Shanghai Baby

Shanghai, well what can I say? It’s a beautiful city, steeped in Chinese and French history. I really thought it would just be like Hong Kong. However, I was pleasantly surprised! It has so many cool things to offer tourists. 

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My favourite part about Shanghai is the people. The locals are so friendly and overall very happy. Although it is one of the busier cities, I still felt a sense of space and freedom, something that you can almost never find back home in Hong Kong. You can see why it’s already slotted into my top five cities to visit! 

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The food in Shanghai is fantastic. If you are ever in the city yourself, please stop off and try the siu mai dumplings, they are to die for. They have another kind of dumpling too, its crispy on the outside and like a hot oil on the inner. But you do have to be careful that you don’t burn your mouth! That aside, these little beauties have people queuing around the block! For only 6 Renminbi, you have found yourself a food bargain. If Chinese cuisine isn’t your thing though, which I know it isn’t for everyone, you can always try western, Italian, Japanese etc, there’s plenty of choice out there.

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The sites of Shanghai are simply beautiful. The architecture in particular stands out to me and probably to other tourists. For parts of the city, the traveler is made to feel that you’re walking through 1920s France. If you do have the chance to explore, stop off at the peace hotel, you won’t be disappointed! On Mondays they even do a jazz night. 

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River cruises are very popular in Shanghai. This is an ideal way to see both sides of the river and see the lights at night time. (Booking is needed though) 

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As for shopping, I didn’t get the chance to explore that part. I did see big brands such as HNM, Forever 21 and Zara, but for boutiques you do need to spend a little more time researching. I did see some cool artsy shops with one off pieces inside though. It does give off a trendy feel, so I’m sure for you fashion lovers out there, you won’t be going home empty handed. 

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The nightlife in Shanghai is amazing too! It’s busy yet relaxed. You can choose to go to the all swanky places such as M1NT but then you can have the alternative of Arkham. M1NT is situated on the 24th floor with a fabulous view of Shanghai. It’s stylish, trendy and hosts a good range of music. You have the choice of the main room with a cocktail bar with lounge music or stepping into the Shanghai nightclub scene. (One thing to know though, you cannot see inside the toilets.) Literally its blacked out! (Be careful). I’d definitely recommend this place, not only is it a unique way of seeing the city lit up at night, but also the drinks are reasonably priced and the cocktails are superb. I tried the Cosmopolitan and a Mojito. After a few drinks there, we went onto Arkham, a little grungy club just up town. This makes a nice alternative to the trendy setting of M1NT. If you are looking for spillt drinks, dubstep and some real dancing, this is the place to be on a Friday night and the drinks are even cheaper! Taxi’s are a pain though afterwards, but definitely worth the trip all the same. The Shanghai nightlife is definitely one to hit up guys. 

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I can’t stress enough how great Shanghai is. Please take the time to visit this wonderful city. It hosts so many cool things to do and see. It’s a great stop off if you are wanting to travel to most places in Asia. You’d be a fool to miss out. 

My next post will be about my trip to a water village just outside of Shanghai. I have so many beautiful photographs of the village to show you all. If you’d like to read this post, tune in again later this week, until then, have a good weekend! Below are a few more snaps of the trip. Enjoy 😀 

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Thanks for reading! 

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Q&A with Towie Goddess Lauren Goodger

(Originally written for my final university project. This was a short Q&A with the The Only Way is Essex star – Lauren Goodger)

Joella Hawley, one of our writers, had a chance to do a follow-up Q&A with Lauren Goodger after sampling the TOWIE star’s new self-tanning range – ‘Lauren’s Way’. Under a lot of scrutiny even after the opening of her new salon in Essex, here is a chance to hear what the celeb had to say to HerUni about what inspires her and any future projects coming up:

Hi Lauren, I recently visited your salon and loved the spray tan!  What has inspired you to open your own salon?

Yes, I love beauty and I think that every girl deserves to be pampered and look glamorous, that’s why I launched Lauren’s Way.

Who would be your style guru? Where did you take your fashion inspiration from?

That’s a tough one… I love strong, independent women and I have always loved Angelina Jolie!

