London meets the Cotswolds

Hello!

So let me start by saying this is my first ever blog, so you may have to bear with me. I wanted to start writing this blog as over the Christmas period this year, I will be relocating with my husband to the Cotswolds from London.

Something which I have noticed is that in London, it is common for many people to live in the buzz of the city during the week, but at the weekend retreat to country homes or trips away for some respite. According to an article which was released recently, one of the main motivators for an individual was a work-life balance.  The article went on to say how more people are considering a move out of London to the countryside for a better quality of life, which was also a big motivator for us.

During my move, I will be making the most of my final weeks in London and will be reviewing a couple of favourite areas to explore which I would love to share with you. I will also be sharing my experience of transitioning into a slower pace of life for anyone who is thinking of making a similar move!

I hope you enjoy and let me know what you think!

Rosie x

Committing to the Capsule

I have always enjoyed a good wardrobe cleanse. Clearing out the piles of clothes which have become a scrumpled mess, revealing a neat and tidy selection for perusal each morning. However, it is never long before the unidentifiable heap returns with a vengeance. Admittedly, this is partly due to rummaging and last minute outfit changes before work or a social event, but largely it is because I am one of those people who seems to just accumulate clothes.

I used to love getting my friends and family’s hand-me downs which appeared in an attractive black bin bag once in a while. I would convince myself that each item of clothing would come in useful or that I would grow into it. Unfortunately, I no longer wish to grow into a larger person, but rather I find myself growing out of clothes rather too quickly. My clothing issue has now done a 180 and I now hold on to clothes in the hope that one day they will fit me again if I just slim down a little!

Some people hang on to their old favourite pair of jeans as motivation to hit the gym and be able to squeeze themselves into the flattering pair once again. I truly admire people who actually do this, because they are noticing a problem and dealing with it! I am hoping (!) I am not alone in having the right intentions, and eating healthily to kick start this process, however, I have not been able to find a form of exercise which is fun and also affordable. I am totally aware this is probably just an excuse, but I really wish I liked running or knew what to do in a gym! I have been going to a personal trainer once a week with my husband (couples who gym together stay together, right?), and we love it, but again it is quite an expense and so not that sustainable. At what point do you just accept the body you have now and try not to let it get you down, or do you just keep plugging away to get slimmer?! Anyway… that was more of an aside, and the search will continue for a fun/cheap form of exercise!

Back on topic, I recently stayed with some friends in London who had moved into our old flat in Clapham, and they had made it look great! They both have a great sense of style and we were discussing how they had cut down on the amount of items they owned and didn’t use. They both have created capsule wardrobes and were saying how refreshing it was. I had not heard of it before, but there was a movement fairly recently called Project 333 which encourages you to pick 33 items including accessories and only wear those things for 3 months (you can read more about it here). The theory behind it is that you can mix and match and no one notices that you re-wear your clothes in different ways. I absolutely love this idea and I do think that as a society we do accumulate too much unnecessary bits and bobs along the way.

So today, I cleared out my wardrobe and sent my first lot of clothes down to the charity shop. I was by no means as ruthless as I would have liked/envisaged, but I am adapting the concept slightly and each month I am going to see what I have not worn and will also be donating those things. Anything that I don’t feel 100% comfortable in I have sent away and anything that I realistically don’t think I will ever wear again (long gone are my size 6 days).

I will let you know it goes, but if you have ever tried anything like this before, then let me know how you have got on!!

Rosie x

‘Making places out of spaces’

Something a lot of us will understand, is the importance of having to get creative when it comes to your garden. Many of us have a ‘postage stamp’ garden, which means that outdoor space is extremely limited. The most common response to this is to create a courtyard, or much worse, not use it at all!

In London we had no garden at all and it was something I really missed. Since moving to Cheltenham our garden is very small but I was determined to make the most out of the space. The person I ran to for help was garden designer and landscape architect, Daniel Bowles a.k.a Pure Landscape. I am hopeless at gardening and know extremely little about it, so my brief was very flexible, but Dan really transformed our space and worked with us to find low maintenance plants to suit our lifestyle. I was so inspired by his work, I asked him if he would be prepared to share a few words of wisdom for others struggling with space or ideas… thankfully he agreed!

