• ANXIETY IN LAS PALMAS

    Normally in my travel posts on this blog, I like to share what I got up to and what I enjoyed in the various locations I have visited. But this post is a bit different, I want to talk about how I felt being in Las Palmas, not what I did. It has nothing to do with the city though, and I don’t hold it responsible for this experience, it was about what happened in the run up to my trip. I mentioned in my last post that, in an effort to “cheer myself” out of my depression (bad idea), I went to London (alone) and it did not go well. I couldn’t eat, couldn’t stop crying and couldn’t listen to music. I ended up coming home early and staying with my parents for a few days. However, I’ve travelled a lot by myself in the past and I didn’t want to not be able to do that anymore. In a way, I was glad that I had booked this trip so long ago. It meant I had an opportunity to get back on the horse, as they say. But I was nervous about it; mainly nervous that it would end up going the same way as my trip to London.

    It was a very weird holiday, for many reasons that I won’t go into now. The thing I want to focus on is my anxiety because honestly it was all consuming. It was so intense, it made it really hard to function. It was supposed to be a relaxing holiday; I wanted to sit on the beach and enjoy the sun. Or rather, figure out if I enjoy such a thing. I hadn’t been on a sun holiday since I was a teenager. For the past few years, I’ve gone on a trip at the end of every November because I work for an American company and get a few days off for Thanksgiving, but they’ve always been busy city breaks. This year, back in May, I decided that I wanted to try and have a relaxing holiday to see if I liked it. In hindsight, I’m really not sure if this was a good or bad idea. Maybe having more things to do would have helped me work through my anxiety. But maybe it would have made it a lot worse. Regardless, there I was in Las Palmas, trying to figure out if I enjoyed the sun and struggling to keep myself from going crazy.

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    I took things really easy. I walked a lot. I sat in my apartment a lot. I tried to write but it was a struggle. I wanted to try to explain how it felt, I wanted to get it out. My mum has asked me in the past to explain what anxiety is like and honestly that question boggles my mind. I don’t understand how anyone could not just know how it feels. It’s so much apart of life for me, that it’s hard to grasp the idea that there are people who have never felt it. When I was deep in it in Las Palmas, I wanted so much to put it into words, to explain how it felt, as if maybe that might help alleviate things; as if putting it into something tangible would help transfer it away from me. But I’m not sure any words can truly convey the feeling, it’s so deep, so raw.

    None the less, I did try and this is what I typed into my notes while I was in Gran Canaria in an attempt to express what my body was experiencing:

    “My anxiety is at an all time high, the not knowing, the uncertainty of it all. It’s like I’m searching for something but I have no idea what I’ve lost. I feel like I’m about to burst, or maybe implode, but either way, I’m going to lose my footing in the explosion. I‘m wandering around, doing things just to do them. Breathing with no goal, other than to just keep going. I feel tired. Tired of carrying all these emotions around with me. The anxiety is wearing me down and I just want to feel calm. I just want the anxiety to stop. But it doesn’t, it ebbs and flows; some moments I can almost feel it start to dissipate, but then it’s back full force and I’m right back in it, every single piece of me. I feel it in my stomach, in my core. It’s so real, so tangible. My brain is trying as hard as it can to convince my body that everything is okay, we are safe. But my body isn’t listening. It’s panicking. Anxiety doesn’t understand logic. My breathing gets a little more strained and I feel it in my chest now. There are all these emotions building inside me, but they’re hard to figure out. I feel full, overwhelmed, but everything is so wedged in that I can’t seem to let it all out. I feel sick, I feel scared.” 

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    I think I was just trying so hard to process so many emotions, that I ended up just feeling completely scrabbled. It felt like 10 radios were playing at the highest volume all at once, each trying to give me important information but I couldn’t distinguish anything from the chaos. The noise just engulfed me and I couldn’t turn it off. But the main thing is I survived. It was hard, but I made it through it. On the last day, I went and lay on the beach for a bit, leaving my phone at the apartment. It was a very brief moment, but I did feel at peace lying there with the heat seeping into my bones.

    If anyone reading this is having a hard time with anxiety, I would suggest taking things as slowly as you need to and holding on to any fleeting moments of relief. I tried to distract myself as much as possible (for example, I researched every single result from my last blood test, what each thing they tested for meant and whether my result was good or not), and that did work a little bit. It didn’t make the anxiety go away, but it did make it more manageable. But there were times were I just sat in my apartment and had to try as hard as I could to simply take some deep breaths, hoping that things would get just a little bit better soon. Hopefully someone can relate to this post and the fact that you are not alone in feeling this way also helps.

