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Now I'm 29

Pinstripe jumpsuit

And so I enter the last year of my 20s.

28 was the most difficult year of my life. There's no gentle way of describing the shitstorm that has ensued over the last 365 days, and I also don't want to dwell on it, but from September 2017 to now, I had to battle a lot. A diagnosis of anxiety and my first experience of panic attacks and therapy (the latter, by the way, I cannot recommend enough because just talking to somebody impartial is so cleansing); crippling self-doubt and lack of confidence brought on by a mentally-destructive relationship finally coming to an end; and, worst of all, losing my dad unexpectedly just over three months ago.

I don't want to talk about these things in detail. Not because I'm ashamed or in denial, but because writing about them here isn't how I've learnt to live with them. There's plenty of hard work that I've put in away from the internet, along with the unwavering support of family and friends that continues to help me every single day, but really, I feel like 29 is going to be an exciting year for me.

Over the last year, I've seen two of my best friends get married, one of them has had twins, and another two are pregnant. Multiple others have got engaged and bought houses, whilst others have broken up long-term relationships and/or moved to other countries. Everybody is making changes, and as cliche as it sounds, I've learnt SO much about myself in the last year, from all of their experiences as well as my own.

I understand what I'm willing to put up with and what I deserve in relationships, friendships and in my career. I still know that travelling the world fills me with so much joy, but I know that I don't have to go alone - instead, I can just choose to if I fancy it. But along with engagement and pregnancy announcements everywhere, I'm also bombarded with people telling me that they DON'T want those things, and for a while, I felt bad for being single and not wanting to be.

I realised through time alone, various online dating exploits, and just being honest with myself, that it's OK for me to want to get married one day and have children. I'm not failing feminism or being overly dependent on somebody. In fact, dating for the first time in almost eight years allowed me to be brutally truthful about what I do and don't want, as well as understanding my own worth. Turning people down and being turned down myself was a well-needed lesson in just getting to know myself and it meant that when I met an incredible man, the feeling of 'Ooooo maybe this is a bit too soon' pretty quickly gave way to 'Hell yes, I deserve him and he deserves me!'. I don't give a shit about standard timelines or what everyone else is doing because my god, I have never felt so incredibly loved.

And really, if we're going to get super soppy, 28 has been a year of knowing wholeheartedly that I am SO loved. From my housemates who listened to me rant after every shit date, my beautiful Bangarang girls who spoiled me with a Lush spa treatment when I got back from Jamaica, my unbelievable family who dropped everything in order to support me every single time I needed them, my best friends, whether at home or abroad, who called me every day when I was at my lowest, and my boyfriend who, despite only meeting me in January, understands exactly what I need 24/7 (insider fact: it's mainly hugs and double raspberry Magnums).

Tomorrow I'm flying to Hong Kong to meet my best friend's twin baby girls for the first time, before jetting off to Japan a few days later. Those squidgy, little bubs signify so much exciting change and hope, and I'm already so in love with them. They, along with everything over the last year, just go some way to making me who I am and I'm genuinely hopeful about what 29 might bring.

What I'm wearing as a super grown-up, sassy 29 year old

Pinstripe jumpsuit
Pinstripe jumpsuit - Look of the Day* / Trainers - Look of the Day*

The Fastest City Zip Wire in the World at Zip World London

The Fastest City Zip Wire in the World at Zip World London

When I was told there was a birthday surprise in store for me, but that before going, I'd have to sign a waiver, my brain went into meltdown. Waivers mean 'dangerous', right? What could I be doing?! I'd been on the world's biggest swing in New Zealand, so began to think that my boyfriend had planned something similar and convinced myself I'd be heading up the ArcelorMittal Orbit slide in Stratford.

Six Awesome Photography Tricks I Learnt on a Photo Walk With Jessops

Two people taking photographs

I've owned my precious little Olympus Pen E-L7 for almost two years now. I did the ultimate blogger cliche of purchasing a 45mm lens last year, and as an early birthday treat for 2017, I've nabbed myself a 25mm lens too. I read up on photography tips online, quiz professionals (two of my best mates happen to be married to photographers), and just test and learn as I go, and I feel like my pictures really are improving.

