Romy and Sam go Motorhoming: New Zealand’s North Island

Our Route: 

Wellington > Tongariro > Rotorua > Paihia > Auckland

To avoid totally boring you to tears vs. half boring you to tears, I split my New Zealand posts into the South and North Island. So, picking up where I left off on my previous post, we were about to board the ferry from Picton on the South Island to Wellington on the North Island. Just a side note: I bloody hate boats. With a passion. All consuming panic and nausea takes over. However, Sam’s aunty recommended some absolutely ACE travel sickness tablets, which meant that I not only survived but slightly enjoyed….(?) the ferry to Wellington. I could actually enjoy the spectacular views, take in the blueness of the water, the low lying clouds and lusciously green mountains…..AND watch the Fyre festival documentary on Netflix without feeling like I was going to pass out! Brilliant! It is notorious for being a rough journey, but honestly our experience wasn’t bad at all….. could be the tablets talking, but we’ll go with it. 

Once we arrived in ‘windy’ Wellington (as it’s known), we headed straight to the hotel we had booked for a couple of nights, ditching Marco the motorhome for a bed that actually allows you to sit upright, and a loo that you don’t have to empty yourself. Wellington had a great feel, really friendly people and loooads of independent vintage shops and boutiques, which I loved a browse in, even though I really couldn’t cram anything else into my case. It felt busy and buzzy yet not over-crowded and intimidating. We also found some unusual street art down completely unassuming lanes and hidden alleyways, which we loved. 

What to do: 

  • Explore the streets, without a doubt. There’s all sorts of hidden gems, unique places to explore and unusual cafes that you might not find on Google.
  • Te Papa- The Museum of New Zealand. A pretty big museum, but with some brilliant interactive contemporary exhibitions and a (surprisingly) windy lookout deck. 
  • Wellington Cable Car. We struggled to find the entrance to this at first and walked past it about 5 times while grumbling ‘Google maps is so shit!!’ before realising that in fact it was us that were shit… at navigating. A really sweet, traditional wooden cable car with a light tunnel halfway up. The Botanic Gardens were at the top and although very hilly, were extremely pretty but FREEZING when the wind blows… which is all the time. 

Where to eat: 

  • Viva Mexico. A tiny, hidden Mexican restaurant with the best jalapeño poppers with pickled red onion. AND the most delicious vegan tacos. That you would never know were vegan. However, they asked us if we wanted to taste their delicacy, fried crickets…. Which we politely declined. 
  • Fidel’s Café. If you fancy a hearty but healthy breakfast, here is a great shout. Tasty, fresh and pretty decent portions. 
  • They also have a Wagamama (and it’s on Uber Eats)…. We did get quite over excited about this as we were both feeling slightly yaki soba deprived.

We drove from here to Tongariro National Park, planning to do the famous Tongariro Crossing hike, however, the weather got in the way. Despite this, we did a different, brilliant, slightly shorter hike to Taranaki Falls, which had the most beautiful views all along the route. The terrain changed constantly, from open rocky paths with clear snowy mountain views, to narrow forest trails, streams, rushing waterfalls (where we kept saying ‘is this THE one?’) to the final Big Daddy waterfall, Taranaki. I’m actually so glad we did it and made the most of the National Park, despite our plans changing. It just means we’ll have to go back to complete the crossing hike another day!

Rotorua was next. One of our favourite places in the whole of New Zealand, probably a very close second to Queenstown. We stayed at such a great, central campsite (Rotorua TOP 10) with the best welcome. It was a small town, but packed a punch. Reknowned for its proximity to Hobbiton, the Lord of the Rings set, for being the hub of Maori culture and for being located INSIDE a volcano. We loved it and met some amazing people during our stay too. 

What to do:

  • Happy Ewe Cycle Tour. This was recommended to us by some people we met in Australia and I couldn’t be more grateful that they did. It was amazing. Rodger, the guide was honestly one of the nicest (hate the word nice) people I have ever met. Full of energy, enthusiasm and positivity, he really brought the town he lives in to life and you could tell how proud he was to live there. He took us to some amazing locations, gave us such a great flavour for the town and was a complete ray of sunshine. Thoroughly recommend. 
  • Hobbiton. When we visited, I hadn’t seen any of the Lord of the Rings films. I know, I know….but despite this, I loved it. I have a huge fascination with film anyway and it was just absolutely magical. I don’t even think it massively mattered that I hadn’t seen the films. I did lie when the tour guide asked us if we’d watched them I hasten to add….but even so it was brilliant. 
  • Tamaki Maori Village. We did a night experience here and were thrown head first into the wonder of Maori culture. They sang, danced, took us through some traditional crafts and activities, made us a Hangi feast and welcomed us into their village. It was wonderful. 