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    I feel a bit sad that I didn’t get to properly experience Las Palmas, but I did the best I could given the circumstances. I’d love to go back in the future and truly explore Gran Canaria, as well as the neighbouring islands. Hopefully next time I’ll be able to enjoy my time there and maybe get a chance to see if I actually like relaxing sun holidays or not!

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    If you’re looking for some actual travel recommendations, check out my posts from Copenhagen, Marrakech, Amsterdam, North Wales and Barcelona!

  • DEALING WITH DEPRESSION

    The past few months have been rough. In September and October, I experienced the darkest depression and most intense anxiety I’ve had since I was a teenager. It made me very conscious of the content around mental health on the internet and in the media and I’ve noticed that so much of it, especially tv ads, focus on the importance of talking. And while that is 100% true and we should keep promoting that message, sometimes things are a bit more complicated than that. For starters, some people literally don’t know how to talk about it. That’s something I’ve seen a lot, particularly with guys. I don’t have answers for how to improve that but I think it’s something we need to be aware of. For me the problem is that I can talk about it, but it doesn’t make the sadness go away. Obviously it makes things better in some regards but it’s frustrating when you do the thing that everyone says will help and you still feel like shit. So I thought since I am able to talk about things, I could share some thoughts/things that have helped me handle it, in the off chance someone can take something from it. Everyone experiences these things differently, and I know I have a lot of privilege in terms of the resources I have available to me. But maybe if we share some of the nuances to what we’re experiencing and not just tell people to talk, it could help more people who are suffering from mental health problems, as well as help people trying to understand and support people who are suffering. 

    1. One of the most important realisations that I had was that I wasn’t going to be able to distract myself/snap myself out of it/cheer myself up. This may seem obvious but when you’re feeling bad, you’re just desperate to find something that will make the feeling go away. But being depressed is different from just being a bit down and needing to cheer yourself up. The things that normally make me happy are not going to work in the same way. That’s not to say you should give up everything that normally makes you happy but I think I tried to push myself a bit too far. I was so tired of feeling sad that I booked a pretty spontaneous weekend trip to London because I love London and I normally do really well traveling by myself. However, when I got there I very quickly realised I was not okay being alone. I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t listen to music and I couldn’t go a couple of hours without crying. I don’t know why, I was just so sad. So I ended up booking an earlier flight home, asking my mum to come get me from the airport and staying at my parents for a few days (mainly so I could cuddle with my dog). I know not everyone can do that but the point of my story is that the goal shouldn’t be to make yourself feel happy or “normal”, the goal is just to find things that soothe you. Comfort and security are the most important things. For me, I had to accept that trying to make myself feel happy was just setting myself up for failure.
    2. Going to therapy has been one of the most important things for me. I know, I know, it’s what everyone suggests and I know it’s not accessible for everyone, it’s fucking expensive and so hard to find someone you connect with. But if you can go, than I would really encourage it. I’ve been going for a couple of years now and it’s helped me through so much. In this particular instance, my therapist helped me realise that I was, in fact, depressed. I had been so focused on how intense my anxiety was, but when I explained to her how I felt, she was able to put the pieces together. Everyone is different, but for me, having the label helped. Primarily it helped me to feel less guilt; in particular less guilt about feeling the way I did when other people have it a lot worse and less guilt about sometimes not being physically capable of doing anything except lie in bed. It also helps to have someone to talk to who knows how to handle what you’re saying. As I said, I’m able to talk about it with my friends and family but if I’m being honest in my experience most people that I’ve told don’t know how to handle it and haven’t really been there for me. That can make you feel very alone but having a therapist to talk to really helps you work through it all. 
    3. It’s also important to go to a doctor and discuss the medications you’re on, as well as make sure you’re not deficient in anything. (I kinda hate suggesting this because most doctors are so shite when it comes to mental health but if you do have a good doctor or someone can recommend one to you, it’s worth going). Now, I wouldn’t go as far as to say the pill caused my depression, there have been multiple things that have happened in the last couple of months (as well as the last couple of years) that would understandably make me feel sad and anxious. However, I personally feel that my emotional reaction to things recently has been more intense than normal for me. I’ve been on the pill twice now and both times I’ve felt this way; it’s not that it made me feel bad if I had nothing to feel bad about, but when bad things were happening, I felt they were harder to deal with. Again everyone is different but I think going to your doctor and discussing these things is important. I’m going to see how coming off the pill affects me before considering anti-depressants but that would be the next step if things don’t improve so it’s important to start that dialogue with a doctor. 
    4. You need to find a way to be kind to yourself but also hold yourself accountable. This is a fine line to walk. You need to be understanding with yourself and realise that you’re just not going to be capable of doing the same things you do when you’re not experiencing depression. If you need to cancel plans or you’re not eating enough/eating too much for a bit, that’s okay. It’s hard and you need to cut yourself some slack and forgive yourself. However, you need to also be aware when your behaviours become self-destructive. So if you need to spend a couple of days in bed, that’s okay, but if you continue to shut yourself off from the world for an extended period of time, then you need to do something about it. When you’re depressed, you’re probably going to do some stupid things and it’s probably going to effect your relationships, but this is where it is actually important to talk. You don’t have to tell everyone you’ve ever met every detail of your life, but you need to have some sort of open dialogue with the people that your actions impact. It’s better for everyone involved; I read a post recently that said “avoidance is just prolonged suffering disguised as safety”. It’s hard but I guess you just need to try and figure out what behaviours are helping you get through a hard time and what behaviours are making things worse for you. If you majorly screw up, forgive yourself, but learn from it and work on things you can do to make sure it doesn’t happen again. 

