduction, we really don't like this one. JL normally produce the Christmas ad of the season but we just really didn't get this one. Other than acting as promo for his tour next year, what is the point of the ad?!? Where's the Christmas spirit at? Gimme the man on the moon over this one any day. 

1/10 Martin Points, better luck next year


'Bright, colourful, cute'
We LOVE this one. It's festive, it's bright, it's full of life. One of the highlights is the girl dressed as the queen in the TV costume - whatta legend. But, obviously, the overall highlight has to be plug boy. If Sainsbury's started selling the plug outfit and socket I can guarantee that we'd purchase at least one. How much fun does that look?!? Our one criticism is that it's not particularly Sainsbury's related and could almost be confused for a scene out of Nativity. 

10/10 Martin Points, well done plug boy


'Mediocre at best, I like the houses lit up at the end.'
Whilst better than the John Lewis one, we were all a little underwhelmed. I liked the videography and it was another obviously Christmas related one which was appreciated. It certainly wasn't agame changerr and didn't spark any conversations - two things we think a good Christmas ad should do.

3/10 Martin Points, it was okay


'Snow, presents, catchy Christmas song, festive outfits - it's got it all'
A bit of a dark horse this one... WE LOVED IT. It incorporated pretty much all the elements of Christmas whilst backed by one of the catchiest Christmas songs of all time - an absolute winning recipe for a fail-safe Christmas ad if you ask me. 

9/10 Martin Points, good but not quite plugboy levels


'So witty and I'm glad I don't have to watch the whole John Lewis one again.'
We much preferred this one to the JL one and loved that they'd linked the two. Of all of the things to fast forward it for though... Stollen? A pile of roast potatoes would've been a much better choice, or even mince pies. Stollen? No, thank you.

6/10 Martin Points, clever


'Who doesn't leave carrots out for the reindeer on Christmas Eve?!?'
The McDonald's one is another dark horse - what a great ad. Can we just take a minute to talk about how cute the reindeer are?! I'm also really glad they stuck with carrots and didn't decide that the reindeer fancied 20 McNuggets... It wouldn't have quite had the same festive charm, would it?

9/10 Martin Points, adorable


'Very long, very dull and very predictable'
Now, this is one we'd heard nothing about nor had we ever seen it, and I'm not surprised. It was really long, was only about selling food and didn't feel Christmassy in the slightest. It also relies on the viewer knowing what a cartoon turkey looks like, which lets be real, not everyone does.

2/10 Martin Points, still better than JL


'An ad that specifically sells the products, wow'
Whilst there isn't one Christmas ad - there are many - they are all short and promote a variety of their products, which is a nice idea. They also all follow a common theme. My personal favourite is the ice rink in the cul-de-sac, it just makes me laugh. Whilst some of the food doesn't appeal, the ads are still funny and obviously promoting what they are trying to promote.

7/10 Martin Points, humorous 

And there we have it, a roundup of some of this year's much talked about adverts... 

Have we missed any good ones?
Which is your favourite from this year?

The Becc4 Christmas House Tour

19 December 2018

green christmas tree with gold rose gold and white baubles
grey room with mantlepiece and christmas decorations
black orange and gold bauble wreath
bedroom with christmassy pillows and a christmas tree

As you are reading this it is actually my sister's eighteenth birthday, so this blogmas post is just going to be short and sweet, this gal's got things to be doing today... I thought it might be a nice idea to take a few photos of some of the decorations up around my family home and showcase them over here on becc4.co.uk so today's post is going to be exactly that. Now, I'm not sure how helpful this post is going to be as I have no idea where a lot of the items are from, but yanno, maybe these photos can be taken as inspiration or if not might be a good way to waste a minute or two whilst you wait for the kettle to boil.

