So you’ve decided to move to the UK…

Congratulations! Making the decision to move is the first big step I reckon. Yes it’s scary and yes it’s a big deal but rest assured, it’s going to be one of the most amazing experiences of your life. And you’re going to love it, even when you have days where you absolutely hate it!

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While my decision to move was a long time coming, I really did just pick a date, bought a one-way ticket and then did the countdown. Of course, there were bits and pieces in between but I did it the way I did because I knew if I didn’t, then I’d waste more time talking myself out of it.

The key to success I think is to be prepared. I know it sounds like a total cliché but if you want to do well, you will need to do your research. And lots of it. There are plenty of guides online and blogs by people who have been in your shoes and I really think they helped me with my planning. In saying that, I also felt like there needed to be more people blogging about their experiences because it’s always so fascinating to read! Everyone experiences moving to a new country differently so getting a variety of perspectives is always handy.

In saying this, here are some of my tips and experiences to add to the mix to help you prepare for your big adventure. While my advice would be more relatable to a fellow Kiwi, I’m sure there are still some bits and pieces non-Kiwis will find helpful.

The important things before the trip

This is the kind of boring part of the whole process but it’s also the most important. If you don’t get these things sorted, honey, you ain’t going anywhere!

Make sure your passport is up-to-date! Or if you’re like me, make sure you get your passport! Cause guess what… if you don’t have your passport, you’re not leaving the country!

Processed with VSCO with f2 presetBefore I bought my ticket, I applied for my passport. In New Zealand, it costs $180 to get a passport. This is the standard fee but if you need to get one urgently, it’ll cost about $360. Mine took about a week to arrive and I was so happy when I finally got it in my hot little hands!

You can find all the information you need about getting your New Zealand passport here.

Now that you’ve got your important little booklet with your swanky, ‘just got out of prison’ photo (or is that just me?), it’s time to think visa. As a New Zealand citizen, if you’re between the ages of 18 to 30, you can apply for a Tier 5 Youth Mobility visa, which entitles you to live and work in the UK for two years. If you’re lucky enough to have grandparents that were born in the UK, you can apply for an Ancestry visa, which entitles you to live and work in the UK for five years, after which you could probably apply to be a resident.

It’s important to note that you can only apply for your visa six months before you intend to travel. So if you’ve chosen a date that’s far, far into the future, make sure you note down in your calendar when it’s time to apply for your visa.

For a Tier 5 visa, there are fees you need to pay:

  • £244 application fee
  • £300 healthcare surcharge
  • £1,890 in savings – I’ve included this as an expense because you need to be able to show that you’ve got equivalent to this amount in your bank account as part of your application

It doesn’t take long for your application to get processed… well, I didn’t think it did anyways. Once you’ve applied, a decision will be made and you’ll get a letter in the post confirming the outcome. My memory is a bit fuzzy but after my application had been approved, I had to go down to Wellington for an appointment to get my photo taken and to get my fingerprints into the system for my biometric residence permit (BRP). A BRP is a little card you get when you arrive in the UK and it’s a form of ID that confirms your right to live and work in the UK.

Once that’s done, you’ve got your visa sorted! All the boring, legal stuff is now done and you get to move on to the more exciting parts!

If you want to check your eligibility or want to apply for a visa, check out this page.

Money honey!

I think it’s important to stress that the UK is not a cheap country. While groceries tend to be cheaper here, everything else is relatively expensive and I can’t stress enough that you should save, save, save and bring as much money as you can possibly can.

Based on my research, people have said a comfortable amount to save and bring with you is around £5000 so you’ve got enough for a deposit to move into your own place and enough to tie you over if you’re stuck without a job for months. I think it’s sound advice having now been here but I have to admit, I didn’t listen to this advice… only because I’m absolutely RUBBISH with saving.

So I came here with about £1500 in my bank account. I honestly thought that I’d probably have to move back to New Zealand in a week because there was no way I could’ve survived on that, especially if I was paying for my own accommodation.

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I was EXTREMELY lucky in two ways: I got a full-time job within two days and I had the luxury of staying with a friend for free while I settled. After I got my job though, I immediately went out to find a place of my own just because I’m the type of person that likes having her own space. So, I found a place in East London in the thriving metropolis that is Bow. I paid £1270 for the deposit and moved in the following day. The rest of my money went towards groceries and pillows, blankets, sheets, etc.

So yes, while I was very lucky and managed to get a job and a home in a couple of days of arriving, I could’ve also been extremely unlucky and not gotten either and would probably be back in New Zealand right now drowning myself in sorrow. I am a stickler for preparation… however, I’m also a useless saver and a damn good spender. So my advice to you, dear reader, is save as much as you can and unless you have a free home to go to and a job lined up (or know you’ve got a high chance of getting a job within a month), definitely bring more than £1500. I think the safest thing to do is to bring AT LEAST a month’s worth of living cost.

