Posted in lifestyle

Developing my blog!

Hey guys!

I have decided I want to invest some money and time into developing my blog. Why? Because I am seriously loving blogging. I’ve been sticking to a posting schedule of Sunday’s and now Wednesdays too! But I missed my Sunday post last week. Let me share with you why…

Moving my blog

Listen I’m a newbie in terms of the blogging world so I’m massively learning still. After some digging I have learnt that it’s better for me to move my blog from to .org and self host it. This gives me much more freedom with my site.

New site!

Developing my blog includes instructing someone to build my new blog site for me. Why? Because this is not my forte… I don’t cut on own hair do I? Nor would I try to fix my own car… you get my drift. Could I build my own blog site? I probably could if I researched it but time is precious and I know I won’t enjoy this aspect so outsourcing is the way to go for me.

It’s a learning curve…

I’ve learned so much since I started my blog but I have a long way to go. The addition of Yoast earlier this year helped me to understand the SEO side better. I had a little dabble with creating pins for one of two posts but then didn’t follow through, I need to get with the whole Pinterest thing. I have a Facebook page for it that I’ve literally just shared my blog posts on so I would like to overhaul that too and develop it more. I’ve learned now that I’ve not categorised well so on my new site that will be better and easier to navigate… which brings me to my next point…

Finding my blog niche

I will let you into a secret, when choosing the name (The Pretend Grown Up) it was going to be a more parenting based blog. Basically how I don’t really feel grown up and winging the whole parenting thing ha ha! But then I wasn’t really feeling that and struggling to write. If I’ve learned one thing it is if your writing about the right thing it won’t be a struggle. The words will just flow…


Lots of travel and a love of travel has enabled me to pick this as my niche topic now. I’m conscious of my name so I must not get bogged down in facts and treat it more like a travel diary. I personally love these and find it interesting and fun when people share their experiences rather than ‘10 must do things in Rome’ not saying I don’t find these informative but I don’t think they fit my vibe.

What else?

Well I’ve been thinking carefully what else I could write about as The Pretend Grown Up that’s true to me and a good fit (by the way if your wondering why it says lifestyle, travel, adventure at the top of my site I recently changed that temporarily so my site would come up more when people search these words) So I have come up with the following catergories…

1. Style – I love casual fashion most being a fitness addict and dance teacher but expect insights into what I’ve been wearing and loving. Since I was little I have enjoyed putting looks together. I’m your average girl when it comes to shopping… I like to splurge but rarely have the funds (I spend it all on travel!) so you won’t be finding me gushing about £600 shoes! Yep this will be affordable fun looks.

2. Disney – it’s not secret I love Disney… I try to play it down but it consumes my thoughts a lot of the time! Ha ha! So from holiday updates (I’m going to California one next year!), to my opinions on all things Disney and finding you the best Disney merchandise will be share here!

3. Wellbeing – this is a big one for me. I will forever want to look good for my age and feel great. I’m trying to avoid ageing as naturally as possible and love skincare, facials are my jam. Fitness has always been a big part of my life having a dance school and as a regular gym goer I should be able to share some fitness related insights here. Improving your mental wellbeing sparks my interest so I will be exploring such topics.

4. Lifestyle – Doesn’t lifestyle just cover all the topics you kind of think I’m not sure where to put that ha ha! Here you will get a little peak into what I’ve been up to. Things like my no buy would come under this category.

So why my site moves over I will be taking a slight blogging break… it should be done in the next week though! Guys, I’m so excited. Thank you for following me this far! I can’t wait for my next blogging chapter. If anyone has any tips or things they want to share reference developing my blog please feel free to share!

Just one last thing… I wanted to unveil my new logo! I’m so pleased with it… what do you think?!

The Pretend Grown Up blog  logo

Rachael 🙂 x

Posted in Holiday Happiness

Oh Vancouver…

Oh Vancouver… you weren’t on my list but you absolutely should have been. My first time in Canada and you were where we landed to begin our adventure. You see Canada was way down my travel list I’m ashamed to say. My other half had it at the top of his list so that’s how come I found myself there.

This coastal cosmopolitan city in western Canada did not disappoint. I’m not a massive city lover… I mean don’t get me wrong, I loved Rome for its architecture, New York for simply being New York but what was there to love about Vancouver? Everything.