    As I said, everyone experiences these things differently and I realise none of these things are new or groundbreaking, but maybe sharing my experiences might help one or two people who need to hear these things right now. While there is less stigma around certain mental health issues nowadays, I think we still have a long way to go in terms of understanding and being able to help our friends through these things. Honestly, I felt pretty alone in it all. If you know someone who is dealing with depression or poor mental health, please don’t just tell them you’re there for them if they need you. I had SO many people tell me that, but the thing is, when you’re depressed, it’s hard to reach out. What people who are depressed need is for people to actively be there for them. Sit with them, watch a movie with them, check in on them daily, take them for a walk, ask them what you can do for them. 

    Hopefully this all makes some sense, I wrote most of this post when I was in the thick of it, I just didn’t have the strength to post it anywhere. I don’t feel quite so down these days, but I’m still quite shaken by it all. I hope to write more posts around mental health and my experiences, to hopefully help others but to also help myself work through it all. It’s a complicated subject and so much of it is hard to understand and talk about, but sharing is the only way we can start to change how we handle and view mental health.

    P.S. if you are going through a hard time and need help, feel free to dm me on Instagram (handle: janebmrice).

  • INTUITION

    Today’s post is a bit different for me. It is going to be about intuition and spirituality, so if that’s not your thing, that’s cool, but it’s something I want to share. I recently discovered the “By The Moon” quote book after Claire Marshall posted a picture of one of the pages on her instagram. I love a good quote so I looked up the book and decided to order it. I also noticed they had astrology workbooks so I downloaded the digital version of the current one and ordered physical copies of the next 2. 

    I find astrology really interesting but there is a lot to learn and remember. I thought the workbooks sounded good because they give you information about what is currently happening in the universe and how to best channel it. I know it sounds a bit ridiculous and sometimes I am sceptical but to be honest, something about it all just continues to intrigue me. I’ve also recently started playing around with Tarot cards, and the deck I have explains it like this: 

    Tarot is a language whose vocabulary is our universal experiences as humans, and if you learn to interpret it, it becomes a great tool that helps you develop your own narrative. What you read and interpret is a reflection of your own inner world. Exploring that is so important to self-development. 

    I think that’s the thing, even if you don’t full believe in astrology or tarot cards or crystals, what you are drawn to, what you choose to take from these things, tells you so much about yourself. Even if there’s absolutely nothing to it, does it matter? Even if it’s bullshit, it can help us explore and understand our feelings and emotions. In the last 6 months or so, I’ve really been focusing on personal growth but sometimes it can feel like a bit of a maze. I was hoping this astrology workbook would help me focus in a bit. 

    One of the questions in the workbook was “what does your intuition feel like?”. This was such an interesting question to me. This might not make a lot of sense to people who don’t have a strong sense of intuition but I feel like my intuition is a huge part of who I am. I feel it so strongly. I’m not a fan of organised religion but my intuition makes me feel like I’m connected to something bigger. It’s something I’ve really wanted to work on developing but haven’t really know how to do it. A huge part is working on self-doubt, and being able to distinguish where my feelings are coming from. But other than that, I’ve been at a loss, despite the fact that it’s something I think about a lot. I liked this question before it made me think, what does it feel like? How do I attempt to put that into words? In the past, I’ve described it to people as “a sense of knowing without really knowing why”. And while that’s accurate, it doesn’t really do it justice. It seems over simplistic. And it was something that had come to me when trying to describe it to other people. This question made me focus on what it feels like to me. I started with just some keywords but it very quickly evolved, and just flowed out of me. I will share an edited version of what I wrote, I don’t know if it makes sense or if it seems cliché, but it’s what came out of me in that moment:

    What does your intuition feel like? 