Where to eat: 

  • Atticus Finch. One of my favourite finds of the whole trip. As I write this, my mouth is watering thinking of the burrata arancini. 
  • Artisan Café. We ate here for every breakfast and loved it. Really lovely veggie options and tasty coffee. 

After Rotorua, we drove past Auckland and right up to Paihia (Bay of Islands). I had a streaming cold by then and luckily we had decided to book an apartment for a couple of nights, so there were a few more comforts (sorry Marco) AND A WASHING MACHINE. We relaxed on the beach and soaked up a little bit of sun (through a sweatshirt) and had a chilled couple of days pottering around the town and reading. There wasn’t masses to do there, but we just enjoyed the scenery and rest.

Auckland was next and where we dropped off Marco and concluded our motorhome journey. We loved Auckland. It was the first place we had been in New Zealand that felt like a proper city. Outdoorsy, picturesque places are probably our favourite, but there are aspects in me that love the city life too and saying that, Auckland actually was very pretty in parts. It was super clean, a great contemporary feel and sooo many cool areas to explore.

What to do:

  • Visit Ponsonby. Our favourite area. Funky cafes, boho boutiques and stylish shops. Oh, and one of the best burgers of our trip was consumed in this area. 
  • Lime Scooters. After our first experience of scooters in Christchurch, we were thrilled to find they had them in Auckland too. They were pretty much our only mode of transport for the 4 days we had here. Fun, cheap and fast!
  • Auckland Tower. So high. Not sure what else I expected, but it had such a brilliant panoramic view of Auckland. And the queue was nowhere near as long as the CN Tower in Toronto, so that was a bonus. 

Where to eat: 

  • Chuffed. Great brunch place, great coffee and located in a tucked away spot, with an outdoor courtyard decorated with twinkly lights and faux fur throws.
  • Ponsonby Central. The foodie area in Ponsonby, with so many different street food spots, cafes and bars and an outdoor/indoor feel.
  • Burger Burger. I couldn’t keep you waiting any longer before I had to reveal where THAT burger was consumed. Wow oh wow. Mouthwateringly delicious.
  • Depot. Yummy, sharing, tapas dishes. Still dreaming about the tempura cauliflower with taramasalata & anchovies.
  • Dizengoff. We didn’t actually eat here, just had coffee. We regretted it as soon as the steaming breakfast plates wizzed past us out of the kitchen. It looked amazing.

We absolutely adored New Zealand. We knew we would. We just didn’t realise quite how much. Without a doubt we’ll go back, experience all the things we missed and feast our eyes on the unforgettable scenery once again.

Romy and Sam go Motorhoming : New Zealand’s South Island

If you read my last post, you will know that our motorhoming newbie status was broken in Australia, road tripping from Sydney to Cairns. We then waved goodbye to the kangaroos, baking sun and sandy beaches and flew over to Kiwi land for the next part of our trip.

I feel like I might have given this post a slightly misleading title. If I’m totally honest, we didn’t stay in Marco the new motorhome every single night on our route and booked the odd night in a hotel along the way…. For complete novices, 6 weeks in total in a camper is quite a long time. We fancied the opportunity to have a shower without flip flops every now and then! Just to clear my conscience… I needed to point that out.

We picked up Marco after a glorious 5 nights in Queenstown in potentially the dreamiest, comfiest bed I have ever slept in and a room with the most spectacular view (The Heritage Queenstown). From there, we had nearly 10 days to make our way to the top of the South Island and get the ferry across from Picton to Wellington on the North Island. Our plans did change a little due to the weather causing a bridge to collapse near Franz Josef, so we will have to return (what a shame) and explore that area at another time!  

So many people said to us that the South Island just pips the North beauty wise and I think I may agree….just. When we came in to land in Queenstown from Cairns I was just blown away. I spent the entire dissent with my nose virtually pressed up against the window, tapping Sam every 5 seconds saying ‘look! Look!’. It was beautiful from the word go. 

