Monday, 10 June 2019

A FIRST TIMER'S GUIDE TO FESTIVALS

A shot of me crouching down next to ankle deep mud
Festival season is upon us and it has dawned on me that I've never seen a blog post with tips for first-time festival goers. I've been going to festivals every year since I was 14/15 from Summertime ball to Reading festival and last weekend, I went to Parklife and now I consider myself a festival veteran. 

WHICH FESTIVAL IS FOR ME?
I've been to Summertime ball, River festival, Wireless (twice), Reading festival (twice) and Parklife but there are over 50 music festivals in the UK. To name a few, Lovebox, Glastonbury, Bestival, Download. Each festival offers different genres of music so you're guaranteed to find one that suits your music taste and on Skiddle you can use the festival finder to find upcoming festivals around the country. 

HOW DO I GET THERE?
Train, minibus (if you're going in a large group), drive (most camping festivals have parking sites) or coach. Most festivals offer a service run by Big Green coach, return tickets are usually under £60 to and from the festival entrance. Check out their website to see if a festival you're hoping to attend or attending is on there!

WHAT DO I PACK?
If you're camping at a festival, here's what you need:
- Sleeping bag (from a charity shop, Argos, decathlon, Amazon)
- A good quality tent (if you're going in a two, get a four-man tent for extra room)
- Hoodie and joggers (for cold nights)
- Outfit for each day (mix and match if you want to pack light)
- Torch
- Dry snacks (biscuits, cereal bars, crisps, crackers)
- Cheap mixers and alcohol (alcohol at festivals is extortionate, you've been warned)
- Toothbrush, mouthwash
- Litre bottles of water or a bucket to fill up at water stations (to brush your teeth, wash your face)
- Baby wipes (showers don't exist in the middle of nowhere so you'll have to baby wipe yourself clean for a couple days)
- Tissues (to put in your bumbag for the portaloos)
- Hand sanitiser (with no running water, you'll be relying on this)
- A small mirror (for doing your hair and makeup in the morning)
- Fluffy socks (again, it gets cold at night)
- Bin bags (for rubbish, dirty or wet clothes and shoes)
- Welly boots, walking boots or old trainers 
- Camping chairs (optional)
- Suncream (safety first)
- Sunglasses (to wear on your head for the aesthetics or to protect your eyes from the sun)
- Glitter (lots and lots)
- Neon paint (silent discos, evening artists)
- Plastic poncho or raincoat (British weather is unpredictable)
- Bumbag (a waterproof one if you can)
- Portable charger(s)
- Disposable camera (optional)

ADVICE FOR CAMPERS
- Arrive early to pitch your tent, the only way to guarantee a good camping spot
- Don't padlock your tent, you're attracting thieves. Just leave your valuables at home.
- Take earplugs, festival-goers don't sleep. It'll be 3am and people will be shouting some sort of football chant or "Steve", "Alan". You've been warned!

WHERE CAN I BUY CUTE FITS?
I buy my festival outfits from Depop, eBay, Prettylittlething, Boohoo, ASOS, Forever 21, SHEIN, Romwe, Zaful and Primark. Here's a list of other online festival wear sites that @Kelsierainx0x0 posted on Twitter: 
A list of rave and festival wear shops

Are you heading to a festival this year?

Fran
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Monday, 3 June 2019

JUNE TO DO LIST

Me in a black jumpsuit looking up at a model giraffe in the natural history museum
June, the month where you look back at your new year's resolutions and go "shit, I haven't achieved any of these". Can you believe that we are six months into 2019? Nope, neither can I. I've done so much already this year and there is still so much I am yet to do, both planned and unplanned. For me, June marks the beginning of summer but technically summer doesn't start until the summer solstice which is on June 21st but whatever. Here's to more sunshine, more evenings spent in the local beer garden, Love Island and creating  memories with my gal pals! 