    It feels physical yet impossible to hold, like a deep sparkling ocean in the depts of my stomach; all knowing and mysterious, but impossible to pin down. Sometimes the waves are hard to hear, sometimes the crashing is deafening and I can’t ignore the swaying. Sometimes the water is polluted by doubt and anxiety, but I am making attempt after attempt to stop using plastic stress. I am learning to let the water be and trust it is the right shade of blue, even when it seems too dark, too ancient, too terrifying. I stand in awe, confused yet comforted by the rocking. For me, everything seems to come back to the sea. Impossible to ignore, yet so much of it remains unexplored, an incomprehensible vastness that is vital to life and seems to know more than we can ever hope to grasp. That is what my intuition feels like.

    I wanted to share this because I realised recently that this is not a side of myself that I share very often. I absolutely adore the people in my life but not many of them enjoy or believe in this kind of thing. They are very scientific, logical people. And it’s not that I think they would stop wanting to be my friends for being interested in astrology or crystals or the energy of the universe, but it’s not something I can connect with them about. It’s just not their thing, and that’s cool, but it means that I mostly explore it through the Internet, which can be very one sided. I read about these things and watch people talking about it, but I don’t interact or connect. So this is my first attempt at putting this side of me out there. 

  • WEEK IN REVIEW 19/8/19-25/8/19

    HARD TIME

    The last week has been a rough ride. The word “triggered” gets tossed around a lot these days but that is what happened at the end of last week; someone let me down and it sent me back to past feelings, back to a past life. My anxiety was the worst it has been in a while. Most of the time, it just hovers; it’s there but it doesn’t stop me doing things. Well this was different, this was debilitating. I am grateful for my ability to soothe myself, for my ability to work through those emotions and come out the other end quite quickly. It took me a few days but I was able to move forward and get back to myself, maybe a slightly more battered version, but myself none the less. I’m grateful I was able to have a productive week and I’m grateful I could find comfort in the small things again. But I’m also exhausted, physically and mentally. It’s so tiring having to take hits because other people can’t handle their own emotional baggage. Sometimes you don’t want to be grateful that you made it through, you just want to have not had to go through it at all.

    DOGS ARE GREAT

    I love dogs. That’s all.

    PLANNING AS SELF CARE

    I’ve been doing a lot of planning this week, mainly planning future trips. I have a work trip next week and then I’ve off to Wales do the fastest zip line in the world. The timing is actually quite nice, as I need a bit of a distraction after the last week. I’ve also been planning a big trip for next year that I think I’m going to book next month.

    I enjoy planning. I don’t do it deliberately but I think it is a form of self care for me. It’s important when you take an emotional knock to be kind to yourself; I can be kinda hard on myself when I feel I’ve been unproductive, but I need to remember that sometimes being productive means just making it out of bed. I like to focus on things I enjoy doing as they’re easier to get done and I can start to feel like I’m accomplishing something. I think planning is also good because it forces me to focus on the future, not the past.

    GETTING OUT OF THE HOUSE

    I am trying to be conscious of my consumerism so I hate to advocate retail therapy but last week I just needed reasons to get myself out of the house so I decided to head into town and peruse the shops. I’m not really a physical shopper anymore, I mostly shop online. But it was nice to see things in person, get some inspiration and mostly importantly, just move my body and be out in world with other people. I tried on a bunch of stuff in & Other Stories (on a side note, while retail therapy may be nice when you’re feeling down, being in a changing room with a bunch of stuff that doesn’t fit or look good, doesn’t do much to help your mood. 0/10 would not recommend). I ended up just getting these earrings (well, I also bought an umbrella but that was a practical purchase) and I’m very happy with them. After, I went to a coffee shop with the intention of working on this blog, but I ended up watching YouTube videos. I know I could have done that at home but again, there was something nice about being out in the world. I wasn’t quite in the mood for socialising but just being around people made me feel a bit less anxious, less isolated. I also took myself on a couple of walks and while they were sometimes a bit of a struggle with my anxiety, I was glad I did them.

