Thursday, 22 June 2017

I want to travel more of Europe


Going to Greece this summer made me realise how much I want to see more of Europe. Us living in the UK are so lucky having the whole of Europe a few hours' plane ride away, and I don't feel like I have made the most of that in the past. Although I have travelled a lot, especially last summer, so I'm definitely not complaining about that!

On our tour group in Greece there were quite a few Australians and they were explaining how lucky we are to have Europe on our doorstep, with so much history and culture to explore. Whereas in Australia, everywhere takes a long time to get to - the nearest place with lots of culture is Asia, and even that is 8-10 hours away on a plane. Also they were saying that Australia is beautiful, but it just doesn't have the history like Europe does. For example, Athens is thousands of years old and the buildings reflect this. The current Australia as we now know it is only just over 200 years old, dating back to when Britain transported convicts to the Australian continent. That means that most of the buildings do not have a long history to them, and the oldest Australian culture comes from the Aboriginal Australians. Australia does not have the old cities to explore like Europe does.

So that got me thinking - there are so many places in Europe that I would like to travel to. Yes, 'travel'. Most people from the UK would not see Europe as travelling but just a holiday, whereas if you said you were going to backpack around Asia or Australia, you would then be seen as a traveller. Well I think that that's a bit silly and that any sort of exploration of a new place should be seen as travelling, even if it's just within the UK and a short drive away.


When I start working I'm probably not going to be able to take more than a week off work at a time, so I would like to go on some city breaks in Europe. The places that are top of my list are Budapest, Barcelona, Venice, Krakow and Paris. I also would like to see more of Britain, and really want to visit Brighton, Scotland and Ireland. There are some beautiful places that are so close to home and I just haven't made the time to see them yet. For example, Manchester is only about an hour away from Liverpool and I've never been there.

I think one of the things that I am most excited about in Europe is the foooooood. You just can't beat food from around the Mediterranean - everything seems to taste much better and have more flavour. I'm excited to embrace some different cultures (even if it's just seeing bagpipes in Scotland), have some new adventures, and spend some quality time with friends and family in a new place.
Be happy in the moment, that's enough. Each moment is all we need, not more.
                      - Mother Theresa
#projectsmile



Wednesday, 21 June 2017

How to upcycle chests of drawers cheaply


The majority of today has been spent moving things over to my flat and moving out of my student house, so I thought I would share one of my DIY projects with you as I was so excited to put it in my new home.

As soon as I first saw my flat, I decided that I wanted two chests of drawers: one for my bathroom and one for my bedroom. My bathroom is actually rather large and had a big space with nothing in it, so I decided that some drawers would fill that space, as well as being very useful to store my products in. And my bedroom - well, let's just say that I own way too many clothes to just fit in a wardrobe...


The first task was to find two chests of drawers. I decided that I wanted to get some wooden ones that I could paint and make my own, but I didn't have the money to pay too much for them. My housemate mentioned the website www.freecycle.org, where people advertise things that they don't want any more, and give them to other people for free. If you need something, you can also put a post up asking anyone if they can provide it. I had a look through the posts and couldn't find exactly what I wanted, so I put a post up saying that I needed 2 chests of drawers - and a couple of days later a lady contacted me saying that she had 2 wooden chests of drawers, plus a bedside table, that she wanted to get rid of, and could I pick them up from her? Err, yes!

So Freecycle is definitely worth browsing if you are looking for some furniture for free, but other places worth checking out are charity shops that sell furniture. There is a specialist Oxfam down the road from where I live that purely sells furniture and they had lots of chests of drawers for around £15, which I would have purchased if I hadn't got the drawers from Freecycle. eBay is also worth a look too.



After picking the drawers up, the next step was deciding what colour to paint them. My dad and I went to B&Q and found this emulsion by Colours Premium that works on all surfaces, plus it was only £16 for a huge pot (and on offer at the time!). I decided that I wanted the wood to be painted matt, and I wanted blue for the bathroom and a light pink for my bedroom. I chose 'Tropez Blue' for the bathroom as I loved how bright it was, and 'Tutu' for my bedroom as it was a really pale, almost grey-pink.

