Saturday, 28 March 2015

The top 10 places on my travel wishlist.



Guys, my life plan for post-graduation is coming together. Kinda. I'M A GO TRAVEL THE WORLD!

Between you and me, I'm still very much in the "looking at pictures of exotic places and getting excited" phase of planning, but that's the most fun part, right?

It's no secret that I pretty much fell in love with travelling whilst on my year abroad, and having not done a gap year before starting uni, I feel this is the time.

After finishing my internship in Brussels and coming back to uni, I was mad keen to get on the career ladder and start climbing as fast as I could. Get me in a pencil skirt doing something exciting, thought I.

Over the past few months though, my priorities have shifted. I've decided a career can wait just a liiiiittle longer, despite my ambitions. And encouragingly enough, literally every single person I've ever spoken to whilst interning has encouraged me to go off and see the world before starting a job.

So people, it's going to happen!

Conveniently, I've been saving for a rainy day for years. I think that rainy day is about to arrive. And when it does, I'll be jumping on a plane and heading off to the sunshine.

I truly believe travel is one of the best things in the world to spend your money on - it's always an enriching experience.

Sure, there are about a million places in the world I want to visit, but I think these are at the top of my list, and having had a little lookie at a world map, it would appear there could be a viable route in there somewhere too.

I'm lucky enough to have seen a lot of Western Europe, so it's time to go further afield. Daydream along with me - let's start with...


1. The Maldives



I mean SERIOUSLY!? This place exists!?


2. India



Hellooooo camels!


3. Myanmar (Burma)



A far cry from the rolling hills and patchwork fields of England, eh?


4. Thailand



Brb, just off to be a mermaid in these apparently crystal clear waters.


5. Malaysia



But but, the VIEW! And the COLOURS!


6. Singapore



Granted, it's unlikely I'll be able to afford to stay in a place like this but a girl can dream, right?


7. Indonesia



I'd originally had Bali at the top of my Indonesia list, but I've recently been told about the Gili Islands (above pic) which are apparently even BETTER!


8. Australia



Well, I mean, if I'm going to be in South-East Asia I might as well just shimmy on down under, right? It's not that far... Ahem. And those accents!


9. Fiji



Another place that looks simply too perfect to be real. Is this paradise? I need to see it with my own eyes ASAP!


10. New Zealand



What can I say? I'm a sucker for breathtaking scenery and charming accents.


So there you have it!

Okay, okay, I accept that this list is a little vague and I have listed whole massive countries as individual places. But like I said, I haven't got too far in my planning. BUT I'M SO EXCITED ALREADY!

And this is where you guys come in! I am desperate to hear advice, tips and thoughts of where to go, what to do, how to go about it all, so please please please hit me up.

Not only am I massively excited about travelling to far-off places but I'm über looking forward to blogging about my adventures and sharing it with you all.

Speaking of, I'm off skiing for a week tomorrow WAHOOOOO! (Lucky girl, I know.) So do keep your eyes peeled for snowy updates.

Where should I goooooo?

Saturday, 21 March 2015

A bloggers' business brunch and Borough Market, London.


Goodness, it’s been a little while, hasn’t it? Here’s the thing about final year: it’s hard. And not only is the work hard, but there’s just so. much. of it. Essentially at the moment I have all of the work and none of the time. Woe is me.

BUT HEY, you guys know I’m not much of a moaner (unless I’m hungry) so let’s crack on with what I’ve been wanting to blog about for aaaaages (well, a week or so), even if this post may be lighter on words and heavier on snaps than usual.



On a sunny Saturday morning in early spring, I hopped on what felt like a ludicrously early train (well, I had been to a ball the night before) to London for an exciting event.

I’ll be honest – and I say this not wanting to sound awfully ‘oh, aren’t I très important, dahling’ – I get invited to quite a lot of blogger/press events in London, a lot of which are seriously cool.

However, I don’t live in London. Travelling to London is expensive. I’m a full-time final year student with, as we have established, all the work. So in short, I very rarely accept the delightful invitations extended to me.

