Monday, 13 May 2019

LEARNING TO LIKE SWIMMING

It took me three years to visit the Victorian swimming pool that was one minute walk from my flat. I never thought of myself as a swimmer, so I didn't think swimming was for me. I didn't do it competitively at school, and since the lessons we were forced to take, the only swimming I did was splashing about in the sea on holiday. I thought people who went to swimming pools were scary-serious-speed swimmers, and there wasn't really a place for someone like me.

Photograph - Soo Burnell (from her amazing Poolside series of Edinburgh swimming pools)
But the pool called to me. It was January and I was feeling sluggish, I wanted to do something. And it turns out, I hate running with an intensity greater than my fear of trying something new. So I bought myself an actual swimsuit (thank you bravissimo for making nice things built for my body shape), and headed to the pool.

The moment I stepped in the water, I froze. What if I literally couldn't swim a length? I could swim in the ocean, but that's more fun-bobbing-about, rather than trying to cross a pool and back. I figured it was do or drown, and I managed to frogkick myself along. It is a bit like riding a bike, I knew my technique wasn't great (and oh my god, my body hurt the next day), but I could do it! Yeah, there was some scary swimmers there, but they just ignored me. Everyone ignored each other. Exactly my type of activity.

Fast-forward five months later (!), and it turns out I really, really like swimming. I've been going roughly twice a week since the start of the year, and I can't imagine life without it. I didn't start swimming with a goal to lose weight (I think there's better sports if that is your focus), but I just wanted to feel better. And I do. I feel less sluggish. I'm sleeping better. And I can really feel the difference when I'm swimming. I'm still terrified of the fast lane, but I'm faster! And while I could probably do with a swimming lesson or two, it feels like my body finally is starting to understand what it's doing.

More importantly, is the mental calm it has brought me. When I looked back on 2018, one of my big stand-outs was realising how I'd carried a snug layer of stress with me for most of the year. This time round I wanted to be kinder to my mind, and swimming has been a marvel. When I swim I don't think about anything. Not work, not life, not even swimming. I can do lengths without realising it. I just don't think, I just do. I've not had anything in my life like it before, it is so calming, and has already been a wonderful cure-all to stressy days.

I'm about to hit the busiest point in my year (Film Festival is just around the corner, and our launch is only two weeks away - oh gaaaad), so here's the real test for me and swimming. Will I still go when I'm tired? Will it keep me sane when I am dreaming about pop ups (and other nonsense work-stress dreams)? We shall see. Wish me luck!

Monday, 6 May 2019

HOLIDAY WISHLIST: 10 DREAMY (& AFFORDABLE) AIRBNBS

I'm just back from a week camping in the Scottish Highlands, and already my mind has turned to what holiday I can plan next - I am a fan of having something to look forward to!

I think my plan this year is to try and get two weeks away somewhere sunny and interesting in the Autumn - the last few years have been great for weekends away and short breaks, but it's been ages since I've had a proper 'big' holiday, and I am ready to soak up some sunshine and culture.

Saying that, my budget is not very big-holiday friendly, so enter Airbnb (not a sponsored post, although I wish!). I've been using Airbnb for years and I love it. It's such a great way to discover a city, feel like you are (almost!) a local, and stay somewhere with personality, that can be tailored to your budget.

As I've been spending a lot of time searching through their listings, I thought I'd share 10 places that caught my eye (that are also surprisingly affordable!). If you've stayed at any super dreamy airbnbs, please share them in the comments - I am still searching for that perfect holiday spot!

1. Budapest, Hungary

Just look at this gorgeous design-led apartment. I've never been to Budapest, but everyone raves about it, and places like this make it even more tempting. It's close to all the main attractions, and a bargain at £45/night. 

2. Ostuni, Italy

I've always fancied staying in an Italian Trullo, and look how beautiful this is! It's a 300 year old building (recently refurbished to be environmentally friendly), set in grounds with olive, almond, fig, cherry, apple, pear and mulberry trees (which you can help yourself to). There's beaches and little towns nearby, and hammocks to hang out in, and it looks so nice! It's roughly £80/night.