A Distressing Visit to Rila Monastery, Bulgaria

Fresco at Rila Monastery

I've started thinking bigger when it comes to city breaks. After a successful trip to Vianden Castle from Luxembourg City, and regretting not making it to Transylvania when in Bucharest, I did my research before going to Sofia and the internet was united screaming the words RILA MONASTERY my way.

Why I Love Using Guide Books to Plan My Trips

Collection of travel guide books

Back in February 2014, I was excitedly preparing for my first trip to Australia. I was working there for a few weeks, followed by a trip to Hong Kong on my way home, and in anticipation, I bought a couple of guide books. Flipping through them at my desk, a colleague leant over, took a look at them and said, 'Guide books? That's very....analogue of you.'

How to Spend a Day in Bath, Somerset

Umbrella Street installation, Bath

Let me just start by saying that the way to spend a day in Bath is by booking the correct train tickets, so that you don't have to depart London at 6am like I did. On the plus side, it meant we arrived before the crowds did, but also meant that by about 4pm we were so tired, we had to go and have a nap in our hotel in a nearby town.

Hiking the Incredible Franz Josef Glacier, New Zealand

Inside a crevasse on Franz Josef glacier

There's something beautiful about seeing mountains in winter, when the snow is fresh and thick, the skies are blue but the air has a bite. The cold seasons in New Zealand, and especially on the South Island, transform the rolling green landscapes we all know from those films into icing sugar-dusted peaks instead. I was told that 60% of hikes going up onto Franz Josef Glacier are cancelled due to poor weather, so as we drove to the area, my eyes were firmly on the skies.

Six Tips For Eating Well When Backpacking

Travel blogger with rucksack

Travelling for a long period of time is exhausting. Lugging a rucksack from place to place, on every mode of transport you can imagine and then eventually hitching up at a hostel where there's zero food to chow down on. It's so easy to end up snacking on convenience food and getting takeaways, but really, if you're on a multi-month, multi-country trip, that is NOT the way to be saving money. Eating well on the road is easy, cheap and healthy with just a bit of preparation. Here's how I managed it on my trip from Malaysia to New Zealand:

The Beginner's Guide of Where to Shop in London's West End

How to Spend a Day in London's West End

I know the streets of the West End pretty well after almost seven years of living in London; so it is super rare that I actually spend a day in the area, rather than powering through it with my earphones in whilst I snarl at tourists. But as I've said so many times before, you don't have to go off the beaten track to have a great travel experience, so I set out to explore my own city, embracing the West End's 'London is Open' message, and had a full day of hitting actual shops rather than just adding to my never-ending ASOS order. 

If it's your first time to this area, here's where you should head to:

An Indulgent Brunch at Angelina, Paris

Mont Blanc patisserie

Finding the place to eat the famous foods of Paris is like finding a needle in a haystack. There's baguettes and macaroons and red wine on every corner, but that obviously doesn't mean it's good, which is why I insisted on returning to Angelina during my most recent visit to France.

Three Things to Do in Runaway Bay, Jamaica (That Go Beyond Your All-Inclusive Hotel)

Sunset in Runaway Bay, Jamaica

The contrast between the rural area of Jamaica that my family are from compared to the shiny tourist resorts is staggering. I've said before that the tropical island paradise that is so frequently associated with the country was a stark contrast to what I first experienced when I went to St Elizabeth, but spending a couple of days in Runaway Bay, I saw the shiny, picture perfect hotels that draw people in from around the world.

Flying Business Class on British Airways

Flying Business Class on British Airways

I've never turned left on a plane before. I've been lucky enough to not always be squidged up in Economy, by going one step up to Premium Economy, which I've loved every time for just a bit more space and the fact that you're allowed an actual glass to drink out of. But I've always been jealous of those in the front of the plane; the ones who get to actually lie down when the cabin lights are turned down.

A Weekend in Poole, Dorset

Travel blogger eating ice cream in Poole, Dorset

My childhood holidays were 99% UK based, which means I've seen a lot more this fair isle than most. But, as with some places I visited before I truly valued my travels (Berlin, I'm looking at you), I want to start going back and appreciating them as an adult. So, in the face of adversity (re. RAIN), I went adventuring in the Dorset town of Poole.