But I decided to make an exception this time. I’d been invited to an exclusive bloggers’ brunch hosted by Yelp and About Time Mag all about how to turn your blog into a business. Um, awesome much? I’m super keen to learn about the business of running a blog and I obviously love brunch, so how could I say no?


The event was held at the very nice Newman Street Tavern, not far from Oxford Street, and when I arrived the place was already buzzing with bloggers.


The lovely Jelly from About Time welcomed us all and the learning commenced.

Excitingly, there were some real big dogs of the blogging/social media world there to impart their wisdom such as Niamh from Eat Like a Girl and Michael from Symmetry Breakfast.


Over fresh, energising juices, we got to chat to these very knowledgeable people and pick their brains about all things bloggy.


Here are a few of the best points I took away from the morning:

  • First you need a good blog, then you should work on improving your visibility, in that order.
  • The best instagram accounts consider what their pictures look like both individually and also as a grid.
  • The PRs who contact us are paid for their time, we should be too.

Right so now let's all be blogging millionaires, yeah?

And towards the end of the morning, brunch was served. YES!


I went for the pancakes, unsurprisingly. But the other options looked pretty tasty too.


Yummmmmm.

It was so much fun to get to know so many other fab bloggers too, a lot of whom I’d already been following online for some time. Always nice to put names to faces.

If you’ve never checked out these lovely ladies’ blogs, do shimmy on over: Sal Godfrey of Sal's Kitchen, Cat Foley of Survival Survival, Angie Silver of Silverspoon London, Sophie Godwin of Sophie On A Plate and Tina Jui of The Worktop.

Thanks to Yelp and About Time for hosting and inviting me!

...

Now, I had a few hours to kill in London before my train back to Bristol, it was a BEAUTIFUL day, and because I was really hungry (ahem), I decided to go to the famous foodie Borough Market. It's pretty shameful that I hadn't already been really, don't you think?

And as it was such a gorgeous day (slash because I'm poor and public transport is not the one), I decided to walk allllll the way there. It was delightful!

I strolled along Oxford Street and down past Covent Garden and through theatre-land...


I crossed over the river and was treated to some faaaabulous views!


Don'tcha just love London? I carried on along the river and made my way eastwards...


Past the Globe...


And eventually I arrived at Borough Market.

Oof! It was unsurprisingly heaving. Deep breath, in we go.


*wipes away drool from chin*

Let me tell you, Borough Market is a smell sensation. It's like an assault on your nose, with yumminess wafting towards you from every angle. There's loads to peruse and try, which I loved, and lots of interesting new brands to discover, which I also think is fab.

And then it was back to Bristol and back to my actual student life. But a fab day in London it had been.

Are you interested in the business of blogging? If you have any tips or thoughts I'd love to hear them. Or if you'd simply like to tell me what you'd most like to eat from the pictures in this post I'd sure like to hear that too.

Friday, 13 March 2015

Blogging, Bristol and bananas: My #bristol52faces University of Bristol interview.


Having loved following the #bristol52faces campaign for months, I was both shocked and honoured when an email popped into my inbox asking me if I'd like to be one of the faces featured.

The social media campaign was inspired by the multi award-winning Humans of New York (if you don't already like them on Facebook, get on it ASAP) and has thus far featured a super interesting range of people making up the University of Bristol community - from the porter of the Wills Memorial Building (a beautiful building where we study, have lectures and graduate *gulp*) to particular interesting alumni.

I'm really proud to have been one of 52 faces of the University of Bristol so thought I'd share my interview with you all here. Hope you enjoy it!


Name and Association with the University of Bristol:

‘My name is Rachel Hosie and I’m a final year French and German student. I’m also the Online Editor of Epigram, the University of Bristol’s student paper, and in my free time I write my own blog, ‘Handbags and Cupcakes’. It’s quite busy and a bit of a balancing act, but everyone is really busy this year. Most of us have this mind-set that final year is your last chance to get involved in societies and because the degree work steps up a lot, I’ve realised that you have to pick and choose carefully what you want to do because there isn’t time to do everything.’