Bank accounts and transferring monies

When you get here, you’re going to want a bank account and a bankcard so you have access to your monies. It’s true what they say – it can be quite challenging to open a bank account. You’ll need to provide proof of address so the logical thing to do is to get your bank to send a copy of your latest bank statement to your new address in the UK. If you don’t have a home in the UK, then you’re screwed (but not really).

If you have friends or family in the UK and they are happy for you to use their address, have your bank send your statement there. Bear in mind though, they want proper hard copies of the statement, not a printout.

While I had my bank send my statements to my friend’s address, both Barclays and Lloyds wouldn’t accept my statements as it looked to them like a printout. It baffled me to be honest but oh well.

I was introduced to an online bank called Monese where you could open an account without having to provide copies of your bank statement. All you need to do is send them a copy of your identification and then bam, they give you an account and send you a contactless debit card. Easy! Monese has been great.

There’s also another online bank called Monzo which is quite popular in the UK actually. They have these insanely bright coral debit cards which I must say, gets a lot of attention every time I whip it out to use it. They also offer overdrafts which is great if you’ve got a credit record but as I don’t have one (and it’s likely you won’t either if you’re an expat), you won’t be eligible.

So if you’re struggling to apply for an account with ‘traditional’ banks, definitely give these ones a go, even if it’s just for a start.

With regards to transferring your monies from your current account to your UK account, I highly recommend Transferwise. I’ve used them religiously since arriving to transfer money to and from my New Zealand bank account. They’ve also got great exchange rates and best of all, no bank fees. They do charge a transfer fee but it’s quite nominal compared to what you’d pay at a bank or at an exchange counter. They also provide a calculator so you know exactly how much you’re going to get. Another bonus is that you usually get your money within a couple of hours!

BTW, I’m not sponsored by any of these companies (as much as I’d love to be!). I’ve tried them and highly rate them for the service they provide and just want to share the love!

Finding a flat 

Finding a new home is quite similar to finding one in New Zealand. There are flat sharing websites available, such as, Rightmove, Spareroom, Zoopla and you can also use Gumtree (though I’ve never actually used it).

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Most places are advertised via an agency. Move in costs are usually a month’s rent in advance, a bond (which is typically equivalent to one month’s rent) and sometimes, agency fees, which can be up to £200. As the rental market is a competitive one, if you find a place that you’re really keen on, some agencies require you to pay a ‘holding fee’ which comes off the move in costs when you sign the paperwork. This just tells them that you’re definitely serious about moving in and secures you as the tenant. Some agencies ask to do a reference check (so definitely ask your landlord back home if it’s okay for you to use them as a referee) and if you fail it, or if for some reason you lose out on the room/flat, you can lose the holding fee as well. So just be mindful of this…

Another thing to be mindful of is that you can actually secure a room before you’ve even arrived in the UK. So if you’re very keen, like I was, you can do your research, talk to agencies and if you like the look of a place, pay the holding fee and it’s yours when you arrive. I didn’t do this but I did book a few viewings before I arrived. Agencies also tend to want to work with you so if you tell them what you’re after, they’ll give you a list of places they have available that fits your requirements and that saves you having to do more searching.

In my experience, I never did the whole holding fee or had to do reference checks. When I got my place, I gave them £100 to hold my spot, signed the contract and then paid the remainder of the move in cost later that day once my money came through (thanks Transferwise!). I then picked up the keys the next day and moved in. As for the place that I’m in right now in Exmouth, it’s owned by a friend’s employer and I just paid a week rent in advance plus four weeks for bond and moved in immediately.

So again, it’s one of those things where everyone’s situation is different.

It’s also true what they say, you do come across some shocking places in London. Rental properties are EXTREMELY expensive and you get bugger all for what you pay. I was paying £585 a month including expenses for a room in a flat in Zone 2 where there was no lounge, no dining room and no garden area. There were six of us in the flat with one bathroom, one toilet and the tiniest of tiny kitchens. If you want to live in a decent place in either Zone 1 or 2, you’re gonna have to be prepared to shell out a lot of money.

The place I’m in now is a HUGE improvement and I pay £400 a month including expenses to live in the heart of Exmouth. It has a lounge and two bathrooms and there’s five of us that live here. The kitchen is open plan and it smells nice most of the time. Plus it’s clean and carpeted. I guess you expect to pay so much less and get so much more when you move outside of London.

Oh, and another thing that’s quite common here is, you don’t tend to meet the flatmates as most places are advertised through agencies. Some places are advertised privately so you do get to meet them before you move in. But most cases, you don’t, which can make it tricky when moving in and realising you’re going to be spending months with a bunch of awful people. If possible, try to meet them when you go for your viewing or try to get into a short-term contract where you can extend should you choose to stay longer.