What is your must have beauty product that you carry everywhere with you?

I know you probably think it will be fake tan but it’s difficult to choose between that and false lashes from my Lauren’s Way range.

Are you a designer girl or high street girl?

Like most girls, I like to mix both and some of my favourite pieces are from the high street!

Young girls look up to you as a role model, who is your role model/hero?

Lots of people are my role models and heroes. I think anyone that is trying to overcome criticism or difficulty in their lives is a role model.

Future projects you are working on?

There are lots of exciting things coming but I can’t give anything away so watch this space!

Advice for young girls who would like to open their own business? 

Do your research! Make sure you know what you are getting yourself in to before you start. Running your own business takes total dedication and commitment.

Last but not least, do you prefer Essex or London? 

Essex of course!  I do love going to London for a night out or for some shopping with my girlfriends but home is where the heart is and for me that’s Essex.

The Lauren’s Way website with the entire range and Lauren’s Blog can be found here: http://www.laurensway.com/ 

Image source: London24.com

Modern Toilet, a good place to let yourself go?

(This was originally written for a university project ‘The Falmouth Navigator’. This has featured on numerous blogs including some of my old ones) 

Taiwan is well known for its across the board ideas. Taking on Chinese and Japanese influence, they continue to pride themselves on the diverse choice of cuisine.

In Kaohsiung, the second largest city in Taiwan, a certain restaurant has caused quite a stir in the food world. In 2004 Marton Restaurant launched the slogan ‘To eat or to pee? Go to the Toilet! Deliver ur shit!’. The restaurant reenacts an eating space with small bathroom tables and toilet seats as chairs. For dessert, diners has the option of eating out of a mini plastic commode with chocolate ice cream mimicking an actual ‘dump’! Yummy or gross?

Popular menu choices are Korean sorak beef, Yunan Chili Chicken, pearl and milk hotpot and seafood dishes. If not a fan of Asian Cuisine, you also have the alternative of sampling some of the european dishes on the menu.

It does make you wonder where this unique idea came from? The owner has commented saying Manga was the big influence on the creation of Marton enterprises and they hope to continue to expand on ideas and to become “The No. 1 Brand in Themed Chain Restaurants.”

Popularity has grown vastly and now having over fourteen other restaurants across Taiwan and Hong Kong. Each restaurant has a different toilet theme from a shower room, a nightclub, classic restaurant, and a games room. We are all eagerly waiting to hear whats next!

*Image source – National Geographic onlineImage

Inside the OCD mind – Heruni.com

(Originally written for heruni.com. The website has recently shut down and re opened up as hercampus, deleting previous posts from past contributors. Here is an article that featured on the website)

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is an increasingly well-publicized condition. According to the OCD charity website, it affects three in every one hundred people. Usually the disorder is brought on by an excess of anxiety. Not only affecting the mental but physical state, often many people go on to not been diagnosed for long periods of time.

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OCD can be a phobia of germs, people, not wanting to part with items (commonly known as hoarding), over analysis of situations and the over thinking of disturbing thoughts. Often the person will do many repetitive actions as they believe something or someone may be affected if they don’t do go through with it.

Tina, a student, recalls her personal experience of the condition. “The first time I noticed I had a problem was when I couldn’t leave the bathroom after an hour of washing my hands. I know it may sound like the obvious but I must have counted at least thirty times of washing and drying my hands. It went on for a month before I felt I could tell someone.” It’s true that many people feel guilty of having this problem or even embarrassed and often go on to feel no one will understand them. Many people suffer by themselves, hoping they can solve the problem.

The majority don’t realize how demanding the condition can become. People go on as long as a year or more without even noticing that they have it. It starts to become dangerous if it starts to affect someone’s everyday life. People have lost and quit their jobs, ended relationships, feeling there is no other option in order to cope. Tina says, “It’s hard to identify who you were before you start this. At the time I couldn’t recall when it started and how it progressed so fast. I found it incredibly hard to go to School as no one would understand what I was going through.”

The causes of the problem can be a selection of reasons but the most commonly known as a certain memory that is later triggered on in life. Not even a bad memory, just something that helps towards the growing phobia. Tina’s phobia involved one of two things: the over need of cleanliness and not wanting to part with items.

