Beauty: No7 Stay Perfect Superlight Foundation Review

If there’s one thing I hate, it’s the effect air-conditioning has on my skin. Within a week of starting work it was dry, irritated and sensitive to everything. It meant none of my previously used foundations sat well, with the Max Factor being too heavy and the Bodyshop powder being too drying.

Much as I love an excuse to shop, having my skin suddenly look terrible was not an excuse I really wanted!

 photo No7 Stay Perfect Superlight Foundation 3_zpslvwq2q8r.jpgAfter a few hours of countless of research, far too many testers and a ridiculous number of options discarded for their rather-lacking shade options, I picked up the No. 7 Stay Perfect Superlight Foundation. At £14.50 this certainly wasn’t the cheapest foundation, but is it worth it…? So far, I’m saying yes!

Despite it looking pretty boring, I actually quite like the compact plastic tube; it’s perfect for travelling and throwing in the bottom of your bag (unlike a lot of foundations)! However, the squeezy tube and thin formula means you are in danger of wasting a lot of foundation. Getting the right amount of product out takes a lot practice – unfortunately this has meant I’ve gotten through my first tube a bit too quickly for my liking!

 photo No7 Stay Perfect Superlight Foundation 7_zpsyir0lhel.jpgThe water-based formula claims “life-proof foundation with up to 24 hours wear, for a super-natural, flawless complexion with a barely there feel“. The formula is meant to be suitable for all skin types – how much this is true I don’t know, but for me it hasn’t drawn attention to any dry patches I have suddenly developed, doesn’t settle into pores and sticks around all day.  The coverage is advertised as light/medium and buildable – I would say it’s definitely medium on me, with a second layer taking it up to full coverage. That said, my skin is pretty clear of blemishes right now. It stays put for a good work-day (including the sweaty broken-down tube – which happens far too often!), needing only a dab of powder if I’m heading out for a few post-office drinks. And the best thing? It blends into the skin like a dream. I have no patience for difficult-to-blend formulas, and this applies beautifully in less than thirty seconds.

 photo No7 Stay Perfect Superlight Foundation 4_zpslrwbn3sw.jpg photo No7 Stay Perfect Superlight Foundation 5_zpsf6vkizch.jpgThe colour (lightest shade, Calico) matches me almost perfectly as it has a slight olive-undertone – strange I know, when I had my face done by a makeup artist she said my skin was one of the most difficult she’d ever had to match! This is by far the closest match I have got, though I have noticed that it can oxidise slightly and go a little over-dark = the one downside! Other than that, the Superlight foundation gives me a natural, radiant yet non-shiny finish which I love. Definitely worth the price!

What’s your current go-to foundation?


Lifestyle: What’s It Really Like to be in an LDR?

Over four years of (term-time) long distance has meant we were well practiced in the Sunday-goodbyes, late-night phonecalls and Skype dates. It’s not the easiest situation to be in, though thankfully we managed to squeeze in plenty of visits and weren’t *too* far from each other. And, as regular readers will know, it came to a permanent end this summer, culminating in us moving into a flat in London right at the end of August. For now though, here’s a bit of an insight into what it’s really like going through university in a long distance relationship…

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Fear Of Missing Out

This is a big one for me, I suffer from FOMO dreadfully! Whether it’s something going on up at Will’s (I was gutted I missed going to see the Bond film with him last year), or if there’s a night out planned at mine when I’m away on a visit, it’s always difficult to accept missing out on things. Realistically though, it’s inevitable with an LDR.

Hatred & Love for Train Stations

I used to get dreadful motion-sickness on trains, but definitely not anymore! It’s also definitely induced both a love and hatred of train stations. I love them on Friday nights; getting to wait until you see that face in the crowd, then Sundays are spent hiding my face in his chest pretending I don’t need to leave. I do now have a love for St Pancras/Kings Cross though, after his nearby proposal! Oh, and I also knew the Southeastern timetable off by heart…

Visit Spreadsheets

Both being a bit of a geek means that spreadsheets are the easiest way of keeping track of visits. We try to plan them at least four weeks in advance, so we can take advantage of cheaper train tickets and try and plan social bits and bobs (see FOMO!) around them.