Do you think this mind-set was accelerated after being away on your year abroad?

‘It’s really different abroad which did make me appreciate the British student culture - and especially student culture here in Bristol - more. We have such great opportunities outside of studies: so many societies, events and fun things going on. We’re really lucky to have it. I was teaching English in Germany and I taught my sixth form students about how we have societies like the Harry Potter Society and the Tea Appreciation Society. They all thought it was hilarious but amazing. They suddenly all wanted to come to university in the UK!’


Favourite place in Bristol:

‘I love Bristol, I love it so much, especially on sunny days. It sounds way too obvious but I’d have to say the Suspension Bridge. It’s really striking and it’s really beautiful and seeing the fireworks over it was stunning; it was like it was raining glitter. It was really moving. Also, I’m not a scientist, but it blows my mind how it stays up!’


You’ve won awards for your blog: ‘Handbags and Cupcakes’, when did you start it?

‘Nearly five years ago now, but it took me a while to get it really going. I started it because I liked writing and wanted to practice; I wasn’t that bothered whether people read it or not, it just seemed like a fun thing to do.

‘I hate looking back at my old blog posts though, I cringe so much. For example my photos from my early blog posts are horrendous. But it’s also a fun thing to see; to see how you’ve developed over time and how your interests have changed. It’s hard to start a blog knowing what your niche is before you start doing it. My blog actually started as a style blog before I realised that I wasn’t as fashionable as I thought I was nor as interested in it as I thought! I now think of it as a lifestyle/ food blog: lifestyle because I just write about whatever I want, and food because, well, food features heavily in my life!’


Do you have any tips for other bloggers?

‘People often ask me how they can grow and develop their blog. I’m no expert, but as a general rule I’d always say that it takes time. I don’t think you can expect to get a million blog views overnight even if your content is amazing because it takes time for people to share your articles and for word of mouth to get out.’

‘The best way to write your blog is also to write about what you know. I think that’s the only way to come across as authentic. People always ask me: ‘how do you make your posts so positive and enthusiastic?’ and I always respond like: ‘really? I didn’t even realise I was doing that’…. I guess I just get really excited about a lot of things and that comes across in my blog posts!’


Favourite UoB memory:

‘The Arts Ball in second year. That’s another thing British Universities do so well: balls. This one was in the Bristol Museum, so a gorgeous location, and all of my friends were there so it was really fun. But actually one of the reasons I remember that night so fondly is because it’s one of my most cherished memories with a former course-mate and friend, Anna Crossman, who sadly died suddenly at the end of second year before she went on her year abroad to Paris. I do look back on that night fondly as I spent a lot of my time with her and we had a lot of lovely pictures taken together.’


Question from the last person, Jason: ‘If you had to eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?’

‘I’m going to say bananas. They are very versatile: if you freeze a banana you can whizz it up into ice cream, you can mash it up for something different, you can dry it out into crunchy chips and also, depending upon the ripeness of your banana, it can have so many different levels of sweetness. I’m all about the bananas!’


Do you have a question for the next person?

‘What is the most important thing that studying/ working in Bristol has taught you?’


What do you think of the campaign and my interview? Do let me know!

Monday, 9 March 2015

The BBC Good Food Eat Well Show 2015


It was unlikely that I was ever not going to love the BBC Good Food Eat Well Show – a whole day devoted to delicious food that just so happens to make you feel awesome? Yes please.

I’d been expecting green juices, energy bars and coconut water galore. And I’m pleased to say I was pretty spot-on.

A brand new BBC Good Food show, I think the fact that the Eat Well Show was launched says a lot about current foodie trends: healthy eating is hot right now. Yay!



And held in Olympia London, the location was perfect for all the spiralising, vegan, yoga bunnies of Chelsea. Less convenient for the healthy-intentioned-but-poor Bristol students amongst us but hey, it could’ve been worse. And the pilgrimage was totally worth it.

It also gave me a brill reason to meet up with my dear friend, Ellie. And on a gorgeous sunny London day, we made our way into the venue for a few hours discovering new food products, learning from healthy experts and sampling yummy things.