Vancouver sky line
View of Vancouver from Stanley Park

It’s sooo clean!

It is not often I say this about a city but I found I found Vancouver to be so clean. We actually stayed in the downtown area on Granville street which was probably the least clean area but still it was clean as far as city’s go. Wandering around in the sunshine, between the gleaming buildings and litter free streets was just lovely.

Walking around Vancouver
Clean streets in Vancouver

The Canadians are so nice!

In Vancouver I had my first interactions with the Canadians and let me tell you they were so polite and helpful. Nothing was too much trouble for them from the hotel staff bus drivers, even to people in the street who we stopped to ask directions. They were all so nice! I officially love Canadians ha ha!

Granville Island testing glass pens
Testing handmade glass pens on Granville Island

It’s all about the food!

Vancouver has no shortage of great places to eat. It is actually known for its seafood predominantly and we passed plenty of sushi restaurants. We enjoyed a meal in Black and Blue steak house which had a lovely ambient setting, impeccable service and a fantastic selection of steaks on the menu. Staying somewhere you can cook for yourself? No problem! Granville Island is the place to shop for all things food or even just go for a browse and indulge whilst there.

Yummy cakes, Granville Island

Just look at the scenery…

Vancouver really has it all when it comes to scenery. Stunning mountain ranges, pretty parks, the sea, harbours and beaches. It’s found itself listed as one of the most beautiful cities in the world in many publications and it’s easy to see why.

Canada Place Vancouver
Canada place Vancouver

It’s the great outdoors

Vancouver has a lot to offer in terms of outdoor pursuits. Visit in winter and you can enjoy skiing and snow sports. Summer hiking is popular along with camping and water sports are on offer. Not forgetting biking! Did you know Vancouver has more than 279 miles of bike routes. We loved our time riding around Stanley Park.

Riding bikes in Stanley Park
Bike riding in Stanley Park

Oh Vancouver!

I only spent 3 days visiting you but I would of happily stayed a week! I would of loved to explore more of the city and soaked up its vibe. Our itinerary was jam packed as to get the most out of our time so we didn’t really have much down time. On the plus side I have a few more detailed Vancouver posts coming up so stay tuned!

Vancouver… you were my first taste of Canada and what a fantastic place to start. I will be back at some point to see more of you for sure! Thanks for the memories.

Kayakers by Granville Island
Vancouver lookout
Granville Island
Vancouver towards coal harbour

Have you visited Vancouver? Do you think it’s worthy of it’s beautiful city title? I think it’s safe to say I think it is.

Rachael 🙂 x

Check out Black and Blue Steak House and book a table here.

Posted in lifestyle

Summer and Winter Wardrobe Swap

It’s that time… summer and winter wardrobe swap day! Perhaps I’m doing it slightly early as the sun is occasionally peeking from the clouds still, but after Fridays ‘I have nothing to wear meltdown’ whilst trying to get ready for a cinema visit I thought perhaps I will have something to wear if I do my swap.

Do you swap your wardrobe over?

Why on earth do I do a swap? Well, everything would fit in my wardrobe but I’m afraid it would be rather crammed in. I’m pretty sure I won’t want to wear shorts past September (incase your wondering I’m by Manchester in the UK!) Anyway, does anyone else do a summer and winter wardrobe swap?

Summer or winter fashion?

I LOVE summer clothes… I seem to buy more in this season than winter. This is probably due to holidays and wanting new outfits. I’m not exactly thrilled by winter clothes… people say ‘oh who’s ready for winter woolies, bonfire night, Christmas lights or some s*** like that… hmmm not me!! None the less I boxed off Saturday just gone to retrieve my winter attire from the loft.

Sort first, pack away later…

Before this I sorted through all things summer. Some items cross over into seasons but summery dresses, play suits, shorts, too many bikinis all were relegated to the not needed until next year pile.

Summer clothes ready to store away
Summer stuff to go away…

The most annoying thing is sometimes I hold on to items that I wasn’t keen on just because I feel bad parting with something I’ve worn once. Away they go to briefly make a wardrobe appearance next summer only to be tossed in the charity bag when they don’t make the cut again. Ugh! Does anyone else do this?

My no buy!