What started your interest in gardening and landscape?

Well I first began gardening in my early teens, to help my Mum clear our back garden. Gradually my interest grew (quite literally!)  as I discovered the joy of being outside, and the wonder of plants and nature. I ended up taking over our garden, creating new flower beds, and my most exciting purchase aged 14 of a plastic greenhouse from B+Q! Watching gardening TV heroes like Alan Titchmarsh, Monty Don and Sarah Raven fuelled my growing passion as I became interested in all things landscape,  from flowers to food. One of the first plants I remember growing were some tomatoes from seed. Eating something I had grown from a tiny seed captured my imagination and lit a spark inside. When I was 14 my headteacher kindly allowed me a Friday off school to visit the Chelsea Flower Show (now an annual pilgrimage!) where I discovered a profession called Landscape Archiecture- the design, creation and management of outside spaces. This discovery led me on a fascinating and highly enjoyable path taking me to the Cotswolds to study Landscape Architecture.


Who inspires you the most, or if not just one person, who are your top three?
This is a hard one! In terms of gardening it would have to be Monty Don, I love his broadcasting and passion, and I adore reading his books. I really love the work of garden designer Tom Stuart-Smith, he creates such beautiful spaces and is a truly brilliant designer. Up there would also be Carol Klein as an amazing plantswoman, who when I met her was utterly lovely and down-to-earth.
I’ve also just read the biography of Jo Malone, whilst not being in the landscape profession, has an amazing story, and is thoroughly inspiring as a business woman, and in really following your passion an utilising your skills…she’s also from my hometown so I’m not biased at all!


Can anyone be a gardener? What would be your top tips or must-knows for aspiring gardeners?
Of course! I think gardening is one of the most enjoyable and rewarding activities you can do. Whether you have a windowsill, window box, or fortunate to have a big garden; engaging with the great-outdoors is truly life-enhancing, and is pure joy (theres lots of medical studies coming out demonstrating the benefits of nature!).
Top tips:
1. Start somewhere! Don’t be afraid to experiment, if it works- great, if not, no sweat.
2. Do read books and watch gardening programmes to learn new skills. I grew up watching and reading ‘How to be a Gardener’ by Alan Titchmarsh which taught me so much. Spend time talking to other gardeners, I learnt so much from chatting to my neighbour over the fence trying to make my plants look as good! The key thing is to then go outside and have a go!
3. Do visit gardens too to see what you like and be inspired! You can also make a note of any plants you like on your phone for when you’re next at the garden centre too to have a go at home!
4. If you can, always try to plant in odd numbers- 3,5,7 etc. Plants always look better grouped together like this- don’t ask me why!
5. Lastly, I would say work with nature. Work with the space, soil and conditions you have. If you have acidic soil, don’t bother with alkaline loving plants, or if you’ve got dense shade, don’t bother with your sun-loving Mediterranean planting scheme! Whatever growing area you have to work with, you can be sure there are LOADS of great plants, perfect for your spot!
Lots of gardens can be quite small in new build communities, Cheltenham and London, what are your favourite things to do to make the most of the space?
1. In a small space, I think less is more when it come to design. Keep your design and palate of materials simple; that doesn’t mean cutting on quality, but avoid over-cluttering a space.
2. Utilise the growing opportunities you have, so don’t overlook the opportunities afforded by walls and boundaries for more growing space.
3. Try and create a ‘sense of journey’ through your space, In a recent small garden I designed, I did this by creating a path that first ran horizontally across the site bordered by flowers, before leading to the end of the garden adding interest and making the most of the limited space.
What are the best plants for shady gardens?
I have quite a shady garden, and these are a few of my top performers:
1. Ferns – Dryopteris filix-mas is a fail-safe plant.
2. Euphorbias – I ADORE these plants! Euphorbia amygdaloides var robbiae (what a mouthful!) is a strong grower in my garden.
3. Geranium Phaeum – delicate nodding claret-purple flowers, on graceful nodding stems – a real beauty.
4. Astrantia ‘Ruby Giant’ – lovely delicate pink flowers that come up year after year. 
 