Packing light and packing right

It’s a bit tricky to ascertain what you’ll need when you move over. I did a lot of trawling on Pinterest for some inspiration on what basic items I may need. I knew that I had to make sacrifices seeing as my baggage allowance was 32kg and I also knew that I’d end up accumulating a bunch of stuff once I was there anyways (cough, Primark, cough).

I did a lot of research on the season and what the typical weather would be like for March when I arrived. It was the end of winter so I knew it was going to be cold but as it was going into spring and summer, it was going to warm up. So using common sense and being inspired by Pinterest, I made sure to bring a coat, raincoat, clothes that could be used in both summer and winter (for example a pinafore that I could wear as a dress on it’s own in the warmer weather but I could also wear layers underneath when it’s colder).

Again, remember, if you forgot something or need something, you can always go shopping. After all, you’re not moving to the middle of nowhere!

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Okay I know I’ve basically made your eyes bleed with the amount of information I’ve put up but hopefully you’ve found the whole thing or at least aspects of it useful. Please don’t feel overwhelmed and end up putting off your trip! It’s a lot of information to take in but it’ll make so much more sense once you’re here.

There’s still heaps more to talk about like finding a job which I thought I’d save for the next post otherwise this would get WAAAAAAAY too long and there’s lots to talk about with that topic.

Let me know if you have any questions and if you’d like me to cover something in particular… I’m always open to new content! Until next time 🙂

February Bakes: the most amazing coconut and chocolate slice

I’m really excited about sharing this recipe with you because it’s a classic in my family. My grandma used to make it for us all the time and it’s quite the treat. It’s more-ish without being too sickly, it’s comforting and chocolatey and best enjoyed with a steaming, hot cup of Earl Grey.

When my grandmother passed away, we stopped having the slice because nobody really knew how to make it (despite grandma teaching us how to make them!). It didn’t help that the original recipe had disappeared from her recipe box either. One day, I decided I was going to find a way to emulate the recipe and then I was going to share it with the world so we can all enjoy grandma’s killer slices!

Guess what? That day has finally come!

It all started with me trawling through her recipe box to find something similar to the base of the slice; something that was made in the way that I remember them being made. I came across her coconut chocolate biscuit recipe and I thought ‘yeah this could work’. Look at how old school the look and feel of grandma’s recipes is!

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To finish off the base, I made a basic chocolate icing, spread it all over the top like a disease and then sprinkled lots of desiccated coconut and voila! It tastes exactly how I remembered it to taste. I’m pretty sure I’ve made this about four times in the last month and a bit… yes, counting the one I burnt.

Best of all, it’s so easy to make and (depending on your willpower) lasts quite a while! I hope you give it a go!

Ingredients

½ pound of butter (I calculated this to be approx. 226g of butter – it may be a bit off from ½ pound but it works!)

1 tbsp of cocoa powder

1 cup of sugar (I use brown sugar)

1 tbsp golden syrup

1 cup of desiccated coconut

2 cups flour

2 tsp baking powder (or ½ tsp baking soda)

Pinch of salt

50g of butter (for the icing)

1 ½ cup of icing sugar

1 tbsp cocoa powder (for the icing)

2-3 tbsp of boiling water

 

Method

In a saucepan, mix ½ pound of butter, 1 tbsp cocoa powder, sugar and golden syrup and melt over a low heat.

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Once it’s melted, leave it for about 20 minutes to cool down. Aim to turn off the heat as soon as the butter is melted – you don’t want to overcook it as the mixture will split and it’s not very nice when that happens.

When the mixture has cooled, preheat your oven to 160 degree celcius (fan-forced). Add the flour, baking powder or soda, coconut and salt into the mixture and combine them all together.

 

Spray cooking oil or use straight butter/oil onto a thin baking tray. Spread the mixture evenly and then throw it into the oven for about 20 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.

I just want to point out as well that it may seem uncooked and you’ll be tempted to keep it in the over for longer but don’t do that because it will burn. Get it out of the oven after about 20 minutes even if it’s still soft because when it’s sitting there cooling, it’ll harden.

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slice before

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slice after

Leave the slice out to cool for about 5-10 minutes.

To make the icing, mix 50g softened butter, 1 ½ cup of icing sugar, 1 tbsp of cocoa powder and 2-3 tbsp of boiling water in a bowl. If your icing is too thick, add more boiling water. Mix, mix, mix and you should end up with a glossy, semi-thick chocolate icing.

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Remove the slice from the tray. Spread the icing over the top and sprinkle lots of coconut over it. As you can see, no coconut gets left behind in my slice!

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Lastly, enjoy.

I love this slice so much and it somehow keeps me close to my grandma. It’s honestly the ultimate comfort food and the best kind of pick-me-up when you’re having a bad day. Although they’re not kind to the waistline, they’re definitely kind to the soul.

