LOOK FOR THE HELPERS

Manchester is my home – I work here, I live here, I fell in love for the first time here and I’ve had my heartbroken here and on Monday night my heart was broken again. Manchester Arena, a nostalgic place for many, was attacked which took the lives of 22 people, injured over 50 and left scars on thousands more. It’s hard to describe the feeling of seeing your city on its knees, especially a city like Manchester – known for its music, its culture, food, comedy and history! It’s honestly one of the most beautiful cities I’ve had the pleasure to live in.

The city has been praised worldwide for pulling together in a time of need, but I don’t think people truly realised how spectacular it has been. From the moment it happened, on and off duty police officers raced to the scene, paramedics and firefighters all put their lives at risk to help the victims. The people of Manchester opened their doors, offered free taxi journeys, suppled tea & coffee, donated blood and thousands of people stood strong at the vigil all to show their support and to mourn the loss of the victims.

As I write this, victim’s names are slowly being release and families are trying to come to terms with the lose of their loved ones – I could never imagine being in their situation, and my heart goes out to each and every one of them. When I first heard the news I was in disbelief and to be quite honest I didn’t cry – I couldn’t cry but the dull ache in my heart has turned in sadness, helplessness, uncertainty and I can help my cry over the lives lost and changed forever. However, I hold hope in my heart and I know Manchester will rise from its knees, lifting up the people who need it most.

My friend quoted Mr Rogers and reminded me to ‘look for the helpers’ and that is what we have to do! Tragedy has struck Manchester but so has love. Paula Robinson rescued 50 children after the attack and took them to a local hotel for safety, a homeless man by the name of Stephen Jones raced to help the victims without hesitation and the Manchester Evening News along with the people of Manchester have raised over 1 million pounds to help the victims.

Manchester needs to make a promise now, a promise to those 22 people who we’ve lost, who are not just a number or a statistic but apart of our family – whether we knew them personally or not. We’ll never forget this attack but we need to ensure the kindness and hopefulness in our community continues for years to come.

Stay strong our kid!

x

WHY IS SELF-CARE IMPORTANT?

The definition of Self Care is:

The actions that individuals take for themselves, on behalf of and with others in order to develop, protect, maintain and improve their health, wellbeing or wellness.

Why is self-care important?

Whether you’re some-one who suffers with an illness (physical or mental) or not self care is really important. All of us are constantly on the go with our social lives, work, families and other commitments and from time to time it can all become a bit much. As some-one with a full-time job, a blog, a social life, a boyfriend and family who like to see me (for some strange reason), and a mental health issue I think it’s really important that I give myself a break from time-to-time. I know the above paragraph makes it seem like i’m throwing myself a pity party but i’m definitely not! I know there are people out there who have 10x the amount on their shoulder that I do and it so important to recognise this and check out for a moment or two.

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There are a number of things which I really enjoy doing when I need some self-care, firstly, I love going for a run or a really long walk – nothing makes me happier than plugging in my music and just losing myself for an hour or two – i’m really lucky that my parents live in an area which is close to the countryside! I believe getting out into nature with fresh air and time away from your phone and laptop is really important – it give you time to think, re-evaluate and get a little bit of light exercise which help the endorphins to start pumping.

The second I do when I need some time out is a digital detox! I believe all social media apps from my phone (if I still need to have my phone on me), I close my laptop and forget about the world online. I know this might sound strange or drastic but comparing yourself to the lives on people you see through a filter (mostly Valencia or Ludwig) is not healthy and it’s easy to forget that everything you see has been brighten, tighten and whatever else you can do with editing app these days. So turn off your phone, unplug you computer and give yourself a breather – then you’ll realise that you’re probably smashing it!

Another tip which I find really effective is to mix up your routine once in a while, this doesn’t have to be finding a new job or moving country – it can be really small but  something which will re-stimulate your mind, it can be simple like finding a new way to work, buying a new outfit or going out for some food or a drink afterwork if you normally rush home! As they say variety is the spice of life.