These four together form a really nice planting combination for a shady setting. 


And how about the best plants for sunny gardens?

Oooh where to start – so many options!

My top five sunny desert Island plants:
1. Lavender Hidcote – scent, colour and perfect for pollinators!
2. Verbena bonariensis – this’ll add height, adorned with lovely purple flowers. GORGEOUS.
3. Alchemilla mollis- low-growing perennial with lime green flowers. Its real star quality is in the foliage which captures rain drops and holds them like liquid mercury.
4. Every garden needs a rose! For me they MUST have a beautiful scent and ideally are disease resistant. There’s a rose for most situation, short/tall, climbers etc David Austin Roses are THE place for Old English, fabulous, blousy blooms.
5. Ornamental Grasses- Stipa tenuissima is a great variety and adds a wispy haze to the border.
Also, don’t overlook the benefit of evergreen shrubs and trees to add year-round structure and interest to your garden. In addition, spring bulbs bring both colour and joy from the winter gloom: snowdrops, daffodils, tulips and fabulous alliums with give you cheap, annual colour for months at a time.
What are you ultimate “What to do and what not to do’s”? 

Have fun! Grow the things you like looking at or eating. If you need space for the washing line or a football pitch for children, factor this in. Gardens are highly personal, so make a space that you love, and that practically works well for you too. You don’t need to compromise on one for the other, you just need a bit of careful planning and thought. I would start by making a list of what you need, and what you’d like, and use this as your starting point. Garden centres usually have experts who will guide you to suitable plants and species. I also highly recommend www.crocus.co.uk as a useful resource for plants.

Any final words of advice for us?

Grow, grow, grow! Don’t let failures put you off! As the great Edwardian plant woman Gertrude Jekyll once said: ‘The lesson I have thoroughly learnt, and wish to pass on to others, is to know the enduring happiness that the love of a garden gives’ – I couldn’t agree more. ‘Gardening is the slowest of the performing arts’, but arguably, one of the most rewarding.

Happy Gardening!

A huge thank you to Dan – I hope this has helped some of you to get inspired!! For more information, you can contact him through Instagram or via Pure-Landscape.com

Rosie x

Bloggers, I need your help!

It has been over a month since my last post, which seems like a really long time ago. There is no real reason for not writing, but it turns out working life takes it out of you! I have been in my job for nearly two months now and taking in new things can be tiring, but when I come home my brain can’t seem to cope with the idea of articulating my thoughts into something worth while reading.

So, I am calling on my fellow bloggers help! What do you do when you really want to keep up your blog writing as you enjoy it, but at the same time your life doesn’t allow you much free time to sit down with a cup of tea and put words down on paper? I am thinking of setting time aside to allow myself the time, but to be honest my weekends are normally super busy and my weekdays seem to be a write-off (excuse the pun!).

I have a few thoughts in mind about what I want to write about over the next couple of months, so I am really hoping to dedicate some time to this again. Hopefully these things will be interesting to you as well, but any top tips please throw them my way….!

Rosie x

P.S. I know this wasn’t really blog post worthy, the next one will be back to normal I promise!

The Easter Edit

To me, Easter is one of those times of year which I associate with happiness. I am very much a summer person and so it symbolises the hope of sunnier days to come, creating memories with friends and the promise of longer and lighter days. When my grandparents were alive, they would always love this time of year and we would go in search of the newborn lambs skipping around and walk through bluebell woods creating their violet woodland carpet.