I also considered using chalk paint, which is what people use to make furniture look really vintage and shabby-chic. However it was more expensive than the paint I chose, and I also would have had to have waxed the wood after I painted it, which can take days to fully dry. Ain't nobody got time for that!


With the emulsion I chose, the first step was to sand the wood down. The drawers were already painted in a glossy white emulsion, so I needed to get rid of the shine so that the new paint would stick properly and dry smoothly.


I then wiped the wood down with a wet cloth to get rid of the sandpaper dust, before wiping it again with a dry cloth. Then it was time to paint! Painting was so much easier than I thought it would be and the emulsion applied so well. I just bought a couple of paint brushes from Home Bargains that were around £2 each. I did do a second coat as it was streaky in a couple of places, and then I left it to dry overnight. 


And voila! The only other thing left to do was pick some drawer knobs. For the pink drawers I decided that I wanted some gold handles, so I scoured the internet. I found these beautiful bee-shaped drawer knobs on eBay and instantly fell in love with them. These were quite pricey at £3.25 each, but so worth it. I decided that I didn't want all bees, so I also chose some golden geometric drawer knobs, also from eBay. The shape of these reminds me of globes, and I think they match really well with the bees.


The drawer knobs were definitely the most pricey part of this project, but I love them so I was prepared to pay a higher price. However if you want some cheaper drawer knobs, places like Home Bargains and Primark do sets for a few pounds, and Homebase also had a pretty good selection for £1-2 per knob.


I also used the bee drawer knobs for my upcycled bedside table.


Here is my finished drawers that are in my bathroom. I think these are my favourite as the colour is so vibrant, and I love the mismatched drawer knobs.


All of these drawer knobs are from Homebase and were all very affordable.


This project was so easy to do and really inexpensive. I also love that I now own two sets of drawers that are completely unique and very personal to me. They also make my flat feel more like my own, and I'm so excited to properly move in when I start working in July!

Also update on my mental health, just in case you're interested - I'm feeling so much better today and found myself singing all the way home from Liverpool in the car. I've been busy all day which I think really helps, and I also feel like I've straightened out a few things in my mind. I'm feeling like my happy self once more, which is amazing :)
You can be soft and successful, a traditionalist and a rebel, a lover and a fighter, vulnerable and invincible.
#projectsmile




Monday, 19 June 2017

MH Monday: Feeling insecure


As soon as I start to feel down, all of my old insecurities instantly rush back to me and I start to doubt myself.

The last few days haven't been the greatest for me, hence the lack of blog posts I guess. I have felt unmotivated and have had a lack of a drive to do anything, so most of the days have been spent in bed. I haven't even had much of an interest in reading or watching Netflix, which shows that I haven't been feeling good because they are the things I usually utilise to help myself get through days like this.

This morning I tried to sort out a couple of bills for my new flat, but they made me so frustrated and upset that I had to stop and just get into bed. Things like that don't usually phase me, and I'm generally quite happy to speak to people on the phone and sort out life admin. When I woke up I felt really achy and groggy - another sign that I'm not feeling too good at the moment.

Anyway, back to the reason for this blog post - my down days really make me revert back to my old, negative ways of thinking. The past few days I have doubted myself, including my abilities and looks, and everyone around me. I become quite insecure about my relationships and doubt why anyone would want to spend any amount of time with me. I quite quickly begin to think that people would be better off without me, and the future becomes really scary. I just generally stop wanting to deal with life, and all I can fathom doing is curling up in bed and crying - which doesn't particularly help anyone, least of all myself.

I think this insecurity stems from past friendships, but also from my negative views about myself. When I feel depressed I start to think that I'm a bad person and really boring or annoying to be around, which feeds into thinking that nobody wants to be around me. I pick apart conversations and find random reasons that people wouldn't want to be friends with me. Basically, I become a frazzled insecure mess that reads too much into things that aren't actually happening.

Luckily, I now know myself well enough to pick up on the signs and understand my way of thinking. I know that I'm being silly, but it usually takes my mum to talk me round and make me think more rationally again. I have to stop and think about which people make an effort to spend time with me, and reflect on all of the positive aspects of my relationships.