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I hope you give it a go. I’d love to see your recreations so please tag @michellerosewrites and let me know how it turns out!

 

 

 

Three things to do to get into the weekend spirit

Picture this: You wake up Monday morning, ready to start your week (well, sort of ready). Suddenly, you’re in a routine of waking up, getting ready, going to work, working hard, going home, feeling exhausted, evening routine, bedtime routine then bed. This continues and then BAM!

It’s finally Friday! Yay! You’re all geared up for the much deserved two mornings of sleep-ins and a chance to finally relax, not think about work and have a good time. But there’s one thing in the way: you can’t stop thinking about work.

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Source: Pinterest

I know exactly how you feel because I’m a victim of not being able to fully unwind and relax because I’m constantly thinking about work. ‘Did I do enough during the week to be able to relax this weekend and avoid a meltdown on Monday? Is there something I could do over the weekend to keep my stress levels down the following week at work? I keep getting emails from colleagues and internal customers over the weekend which means they’re working hard so I must work hard too’. It’s a never-ending cycle and I’ve learnt the hard way that you need to relax and spend some time just chilling and switching off from work.

If you’re a modern day workaholic, I completely understand it may be hard for you to switch off; it was so hard for me to do at first so I created my own foolproof way of mentally preparing myself for the weekend and making sure that I unwind and not think about work for the two days that I’m given. Hopefully you can pick up a thing or two to help make your weekend a pleasurable one where you can kick work in the back of your mind.

1. Have something to look forward to

I think it’s really important to have something to look forward to, especially when you’re having a really long week. It can be anything – Netflix and chilling, going to a show/movie, reading a book, going for a hike… heck, even having a cheeky wine after work on a Friday counts! When you have an enjoyable activity planned and you’re counting the days, hours, minutes and seconds until you can do the activity, the last thing you’ll think of when doing said activity is think and worry about work.

2. Switch off

Mentally and technologically.

When I was in my previous role as a Communications and Engagement Advisor, I had my work emails synched to my phone so I never really ‘switched off’. Every time I got an email, I would read it immediately and think about the action points and how I was going to tackle it on Monday, or worst yet, tackle it over the weekend so it became less of a hassle for Monday. That’s why it’s so important to switch off your notifications so you don’t have it as a distraction. You don’t have to use your own personal, UNPAID time to worry about issues at work. It can wait until Monday… trust me, no one is going to die.

However, I understand that some people are in roles where they have to be ‘available’ at all times. If this is the case for you, perhaps set a time in the day where you spend an hour or half an hour if possible sorting through your emails. In fact, you can break it down and set this to two or three times during the day if you’re slammed. If you just straight up struggle with your workload during the week perhaps you need to consider delegating, reallocating or finding a better time management system.

Oh and another thing to add to this is don’t take work home. I’m serious. I was notorious for bringing work home. Leave it at work where it’ll be waiting for you on Monday. I promise you it’ll still be there.

3. Find something you’d like to do and do it

This can be anything – baking, knitting, boardgames, cosplay group, cooking class, yoga, gym, running, climbing mountains… I’m sure there are heaps of activities that you’ve told yourself you’d like to try but haven’t gotten round to it. Well, I tell you now, the weekends are a great time to start an activity. Even if you don’t like it, at least you’ve tried. If you do like it, well voila, a new hobby! And it’s a great distraction from looking through your emails or thinking about the stack of paperwork at your desk. You also get to meet new people and who knows, you might end up making new friends to do more weekend activities with. Plus, linking this to point number one, it gives you something to look forward to.

As you know, I’ve recently been doing a lot of baking and it’s such a great way to relax and keep my mind off the weekday shenanigans. Another thing I’ve been getting into is knitting. I learnt how to knit when I was younger but then I’d forgotten how to do it and I’ve always admired people who spend their time watching TV or commuting and knitting. Seems like a great way to be productive while doing something that’s considered nothing (eg Netflix). So, I’ve bought some knitting needles and wool and I’ve been teaching myself how to knit… with the help of YouTube of course. I’m hoping to make some sort of scarf by the end of next week… we’ll see how that goes lol.

So there you have it – my three foolproof ways of unwinding and enjoying the weekend. If you’re struggling to unwind, give one or all of these points a go and let me know how it goes!

What do you do to unwind for the weekend?

February Feats – What I’ve been reading #3

Happy Thursday! I can’t believe we’re already on episode three of this series. You know what that means? One more episode to go! I genuinely hope you’ve been enjoying the series and checking out the books I’ve been sharing.

I went through my kindle the other day and noticed that I’m a creature of habit when it comes to the books I read. Not only are most of them a particular genre, but if I come across an author that I absolute adore, I’ll read all their books. My top three authors, according to my kindle, are Val McDermid, John Boyne and Cecelia Ahern. It’s a pretty accurate representation of my top three authors.