 

Our South Island route: 

Queenstown > Wanaka > Christchurch > Kaikoura > Abel Tasman > Picton  

 

So, beginning in Queenstown, potentially our favourite place in the whole of New Zealand. A wonderful combination of jaw-dropping views and scenery, crazy activities and great independent boutiques and restaurants PLUS a buzzier atmosphere than a beehive. Coined the ‘adventure capital of the world’, we were so excited to be there. Again, as always, I won’t outline every single thing we did, but just enough to give you a flavour and recommend some of our must-dos. 

 

What to do: 

 Sam did the Nevis Bungy jump which he LOVED. 134 metres. The highest in New Zealand and pretty well known around the world. Definitely not my thing, but he was on cloud nine when he came back and wanted to do it all over again, so I thought it was worth a mention. 
 Jet boating on the sparkling Kawarau River. We booked ours with Go Orange and did the 60 minute Thunder Jet tour. Absolutely amazing. Brilliant views, 360 turns (again, not usually my thing but I loved it), blasting music and also really lovely guides. 
 ‘Safari of the Scenes’ Wakatipu tour. We were taken in a 4×4 off road, through water and epic landscapes, to areas where Lord of the Rings was filmed. We also went gold panning and we found the tiniest speck of gold which Sam insisted on keeping in a little pot for the whole rest of our trip. 
 Milford Sound. Although it is not particularly near to Queenstown, a lot of tours run to Milford Sound from there. We didn’t realise quite how far away it was and I think if we went again, we would potentially stay nearer there when we’re visiting. Saying that, the tour we did was brilliant and although the weather was torrential rain and wind, we had the best time. When it rains, we were told there are 90% more waterfalls than when it’s dry, so although you don’t have the glistening blue water and green mountain views that you see on postcards, the dramatic crashing waterfalls are an equally amazing treat. 
 Walk/cycle around Queenstown Gardens. They are SO beautiful, gorgeously rugged and foresty feeling, with perfectly groomed spots, flowerbeds and a little bridge over a stream. Delightful. Also they have a great view of Queenstown from the other side. 
 The Luge. First of all, hilarious. Second of all, so much fun. You can get the skyline gondola to the top of the mountain and then take a kind of toboggan down several different tracks, as fast as you can, with the incredible mountainous panorama. We had such a laugh and kept wanting to go back up for more. 

 

Where to eat: 

The food was yuuuuummy in Queenstown. Seriously. And yes, we did spend our whole time scouting out our next meal. 

 Blue Kanu- maybe our favourite meal of the WHOLE TRIP. What!!!! ‘Mixing both Pacifica and Asian style’ tapas dishes. Every single plate we said ‘this one’s my favourite!!!’ Then the next dish arrived. 
 Taco Medic- a tiny little street food place with the most delicious, fresh tacos with really unique fillings. Not a huge menu, but we went there twice because it was just so good. 
 Fat Badgers- mmmmmm. Such good pizza. They’re big too so you can share one between two. They also do poutine, so that’s a yes from me. 
 Cowboys- such a fun bar, with mechanical bull riding. And cowboy hats. I’ll leave that there. 
 Yonder- my favourite breakfast place. Amazing corn fritters with sriracha and poached eggs. Also equally amazing coffee. Oh, and equally lovely décor. 
 Caribe Latin Kitchen- super tasty food. They also make their own homemade hot sauce, which is soooo good.  

 

Look out for: 

 The best deals on tours. Look around before you book something, because as there are so many adventure places in Queenstown, they all want your custom, so sometimes places will offer an especially good price if they know you’re looking elsewhere too. 
 The beaaaautiful Remarkables mountains, where you can ski in winter. They have been in several films and give the turquoise blue water the most incredible backdrop. 

Next was Wanaka, smaller than Queenstown, but with a lovely feel. It was our first campsite night in New Zealand and we were really pleased with our choice. Such friendly people and it was slightly out of the way, meaning it was quiet, but not so far away that we felt completely out of it. We stayed at Wanaka Kiwi Holiday Park. Again, stunning views, a gorgeous bike track running all the way around the water and a FAB burrito food truck called Burrito Craft. An ideal place to refuel (overeat) after a ‘tough’ bike ride. 