Now I simply love finding new brands and foods, so I pre-warned Ellie that I was going to be trying pretty much everything on offer. And there was a lot on offer. I think I may have eaten about three meal’s worth of energy bar samples from various different companies. But you don’t judge me, do you?


And as you can see, she got pretty stuck-in too.

I loved that there were both established brands like Nak’dMerchant Gourmet and Vita Coco at the show, as well as little-known, brand new companies.

ALL the Nakd bars!
And Bounce balls too!

Allow me to share with you some of my fave discoveries:


I LOVED Doisy & Dam's chocolate! As you can see in the photo of the two smiling chaps above, it's totally gluten-free and vegan, and having sampled each flavour, I can assure you they're all delish. My fave was the goji and orange though. I've tried healthy chocolate before that really does taste too healthy and not chocolatey enough, but I think Doisy & Dam get the balance just right.



Aloe vera juice is meant to do wonders for your skin as well as general well-being - Ellie herself has the silkiest of complexions because she's been drinking it for a long time. The trouble is, I don't think aloe vera juice tastes nice in the slightest. 

Simplee Aloe, on the other hand, is ludicrously delicious. It's blended with fresh grape juice and lemon for a beautiful refreshing flavour, and I think it would make a lovely alternative to coconut water.



Now I love Deliciously Ella's healthy Nutella recipe, I really do. But to be honest, it doesn't taste like Nutella. JimJams' healthier chocolate hazelnut spread, however, tastes just like the original. While potentially not 100% healthy, it's a hell of a lot healthier than classic Nutella and is gluten-free, reduced sugar and lower fat too. And yummmmmy!



Although not the type of thing I tend to buy myself (because I like to do all my baking from scratch), I was blown away by the Ugg Foods cake samples I tried. The packet mixes are totally gluten-free, dairy-free and no added sugar, and all you do is add eggs, milk and oil.

I particularly enjoyed the chocolate chia muffins and the fruit and seed loaf. If you're not someone who usually bakes yourself I recommend giving these a try!



I've seen Oppo ice cream in Waitrose on numerous occasions but had never tried it before as it's somewhat out of my student budget, alas. So when the opportunity to sample a spoonful arose at the Eat Well Show, I pounced. 

Dayum, this is tasty stuff. It's all-natural, low-sugar and boosted with superfoods, yet tastes like the most indulgent ice cream you've ever had. "Feed like an elephant, feel like a feather," say Oppo, and that's something with which I can get on board. I tried the salted caramel with lucuma flavour and it was diviiiiiine. 


And then of course there were many more tasty offerings - far more than I can harp on about here...





Not sure how healthy those last ones were but hey.

The whole show felt bright, springy and, well, green. I loved the fact that there were daffodils everywhere.



And if free samples weren't enough for you, there were all sorts of enticing-looking food trucks selling delicious wares.

One of the biggest attractions of the show was the main stage, where healthy experts were giving cookery demonstrations. I was a little surprised that Deliciously Ella wasn't part of the line-up on any day of the show, but I was thrilled that both Natasha Corrett of Honestly Healthy and the Hemsley sisters would be taking to the stage while I was there.

Naturally, I dragged Ellie to their demonstrations. Poor girl didn't have much of a choice. 

The Hemsley sisters
Natasha Corrett
It was great to see the ladies who've long inspired me in action, and I jumped at the opportunity to ask Natasha a question - Does she see naturally occurring, non-refined sugars such as those in fruit and maple syrup as part of her 20% non-healthy eating? Her answer, in short: yes.

So I know that's what I need to do if I want to improve my diet further. While I basically don't eat refined sugar any more, I'm still nomming up looooaaaads of fruit, honey and coconut sugar. 


It was a brilliant day out though and I'm already looking forward to going next year.

Oh, and if you're wondering, the rather appropriate green daffodil-print top I'm wearing was kindly sent to me by Wolf & Whistle (but you can see it looking much better on their model here). I love it!

What do you think of the healthy eating trend and the Eat Well Show? Do let me know!