01. WRITE A SUMMER BUCKET LIST 
As many of you are aware by now, I'm moving to York in 102 days and going to university. Before I go back to being stressed about assignments, deadlines and exams, I intend to live my best life and the best way to ensure that I do just that is to write a list of things I would like to do and see over the next 14 weeks

02. SAVE 3 MONTHS RENT
This is going to take a little longer than the month of June but from now until September, I'm going to be putting money aside to contribute to the rent for my flat in York

03. MEET MORE FELLOW BLOGGERS
A lot of my blogging friends have now finished uni for good and I'm excited to finally be able to meet them, shoot content, grab a bite to eat. Jasmine, Yossy, Lucy etc. time to hmu! 

04. ORGANISE A GIRLS NIGHT OUT
I don't remember the last time I got white girl wasted and I'm due a night to get white girl wasted with my gal pals. I'm thinking Junkyard golf or Ballie ballerson, somewhere fun with good vibes and funky cocktails 

05. UPDATE MY BLOG PAGES
I haven't updated my contact, disclaimer and about me pages in way over a year. So, I should probably get round to doing that at some point as I'm sure they are a little outdated, oops

Posts you may have missed from last month:
A peek inside the world's biggest Primark 
Things I wish I knew when I started blogging 
A timeless classic to add to your jewellery collection
An exclusive first look at Watford's new Slug & Lettuce

What's on you to do list for the month of June?

Fran
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Monday, 27 May 2019 / 66-68 The Parade, Watford WD17 1AH, UK

AN EXCLUSIVE FIRST LOOK AT WATFORD'S NEW SLUG & LETTUCE | AD

The store front of the new Slug & Lettuce location in Watford with pink and white outdoor seating and green fake plants
I was kindly invited by LUCRE pr to visit the all new Slug and Lettuce in Watford. This branch is the first Slug & Lettuce to be joined onto POPworld, a nightclub dedicated to '90s and '00s cheese. Pop music isn't really my thing but Slug & Lettuce happy hour certainly is!
A brown wood bar with a filled with gin glasses and bottle of Tanquery gin
The evening started with a cocktail masterclass and we were taught how to make a cosmopolitan and a mojito. Unfortunately, I was driving so I didn't get to take full advantage of these but luckily, my sister was there to drink for the both of us. 
A glance at the new floral cocktail menu inspire by interflora, a flower company
A cocktail glass filled with Cosmopolitan cocktail topped with orange skin
Before heading over to POPworld for a Partini, we tried a few items from the new menu and I was greatly impressed by the number of vegan and vegetarian options. For starters, we had a camembert sharer which is 'baked camembert with caramelised red onion chutney, houmous, cruditĂ©s, Margherita arancini, beer-battered onion rings, olives, salsa, mayo and toasted bread strips'. As a main, we had vegan tostadas topped with vegan bacon flavoured crumb, Violife grated mature, onion, peppers and vegan mayo. I was so hungry by the time we got round to eating so didn't take any photos of it but you're going to have to trust my word and go and give the new menu a try! 
A pink neon sign reading "cocktails"
A pink tiled bathroom with monochrome herringbone flooring and gold, navy and silver accents

Have you ever been to Slug & Lettuce?

Fran
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Monday, 20 May 2019

A TIMELESS CLASSIC TO ADD TO YOUR JEWELLERY COLLECTION | AD

A close up shot of a watch with a black face, rose gold and brown genuine leather straps
- This post contains a gifted item -

When I was contacted by Adexe to review their new Miniature Sistine collection, I couldn't say no. Adexe is watch brand based in the heart of London, in Shoreditch. The brand is 'all about self-expression, individuality and wearing pieces that reflect your style and identity'. All of their watches are designed at their London studio and made in house which separates them from other watch brands.

The story
Sistine, one of the most famous chapels in the world, located in the Vatican city. This timeless piece was inspired by the planning of the city featuring the domed chapel at the backend and supporting the front yard.

The collection
The new collection was designed to be feminine, dainty and affordable with watches starting from £79. Each piece has a small watch face and a variety of colour choices from snow whitesilver caserose goldsilver and mesh to customise your new watch to suit your style. I love the simplicity of this collection and the elegance such a small accessory can bring to your look.

"Timeless and one to wear for every occasion" 

I picked out the Mini Sistine in Rose Gold and it came with a rose gold metal strap as well as a brown genuine leather strap. All Adexe watches come with two extra straps in black or brown genuine leather. Want something different? If you tell them your colour preference, they will try their best to provide you with what you wish and they also offer worldwide shipping! 