Originally, we wanted to head to Franz Josef after Wanaka to do the glacier hike, but as I mentioned before, the weather didn’t want us to do that…. So we went straight to Christchurch. We visited here less than two weeks after the horrifically tragic attack in the city and so were overwhelmed with the memorial flowers, posters, banners and decorations lining the Botanic Gardens. Although the streets were quiet, the people we met were a complete joy and inspiration and welcomed us into their city whole-heartedly. We had our first electric scooter experience here too, which we carried on wherever we could for the rest of our trip. We did laps and laps and laps of the streets, soaking up the atmosphere and stopping only for coffee and an occasional ‘warm up’ hug. 

Our morning breakfast place was also one to note, called Unknown Chapter Coffee Roasters. Great veggie breakfast and they don’t do their poached eggs too watery!!!! A huge plus for me. There’s an amazing ice cream spot too… Rollickin Gelato Café, located inside the Arts Centre. That was also lovely, and had a dreamy stationary shop….which I drooled over for a while. Overall, we thought Christchurch had a really friendly, small city feel that is clearly growing in more ways than one.

Kaikoura was next, mainly known for whale watching. Again, the weather wasn’t great, but our campsite had a beautiful setting, with views of snow capped mountains in the distance (TOP 10 Holiday Park). We were actually really happy to have a relaxed couple of rainy days. It was sunny on the day we arrived (typical) but on our full day, we decided to go for a chilly walk along the black pebble beach, skimming stones, warming up with copious cups of coffee and a cosy lunch nearby at Hislops Whole Foods café.

We then made our way to Abel Tasman National Park. Wow. Wow. Wow. I typed it once and then couldn’t think of any other way of describing it other than: Wow. We did an amazing self-guided kayak tour, that was totally exhausting but something I will never forget. Exploring hidden caves, spotting seals, paddling in blazing sunshine, then a downpour, then windy waves, then sunshine again. I would thoroughly recommend it. The water is like nothing I’ve ever seen, almost lime green near the rocks in parts, and turquoise, deep blue and almost clear in other parts. As I can never fail to mention food, I would also recommend the Fat Tui permanent food truck for a mouth-watering crispy cod burger and the best sweet potato fries.

After a brilliant couple of days, we drove to Picton, where we were to board the ferry to the North Island after a magical time in the South of New Zealand. One thing I have to note about New Zealand, is that even if I don’t mention the scenery anywhere, it isn’t because it isn’t beautiful. The truth is, everywhere you look is stunning. Rambling hills, snow-capped mountains, rushing waterfalls and gorges, sparkling rivers, dramatic vistas… so if I have made a point to mention how beautiful something is, it’s because it is truly special. 

If you have made it to the end of this mammoth post, I really appreciate you reading my rambling travel tales of the South Island. Thank you. If you want to know my more general motorhome tips, you will find them on my Australian motorhoming post!

 

Romy and Sam go Motorhoming : Sydney to Cairns

After our wonderful week in Sydney, we picked up Mabel the Maui Motorhome (have you noticed we like to name our cars…. I say we, I mean me) and set off on our East Coast adventure for 22 days. We were beyond excited when we went to pick it up and couldn’t believe how big it was! We felt like we were in ‘We’re the Millers’ – minus the drug smuggling. It wasn’t quite RV size but for people who had never driven a motorhome before, Mabel was a big girl! We made ourselves at home pretty quickly and set off on a crazy 3 weeks of beaches, comfort zone crushing, new friends, sunsets, tattoos, fly bites, spectacular views and campsite cooking. 

OUR ROUTE: 

Sydney > Anna Bay > Coffs Harbour > Byron Bay > Miami/ Surfers Paradise > Brisbane > Noosa > Hervey Bay/ Fraser Island > Rockhampton > Airlie Beach/ The Whitsundays > Townsville/ Magnetic Island > Mission Beach > Cairns 

I won’t go into detail about every single thing we did and how we spent every moment *hears everyone heave a sigh of relief*, but I will share our highlights, top tips and favourite campsites. 

