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It might still be a week until Christmas but already my thoughts are turning to the New Year. As a classic lover of lists, I absolutely love a New Year’s resolution. And okay I might be that stereotype who’s on it for week one and by week two failing on nearly every front, but it just makes that cold, dark January more bearable when you have a list of aims and feel optimistic. It’s a bit early so rather than write a normal resolutions list just yet, I’m going for a travel bucket list today. Next year I turn 25 and I feel like hitting that milestone has turned my thoughts to visiting a bit more of the world. This year I’ve been to Switzerland, Denmark, Croatia, Germany and Italy, and also seen much more of the UK. Next year I want to go a little further, I love Europe but I haven’t seen much more of the world. This is an ambitious list though, and to be honest it’s almost definitely going to take me more than a year! Hey ho, there’s nothing wrong with being ambitious…

1.Japan

I’ve wanted to go to Japan ever since I saw the amazing BBC documentary Japan: Earth’s Enchanted Island. There’s something so magical about its many islands and unique culture. I’ve never been to Asia and Japan is the first place on that continent that I’d like to tick off.

2.  South Africa

My Dad grew up in South Africa and I’ve always wanted to see what he saw as a little boy – although in 40 years I know it’s changed dramatically. I’m also desperate to go on safari and see animals in their real life habitats.

3. Budapest

A little closer to home, I’m desperate to go to Budapest. My brother and a few friends went this year and loved it and I’ve heard such good things from others too. I’d never been to Germany before this year so slowly ticking European destinations off my list (especially before we leave the EU) really appeals to me.

4. New York

This has been on my list forever. I am desperate to go to New York and I’d love to go at Christmas time. If only it wasn’t going to break the bank – I have a feeling this might be staying on my list for a while!

5. More of Scandinavia

Copenhagen was probably the best city I’ve visited this year and with the rise of Hygge and more and more people living life the Danish way, I want to experience more of this little slice of Northern Europe. Just what is it that makes them the happiest people in the world? I’d desperately love to bring a little bit more of that home to my own life.

6. Scotland

Can you believe I’ve never been to Scotland? Everyone’s been telling me I must get to Edinburgh and whilst I’m there I’d also really like to try the Highlands, they just look so beautiful.

7. To travel solo

In my job I’m lucky enough to be offered amazing opportunities to join press trips abroad, and I haven’t taken it up yet. Wherever it may be to, I’d love to try travelling without the home comforts of the people I know and putting myself to the test a little.

What’s on your travel bucket list for next year?

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I have been in and out of the festive spirit like a Jack in the Box the last few days. Sometimes I feel extra Christmassy and sometimes it feels like January already. I can’t make my mind up but Christmas Eve definitely does not feel like a week away. So I’ve got a pretty free weekend and I decided to write myself a festive to do list, one to make me feel full of Christmas sparkle and ready to embrace the next few days – I may be working till Friday but that certainly doesn’t mean I’m going to leave it until then to enjoy the big build up.

If you’re struggling to feel full of festive fever, give these steps a go and I’m sure it’ll make you feel like one of Santa’s elves in no time at all.

  1. Wrap your presents – It’s one of those jobs that poor wrappers like me really dread but I’m planning to put on a Christmas film, make some mulled wine and try my hardest to make my presents look presentable this year.
  2. Watch the Christmas 24 channel back to back – I’m yet to watch one movie on the channel yet, what is wrong with me? Whilst wrapping I’m planning to switch on the TV and fill an afternoon full of festive films.
  3. Light all your Christmassy candles – I don’t know about you but scent really helps to take me somewhere and all my wintery, orange scented, spicy candles take me right back to Christmas last year. Also the mood lighting candles create is super festive.
  4. Make mince pies – Mmmm definitely something I need to do ASAP. It’s the smells, the tastes, the baking. And don’t forget to put some little pastry holly leaves on top.
  5. Put on a Christmas playlist – And dance and sing around to all your favourite tunes like no one is watching or listening (preferably they won’t be!)
  6. Write Christmas cards – I’m still debating whether I can be bothered to send Christmas cards this year, but I think there is something about settling down with your candles and a mulled wine (I would include mulled wine in every step if I could) and writing your Christmas cards with a sparkly pen. If you’re not sure, maybe send e-cards instead? It might put you back in touch with an old pal.
  7. Make an amazing hot chocolate with a mini candy cane – Or alternatively you could just buy the Orange Costa hot chocolate, which is incredible, either works?
  8. Eat all the Christmas chocolate – And if I were you I’d do it in the morning. Quality Street, chocolate oranges, all your advent chocolates. There’s nothing quite like chocolate for breakfast at Christmas.
  9. Breaking out the festive pjs – Or if you’re me, the festive onesie!
  10. Play a board game – I don’t know about you but we never tend to play board games in any month of the year except December. Whether it’s Monopoly, Cluedo or my old favourite Taboo, whack one out and argue with the family till your heart’s content – there’s nothing quite like a heated debate with your siblings to get Christmas started…