Easter means different things to different people, and it may be that for you it is just a lovely long bank holiday! Of course, to many (including myself) it is a time to reflect and remember exactly what Easter symbolises. Although the concept may seem a bit odd that Jesus had to die to wipe our slates clean, the impact of this moment has been celebrated and remembered in this country for over 2000 years.  If something can still have such an impact all these years later, to me that is hard to ignore. It has given us hope of a new life which is reflected in nature everywhere. If you are at all interested in that sort of thing, The Guardian released an article on the evidence of Jesus’ existence – if you fancy a read click here. I know religion is a contentious topic, and I still have a lot of questions, but my faith is an important part of me and if you can’t talk about it over Easter, when can you – right?

The friends I have spoken to, whether religious or not, have all been doing something with family or friends to mark the occasion and spend time together. What ever you are doing over this bank holiday, make it a good one and celebrate! Whether that is with a holiday, a bottle or two of prosecco or squabbling with family over how long to cook the lamb for! Enjoy!

Budapest, Hungary

When I hear the word Budapest, the first thing I think of is George Ezra singing about the city and his ‘hidden treasure chest’. With his voice echoing through my mind, I was excited to see what it was all about. We went just for three days, which was probably the perfect amount of time to spend there. We arrived on Saturday night and as we approached the Chain Bridge to our Airbnb, the city came alive as you are surrounded by the Parliament building, the Palace and the Castle lit up against the night sky.

I have big love of architecture and the detail which becomes a unique identifier for the location, for example Paris, London or Amsterdam. Budapest was something different though, with elements of unique styles being put together to form something quite different. Throughout our time there, we discovered that Hungary had been influenced heavily throughout it’s history by many different countries, including by royal marriages.

I was also not entirely sure what to expect when it came to food as I could only imagine thick soups, stews and meat dishes. There was of course the inescapable Goulash, but due to the influences of different countries I mentioned, there was a great selection of French, Italian and  mixed nationality restaurants. With my husband being vegetarian, there was a bit more restriction with not all places offering a veggie option, but we did find one place in particular which, although not at all cultural, was some of the best vegan food I have ever eaten. Vegan Love does burgers and hotdogs all 100% vegan including vegenaise and health juices. I have never had a good tofu experience, but I decided to try a tofu-dog and it was honestly amazing! If tofu isn’t your thing, they do sweet potato or quinoa based burgers. For something a little more authentic, it is also worth trying Trattoria Pomo D’ora who have a great Italian menu with some local dishes. They have a sister wine bar across the road where you can have a drink whilst waiting for your table – D.O.C Vino Bar. Of course, if you are a meat eater then there are literally 100’s of great looking restaurants, these were just some of our veggie friendly faves 🙂

Aside from the eating and drinking, there is quite a lot to do in Budapest, although I think some things are better than others. My top three things would be:

  1. Go to a thermal spa : Budapest has something like 125 thermal spas, but some of the bigger ones are the Szechenyi Baths which are quite far out to get to, but they are the biggest and the building is beautiful. Alternatively, Gellert Baths are the easiest to find and it has several different pools. I am a bit of a germ-phobe and it took some getting used to as they do not seem clean to the UK standards, but the cloudy waters I am reassured are just full of minerals!
  2. Wine tasting : Who knew that Hungary produces some really good wines?! I did’t actually get to do this as you need to book three days in advance (!), but Faust Wine Cellar offer wine tasting evenings in the caves under Budapest Castle. It is meant to be a great evening and super romantic. If you cannot book into one of these, do try D.O.C Vino Bar (link above) as they have excellent local knowledge of the wines and can point you in the direction of the best to try. As a bonus, wine is very cheap out there at only about £2 a glass!
  3. Explore : This one is very obvious, but actually taking a stroll around Budapest is the best way to get to know it. The central part in Pest has lots of little streets and is not that big compared to other cities as it is quite compact. I also recommend walking along each side of the river and pop into Balna Terasz for a glass or wine or coffee. We walked a total of 15 miles over three days, which sounds a lot, but it is a great way to work off all the food/drink!