Our tree is a green artificial one from M&S and the baubles are from all over the world, literally. We have some from Florida and Bali, and the rest are from garden centres, Primark, M&S and The Range. The theme is gold, rose gold and white and I think it looks beautiful. Over the years we've had some pretty raucous looking trees, including a phase of having an orange and purple theme, so it's fair to say this one is miles ahead. I love it.

As for the rest of the things, I'm not entirely sure where they're from but if you have any burning questions leave them in the comments and I'll get my Mum to rack her brains. This year we got rid of all of our tinsel (sorry to any hardcore tinsel lovers) and I think our house looks so much better for it!

The theme in my room this year is red and white - much like my Instagram theme - it's almost like it was planned or something... (There's a whole post on things I've done deliberately for the gram here if you'd like to read it. This would definitely be number 8.) Again, I can't entirely remember where everything is from but the majority is M&S and the red heart baubles were new from Tiger this year!

How have you decorated your house this year?
Does your tree have a theme?

11 Things I Love About Christmas

18 December 2018

  1. Pigs in blankets. Potentially the best thing about Christmas, no? I mean, maybe that's a bit dramatic, but they really are fantastic aren't they? At my uni house's Christmas dinner this year we made our own with proper sausages and wrapped them in bacon and they were INCREDIBLE.
  2. Family time. A close second to bacon-wrapped sausages methinks... Naa, but seriously, what would Christmas be without hanging out with your fam, eating all of the good food, playing stupid games, dancing around the house and exchanging gifts?!
  3. Roast potatoes. Could I have written this list without mentioning the godtier carb that is roast potatoes? I mean, I mention them at least once a week over here on Becc4 and they're even in my about me page, so yeah, it's not surprising they're on this list.
  4. Fairytale of New York. The best Christmas song ever made, enough said really... We actually have a family tradition to this song involving waving tissues around (you can read more about that in this post here) so it's one that's very close to my heart and an absolute Christmas staple.
  5. Moving home for the holidays. And this is the last year that I'll be doing it, the end of an era, hey? There's something really nice about packing all your stuff up and knowing that you're heading home for three weeks of good food, hanging out with family and old friends, and a house with double glazed windows...
  6. PARTIES. A pretty standard one really. I love getting dressed up, even more so at Christmas - gimme alllll the sparkles. This week my sister actually turns 18 so it'll be unsurprising to hear that we've got a busy few vodka-fuelled weeks ahead of us!
  7. Instagram. I LOVE everything about Christmas in case you couldn't already tell (I mean, Lucy even called me the Christmas queen the other day) but one thing I particularly love is all of the festive photos and flatlays everyone has been taking. So much so, in fact, I launched my own Christmassy hashtag this year - #ahomelychristmas - and it looks AMAZING. Go and check it out, it's an absolute winter wonderland.
  8. Decorating the house. Again, another obvious one, but this list couldn't have been made without it. I love putting the tree up, but I also love dotting various bits of festive toot around the gaff - nothing says Christmas more than a plastic gingerbread man hung on a door handle, does it?
  9. Arthur Christmas. aka one of the best Christmas films ever made. I think Arthur Christmas even tops Elf for me these days - it's just so so cute and always leaves me feeling so festive. Other favourites obviously include Love Actually, The Holiday and The Polar Express.
  10. Christmas jumpers/pjs/onesies. This year my Dad bought his first ever Christmas jumper and I couldn't be more proud. I've been trying to bully him into buying one for the last 10 years and he's finally got one, 13 year old Becca would be proud. I've also bought my Mum, sister and I matching Disney Christmas onesies and I can't wait to all wear them on Christmas eve.
  11. Christmas markets. I'm not sure I've ever bought anything at a Christmas market, but I am there for the atmosphere, the drinks, and the food. Get me to a market with a mulled wine/hot chocolate in hand and I'm a happy bunny. 

What do you love about Christmas?