A Day Trip to Vianden Castle, Luxembourg (or, OMG That Looks Like Hogwarts)

Vianden Castle, Luxembourg

It became clear pretty quickly, that as much as Luxembourg City was fascinating and beautiful, it was also very, very small. After a full Saturday there, we began to realise that, as in many places in Europe, it would be a ghost town on a Sunday. Our Luxembourg Cards allowed us transport out of the centre, so early the next day we got a rail replacement bus followed by a short train journey out to the tiny town of Vianden.

One Day in Paris: Where to Eat Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Baked chorizo and eggs

Gosh, we're lucky here in the UK. The fact that a casual day trip over to France is a) feasible and b) affordable, is a luxury that I certainly don't take advantage of enough. With Eurostar pinging you straight from St Pancras into the centre of Paris, you can get your culture on easy-peasy AND stuff your face with deliciousness at the same time. I walk everywhere in Paris, so I need the fuel; here's where I'd happily eat three meals a day, every day:

A Magical Evening at the Launch of Wizarding Wardobes at Warner Bros. Studio Tour

Horace Slughorn armchair pyjama suit

OK, so maaaaaaaaybe I have a slight obsession with the Warner Bros. Studio Tour in Leavesden. The thing is, they keep reeling me in with shiny new exhibitions, giving me even more insight into the Harry Potter movies that I love so much. This time, there's a focus on the costumes and make-up that bring the best-loved (and hated) characters from the films to life, with Wizarding Wardrobes*.

An Incredible (Budget Friendly) Safari in Kruger Park, South Africa

Elephant seen from safari vehicle

My long haul travels are only feasible because I do them on a budget, but with every one I save a little extra to do something special: a few nights in a nice hotel or eating at an incredible restaurant. For my trip to South Africa, I kept costs low with careful planning specifically so I could go on my first safari.

Rotisserie Chicken and Deep Fried Courgetti at Chicken Society, Finchley Central

Spit roast rotisserie chicken

Not a week goes by that I don't hear about a new place to eat in South London. I'm not talking about London Bridge or even Brixton - I mean places that I never go to: Dulwich, Peckham, Tooting. But I live in North London and I'm lazy, so it's rare I'll go that far from home for dinner, which is why I was genuinely excited to hear about Chicken Society*. Yes, it's alllllllllll the way up in Zone 4, but actually not that far from home, which is the perfect excuse to try the entire menu.

How to Spend 24 Hours in Sofia, Bulgaria

How to Spend 24 Hours in Sofia, Bulgaria

After my long weekend in Bucharest earlier this year, I've found a new obsession with Eastern Europe. It's a relatively untapped treasure trove for my own travels, but with a rich history (much of it surprisingly brutal and very, very recent) and super affordable flights, it's an area of the world I'm very keen to explore more of. And that's how I ended up in Sofia.

Discovering My Roots in Saint Elizabeth, Jamaica

Bull Savannah, Saint Elizabeth, Jamaica

Before I flew to Jamaica, I told my friends and family that after that one trip, I would never go back. Having to visit the country for the worst reasons meant that I only associated it with misery, and knowing that any future visit there would remind me of that meant I'd already ruled out returning. But it turned out to be a journey of unanticipated self-discovery, leaving me with a strange sense of belonging and a renewed love of the place I come from.

My Three Favourite Brunch Spots in Melbourne, Australia

Hardware Societe brunch, Melbourne

Brunch has become a staple part of my social life at home in London, but the Australians really nailed it first. I'm not a smashed avo on toast cliché, but early mornings aren't my thing either so this new tradition means a lie-in followed by coffee and carbs, and the people of Melbourne sure do know how to start the day off right.

Five Things to Know For Your First Eurostar Trip

Travel blogger on Eurostar

When I go to an airport, I arrive with hours to spare, laptop out and ready for the security checks, nothing over 100ml in my cosmetics bag. When I get a train, I rock up with maybe 15 minutes to spare so I can grab my ticket and a coffee and leg it to the platform, forever surprised that I'm running late again. So I had no idea how to prepare for my first trip on the Eurostar*.