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Delay Repay

Relying on trains means delays happen. Annoying but true! Very often a tiny delay on one line will lead to us missing connections, I feel like I spend a good chunk of my time applying for compensation. The best one is still in our first year, when I got to St Pancras on my way back to university only to find heavy snowfall had cancelled all trains…the thought of being stranded overnight was terrifying!

Phone Permanently in Hand

Being apart meant it quite often feels like I’m in a relationship with my phone. I tended to carry it from room to room, and in some ways it still felt like a new relationship – every text will make me smile. Even now my first thought when something exciting happens will be to text W. Yep, even when he is sat next to me…

 photo 2016-02-14 15.21.08_zpswfg3l2wt.jpgSo yeah, it wasn’t easy, but at the same time I wouldn’t have had it any other way! I know this is a bit of a cliche, but I truly believe that if it is meant to be, things will work out. Sure, you’ll have to work at it, there were so many times I cried and said I’d had enough, but we fought through it and four years later he gets to see all my bad hair days, my spotty days, my hormonal days…there’s definitely bonuses to LDRs too!

Have you ever been in an LDR? How did you find it?

Recipe: Courgette Risotto

Perhaps a bit late in the year, this post, as the courgette glut tends to happen in late summer, but so damn delicious I couldn’t help share. I can’t believe how behind I am at posting recipes; it seems like I make something, photograph it and then it’s months before it makes it’s debut on the blog. Whoops! I’ll definitely have to try and be prepared for the Christmas themed recipes I have planned…

 photo Courgette Risotto_zps6n6dzibs.pngThis Courgette Risotto, admittedly not the easiest thing to photograph, was born out of desperation for risotto. I’ve talked about my favourite-ever-meal before, mushroom risotto, and how it’s my go-to meal when I’m stressed, ill, tired, need cheering up or just fancy treating myself. I love it. And W hates mushrooms. I’ve tried converting him. I’ve tried sneaking them into things. It’s not worked; he hates the taste, despises the texture and I’ve not made mushroom risotto since moving out of uni in June. I was craving it so much in my first week of work I spent an hour researching different risotto recipes and proposed this one. Admittedly it was quite a bit of work for an after-dinner meal, and on one of the hottest days of the year I was certainly sweating over the hot stove, but it was delicious.

I was worried it was going to be a bit bland, but actually the gentler, subtle flavours really worked well together to create a rather tasty dinner. The mix of textures was spot-on, the seasoning just right and I felt it was quite possibly the perfect risotto consistency. Calorific, yes, but well worth it. Oh, and it can easily be made veggie by using veggie stock and checking the label on your cheeses.

 photo Courgette Risotto 1_zpswfg13ri5.jpgIngredients (for 2)

  • 50g butter, split in half
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, again split in half
  • 1 white onion
  • 1 stick celery
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 150g arborio rice
  • 2 medium courgettes
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 litre chicken stock
  • Handful fresh basil
  • 50g grated parmesan
  • 2 teaspoons mascapone

First, prep the veg. Finely dice the onion and celery, finely chop the garlic. Coarsely grate 1 whole courgette, and around half of the other. Chop the remaining courgette into 1cm chunks. Melt half the butter in a pan with 1 tbsp of olive oil, then sweat the onion and celery until softened. Make up the chicken stock and add the basil – this infuses it and adds a delicate herby taste.

Turn the heat up and add the garlic, grated courgette and rice. Fry, stirring constantly, for one minute then add the lemon juice (and a splash of white wine if there’s a bottle open). Stir until the liquid is absorbed, then add a ladleful of stock. Again, stir until absorbed (or at least every minute or so), adding ladlefuls gradually, until the rice is soft and creamy. I found it took around 25 minutes. Turn off the heat, stir through the Parmesan and macapone along with plenty of black pepper. Cover with a lid, off the heat, for around five minutes.