“I knew at the time what I was doing was completely wrong. I didn’t throw away any paper as I believed I had wrote something on it that was bad, I was over analyzing of situations. I couldn’t sleep at night because I had to keep checking the door to see if it was locked. It was a personal hell for me. I found it hard to talk to people as I thought they wouldn’t understand. After a while though people started noticing my hands as they were in a really bad way.”

Many famous people have even gone to discuss their battle with the terrible illness. Aviator, the movie starring Leonardo Dicaprio, depicts Howard Hughes’s battle with the disorder. Even David Beckham has commented, “I have got this obsessive compulsive disorder where I have to have everything in a straight line, or everything has to be in pairs.”

The issue is that people don’t realize that there is so much help out there for them. More and more of us are becoming infected with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and it is curable to some affect. “I visited a counselor for two years, this was helpful as she identified with me the cause of the problem and how I could stop it. It was a hard time for me, I was only 12 and didn’t really know what was happening. If it wasn’t for her I don’t think I could have done it by myself. I had so much help and people need to realize don’t suffer in silence. Anyone can develop this disorder; it has nothing to do with who you are or where you come from.”  Tina says.

If you have any inquiries on OCD, visit website – www.ocduk.org. If you feel you may be developing or close to anyone who could be suffering from any of these symptoms, you should contact your local Gp for more information.

*Image source – http://www.thesingingsunflower.com

Sarah Michelle Gellar Expecting a Boy! – Heruni.com

(Originally written for heruni.com. The website has recently shut down and re opened up as hercampus, deleting previous posts from past contributors. Here is an article that featured on the website)

Buffy star Sarah Michelle Gellar and husband Freddie Prinze Jr. are pleased to announce a second little edition to the Prinze family: a baby boy.

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Gellar and Prinze, who had their first child, Charlotte in September 2009 are said to be “thrilled that Charlotte will have a little brother” said a friend of the twosome to People Magazine.

The couple, who met on the set of horror flick I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997), tied the knot just five years later in Mexico having stared in the Scooby-Doo (2002) movie as the loved up couple: Daphne and Fred. Sarah has said that for their wedding, they had wanted an intimate gathering, priding herself on keeping their relationship private away from the public eye. There is no surprise then that the actual due date of the newest Prinze baby is currently unknown.

Gellar, who finished Buffy in 2002, has had a string of television projects since the shows end including the critically acclaimed film The Ringer (2010).

Freddie has said he took over his fatherly duties when Sarah had a busy schedule with The Ringer. He is excited for a little boy and looks forward to his arrival to excel his love for sports.

Image source : Bumpshack.com

Bookmark Your Life

(Orignally written for a university project. I have published it on many blogs and also contributed it to heruni.com. I just thought it was a local article about life in Falmouth, Cornwall. Let me know what you think)

It’s a beautiful day in the seaside town of Falmouth and the usual crowds have returned to immerse themselves in the spectacular views of the harbour. But before stopping to have that well deserved coffee break, you must pay a visit to the book store on the corner of Arwenack Street.

‘Bookmark’ is a family run business in the heart of the Falmouth high street. Currently renting the shop from her Father, Tasha Burkes decided to swap her life in the big city of London and return to her home town to carry on the family business.

Tasha reflects on the history of the building, “It was a family called ‘Blackers’, it sold tobacco and myrtle. My dad bought it from a man as a fishing tackle shop; it also had a hair salon in the back and sold tobacco, he bought it in 1968 and continued it as a fishing tackle shop.” She also goes onto explain the shop used to be a house for a sea captain and his daughters; who tragically went missing at sea, bringing the house into the hands of a business development.

It’s hard to imagine the journey towards becoming an antiquarian book shop specializing in maritime and nautical literature after its previous occupancy. “Well the two ladies who bought it made it into a book shop and I kept it as it is”, she says. Tasha has gained an expert knowledge of maritime literature since residing in Falmouth, “It’s an old Maritime town, steeped in history of sailings, if you looked it up you get the really famous people that came here, the Cutty Sark and the first black slave Joseph Emidy, who was finally released in Falmouth and he’s buried now in Truro. You still get around the world yachts and serious sailors and I’m there first port of call, that’s why I stock Maritime books, that’s the way forward really.”