Christmas On The South Coast

17 December 2018

collage of christmas markets and events
If you follow me over on Instagram (linked here) you'll have seen that I've recently been going to allllll of the festive spots down here on the South Coast. For those of you who are new around these parts, I'm from Bournemouth but currently live and study in Southampton, so yeah, it's fair to say I consider the south coast my stomping ground. In today's post, I thought I'd give you a little roundup of the five Christmas spots I've been to so far this year.

girl stood in tunnel of fairy lights

I was recently invited to visit Beaulieu as a blogger on their opening night and took my Mumma as my plus one. We had a really nice evening wandering the grounds looking at all the beautiful Christmas lights. The tunnel pictured above was by far the highlight for me, it was beautiful. The only criticism we had was there wasn't enough music... If you're after an all singing, all dancing festive experience, this isn't the one for you. If you are, however, after lots of photo opps and a nice, classy evening stroll, then this is ideal.

bath christmas market and cathedral
A few weeks ago I visited Bath Christmas Market and it was PACKED. To be fair, we did go on opening weekend, so what were we expecting, but from what I've heard, it's busy all month. The city of Bath itself is so so pretty, so throw in a load of Christmassy stalls selling delicious food and homemade gifts, and it only gets better. The shopping in Bath is also incredible, so if you're looking for a proper day out then Bath is the one. Be prepared for the crowds though, everyone and their brother is planning a trip.

nutcracker at southampton christmas market
mulled wine at the christmas market
I was recently invited to experience the Southampton Christmas Market with a few other local bloggers and it was a really nice evening. We sampled alllll of the market food, and let me tell you, the crepes are INCREDIBLE. We had mulled wine in the balcony bar overlooking the entire market and chatted all things blogging. My favourite thing about Southampton at Christmas is by far the huge German bar with alllll the Christmas music playing. The market shopping isn't as good as some of the others I've been to, but if you're after good food and festive music, then this is the one for you.

winchester christmas market food stalls
Winchester at Christmas is a lot like Bath. It's a really pretty city and its Christmas market is always really well thought out and organised. That being said, compared to Bath there isn't an awful lot to see and do in the city generally, it's just a nice place to wander around. So, if all you're specifically after a pretty market, and not fussed about it being a full day trip, then this is the place to go. 

bournemouth christmas tree lights
bournemouth christmas tree lights
It's fair to say Bournemouth is a bit of a Christmas hub at this time of year... There are all sorts of things going on, from two ice skating rinks, to the lights in the gardens, the Christmas markets and the bar in the square. I've also heard there's a hot chocolate stand that is next level, so if I get the chance to check it out I will definitely report back on my thoughts... The Christmas trees that have been put up in the gardens really are pretty and are nice to wander around if you get the chance. They're also free, obviously, so a nice budget friendly option if you're out and about in town and don't want to pay for entry to something!

And there we have it, Christmas on the south coast wrapped up and rated...

Have you been to any of these spots this year?
Which is your favourite Christmas market?

My Three Days in Iceland

16 December 2018

So, guess who just got back from a reaaaaally last minute, spontaneous trip to Iceland? Yep, it's me. How did you swindle a last minute trip to one of the coolest (haha, geddit?) places on earth at such short notice, I hear you ask? Well, my best friend was meant to be going with his now ex-girlfriend and so, step in Becca, straight off the subs bench and onto an easyJet flight out of Luton to Reykjavik. I had the best three days ever and Iceland genuinely lived up to everything I'd hoped for and more.

DAY 1: The Blue Lagoon
Our flight departed Luton at 07.45 on Tuesday morning so we spent the night before at the Ibis just down the road from the airport. We had breakfast (smoothies and croissants) at the airport before boarding the plane and embarking on the three-hour flight to Iceland. Now, I've experienced a fair few turbulent flights but let me tell you, they were NOTHING compared to that flight. So much so, in fact, that after we'd landed it was too windy for us to leave the plane, so we spent an hour sitting in the plane on the tarmac before it calmed down a bit and we were all allowed to make a mad dash for the arrivals terminal. 