Use code: FRANCISCA15 for 15% off your first order!

Fran
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Monday, 13 May 2019 / 2-4 Hoxton Square, Hackney, London N1 6NU, UK

THINGS I WISH I KNEW WHEN I STARTED BLOGGING

A projected screen in a low light room showing the words, 'blogging 101'
Last Tuesday, I was kindly invited to a blogger workshop hosted by Spot Digital, a London based digital agency, specialising in influencer marketing. I had the opportunity to network with the team and other bloggers while being 'talked through the best blog layouts, SEO tips, media kits and general do's/dont's of working with brands'. 

I found this event to be extremely helpful and I wish something like this had been around when I started my blog many years ago. I thought it would be helpful to write a post on what I learnt at the event and hopefully help anyone thinking of starting a blog, beginners or those who've been doing it for years, there's always room to learn something new and improve our sites. 

A CHECKLIST FOR YOUR SITE
  • Is your site visually appealing?
  • If a brand wanted to contact you, is your contact page accessible? Is your email address professional?
  • Is your navigation bar split into categories?
  • Do you have a short blurb telling visitors and potentially brands wishing to collab, who you are? 

"Prioritise your blog over your socials. Socials e.g. Instagram should support your blog, not replace it" 

A CHECKLIST FOR YOUR SOCIALS
  • Is your real location visible on your site and socials?
  • Use hashtags correctly, mix them up with each post, don't copy and paste and keep a spreadsheet
  • Use different fields of hashtags ranging from high ranking ones e.g. 104k posts to low ranking ones e.g. 400 posts, to guarantee you're being seen 
  • Don't buy followers or bots, pretty self-explanatory but you can spot fake engagement, likes and followers from a mile away. Don't do it and don't be tempted to!
  • Post regularly and consistently. What days are you going to publish new blog posts? Are you posting on Instagram daily? I heard from a Youtuber that according to Instagram, you should post daily or twice a day to grow. This is something I need to work on
  • Engagement is the most important thing (even for micro-influencers, you can have a small following but have a high engagement rate)
  • Stay on brand and professional throughout your socials, everyone knows everyone in this industry
  • Quality over quantity. Don't post for the sake of posting!

A CHECKLIST FOR YOUR SEO
SEO is short for search engine optimization, it is the practice of increasing the amount of traffic to your website through search engine results.
  • Update old posts with current dates, information and images. Tag old related posts to your new posts e.g. if you're going to Italy and it was on your travel bucket list, link the post so that it can gain more traffic 
  • If you're using Wordpress, optimise metadata. The Yoast plugin makes it easy for you to control titles, meta descriptions, set your targeted keywords and track how often you're using them
  • Compress images before uploading and add alt text to your images 
A self-discovery, a lot of us have been using ALT text wrong. ALT text is supposed to be used to describe the image and make your post accessible to those who are visually impaired and rely on screen readers.
  • Aim for posts to be a minimum of 500-750 words 
  • Proofread your posts. Install Grammarly onto your desktop and read posts back to front to make sure it flows
Improving your SEO will improve your DA. DA is how well a website will rank on search engines. The higher your DA, the more likely your site is to appear on the first page of search engines.

A CHECKLIST FOR YOUR MEDIA KIT 
A media kit is CV for your blog and can be used when pitching to brands. Below is my old media kit and an example of what a media kit should roughly look like:
A media kit created using canva
  • Have you included blog details? Your name, URL, your niche
  • Are your social media links and stats up to date? Try to update them monthly
  • What services do you have to offer? Personal posts, reviews, collabs, social media packages, unique content. 
  • Don't give a price, just say what you offer. You can discuss how much you charge for your services via email as it may vary from brand to brand and as your stats increase
  • Have you included an overview of the brands you've worked for? Get some testimonials to strengthen your pitch
Sites that you can use to create a media kit that offer free templates: Canva, Powerpoint & Word 

DO'S AND DON'T FOR WORKING WITH BRANDS
  • Read pitch emails thoroughly and don't respond until you properly understand what is being asked of you
  • Respond to emails even if you're declining
  • Don't wait until last minute to cancel
  • Avoid burn bridges with brands via social media
  • Avoid gossiping about collaborations via social media. Everyone knows everyone in this industry 

"Closed mouths don't get fed. Email brands and pitch your ideas" - Marissa

The last piece of advice we were given by Spot Digital is to be yourself. Sounds cliche but don't copy what everyone else is doing and create artifical content just to fit into the blogosphere.