Lately I’ve been trying to explore other authors and discover new favourites. I think this is reflected in the books I’ve been reading list. It’s definitely a good experiment because I find myself revisiting the author of the books I’ve enjoyed. A prime example would be Michael Robotham. I’ve now read another two of his books and yeah, I’d say they were hits.

Anyways, as usual, I’m digressing. Here’s this weeks what I’ve been reading lately…

  • ‘Lies’ by T M Logan

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This book appeared in a recommendations list that Amazon emails to me every week. I read the synopsis and it gripped me. I sampled the book and the next thing I knew, I bought it.

The book is based on the main character, Joe Lynch, who stumbles across his wife’s car heading into a hotel car park. He decides to follow her and sees her having an altercation with her best friends husband, Ben. She leaves and he follows Ben out and confronts him and there’s a bit of a scuffle and Ben gets knocked out. Joe’s son is with him and he has an asthma attack so they bail to go get his inhaler and leave Ben alone on the ground in the carpark but when Joe comes back later, Ben is gone. And that’s when weird stuff starts happening…

An obvious theme for this book is social media and how easy it is to deceive and hide secrets (and to an extent, discover them) from our loved ones. Technology is another big theme as well. It’s an interesting book and there is quite the plot twist at the end – one that I didn’t see coming at all. I was already convinced in my brain of how the story was going to end but it didn’t go the way I expected it to go. Personally, I felt like the ending in my head would’ve been more interesting than the actual ending BUT that’s just my personal opinion. I’d score this book a 7 out of 10.

  • ‘Ragdoll’ by Daniel Cole

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I remember seeing the cover of this book at Whitcoulls and thinking to myself, I must read it; a very similar scenario to Stephen King’s ‘Bazaar of Bad Dreams’. So I went home and I downloaded a sample on my kindle and started reading.

I think you may have guessed from the title and the cover that this book is an investigative crime/thriller. It’s centred on Detective William Fawkes aka The Wolf who comes across a gruesome, stitched together corpse made out of six different bodies. So he ends up in a race to try and uncover whom the twisted murderer is before he claims more victims. To top it off, Wolf has his own personal troubles given he’s only recently been reinstated to his role and there’s an ex-wife in the mix.

I was actually quite hooked by the sample so I bought the book. I think I spent like $15NZD? Anyways, after a few more chapters, I think my interest just slowly waned. The premise of it was good and it has a lot of potential but it sort of just dragged on. I wasn’t particularly a fan of Wolf and given he’s the main character and the book revolves around him, it made it difficult to really enjoy the book. It’s like hanging out with someone you don’t like and trying to find ways to like them but then realising and accepting that no matter what, you’re not gonna like them. Again, that’s just my personal opinion.

If you’re a fan of gore and crime thrillers then give this one a go. Don’t let my thoughts influence your decision because I know this book has done pretty well out in the world. It’s also Daniel Cole’s first book and fun fact, he’s an ex-paramedic! I was quite fascinated by that. I score this book a 5 out of 10.

  • ‘Flawed’ and ‘Perfect’ by Cecelia Ahern

I must admit I didn’t read these books recently. The first time I came across ‘Flawed’ was over a year ago and then I read the sequel, ‘Perfect’ mid-last year when it came out. When I finished ‘Flawed’, I was so pissed off to find out that I had to wait a few months for the sequel. But like the good person that I am, I bit my tongue, hit the ‘pre-order’ button, set the release date in my calendar and read other books to fill in the empty space while waiting patiently for ‘Perfect’s release. I think that write-up speaks volumes on what I thought of the book.

‘Flawed’ is a dystopian novel and tells the story of Celestine North, who lives in a society that demands perfection, no matter what. Those that aren’t perfect or considered morally flawed are branded like cattle with a large F in different areas of their body, depending on their crime of imperfection. Celestine lives the perfect life that’s demanded of her society; she’s well-liked by her peers and teachers and she’s dating a popular boy who’s father heads the guild that runs the Flawed system. One day, Celestine makes a decision that sees her getting branded. The first book is about her journey on discovering that the Flawed system is in fact flawed itself. The second book covers her journey to challenge the system and society’s ideas of perfection.

I wanted to bring it up because I thought it was an interesting genre for Cecelia Ahern given that she’s known for her romantic novels or light-hearted reads with sweet endings that teaches you a bit about life. While the book is targeted for younger adults, I think it’s actually quite enjoyable… this is coming from someone in their late-20s. Obviously there was a cliffhanger that kills in the first book so if you’re gonna read it, I suggest you mentally make a note to yourself that you will be shelling out for the second book. This isn’t one of those ‘just read the first one and leave it’ books. So if you like a bit of dystopia and want to escape to a world where you can’t tell if it’s in the past or future or if you should visualise the area as being Ireland (I did based on pictures I’ve seen of Ireland but it looked pretty strange in my brain), then I highly recommend these two books. I score these books a 9 out of 10.