Last, but definitely not least is pampering – it’s important to take pride in your appearance, not for vanity reasons but to re-establish your self worth and how f*cking amazing you are (pardon my language). I love to take long hot baths with essential oils, bubble bath, bath salts and all that fun stuff. Recently I’ve been struggle with my self-worth and I’ve seen a few red flags of my anxiety and depression, so the lovely team at Baylis & Harding sent me a little care kit which included a linen rose and cotton bath and shower creme, linen rose and cotton bath salts (actually incredible), a exfoliating mit, three gorgeous luxury bath soaks, one of which has grapefruit in it and it’s actually heavenly! To top it all off they came in this gorgeous basket which I can store all of my products in! I used some of the products tonight after a run and I literally could feel my stresses melting away, therefore, I thought it would work perfectly for this post. It’s little simple things like this which can make you feel so much better! I find soaking off a long hard week really therapeutic.

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ENZO MANCHESTER

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I was invited by the lovely team at Enzo to head down to the launch party and try some of the delicious pizza and pasta dishes from the menu, and as a girl who never refuses free carbs how could I resist?

Enzo’s Manchester site is bright and spacious, the restaurant is colourful and has a light laid back atmosphere – perfect for a quick bite, a coffee with a friend or even a first date venue!  The venue also has seating outside which will be perfect for lazy summer days (fingerscrossed we get more sun).

When we entered the restaurant we were met with smiley and welcoming staff who offered us a cold glass of prosecco to start the evening.

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As a vegetarian I was really impressed with the menu, there are so many options for veggies, vegans and anyone who is gluten free – it was refreshing to have exciting and tasty options – not only just a standard cheese and tomato pizza.

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As a lover of pesto I really enjoyed the Pesto Genovese which is made with fresh penne, homemade basil pesto, toasted pine nuts and rocket – I really enjoyed the flavours and the pasta tasted really fresh and the texture was just perfect.

One of the most popular items on the Nantwich menu is the all-day-breakfast pizza, which features two fried eggs as well as all the usual breakfast trimmings. This was made clear as when the breakfast pizza arrived it was met with cheers and excitement from many of the other guests.

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The first pizza I tried was the Pesto Genovese which is made with pesto and feta base, peppers, cherry tomatoes, rocket and basil olive oil. As mentioned before I LOVE pesto and the feta cheese was the perfect pairing! The base was lovely and thin, as pizzas go this is definitely one of my favourites and I’ll definitely be ordering this again.

I also tried the bread twists which are made with chilli, rosemary & sea salt and oregano. These were served with extra virgin olive oil and balsamic glaze and tasted amazing! Definitely worth the extra hours in the gym! One of my favourite sides of the night were the dough balls which are served with homemade garlic mayo and they can also be made cheesy! Mozzarella and dolcelatte inside a warm dough ball? Hell yes! (sorry for the lack of pictures of these – I just couldn’t help myself)

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I also tried the Veggie Feast pizza which is made with lashings of fresh vegetables and topped with fresh basil oil – this version of the pizza was also made with vegan cheese! As a veggie, I’ve often thought about becoming a veggie but the thought of giving up cheese was also the deal breaker! However, after trying this pizza I could hardly tell the difference – the cheese wasn’t as strong but topped with veggies it was beautiful.

 

When Depression Hits

At the age of 19 I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression – my depression materialised in a number of ways – eating too much, eating not enough, not sleeping, sleeping until noon, crying uncontrollable and emotionally checking out and so on, I was all over the spectrum and from then I’ve had my highs and lows with depression.

This week, well on Friday my depression decided to make an unwelcome appearance once again. When I say make an appearance I don’t mean that my depression come and goes at will, but a large amount of the time my depression doesn’t overly affect me, it’s like a light humming in the back of my mind which I can ignore and work on to silence it. However, there are times when that light humming becomes an intense screaming alarm which clouds my mind and makes everything harder. So, like I said on Friday my depression hit me like a tonne of bricks and it was a massive shock to the system as this hasn’t happen in a very long time. On Friday night I got home from work at around 5:30pm and sat in my bed and then fell asleep with some waking up in between until 9am the next day – I was meant to go out with my family for food and drinks but I just couldn’t do it, my mind and body wouldn’t connect and the thought of getting up and ready was too much for me to handle – so I stayed in bed and protected myself from everything. I appreciate to this might sound a bit pathetic to some-one who doesn’t suffer and can’t understand but this isn’t laziness, it’s your body going into defence mode and putting up the shutters to anything which might trigger it more. So Saturday rolls around and I have all these plans in my head to get up, go out shopping, call up some friends for a drink etc! It’s a beautiful Saturday so why not hey? Yet none of these things happened, I didn’t really leave my room if I’m honest and it sounds so pathetic to admit this but it’s true – I locked myself away with some films, some food and some H2O and spent my Saturday on my own dealing with my emotions.