Whilst you wait, heat the remaining oil/butter over a high heat and add the diced courgette. Fry until slightly softened and golden. Vigorously beat the risotto and divide into warm bowls, and scatter over the fried courgette. Drizzle over some buttery pan juices, then enjoy with a crisp green salad (watercress and rocket works particularly well).

 photo Courgette Risotto 2_zpslzqwzso4.jpgWe both really enjoyed this risotto, the light flavours worked perfectly and it really showcased how delicious courgette can be. I know I love this vegetable, but a lot of people (other than trendy courgetti) don’t really know how to use it. I’ll definitely be making this again – and I’m a lot more open to experimenting with other risotto flavours now. I’m thinking a rather Autumnal butternut squash and sage version next…

Are you a fan of risotto?

Lifestyle: Recently Read #2

I read a lot over summer; I was rarely seen without a book. I regularly had to beg a lift from W to pick up something else to read. I managed to get through virtually a whole bookcase of books I hadn’t read, ones I’d been saving to read for the last four years.

 photo Recently Read_zps3vat7q15.pngOver summer I stuck to actual, physical books. My Kindle was hugely neglected, I even lost it at one point, but it meant I was able to get through the vast amount of books accumulated since I started university. I read anything and everything. Chic-lit. Crime. Psychological thrillers. Murder mysteries. Historical novels. Teen novels. You name it, if it was on my bookcase, it got read. Here’s just some of the highlights….

Behind Closed Doors (B.A Paris). One of the best thriller books I’ve read, infinitely better than Gone Girl in my opinion. The first time I read this I literally had no clue where the book was going for a good half of it, and even in the last chapter I was still guessing the final ended. The writing is excellent, the storyline complex but so believable. A must read.

 photo Recently Read Post Two 9_zpsbg7zj5z4.jpg photo Recently Read Post Two 6_zpsz8f3uool.jpgMe Before You, and After You (Jojo Moyes). The books to read in 2016 it would seem! I definitely enjoyed Me Before You, it’s on the verge of being more chic-litty than I would usually go for, but it was definitely gritty enough to keep me gripped – and of course I cried towards the end! However I absolute HATED After You. I found the story hugely ‘fake’ and the writing seemed as though the book was rushed out. That said, I’d never thoroughly enjoyed a Jojo Moyes until Me Before You, so maybe her writing style just isn’t for me. Oh, and the film was good too, though I preferred the book. The film made me cry was too much.

The Beachcomber (Josephine Cox). One of the older books I read, this is a romantic novel cross murder mystery set in, I believe, the fifties. I find romantic novels from this era so lovely to read, it’s all about the relationship without any smut! Difficult to say much about this one without giving it all away, but if you like romance with a bit of ‘grit’ then this is worth picking up.

Coming Home (Rosamunde Pilcher). Ah, this is one of my all-time favourite books. I have this in hardback and at around 800 pages it’s not exactly a comfortable one to sit and read. That said, the story is so, so lovely. Set in wartime Britain, down in Cornwall, it follows the life of a girl called Judith as she grows into a young woman. It’s not got an overly strong storyline, but rather each character has their own plots. It’s a book I can really lose myself in on a rainy day.

 photo Recently Read Post Two 7_zps7e94bxcu.jpgAn Absolute Scandal (Penny Vincenzi). I treated this a little like prep for worth, perhaps not the best idea! It’s based on Lloyd’s of London collapsing and when I read it a few years ago I loved it. Now, having worked in insurance, it irritates me slightly as it’s inaccurate. Guess I’ve spoilt this book for myself!

The Girl From Nowhere (Dorothy Koomson). I love love LOVE Dorothy Koomson’s books, in fact a good amount of them would feature in my ‘favouritest ever book list’ if I were to write one. I’ve felt some of her later reads were a little flat but I really enjoyed this one. A couple of plot turns, interesting characters and something a bit different from her usual storylines.

 photo Recently Read Post Two 13_zpse1u2khkx.jpgReading an actual book, as opposed to a Kindle, was at first a delight. I loved the more physical feel, it felt as though it slowed my reading pace down and I really appreciated the book. Then it became annoying. Trying to fit a book into my bag although with everything else was both tight and resulted in a sore shoulder. Not having anything to read immediately having finished a book. The wrist ache from trying to read in bed. Now fully reunited with my Kindle (though with it being four years old, it seems to need replacing sooner rather than later) I’m still reading at a ferocious pace. I’m making the most of my commute before I start studying and revising on the tube!