So there you have it folks, this weeks ‘what I’ve been reading’ done and dusted. I hope you enjoy it. I know it’s coming across as a typical Michelle-Rose booklist but I am going outside my comfort zone and reading other genres. In fact, I’ve started reading ‘The Night Circus’ by Erin Morgenstern and I’m aiming to have it done by the time the next list goes up. I have no idea what the genre of this book is or what it’s even about but I’ve heard it’s a good book to read so I thought I’d give it a go. So far, I’m enjoying it.

What are you currently reading?

Being motivated to keep fit in the heat

Do you know what I’ve been finding rather challenging lately? Having the energy to keep moving and to be fit, especially after working long hours and coming home to a sweltering hot house. But as humans, we’re designed to keep moving although in this day and age, it’s hard to believe that’s the case since we spend most of our time sitting on our butts, playing games, reading books or binge-watching movies/tv shows.

I used to go on weekend hikes and evening/early morning runs and I’d walk long distances and it never phased me how far or how long it took. But then I stopped for a variety of reasons and then I felt myself getting fatter… and fatter… and lazier… and lazier… and the thought of walking anywhere got my stress and anxiety levels going.

Now I want to change that and get back into the zone and claim my enjoyment for long walks, short runs and weekend hikes because if you’ve read my posts from last year, you would know that I really enjoy these things. Maybe not at the time of doing them, but the satisfaction of reaching a destination or achieving a goal is a feeling you just can’t beat.

There’s also heaps of other benefits to moving and getting out and about – you improve your stamina, burn more calories and it positively affects your mood and mental wellbeing.

It can be extra hard to motivate yourself to move especially in the deep heat (yes I’m talking about you you awful average 23 degree muggy New Zealand heat) so I thought I’d share with you four things that I do to motivate myself to get out and about even though I would rather sit in front of a fan and read a book.

Go for a swim

I think this one is an obvious way to cool yourself down while also getting in some physical activity. I used to hate swimming in summer at the beach just because everyone else had the same idea so parking was a nightmare and finding a decent spot in the ocean within the flags was torture. But now, I just embrace it. And if you live in a place like New Plymouth, there’s more than one beach and the further out the beach is, the less people there’ll be. My favourite beach happens to be Oakura beach, where the waters are usually calm and there’s less people.

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If you’re not a fan of salt water and waves crashing into you, head down to your local pools. The ones in New Plymouth mark down their prices in the evening (I think an hour or two before they close?) which is pretty cool. I’ve never actually swam at our local pools but I know I definitely would if I wasn’t such a fan of the open-air ocean. Feels funny saying that because I’m actually deathly afraid of everything that lives in the ocean…

Evening/early morning strolls

This is my fool-proof way of motivating myself to keep moving. I’m a fan of early morning runs or evening runs because there’s no sun and usually the heat is not so bad. Sometimes it can still be a bit muggy but it’s way more manageable than going in the middle of the day when the heat is in full force. And if you do your exercise in the morning, at least it’s out of the way and you can spend your evenings just chilling and feeling super proud of how productive you’ve been with your time! thumbs up yo

And you also end up catching some incredible shots of the sunset/sunrise. Here’s one I snapped last week on an evening run:

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Go for a wander in the bush

lol that heading made me giggle a little. What I mean is going for a run/walk in a shaded area like a bushy walkway or an area in a park where there’s bound to be heaps of trees.

There’s a walk that I personally really enjoy in New Plymouth. It’s by the Te Rewa Rewa Bridge and you can get a good 7km in just walking to Bell Block and back.

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But doing this walk in the scorching heat is a killer because it’s very open and there are no trees to shade you. So this walk is best done in the evenings or early in the morning. For other times of the day, a walk in a place like the Te Henui Walkway or Pukekura Park is ideal because of all the trees that shade you throughout the day. Of course if you’re not from New Zealand, I’ve linked the places above via Google Images so you get an idea of the type of trek those places are. I’m sure there are similar parks/walkways wherever you are 🙂

Get into your active wear

You know how in winter when it’s super cold and wet and you come home and get straight into your PJs because you’ve been miserable and you just want to be warm and comfy? In summer, I usually come home and tear my clothes off and get into shorts and a tee. When I know I need to get out and about, I’ll get into my active wear and let’s be honest, who doesn’t like being in their cosy, comfy active wear?

By being in it, it reminds me that I need to get out and about and get some exercise into my day (FACT: I’m wearing my active wear right now as I’m writing this). Even if I’m in it for a couple of hours before I actually leave the house, it’s one less excuse I’ll have (because apart from “it’s too hot”, there’s “i’m too hot to change into my active wear”).