Personally, I find depression incredibly isolating even though I have people around who love me and try to understand what I’m going through, but I know they don’t understand and they will probably never truly get it. I remember sobbing to my mum about how I didn’t want to be this way and I wanted to get better but I just couldn’t seem to work out how and being so frustrated that there wasn’t a permanent solution to my problem – just bandaids which help me cope from time to time. I’ve been on anti-depressants and in counselling for my depression which have both helped and I would recommend looking into all options for some one who is struggling but I think we can admit it’s a big thing to overcome that this is something that will also be apart of us.

So, now it’s Sunday and i’m two days into my low and I’ve showered and left my flat to pick up some things and do a little bit of shopping – so we are moving in the right direction, I’m still avoiding phone calls (not important one) just off some friends and family who are just checking up on me, but they know how I shut down slightly when this happens. My depression makes me feel hopeless and pointless and so unmotivated – I don’t means this in a way that it makes me want to end my life, just in a very ‘what is the point’ kind of way. I don’t know how long I’ll be in this phase – previously I’ve been here for a month, 2 weeks, a couple of days it really depends and there isn’t a rhyme or reason. Seeing how this is something I’ve been dealing with for almost 5 years I believe I am getting better with how I deal with it and how I react to the situation – I use to so angry and I would snap at everyone for saying the simplest of things, I use to shout at my mum so often and always have to go and apologise once I had realised how nasty I had been, but now I feel that I deal with it in a healthy way.

I thought it would be interesting to talk about my depression when I’m in the eye of the storm so to speak and honestly this has been very therapeutic – I hope anyone suffering with depression seeks the help they need and I hope they realise it will pass. Please let me know your thoughts and if you find this helpful/interesting!

Sarah

x

 

Speak Up!

As some-one who has worked in Manchester City Centre for over two years I’ve lost count of how many times I have taken the Metrolink tram. Every morning and evening Monday – Friday and then the occasional weekend tram before I decided to drive into the centre. I’ve never felt threatened or nervous about using public transport, especially not the tram – it can be late and sometimes unreliable but overall it’s a pretty good service. This all changed recently and with it, how I view my privacy and safety. I was travelling to work on a Monday morning, nothing particular special about that day, the tram was just as busy and I was craving a coffee to warm me up and wake me up. However, it wasn’t long until I starting to feel slightly strange, the man stood next to me, all 5ft 6 of him was staring straight ahead out of the window – I didn’t even catch his eye once, we were stood next to each other sideways down the carriage which isn’t unusual, you fit on the tram however you can when it’s early in morning and you’re running a few moment late to work. Anyway, back to the man – I felt his hand graze against my bum but on a sardine packed tram I wasn’t too concerned, mistakes happen and I was wearing my long heavy coat so you can excuse some-one for not knowing where each body part is so I forgot about it, went back to scrolling through my Facebook feed and Instagram notifications. Then suddenly I felt something cold against my bare leg and my blood ran cold for a second, it was the same man running his chubby fingers across my legs, stroking the same couple of inches or so over and over again and I completely froze! I thought I would have been the type of person to make a fuss and ask this perve what he thought on earth he was doing but I didn’t, I didn’t move a muscle, I just felt my body shaking with panic and dread! I moved as quickly away from him as I could and tried to put together in my head what had happened, his hand was low and covered by a coat so the CCTV camera probably wouldn’t have caught him and with the tram being so busy his excuses for touching me where countless – he could have claimed it was an accident and made me out to be an paranoid idiot. As these thoughts were running through my mind we had arrive into the city and at one of the busiest stops on the line, as people moved towards the doors I had to position myself elsewhere and once again I was next to the man who has touch me a few moment before, his hand once again found my bum over my coat and it was hard to believe this was an accident again. Luckily the man got off the tram and I let out a massive sign of relief, it wasn’t the worst thing that could have happened but the interaction with this person was uncomfortable and intrusive enough to make me feel sick and taken advantage of. At first I wasn’t going to say anything, I didn’t really see the point.. overall I was fine, he hadn’t hurt me and I was able to go to work, but after speaking with my boyfriend and turning to Twitter for some advice I realised I should report it, it was sexual harassment and he could do something much worse to some-one else if I didn’t do anything. I spoke with the police a few times over the day and they were really nice to me, I felt a bit daft as it seemed like a waste of their time however they reassure me it wasn’t and that if the case did go to court the man would be charged with sexual unwanted contact and harassment. It’s now a few weeks on from the incident and overall I’m fine, a little anxiety but nothing more than usual and I get the tram with thinking twice, but the situation did open my eyes to what could happen and does happen on a daily basis. It’s sad to say but we have to be aware and be smart in our choices (this does not only refer to females). Look after yourselves, be vigilant, be safe and if someone does sexual harass you while on public transport or anywhere for that matter speak up! You could stop that person from doing it again or ID someone the police are looking for, you can call numbers such as 101 if you don’t feel the need to call the emergency line 999. I’ve left some links below which might be useful:

http://www.btp.police.uk/advice_and_information/how_we_tackle_crime/sexual_offences.aspx

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2016/apr/21/i-cried-all-the-way-back-to-my-final-destination-sexual-harassment-on-public-transport

Don’t let some-one get away with sexual harassment, it is a crime and should be treated as such.

 

 

FROM JAMAICA WITH LOVE

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At the end of September I decided to leave rainy Manchester behind and head to Jamaica on a solo trip! I visited St. Ann’s for a week of sun, sea and adventure,  during my time there I completely fell in love with the place – it was incredibly beautiful and such a vibrant country – I can’t put into words how Jamaica made me fell, freer and more relaxed than I had been in a very long time.

My first stop in Jamaica was the Royal Decameron, A hotel in which all of the rooms where little condos in the grounds, I was lucky enough to stay in a room which over looked the sea and sand.

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This spot of paradise was my home for the week and I couldn’t have been happier, I was surrounded by happy go lucky locals and visitors who were winding down after months of stressful work and everyday living! To watch on as people sipped cocktails and beamed happily was heaven and such a positive atmosphere to be in.

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Breakfast with a view!

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I decided while I was in Jamaica I would visit the Dunns River Waterfall and try my best at climbing up the rocks, the water was freezing cold but quite refreshing under the hot Jamaican sun. Even though I had travelled to this slice of heaven on my own I made lots of new friends and met some lovely people especially on this waterfall trip.

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After spending a wonderful three days in the my first hotel, the hurricane known as Matthew was moving closer to Jamaica, therefore my holiday reps thought best we move hotels (which I was not going to complain about!). I was moved to the Riu hotel about 10mins down the road and it was as gorgeous as the previous hotel!

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Jamaica is truly a magical country and while driving though the streets is was incredible to see people getting on with their everyday lives, unaware of the lazy visitors in their resorts! It felt like I was on another planet, thousands of miles away from my everyday worries and obligations. Jamaica is definitely a country I will visit again and again.

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Gymtote Review

Laptop, purse, keys, lunch, make-up, flats (just in case), water bottle, notebook… the list of the items I keep in my everyday bag just goes on and on and travelling by public transport to work means lugging one more bag can be a serious hassle! A tram packed full of people is not my idea of fun so packing my gym kit for the journey became less and less idea which in turn meant I stopped bringing it (yes, I know this is a first world problem but going to the gym and working out is great for my mental health and something I really enjoy). I knew my journey to work wasn’t going to change so I needed a solution to my bag dilemma but I just didn’t know where to start and then one day when I was flicking through the pages of a glossy magazine there it was a ‘Gymtote’ a bag with enough compartment and selection to put all of my everyday essentials and my gym kit and as an added bonus the bag looked gorgeous, basically it’s a tote bag in disguis

As someone who works in PR I’m often in meetings and I like to go out for drinks after work so a back pack wasn’t going to do and then flicking through the pages of a glossy magazine I saw it.. the gymtote! The solution to all my first world problems.

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As someone who carries too many notes and documents I picked the Sophia Tote which features a yoga mat holder and an A4 document pocket! Perfect right?

The Gymtote is a trademarked design, therefore you can’t find a copy of this bag anywhere, the bag is also water-resistant and comes with breathable sections for your trainers and gym kit and a upright water bottle holder (spillage disaster adverted). The back of the Sophia also has a little pocket for your iPod/phone/music player with a smaller hole for your earphone wire to pop through – another plus for this bag.. I often find new compartments on the bag.. its never-ending.

Overall I love the gym tote it looks great and can fit everything and the kitchen sink into it, it has made my life so much easier and I had so many compliments on the bag itself. I’ll definitely be using the gymtote for a long time to come and I can’t wait to see the exciting style the brand comes out with next.

xx