My journey to Belgium from St Pancras was one of the most comfortable, simple and enjoyable travel experiences I've ever had. If you're prepping for your first Eurostar, here's everything you need to know:

Where to Find Stunning Coastal Views on South Africa's Garden Route

Knysna Heads, South Africa

Although our journey along South Africa's Garden Route was 1000km long, we covered it all in quite a short period of time. Before setting off from Cape Town, we had some stop-offs planned but took a chance on others depending on how we felt at the time and what our guide books suggested. The route is known for its spectacular views of the South African coastline, so that's exactly what we drove to seek out in between the beautiful little towns we'd found along the way.

The Four Biggest and Best Thrill Seeking Rides at Disneyland Paris

Fashion blogger at Tower of Terror in Disneyland Paris

My main priority when visiting Disneyland Paris was to wear Minnie Mouse ears, spot some princesses and see Sleeping Beauty's castle. It has a reputation of being an attraction for children, but the park has some huge thrill rides for adults to go wild on. It's been years since I've been on a proper rollercoaster so I was giddy with excitement as we made our way around to each one. If adrenaline is your sort of thing, here's the rides you absolutely must try.

Ping Coombes' Breakfast Club at Chi Kitchen, London

Hainanese chicken rice

Food has this amazing way of triggering memories, don't you think? Apple pie reminds me of my mum (because her homemade one is the best ever), goulash make me think of my losing bet on Hungary for Eurovision 2014. So often I'm reminded of places in the world when I happen to stumble I've eaten abroad here in the UK, and Ping Coombes' Breakfast Club at Chi Kitchen took me right back to my favourite foodie destination: Singapore.

Travelling by Ferry Between New Zealand's North and South Islands

View of Marlborough Sounds from Cook Strait ferry, New Zealand

The day I boarded the ferry over to New Zealand's South Island, I wasn't feeling too pretty. A 6am departure meant getting up super early, but it also meant leaving behind beautiful Wellington - a city that I had shown some serious love the night before in the form of many, many gin and tonics. I don't know what it is about boats but they make me much more nervous than planes. A few weeks before I'd travelled on an overnight ferry from Tasmania to Melbourne and remembering those 11 hours of rough seas certainly didn't put my mind at ease.

Craft Beer Tasting at Hof Ten Dormaal Brewery, Leuven

Pouring beer into a glass

Imagine a brewery and what kind of place comes to your mind? Metal containers, huge vats and a sterile environment. Sure there might be a great bar attached to it, but from my experience, breweries are either in an industrial estate, or somebody's garage. Hof Ten Dormaal* is absolutely NOT what I've come to expect. More reminiscent of a beautiful vineyard, the rustic setting makes it pretty clear that what you'll taste from their barrels is undeniably unique.

The Trip I Really Don't Want to Take


I've always been proud of my heritage. As I grew up, I always knew the privilege of being half-Jamaican; experiencing a different culture from the day I was born, albeit second-hand. Despite knowing my background and being pretty well-travelled, I've never been to Jamaica. My dad moved back there almost two years ago and I've always planned to visit and see it through his eyes. Instead, today, I'm flying out there to say a final goodbye to him, and the country I've always longed to visit is now tainted.

Traditional Claypot Rice at Four Seasons, Hong Kong

Chicken and mushroom claypot rice

Hong Kong is a city that fascinates me in its juxtaposition of modern and traditional, and there's no expression that shows that any more clearly than in the variety of food available. I've had wonderful brunches in Hong Kong that epitomise western culture, and just like London, they love a food trend (the unicorn toastie was my particular favourite). But I always try and search out traditional meals in Hong Kong too, and claypot rice was a new one for me on my most recent visit.

Staying in Beautiful Montmartre, Paris

Denim culottes, breton stripe top

On my first trip to Paris, I stayed in Montmartre. Accommodation was organised by my friend who has been there before, I just kind of tagged along for the ride, put the address into Citymapper and navigated the Metro to get there. Returning to Paris in May, this time with my boyfriend who had never been to France before, I wanted to show him the sides of the city that really showed the character of the country, and for me, Montmartre is the perfect area for that.