Now in case you missed my previous two posts, I’m actually doing a no buy. Guys… let me tell you I’m wondering what the hell I was thinking?! I’m only a week in. Yep ONE WEEK. I told you all I love a challenge blah blah only to realise this is the biggest challenge of my LIFE lol.

So it’s time to fall in love with what I have! I’m hoping given the winter stuff has been stashed away for six months I might feel like I have a new wardrobe anyway! Hmmm, who am I kidding… I hope your routing for me guys! Ha ha!

Winter jumpers hanging in my wardrobe
Hello winter woolies!

So my summer and winter wardrobe swap is officially complete. I’ve got a a few things coming up over the winter months that I’m already pondering what I’m going to wear… a trip to Edinburgh with the girls in particular. Best get outfit planning instead of shopping!

Have you indulged in some autumn inspired shopping yet? What are you loving this season? Have a browse for me ha ha!

Rachael 🙂 x

Posted in Holiday Happiness

18 Things I Learnt by my Second Cruise

This is 18 things I learnt by my second cruise… because do you really learn everything from your first? I realise I am still at the beginning of my cruising life but none the less now I’ve done two cruises on two different lines I feel able to give you advice and good tips. I recently cruised on Royal Caribbeans Rhapsody of the seas and previously on the Disney Fantasy – which you can read all about here.

So if your yet to book or go on your first cruise then these 18 tips may help you ace it the first time instead of like me what will be my 3rd time (when I book again, not any time soon!)

1. Do your research… which cruise?

All ships are different, that’s in size, amenities, ports of call, on board entertainment programmes. What’s most important to you? I don’t think you will be disappointed on any cruise to be honest but choose your most important box and make sure that’s ticked first.

My choices!

The first time I cruised it was simple… I wanted to experience a Disney one. Second time I picked based on ports of call. Fairly well travelled in Europe I wanted to make sure I was hitting places I hadn’t yet been. Also for me I didn’t want a massive ship. Travelling with my tween I knew he would clear off… I wanted half a chance of finding him! I chose Royal Caribbean’s Rhapsody of the Seas – capacity 2000.

The Disney Fantasy cruise in Port
Disney fantasy in port

2. Embarkation day is busy

When we got on this recent cruise we were hungry and headed straight to the buffett restaurant, same as everyone else. It was pretty stressy finding a table etc and I was going mad! Not a fan of all inclusive at all (no judgement if you are) it had that feel to it. Please know it never felt like this again! Consider booking a speciality dining for when you board to avoid this rush… I did but missed it! Whoops! Which brings me to my next point…

3. Don’t underestimate boarding time…

This latest cruise took longer to board then the previous Disney one. The port felt huge, the queues were long (we didn’t queue thanks to some VIP thing I booked) it did take a while to actually get on the ship. Not stressful but we did think we would pretty much walk on and we didn’t hence missing our lunch. We had actually been exploring that morning but in hindsight maybe box off the first day to just get on board if you want to make the most of it.

4. Pack a day bag

Seriously… don’t get caught out without things you might need straight away in your case. Aside from obvious things I mean your swimwear, sunglasses etc. Your case can take a while to be delivered to your stateroom and the last thing you want is your kids going mental because they can’t get in the pool!

12. The pools are not big

Okay so I’ve only done two cruises but as far as I can see this is across the board. Think of them more as a quick dip to cool off not swim! The main one will be overrun with kids who don’t seem to notice they are sharing it with 50 other people ha ha! Most ships will also have an adult only pool which is great to escape. Some have water slides like the Disney fantasy, that actually had a water coaster running around the outside, it was so fun!

Chilling in a hot tub
We always favour the hot tubs!

5. Which Stateroom?

Another thing to think about here is how much your on the boat. I did a seven day cruise and was off the boat 4 days exploring, not utilising my drinks package. Funny story though… my son made lots of mates who had no package (so you just get water, orange, lemonade, tea and coffee) he spent all our cruise getting everybody’s drinks! Ha ha! So you could just make a friend with a package 😉

Both my cruises I’ve booked the cheapest state room with no window based on knowing I won’t be in it much. The only thing that’s tricky about them is the lack of space for all your stuff! You need to be highly organised to not end up getting frustrated keeping on top of things. Disney hace magic portholes in their cheapest rooms which give you a real time view of outside (off a camera) and you might just see a few of your favourite characters appear in it too – magical!

