Posted in Personal Development

Braving a No Buy…

Yep… I’m considering braving a no buy. I can hear my friends laughing as they read this! But one does love a good challenge. The term ‘No Buy’ has crossed my path several times in 2019. If you’ve been following my blog you will know I briefly talked about my consumerism habits and was wanting to become a more mindful shopper. Then in June I talked about how I’m not doing enough for the planet and talked about my eco friendly mission.

What’s a no buy?

Well the name is a tad misleading as of course it’s virtually impossible to stop buying everything. However it is possible to not buy new unnecessary items and make use of what you have. Upon joining this movement you determine your own rules. Popular ones include you may only replace essential items once they have run out. Now here’s the grey area… you determine what’s essential. So for example I would deem certain items of make up essential to my life. I’m not about to forgo mascara for example other people might but that is not for me!

Why do a no buy?

Good question… am I insane? Ha ha! Okay so after moving house last year I realised how much I actually overbuy. My friends have accused me of being a marketers dream in the past. However I have already made some changes to my consumerism habits since my move. I reckon that around 70% of my time on a weekly basis is taken up by my job as a dance teacher and going to the gym. Therefore I am rarely out of work out clothes. So keep purchasing items that don’t fit into this category when I already have many is a waste of money.

The financial side…

Many enter into a no buy simply because they have to. When a shopping addiction has spiralled out of control and they have racked up credit card bills to make your eyes water. This is not me thank god. I learnt my lesson with this fairly early on in life when I went to New York and blew £6000 on a credit card which consequently was a pain to pay back quickly.

My financial situation is good, I have less than £1000 debt. I have savings in the bank to which I add to monthly. The savings are mostly to go towards a house deposit with my other half when we move hopefully next year.

My reasons for a no buy…

1. I empty my bank account every month. Who can relate? Every penny is gone! I want to get to the end of the month with money in my bank (I do save but this about wanting money left in my current account)

2. I already have enough stuff!

3. I want to appreciate what I have more

4. I want to be less susceptible to advertising (ha ha!)

5. I want to have more time to be creative (this could be the time I spend mindlessly browsing online or the days I go shopping just because)

6. Boost my savings prior to moving

7. I like a challenge

A year though?

Okay guys the thought of a year is making my head fall off so I’m going to commit to six months. I will be starting next week so this is September to February. I realise Christmas is in the middle of this so that will be complete torture no doubt when I see all the pretty things I want. Also I’m going away in February so that will be a tough one too to not shop for holiday. After the six months I will reassess and see if I think a) I can do a year and b) if I think it will be beneficial. Finally my promise to you I will be honest, if I fail… I will fess up, ha!

Follow my journey…

By sharing this journey with you guys through my blog and social media it also holds me accountable. You can follow me on Instagram @thepretendgrownup Failing yourself is bad but failing in front of others is the worst. Wish me luck! I will be back next week with my list of no buy rules.

Have you completed a no buy year? Any advice is welcome!

Rachael 🙂 x

Posted in Personal Development

Eco swap mission – update #1

Hey guys! So I think it’s time I gave you my eco swap mission – update #1! If you want to read my original post you can do that here. But in a nutshell I’m trying to make some swaps that are better for the environment.

So how is it going? Well without further ado let me give you my eco swap mission – update #1!

What have I swapped so far?

1. Water bottle

2. Coffee Cup

3. Bags

Have you made these swaps? These are the most basic so I hope so.

4. Eco friendly cleaning products

I was keen to swap out our cleaning products for more eco friendly alternatives but honestly anything ‘eco’ is way more expensive it seems. So imagine my delight when I stumbled across an eco range in none other than Wilkinson’s! In this range they do the following –

Washing up liquid £1

Dishwasher tablets £3.50

Bathroom spray £1

toilet cleaner £1

Multipurpose spray £1

Kitchen spray £1

Laundry liquid £3

Fabric conditioner £3

Eco swap mission - cleaning products

These low prices are really low for an eco range! I tried out the sprays and the toilet cleaner and loved them. They did the job just as good as other leading brands. I initially didn’t buy the washing up liquid as I thought it wouldn’t be any competition for fairy but I was so impressed with the others I went back and picked it up. I was not disappointed, it bubbles well and cleans the dishes perfectly.

The eco friendly bit…

Okay so how is it better for the planet? They use sustainable plant derived ingredients and are packed in 100% recycled and recyclable bottle. In addition to this they are aquatic life, septic tank and vegan friendly. Oh and they smell way nicer than traditional cleaning products!

I think it’s safe to say here is a swap I have made that I will be sticking to. Get yourself over to Wilkinson and try it… don’t forget to let me know what you think!

5. Eco friendly washing tablets

The company SMOL will deliver eco friendly washing tablets right through your door. By cutting out the middle man and delivering direct to you they reckon they save you around 50% compared to other leading brands. The tablets boast fewer chemicals and come in fully recyclable packaging which is great.What’s more is they give you a FREE trial. Yes that’s right, they send you 12 tablets and you just pay the £1 postage. You have nothing to lose! Just to give you an idea of price after this I paid £3.95 for 24 tablets delivered the next month.