Are you a reader? What books do you recommend?

Lifestyle: Happy Fortnightly Things #6

Happy Monday everyone! These last two weeks have been pretty hectic. Will’s now started his Master’s course so we’ve been having to get into an actual proper routine. It’s been pretty tiring – I announced I was going to bed last week before realising it was only 9.30pm, whoops! I’m also properly working now, rather than just being on the graduate training programme, so I’m getting used to new processes, seeing everything in Excel spreadsheets and trying to remember allllll the things. Super interesting, but my brain feels a little like mush once it gets past 5pm everyday!

 photo Happy Things 2_zpstx894dal.pngHere’s the best bits from my fortnight…

  1. A welcome lunch with my team. Not only did I have some delicious food (bread and balsamic, squid salad, stone bass with cannellini ragu), it was great to get to know them a bit more. Not feeling so intimidated now!
  2. Cooking a delicious butternut squash risotto, with goat’s cheese. I’ve avoided this veg as last time I tried it I hated it, but I could definitely eat this again!
  3. Doing a bit more wedding planning. We’re looking into photographers now and I’ve got a short-list, hoping to get that booked in the next few weeks.
  4. On that note, the wedding is less than two years away! Safe to say I’m excited…
  5. Celebrating our anniversary. It’s been six years since we got together – whilst I didn’t plan to meet my future husband at 16, it’s meant we’ve been able to grow up together. I can’t wait for all of our future adventures!
  6. “London’s Best Burger” at Mac & Wild. I feel I need to do more research to verify the ‘best’ claim, but it was damn yummy!
  7. The nice man in Waitrose fetching me a trolley and helping me transfer my shopping after the wheel feel off mid-shop. The fact that he didn’t laugh was greatly appreciated!
  8. Receiving a pretty good Bake Box in the post. I have to admit I wasn’t too impressed with the last few, but I’m looking forward to getting into the kitchen with my new bits and bobs…
  9. New bed clothes. Enough said.
  10. Finding the perfect copper fairy lights to hang by my bed. My cosy corner is nearly complete!

What’s been making you smile recently?

Wedding Planning: Dress Shopping #1

The main bonus of a long engagement? Dragging out the dress shopping as long as possible!

 photo Wedding Dress Shopping_zpsdha3d656.pngAt least, that’s what I was thinking at the start of this year. Getting engaged just before Christmas and wanted to try on dresses almost immediately was a very frustrating combination; a lot of boutiques were closed until New Year, and then a lot were only open for their sample sale rather than relaxed appointments. As someone who loves a bargain, I wanted to avoid a sample sale for my first few visits so I wouldn’t be influenced by low prices. I’m in no way saying I wouldn’t buy a ‘sale-rack’ wedding dress, but I wanted to find my dress rather than a close contender that just happened to be reduced.

In the end I decided on my dress pretty quickly. I visited two boutiques, one designer and I put a deposit down at the end of May. Yep, five months after getting engaged and (eager readers may note) several months before setting a date and a massive 2.5 years before the wedding. Oops.

When thinking about my actual wedding, when I knew W was going to propose sometime the dress didn’t really feature too much, and it certainly wasn’t one of the first things I thought about. That said, it was (and still is!) really important to me. I adored how much my mum’s dress suited her and I knew I wanted to find the perfect one for me. Ever since I was little I’d always imagined different dresses. I remember when I was 9 or 10 I was deadset on getting married in a huge princess style dress, complete with glitter. Around the time of the royal wedding I adore Kate’s understated glamorous dress (who didn’t?!). I also knew I wouldn’t have a clue what to go for! I was definitely nervous ahead of my first appointment…