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I love London at Christmas time. Most of the year London feels like the place I work in only. It’s the crowds and the fast pace and the queues. I’m either too impatient or my little legs can’t keep up! But at Christmas the smiles come out and everyone is a bit more jolly – you even find people apologising when they bash into you on the Underground stairs. That’s got to be a Christmas miracle. Having dedicated the last few festive seasons to exploring a lot of what London has to offer, here are my recommendations.

1.Go ice skating

Over the years I’ve tried Hampton Court, Somerset House, the Natural History Museum and Winter Wonderland. I couldn’t pick a favourite, with the fairy lights, cold air, giant Christmas trees and mulled wine for afterwards, they can’t fail to put you in a good mood and into the Christmas spirit. This year I want to give Canary Wharf’s a try. 

2. Go shopping in the big department stores

I never visit the giant department stores in the year and then Christmas swings around and I can’t get enough. Okay, so I can’t actually afford to buy anything in them but I always go to Liberty’s, Harrods and Selfridges just to see their Christmas lights and displays. And sometimes I even buy myself a chocolate bar! 

3. Christmas Markets

Although I must confess I don’t think you can beat my uni city Birmingham’s Christmas market, but maybe that’s just because it’s the first one I went to. London has a million and they’re all unique but so cute. I would in particular recommend the South Bank’s because it’s so alive and there’s just so much amazing food. And of course the King of Christmas markets, Winter Wonderland. If you catch it when it’s not too busy it’s the best Christmassy night out with friends. Random thought: Are Christmas markets a new thing? I don’t remember them being around when I was little. 

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4. Visit a pop-up 

Every Christmas amazing festive pop ups appear all over London and I think they’re perfect for a Christmas meal or night out with friends. I love Forest on the Roof on top of Selfridges, it looks like an Alpine Forest. Also try the Lodge in Clapham which is designed like a Swiss Ski Lodge and has cheese fondue. And I’m desperate to try Coppa Club Igloos by the Tower of London. Giant PVC igloos with an incredible view and sheepskin blankets, what more could you want?

What are your favourite things to do in London at Christmas? 

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My last sunny summary was all the way back in June – a whole five months ago. I’ve been such an awful blogger this second half of the year with only eight posts which is barely more than one a month. Oops! But I’ve got a whole huge plan for December and I really want to get back to my blog properly. I know I’ve said it before but this time I have a plan and I was fooling myself when I thought I could do this without a to do list. That’s so not me. I hope I’ve still got a few readers left!

But anyway, end of excuses (as I’ve said before, I bloody hate making excuses). I’m going to give you a quick whistle stop tour through my November with all my favourite things. It’s been a month of ups and downs but I’ve been so busy that there’s plenty to tell you all about.

1.Bonfire night in Lewes

My last post was all about this amazing day in Lewes, they really don’t do 5th December by halves and every stop that could be pulled certainly was. It went off with a bang, literally. Read all about it here.