Pre-Flight Relaxation at No.1 Airport Lounge, Gatwick

Travel blogger in airport lounge

Being a frequent flier, I don't find airports as stressful as I used to. Flying alone means I have my routine nailed: I know what clothes set off alarms, I know what I have to take out of my carry-on luggage before I go through security, I know that getting a full English breakfast at a Wetherspoons will be a rip off so I'm likely to get a coffee and croissant from Pret instead. And I take that coffee and I plonk myself on a chair as far away from the general public as I can, put my earphones in and wait for my gate to open.

Nine Amazing Foods to Try at Salamanca Market, Tasmania

Food bloggers at Salamanca Market

The incredible Salamanca Market in Tasmania is, without question, the best food experience I have ever had. To open a post with that line is one hell of a statement, but the variety of foods on offer meant we literally spent an entire day walking from one end of the market to the other with the aim of trying as many things as possible.

Breaking My Travel Norms

Wineglass Bay, Tasmania

I've settled into a comfortable routine when it comes to the sorts of holidays I plan. I like to maintain a certain level of control so I can explore the way I want to; I will seek out new experiences above and beyond the obvious tourist sites, but recently I've started thinking about how I can try something new when travelling. There are certain types of holidays that I've always shunned but now I'm contemplating throwing caution to the wind.

How it Feels to Visit Disneyland For The First Time - by Charlie Elliott, Age 28 and 3/4

Fashion blogger in front of Sleeping Beauty's castle at Disneyland Paris

I've seen the Terracotta Warriors and Sydney Opera House. I once met Benedict Cumberbatch. My favourite book has been made into a TV series and is to be screened on Channel 4 THIS WEEK. But I have never, ever been as excited as I was to go to Disneyland, Paris.

Asian Fusion Sharing Plates at Yuu Kitchen, Spitalfields

Pork belly bao at Yuu Kitchen

'Sharing' plates is a concept that worries and excites me all at once. I don't really like sharing food; what if I'm left hungry or another person takes liberties with the most delicious dish on the table? But also, at least I don't actually have to decide between all the awesome things on a menu and risk serious food envy. If Yuu Kitchen* had been a big plates only deal, I would probably still be there agonising over what to order.

Staying at Yotel: Gatwick's First Capsule Hotel

Travel blogger reading travel guide on hotel bed

My quest for cheap travel is often at odds with my North London address. I don't live anywhere near an airport and a bargain flight normally means a pre-9am departure and/or a post-10pm return, often resulting in me being utterly shattered on any city break I go on. For my recent 6am flight to Sofia, this horror was averted by a stay the night before at Yotel, Gatwick*.

How to Spend 24 Hours in Luxembourg City

What to do in Luxembourg City

My weekend in Luxembourg started like most of my European jaunts: with a Ryanair flight sale. £20 return tickets seemed too good to pass up, and so, knowing very little about the country, I decided to take in Luxembourg City by simply walking as much of it as possible, the same way I love to see any new city. I decided to pick up a Luxembourg Card for €20 which got me free entry into pretty much every attraction AND covered all of my travel, including out of the City and into other towns which was a total bargain, and then set out.

A Tour of the Meantime Beer Brewery, Greenwich

Two pints of meantime beer

There's very little pressure like getting into a new relationship and having to celebrate your new bloke's birthday a few weeks in. You can plump for a generic meal out to celebrate or take a wild stab in the dark at planning something a bit more interesting. And that's how I ended up booking a tour around Meantime's brewery in Greenwich. Referencing early Bumble conversations about craft beer and a first date that saw us supping pints of, well, everything, I was pretty sure I was on to a winner.

My Long Haul Flight Routine

Aerial view over South Africa

In just over two years I have done a lot of long haul flights. From going to the other side of world to explore New Zealand and Australia, to visiting China (twice), and visited Africa for the first time during my trip to Cape Town over Christmas. 95% of these flights have been done solo, so I've only had myself to rely on to make sure I have as seamless a flight as possible. As a result, I have my long haul flight routine down to a fine art.