3. Barcelona, Spain

I've stayed in this apartment, so I can vouch it is as dreamy as it looks! It's just around the corner from a metro station and a market, so it's a really great spot to explore Barcelona from. Plus it's got great balconies to people-watch from, with prices around £100/night (prices have gone up since I stayed there, but it was very nice!).

4. Palermo, Italy

Look at those plants! This palazzo is nestled in Palermo's old city, in a magnificent and aristocratic apartment with a private courtyard. It's perfect if you want to stay somewhere packed with colour and character - imagine drinking wine sitting on that terrace after a day of exploring the old streets? It's roughly £70/night.

5. Lacanau, France


Airbnb is great if you are looking for something different, and this tiny house is just that! Based in the pine forest and lake of Lacanau, it boasts to be the perfect place for a romantic stay in the middle of nature. It's close to the coast, and there's loads of great French villages you can explore from this base. It's £62/night.

6. Koufonisia, Greece

Greece can be pretty pricey, but this studio is a bit more affordable at roughly £119/night. It's on a little beach on a beaut Greek island, and looks like a great spot for a chilled holiday.

7. Madeira, Portugal

I hadn't really considered Madeira as a holiday destination, until I saw how affordable it is! This pink cottage caught my eye - it looks perfect if you want an idyllic getaway, where you can swim in the pool, pick fresh fruit off the trees, and explore the island. It's £55/night.

8. Copenhagen, Denmark

Copenhagen is super cool, so it stands to reason that most of the places you can stay are stylish and super cool too. This apartment caught my eye - it's stylish, in a great spot, and has a beaut outdoor terrace you can enjoy. It's around £91/night.

9. Prince Edward, Canada

How cute is this Wes Anderson themed house?! Every room in this 100+ year old house is themed after or inspired by a different Wes Anderson film - you can sleep in Margot's bedroom, hang out in the Life Aquatic themed living room, and eat in the Darjeeling Limited Tea Room. It's roughly £87/night and I would like to stay here please!

10. Brac, Croatia

This stone Croatian cottage is nestled high on a hill top, giving you beautiful views of islands, mainland Croatia and the Adriatic Sea. I stayed here last year for a week - we've been obsessively travelling to Croatia for the last four (!!) years, because it's so wonderful - and it was a beautiful place to stay. It's only £54/night, which makes the view even sweeter.

Monday, 29 April 2019

CHILLING ADVENTURES OF SABRINA OUTFIT WISHLIST

Like most teenage girls in the 90s, I was pretty obsessed with Sabrina the Teenage Witch. She had magical powers! Cool aunts! A super sassy feline sidekick! Aaand a weird obsession with pancakes? (Teenage Juliet used to dream of going to IHOP in America, thanks to that pancake episode). It was great.

So, when Netflix announced they were producing a dark reimagining of Sabrina, I was here for it! It follows the same premise as the original series: Sabrina Spellman is a half-witch, half-mortal, who struggles to find a balance between living her human high school life and discovering her new magical powers. But this time round, it is CREEPY. Gone are the pastels and pancakes, this time there's murder, demons and dark arts.

It's based in the present day, but the styling is a 1960s dream, with a gothic twist. The outfits are amazing! Sabrina's dressed in peter pan collars, lace dresses and satin slips. Michelle Gomez (always amazing) plays a teacher possessed by the spirit of Satan, in femme fatale dresses and vintage looks. Sabrina's cousin lounges about in silk robes. It's all a treat!

So, with that in mind, I've put together a wishlist of Sabrina-inspired looks. I know it's not the most Spring-like of outfit wish lists, but I live in Scotland, and it takes a little longer for summery days to roll around here. Look at that green dress! Those boots!


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Monday, 4 March 2019

MOTHER'S DAY GIFT GUIDE

This week's weirdly warm weather means it definitely feels like Spring is here! I loved the big snow we got this time last year, but it is so nice to see some blue skies and spring bulbs coming up (although this cartoon very much sums up my feelings about the unseasonably nice days we've been having).

