Weekend Break In Scotland

Last weekend I headed to Glasgow for a solo weekend trip and a much-needed break from my hometown of Belfast. The flight was only around 35 minutes long, so Glasgow seemed like a great choice for a short city break since I can’t take any time off work at the moment.

I left my house early Saturday morning, and when I landed in Glasgow I headed straight into the city centre. I had found out a few days before my flight that there was a dog show on at the Scottish Exhibition Centre (SEC) in Glasgow, so naturally as a huge dog lover I had snapped up a ticket!

It wasn’t hard to get to the SEC, once I got off the airport bus I only needed to take the underground train for two stops. Once I reached the centre I was met by a crowd of a few hundred fellow dog lovers.

At the show there were loads of stalls, run by everyone from groomers to dog sanctuaries. There was also a show area with dog dancing, fly ball, and dog frisbee.

I had a fantastic time, and got to pet literally hundreds of dogs. Dream come true! I also picked up some cute goodies and treats for my own dog, Charlie, back at home. (Plus a couple of gorgeous t-shirts for myself.)

After the dog show, I headed back into Glasgow town centre and did some shopping. Since the Primark building in Belfast burned down, I practically ran to the Primark in Glasgow to stock up on false nails! Once I’d shopped till I’d dropped (or rather until my bank account was practically begging me to stop), I checked into my hotel and had a nice hot shower.

Once I had showered and felt much more like myself, I headed back out into the centre of Glasgow and had dinner at Zizzi. I ate al fresco as it was quite a warm evening, and got to people watch. It was wonderful!

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Walking around Glasgow was an incredible experience, I accidentally found some incredible pieces of street art, and I was blown away by several buskers with incredible talent.

After a couple of drinks in the hotel bar, I headed to bed. My pedometer app on my phone said I’d clocked up over 17,000 steps, so I definitely deserved an early night!

On Sunday I got up early, checked out of my hotel room, and hopped on the train to Edinburgh. I was desperate to check out the Royal Botanic Gardens as I had heard from friends that they are beautiful. After the train journey, it was a short bus journey to the gardens.

Entrance to the garden themselves is free, however there is a small fee to go inside the glasshouses. In my opinion, the price is more than worth it! There were ten rooms, each with different varieties of plants and flowers but my favourite section contained breath-taking giant lily pads.

While the rest of the sections were incredible and really interesting, the lily pads just captivated me. I wanted to try and walk across them but just about managed to restrain myself!

After seeing the Botanic Gardens it was time for me to head back to Edinburgh’s Prince’s Street, where I had time to squeeze in a little more shopping before my train back to Glasgow so I could get back to the airport.

What’s your favourite city in the U.K for a short city break?

Until next time, Dani x

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*That* Cosmopolitan Cover

For anyone who’s been lucky enough to avoid the internet drama that spawned from Tess Holliday’s cover shoot for Cosmopolitan magazine, thank your lucky stars. The photo of the American plus-size model, who is a UK dress size 26, sparked backlash with many claiming that her being cover star promoted obesity.

However, the backlash over the cover was met with equal passion, by those who claimed that Cosmo featuring a plus-sized model as their cover star was a huge step forward for body positivity and a more-whole representation of different body types in the media.

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Twitter’s reactions…

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I really resonated with this tweet, because I truly do believe beauty comes in all shapes and sizes! There is much we need to unlearn about beauty standards and the definition of beauty itself.

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However, I also understand and emphasise with the ideas behind this tweet. While I don’t believe Tess looked in any way cringe worthy or that she’s an eyesore, I do realise that the media shouldn’t publish content featuring unhealthy ideals. So, my only solution is to ban unhealthily thin models and unhealthily overweight models, as well as any advertisements for alcohol etc. Fair’s fair, right?

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Diversity in the media is a hot topic at the moment. I definitely agree that we need greater diversity and representation. There are loads of ways that we can show diversity without glorifying unhealthy lifestyles, and simply featuring a plus-size model doesn’t promote obesity in my eyes.

So, body positivity or glorifiying obesity?

Fat people exist. Obese people exist. So I personally feel that it’s important that plus-size models are represented by main stream media. However, I do agree that obesity is a danger to health, and obesity and unhealthy lifestyles should never be promoted, especially in magazines that are aimed primarily at young women.

That being said, is having a plus-size cover model really any worse than having dangerously thin model? Is it any worse than reality TV stars advertising ‘skinny’ teas or weight-loss lollipops?

The truth is, there’s no easy answer to this debate. Yes, obesity is unhealthy and shouldn’t be glamorised. However, fat people exist and fat people and plus-size models are no less deserving of media attention than “normal” models.

What are your thoughts on Tess Holliday’s cover?