Fran
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Monday, 6 May 2019 / Birmingham, UK

A PEEK INSIDE THE WORLD'S BIGGEST PRIMARK

francisca rockey, lifestyle blogger, fitness blogger, beauty blogger, fashion blogger, small blogger, travel blogger
I'm sure you've all seen snippets of the World's biggest Primark surfing around the internet and you've been waiting for someone to give an honest review before you make the journey to Brum. I drove up to Birmingham last Friday to do just that and to see what the hype is about! 
francisca rockey, lifestyle blogger, fitness blogger, beauty blogger, fashion blogger, small blogger, travel blogger
Considering it was a Friday, it wasn't as busy as I expected. All floors were well organised, there were no clothes on the floor or piles of clothes dumped on top of rails. One thing to note, the amount of clothes and the variety can be overwhelming so I advise tackling each floor systematically to improve your shopping experience. 
francisca rockey, lifestyle blogger, fitness blogger, beauty blogger, fashion blogger, small blogger, travel blogger
francisca rockey, lifestyle blogger, fitness blogger, beauty blogger, fashion blogger, small blogger, travel blogger
The area that excited me most, the beauty bar. The beauty bar is in collaboration with Duck & Dry so you already, you know you're going to get a high quality service. I decided to test out one of their beauty treatments while I was there and spent £6 having my eyebrows threaded in under 5 minutes, I can't remember her name but the lady who did my eyebrows, was lovely and did such a good job, I usually do my eyebrows myself as I don't trust people but I would genuinely travel all the way to Birmingham just to have them done, by her, again! 
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I don't know who was more excited to eat in the Disney cafe, me or the kids in front of me in the queue. The Disney cafe is aimed at young children and the menu is child portions only, that didn't stop us though, it just meant that we had to ordered a main (fish goujon wrap with salad), extra sides (sweet potato wedges) and a dessert (Mickey pancakes) to fill us up, this including a can of Diet Coke came to £8.00-£8.50, bargain! 
francisca rockey, lifestyle blogger, fitness blogger, beauty blogger, fashion blogger, small blogger, travel blogger
francisca rockey, lifestyle blogger, fitness blogger, beauty blogger, fashion blogger, small blogger, travel blogger
We spent a total of 5-6 hours in Primark, we look around every floor, each section, tried bits on in the changing room and had lunch in the Disney cafe. The Primark alone could be a whole day out, there's so much to see and do for both adults and children. Deffo worth a trip!

What are your thoughts on the World's biggest Primark?

Fran
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Monday, 29 April 2019

MAY TO DO LIST

francisca rockey, lifestyle blogger, fitness blogger, beauty blogger, fashion blogger, small blogger, travel blogger
Can we all agree that April has been the quickest month of the year so far? One minute it was April Fools and the next, we're 6 hours and one month away from being 6 months into 2019. May is the start of a busy few months and I’m so ready for festival, wedding and holiday season to be upon us!

01. ORDER OUTFITS FOR PARKLIFE 
My first festival of 2019 is in June and instead of leaving outfit shopping until last minute and then being flustered and teary when I can't find anything that fits well or is "festivally" enough, I'm going to get both outfits for both days sorted before the end of May. 

02.  BOOK A SPA DAY 
It's long overdue and needed. If you have any recommendations for affordable spas in and around London, do let me know! 

03. BOOK MY FIRST WAX 
I'm tired of razor bumps, cuts and ingrown hairs from shaving. I've watched so many Youtube videos of the waxing process and it doesn't look that bad but then a woman on Twitter said it was worse than childbirth? Do I trim beforehand or? If any of you have had a Brazilian or Hollywood wax, please share your experience!

04. BOOK AN EYE TEST 
I got a letter through the post back in January saying I was due an eye test and I threw it in a pile of letters that I'll "properly read another day". Nearly 3 months later and the letter is still sitting in the pile and an appointment hasn't been booked. 

