New Year, New Goals – Looking ahead to 2020

 

Happy New Year/Decade everybody! Doesn’t it feel special when not only do we creep into a new year but also a different decade? 2020 – how the heck did that happen? It doesn’t seem two minutes ago I was raising a glass of Lambrini with my Nan to see in the Millennium (I was 8 and felt trés chic with a glass of bubbles!) but when in fact that was 20 years ago, time really does fly when you’re having fun.

I always reflect like hell at the turn of the year and this one isn’t any different – if you haven’t read any of my previous posts you may not know I am a proud New Year’s Resolution maker, but this year I wanted to put together a list of goals rather than a single resolution. The idea being that I can look back in a year’s time and see if my plans worked, if they varied somewhat or if something drastically different happened. This past year has taught me that life throws surprises at you which you could never predict, so all we can do is set the best intentions but if you get a chance to do something which was never even on your radar, that’s equally as bloody brilliant (if you don’t know what I’m talking about, you may want to read my last post on moving from Norfolk to Scotland). So without further dragging it out and blabbering on, here are my goals for the year of 2020.

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Finish my Creative Writing Level 3 course, and begin my Level 4 Proofreading qualification.

I don’t think I’ve spoken about my home studies on the blog before, but they do exist! You probably wouldn’t know that I’m a keen writer in a capacity outside of this blog and plan to launch my own freelance business in the New Year (alongside my 9-5 unfortunately until it can pay the bills!). I plan to offer SEO optimised blog posts for businesses without the capacity or skills to do it themselves, I’m putting together social media courses for beginners, I’m offering written website content, articles for print, press releases and social captions – basically if it can be written, I want to be able to offer it as a service. Hence where my home study courses come in; I’ve nearly finished my Creative Writing Diploma which has been a lot of fun as well as helping me develop my skills- it has meant writing fiction and poetry as well as non-fiction genres and I haven’t done that since school! When that is finished I plan to enrol straight away on the Proofreading course, meaning this too can then be offered on a freelance basis, expanding my services. Realistically I won’t finish both courses by the end of the year but if I can be nearly there, I’ll be chuffed. Home study isn’t for everyone but personally I love learning, and as a writer I think the more you do and the more you expose yourself to different mediums, the better you get. I don’t think I’ll ever stop wanting to add to my skill set, which is something I’m proud of.

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Cinema City Norwich & The Dining Rooms

Everyone has their own favourite genre of film whether it’s sci-fi, horror or a good old rom-com. One of mine happens to be biographical films about famous figures, I love knowing about the childhood and life of people before they were the people we know and see in the spotlight. The best ones I’ve seen are The Theory of Everything about Stephen Hawkin, Bohemian Rapsody about the incredible Queen and, as of last Friday night, Tolkien. I was lucky enough to be gifted two tickets, one for myself and one for my partner, to see the new film about the creator of Lord of the Rings – the brilliant J.R.R. Tolkien.

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But these weren’t any old cinema tickets, they were for a viewing at Cinema City, Norwich. I love this cinema with a passion, it is one of the countries Picture House cinemas – a small chain of special buildings which are a world away from the big cinemas you may be used to visiting. Fewer screens, better food and drink, special events and a better atmosphere all mean I would always choose a Picture House cinema. This being said, better snacks to keep you busy whilst watching the film isn’t always a good thing as I found out – my lovely fiancé Daniel decided on some rather posh looking pork scratchings without thinking about the crunch factor! Cue waiting for noisy parts of the film for him to crunch his food and trying to stifle our laughs as we realise the ridiculousness of the situation – lesson learnt haha! I myself skipped the snacks but did have a delicious glass of rosé whilst watching the film, a welcome step up from a tango ice blast I must say! I have reviewed this cinema previously, a few years ago, so you may already know its a favourite of mine – and it just keeps getting better.

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Recipes for the health conscious – Buy Whole Foods Online

It’s been a while since I’ve shared my own recipes for you all rather than reviewing other people’s food, so when Buy Whole Foods Online kindly sent me some ingredients to try I jumped at the chance to get the creative juices flowing! If you’re anything like me and spend hours browsing health food stores and love healthy, natural ingredients then you have to check out the Buy Whole Foods Online website – they have all kinds of ingredients in bulk, everything you could ask for – I literally have to stop myself buying everything on their site!!
I would just like to tell you a little about the company before sharing my recipes for their beetroot powder and juniper berries, as they have a lovely back story. BWFO was started in 2007 by two cousins who loved whole, healthy foods, and their first office was a garden shed! The two men worked from a shed developing the company for 4 years, before finally moving into larger premises in 2011. The business is now more as you would imagine a global enterprise to be, running from a large warehouse in Ramsgate and is growing all of the time! It’s such an inspiring story, I wish I had the patience and drive to do something like that but unfortunately for me if something isn’t an overnight success, I give up pretty quickly – something I’m working on.