Until next time, Dani x

 

 

My Results Day Experience

Right now, I’m a university undergraduate student. But this time last year I was wondering if I’d ever get that far. I was stressed, getting ill frequently, and just desperately wanting the academic to be over. So what happened when the academic year did finish and results day (finally) came?

Firstly, at AS-Level the subjects I was studying were English Literature, Business Studies, Psychology, and Religious Studies. At the end of the year I achieved an A in Business Studies, a B in Psychology, a C in Religious Studies, and a D in English Literature (a minor miracle)

The subjects I was studying at A2-Level (my final year of school for anyone unfamiliar with the Northern Irish education system) were Business Studies, Psychology, and Religious Studies.

I struggled immensely with Religious Studies, struggling to pull my grade up. To get into my first choice university, the University of Stirling, to study Law LLB I needed the grades ABB. I was really confident I would maintain my B in Psychology and my A in Business Studies.

I was ecstatic when my exams finished and I could enjoy my summer! I worked full time across the summer, nervously waiting for results day.

Eventually it was time to find out my fate, and in the morning I logged on to UCAS Track. The first thing I saw was that I had been accepted into my first choice university! I was over the moon. I rang my boyfriend and my dad to let them know.

After that it was time to drive to my school to pick up my results. Knowing I had gotten in to my first choice university, I assumed I’d achieved my target grades of ABB so opening my results to see BBC was quite a shock. I felt lost. It made results day quite bitter sweet for me, especially as I had missed out on my B in Psychology by only one mark.

I immediately filled out my remark forms, and decided to get both of my Business Studies papers remarked to see if I could pull my grade up to my expected A. I also had two of my three Psychology remarked.

One of my Psychology papers remained unchanged, but the other went up five marks, meaning I got my target B grade!

The same happened with my two Business Studies papers; one paper went up five marks while the other remained unchanged. Unfortunately, I needed six marks to bring my grade up to an A (I knew it was a long shot), so I ended up with BBB as my final grades.

After picking up my results, my boyfriend and I went out for lunch so I could unwind. I was exhausted from having not slept the night before, and drained from all the emotions, but still really happy.

While my results day was bittersweet, I’m really happy that I managed to get into my first choice university (if a little surprise that they accepted me with my original grades). If you’re sitting exams this year and, like me, you get a shock on results day, don’t panic. There’s loads of support and advice that your school or UCAS should have to offer you, and you can always get a remark or go through clearing.

Results day is tough for everyone, and almost always bittersweet. Even if you get into your first choice university (if that’s what you want to do) with your target grades, someone you know may not have, or you may be leaving friends behind if you’re going to be living away. All you can do is keeping looking forward, and remember everyone goes through something similar.

Until next time, Dani x

I took my dog to see Santa. Yes, really!

Last year, I took my dog, Charlie, to see Santa. Yes, really. I have the photos to prove it!

Charlie is a West Highland Terrier. He’s the first dog I’ve ever owned, and I adore him. He’s been a hyper, crazy dog ever since he was a puppy, and we really struggled to train him due to health problems that left him in severe pain. Thankfully he grew out of the condition, and he’s now a healthy, happy dog!

A local garden centre has a Santa every year for children to visit, and last year they had a special day for people to bring their pets to see Santa. The entrance fee went to a local animal charity, and the photos we took are a cherished (and hilarious) memory for me. Santa also gave Charlie a toy, which he was delighted with!

On the way to see Santa, there was a short walk through a grotto which was filled with photo props like a sleigh. I got photos of Charlie on everything because he looked so adorable, but unfortunately he rarely stops moving so I got hardly any good ones.

After a short wait, we got to see Santa! Charlie was a little freaked out by the strange environment, but luckily Santa was well prepared with loads of doggy treats for him! Charlie would happily eat us out of house and home, so he warmed up to Santa pretty quickly when he gave him some treats.

And da-dah! We got a super sweet photo of Charlie on Santa’s lap!

There were plenty of dogs in the queue to see Santa, but dogs certainly weren’t the only pets there; one of Santa’s helpers informed us that they had had rabbits, a cat, and even a tortoise in to get photos before us!

Yesterday, my boyfriend and I brought both our dogs to an Assisi charity shop in Bangor for photos with Santa. The volunteers were amazing, and well equipped with squeaky toys and treats to keep the dogs calm and to get them to look at the camera.

How adorable is this?!

If you ever have the opportunity to bring your pet to get photos with Santa, I would highly recommend you do it. It was a really fun experience, and a lovely day out both times I did it!

Until next time, Dani x

Reviewing Eco Cosmetics’s Hair Care Collection

I was recently lucky enough to be gifted the hair spray and hair mousse from Eco Cosmetic’s hair care range. While I was gifted the items featured in this post, all thoughts and opinions voiced are my own and are honest.