6. The initial cost is not all you will spend…

Cruises are masters at getting you to part with your cash or should I say credit card. That’s right… everything on board you pay for with your room key (which is linked to your onboard account and credit card), swipe here, swipe there, few cocktails later… erm how much am I up to!! Do I even care?! Ha ha!

Best way to keep the cost down is pre pay everything you can. We had a deluxe drinks package (£345 for me, £150 for the soda one for my son) we prebooked our two excursions that we chose. Also pre pay your tips!! This is huge, if you don’t you will end up with a bill in excess of £200 (in my experience) before disembarking. If your British and not use to compulsory tipping you probably won’t enjoy parting with it at the end. I didn’t pre pay on my first cruise and I racked up £1500 I think between tips, drinks, a special meal and a few souvenirs, yikes!!

7. Drinks packages…

Ahhh the dreaded drinks package! Do you want it? Is it worth the money? Okay I will let you into a secret… I didn’t pay those prices above, thank god! They were the prices but because I booked early I got my drinks packages included, winner! However I spoke to a couple who booked about six months in advance and they paid less than me but no drinks… maybe they just charge you and say it’s free?! Who knows… Consider booking early non the less.

Are they worth it?

If you don’t get a drinks package for free consider how much you actually drink!! If it’s 2-3 drinks a day it may be worth paying as you go. I think I worked out that to make it worth it in my cruise I would need to drink at least 5 cocktails a day! I drank seven cocktails when I first got on board and was giddy… let’s just say I don’t remember much of the speciality restaurant I dined in that night!

You won’t be drinking if your off the ship…

Only you can answer this. First off ask yourself how much time do you plan on spending in it? If you will be out and about maybe it’s not worth the extra cost? If you like your own space book one with a balcony where you can enjoy time out watching the ocean. The suites are utterly fabulous if you can stump up that kind of cash.

Cocktail drinking
Cheers to cruise life!

8. You will not be able to do everything

FACT! my first cruise I assumed after a manic week in Florida I would be nice and chilled on board, wrong! The ships have extensive entertainment programmes which are delivered to you each evening for the next day. You will want to do loads but don’t! Pick the things that jump out at you and don’t spend your time running round the ship (like I did!) trying to see and do everything. On my second cruise I accepted I would not be doing everything and felt more like I had relaxed – it is a holiday after all!

9. Dining in the restaurants every night is a mistake

Much like the above dining in the restaurants every night is hard work. Again all ships are different but your tied to a specific dining time. You might just be having a great time on deck and not feel like going and getting dressed for dinner again. Then don’t! Skip the restaurant and go to the buffet/more relaxed dining room a few evenings. They have no end of choice anyway!

10. Formal night is not as formal as you may think

Personally I loved formal night, all those tuxedos and beautiful dresses and the band playing. However if your not a dressy up person don’t sweat it. Many men are just in a shirt and long trousers, ladies in nice dresses – not full length ball gowns. Check what it says for your ship but it’s unlikely everyone will go all out, so don’t stress! My son and I were not dressed to the nines on our recent sailing and we fitted in fine.

11. Stay on board when in port to enjoy peace

This is not something I have done but other cruisers have told me it’s great. I’m a get off and see the world kinda girl but if your there for the cruise life and not too then stay on board and enjoy a chilled day with less people.

13. Bring clips for your towels

How did I miss this memo?! Your out at sea… of course it can get breezy!! Pack towel clips to ensure your towel stays put when you trot off to the bar.

14. Excursions with the cruise company or independent?

I’ve always booked through the cruise company through fear of not making it back to the ship. Bottom line… if your out with them they can’t leave you. However I won’t be doing it in the future. At some ports of call I felt our excursions were rushed. For example when we had a beach day they dropped us off at 10am and picked us up at 1:30, despite the ship not leaving until 4:30pm and it was only 20 minutes return journey. If you want to run to your own schedule make your own arrangements (which may also be cheaper) but don’t cut it fine getting back to the ship.