I am sure there are lots of things that we missed, but these are just a few suggestions if you are thinking of taking a trip. I bombarded Instagram already (apologies) but here are some other photos in case you are interested:

 

 

My Unemployment ‘Revelation’

Today marks the first day of my last week off before starting full-time work again. I have given myself some time off since the move before starting my job hunt, which for an indecisive person with too many conflicting interests has been a challenge! I’ve gone from wanting to be a Financial Advisor, to Interior Designer, to Event Manager, to wanting to start up my own business. In the end I have found something which is totally different and an unknown industry to me, but it gives me the opportunity to use my skills in a new way and also lets me get out and about a fair amount which is something I am very excited about!

I have always been totally envious of people who know exactly what they want to do, I can’t ever imagine having that much clarity about anything! I am very lucky that we were in a position where I could have a couple of months off, which sounds like a dream, and to a certain extent it has been, but actually it has been pretty boring at times. It has forced me to learn to enjoy my own company, and has given me time to re-get to know myself. It is easy to get funnelled down a certain route depending on friends, relationships and jobs, but I have enjoyed taking this time to learn to not feel guilty for doing exactly what I want to my own time schedule, rather than rushing to get 1,000 things done. It sounds silly, but I used to get so annoyed (and still do a bit) with slow walkers as they always got in the way of my ‘clearly more important and busy’ life, but I now have learnt that walking somewhere without purpose or a destination is actually quite liberating. I’ve explored areas I always wanted to and gone into the shops that I always bypassed as I didn’t have time to peruse.

It has been really liberating and made me reassess my priorities and actually oddly grown my self assurance. I know a few people out there who are also between jobs and are struggling with the lack of routine and demoralising trawling through job boards. Of course you will have down days – I used to feel quite rejected thinking that no one wanted me! But, you will get a job soon enough, so make sure that you can look back at this time and see the positives of it as well – it is a rarity to have time off don’t forget!

Who knows how this new job will work out, and some of the contacts I have made since starting my search are still very much in my mind! I am a believer in entering something with an open mind, and so it is only fair to give this 100% – it could be my dream job after all! Good can come out of every situation if you take a step back and look for it, so be encouraged!

There is nothing ground breaking what I am saying, but whether you are between jobs, a full time mum, or actually just a bit stuck in a rut, I urge you to take some time for yourself – guilt free.

Blanchette, Soho

French vegetarian food is possible!

This Parisian inspired restaurant is tucked away on D’Arblay Street in Soho, London. Blanchette opened just a few years ago by brothers Maxime, Malik and Yannis, who have mastered the relaxed French Bistro feel in Soho.

I used to walk past this restaurant every day on my way to work, but the first time I ever  visited was last summer. Soho is packed with loads of restaurants, cafes and bars, and so standing out amongst the crowd can be a challenge. However, Blanchette offers something a little different in the form of French small plates with a modern twist. My husband is vegetarian and although the French are not known for vegetarian food, they have gone further than the typical goats cheese tart or risotto which seems to be the standard vegetarian option at a lot of places, even in London. I wanted to write this following our most recent trip here last weekend as I was reminded of the understated chic that only the French can pull off!

It is not the cheapest of restaurants, but for the quality of food and wine (of course) then I think it is quite reasonable. Here are a couple of photos from the weekend:

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The menu changes regularly to incorporate seasonal food and there may be some unusual flavour combinations, but give it a try – I have never been disappointed!

TOP TIP : they offer a pre-theatre and lunch menu which is only £19 for three courses!

Cotswolds: The Fest, and the Rest

If you are in Cheltenham this week it is hard to ignore the influx of visitors to this spa town for one of the most popular events in the horse racing calendar. The Festival is world renowned and people travel from far and wide to attend, so it is no surprise that it receives so much publicity.

Whilst many locals prefer to take this week to go on holiday and escape the crowds, I love the buzz and the exceptionally strong tweed-game. However, Cheltenham and the Cotswolds has more to offer which is perhaps less well known. At the risk of sounding a little cheesy, I wanted to give you all a little break down on other key dates in the Cotswolds if you are planning a trip here, but looking for something a little different to the racing and eventing scene.