Eco friendly washing tablets

6. Eco friendly sun cream

With two impending holidays eco friendly sun screen was on my mind. I had been looking online at loads but honestly they were expensive compared to regular brands. But actually you don’t need to splash out… no other than well known brand Nivea are actually doing eco friendly sunscreen.

Eco friendly sun screen

7. Bamboo toothbrush

Ahh now this is a tricky one… I use an electric toothbrush that I love! But I have invested in a bamboo one too for when I travel. Sadly I’m not ready to give up my electric one but at least I won’t buy any more plastic ones when I go away.

Bamboo toothbrush

So that concludes my eco swap mission – update #1… I’m pretty happy with the changes I’ve made so far but many more are yet to be made. I’ve actually been on holiday and about to go on another so it’s hard to have this at the forefront of my mind. In September I look forward to further committing.

Have you made any eco swaps? Feel free to share ideas with me in the comments. If not I’m hoping I’ve inspired you start to make changes…

Rachael 🙂 x

Posted in Uncategorized

30 Things You Didn’t Know About Me!

Today I want to share 30 things you didn’t know about me! So I’ve written quite a few blog posts now and it suddenly occurred to me that a post like this might be rather fun for you guys to get to know me a little more. So here is 30 things you didn’t know about me (in no particular order)…

1. I live in the UK in a place called Warrington located between Manchester and Liverpool. When I go on holiday I always tell people I’m from Manchester just because it’s easier as they have heard of it!

2. I have a 11 year old son (Lex) who is my world but he drives me potty! He is energetic, creative, funny but oh so stubborn! Completely knows his own mind… wonder where he gets that from?! LOL

2. I have one sister (Heather) that is eight years younger than me but often seems to be the wiser one (thanks for you ongoing life advice sissy!)

3. My favourite colour is yellow because it reminds me of the sunshine.

4. My favourite tipple is red wine. I won’t pretend I know my wines, I don’t! I just usually go for one of the more expensive ones on the menu and hope for the best.

5. I have a pet lizard called Eugene, he’s a bearded dragon and is ten years old. He is so adorable! Lizards are my favourite animal closely followed by alligators.

My friend Eugene

6. I’m obsessed with getting beauty treatments. There is nothing I love more than a pampering… my particular weakness being facials.

7. I am Disney mad. On my bucket list is to visit every park. So far I’ve only done Paris and Florida (both several times) I look at something Disney related every single day without fail and I love following Disney pages on Instagram.

8. I love to travel and average 4 trips a year. I get seriously fed up of paying off holidays, I’m never not paying one off! but they are oh so worth it.

9. I once missed a flight back from Ibiza by a whole day through partying too hard ha ha! When I tried to check in I was told this flight left this time yesterday?!?! 24 hours… POOF! Your only young once 😉

10. Two of the best places I have ever visited (aside from Disney) are Positano and Langkawi – Many moons ago but the beauty of the Andaman sea and the rainforest is still imprinted in my mind.

Chilling in Positano

11. A favourite day out of mine is the zoo! No matter where I go I try to visit one. Zoo’s I have visited include… Central Park, Berlin, Barcelona and very soon I’m going to San Diego!

12. I’ve been practising yoga about 2 years now, doing 2-3 classes a week. I’m going to be yoga teacher when I grow up! when I was much younger I tried yoga and found it boring. Clearly I didn’t understand the benefits – I do now.

13. I love fitness and have total gym guilt if I don’t go! Despite having an active job I deem going to the gym a very important part of my life.

14. I’m a Cookie monster! Seriously though how nice are cookies?! in particular cookie desserts when they are warm, melted and gooey with ice cream, yummm!

15. 4. I teach dance and cheer for a living. I have my own dance academy with 250 children in. Dance is my life! I’ve ran my dance business for 19 years… does that make me old? No it does not! I started it at just 17 😉

With some of my cheer stars!

16. Some of my friends refer to me as a Duracell bunny because of my endless energy apparently!

17. I can’t get enough of roller-coasters… I find them totally thrilling. High on my bucket list is to visit Ferrari world in Abu Dhabi.

18. Amongst my favourite films are Wolf of Wall Street, Catch me if you Can, Mrs Doubtfire, Honey I Shrunk the Kids and yeah basically all Disney films.

19. I actually hate skinny jeans. They look great but as soon as I get through the door I literally stand on the door mat and peel them off!

20. I really enjoy doing crafts but don’t do them enough these days. Sitting in a big mess surrounded by crafting materials being creative sounds like a day in heaven to me!

Pottery painting

21. I’m petrified of walk through horror type experiences. Once was more than enough to try this… I know it’s not real but my brain refused to believe that (serious heart failure and crying!)