After a fair amount of reassurance from my mum, and a bit of a nap and a cry, I do feel a lot better this evening. I've still got a bit of a way to go until I am my normal happy self again, but I know I'll get there. When I get down days like this I really start to panic that I'm reverting back to being depressed, but I know that recovery is fluctuating and that I will still have some bad days. The main thing is that 95% of my days are happy ones, where I'm secure in myself and the people around me.

Hurry up and get back to that stage, Hannah!
If you get tired, learn to rest, not to quit.
#projectsmile



Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Mykonos


The last couple of days in Greece have been spent on Mykonos, an island famous for its windy weather, LGBTQ community and partying. We were staying at the Paradise Beach resort, which attracts lots of famous DJs including people like LMFAO in the past.


The first night was spent dancing on the tables and on the beach. The party started at 4pm with a Latin dancing party (basically like a big Zumba session!), and eventually turned into a UV paint party from 10pm onwards. It was so much fun and I danced for hours and hours, but I was in bed by 1am as we started so early!


 We spent our second day in Mykonos sleeping and sunbathing on the beach. The water was crystal clear and so refreshing after being in the sun.


Later in the evening we caught the bus to Mykonos town, where we had dinner. The town was really beautiful, with lots of little winding streets to explore and blue and white buildings. We were also able to see the windmills and watch the sun setting over the ocean.



Today we caught the ferry back to Athens for our last couple of nights in Greece. I feel like I didn't quite have enough time in Mykonos and I would love to go back to explore what else it has to offer. It was a busy island, but offered both partying and relaxation, so it would suit most peoples' needs.


I am actually quite looking forward to coming home now - I want to catch up on Netflix, sleep in my own bed, and cuddle my family and dogs!


Hannah x

Sunday, 11 June 2017

Paros


Today has been a full day spent on a boat trip around the island of Paros. We set off at around 9am and set sail on the waters between Paros and Antiparos. We stopped to swim a few times, including in the Blue Lagoon, an area of water so blue that it looks like a swimming pool in the middle of the ocean.


After sailing for a few hours, we anchored on an island to eat a barbecue lunch on the beach. We were given Greek salad, bread, tzatziki, potatoes, sausages and pork skewers, and it was all delicious.


As I mentioned the other day, I love being on a boat, so today was ideal for me. I loved swimming in the sea, especially with Fred the inflatable flamingo. I also really like Paros, as it has a really interesting history and the old part of the town is beautiful.

We're off to Mykonos tomorrow morning, our final island of this trip!

Hannah x

Saturday, 10 June 2017

Wine tasting and Ios


Apologies for the lack of blog posts over the last few days - the WiFi in Greece is definitely not the best I have ever encountered!

These first few photos are of our last evening in Santorini. We spent a couple of hours wine tasting, and it is one of the best things I've done during this holiday so far. I didn't expect to enjoy it that much as wine is wine, but the views were beautiful and the wine was delicious and so easy to drink. Plus we were with a group of people that were so easy to get along with.


I'm actually on a tour with a company called MEDexperience, who I will talk about more when I'm back home. We are on their Greek island hopping tour and spend 2 days each in Athens, Santorini, Ios, Paros and Mykonos. I feel like the tour allows us to see the best of the islands, and we also get a fair amount of free time.


The past two days I have been in Ios, and here is the incredible view that we had from our balcony...



Ios is known to be one of the party islands of Greece, and although I'm not particularly here to drink and party, I really enjoyed the bar crawl on the first night. The goal was to visit 10 bars and see the sunrise - I managed 6 and then decided I was too tired and needed to go to bed!


Yesterday we did a speedboat safari tour around the island, which was so much fun. Firstly we had a tube ride (a bit like banana boating but instead you are lying down on an inflatable and pulled along by a speed boat), which was incredible - I couldn't stop laughing. We all stayed on until they told us to swap rafts at the end... Turns out each tube doesn't hold more than 2 people at a time!

Afterwards we went on a speedboat to explore some caves, snorkel and spend some time on a private beach. I love the feeling of being on the ocean, and the feel of the wind whipping past when I'm on a speedboat. I felt very contented.