The Eco Cosmetics hair styling range is certified cruelty free, and natural and organic by  ECOCERT. The Mousse is also certified vegan the The Vegan Society. I absolutely love that the Mousse is vegan, as one of my New Years Resolutions was to make more vegan decisions this year! I’m currently a vegetarian, but I try to make as many cruelty free decisions as possible.

Eco Cosmetics say that their range of hair styling products contains powerful natural ingredients, like Goji berries and pomegranate, so the products nourish your hair while also boosting volume and shine.

The hair spray definitely did not disappoint! It gave more hold to my hair than any other hair spray I’ve tried, and it didn’t leave my hair with that horrible sticky feeling that aerosol hair sprays leave. It held my hair style well, and priced at £9.95 I would definitely buy it in the future.

I must confess, I’d never used a Mousse before. In fact, I had to google how best to use it! The only issue I had with the Eco Cosmetics products were that there were no instructions about how to use the products on the packaging, however hair spray is pretty self explanatory, and I have a feeling a lot of people know how to use hair mousse so maybe that’s just me!

While I have full, thick hair, my hair often lacks volume. For me, the Mousse was absolutely ideal as it added body to my hair. It also helped ease the frizziness of my hair, which was a huge bonus for me. The Mousse is also priced at £9.95.

The Eco Cosmetics hair styling range is available online here (under hair care and brands: eco cosmetics) and in selected independent stores nationwide. I’d definitely recommend both the hair spray and the Mousse as both products did a wonderful job. It’s also a huge selling point for me that they’re natural and organic!

Until next time, Dani x

Visiting China

During Halloween Break in 2016 I was lucky enough to spend two weeks in China thanks for a school trip. My school had recently opened a Mandarin classroom, and we were partnered with a university who sent teachers to Northern Ireland. The Hubei Normal University hosted us for the time we were in China, and arranged some amazing activities which I will never forget.

Thanks to our partnership with the university, we were given a unique insight into Chinese culture. We had a few Mandarin lessons, which I was horrible at as I’ve always struggled with learning other languages. We cooked a traditional Chinese meal, watched a traditional dance show, and had the opportunity to paint with art students at the university.

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We were also able to visit the Great Wall of China when we left the city of Hubei. I was so glad I had to chance to tick walking part of the Great Wall off my bucket list! It was freezing cold, and the steps up the wall were ridiculously steep, but I climbed part of the way up to witness the incredible view. If you ever get the opportunity to see the Great Wall, I cannot recommend it enough.

As I’m an animal lover, I loved visiting a cat cafe during the trip. All of the cats had medical conditions which meant they would be unable to live on the streets and needed care. The cafe takes these cats in and provides them with the medication they need thanks to the money made by the sale of coffee and cakes. It was the first time I had been to a cat cafe, and I honestly never wanted to leave!

Another highlight of the trip for me personally was getting to visit the Olympic Park in Beijing! The park surrounding the Olympic stadiums is filled with interesting and inspirational art, so there was loads to see.

I absolutely loved China. The people were lovely and welcoming, shopping was cheap (yay!), and the architecture was beautiful. I would love to go back in the future and see even more parts of it, including the terracotta army.

Until next time, Dani x

Visiting Paris

Here’s a quick guide to some must-see and do attractions in Paris, whether it’s your first time in the city or your tenth.

As cliché as it is, you simply must go up the Eiffel Tower. It provides a fantastic bird’s eye view of the city, making for great photo oppertunities. Once you’ve been up the Eiffel Tower, head to the Trocadéro for an incredible view of the tower. The best time to go for a magical view and stunning photo oppertunity is sunset.

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I took this photo at the Trocadéro around 4:30pm in the Spring time. The sun was just beginning to set.

Didn’t get your fix of bird’s eye views of Paris? Try the Montparnasse Tower. It’s a 210 metre office skyscraper which allows visitors access to its roof, providing a panoramic view of Paris – including the Eiffel Tower. When I went to the tower it was at night, and the lights of the city and the Eiffel Tower were breath taking. With tickets priced at 15 euros for an undated (can be used once at any time within a year of purchasing) ticket, I would highly recommend this experience.

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While my poor camera struggled to cope with my lack of tripod and challenging night time conditions, these photos should give you an idea of how fantastic the views are from the Montparnasse Tower.

Fancy a culture fix while in Paris? The Louvre museum is, of course, a must see. However, the Musee D’Orsay was my favourite museum that I visited in Paris. Not only is it a great museum, but it was originally constructed as a train museum for the 1900 World Fair. As a result, the museum has a very unique feature – a large clock whic looks out over the city.

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View from the top floor clock in the Musee D’Orsay

If you have the time, I would highly recommend taking a river cruise. A cruise down the Seine River provides a really interesting way to see the city, and allows you to relax and take the weight off your feet. A city break in Paris normally involves a lot of walking, so a river cruise can break up the trip nicely.