  • THE TROUBLE WITH SUSTAINABLE FASHION

    I’ve really been trying to make more eco-friendly, ethical and sustainable choices when it comes to my clothing but I have to be honest, I’ve found it really challenging. There are so many people online who share tips and show you how to do it, and it sounds great. They’re often really enthusiastic and make it seem so accessible; but I’ve found in reality, it’s a lot trickier. I hate to be negative with this post, but I just find that sometimes the people online talking about these things can be so full on that people watching can become disillusioned. So I just wanted to share some of my struggles in the hope that people can relate. These set backs don’t mean I’m going to stop trying but we need to be realistic with what real options people have.

    One option is shopping in charity (or thrift) shops. Now, in the United States, I can see this being a viable option because the thrift stores are so big and have a large variety of sizes. However, in Ireland, second hand shops can be very small and I often have a lot of trouble finding anything I like, let alone anything that fits. I went to 3 different shops a few days ago and literally didn’t fit 1 thing that I vaguely liked that would fit. I do plan to do more research and see what vintage shops Dublin has to offer to see if I have better luck with them, but currently, the idea of only buying clothes in charity shops is just not an option if I want to like what I’m wearing.

    Another suggestion people put forward to reduce the amount of clothes you’re buying is to do a clothing swap with friends. Now, maybe I’m alone in this, but my friends are all very different sizes and have very different styles. I could probably swap/share some items of clothing with one or two friends, but that’s about it. I can imagine if you’re in any way bigger than the majority of your friends, this idea would sound really horrific. Another option is to simply reduce the amount that you buy. If you have to buy something from fast fashion, at least make sure you’re shopping smartly. I have had more luck with this one and am really trying to curate a wardrobe that I love and wear. I have also tried to invest a little bit more in the pieces I’m buying.

    I have also been trying to find sustainable brands that I like. They’re great when you find a good one, but there are downsides. They tend to be more expensive, have limited sizing and have far less options. Also, living in Ireland, I generally have to order online, and the shipping and returns can be expensive. However, I have found a few shops that I like. The top and leggings in these photos are from ENA Apparel (the top is available here, I don’t think the leggings are available at the moment but there is a flared version here). They are sustainable and eco-friendly, but unfortunately they don’t ship outside the United States. I bought the socks I’m wearing in the first photo in an eco friendly shop in Copenhagen called EcoEgo. Two other eco-friendly brands that I’ve found that I love are Miakoda, who do loungewear and are based in New York, and Monkee Genes, who make jeans and are based in the UK.

    As I said at the start, I don’t want this post to be all negative. Every little change can help, and at this point, we just need to make sure we’re having the conversations. But I think we need to acknowledge that some people don’t have the same amount of access to more sustainable and ethical options, whether that’s due to their location, size or financial situation. In particular, it strikes me that I’m a size 12-14 and I struggle with most of these options, so I can imagine if you’re even a bit bigger, you would really have a hard time finding any kind of sustainable option. Hopefully as the movement gains more popularity and people become more aware, we’ll see an increase in options.

  • VEGETARIAN AND VEGAN PLACES TO EAT IN MARRAKECH

    As I said in my previous Marrakech post, it has actually been a while since I was in Marrakech but I love the photos so much, I didn’t want to waste them. I was slightly worried about how easy to was going to be to be vegan, or even vegetarian, in Marrakech, you just never know when you visit other countries, but I didn’t need to be concerned. There were always lots of vegetarian options, and it was not difficult to be vegan either. They are really into their fresh vegetables and cous cous, and I am here for it.

    NOMAD

    I’d seen this place multiple times on Instagram and wanted to check it out. We were super lucky with what table we got (it is probably a good idea to make a reservation during busier times) and had the most fantastic view while the sun went down. The food was delicious and there was lots of choice for vegetarians and vegans.

    CAFE ATAY

    We LOVED this cafe. The vibe and the view were just amazing. You can sit up on the roof, and although it can get pretty hot if you’re not under the shade, the view was so cool. We actually ended up going back here a second time because we loved it so much. As with most places we tried, the food was just so fresh and flavourful.

    I should also mention the tea. Morocco is famous for mint tea and you can get it everywhere. They serve it to you in a glorious silver teapot with small glasses and like to pour it from a height. It is delicious, but be warned, it is not the same as mint tea here in Ireland, it is actually black tea with mint in it.

    NARANJ

    This place is a little on the fancy side, but we went here for our last night and I loved it. The dishes were quite simple, but full of flavour. We did sit outside, but they don’t quite have the same view as some of the other places; I still really enjoyed the vibe though. There was a big group of local people sitting near us who we never saw order anything but they just kept brining them food; it was interesting to watch.

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    I genuinely loved all of the food we ate in Marrakech. I am a fan of simple, fresh food and that’s what we got everywhere. There were so many vegetarian and vegans options and it made life so easy.