(SOME OF OUR) HIGHLIGHTS: 

* Our first night. Climbing up onto the sand dunes behind our campsite in Anna Bay and experiencing one of the best sunsets we have ever seen. The rapidly changing colours, the rainbow on one side, the immaculate sand. Massive wow factor. 
* The town of Byron Bay. We loved the little coffee shops, bars and boutiques, along with the gorgeous beach. It all had a great feel. Also Sam surfed here again and loved it just as much as before.
* Miami… an unexpected gem. We decided to stay here instead of directly in Surfers Paradise, but it was a short taxi ride away and Miami was lovely and peaceful. There was the most epic pink sky both nights we stayed there too. We also loved the buzzy atmosphere in Surfers Paradise and although the beach was busy, we felt totally relaxed.
* Getting tattoos in Brisbane. Just so much fun…..Despite the tattoo shop being called ‘The Stab Shack’ and there being a python in the corner, we loved the whole experience. There was another girl having a huuuge chest piece done at the same time as us,  not even flinching and I was asking a million questions about the aftercare and pain etc. (typical me) for our tiny tattoos that literally took minutes to do – I am so hard core.
* Koalas, kangaroos, dolphins…… the wildlife everywhere is just something else.
* The Noosa Everglades. Woweeee. So beautiful. We rented our own boat and went first thing in the morning. The water was a sparkling mirror, so peaceful and it was actually quite romantic (sorry vom). The previous day, we hired kayaks and attempted to do a 6 hr open sea trip and nearly got stuck (hilarious looking back, but paddling against the wind and going nowhere for a good 2 hours was a smidge frustrating). 
* Lake Mackenzie on Fraser Island. Totally clear, going into turquoise and then a deep navy colour. Also 100% rainwater. Paired with the whitest sand… it was ideal. 

* Our last-minute motorhome break in Airlie Beach. We were worried about a thunder storm (that we ended up missing) and so booked an apartment for a few days so we could explore the Whitsundays without worrying about Mabel. It was actually a lovely break as it had…..A WASHING MACHINE!!! I know, I could barely contain my excitement either. Other than our lovely apartment, we had the best time in Airlie Beach. We did an amazing jet ski tour, seeing dolphins and stopping for a delicious brunch spread at Paradise Cove. During this trip we had the pleasure of witnessing another person on the tour having an impromptu nude photo shoot…. no I’m not joking. The next day, we did a snorkelling Whitsunday islands tour ending at Whitehaven Beach. Truly special and Sam was a complete hero as it was totally out of my comfort zone. Overall so much fun, so much beauty and so many new experiences. 

* The Barbie-mobile on Magnetic Island. We rented a tiny mini jeep (I thought it looked like a bigger version of a doll’s car I used to play with) and drove around the whole island. We pulled over for a torrential rain storm, eating cookies and sitting under a tarpaulin on the side of the road until it stopped. 
* Evenings with a glass of wine (or a camomile tea), playing Pass the Pigs and chatting at the campsite about everything we had seen and were still to see. 
* Finding scones with clotted cream & jam in Cairns ….You can take the girl out of England…. Oh and seeing crocodiles in the Daintree Rainforest. 
* Turning all the lights off in the evenings as they made you feel like you’re in an operating theatre….. and lighting our bergamot candle. It actually made it feel so cosy. 
* Singing in the car and snack pitstops. Sam always came back with about 5 drinks because ‘they were on offer’. 

 

TOP TIPS:

* Buy a candle (see above). It made the motorhome feel lovely and cosy at night and made it smell nice too!
* Flip flops in the shower. The camping showers we encountered were actually all clean and completely fine. But still. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…..hygiene. ( And other people’s hair on the floor- no thanks).
* Book your campsites a couple of days in advance if they’re in really popular areas or in a particularly good location. Eg. Byron Bay. 
* Most tours don’t need to be booked too far in advance, especially somewhere like Airlie Beach as there are SO many adventure shops that will pretty much always have some availability. We booked ours 1 day in advance.
* Buy a collapsible clothes dryer/line. It made doing washing soooo much easier as we had somewhere to let our clothes dry outside the motorhome. 
* Camping apps that are pretty good: Maui, Campermate, Maps.Me
* Share the driving. This might be an obvious one, but it is nice to take turns as then one person isn’t completely wiped out after a long drive. 
* Stay at least 2 nights in places you’re really interested in. Maybe more. We felt even 2 nights felt rushed sometimes, so try to set off early on longer drives as then you still have some of the day left once you arrive at your campsite. 
* Keep the motorhome clean. Now I’m not going all Marie Kondo on you, but it seriously makes it more pleasant to be in if there isn’t a whole sandpit in there when you’re trying to climb into bed. 
* Try as best as you can to go to a campsite that is as close as possible to the area you’re exploring. They are sometimes a little more expensive, but it means that you don’t feel miles out from everything and you can walk out and leave your motorhome plugged in and awning set up rather than having to pack everything up and drive a while to get to where you want to go. 
* Ask for a camping spot reasonably close to the loo block. No one wants to walk too far in the dark with bats flying over your head. Even though we had our own loo in the camper, as you can imagine it’s much more pleasant to use a real one!
* Have your own jobs. I did all the booking & organising and most of the cleaning in the camper. Sam did all the outside stuff, the setting up and techy things, and quite a bit of the cooking, although we did share that. It was nice to get into the flow of it and know what both of us would do before we could settle down for the evening!
* Double check your campervan draws before you leave the depot. It sounds totally ridiculous, but virtually every time we went round a sharp-ish corner, some of our draws flew out as they were loose, risking china plates flying all over the motorhome!! This did happen a few times as well! Funny but only until something breaks….