Once we'd made it through security we had about an hour to kill before our coach for the Blue Lagoon was scheduled to arrive. (It's near the airport so it's recommended to go either on your way into Iceland or on your way out). We were both starving so headed to Dunkin' Donuts for some lunch (Icelandic, I know). I had a pizza slice and a donut, and Jacob had a $10 BLT. I know they say Iceland is expensive but I had no idea quite the extent of it. 

Our coach arrived, after standing outside and being blown around by some gale force winds, and took about twenty minutes to get to our destination. When you arrive at the laggon, you have to pay to store your luggage (after coming from the airport) and then you make your way to the main entrance. Now, the tickets are not cheap. And by not cheap, I mean they're just under £100 a person when you include the luggage fee and the price of the coach ticket to get there and back. You are, however, provided a towel, given a free drink and a face ask once you're there... Not quite £100's worth though methinks. 

Anyway, the Blue Lagoon is absolutely beautiful and so relaxing. The water was nowhere near as hot as I was expecting which I think made it easier when it was time to get out, and expose your body to the -1 weather going on. 

We showered, got back dressed (thermals, boots, hats and all) and headed back to the coach. They leave at quarter past the hour and thankfully we managed to time it all really well and jump straight on a coach back. We got dropped at the BSI terminal and walked to our Airbnb in downtown Reykjavik. 

The Airbnb was really cute - it was a really cosy little cabin (read: shed) in the back garden of someone's property and had a little kitchen, a bathroom, dining table, and bed. That evening we headed to a restaurant just down the road for dinner as we were both exhausted. The food really wasn't great and I paid £32 for my chewy rather terrible lamb wrap and fries... 

DAY 2: Golden Circle Tour and Secret Lagoon
We had a pre-booked excursion on the agenda for our second day, and so woke up nice and early ready to be picked up at 9am by the minibus. The first stop on the tour was √ěingvellir National Park. Now, during the winter, Iceland gets hardly any daylight at all, I'm talking four hours maximum. The sun rises at about midday and sets again by 4pm - it's really strange to get used to. So, we visited our first stop whilst it was still fairly dark, and very windy, so I don't have a lot to report nor photos to show you. 

The second stop of the tour was by far my favourite part of the whole trip; Gullfoss Waterfall. I'd never seen anything like it and we were both genuinely in awe, it really was stunning. We had about half an hour to wander around and there are multiple different viewing platforms and I loved every second of it. 

Next up on the trip was lunch and a visit to the Geysirs. For lunch, I had chicken nuggets and fries (again, not particularly Icelandic but I was starving and craving carbs). After lunch, we headed over to the geyser viewing area and watched it go up a few times. Again, this was like nothing I'd ever seen before and I really enjoyed watching it.

The final stop on the trip was to the Secret Lagoon. Which, much like the Blue Lagoon is an outdoor hot spring, just without the blue water. In Icelandic custom, one has to shower naked in a communal shower area before entering the lagoon, so guess who got their bits out in public... Yep. The lagoon itself was much warmer than the Blue Lagoon and looked like something straight out of Game of Thrones, it was really nice.

For dinner that evening we decided to make ourselves food at the Airbnb. We headed to the supermarket (which all shut at 18.30 in the winter FYI) after we'd been dropped off and grabbed some bits to make a meal. Now, we bought pasta, sauce, an onion and a packet of salami, as well as a pack of three garlic baguettes. 

We made it back to the Airbnb, shopping in tow, and decided to make a start on dinner. It was only then did we realise that we didn't, in fact, have an oven and our garlic bread wasn't going to cook itself. So, after a quick Instagram poll we decided to microwave it. Which, let me tell you, resulted in some very soggy, Casper the ghost looking garlic bread. Following this, we decided not to give up and whacked it in a frying pan to see if we could make it any better. Now, other than it being a bit burnt - the two in conjunction kind of did the trick... It wasn't particularly tasty, and Jacob wasn't too well the following day, but when there's a will there's a way. And all we wanted was some garlic bread.