Jazz Festival : 26th April-1st May 2017

If you like jazz this has to be high on the list of events to attend. This draws a range of performers including Laura Mvula, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Gregory Porter and Jack Savoretti. I personally am very picky with jazz, but it is always good fun as there is lots to look at. Plus, sipping a Pimms in the sunshine never requires too much work!

Daylesford Summer Festival: 20th May 2017

This well known organic farm is popular all year round. In the neighbouring villages such as Evenlode and Kingham, they may refer to it as their ‘local farm shop’, and it is equally popular amongst Londoners since opening cafes in Marylebone, Notting Hill and Pimlico. Daylesford hosts many events throughout the year, and it is always a great place to visit and sample some organic produce. However, my highlight of the year is their Summer Festival which opens it doors to visitors showcasing candle making, dog shows and other crafts. This is a fantastic day out for all ages with lots to do!

Cheltenham Science Festival : 6th June-11th June 2017

Praised by scientists around Britain for being the best of its’ kind, the Cheltenham Science Festival champions making science accessible to everyone. With guest speakers such as Brian Cox, Alice Roberts and Richard Dawkins, it is the perfect place to ask those burning questions and untangle world of science. This is one for all ages with children’s activities, although be warned, last year I witnessed the dissection of what I think was a horses head – may want to shield any squeamish children from that exhibition!

Tewkesbury Food & Drink : 24th & 25th June 2017

Held in the stunning Tewkesbury Abbey, this food festival is a popular one featuring live demonstrations. There are over 60 stalls and at only £2.50 a ticket, I can’t imagine anything better than having a valid reason to spend the whole day eating and drinking in the name of ‘culture’. If you like this sort of thing, it would also be worth checking out Broadway Food Festival : 10th September-10th October 2017.

Barn on the Farm : 29th June-2nd July 2017

It’s in the name. This music festival is in a Barn, on a Farm. This year Tom Odell is headlining, and previous years have welcomed Jack Garrett and Ed Sheeran. Weekend tickets including camping are £110, but get in there early as the top tier tickets sell out quickly!

2000 Trees : 6th-8th July 2017

It is said that this is one the friendliest music festivals in Britain, which makes it perfect for attending individually or in groups. This festival is set over 3 days in the Cotswold Hills and hosts 130 performers. Only £100 for all three days including camping, this year the line up includes Slaves and Nothing but Thieves. Past performances include Mallory Knox, Twin Atlantic and Frightened Rabbit.

Stow Cotswold Festival : 15th July 2017

In the market town of Stow on the Wold, this Cotswold Festival is a family favourite. For one day only, this popular town is filled with music, traditional costume, tombolas, treasure hunts and (of course) a market showcasing local crafts, gifts and trades.

Cheltenham Literature Festival : 6th-15th October 2017

The place for actors, poets and politicians all together in one place – your go to event for all things literature, this festival is one of the oldest and arguably the most popular. There is something for everyone and all ages with speakers covering history, politics, film, sport, food, art, fashion, nature, technology and business. This year’s lineup has not yet been announced, but keep an eye out for updates.

Westonbirt Arboretum : 24th November-17th December 2017

All year round Westonbirt is beautiful to visit, but particularly in the Autumn months where the leaves are changing colour. During this time they have a festival of lights which is truly magical and perfect for getting in the mood for Christmas.

There is a lot I haven’t mentioned including more farmers markets, art shows and village-specific events than you could imagine, but this is just a few of my favourites which I recommend! If you think I am missing off anything amazing, let me know as I am always keen to hear about hidden gems 🙂

Monday ‘Blues’

When I set up this blog, my intentions were to do posts on what to do, where to go, what to see in both London and the Cotswolds, but I seem to have completely forgotten that along the way and got sidetracked with my own musings. So, I thought it was about time I actually wrote about some of my favourite places.

As you may know, I first came to Cheltenham as a student at the University. The reason I chose that university was not because of it’s ranking on the league table, or the outstanding teaching (although actually it is pretty good!), but because of the town itself. This may not be the most conventional method of selecting the next step of my future, but I am very much a ‘go with the gut feeling’ type of girl. Cheltenham is not a big town, but I was taken in by the buzz of the place despite its size. There are so many great restaurants, cafes and events going on all year that it creates a draw for people.