Tasha is hoping to encourage the younger generation to start recycling old books. Rather than purchase a birthday card that will gather dust in a drawer before being disposed of, she hopes an old romance novel will convey those special messages to our loved ones instead. In years to come she wishes to look back at her book case and reminisce her life, expressing that neither a computer nor a kindle can provide this.

With the difficult trade in books and having to compete with the likes of ‘Amazon’ and online book traders, it questions how any independent book retailer stays afloat. “I’ve made it work, I believe down to business skills and finding a niche market and been clever at what I do and been good at my deal, so my plan is to stay here and run it as a shop, it’s the most beautiful shop it’s not actually what it looks like, it’s what it gives me.” When not sharing stories, she shares a passion to learn more of the previous book owners. “The stories I find from people that have died, the letters I find, the romance of the shop is steeped in history, its deaths, romance and passion, I meet the people, the widows that have died, I try to get a bit about it, to get to know about the person , you get really interesting people that come in here, who want to come here, not because they have too , they actually want to come in here, they do really shape my life, the stuff I’ve learnt on the way.”

“I want to keep the bookshop going, they give much more to a community and town.”

With a warm welcome from Tasha and a captivating journey with the turn of every page, ‘Bookmark’ is everything and more than your conventional next day web delivery. Wherever it be you’re looking for the beautiful classic or a romantic novel, ‘Bookmark’ is always here for you.

Image Source – Local Data Search

An Ocean Park Adventure – Originally written for Her Uni

Ocean Park is one of Hong Kong’s most popular tourist spots. The wonderful theme park first opened in 1977. Situated in southern Hong Kong, the park is divided into two parts, one on each side of the mountain.

The park includes 35 attractions and currently has over 15 rides as well as 11 animal exhibits. Those featuring an Aquarium, Jelly Fish Exhibition, Red Panda and Wild Panda House, Dolphin and Sea Lion Shows and The Rainforest, not to mention the numerous amount of other things to do and see.

The visitor has the choice to take a cable car ride or train to the other side of the mountain. The views from the cable car are simply enchanting. The tourist will witness one of the world’s most beautiful coastlines including that of Repulse Bay and Stanley. (Which cannot be seen on foot or by car, so it’s truly a rare experience).

Advice

When planning your trip to Ocean Park, make sure you decide which attraction that you want to see first. The park has over 2000 visitors a day, so be diligent and plan your trip well in advance, so you can see all the shows on offer. Try to stay away from public holidays; this is the busiest time for the park.

Usually the sea lion show is the first on the list. Take a walk through the panda house and you will be guided towards the sea lion enclosure, home to the parks resident seal, Whiskers. Enjoy a thirty minute show meeting the friendly sea lion and find out some quirky facts about the sea creatures.

Before moving onto the next show, take a look at Lee – lee, the parks eldest panda bear. She’s a very shy panda and only peers through her bamboo at meal times. Try catching a glimpse of one of China’s deepest treasures and also a nearly extinct animal. If you’re lucky you may even get a photo! Don’t forget to have a browse at the gift shop on your way out for all those panda themed gifts.

After strolling through first half of the park, it’s now time for the cable car ride. On your journey, see if you are able to spot the Hair Raiser Rollercoaster. With its windy drops and upside down turns, this ride will leave your hair looking like Marge Simpson. Definitely not a ride for the faint hearted. If you do dare take a chance on this ride, purchase yourself a keychain of a photograph of your unforgettable experience. The rides are divided into separate areas such as Thrill Mountain and Adventure Land. Recommended rides to try are The Rapids, The Whirly Bird and the Bungee Trampoline. Be sure to leave plenty of time to cue up for some of the bigger and more popular rides of the park.