    Jane x

  • PAYING ATTENTION TO THE DETAILS

    I’ve been watching this vlog on YouTube recently made by a Chinese woman who lives in Australia. I don’t know her name and I can’t understand what she’s saying but that doesn’t seem to matter, the point of the her videos is to convey a mood. They are just very calming and focus on small everyday things. She does everything very intentionally, taking time to put flowers in a vase slowly or lay her food out nicely. Her videos have made me take note of the small pleasures that are easy to miss when you’re rushing around and pay attention to the mundane sounds that surround us daily.

    The other day, I sat out on the steps in front of my building in my tracksuit bottoms, with my natural curly hair and no make-up, and just enjoyed the way the light hit the ground. I listened to the cars passing, as well as the silence in between each vehicle. I watched people going by, paying absolutely no attention to me. I felt the warmth on my skin and inhaled the fresh air. It was just a nice moment, it wasn’t spectacular or new or groundbreaking. But it was peaceful, it was soothing.

  • THINGS TO DO IN MARRAKECH

    This post has been a long time coming. It’s been quite a while since I was actually in Marrakech but I still wanted to share because I love these pictures. I went with my friend and his cousin, and we had a great time! It was particularly helpful that my friend’s cousin is fluent in French (sidenote: I would definitely recommend picking up a few French phrases in preparation for heading to Marrakech). It was an incredibly interesting city, so different from anywhere I’d been before.

    Here is an overview of my favourite things that we got up to:

    JARDIN MAJORELLE

    This is probably one of the most iconic places in Marrakech. Well, it’s definitely one of the most iconic on Instagram anyway. It’s where the designer Yves Saint Laurent lived for years and there’s a memorial for him and his partner in the garden. The gardens are simply beautiful. They were very busy but there was still an element of calmness and serenity as soon as you walk in. There’s a large variety of flora and fauna, and the blue house is truly striking.

    QUAD BIKING

    This was hands down my favourite thing I did while in Marrakech. There are a bunch of different companies that do quad biking but we went with Dunes & Desert. They were absolutely great and I would highly recommend them, they were just really friendly and just made us feel so safe. We were picked up from near our hostel and taken out into the desert. We were given a safety talk, suited up and started practicing on the bikes. We then had a photoshoot (you could buy the photos after if you wanted, they were pretty cool so we did end up purchasing them), and then we headed out on our adventure. One of the staff members led up in a line, with another staff member at the back. We stopped twice, once was just a quick break to take a few pictures, and the second time we were given tea and bread. It was so much fun and a really cool experience, I would definitely suggest it to anyone heading to Marrakech.

    SOUKS

    The souks are the markets. They are probably what Marrakech is most known for and they are insane. They seem to just keep going and there is a constant hustle and bustle. I’m not really a haggler so I found the experience very overwhelming but it was very interesting to see. I would definitely recommend going further into the markets, as the ones at the front are very touristy, more expensive and I found the people were pushier. I would also suggest having a bit of a google to see roughly what prices you should be paying for things and tips on how to haggle.

    LE JARDIN SECRET

    This wasn’t a place I had heard a lot about but my friend and I had a few hours to kill and wanted something that was relatively close and relaxed. We did a bit of a google search and ended up at Le Jardin Secret. It’s easy to pass and not even realise it’s there, being near the centre of the city and with the entrance along a narrow street. You can’t tell from the outside that there is a hidden oasis of calm just behind the door. We walked around for a bit and then just sat and enjoyed the scenery and the serenity. It’s smaller than Jardin Majorelle, but it was a lot less busy when we were there. There is a cafe/bar and a tower you can go up (for an additional cost) to see an amazing view of the city. It’s not the most impressive place I’ve ever been but something about it made me fall in love. I would definitely recommend a visit if you’re looking for somewhere to escape the chaos of the city and just breathe for a few minutes.

    WHAT TO WEAR?

    I wanted to finish up with a quick note on what to wear if you’re a woman, as it’s something I struggled with before going. It’s going to be quite hot so keep that in mind, but I did find that I was more comfortable when I was more covered up than I normally would be in a hotter climate. It’s really annoying to have to do it, and honestly I didn’t do it out of respect for the culture; if I was going into a place of worship or something like that, I would understand having to cover up and abide by their rules if I chose to enter, but on the streets, sorry no, I don’t care; it should be my choice what I wear. HOWEVER, I personally felt it made me feel safer and more comfortable to be a bit covered for a number of reasons. I didn’t feel like there were boundaries when it came to my body, if I’m honest. On the first night, we were out quite late getting food since we had gotten in late and a guy came right up behind me and properly grabbed my ass. As you can imagine, after that I was a bit on edge. Because of how people are dressed around you, you draw more attention to yourself the more skin you show. And there are people waiting to take advantage of tourists; some of the guys there do this trick where they act as if they’re helping you and then, regardless of whether or not you even accepted their help, they ask for money. Once we refused and the guy tried to start a fight with my male friend. Thankfully some local woman stepped in and helped us. We genuinely did met a ton of nice helpful people, but there are also a small number of shitheads who are just looking for their next victims, so it’s best to try and stay off the radar as much as possible.