This morning we caught the ferry to the island of Paros, and we're going to a Greek night tonight! We will eat lots of Greek food (fingers crossed it's a meze), try some Greek dancing, and have a go at plate smashing. I'm so excited!

Hannah x

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Sunsets and Santorini


Yesterday, after an 8 hour boat ride, we finally arrived in Santorini. Santorini is the most southern island that we will visit during this trip, and is also probably the most famous. It is an island that many flock to to get married or spend their honeymoon, or simply to experience the famous sunset. Santorini is also the epitome of a Greek postcard, with its white and blue buildings and abundance of bougainvillea.

We checked into our hotel and then spent the rest of the afternoon in the pool, to refresh ourselves and relax after the long journey. Later in the evening we explored Fira, the main town on the island and the one that we are staying in. We then had a Greek meze dinner whilst watching the sunset. Apparently the Greeks clap when the Santorini sun sets, so we all had to clap too, which I think other tourists found slightly odd!


I'm loving Greece so far, and one of the best parts is definitely the food. The feta cheese is incredible and the gyros that we ate last night was delicious.

Hannah x

Monday, 5 June 2017

Athens


Today for our first day in Athens we decided to go on a walking tour. Our tour guide picked us up from our hotel and we ended up walking and talking for around 5 hours.

Our guide took us to all of the ancient monuments in Athens, including the Acropolis and Parthenon, and explained the history behind everything. She was so well informed about everything and answered all of our questions.

The views from some rocks near the Acropolis were beautiful (as you can see above!). I would definitely recommend going on a tour as learning about the history behind the city was one of the best and most interesting things about exploring Athens.


I'm now off to bed as we're up at 5.30am to catch a ferry to Santorini in the morning!

Hannah x

Sunday, 4 June 2017

I'm in Greece!

Sorry for being a bit MIA the last few days, things have been slightly hectic!


After the spa on Thursday we spent the rest of the weekend celebrating finishing university. On Friday we went to an event in Sefton Park in Liverpool called Fiesta Bombarda, which was basically a carnival, with reggae music and some dancers as the entertainment. We all dressed in clothes that we would wear to a festival, and put glitter on our faces. I wore my trainers and I really enjoyed dancing the night away in them, as I was able to jump around as much as I liked!


Last night was our medic Graduation Ball, which was held in the famous Liver Building. It was such a beautiful and iconic spot to end 5 years at medical school, surrounded with the people I have come to call some of my closest friends over the last few years. We spent the evening eating, chatting and dancing.


Then I had to get up at 3.30am this morning (I did not sleep one wink!) to catch a flight from Manchester at 7am. We have flown to Athens, and are on a Greek island hopping tour for the next week and a half. I will definitely be putting out some blog posts with photos of the places we visit - all we have done today is travel and sleep, but tomorrow we are planning on exploring Athens more.


Hannah x

Thursday, 1 June 2017

Mollington Banastre Spa


To celebrate us all graduating from university this year, my housemates and I decided to go to a spa for the day. We looked on Groupon and found a deal for around £20 each for a spa day and prosecco afternoon tea at Mollington Banastre Spa near Chester.

We spent the majority of the day in the pool and the jacuzzi, chatting and catching up properly with each other. Mollington Banastre has one large pool with a jacuzzi on the side, plus two saunas and a steam room. It wasn't busy at all so we had the pool to ourselves the majority of the time. We were also given complimentary towels and robes.

The best part of the day was obviously the afternoon tea. We were each given a glass of prosecco, and then two huge stands full of cakes and sandwiches were put on our table. The sandwiches were smoked salmon, ham and mustard and egg - they were all delicious, but I particularly enjoyed the smoked salmon. We were also each given a profiterole, lemon cake, a brownie, and a scone. The profiteroles weren't that nice, but the rest of the cakes were really good. The scones were particularly amazing as they were still warm when they were given to us, and they were served with jam and clotted cream.

The spa also offered treatments including massages, facials, waxing and nail painting, but none of us had anything as we are still students after all. Mollington Banastre isn't the grandest spa I've ever been to, but it was a really good place to visit on a budget and it had everything that we needed, plus the staff were really lovely and helpful. And the afternoon tea was incredible - we were so full afterwards!