Above – The exhibition had special light installations in place, giving the feeling of another world encounter

Before going to watch the Dolphin show in the afternoon, you must take a dark walk through the jelly fish garden. This is by far the coolest and most educational part of the park. With over 1000 species, all shapes and sizes, this is one of the world’s most superb collection of the sea creatures. You will be truly swept into the underwater world, with unique music and special effects; you will spend at least an hour in here. The mirror maze is fantastic, almost like a ride in the park; you don’t know which wall is real. Be sure to take some photographs in here, not something you see every day!

Now it must be nearly time to visit the parks infamous Dolphin theatre show. This event usually accumulates a large amount of people at each showing. Arrive at least twenty minutes of so before, just so you can get the right seat to take those special snaps. The latest show is called ‘Sea Dreams’, a story about a grandfather explaining to his granddaughter about how humans and animals can be as one, and be friends. This is an Oscar winning production and features a beautiful soundtrack. The Dolphins put on an excellent show.

You may have had time to walk though the Polar Adventure and the Rainforest but when it’s nearly 5pm, take a train back to the entrance of the park. Once back, take a stroll through the Grand Aquarium, one of Ocean Parks greatest attractions. Like the jelly fish garden, you are taken on a unique journey through the oceans depths of the Great Barrier Reef and beyond. On your way don’t forget to say hello to one of the oceans hungriest predators, the Hammer Head Shark.

Your journey through the glass house guides you towards the notorious bubble tunnel, where you can glance up at some of the seas most wonderful creatures. A truly magical and phenomenal moment into the underwater abyss.

When you finally arrive to the end of the tour, this is where you will take a moment to look over the big tank. It really makes you believe you are in the ocean yourself. With the sound of the waves crashing through and the harmonious atmosphere, this is a calming and relaxing experience after your busy day.

After your under the sea adventure, have a romantic meal at world famous Neptune’s restaurant and bar which overlooks the Grand Aquarium, the perfect ending to what was a perfect day.

Expat Focus – A Weekend in Kyoto, Japan

A few weeks ago, Hong Kong celebrated the westerner’s equivalent of Christmas, the Chinese New Year. The New Year is a very important celebration for the Chinese. It’s a time for family, good food and a well-deserved holiday.

To escape the mayhem of shopping and numerous meals out, my partner and I decided to take a short trip away to Kyoto, Japan. We chose Japan for a numerous of reasons. Firstly, because Taiwan and Korea are the number one destinations to visit around the New Year, as they are incredibly close to Hong Kong and secondly, it’s a new place for us both to explore. Even though we both had to pay a fraction more than usual for the flight ticket, it was a trip well worth it.

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Surprisingly enough the city is the seventh largest of Japan and was previously a capital before Tokyo slotted into first place.

Even though travelers are in one of the most heavily populated cities in Japan, Kyoto still manages to make you feel you’re in a faraway destination.

The itinerary was set for three days to explore the city. Day one was dedicated to sampling as much of the local cuisine as possible. We tried Dumplings, Shrimp Tempura, Udon and the traditional Japanese Hotpot. For the evening time we explored the Gion district, one of the oldest districts of Kyoto. By night, this area is vibrant and filled with some of Kyoto’s best bars and restaurants.

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My first impressions of Kyoto ticked all of the boxes. I’m not sure if it was the brisk morning air with the light snowflakes that made this place so appealing but it really is a beautiful, beautiful city. On morning walks, I paid close attention to the impressive detail of the architecture and hidden pathways.

In the evening time, the streets are lit with the red backdrop of the suma bridge. Taking a pleasant walk through, it opened its arms and let us both capture some of the rare moments of Japan that not many of you would be able to see by day.

The second day of the trip was off to a good start. We visited one of the infamous Japanese shrines, The Fushimi Inari. Mostly remembered for featuring in the Oscar nominated film, ‘Memoirs of a Geisha’. It’s even more breathtaking than anticipated. The shrine stretches for 233 meters long and reaches out to an outstanding view of the city. The locals invite the tourist to wander through the forest and immerse themselves in the Japanese culture. Along the shrines path, many fox statues can be spotted. The reason being, the fox represents the Inari’s messengers and is often seen with keys in their mouths.