Spring also heralds the month of many presents I have to buy! In March it's my mum, sister and niece's birthdays, followed by Mother's Day, so I've been on the lookout for cool gifts for the women in my life (that aren't going to annihilate my poor wallet). So, take this as your annual reminder that Mother's Day is just around the corner (March 31st! Mark your diary), and please stop reading if you are likely to get a gift from me in the next 4 weeks (mum! This means you!).

For everyone else, here's some mum-friendly gift inspiration.

mothers day gift guide quirky independent gifts

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Monday, 25 February 2019

10 THINGS TO SEE AT EDINBURGH SCIENCE FESTIVAL

Somehow it's that time of year again! The wonderful Edinburgh Science Festival have launched their 2019 programme, which takes place from Saturday 6th - Sunday 21st April, Sci Fest's 31st edition!

Taking inspiration from the 50th anniversary of the Moon landings, this year's programme explores the theme of Frontiers, pushing the boundaries of what we think we know, and stepping into new territories (including loads of cool space things, obviously).

As always, the Science Festival has something for everyone (even you, person who thinks science is boring!). This year they've got 270 events on offer at 31 venues across Edinburgh (including their shiny new Festival Hub, the Pleasance), with loads of funny, creative, hands-on events for adults, as well as millions of things for kids. Fancy drinking gin while getting told cool gin facts? Or discussing if Jurassic Park could actually happen? Or getting the secrets behind the Moon landing? Of course you do.

There's loads to choose from, but I've picked out my top picks from this year's programme.


1. Life on Mars Grab your pals and join this pub quiz, board game and sci-fi mashup to build a new life on Mars.

2. The Science of the Sesh An evening of delicious drinks, boozy experiments and cocktail history. You'll discover what factors and senses affect how we taste, how to make amazing cocktails at home, and get to sip on some great Scottish spirits as you learn. Win win!

3. Secrets of Seafood Sci Fest are well-known for their great food events, and this looks no exception. This event promises some surprising science as you try out Scottish seafood, discover what other edible treats the sea offers, and debate how we make sure our stocks are sustainable.

4. Fake Moon Landings and Other Persistent Conspiracies Conspiracy theory experts (what a cool job) Prof Knight and Prof Sutton chat conspiracies, how they take root, and why people believe them. Lizard people! The Moon landings! Fake news?

5. Where the Hell is My Hoverboard? It's 2019 and we don't have flying cars yet! This panel, featuring a robotics researcher, future tech enthusiast and engineering researcher, look at where technology is at, and what we have to achieve before we can live our sci-fi dreams. There will also be the chance to taste 3D printed food!

6. Bring Back the Dodo Did someone say Jurassic Park?! Zoologist Jules Howard chats to the director of the Frozen Ark project, exploring what extinct creatures could be brought back and how. Guys remember, just because we can, does that mean we should...?

7. Thinking Through Animals Over the last century, cognition research has revealed a variety of advanced mental abilities in animals. Experts in philosophy, genetics and anthropology discuss what this means and how it links to human self-understanding.

8. The Science Behind Humanity's Dark Side Fellow murder-podcast-obsessives unite, this is one for us! Learn about the intricacies of criminal psychologists, how similar your brain is to a psychopath's, how many people think about murder, and why we do evil.

9. The Science of Egyptian Mummification: A No-Brainer? I've been studying Ancient Egypt in evening classes this year, so hi, yes, I am very excited for this! Discover the latest ground-breaking research on how the ancient Egyptians dealt with death (and to warm up, pop into the National Museum of Scotland's brand new Egyptian collection, which is meant to be amazing).

10. An Evening with the Moon Science writer Philip Ball, cultural astronomer Daniel Brown, and very funny person Susan Morrison host a whimsical evening of laid-back lunar activities and celestial cocktails, all under the glow of a lunar landscape. Sounds dreamy.

This year's Edinburgh Science Festival runs 6th - 21st April, and you can browse their full programme here.
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