A picnic in the park is a must if the weather is decent. Whether you’re running out of money towards the end of your trip or simply needing to fill a couple of hours, head to a bakery or small supermarket and pack a picnic, then make your way to one of Paris’ beautiful parks. Lying on the grass or sitting on a bench eating lunch gives you the oppertunity to people watch and soak up the Parisian culture.

Many museums in Paris offer free entry on certain days, and there are many festivals and events which occur through the year. Have a quick check online to see if there is anything happening while you’re there before you go.

Until next time, Dani x

Finding The Right University For You

This time last year I was stressed to the max, desperate to get into university. I was lucky enough to get conditional offers for all of the five universities I applied to, however when it came down to it I was torn when I had to choose my firm and insurance choices.

I had to choose between studying Law and Criminology at Edge Hill University, just outside Liverpool, and Law LLB at the University of Stirling, in Scotland. Eventually I chose the University of Stirling. But how did I know what university was right for me?

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The University of Stirling campus, which is stunningly beautiful!

First of all, don’t panic. The thought of needing to do an extra year of university (and being faced with the near-crippling debt that would come on top of that) put me under a lot of pressure to get the choice right first time. But if you decide after a few months or even your first year that you want to transfer course or university, you can! While I feel I’m happy with my choice, I’ve already spoken to a few people on my course who changed from the Law BA, or other courses, after their first year. It hasn’t disadvantaged them in any way, and remember that your student debt does not need to be paid off immediately after you graduate.

Try to narrow down whether you want to attend a campus based university or a non-campus based one, if you want to live away from home or not, whether you want to be in the heart of a city or a little further out, etc. before you start looking for universities that offer your chosen course.

Then if at all possible, try to visit the universities you’re considering. It can be expensive, however it really gives you a chance to pick up on the vibes from the campus or the building you’ll be studying in. If you can’t visit the universities, check their website to see if they offer a virtual tour, or read up on student reviews on independent websites.

One of the things that helped me pick Stirling was the beautiful campus. I was so glad I got to see it before I put it down as my firm choice! While Edge Hill had more modern buildings, the Stirling campus took my breath away. It’s built around a loch, and there’s plenty of pretty walks through small woodland areas which are teeming with wildlife. I knew this would help me unwind during the stressful exam season – it was just right for me!

Once you have narrowed down your choices with your heart, start using your head. Check out how much student finance you can receive, accommodation costs at the universities if you’ll be living away from home, think practically about your living costs, etc. Think logically about what you can afford.

Best of luck with your university application!

Until next time, Dani x

A Local’s Guide to Northern Ireland

Planning on visiting Northern Ireland, or are you a local who wants to find more cool things to see? Here’s my local’s guide!

One of the most beautiful spots on the North Coast is the Giant’s Causeway. There’s a shuttle bus from the car park down to the beauty spot itself, making it accessible for all, or you can walk up and down the hill. I went to the Giant’s Causeway a few weeks ago, and the view was breathtaking.

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If you’re at the North Coast anyway, definitely visit Portrush to blow off some steam! The famous Barry’s Amusements has something for everyone. Portstewart is also nearby, which is a beautiful small town that plays host to Morelli’s, a magical ice cream shop with ice cream sundaes to die for!

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My boyfriend and I managed to collect enough tickets in one afternoon to win a massive teddy bear! Despite how windy it was (as you can probably tell from my hair), we had a great time.

If you’re in Belfast, one of my favourite things to do is check out the huge amount of graffiti and artwork littered around the city centre. There’s some beautiful murals just a few streets in any direction from the City Hall. Most of my favourite art is around the Cathedral Quarter, around St Anne’s Cathedral and the free MAC Museum.

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This beautiful artwork pinpoints Belfast’s location on a map of the world, and give the co-ordinates of your location.

One of my favourite places to eat around Belfast is Boojum. A fast-food with style restaurant, Boojum is affordable and a hugely filling meal. They serve burritos, burrito bowls, and nachos (and it’s all really yummy).

For a sweet treat, check out Spoon Street. They serve frozen yogurt, and you personalise your own pot from their selection of frozen yogurts and yummy toppings! They have locations in Belfast city centre, the Lisburn Road, and Ballyhackamore.

If you’re around Belfast city centre, you definitely need to visit my favourite spot in the whole city. The Botanical Gardens have a palm house with a gorgeous array of flowers and plants, making it a super photogenic spot while also being quiet and soothing.

If you’re around the Antrim area, you need to see the beautiful Antrim Castle Gardens! You can park at the Antrim Lough Shore Park and walk to the castle grounds. It’s about a ten minute walk, and the castle grounds are dog friendly. There’s loads to see, from a motte, ruins, artwork and sculptures, and a lovely pond.

Northern Ireland is an amazing country, with loads to do and see. I can’t recommend visiting it highly enough! If you ever need some more suggestions for things to do when you visit, feel free to contact me on social media.

Until next time, Dani x

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