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The Fushimi Inari Shrine is definitely a must for any visitor of Kyoto. Situated in the mountains with plenty of forestry area, this is a perfect way to start the day before stopping off in the Fushimi Village for lunch afterwards.

In the evening, we vowed to try the nation’s favorite dish, Ramen. Nobody can leave Japan without doing so! There are many ramen restaurants scattered around the city and we found the main stretch of them above the Kyoto train station. This was one of the highlights of the trip away. With plenty of choice and a comfortable atmosphere, this was great end to the weekend trip away. And not forgetting to have a sip or two of warm Sake.

Day three had easily arrived and they do say time goes fast when you’re having fun. From the beginning to end, we had ticked off Sushi, Ramen, the Gion District and The Fushimi Inari Shrine.

For the last few hours or so we ventured out with our cameras and indulged ourselves in the city that is Kyoto.

Expat Focus – Why Expats Love Hong Kong

Having been an expat in Hong Kong now for 16 months, I am already planning where to visit next. That’s the thing about being an expat, every new destination has the potential to be your new home. When arriving in the country of choice, the first thing many of us will do, is see if it has the potential to be our new home. Does it have an English supermarket? What is the tax rates and transport options? But once you have seen how easy it is and how well you can adapt to the likes of Hong Kong and Thailand, the next move won’t be so stressful. You will already know what to expect.

For many westerners Hong Kong is a popular choice to move. Expats love it for its accessible transport service, diverse food and close proximity to other countries. Most weekends can be taken up with a quick trip to Taiwan and the Philippines or just a short boat ride to a surrounding island.

If you enjoy change, a fast pace lifestyle and a place that has many western influences as well as Chinese, Hong Kong is the place to be. The city is fun, exciting and on many occasions captures the heart.

As well as the points mentioned above, Hong Kong also possesses many other things great about it. The job rate is exceptionally high for foreign nationals. Teaching, Hotel Managerial and Marketing are amongst the popular job choices.

For teaching, it’s split into various sectors. From the obvious Kindergarten, Primary and Secondary, there’s the option of the government scheme for fully qualified teachers. But even if you don’t have the necessary requirements, foreigners are still given the chance to work in local organizations. Tefls don’t seem to be on top of the list of requirements unlike neighboring countries such as Thailand and Japan.

Teaching is great for enhancing your CV. It’s the perfect chance to experience a different type of culture and education system. Hong Kong is in the top 5 academic competitors in the world and with this added extra to your CV, this may impress the future employers. The standards are very high in terms of delivering the goods to the classroom, but with the educational background of the teacher, this isn’t so necessary. As long as the teacher is a Native English speaker and is able to perform a class with phonics and fun, you will have no problems with adapting to the teaching life of Hong Kong.

Happy New Year

Hello and welcome back. It’s 2014 and hope you’ve all had a wonderful new year so far. I am sorry for the late update, but with Christmas time back in England and 120 plus school reports to do, I’ve simply had no free time. However, starting on a new note, I have a few things I would like to share with you.

Firstly, I have had the opportunity to write for Expat Focus. A website featuring idea’s, news, jobs and columnists, all discussing the experiences of moving abroad. I fell in love with some of the features before xmas, so emailed to see if I would be able to write for them too. Something quite therapeutic about sharing my experiences living in Hong Kong. My first article went live today. Check out the link here – http://www.expatfocus.com/c/aid=1415/columnists/joella-hawley/why-expats-love-hong-kong/

Next on my list, towards the end of the month I will be visiting Osaka, Japan. Me and my boyfriend are going to celebrate the Chinese New Year. I really, really, cannot wait! Luckily I do get to stay here for the actual Chinese New Year period, as I missed it last year with a trip back home. So it will be a brand new experience for me to see how the Chinese will celebrate it.

Thirdly I have vowed to start Boxing this year. It’s always been a dream of mine to start. Every time I hear ‘Eye of the tiger’, I get a certain adrenaline run through me. It’s my number one new years resolution! I’ll keep you posted on the on’s and goings of how hard it is actually to get fit! Wish me luck 🙂

And lastly, thank you very much for all the support on here. I really appreciate all the people who have taken the time to pass by my blog and give it a read. Warms the heart.

Bye!