05. GET ALL MY SPONSORED AND GIFTED CONTENT OUT 
I've been very lucky this month and landed some great opportunities. Now, before I can accept any more sponsored or gifted content, I need to get what I've currently received out and by writing this publically, I'm more likely to knuckle down and get it done.

What's on your to do list for the month of May?

Fran
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Monday, 22 April 2019

HOW I MANAGE MY MONEY

francisca rockey, lifestyle blogger, fitness blogger, beauty blogger, fashion blogger, small blogger, travel blogger
I've been meaning to write this blog post for the longest time but just never got round to it, one of those posts sitting in your drafts waiting to be finished and today I'm finishing and publishing it.

Money can be a very taboo subject, I'm not entirely sure why but I guess people aren't comfortable with being open about their finances and in my opinion, it shouldn't be that way. We can learn a lot from each other if we're open and honest about our income, ways to increase income, getting out of debt or building your credit score. I'm going to share with you how I manage my money and how I've built a perfect credit score.

So, I have 4 bank cards. One Barclays debit card which I use for all direct debits and bills and holds my everyday saving account and help to buy ISA. A Santander student account which my student loan goes into and with this I get a free railcard and £1500 overdraft. A Monzo card which I transfer disposable money into and I also have a savings pot within this account and lastly, a Barclays initial credit card which I use to pay for anything that requires insurance e.g. holidays. I would advise having multiple cards and savings accounts to get a better hand on your finances rather than keeping all of your money in the one account.

As soon as I get paid, I put the exact amount needed to cover my direct debits and bills into my Barclays debit card, any money left over I put into my Monzo card. Monzo is a digital mobile-only bank, you can use it how you would any other debit card in that you put money into it and can take money out of it. The great thing about Monzo is that you can track your day to day spending and set caps on your spending, restrict certain payments e.g. gambling and if you open a savings pot, you can round up transactions and the pennies can be put start into your pot. Get yourself a Monzo card here and we'll both get £5!

Moving onto having a credit card and how I turned my credit score around. A year ago, my credit score was poor, not because I was 18 and a reckless spender but because I couldn't work for 2-3 months for a personal reason and so I had to rely on it to get me through that time. It has taken me a year to learn how to manage my money better and improve my credit score and as of 06/04/18, I now have a credit score of 999. 

Ways to improve your credit score:
1. Don't make too many credit applications in a short period of time
2. Make sure you're paying off your direct debits in full each month (phone bill, gym memberships, broadband etc.) and on time
3. When using your credit card for big purchases, make sure you're able to pay the minimum payment each month or more
4. Spend within your limits and only use your credit card up to 50% or less of your monthly wage
5. Register to vote. I'm not entirely sure why but being on the electoral helps
6. Make sure you have a good overall view on your finances 
7. Use your credit card little and often to maintain your credit score 

How do you manage your money?

Fran
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Monday, 15 April 2019

BECOMING A VEGETARIAN

francisca rockey, lifestyle blogger, fitness blogger, beauty blogger, fashion blogger, small blogger, travel blogger
Now all of my Dublin posts are out the way, I want to refocus and start producing more lifestyle posts. Starting with how I became a vegetarian.

I could easily lie and say that I became a vegetarian because I'm against animal cruelty (which I am) and want to save the animals. This was not the case. Growing up, I didn't have the best relationship with food, I always found eating very difficult. I can remember only eating cucumber sandwiches and crisps as a child, not forcibly but these were the two things that I enjoyed and would eat. I didn't like fish, I wasn't huge on pork, chicken and beef were alright. During my early teenage years and I gained more control of my diet. As I began cooking for myself, I found that I was restricting calories, cutting various food groups to lose weight, maintain a slim figure and in my last few months of being a teenager, I decided that I needed to change my diet and start taking care of my body from the inside and so, I cut meat out of my diet and went vegetarian. 

Side note: My older sister has been vegetarian for 4-5 years and I have watched her make many vegetarian meals so, I didn't go on this journey completely blind. 

Things I've learnt on my journey so far:
1. You will get meat cravings. Before becoming vegetarian, I would go days or months without eating any meat at all and since becoming vegetarian, I get meat cravings almost daily. It doesn't help that I work in a bar which serves food with the majority of dishes containing meat. 