22. I love quotes… my favourite one of all time is – ‘she dreamed improbable dreams, followed her heart and created her own little fairytale’

23. I believe in fairies. My grandma and I use to make little gardens for them within her garden. We use to make little goblets out of the silver wrapping off kit kats wrappers and leave them out for them.

24. One day (when we move) I want a Disney Den aka a summer house in my garden, full of Disney stuff I love. It will also have a reading nook and a crafting area.

25. I love fashion although I don’t spend quite as much as I use to on it. Putting outfits together is one of my favourite things to do, especially for holidays.

Ready for a night out

26. I am a planner and love to know exactly what I’m doing and when. I like to fill my diary with plans but sometimes regret over planning and having no down time!

27. I don’t watch much tv, it feels such a waste of my life!

28. I was married and divorced by the age of 28. Everyone told me to wait but head strong young me wouldn’t listen. I lived in Germany near Düsseldorf as an army wife for 3 years. I also gave birth to my son there.

29. I hate tomato ketchup, I can’t even look at it ha ha! I also hate wool that feels really woolley, do you know what I mean?! All wool when wet feels disgusting and squeaky, ugh!!

30. This post actually started off as 20 things and I could have gone on and on… so my final one is I talk to much! That’s why I started this blog to give everyone’s ears a rest ha ha!

I hope you enjoyed my 30 things you didn’t know about me… is there any you can relate to? Or anything I mention here you would like me to see me blog about? Why not say hello below and tell me something about yourself!

Rachael 🙂 x

Posted in Personal Development

I’m so in Love With Blogging!

I’ve just realised… I’m so in love with blogging. I’ve just spent a good hour of my morning reading others blogs again. Gone are the days when I would mindlessly scroll through social media. Granted I still like a nosey at Instagram but it’s reading blogs that’s stole my heart.

So here I share my reasons why I’m so in love with blogging with you guys!

1. Escapism

I am literally transported into your world. Just as a good book provides escapism so does a great blog post. I can sit there smiling as you I can hear the passion in your writing. A great blog post takes me on the journey with you, I’m captivated.

2. Transparency

I love how transparent people are. How people share there journeys with you with a no holds barred approach. It’s commendable and gives others the confidence to speak out about things perhaps they wouldn’t.

3. Advice

Don’t under estimate the value of a good blog post for advice. There’s people out there who maybe have been what you are going through. It could be advice on something health related such as anxiety or it could be advice on something as simple as what to wear on holiday.

4. Inspiration

Blogs are inspirational in more ways than one. You may be inspired by someone’s strength to overcome something. You may be inspired to visit a destination they have visited. Perhaps you are inspired to be more productive.

5. They open your mind

I like to think that I am not a closed mind person. But even I have come across blog posts that have opened my mind. That moment when you think wow I never really thought of it like that.

6. Educational

Every day I am leaning facts about things I didn’t know. Reading blogs is expending my mind more than scrolling through social media posts ever would. I love learning new facts about things I’m interested in. You guys are educating me and I’m grateful.

7. Language

Language is a beautiful thing. I am a lover of words. I love to hear a new word that I don’t know the meaning of and look it up. I am learning so many new words on my blogging journey. I have actually started to carry a small notebook in my handbag so I can jot down any words I come across that I didn’t know and write the meaning of them to refer back to.

8. Creativity

I am a creative person. I teach dance for a living, I love to craft (although I rarely find time) I’m happiest when I’m being creative. Blogging is another creative outlet for me. I look forward to sitting down on a Sunday morning and writing my latest blog post.

I have just literally wrote this post in 10 minutes. It came so easily to me because I really love blogging and the reasons why are so obvious to me. I’m still at the beginning of my blogging journey and to be honest I’m kind of winging it. I hope to develop mine further but for now I’m just happy to have found another passion. My reason for starting mine was I just have so much to say and tell the world ha ha! But I hope I’m providing the above too now I know the power of blogging.

So keep doing what your doing you lovely people. I’m so happy to be part of the blogging community.

Is there any other reasons you would add to the above why you love blogging? I would love you to share them with me. Why not just come say hello? I would love to get to know more bloggers.

Have a great day!

Rachael 🙂 x

Posted in Holiday Happiness

Surviving a Flight – What to Pack for the Plane

This is your ultimate list for surviving a flight – what to pack for the plane! I never use to have a list but as time has gone on I’ve realised if I don’t I always forget something! I’ve really pushed the boat out so to speak with holidays this August with not one but two big trips. I am beyond excited!! I’m going to have so much to share with you guys.

With my first trip to Canada and America less than a week away I have been packing. I am loving how super organised I am (okay so this has taken planning) but I thought what better time than now to share my list with you all. Now I’m flying long haul but this list is great for any trip. I guarantee it will have things you didn’t think of, So here goes…

1. Essentials

Let’s start with the obvious essentials… passport, any paperwork, money, bank and credit cards. I like to keep all these together in a cute travel wallet. Glasses… I don’t wear glasses but if I you do they are essential obviously. Also ladies if it’s that time of the month don’t forget your lady products.