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2. Pub roast dinners

I feel quite spoilt to have had two this month! One in Brighton after Lewes bonfire night and I can’t recommend Bottom’s Rest (despite the dodgy name) more, we stumbled across it but they had everything you could want. Board games whilst you wait, all the trimmings and even roast leftovers for your dog! Also it’s rare that a veggie roast dinner is as good as the meat alternatives and this one really was. Then I had another at a pub in Birmingham the next weekend whilst visiting my uni friends. Yum.

3. Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them

My job took me to the premiere for Fantastic Beasts this month (what a lucky bee I am). I am the biggest Harry Potter fan but for some reason I hadn’t got at all excited about this. Big mistake – it was amazing, so much better than I imagined. Before going I was like ‘why are they dragging this out into five movies.’ Now? Can they make it 10?!

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4. Cheese and wine nights

I went to the best cheese and wine night this month. There was SO much yummy cheese and I had a cheeky early mulled wine (my favourite variety of wine). The best thing on that table? 100% the camembert melted in a round loaf – I’m making more for Christmas.

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5. Going to York (and particularly visiting the real life Diagon Alley)

I went to York to visit my little brother who’s at uni up there a couple of weekends ago. I’m going to write a whole post about it because it was just the best – we stayed in the coolest hotel I’ve ever stayed in, we visited the awesome Christmas markets, and we went to Shambles, which is apparently the inspiration for JK Rowling’s Diagon Alley (I didn’t realise November had a HP theme until now…)

6. Escape Rooms

In York we also did an escape room (totally ruining my next post!) and now I’m obsessed with escape rooms. It was awesome and I want to do a million more.

7. The Coca Cola Lorry

I’ve been lucky enough to see the Coca Cola lorry once before in Brighton with all my siblings. And this year it visited my office too, I wasn’t in the Christmas spirit before, now the holidays are definitely coming in my house!

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8. Roosevelt

I went to a Roosevelt gig this month and fell in love. You’ve probably never heard of him (I hadn’t) but if you want some chilled music to listen to, give him a Spotify/Youtube search. Also, the gig was way too cool for me, it was in Shoreditch’s XOYO but there was coloured lights and confetti guns – amazing!

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I’ve had such a lovely relaxed weekend, spending time with the boyfriend, my lovely family and friends. It’s been the perfect mix and most of it has revolved around food too which is always a winner. But it got me thinking about all the things we have to be grateful for and I thought I’d write this little list to give you some Monday motivation – you’ve got this.

1. How pretty it is outside now it’s Autumn – the red and orange leaves, the gorgeous sunsets and the winter flowers. It’s the ideal time to get some fresh air and take a walk.

2. Halloween, bonfire night and (dare I say it…) Christmas – Whether it’s been a terrible year or a brilliant one, the rest of 2016 is looking pretty bright with three of my favourite events. And before you know it, you can start all over again with the dawn of 2017.

3. Reading – However bad or good things get, there’s always a book you can get yourself lost in. I’ve rediscovered my love of reading recently and it’s just the best escapism ever. I’m currently reading Lindsey Kelk’s We Were On A Break and loving it. I’ve even convinced my ‘I only watched the Harry Potter films’ boyfriend to read a book and enjoy it, so I know if he does everyone will.

4. A hot cup of tea – It really does make everything better. And if you don’t like tea, then surely you wouldn’t say no to a biscuit?

5. Lighting a candle – Dark nights snuggled under blankets with lit candles and your favourite TV show. What autumn evenings are all about.

6. Your favourite food – Isn’t it fun to be an adult and be able to eat what you want when you want. Obviously not all the time, but remember being a kid and only being able to eat what was in the cupboard or what was put on the table.

7. Friends and family – It’s so cheesy but it’s great to know that there’s always someone at the end of a phone or at the end of your journey to chat to. Whether it’s your mum, your boyfriend, or your bestie, I’m grateful that I can have a rant or a moan and let it all out.

8. That you have the power to cancel all your plans, lock the door, pour a big glass of wine and run a bubble bath – Sometimes it’s just needed.

9. Climbing into a bed made with fresh sheets – The best feeling in the world is throwing off those cushions and throws, climbing into bed and knowing tomorrow is a new start.

10. Weekends – You are never further than five days away from a weekend, let that be your motivation…