The weather on our last day was grim. I'm talking really overcast, pouring down with rain and bitterly cold kind of grim... So, we stayed in the Airbnb until we had to check out and then headed for a wander around Reykjavik. The shops were all really pretty, both the souvenir shops and the bespoke boutiques, and we even spotted a charity shop... Me being me decided that we had to have a quick nose and see what the prices were like for second hand clothes in one of the world's most expensive countries... Well, a check shirt will set you back a meaty $20, so I can't even begin to imagine how much they cost to buy new!

After a bit more wandering - in a much less Christmassy Reykjavik than expected - we stumbled across the Hard Rock Cafe. Now, I absolutely love the HRC and have been to a fair few around the world in my time, and so when I spotted one in Iceland I decided we HAD to go. This was even before we spotted the lunch deal which included a burger, fries and a soup for £15, which, considering we'd paid over thirty quid for a naff wrap a couple of days before, really was unexpected. As always, the food was incredible and by far the cheapest meal we had there... Who'd have thought it, hey?

We then had a bit more of a wander before heading to Hallgrímskirkja church to take a few photos and have a look around. We had our suitcases on us and so didn't ascend the tower, but had a little wander nonetheless. We then wandered back to the BSI terminal and waited for our coach back to the airport.

Our flight was just as expected, and after spending an hour sat stationary on the M25 following a crash, I eventually made it home at about 4.30am on Friday morning...

All in all, it was a really great trip and I genuinely had the best time ever. 

Have you ever been to Iceland?
Where is at the top of your travel bucket list?

Bloggers' Christmas Around The World

15 December 2018

Bath Christmas Market

For today's post, I thought we'd do something a little different around these parts and take a look at various Christmas traditions from around the world. Now, I was considering researching a tonne of different countries on Google and then collating them together in this post, but ended up coming up with a much better idea... I thought I'd ask bloggers/influencers from various places around the world to describe how their country celebrates Christmas, neat huh? So, just before we start, I just want to thank the six absolute babes that helped me write this post, it means a lot!

On Christmas Eve extended families (aunts, uncles, cousins) will all have dinner and then open their presents at midnight. Then, on Christmas day, families tend to have lunch with their grandparents which usually consists of cod. - Marta, A Place In Her Heart

Families will wait up until midnight on Christmas Eve so that they can "wake up" baby Jesus and bring him in Christmas morning. - Sandra, @sandratalcaraz

Finns believe that Santa Claus (Joulupukki) lives in the northern part of Finland called Lapland, not the North Pole. Christmas Eve is the most important day over Christmas in Finland. The festivities begin with a rice porridge that has an almond hidden in it. The person who gets it is said to have good fortune the next year. The Christmas tree is brought in after lunch and decorated, and Christmas dinner is served the evening of the 24th. Santa Claus usually pays a visit after dinner and gives everyone their presents. Christmas day itself is usually a much more relaxed day spent at home. - Anu, Based On Blog 

The Netherlands
On the 5th of December "Sinterklass" (Saint Nicholas) brings the children presents and is a totally separate holiday to Christmas. This is a day full of gifts, food, songs, and poems. Christmas day itself is then typically spent eating a family meal and attending a church service. - Marta, A Place In Her Heart

If children have been good then Saint Nikolaus will bring children gifts on the night of the 5th of December, but if they have been bad then Krampus - who is part goat and part demon - punishes them. Children also write to the Christkind and not Father Christmas when making their wishlists. - Emina, Real Talk with Emina

Christmas itself isn't celebrated in Turkey, but people put up Christmas trees and Santa decorations to celebrate New Years. - Doga, @dogagirinti

Do you know any other interesting Christmas traditions? 