2. Phone & Tablet

Surviving a flight without these? Don’t think so! Don’t forget to ensure they are fully charged.

3. Big Scarf

Planes can get cold so a big scarf is great as this can double up as a blanket. Okay, I hear you, they give them out… did you know that they don’t rewash them every time just repackage them if they look clean… yuk! Use your own 😉

4. Paracetamol & Medication

Self explanatory, you don’t need a banging headache on a flight. Also be sure to organise and pack medication you might need to take whilst in the air.

5. Dehydration Tablets

Okay so this will maybe apply more to long haul but flights are sooo dehydrating. Dehydration tablets I have used before but not on a flight. I am prone to getting water infections so on my 12 hour journey I will be having 2 of these. They are a scientifically balanced formula of electrolytes and glucose. Just dissolve them in 200ml of water to keep you hydrated.

6. Facial Mist

Speaking of hydration I love to take a facial mist to spritz my face through out the flight and keep my skin hydrated and fresh.

7. Ear Plugs & Eye Mask

Absolute must for surviving a flight! Want to get some shut eye? You might not if the cabin is particularly noisy and I for one can not sleep with light blazing. A good eye mask and ear plugs are a must particularly for long haul.

8. Fluffy Socks or Flight Socks

First thing I do when I get on the plane is take off my shoes and put on my warm fluffy socks. You may prefer flight socks though if you have circulation problems.

9. Headphones

Obviously you need these to watch films and maybe listen to audio books or podcasts (I’m totally obsessed with pod casts right now!)

10. Travel pillow

If you find a good one they are amazing! I have tried a good few now and really rate memory foam ones. The trick is to choose one that comes quite high on your neck so when you flop your head to the side it really supports it.

11. Book or Magazines

Your going to need a entertaining especially if it’s a long flight. When your done with the films reach for some reading. Books are actually a genius way to send me to sleep ha ha! Bonus on a flight.

12. Magic Painting

Move over colouring it’s all about magic painting now for me now. Aside from your book all you need is water! I find this even more therapeutic than colouring. Maybe you prefer to colour… don’t forget your pens then!

13. Snacks

Snacks on planes are so annoyingly expensive. I try to take a few things with me that I bought at home (not in the airport, they are extortionate in there too!)

14. Eye Drops

I couldn’t be with out my refreshing eye drops on a flight now. The cabin air can be so dry I always have them to hand but I particularly like to use them just before we land. No red dry eyes for me, only fresh and sparkly!

15. Make up

I’m not a fan of much make up when flying… it’s not a great look when you wake up with mascara down your face. Plus give your skin chance to breath. That said I know arriving at your destination bare faced isn’t appealing either. Pack your essentials is a clear zip lock bag. Mine would be touché eclat, mascara and lipgloss.

16. Eco Friendly Wipes

You can read all about my eco friendly mission here but biodegradable wipes are a must. I like to wipe down my tray table etc when I get on the flight with them (don’t judge!) also good for sticky hands etc.

17. Bamboo Toothbrush & Toothpaste

Bamboo toothbrush because its eco friendly of course! Some flights provide a toothbrush and toothpaste but always good to have your own. If you’ve been flying a long time or asleep its nice to have the option to freshen up your mouth.

18. Elizabeth Arden 8 hour Cream

I bought some eight hour cream many moons ago on a flight to New York and ever since it’s been a must. Where do I start? Dry lips? this will sort it out. Bit of highlight to your cheeks? No problem. That mascara that ran down your face… this will swiftly remove it. Taming your brows? Yes. Not to mention that it’s oh so amazing on sunburn. Holiday staple indeed!

18. Portable Charger

Just a back up for any devices that may need a recharge if you plane doesn’t have that luxury. I once forgot to charge mine and let my son run my battery real low thinking I had back up. We ended up stranded in a remote part of Italy with not a taxi in sight! Don’t forget to change it!

19. Travel Journal or Notebook

So this may not be applicable to everyone but if your a blogger this definitely comes in handy! Even if your not you may find a notebook and pen handy in your holiday bag. You never know if you might need to note something down!

20. Hairbrush, Dry Shampoo & Bobble

Last but not least I always have a hairbrush and bobble. I typically travel with my hair freshly washed and down but I may want to tie it up during the flight. Dry shampoo is great to spray in before you land for a freshen up!

So there we have it! With this list you will be well on your way to surviving a flight! Is there anything you think I missed? I’m all ears!

Rachael 🙂

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Posted in Holiday Happiness

Day Trip to The Aeolian Islands

A day trip to the Aeolian islands is a great thing to do whilst visiting Italy. These are several islands of Volcanic origin are located off the northern coast of Sicily. Easily accessible from Sicily the islands can also be reached from the town of Tropea, south Italy. Several companies offer the trip within the town departing from the local harbour. If my memory serves me right we paid around €40 (slightly less for a child) for our day trip to three of the islands.