2. Quorn nuggets are better than chicken nuggets. Don't believe me? Try them 
francisca rockey, lifestyle blogger, fitness blogger, beauty blogger, fashion blogger, small blogger, travel blogger
3. The Quorn website is a saviour if you're stuck for meal ideas. My favourite is the Quorn cottage pie recipe

4. Cooking requires more planning but is less time-consuming. Most meals take 15-20 to make from start to finish which is perfect if you're someone with a busy schedule, like me.  
francisca rockey, lifestyle blogger, fitness blogger, beauty blogger, fashion blogger, small blogger, travel blogger

5. Eating out is incredibly hard and your only options are either a mushroom burger (so not a burger at all) or a Margherita pizza.

francisca rockey, lifestyle blogger, fitness blogger, beauty blogger, fashion blogger, small blogger, travel blogger
Giving up meat is a lot easier than I thought. There are so many good substitutes for meat like Quorn though, it's not the cheapest. I eat so much better as a vegetarian than I ever did as a meat-eater, it has forced me to experiment more with flavours and try new recipes.

Fran
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Monday, 8 April 2019

DUBLIN DAY 2 | PADDYWAGON TOURS

francisca rockey, lifestyle blogger, fitness blogger, beauty blogger, fashion blogger, small blogger, travel blogger
For our penultimate day in Ireland, we decided to book a Paddywagon coach tour (roughly £55 each) from Dublin city centre to Giant's Causeway in Northern Ireland.

First stop, the Dark Hedges. If you're a huge game of thrones fan like myself then you may recognise this road, its the King's Road in Season 2. The hedges are two centuries old and were planted by the Stuart family in the 18th century to impress visitors approaching the entrance of their home. I was certainly impressed, that's for sure! 
francisca rockey, lifestyle blogger, fitness blogger, beauty blogger, fashion blogger, small blogger, travel blogger
francisca rockey, lifestyle blogger, fitness blogger, beauty blogger, fashion blogger, small blogger, travel blogger
Next stop, Carrick-a-rede. A famous rope bridge near Ballintoy in County Antrim, Northern Ireland. The bridge links the mainland to the tiny island of Carrickarede. The was a long walk from the car park to the actual bridge and due to bad weather conditions, we weren't actually able to go across the bridge but we stood by the edge, close enough. 
francisca rockey, lifestyle blogger, fitness blogger, beauty blogger, fashion blogger, small blogger, travel blogger
Giant's Causeway, possibly my favourite stop of the whole tour. I have a list of Geographical landforms that I would like to see during my lifetime and Giant's Causeway was one of them. The Giant's Causeway is an area of roughly 40,000 interlocking basalt columns as a result of a volcanic fissure eruption. The views here are amazing and if like me, you love physical geography then you'll love this landform. 
francisca rockey, lifestyle blogger, fitness blogger, beauty blogger, fashion blogger, small blogger, travel blogger
Last but certainly not least, Belfast. Our stop in Belfast was very brief and there wasn't enough time to properly wander around the city. Across the road from where we were parked, there was a Greggs so I took the opportunity to lose my Vegan sausage roll virginity and I was not disappointed.

There is a variety of tours on the Paddywagon site and if you ever find yourself in Ireland looking for something to fill your day, I'd recommend the Giant's Causeway tour!

Fran
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Monday, 1 April 2019

LIFE UPDATE | STARTING A PODCAST, MOVING TO YORK AND ATTEMPTING TO DATE

francisca rockey, lifestyle blogger, fitness blogger, beauty blogger, fashion blogger, small blogger, travel blogger
My Last Two Weeks: The last two weeks have been very busy. I’ve been on a city break to Dublin for St Patrick’s day and jumped out of a plane for charity.

If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram then you’ve already seen my announcement but I started a podcast. #HonestyHour is a 30-minute topic talk discussing a range of controversial topics available on Anchor, Spotify and Google podcasts. There are now three episodes up for you to listen to and new episodes will be up every Monday at 6pm GMT.