Below I have two amazing (if I do say so myself) recipes for you using ingredients from Buy Whole Foods Online – I would love to hear from you if you do recreate these yourself – send me some pictures or tag me @justhollieblog on both Instagram and Twitter!

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Rum ‘n’ Tonic – the new gin?

It’s no newsflash that I like my booze. If you follow my Instagram you’ll often see me sipping on a wine or a gin, in fact I’ve got a crisp, cold glass of white on the go whilst I write this – but until now I hadn’t really ever tried rum.

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I was kindly invited by Turtle Bay last Friday to try their new food menu but also their new Rum ‘n’ Tonic menu. They have added six premium parings to the rum menu, all slightly different but available as a single or double with a Double Dutch tonic.
Having not really drunk rum before I was intrigued and this sounded like a tasty way to try the Caribbean liquor. There are 40 rums on offer in Turtle Bay so I was pleased that the descriptions were so good on the new rum’n’tonic menu – I selected the one I wanted as it said that it had coconut and vanilla notes which are flavours I love. It was an El Dorado 3 ‘n’ cucumber & watermelon tonic and it was really tasty! I would probably ask for it as a longer drink if I were to have another one in future as I’m a bit of a wetty when it comes to alcohol and don’t like it to taste strong but other than that I would definitely go again. Don’t get me wrong it’s no replacement for a gin (my number one tipple and can’t see that ever changing)  but it really did compliment the gorgeous curry I was eating.  Continue reading

Afternoon tea, Harry Potter style

If you don’t already know, I bloody love Harry Potter.
SO when The Assembly House, Norwich, started to advertise their recent Harry Potter themed afternoon tea I was all over it. It seems they were understandably very booked up from the word go but we managed to get an 11am slot. So more brunch than afternoon tea but beggers can’t be choosers and all that.
Unfortunately the night before we (myself and my fiance Dan) were due to have our afternoon tea a few glasses of prosecco and a few more gin cocktails threw themselves down my throat (not my fault obvs) and made me feel rather fuzzy on the Saturday morning. To be honest if it was anything other than Harry Potter themed food waiting for me I would not have left the house!

I did however drag myself out of the house and managed to look half respectable for a morning at The Assembly House. If you haven’t been to this lovely place in Norwich it’s a stately home type looking building with opulent decor and feels ‘a bit posh’. It is next to the Theatre Royal in Norwich so a popular spot for a pre theatre dinner.
I must admit, this isn’t a glowing review, so apologies to The Assembly House now but I have to be truthful in my opinions on this blog!

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The Ivy, Norwich Brasserie

Monday night I was lucky enough to bag an invite to the press launch of The Ivy Brasserie in Norwich – a new restaurant opening on Tuesday 21st August in the city centre.
I have been getting excited about this swanky new restaurant opening for a couple of months now – the social media team have been very clever in teasing us with just enough  on Instagram to already make me love the place.

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The Ivy have restaurants all over England, mainly in the London area, so it was very exciting to hear that Norwich is joining the lucky cities to boast that we have one. The interior is nothing short of luxe – it is breathtaking when you walk in; the chandeliers are enormous, the floor is glaringly shiny and the atmosphere makes you want to sit up that little bit straighter, but in a good way. Continue reading

Norridge Summer Wellness Event

What do you do on the eve of your 26th birthday? ‘Get on it’ to prove you’re still young enough to do so? Throw a party? Cry because you’re now closer to 30 than 20?

Whilst all of the above were tempting, I booked myself into a pop up yoga and wellness event and it couldn’t have been a better choice. I saw the Summer Wellness Event on Instagram via @norridge.popup and instantly knew I had to be a part of it.
I have been getting back into yoga for the past few months and whilst I am loving my sessions with ‘Yoga with Adrienne’ on YouTube in my living room, I do think a class every now and then is really motivating. The Summer Wellness Event was advertising yoga, meditation and energy work with raw, vegan cacao treats afterwards – you can see why I was instantly drawn to it!

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The event was ran by the Norridge girls, two lovely ladies who are still currently studying at university whilst running pop up events in the city. They have mainly held food events up until this one, with the last being a pop up cafe for the weekend in the city centre serving seasonal, delicious yet nourishing treats – and as the name would suggest, it included porridge! They wanted to expand their events by doing an evening of yoga and people coming together with good energy, finishing with scrummy food.
They really delivered, as myself and the 14 other people who attended the evening all absolutely loved it and left feeling centered and ready to take on the world with new intentions.