Boat in Tropea harbour
The boat in Tropea harbour

Departing early morning from the harbour in Tropea, the sun was glistening on the water whilst we excitedly boarded our boat for the day. There were several boats leaving from here but finding the tour we booked was easy as there were plenty of people around to guide you.

We were embarking on a 12 hour round trip to see three of the islands in total – Volcano, Lipari and Stromboli. I have to confess here that my memory is pretty sketchy with timings of this trip, as in can’t really remember how long we spent sailing to each place and how long we were there (this is why I’ve just bought a travel journal for future trips). I know we were quite a while reaching the Aeolian islands, well over an hour.

Leaving Tropea port
Tropea harbour as we left

As we left the port we were soon treated to a view of Tropea town. I wished at this Point I had taken my DSLR for some better shots. But I still managed to get a photo that captured just how magnificent it looks perched on the rocks of the Calabria coastline.

Tropea town from the water
View of Tropea from the water

Aeolian islands stop 1 – Volcano

First stop on our day trip to the Aeolian islands was Volcano, an island known for its sulphur and wild panorama. Volcanic activity here has been going on for thousands of years and as we got off the boat you could smell a strange smell of sulphur in the air.

We wandered along past a few little shops and restaurants until we reached the therapeutic mud baths and hot springs the islands famed for. Unfortunately you have to be over 16 I think they said to bathe in them. I have to be honest though I wasn’t really feeling it anyway so the fact my son is only 11 was a bonus. That said they are suppose to have many beneficial healing properties for skin conditions.

Therapeutic mud baths Volcano
People bathing in the mud baths

Aside from climbing the creator and a bit of wandering there wasn’t alot else to do. So we stopped for pizza before boarding the boat to our second destination.

Aeolian islands stop 2 – Lipari

Lipari is the largest and most populated of the Aeolian islands. It makes a great base if you want to visit all the islands in your own time. We arrived in a busy port with a lovely looking pastel seafront.

Arriving in Lipari on our day trip to the Aeolian islands
First glance at Lipari

We meandered up the winding streets admiring local art work displayed in the shops. I am always interested in independent artists when I travel, you can pick up some lovely art pieces to remind you of your trip. I bought a wall hanging made from washed up pottery pieces and driftwood found on the beach.

Local art work in Lipari
I bought the one in the top left corner

We soon stumbled across Lipari Cathedral, Known as Basilica Concattedrale di San Bartholomeo di Lapari in Itallian (a bit of a mouthful!) Located right in the heart of Lipari, the cathedral is the oldest and largest church on the islandIt stands proudly at the top of a large staircase. My son lazily waited mid way up protesting that he could see if very well from where he was ha ha!

Lipari Cathedral
Walking up the steps to Lipari Cathedral

The rest of the afternoon was spent wandering some more. Lipari is a pretty town and as we were there the end of May it felt very laidback much like Tropea. I expect in July and August like most places it is much busier. Out of the three Aeolian islands we visited, Lipari was my favourite.

Wandering the streets of Lipari
Wandering in Lipari

Aeolian islands stop 3 – Stromboli

Back on the boat we headed to our third and final Aeolian islands of the day, Stromboli. Stromboli contains one of the three active volcanos in Italy. Most eruptions consisted of small gas explosions creating lava to run down the rim. For this reason night tours are popular in hope of seeing the lava glowing. It is said that Mount Stromboli has been in continuous eruptions for the past 2000 years.

Mount Stromboli from our boat
View of Stromboli from our boat

Stromboli has recently hit the news (a week ago) after it errupted sadly causing a fatality to a hiker. In a guided group it is possible to hike up the volcano. We were only there less than two hours so just had a short look about and some more pizza! (How I didn’t turn into a pizza on this trip I don’t know?!!)

There was just enough time for a few quick photos at the foot of the island before we boarded the boat for the trip back to Tropea. My son picked up a small piece of volcanic rock as a souvenir.

On Stromboli, just before leaving

Would you like to visit the Aeolian islands? We think a day trip was perfect. Have you visited one of the islands I haven’t? I would love to hear.

Next stop on my Italian travels will be Venice…. stay tuned 😉

Rachael 🙂 x

Posted in Holiday Happiness

A Week in Tropea

At the end of May I travelled to Italy for a week in Tropea. Tropea? Where’s that? A common response from many when I shared where I was going. Tropea is located in south Italy within the Calabria region and it was instagram that lead me to this destination. I follow many travel pages and Tropea just looked oh so dreamy but could it be as nice as Positano?

Getting to Tropea

With no flights from Manchester I had to fly from London Stanstead. Tropea can’t be that popular a destination for us Brit’s as there appears to be very few direct flights a week. I took a Ryanair flight to Lamezia Terme, a short bus ride to the station and finally a train to Tropea.

Where we stayed

With Tropea being a town there are very few options of places to stay with pools unless on the outskirts. However is a pool really necessary in a beach town? After initially booking a hotel just outside Tropea I had a last minute change of heart and decided to stay in a boutique hotel centrally located instead. Colomba D’Oro met all our needs, spacious rooms, modern whilst retaining an Itallian charm , a good selection at breakfast and friendly staff.