The Things I Don't Write About

Gingham top with floral applique

I recently had a conversation with a friend about whether you can be a blogger and maintain your privacy. She asked me if there's anything I wouldn't write about and I answered an unequivocal 'yes' because as much as I publish here and lord knows I love me a good old gossip, I'm actually a pretty private person. What you see on these pages is a curated insight into my life, but personally, I choose to have a distinction between what I share and I what is kept offline.

Why I Felt at Home in Wellington, New Zealand

View over Wellington, New Zealand

I absolutely adore New Zealand. The month I spent there flew by and I feel like I hardly even scratched the surface of what there is to explore. However, despite recommending it to anyone who will listen to me, I struggled to imagine myself living there. That is until I arrived in Wellington.

Codebreaking and Cocktails at The Bletchley, London

Secret entrance to The Bletchley

Throughout my childhood, I went on approximately 18 million school trips to Bletchley Park. It's the only place of real historic importance within my hometown of Milton Keynes, a city that celebrated its 50th birthday this year, and as it so happens I used to go to school 10 minutes down the road from the famous WWII site. So obviously I was intrigued and slightly baffled when I heard about The Bletchley, a pop-up centred around codebreaking, devised by the team who ran the recent Breaking Bad 'meth lab' bar.

What to Pack For Going on Safari

Rain coat / Sunscreen / Leggings / Cotton shirt
Sunglasses / Power bank / Water bottle
Mosquito repellent / Scarf / Binoculars / Trainers

On Not Going Away For The Bank Holiday Weekend

Bedford embankment river ouse

For the first time in a long time, I didn't go away for the bank holiday weekend. My original plan was to go to Lisbon, which is very much still on my to-visit list, but when my friend found out she had some clashes with work, I decided to do what the majority of people do on a long weekend: nothing.

Five Places That Prove Hobart, Tasmania is a Food Lover's Paradise

Lamb sausage roll and pumpkin salad

I'd heard on the grapevine before arriving in Tasmania that Hobart is a bit of a unknown foodie gem, but nothing could have prepared me for the unbelievable food I had for almost every meal during my visit. I indulged in brunch, lunch, dinners and desserts that have seared themselves into my memory as some of my favourite meals ever, and if there's one thing that would make me travel back to Tasmania - it's the food. A full post on the incredible Salamanca Market is to come, but for now, here's the other places my stomach fell in love with:

Why Sheung Wan is My Favourite Area of Hong Kong

Skyscrapers in Sheung Wan, Hong Kong

The first time I visited the Hong Kong, I stayed in Sheung Wan, but on my most recent trip I still gravitated back there. It's a vibrant mix of traditional Chinese culture and modern urban living, with some of Hong Kong's best restaurants and bars propped up there. Here's what you might find a day wandering around Sheung Wan:

Dinner at The Diner, Islington

Meatloaf hoagie

My favourite sorts of people to go out to eat with are those who also want to try everything on the menu, and think it's a good idea to dump everything in the middle of the table so nobody gets food envy. Me and my friends have this down to a tee, and I think our monumental order during our most recent visit to the newly relaunched outpost of The Diner* in Islington may have taken our waitress slightly aback.

Five Things to Know Before Flying With A Budget Airline

Looking through guide books

If it wasn't for the array of cut-price airlines we all have access to these days, there is no way I would've seen as much of the world as I have so far. I've flown to Europe for as little as £20, with most of my flights coming in cheaper than a return train ticket from London to York, but there are compromises to be made.

This is not luxury travel. The airlines themselves identify as 'no frills' which essentially means you get the pleasure of being safely transported from A to B, but not necessarily in a great deal of comfort. I've only ever flown short haul with these sorts of airlines, although many of them are starting to offer trips further afield. So before you book, here's what you need to know:

How to Find the Best Views in Cape Town

Cape Town from the air

I was totally unprepared for how beautiful Cape Town is. It's a city after all, and although I love an urban aesthetic, that is not what Cape Town provides. The city is mountainous; huge hills poking out from every corner an of course, the impressive and dominating Table Mountain which I never tired of seeing. The architecture is bright and colourful, but it's the natural environment that made me fall head over heels for the place. Here's how to find the best views in Cape Town:
As of 20th November 2014, any products marked with an asterisk (*) have been provided as a sample for unbiased review