And if you want to run/walk in the morning but you know you’ll wake up and tell yourself “i can’t be bothered changing into my active wear”, leave your workout gear and shoes somewhere close. Hell, if you need to tie your hair up, make sure you’ve got a hairband around your wrist and have your hairbrush close by. What excuse will you have now?

So there you have it – the top four things that I do to keep moving and motivated during the summer. I’m not saying you should follow these ideas but they’re what I do to make sure “it’s too hot” is not an excuse for not doing any form of exercise or to not fit in at least a 20 minute walk into my day.

There are also other things that you can do to keep moving, such as, joining a class or going to the gym. You can also indulge in the many free workout videos on Youtube and work out in the comfort of your own home (this is something I do as well but not often hence why it didn’t make the list). I’m a fan of being out and about and keeping things very cheap so these things work for me.

By the way, I don’t exercise every day. I do have my lazy days but I try to aim for at least five days a week of movement. Next challenge is definitely going to be making sure I continue to exercise in the winter without using the excuse “it’s too cold”.

What do you do to motivate yourself to exercise during the summer? I’d love to know!

Getting hygge with the heat

I was recently introduced to a new word/concept – hygge (pronounced hue-guh, not hee-gi as I keep thinking it as). It’s a Danish word that can’t be described using one English word. It’s probably best described as a feeling of cosiness, content, satisfaction; a moment that’s just plain special from enjoying the simple things in life. It even gives me fuzzies just saying the word. But it’s not just confined to a feeling – it’s also about your surroundings such as your home décor and with loved ones.

We’ve all experienced hygge in some way, shape or form without realising it; reading a book under the tree, enjoying a hot chocolate in warm, fluffy pjs in the middle of winter and even just watching TV and chillaxing are all examples of hygge moments. While I would describe it as ‘hygge moments’, to the Danish people hygge is their way of life. Research* tells me that the word hygge was made famous in the UK in 2016; so famous that it earned a spot in the Collins Words of the Year for 2016. Soon after, the Americans started raving about it. So I guess it’s fair to say that hygge is quickly making headways around the world (although it makes me wonder why it took me so long to get acquainted with the word? Maybe it’s because I’m from New Zealand and it takes a million years for things to get down to this corner of the Earth…).

While the words ‘cosy’ and ‘fuzzy’ are usually associated with wintertime, I think hygge can also be experienced in the summertime. No I’m not asking you to break out the fluffy polar bear PJs and wear it in this 24 degree heat or start a fire in the scorching warmth and sit next to it while attempting to enjoy a book and also trying not to melt. There are lots of different ways to experience cosiness and well, hygge, even in the heat.

Here’s are my top six ways of creating and experiencing a hygge atmosphere in the hot weather: 

Have a bath

Don’t scream or panic. I promise you the heat hasn’t got to me and I’m not crazy. Yet. You know how we have warm baths in winter because it’s relaxing, warming and oh so comforting? Well, why not have a cool bath in summer? It produces the same effects – relaxing, warming and comforting without sharing your water space with others a la the beach or the public pools. Plus you get the added bonus of adding a bath bomb to create your own little galactic and glittery cocoon with bubbles. Delightful.

To create a more comforting and cosy atmosphere, why not light a candle, pour yourself an iced tea and read a book? I promise you won’t die of hyperthermia if you stay in the bath for hours. Here’s a pic of the last cool bath I had:

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Plant it up

Summer makes me think of bright colours and light, airy spaces. Adding succulents and/or flowers in a room is guaranteed to create a summery atmosphere – I guess in some ways it’s like bringing the outside to the inside (if that makes sense). Just being near flowers makes me feel warm and fuzzy on the inside.

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I love the aesthetic of succulents and the fact that they’re low maintenance. Its unique and pointy leaves adds an edge to wherever you place it. I got these at the farmers market and absolutely adore them. If you’re in New Plymouth, it’s from the Saturday markets behind the old Mill.

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Enjoying a cuppa

I love tea. Earl grey, jasmine green tea, lady grey, chamomile… I could go on. But when you’re hanging in average 25-degree weather, the last thing you want is a hot drink. Nah uh. But if you’re like me, you don’t want to give up your comforting beves…

Why not enjoy them chilled by throwing in some ice cubes? I particularly enjoy a cuppa cold chamomile.

Let’s take a moment to appreciate the tag on my teabag #preach

Relax under the shade

 I think I’ve made this pretty clear in heaps of my posts but I love reading. While I never mind my surroundings when I read, I always find it more enjoyable when I read in a cosy, chilled spot.

In summer, it’s hard to find a cool spot indoors… unless you have air conditioning or are sitting directly in front of a fan. I don’t have the pleasure of either of these luxuries so I like to sit outside and pray for a breeze.

In particular, I love sitting under the trees to get a bit of shade.