This is probably my biggest news to date, I’m moving to York. I firmed my place at York St John University to study Geography last week and I can’t wait. During the course of my gap year, I was umming and arring about changing courses, potentially studying Law or Sociology but stuck with Geography as I’ve realised that's where my passions lie.

I’ve found myself at a point in life where I’m ready to date. My “men are trash” days are over and I’m now open and ready to get into a relationship. I was close to ditching the dating apps but Emilia told me to be patient and keep at it. Some dates have been unsuccessful and others… well, that’s a story for another day.


Hope you all have a good week!

Fran
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Thursday, 28 March 2019

DUBLIN DAY 1 | GUINNESS STOREHOUSE AND TEMPLE BAR

francisca rockey, lifestyle blogger, fitness blogger, beauty blogger, fashion blogger, small blogger, travel blogger
We landed in Dublin at 10am after nearly 3 hours of delays with our flight. After checking into our hotel and freshen up, we hopped on a bus to the city centre and boarded the Laus from Abbey Street to the Guinness Storehouse for €4.80. A piece of advice to anyone planning a trip to Dublin, make sure to get lots of change if you're planning on using public transport as drivers only accept exact change. Tickets are roughly €2.15-3.30 each way. 

While I'm not the biggest fan of alcohol, you can't visit Dublin without visiting the Guinness Storehouse and Temple Bar. We booked our tickets for the storehouse online for roughly €50, a drink voucher is included with your ticket. I was expecting the Guinness Storehouse to be floor upon floors of Guinness but it was so much more than that. There was music, interactive stations, video explanations of the history behind the famous beer, artwork and so much more to see and get involved with. At the top floor, there was a rooftop bar overlooking the city and this is where you can claim your drink voucher. This was my first time trying Guinness and I can confirm, it was disgusting. Sorry if I have offended any avid Guinness drinkers. 
francisca rockey, lifestyle blogger, fitness blogger, beauty blogger, fashion blogger, small blogger, travel blogger
francisca rockey, lifestyle blogger, fitness blogger, beauty blogger, fashion blogger, small blogger, travel blogger
Our next stop, Temple Bar. Again, I wasn't sure what to expect but I wasn't expecting for Temple Bar to be more than just one bar. It's actually an area bursting with pubs, restaurants and galleries. If you're looking for somewhere with a proper Irish feel, this is the place to go. Please note, it can get very crowded so if you want to get good photos, I'd suggest going earlier in the day. 
francisca rockey, lifestyle blogger, fitness blogger, beauty blogger, fashion blogger, small blogger, travel blogger
francisca rockey, lifestyle blogger, fitness blogger, beauty blogger, fashion blogger, small blogger, travel bloggerYou could easily visit Dublin and spend a whole day exploring just this area alone. I will definitely be going back in the future and taking my girl gang for a girls weekend. 

Fran
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Monday, 25 March 2019 / Hinton Airfield, Steane, Brackley NN13 5NS, UK

WHAT SKYDIVING TAUGHT ME ABOUT FEAR

francisca rockey, lifestyle blogger, fitness blogger, beauty blogger, fashion blogger, small blogger, travel blogger
“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself” - Franklin D. Roosevelt.

I remember watching Will Smith’s video on what skydiving taught me about fear and I was left feeling inspired. Will said, “God placed the best things in life on the other side of fear” and now I can confirm, he’s not wrong. Think of all the things you want to achieve in life but your fears are holding you back. the things that would leave you feeling more fulfilled are on the otherside of your fear filled thoughts. This video is how I came to say yes to doing a charity skydive.

Back in September, my friend Ibraheem asked me if I would do a sponsored Skydive for charity, I said yes despite being petrified of heights. On Saturday, I jumped out of a plane from 13,000 feet to raise over £3,000 for British Blind Sport.

I may come across as being brave and fearless on my socials but I actually have a lot of fears, I’m just good at masking them. The art of faking it until you make it has got me this far in life but there are still so many things that I want to achieve that my fears are likely to get the better of and stop me from doing. One of those fears is heights, don’t take it lightly when I saw I am petrified of heights, those who know me in real life will tell you that I am the biggest wuss, I don’t do rides or anything more than a few cms off the ground.