Instagram perfect?

In a world of editing apps, tweaking and filters would this seemingly picturesque place really live up to my expectations in real life? Well I have to confess that the first few days the weather was less than desirable. But as the grey clouds lifted and the sun shone down if you had dropped me off on Tropea beach and told me I was in the Caribbean I would probably of believed you. Clean golden sand and turquoise waters that needed no filter at all.

Tropea beach
Tropea beach from above

As if that wasn’t enough the backdrop was something else… the stunning majestic houses of Tropea perched right on the cliff edge. I tried to do some research on the buildings but struggled to find much information other than Tropea town dates back to Roman times.

The houses of Tropea
Houses of Tropea

Tropea town sits around 70 meters above sea level meaning you must descend down several steps to enjoy the beach. However before making your way down you are treated to this stunning view of the sanctuary of Santa Maria Dell’lsola. It Sits high upon a large rock outcrop with the Tyrrhenian Sea sparkling in the sunlight behind it. An iconic image for the town of Tropea – it’s picture perfect.

 Santa Maria dell’Isola
Santa Maria Dell’Isola

When to visit

We visited at the end of May which is deemed to be relatively quiet time. Apparently in the months of July and August it is extremely busy mostly with European travellers. The Italians in particular love to holiday here, I mean why would you not if this was on your doorstep?! May is a nice time to visit but you are dicing with the weather slightly. We had about four overcast days.

Wandering…

A week in Tropea was ample to explore this Italian town. We wandered down the cobblestone streets, explored the pretty alleyways and stumbled across little hidden squares. It is everything you would imagine Italy to be.

A week in Tropea wandering
I love to wander…

The buildings had a charming faded feel about them. Traces of the old town remain and we noticed some beautiful old architecture in amongst the new.

Beautiful architecture in Tropea

Watching the world go by

Tropea definitely has a laidback feel, nothing is done in a hurry. My son and I chilled out in restaurants, played card games and chatted without a piece of tech in sight which was a nice change. We noticed lots of elderly men sat around on benches through out the day and I learned they are referred to as ‘Noni’ – grandfathers. They looked like they didn’t have a care in the world – how wonderful.

‘Noni’ watching the world go by
Resting ‘Noni’ in Tropea

Just when we thought Tropea could surprise us no more we would stumble across another part. It might have been a town but venture just to the edge and you were reminded that indeed you were still in Italy with its lush greenery.

Red wine with a view
Cheers to that view!

Eating in Tropea

It seemed every corner we turned there was tables set out encouraging you to stop again for a glass of wine or some yummy Italian food. Eating in Tropea is very reasonable. You could pick up a freshly made pizza for less than ten euros.

Tropea restaurants hidden away
What a charming Italian restaurant

Lots of seafood dishes are on offer and not forgetting what Tropea is know for – it’s sweet red onions. There was no shortage of them to buy around the town.

Red onions of Tropea
Red onions of Tropea

What to do

There is no denying Tropea is not a place with tons to do but that is its charm. It’s a seaside town so if sun, sand, relaxing and dining sounds like a dream to you then pop Tropea on your bucket list. We spent our days mostly doing the above. So what else is there to do?

Well Tropea is on a main railway line so exploring in either direction would be an option. However nowhere in the surrounding area looked quite as charming as Tropea so we stayed put.

Bike riding

Bike riding in Tropea
Bike riding with the port behind

We did hire bikes to go exploring a bit further one day. Firstly we headed for the port but the hill it was at the bottom of made us decide to just stop mid way down as my son was moaning about having to ride back up!

As we rode out I enjoyed the scenery but we never made it as far as another town. I would have kept going but my son was not happy in the heat. That said Italian drivers are a little crazy! We had to be extra careful on the roads. I think in the height of summer this may not be a great idea when it’s busier.

Trips

There were a few trips available out of Tropea. Two of the most popular being a visit to campo vatico and the nearby Aeolian islands. Campo Vatico is essentially a beautiful beach and given we had already spent ample time at the beach we opted for the latter. We visited Stromboli, Lipari and Volcano, but more about this in next weeks blog post.

End of our week in Tropea

As our week in Tropea came to an end I was grateful I was lead to such a stunning destination through Instagram. I felt revived after a week of doing very little, however I was ready to go home. This is a destination perhaps to be enjoyed with your lover not a tween! My son who requires constant entertainment was bored quite often despite my attempts to make it fun. However the quality time did us both good and there is no denying that south Italy is truly beautiful.

Amazing sunsets in Tropea
No caption needed!

Have you visited Tropea or anywhere in the Calabria region? What did you think? If my blog post has inspired you to visit let me know…

Rachael 🙂 x

To book Colomba D’Oro hotel in Tropea

Posted in Personal Development

June Goal Review

I almost forgot to do my June goal review! I’m lay on my sofa feeling pretty exhausted right now. Life has been so busy this blog post is actually a day later than planned. Anyway… Happy July! July already? Yikes!