    So, having said of that, what did I actually wear? I didn’t show my legs, I had some very light linen trousers and a flowy midi skirt. I then wore either a t-shirt or a tank top with a scarf (that I bought in the market). When we were inside the tourist areas and restaurants, I felt okay with my shoulders out. And I did wear shorts when we went quad biking because I knew we were going to be with tourists and people who are used to tourists the whole time. I did get told to put on a jacket by a random man in the souks when I was wearing a high neck tank top with a scarf over my shoulders. I definitely saw people wearing less clothing on the streets and in the souks then me, and they seemed fine, but I just didn’t want to have to deal with the additional attention. It’s frustrating but it’s a personal choice, I guess.

    _____________________________________________________________________________

    Marrakesh was a crazy place. It was such a different culture and honestly I think it took me a few days to adjust. I did start to love it though once I had gotten my bearings. I think my main tip would be to do lots of research when you’re looking for a place to stay and consider paying a bit more for somewhere nice. I didn’t like where we stayed and I think that impacted how I felt mentally, not having a place I felt safe and relaxed to come back to after the chaos of the city. Also, I would suggest going in a group, even if it’s small. I would not have felt safe on my own (and I travel by myself a good bit). Other than that, I would definitely recommend visiting Marrakesh and I would like to go back some day.

    Jane x

  • BUDGETING 101

    I am a little obsessed with budgeting, is that weird? I’ve recently gotten really into watching budget videos on YouTube and I find them so relaxing. There are lots of different budgeting methods out there but I tend to gravitate towards the Dave Ramsey method. I do think it can be a bit overwhelming to dive into any of the methods though, so I hope this post will be a bit more straightforward and less intimating. I can be a little intense about budgeting (I generally check my bank account a couple of times a day, even if I know nothing has changed), but if I’m honest, I’m not always great at sticking to my budget. I usually do okay, but it’s still a learning process. Budgeting is a skill, one that needs to be practiced. So don’t be too hard on yourself if you don’t do too well at the beginning. You just need to jump in and keep swimming, even when it gets a bit stormy.

    MAKING A BUDGET

    I think the most important thing is to actually write out a budget so you know exactly where you’re money is going to go. The Dave Ramsey method says you should allocate every single euro (or whatever currency you use) you earn. I usually follow this for the most part, but I’m not super strict. If possible, I like to give myself a little cushion in my account, just in case, ya know? I get paid monthly, which I know some people hate. I’ve never known anything different though and I actually quite like it. However, because I only get paid once a month, I just do one big monthly budget. If you get paid twice a month, I would suggest breaking you budget down by paycheque, so you know exactly what you are paying from each one.

    Here are the steps I follow when creating a budget:

    1. Write down all your bills, how much you expect them to be and when they are due. This will include rent, electric, internet, phone. 
    2. Next, write down all your other expenses. This may include: groceries, any recurring health or beauty related appointments (nails, therapy, chiropractor etc.), money for eating out etc. It may help you to start by tracking what you spend money on a couple of weeks before making your budget so you know exactly what you need to budget for. I always include a miscellaneous category which would be for beauty products I may need (such as shampoo, moisturiser etc.) or anything non-essential things I may pick up through-out the month. You can be more details here if you like but I prefer board categories. 
    3. Add up everything you have written down in step 1 and 2, and any money left over should be allocated to your sinking finds. Sinking funds are basically saved money that is allocated for something very specific that you know you will need money for in the future. For example, I start a Christmas sinking fund in May, so I put a bit of money away each month so I don’t have to worry about it when it gets to December. I usually always have a travel sinking fund since I like to travel. Other sinking funds you might need: insurance, birthday presents, any upcoming big purchases etc. 

    TIPS

    Savings – As well as my sinking finds, where I put money aside for very specific things, I also have a saving account where I put money aside for nothing in particular. I very very rarely touch this money. This is my emergency money. I have a direct deposit that comes out of my account for this and I treat it like a bill. As in, in my budget, it comes under my list of bills. I think this helps with the mindset of not touching this money. I also can’t add money into this account other than the monthly direct deposit so I know when I take this money out, I cannot replace it. 