As a student, it was important to me not to get stuck in a student stereotype, and somewhere I used to go back then for a refresher of the real world and still go to now has to be one of my favourite places in Cheltenham.

Situated in the sophisticated area of the Suffolks, and surrounded by independent jewellers, boutiques and family run shops is a restaurant called The Daffodil. This art-deco style restaurant used to be a cinema and still has the original film reels in the balcony. No matter what the occasion, the Daffodil offers a varied and well-executed menu (including a set menu for you early diners) and their cocktails are honestly some of the best I have come across. They do various events throughout the week and months so it is worth keeping an eye on their website, but every Monday they host a live Jazz evening from 7pm with 2 for 1 martini cocktails from 5pm. I highly recommend the Espresso or French martini! This makes a really nice evening without breaking the bank and it definitely helps get over those Monday blues!

The Daffodil has an air of sophistication without the stuffiness you sometimes find in fine dining restaurants, and the waiting staff are very well equipped to answer any questions around the menu and are highly attentive whilst not interfering with your evening. Whether you are looking for a girly catch up in the bar, a date night or a family dinner, this place has never failed to disappoint.

If any of you have been here before, I hope that you have had the same experiences as I have, and if you have not yet been – I’ll see you there tonight!

Gen-Y Challenge

I wanted to share with you something which has been on my mind recently about our generation. Generation Y and Millennials are lucky in so many ways. We have grown up in a world of technology and easy access to whatever we want. We are increasingly impatient and are being fed new information quicker than ever before. We are fantastic at adapting and we push the boundaries of what would have been expected of us in our parents generation.

The choices we are exposed to are endless and we are able to create our dream life much more easily with the opportunities of working abroad and flexi working becoming increasingly available. All of this is truly amazing, but I wonder if being able to make selfish choices has made us insular looking, with ourselves being the sole focus. Don’t get me wrong, I am a true believer of not letting things get in the way of achieving what you want out of life, and you have to be selfish a lot of the time to get there.

Having this flexibility in life and through school, university and various jobs, you collect an extensive network of friends. Social media has made it very easy to see what is going on in their lives, but is that good enough to replace conversation? I love seeing what all my friends are up to and if I have to miss an event I can look at the photos and feel more like I was there, and of course we all love a good stalk of old friends we are out of touch with. A lot of us are guilty of only showing the good bits of our lives on social media (myself very much included!) so that our wider network can see how ‘successful’ we are, what holidays we are going on and the cool new clothes/watches/shoes we have bought. What we don’t often see is that it can push people away, it can cause issues between existing friendships and it can make others feel inadequate.

I want to be very clear, I am not wanting you to feel bad and sell all your belongings. I love Instagram etc, and it is only natural to want to show off your nice things – after all it is striving for more which keeps up our motivation in life! All I am trying to say is that we are trend setters so let’s start a new trend! Let’s make an effort to be intentional with our friendships and meet friends face to face or actually call them on the telephone to catch up with them. Ask how they really are doing and dare to be vulnerable with each other. I think it is easy to underestimate the power of friendships. A good friend can enjoy your happiness, but they can also be there to support you when perhaps you aren’t wanting to be one of those people uploading rather heart felt Facebook statuses for the world to see.

We all have busy lives these days and time is really precious, so it can be tempting to take the easy option and cancel plans with a friend so that you can snuggle down in your PJs with a good film, or if a better offer comes up then making an excuse to bail and go to the other party etc. We are total commitment-phobes and FOMO is a real thing! I personally am going to try to commit to the plans I have, and even if I’d rather stay in, I want to change my attitude to be a better friend to people and give them my oh-so-precious time, because I know there will be a time where I would really appreciate it if someone would do the same for me.

My challenge to you all is to commit to and invest in some of your friendships. Build each other up. Make the effort even if it puts you out because you never know how much it might mean to your friend. Plus, you’ll probably have a great time and be pretty happy you spent some time together!