June goal review

So I decided at the beginning of the year I would check in with my goals every 3 months. I reviewed them last in March, you can check out that post here. So what’s been happening since then? Or not happening!

1. Fun & Adventure

I shared last time that I had booked a sky dive, well I actually did it this month, go me! Of course this was worthy of a blog post of its own so you can find out what I thought and how it went here.

Visit Disneyland Paris was top of this category. We made it there in April and had a fantastic time as always. I also had visit Paris down but sadly we were there when Notre Dame burnt down and that was one of our main reasons for visiting the city. I have been before but not for many years. I would love to watch the Moulin Rouge so a future trip here with my other half could be on the cards.

2. Career

*Sigh* My goal was to start a YouTube channel for my dance school, in March I amended that to working on my Instagram instead which was going great. I’m sad to admit that has fallen a little by the wayside. I’m still posting but not like I was. I need to up my game again!

3. Friends and Family

Not exactly excelling at this right now! But hey, I’m not the only one busy I guess. I did go swimming with my nephew for the first time though. Look how cute he is!

Spending more time with friends and family

4. Financial

Finally a big tick next to this one in my June goal review! Still stayed of debt and saving in my new pension pot every month. It’s easy to put money away in it when I’ve labelled it in my head as future amazing holidays pot! Ha ha!

5. Spiritual

Oh dear… well let me see, I only meditate if I’m at yoga so epic fail on the meditate every day goal. I always think I don’t have time but then they say the people who don’t need to meditate the most. I occasionally do my daily affirmations when I’m up early and remember!

6. Fitness

Okay so I am still managing yoga 2-3 times a week which is good. The other goal here was improve running on treadmill. I actually hate running, I don’t know why I set this goal! I wouldn’t say I’ve improved it but I am definitely still pushing myself to do it.

7. Personal enrichment

Read more often… hmmm I read on holiday does that count?! This needs addressing really. Also in this category was take a floristry course and I did! Okay so it was only a day one but I loved it and made this beautiful arrangement. It’s definitely spurred me on to do a course over a series of weeks.

June goal:  Flower arranging

8. Self care

Drink more water, check (most days), body brush 3x a week, I’m managing 2. Smoothie a day? Probably about 4 a week. Lastly sticking to a good morning routine – FAIL. I want to work on this for next review and in turn that should help my meditation goal.

So that concludes my June goal review. How do I feel about my goals mid way through the year? I would say happy enough. However in all honesty I don’t think I’ve really thought about them much since my March review. I need to check in between my goal reviews on here to ensure I am on track or what’s the point in making them?

Have you checked in with your goals? How’s it all going? Maybe you didn’t set any… well with still half a year to go why not set some now?

Rachael 🙂 x

Posted in Personal Development

Eco Friendly Mission

I am on a relatively new found eco friendly mission. When I was a little girl I was obsessed with nature. I use to make posters about animals, extinction and saving the planet. I loved dolphins in particular, raising money for the protection of them and donating regularly to the whale and dolphin conservation.

Growing up…

Recently I have been casting my mind back to 8yr old me. Sat in my room drawing the planet and the words ‘save our planet’ ens crawled around it. Drawings of animals close to extinction dotted around the paper. I was so passionate about conservation back then. But as I grew up the issues our planet faced sadly slipped to the back of my mind whilst I tried to navigate the grown up world.

The planet needs us now more than ever…

Fast forward to 2019 and it is definitely time to wake up. If 8yr old me could see me today she would certainly think I’m not doing enough. The planet needs help more than ever… it’s no secret it’s at crisis point. But we must all pull together to make changes… remember little changes add up to big things.

The plastic epidemic…

The plastic eperdemic stretches much further than straws which initially grabbed the limelight. However I suppose they are good a place to start as any. I came across this thought provoking quote…

Being eco friendly is everybody's responsibility

A video of a sea turtle that went viral having a plastic straw pulled out of its nose was a wake up call for many. Since then we’ve seen whales cut open on beaches with stomachs full of plastic. What are we doing to our oceans? Allowing 8 million tons of plastic to enter it each year that’s what. It’s heart breaking.

Issues our planet is facing…

But lets be real here… plastic is only one of many issues our planet is facing. Others are over population, pollution, global warming, natural resource depletion to name a few.

My wake up call…

Last year I moved house and that was the start of my wake up call for me. I was faced with a mammoth task of packing up my 3 bedroom house and making it fit into my boyfriends which was already full of stuff. A mass clearout impended and it caused me to seriously look at my own consumerism habits. You can read my post on mindful buying here.

What am I doing now?

Now before anyone shoots me down I’m not claiming to be some kind of eco warrior… this is the start of my eco friendly journey. I’m just a girl waking up fully to the issues our planet is facing… and I want to do my bit. I have made the small obvious changes like most. Ditching plastic bottles, plastic bags and taking recycling seriously. But I know I can do so much more and I want to.

Join me!