 

FAVE CAMPSITES: 

* Reflections Clarkes Beach Holiday Park- Byron Bay. Great great great location. Right on the beach. Short walk into town. Lovely facilities. 
* Ocean Beach Tourist Park- Miami. Such a peaceful, small campground. Again, really lovely facilities. Again, right on the most gorgeous beach. Perfect morning coffee spot right next door. And the sweetest woman who you can rent clothes pegs/lines from if you do some washing.
* Habitat Noosa- Noosa. Really amazing. We were surprised they had a spot. You can rent kayaks and boats etc. and make you own way to the Noosa Everglades. Opposite our camping spot there was a forest, home to a huge group of kangaroos. They relaxed (and fought) on the grass each evening as the sun went down and it was completely wonderful to watch. They also had a little restaurant on site which was cool. 
* The Palms- Hervey Bay. The people here were SO NICE. They were super helpful when we wanted to book a Fraser Island tour and even came to help us set up the motorhome in our spot. Small campsite but worth a visit. 

 As I write this post, I think how much fun we had…working it all out together, getting it wrong, getting it right, getting cabin fever, getting on each other’s nerves at times, loving the cosy bed cabin, playing music, sitting in the sun on camping chairs, laughing A LOT and Sam always being the one to empty the loo without moaning at all and never letting me do it no matter how many times I said I didn’t mind.

Thank you so much for reading xx

Podcasts…and why I love them

In 2016 I was recommended the podcast ‘My Dad Wrote a Porno’ with Alice Levine, Jamie Morton and James Cooper. Before this, I never really knew what a podcast was, I didn’t even know that the app is installed already into iPhones and I had it all along. Little did I know how much I was missing…. the world of podcasts have transformed my car journeys, my morning routine and have just generally improved my life. ‘My Dad Wrote a Porno’ is basically three friends reading out and commenting on a terrible (and I mean terrible) erotic fiction book that Jamie’s Dad wrote… Yes that’s right, his Dad. They read a chapter per episode and it is hilarious, leg crossingly cringe worthy and just bloody brilliant. The book is called ‘Belinda Blinked’ and Jamie’s Dad’s pen name is ‘Rocky Flintstone’…. I think that tells you all you need to know. Luckily (or unluckily depending on how you want to look at it), there have been three series so far, as Rocky has written several books and I am eagerly awaiting the fourth, which I believe will be out next year. My obsession has got to the point where my friend and I have booked to see the live tour… I’m not sure if that is something to be shouting from the roof tops, but there you go.

I would so recommend this if you want some light hearted, witty listening or just a good laugh, as I have almost had to pull over the car once as I was laughing so hard.

So that was my first experience with podcasts, and from then on I have trawled the Podcast charts for my next obsession and have listened to quite a few others that I think are worth a mention.

  1. The High Low

I got into this podcast during the back end of last year, and have been putting it on at any possible moment and loving every episode. Journalists Dolly Alderton and Pandora Sykes are the faces behind this brilliantly engaging, interesting and funny podcast in which they discuss what they have been reading, watching and listening to each week along with discussing news stories from around the world at the time of recording. It is a news and pop culture podcast, arguing that you can be interested in the trivial and the political. They always recommend the best reads, whether they are books or articles and discuss everything from ‘The Fall of Hollywood’s Ultimate Sex Predator, Harvey Weinstein’ to the BBC pay gap, to Blac Chyna suing the entire Kardashian family…. and I love it.