You don’t register what you’re about to do when they’re strapping you up, taking you through safety procedures and you board that plane. The shutter goes down and that’s it, the plane is getting ready to take off and before you know it, you’re 13,000 feet in the air, above the clouds and the only way down is by jumping out. Your instructor goes through the safety procedures with you again, the shutter goes up, the light turns green, you slide forward, hang your feet over the edge of the plane and it's your turn to jump. For about 45 seconds, you’re freefalling with no parachute at 220 mph through the sky. I can’t describe the feeling, it doesn’t feel like the way falling feels in a dream or that feeling you get in your stomach on rides. The best way to describe it is a euphoric sense of freedom, at this moment, I burst into tears and said “Keith, I just jumped out a fucking plane, I can’t believe it” and he replied with “You did it Fran, you’re amazing”. 
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My nerves started to kick in as we got closer to the ground because you realise just how fast you’re going and the fear of dying starts to kick in, “what if we don’t slow down enough to land”, “what if Keith accidentally steers us into a building” and then you land and you’re overcome by a feeling of relief, happiness, tears - a real mix of every emotion. 
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From a girl who had a panic attack at the top of the Manchester eye to jumping out of a plane at 13,000 feet. I couldn’t have done it without the encouragement of Keith and Simon, even if they were taking the piss that I was going to slip out the harness.
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I hope my story encourages one, if not all of you to push yourself and conquer your fears. Now I’ve conquered my fear of heights, what should I do next? I’m thinking a bungee jump.

Fran
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Thursday, 21 March 2019

DUBLIN | WHERE TO STAY, THINGS TO DO AND PLACES TO EAT

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Last weekend my friend Sian and I hopped on a plane to the capital of Ireland, Dublin. We were there for a total of 3 days, 2 nights and managed to cram in a lot, including a coach tour to Northern Ireland.

This is my favourite part about going away, coming home and going through all my pictures and putting together a travel guide. I will be splitting this guide into 4 posts so I can give more detail into what we got up to on each day. 

WHERE TO STAY:
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We booked our trip back in October last year and a lot of the city centre hostels and Airbnb's had been taken for St Patrick's weekend. Our choices were very limited but I found a good deal on Premier Inn for €171.50 roughly £151.81 (£75 each). The hotel is a 5-minute journey from the airport and there's a shuttle for €2 roughly £1.73 that will take you directly from the airport to the hotel and back. 

THINGS TO DO:
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There is a lot to do in Dublin and here's a list of a few of the things we discovered:
Guinness Storehouse, 
Trinity college, 
River Liffey, 
St Stephen's shopping centre,
National botanical gardens 
Dublin Castle 
Oscar Wilde's house (Merrion square)
National Gallery 
Temple Bar
Henrietta Street
Fitzwilliam Square
Abandoned prison of Kilmainham Gaol 
Dublin Zoo 

There is such a large variety of things to do in Dublin and probably a lot more than I've mentioned. Unfortunately, we didn't manage to do them all but that's an excuse to go back right?

PLACES TO EAT: 
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For just under €13 you can eat at Jimmy Chung's Chinese Buffet. I'm very picky when it comes to Chinese restaurants but this place has gained a spot on my list of one of the best Chinese I've ever eaten. 

If you're after a sweet treat while wandering around the city, The Rolling Donut and The Hot Donut have got you covered. I had the kinder bueno donut at the rolling donut and the raspberry jam donut at the hot donut, solid 10/10.

Here are a few other places to eat in the city centre that were recommended to us:
Takara
Gelato d natura
Laudree
Yamanori Tengu
Banyi
Cookes restaurant 
Saba 
Eat Yard
Fire restaurant and lounge 
Clever East
Vintage cocktail club
Elephant and castle
House Dublin
NoLlta
Blushing healthy food coffee
Esquires Coffee
The Hungry Mexican
Bakehouse 
Thunderroad Cafe
Pitt Bros
The Merchants Arch 
POQ Cafe
Umi Falafel 
Kimchi Hophouse
Eat Okyo
Yamamori noodles
Brother Hubbard 
The Happy Pear

We had the best time in Dublin and it is definitely on the list of places to revisit. There is so much to see and do, you can find something for everyone to enjoy. 

Have you ever visited Dublin before?

Fran
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