I have spent the last month really reading up on the subject of helping the planet and making more eco friendly choices. I am going to commit to making one change a week to help our planet. If your reading this and feeling inspired then join me! I’m calling my new venture my ‘eco swap mission’

Follow me on Instagram @thepretendgrownup where hopefully I can you inspire to make some changes with me. If you do don’t forget to use the hashtag #ecoswapmission. I will also be blogging at the end of each month about the swaps I’ve made and how I’ve found them.

I’m on a mission to make 8yr old me proud… better late than never! 🙂

Rachael x

Posted in Personal Development

First Sky Dive… Would I do it again?!

So I have completed my first sky dive… OH MY LIFE I actually went through with it! I questioned my sanity in the weeks leading up to it… I mean who in their right mind willing launches themselves out of a flying aeroplane?! Me! I did, ha ha! I’m still buzzing, can you tell?

Ahh the good old bucket list, many things are on it but none quite as terrifying as a sky dive. I like to challenge myself and this has been on my list forever. Booking a charity skydive to raise funds for the MS Trust seemed like a great plan. I mean if people sponsor me I can’t wimp out right?! So I rang up and booked at skydive northwest in the lake district. Luckily for me my sisters partner Dan wanted to do one too so I had a sky dive buddy.

We arrived at the centre on a slightly gloomy and windy Sunday morning and was relieved that jumps were going ahead. After handing in our forms we were taken for a 20 minute briefing. Clear instructions were given about everything, I felt well informed which is good given my life was literally in someone else’s hands!

Ready to sky dive
Attire on, feeling brave? not really…

Obviously as first timers Dan and I were doing tandem jumps. My instructor told me he did his first jump at 16yrs old alone (wtf?!) and had been jumping for 30 years. This eased my mind, he clearly was a competent sky diver.

Once kitted up we entered the air field and headed towards the aeroplane. Honestly my nerves at this point were building badly. More so when I got inside the plane and realised just how small it was.

Boarding the plane
Not feeling as confident as I look!

The plane quickly climbed and my ears were popping and I was trying to not panic! We went up fast and I kept thinking oh this must be it… but no! Up and up we went. The exact height we were jumping from was 14,000ft… but honestly this meant nothing to me! I don’t have a great concept of distance.

At last the door opened and the cabin filled with air and became much louder. At this point you realise you’ve never been in a place with the door open, I mean why would you?! It was pretty scary. Three guys who were jumping alone left the plane. As I watched them tumble down and my heart was in my mouth.

All aboard the sky dive plane
Terrified… can’t even muster a smile!

Then the door shut and apparently we were to go higher… excuse me?! This is when he head fell off. What do you mean higher?!! I started to internally panic thinking I just can’t do it, I just can’t do this!

On the edge ready to jump
Dear God, please don’t let me die!!

But soon enough the door opened again and it was my turn. I shuffled forwards with my instructor and I don’t think my heart has ever beat so fast! As I sat on the edge with my head back (as instructed) I thought I this is it, I actually might die!

Then we left the plane, holy crap we were out! I couldn’t tell you if he counted or anything but we were out! The initial fall was scary.

Freefalling!
Yikes! I can’t believe I did it!

But afterwards it was weird… your going down obviously but it’s just like the winds under you holding you up. The camera man was encouraging me to wave etc but I was too scared to move. I attempted a smile but it made my teeth cold ha ha!

First time sky dive smiling
Smile for the camera…

The free fall was a minute and let me tell you it was the longest minute of my life! I was kind of enjoying it but at the same time thinking where’s the parachute?!! It must have been a minute now…

I could see a cloud below me and it was coming faster and faster… silly as it may sound I was worried about going through it. As we entered it I think I held my breath for a few seconds ha ha! But nothing to worry about, except it was even colder and I now could see nothing.

Flying through the clouds
Look I’m flying!

Then with a slight hoist back up as my body dropped vertical I realised that was it, the free fall was over. I kind of breathed a sigh of relief that indeed the parachute had not failed. Oh wow look at the world below me! I took in the views whilst trying not to dither (did I mention I was cold?!) it was very peaceful.

Parachute finally opens
The moment we dropped into a vertical position as the parachute released

Soon enough we were coming in to land, remembering my briefing and also a reminder from my instructor I lifted my legs high as we swooped down. I was smiling my head off at this point, I think it was a mixture of relief and feeling amazed that I had indeed gone through with a sky dive.

Survived my first sky dive!

I Raised £466 for the charity the MS Trust. It’s close to my heart as my lovely mum has MS. Thank you so much to all those who donated.

Would I do it again? Yes and no… if I was somewhere amazing on holiday and I thought the views would be worth it absolutely. Am I about to throw myself out of a plane as a new found hobby? Definitely not, I will stick to my thrills at theme parks!

Would I recommend it? 100% yes… why? because life is for living and you should try everything once 😉

Rachael 🙂 x

You can book with Sky Dive Northwest here – http://www.skydivenorthwest.co.uk