We began by doing around an hour of slow, mindful yoga with Cata Parrishwain who is the most calming and welcoming person you could hope to be leading a yoga class. We focused on doing what felt right for ourselves and our bodies rather than ‘perfecting’ the poses which is such a refreshing view on yoga. I have been to classes before where the instructor has literally came over and moved me into the positions because I wasn’t perceived to be doing it right but actually, you should be relaxing and enjoying the experience not bending about so much you put your back out!  Continue reading

Erpingham House

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Flower walls everywhere, a huge fake tree covered in fairy lights, dusky pink velvet chairs, neon signs and cocktails in watermelons. You want to go already right and I haven’t even told you what it is?!

Erpingham House is the gorgeous new plant based, mainly gluten free restaurant opened in Tombland, Norwich. Up until its opening I had been tracking the progress of this exciting new venture on Instagram for a few months, where owner Louis Blake kept teasing followers by sharing snaps of the interior or some mouthwatering vegan food, I couldn’t wait to get my first visit booked!
Finally after literally months of anticipation Erpingham House opened on the 27th May to the public and within minutes of the first bums beings on those snazzy pink seats they were all over social media and causing a real stir. Naturally I don’t like to miss out so I booked up pronto for the weekend after, 3rd June, as it was my birthday (26, better start adulting properly soon!).  Continue reading

My YouTube subscription list

Happy Mondayyyy!!

How pleased are you that it’s Monday, raining and you haven’t woken up to a money tree at the bottom of the garden?!

Me either.

But what do I do when it’s cold outside and I need a little pick me up? YouTube!

I have been slowly getting into YouTube over the past year and I now have a hefty subscription list which I wanted to share with you guys and hopefully get some recommendations back. I was reluctant to ‘follow’ YouTubers to begin with as I really thought it was something teenagers did and that they were all vlogging themselves setting farts on fire or falling over but actually, I love it.

I wish I had the confidence and the big personality it takes to start a YouTube channel – I think for bloggers/Instagrammers it provides a whole other dimension to your following and you really get to know the people behind the social profiles.
I also like the chill out factor of being on YouTube; most videos/vlogs are about half an hour long and you can just get totally lost in someone else’s life for a while. It can be inspirational, educational or anything you want it to be. Want to learn about something? YouTube it. Want to find out about a country or somewhere in the world? YouTube. Workouts, recipes, how to properly tie a tie, how to change a tyre or anything else you could ever need – YouTube.

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Veganism and me

So you may have noticed (if you follow me on Instagram you will definitely know) that I have recently taken up following a plant based diet. This essentially means I am now a vegan, but honestly I try and tell people I’m plant based as for some reason when you tell people you’re vegan it can evoke unwanted reactions. If you too are plant based you’ll know what I mean!
But anyway, I’m vegan now and I wanted to speak to you about it a bit and about the reasons why. I’ll start from the beginning;

I used to be a vegetarian, from the ages of around 12 to 19 (I think, can’t remember specifics) and back then even at 12 I was always really health conscious and I didn’t like the thought of what meat eating did to my body. I found that the vegetarian life always presented so many more healthy options and that naturally I gravitated toward foods which were better for me. I lived off green tea, fruit, grains and lots of other deliciously healthy things.
But then at around 19 I thought I would go back to eating meat, honestly very influenced by my boyfriend at the time (toxic, awful guy!!) as he was a chef, I was impressionable and he pretty much convinced me that I was missing out by not eating meat. I was discovering my love of food and cooking at that age and I really did think that maybe I could make much more adventurous and ‘chef like’ food if I included meat. So gradually I re-introduced all meats back into my diet and actually went too far the other way and ate everything an anything and put on around 3 stone over a couple of years (he also really liked chinese takeout which naturally meant I really liked chinese takeout?! Honestly what is wrong with teenagers – girls, never let boys tell you what to do).

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Thankfully that relationship went south and shortly after I got with my lovely Daniel, whom is now my husband to be (eek!). God love this man as he encourages everything I ever want to do and always gets behind the latest ‘thing’ I’m into – trust me there have been a lot of ‘things’ – knitting anyone?
Obviously, when I first spoke to him back in Autumn last year about wanting to go back to not eating meat, he was his usual kind self and told me to go for it – on the condition I didn’t make him do the same haha! But after reading a few bits and seeing a lot online about the health benefits of veganism I decided to go balls deep and go fully vegan. I thought well I was vegetarian before, so the not eating meat thing won’t be hard for me and there are so many dairy alternatives now why not give it a go?

I never thought it would change my life in the way that it has. Not in a ‘I’m now a millionaire living in St Tropez’ kind of change but a ‘I feel happy, content and back to my true self’ kind of way. I’ve read a lot of vegans feel like this after they make the change, like it makes them feel a more rounded, true version of themselves. I’m aware of how hippy dippy that sounds, but it honestly is that case (I would’ve rolled my eyes too previously, I know). I have lost weight (a stone to date), I eat WAY more veg than I used to, I enjoy cooking more as it forces you to be a little more creative in the kitchen and I just bloody love it.

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