2.  Serial

This was recommended to me by one of my cousins last year, as I love any crime/thriller novels and documentaries and she told me I would find this completely gripping… and I did. If you have listened to the ‘This American Life’ podcast, then you might recognise the producer, Sarah Koenig from there. It has a couple of series so far and follows real life cases which I find so interesting, as Sarah digs deep, speaking to family members and the accused from jail, attempting to make sense of the case. They are typically murder cases, which include quite a lot of detail, so if you don’t like that sort of thing, I would suggest giving it a miss. The first series follows the story of Adnan Syed who was charged with the murder of his ex girlfriend in 2000 but maintains his innocence to this day. The podcast delves into potential motives, other suspects and hears directly from Adnan, whose case was appealed after Season 1 of Serial. If you watched Making a Murderer on Netflix or read any sort of crime novels then you will enjoy (is that the right word?) listening to this podcast.

There are several others that I have really enjoyed or that I’m working my way through, but I’ll leave it at that for now. For anyone who has never listened to a podcast before, I would thoroughly recommend plunging into the world of pornos, pop culture and innocence pleas.

Why Acupuncture is AMAZING

I uploaded my first post nearly two months ago, I can’t actually believe it has taken me this long to write another one. I haven’t even shared my blog yet so it currently has virtually 0 views. Yippee. Life has just been super busy, so much has happened. I started my final year at university; massively regretting taking for granted all of that blissfully free time over the summer, where I actually had time to iron my jeans. I am now fully into my first term, counting down the days until the Christmas break, where I will be panicking about keeping up with my work in between wrapping presents and packing for our New Year trip to Iceland… bring on the Blue Lagoon.

I can’t wait for a bit of time off, even though I won’t be able to forget about uni work I am so excited to enjoy the festive season, read for pleasure and reignite my love affair with the gym. I started my new job at a fashion and gift retailer, which I’m really enjoying, even the early 7am delivery shifts on a Friday morning. It is tiring but I have realised how much I enjoy wrapping Christmas decorations in tissue paper, which I may never have known about myself had I not started working there. I have met some lovely people and it really is a fab place to work.

What being this busy has taught me is that I really need to find time for myself. I’m not someone who can just keep ploughing on and on and on without coming up for air. I do need a bubble bath every now and then, and I do need to delve into a gripping book, and I also need to watch a bit of trash telly (Britain’s Next Top Model is my programme of choice for these moments). I love being busy, and feeling like I’m working towards something and being productive, but moments of rest and recharging are important too. Something that has helped me to realise this more than ever is acupuncture.

I started having acupuncture roughly once a month about a year and a half ago, maybe a bit less, and I absolutely adore it. It gives me a space to talk, to refresh and relax. Now I am not a needle person, I cannot stand blood tests, flu jabs… all that jazz, but when I say these don’t bother me, I really mean it. They are pretty much like bendy tooth picks and 95% of the time they don’t hurt. That 5% of the time, as soon as it hurts, she takes the needle out and puts it somewhere else. You can have them put in anywhere really, and each place means something different, from happiness, to stress and boosting your immune system.

I feel so relaxed when I’m there, it just feels like a safe bubble that I can enter into for an hour and then get on with my day. You lie on a bed under blankets in your bra and knickers; it pretty much feels like a spa treatment crossed with therapy. Carolyn (my acupuncturist) asks me about what has been happening my life in between the sessions, how I’m feeling mentally, physically, every kind of way, and then feels my pulses ( we have more than one and I never knew). She feels my heart pulse, lung pulse, liver, kidneys, all through my wrists. She then puts the needles wherever she feels that it would most benefit me on that particular day.

I go to acupuncture for all sorts of reasons, but mainly for my overall well being and health, but you can go for anything, from an injury, aches and pains, problematic skin, mental health… the list goes on. The main motive for me is to just have some time to myself, where I can say anything without being judged, to someone who doesn’t know everyone in my life, while giving me brilliant advice in a peaceful environment and using the needles to improve my sleep, stress, and how my body functions and heals.

I always look forward to my appointments and I can’t imagine not going now, as I really feel revived mentally after I leave. I never knew anything about it before I started going, and I might have thought it was all a bit hippy but I have felt the benefits and I could not recommend it more. In the busy world we live in, she always reminds me that taking time for myself is not selfish but necessary and the people who may appear to have their shit together running on 4 hours sleep actually might be crying out for some time to iron their jeans and devour the latest crime thriller.