The 15 Best Christmas Songs Ever Made

14 December 2018

Phone playlist and Christmas tree

I've been listening to Christmas songs since mid-November and I'm nowhere near sick of them yet. I mean, I absolutely love dancing around to a good Christmas banger, even in July. So, for today's Blogmas post I thought I'd compile a definitive list of the 15 best Christmas songs ever made. Full stop. This is them. No arguments, please.

1. Fairy Tale of New York, The Pogues
2. Step Into Christmas, Elton John
3. Merry Christmas Everyone, Shakin Stevens
4. Happy Xmas (War Is Over), John Lennon
5. I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday, Wizzard
6. All I Want For Christmas Is You, Mariah Carey
7. Driving Home For Christmas, Chris Rhea
8. Last Christmas, Wham
9. It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas, Michael Buble
10. Mistletoe, Justin Bieber
11. What Christmas Means To Me, Stevie Wonder
12. Do They Know It's Christmas?, Band Aid
13. Merry Christmas Everybody, Slade
14. Santa Claus Is Coming To Town, The Jackson 5
15. Christmas (Baby Please Come Home), Darlene Love

What's your favourite Christmas song?
Do you hate any of the songs on my list?

Triple Chocolate Christmas Tree Brownies

13 December 2018

Triple Chocolate Christmas Tree Brownies
Brownie ingredients
Brownie baking ingredients
Brownie baking ingredients
Triple Chocolate Christmas Tree Brownies
Triple Chocolate Christmas Tree Brownies
So, let me just start this post by saying that I think these are the best brownies I've ever had and I've had a fair few brownies in my twenty years of existence. I was scrolling Pinterest for Christmas baking ideas and saw a lot of winter spiced brownie recipes, but why fix something that isn't broken, hey? So I started googling brownie recipes and settled for this BBC Good Food one. It was easy enough and they genuinely taste incredible.

A few things to mention; firstly, I didn't have an electric whisk so whisked the eggs and sugar together by hand and got nowhere near the texture the recipe called for. They turned out fine, so don't worry too much about that step. My second faux pas was buying salted butter rather than unsalted, but let me assure you, there's sooooo much chocolate in these that you'd never be able to tell. So, if you have one and not the other, I wouldn't worry too much. My brownies also took way longer than the allocated 25 minutes to bake, so just keep an eye on them and put them back in if you need to. So, onto the recipe...

You will need:
185g unsalted butter
185g best dark chocolate
85g plain flour
40g cocoa powder
50g white chocolate
50g milk chocolate
3 large eggs

275g golden caster sugar

Extra white chocolate to drizzle on top

1. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas mark 4 and line the base of a 20cm square tin with non-stick baking parchment.

2. Cut the butter into small cubes and break the dark chocolate into small pieces, and tip them into a medium-sized bowl.

3. Fill a small saucepan with a little hot water, and place the bowl on top. Use a low heat to melt the chocolate and the butter, stirring occasionally to mix them. Remove from heat and leave to cool to room temperature.

4. Sieve the flour and cocoa powder into another bowl, and combine them

5. Chop the white and milk chocolate into small chunks

6. Break the eggs into a large bowl and tip in the golden caster sugar. With an electric mixer on maximum speed, whisk the eggs and sugar together until they are thick and creamy.

7. Pour the cooled chocolate and butter mixture over the eggs and gently fold together with a rubber spatula. Do this gently as not to get rid of all of the air you've just whisked into it.

8. Add the flour and cocoa powder mixture and gently fold in.

9. Finally, stir in the white and milk chocolate chunks until they’re evenly dotted throughout.

10. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin.

11. Put the tray in the oven and set your timer for 25 mins. After this, if you gently shake the tin and the brownie wobbles in the middle, it’s not quite done, so put it back in for another 5 minutes.

12. Leave the whole thing in the tin until completely cold, then, remove and cut into triangles. Melt the remaining white chocolate and drizzle on top of the trees as much or as little as you'd like.

And tadaaaa, there you have it, delicious, festive, triple chocolate brownies.

What is your favourite festive thing to bake?
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