    Cash – At the beginning of each month, I take out money for everything I can pay for with cash. So for me, this is usually my grocery money (I have a separate purse I use for grocery shopping), as well as money for my nails and therapy. I also take out the money for my sinking funds. I have a place where I organise my sinking fund money and make sure it’s labeled so I know exactly what the money is for. I like doing this because it means I know I have money for everything covered for the month. For example, if I don’t have therapy until the end of the month, I know I have the money set aside for it and don’t need to stress about how much money I have left in my current account when the appointment gets closer.

    Revolut – If you haven’t heard of it, Revolut is a banking app. You can pay for more features but I just use the free basic functionally. They send you a debit card (you only pay for shipping) and it’s super easy to top up and keep track of your spending. They also send you a notification on your phone every time you spend money. They are some features I don’t use, such as setting spending limits and analysing how you spend your money, but I do use it for my “going out” money. Each month, I put money on it that I’ll use for eating out, grabbing a drink, going to the cinema, that kind of thing. I like that it’s separate from my current account so that it’s super easy to see how much I have left. It’s also great to use when travelling, particularly within Europe. I used it exclusively last time I was in Copenhagen and Stockholm.

    Evaluate – Make sure you evaluate your budget each month before making a new one. If you’re constantly over spending in a category, maybe you need to increase the amount you’re assigning to it or look at ways you can reduce how much you spend.

    Well that’s it folks, that’s how I budget. I honestly think the best way for people to figure out their own budget is to look at a bunch of other people’s and take the elements that work for you. If you want advise or just want to chat about budgeting, feel free to reach out to me, I honestly love talking about all things budgeting.

    Jane x

  • VISITING COPENHAGEN

    Towards the end of last year, I visited Copenhagen for the first time and fell completely in love. One of my friends from my masters course is from a town about 45 minutes away and she came into the city to be my personal tour guide for the weekend, which was absolutely amazing. It’s a very walkable city and my favourite part was just wandering streets and taking in all the pretty building and incredible street style.

    NYHAVEN

    Nyhaven is the area surrounding the canals where you will find those colourful old houses that Copenhagen is famous for. There is a great buzz to soak in around this part of the city; when I was there the canal was lined with Christmas markets but I imagine it’s also great in the spring/summer with people hanging out in all the restaurants and cafes.

    CHRISTIANIA

    Freetown Christina is a commune that is open to visitors. There’s some shops and galleries in there, along with Pusher Street, which is exactly what it sounds like. There’s no hard drugs, but weed is freely available. It should be noted you’re not supposed to take pictures, particularly near Pusher Street (we did get in trouble for taking the picture above) but it’s a super cool place that has an interesting history and ethos. I had heard about it because Lukas Graham is from Christina and it does seem to be a fairly popular spot. It is safe but probably best to visit during the day.

    THE KING’S GARDEN

    The King’s Garden, also called Rosenborg Castle Gardens, is the oldest park in central Copenhagen. We didn’t actually go into the castle but we had a wonder around the garden (which is free). The Palace is beautiful and even in winter it was so nice to stroll around the garden and stare at the pretty building.

    TIVOLI GARDENS

    Tivoli Gardens is an amusement park that is beautifully lit up at night. I was there at the end of November so they also had Christmas markets set up. Unfortunately my friends weren’t up for going on the rides so I can’t tell you how they are, but I loved walking around and seeing the different displays.

    THE ROUND TOWER

    We decided to do the Round Tower because it wasn’t that expensive, and I thought it was great. You do have to walk all the way up, most of it is sloped hill with some stairs at the end; but the view is worth it!

    Right beside the Round Tower, you will find a hotdog stand and oh my! They have a vegan dog and it was SO GOOD. I got the French bun (which is circular) with ketchup, and while it looks interesting, it was actually delicious. And so genius! I’ve never had a bun that went the whole way around. It was perfect for someone like me who doesn’t like toppings, just give me plenty of ketchup and I’m a happy bunny.

    I absolutely LOVED Copenhagen. The people where all so nice and the street style is so inspiring. It was genuinely one of my favourite cities I’ve ever been to and I would highly recommend it. It was so nice just wondering around and I would love to live there for awhile at some point in the future.

    Jane x

    Check out these other travel related posts:

    THE PERFECT 48 HOURS IN BARCELONA

    AMSTERDAM TRAVEL GUIDE

    THINGS TO DO IN LONDON: UP AT THE 02 REVIEW