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My parents’ garden is set up pretty nicely. It’s like a little wonderland and I spend a lot of time reading in the hammocks. I always find myself with a smile of my face when I’m swinging in the hammocks with a book or kindle in my hand. I know we’re not all lucky enough to have a set up like this but I’m usually quite content with lying on a blanket under a tree. Pure bliss.

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Breaking out the summer sheets 

In wintertime, I usually break out the dark coloured duvets and bed sheets. To me, the darker shades are comforting and warm and it makes me want to dive into the sheets and I know I’m going to be nestled in fuzziness. In summertime, it’s quite the opposite. To achieve the same feeling, I break out the bright, light and airy sheets.

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I love these sheets. If you’re in New Zealand, you can get them from Briscoes. They have a cool, hippy vibe to them and the flowers, leaves and bright colours makes me so happy. Plus its so cool that after a long day, all I want to do is just dive into bed and unwind and enjoy the moment of being relaxed and joyful.

Have a picnic

There’s nothing like embracing summer by heading out into the great outdoors and taking in some sweet fresh air. Enjoying a wine/beer/alcoholic bevy of choice with a fruit and cheese platter under a tree at a park and enjoying a gorgeous view is one of life’s simple pleasures. And guess what? You can do this with family and friends as well. This is sharing a hygge moment with loved ones at its finest.

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So there you have it folks; my list of six things you can try to get hygge with it in summer.

Are you into the hygge life? I’d love it if you shared your hygge experiences and thoughts! In particular, what you do to hygge in the summer!

Oh, how I’d wish he’d go away…

Have you ever heard the poem ‘Antigonish’ by William Hughes Mearns? I feel like it’s one of those poems that we encounter at some point in our lives, be it in a song reference, a movie/TV show reference or even somewhere on Pinterest/Tumblr/Reddit.

It’s quite an eerie poem and has such an eerie feel and while it sends shivers down my spine, I really like the fact that it’s the use of words that’s making me feel that way. It basically reinforces the power of words and how it can affect emotions, moods and the imagination.

Anyways, the point of this blog is that in the last week, I’ve been feeling rather bleak and empty. I feel like my emotions are best represented by this photo – we found a wreckers yard somewhere in the middle of nowhere. It was raining and misty and the yard was so empty, so abandoned and so creepy.

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Anyways, back to what I was saying; the nasty voice inside my head has been making frequent visits and I just find I hate myself and everything about me, physically and emotionally. The other day, we had a German couple stay with us on AirBnB and they asked me how old I was. When I told them I was 27 and they said they were 21 and 20, I lost my mind. They were travelling the world and were so independent and I’m living at home with my parents. Lol. I was so embarrassed I practically avoided them for the rest of their stay. That’s another thing; I find myself being so embarrassed about the way I look and wanting to look ‘normal’ and blend into the shadows, not stick out like a sore thumb in the crowd.

Let me just say that I’m never this hard on myself. Sometimes the critic rears his ugly head but it never lasts long and the power of positivity usually kicks him back into his cave. I love myself 85% of the time and while it’s not 100%, it’s damn well better than what it’s been in my younger days and I’m still working on my self-love. I also want to point out that I’m not embarrassed about my current situation of being at home with my family; it’s great being able to spend this time with them before I head off overseas for god knows how long. I also really like my blue/green hair because I feel like a magical unicorn and I like being different and being able to express myself with my style but today, oh today…

What does this have to do with ‘Antigonish’? Well, the man that keeps appearing but isn’t there reminds me of that negative, self-loathing voice that keeps appearing but really isn’t there. He rears his ugly head, says some nasty things, but at the end of the day, I tell myself he’s just a voice, he’s not really there and he’s only as real as you let him become. He’s also as present as you let him be.

I know it’s never an easy feat dealing with him when he arrives. This is what I do when he visits: I sit there, listen to everything he tells me, mope around, shake him off, make a plan on what I’m going to do to address his words so I can make a change and prove him wrong, sometimes I end up feeling helpless because I’m weak so I let his words linger and I mope some more but when I’m finally done with moping I get up and get on with it and do something I love, such as:

  • Walk/wander/run
  • Listen to some guaranteed happy tunes
  • Write
  • Harass my family
  • Play with my cats
  • Nap
  • Read
  • Practice a craft I’m trying to master
  • Chores
  • Have a bath
  • Binge watch something

Not gonna lie, some of these things I don’t actually love but they serve as fantastic distractions.

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It’s never easy when he rears his ugly head to belittle you and make you feel hopeless and ugly. But you gotta remember that he’s only as strong as you let him be. Have the courage to step back and say fuck off because while the man is waiting there for you and you’re looking for him in the hall, you won’t be able to see him at all.

So, go away, go away, don’t you come back anymore…

Go away, go away, and please don’t slam the door…

Do the dark days hit you as well? What do you do to get rid of the little man and his hideous words?