Cruise excursion to Dubrovnik
Wondering round Dubrovnik old walls

15. Kids club is a godsend

Let me repeat that… KIDS CLUB IS A GODSEND ha ha! They usually run 3 sessions a day, morning, afternoon and evening. They will keep your little treasures safe and amused when they have burnt you out. Nursery age kids? No problem… they have that covered as well. Teens, literally have a ball! They have a cool place to hang out rather than a supervised club. Activities are still put on and it’s there choice if they do them. You will find they make friends and hang round the ship together breezing in and out of the club.

You can dine in peace thanks to kids club… take the kids to the buffet and drop them off to kids club then head to your chosen restaurant, they will thank you for it and you won’t have indigestion! Disney go one step further and actually pick them up from the restaurant if you prefer. So once they’ve eaten they go… meaning no rushing out for you. Ahhh yes I will have a 3rd glass of wine!

16. Your kids won’t like getting off the ship

True story… no kids want to get off!! Why would they? They are having a ball and now you want to drag them round Rome or whatever… they will moan and you will here when are we going back to the ship?! My tip here is bribe them ha ha! If your good now you can stay up a bit later… or you could use ‘I swear to god if you don’t behave you will stay in the cabin!’ That worked for me! Try to pre-empt this and keep it interesting for them too.

17. Consider working out on board

Cruises are full of yummy food, tempting treats and sugary cocktails! Your on holiday so your going to indulge. On my first cruise I didn’t work out and put on half a stone! Ha ha! This time I was wise… I still indulged a bit but I headed to the gym 4 times onboard. Not into that? There were yoga classes, spinning and exercises classes on board. Why not simply take the stairs every time instead of the lift? Or some brisk walking laps round top deck whilst taking in the sea air.

18. You will want to book another cruise!

You agonised over booking the first… will I like cruising? Will it be too busy? Will my kids be bored? I’ve not met anyone yet who’s been on one and hated it. That’s not to say those people aren’t out there. But don’t be surprised if when you come off your already planning your next. You can actually book your next whilst on board ha ha! Very clever… get them whilst they are in the moment. My son BEGGED me to do this but I already have next years adventure planned.

Dressed nicely on formal night
Formal night

So there are my 18 things I learnt by my second cruise. I hope you enjoyed reading it and if you are going on a cruise I hope I gave you some points to think about. Seasoned cruisers… is there anything else you would add here? Let me know!

Rachael 🙂 x

Posted in lifestyle

Hello September!

Hello September! We are a week into September already! So I thought I would do a little general blog post today to check in with you guys… Did everyone have a lovely summer? I hope so.

Summer Fun!

I have been referring to mine as ‘the summer of dreams’ as I was lucky enough to go on not one but two big holidays. Oh my gosh you guys I have had the BEST summer ever! Firstly I went to Canada and then onto America. Then After a week and a half at home I jetted off again to board a mediterranean cruise. Lucky girl! But you know what they say, work hard play hard!

But this is the thing right… people say I work hard but it never really feels like work! I love this quote…

So true…

Back to Dance and Cheer

Hello September means back to my job running my dance and cheer academy this week. It’s been a intense week as everybody needs new dances choreographing (that’s 24 classes). We are prepping for competition next month in cheer and I also am launching some new classes too. Yikes! Life is busy!

Fitness Resumes

In other news post summer I am looking forward to getting back into my fitness. I’m love the gym and yoga but I’ve slacked off with being away lots. I’m certainly ready to flood my body with those feel good endorphins again! Anyone else miss fitness like crazy if they have a break?

Blogging life!

Moving on to my blog… Firstly thanks for being here. I don’t know if your following me for travel or more lifestyle type posts but the good news is I am planning on blogging twice a week moving forward. I have managed to pretty much stick to a Sunday posting schedule as research tells me it’s easier to grow a blog following if your consistent. It’s time to try to commit to another day, after all I have plenty to share.

What will I share?

You can expect to hear about my summer of dreams (I worked it out to be around 38 blog posts!) I am still trying to make eco swaps so I will update on that. Also I’m on a no buy (honestly I’m already regretting announcing this) Will I stick to it?! Who knows, ha ha! I will also be sharing more peeks into my little life, dance, cheer, fashion, fitness and more!

Welcoming September with a smile
Cheesy back to cheer pic!

So that just about concludes this Hello September post! Thanks to those following me… you’re all stars, I’m loving sharing with you all. Wishing you all a fantastic month!

Catch you soon,

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.


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.


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