 photo Silver Sixpence Bridal 10_zpsw8jvxnzg.png photo Silver Sixpence Bridal 12_zps7u5wynxq.png photo Silver Sixpence Bridal 2_zpsoraxgbay.png photo Silver Sixpence Bridal 7_zpsedjyqmiv.pngThe first place I visited was Silver Sixpence Bridal near Weedon, Northamptonshire; not too far from my parents home, in a gorgeous little shopping village. We managed to enjoy tea and cake and then had a wonderfully relaxed appointment. We were asked to pick out any number of dresses I fancied trying on – so we went wild. As this was my first time I wanted to try on pretty much every type of dress. Big and princess, tight and slinky. Satin, shiny, sequined, lacy, flowery. Gold, white, ivory and even blush pink. I let both my mum and sister pick out a few bits for me to try on, however there were two dresses that caught my eye from the moment I walked in.

I’ll be honest here – one of them tempted me so, so much. I very nearly said “yes to the dress” there and then. I actually had a few months before my next appointment, so I spent hours searching for a second-hand version as I couldn’t justify the price. Funnily enough, my actual dress is costing £100 more so clearly it wasn’t the one. Charlotte Balbier, you nearly had me though!

 photo Silver Sixpence Bridal 4_zpslsar1hk3.png photo Silver Sixpence Bridal 5_zpsuct9bhfs.pngThe other was gorgeous, though I knew it wasn’t my dress. That dress has, however, led me to my dress and for that I couldn’t be more grateful to Silver Sixpence. Michelle was the perfect assistant, pulling out dresses she thought would suit me, but also respecting my opinions when I really didn’t want to try something. I felt comfortable with her getting me in and out of the dresses (SO much more intimate than I expected!) and she was just the most lovely person to spend a few hours with. Coupled with her absolutely gorgeous styling (all photos in this post are of the boutique, taken from her website with permission) it really was the perfect start to wedding dress shopping. I highly recommend a visit if you can. Oh, and Michelle made a damn good cup of tea too!

Put it this way, I’m definitely booking myself in for an appointment to try on the accessories stocked…

 photo Silver Sixpence Bridal 1_zps1rlbpm1x.png photo Silver Sixpence Bridal 11_zpsejcz4yef.png photo Silver Sixpence Bridal 9_zpsrscrvwm5.pngAnd that was it, my first dress shopping experience. It was terrifying, yet so exciting at the same time. I have to admit I’m a little gutted I’ve found my dress so I can’t go and try more on! I found that I actually suited quite a few of the dress shapes, so it was pretty much up to me to decide what shape to go for – a little scary as I’m not great at making decisions. Obviously you’ll have to wait until 2018 to find out more about my dress, but I’ll be chatting more about wedding dress shopping soon!

Did you ever fantasize about your wedding dress as a child? If you’ve picked yours already, how did your wedding dress shopping go?

Recipe: Ginger & Lime Biscuits

Every year I say I want to do a GBBO Bake Along. Every year I fail. This year I’ve gotten part of the way. Whilst I haven’t managed to bake and blog along (hats off to those that have!), I have managed to be pretty good at baking something inspired by the show most weeks.

 photo Ginger Lime Biscuits_zpsysaa6606.pngThis bake is a bit of a mish-mash between the first two weeks; it coincided with moving week, and with baking bits all over the country it seemed like a good idea to skip the first week. We then decided to merge the slightly citrus tone from Week 1 into the Biscuits. The result was a wonderfully spicy gingerbread, with warmth from cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger, half covered with a zingy-sweet lime icing. The bake of the biscuit was pretty much spot on, crunchy, a good snap, but not something that was so brittle it hurt to take a bite. A mish-mash that worked, I reckon these Ginger & Lime biscuits would, messy icing aside, definitely impress Paul & Mary!

 photo Ginger amp Lime Biscuits 7_zpsz61gxcoz.jpg photo Ginger amp Lime Biscuits 1_zpso8yocuyp.jpg photo Ginger amp Lime Biscuits 3_zpsbydqrlw5.jpgIngredients

  • 125g flour, plus a little extra for rolling
  • ½tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 2tsp ground ginger
  • 1tsp ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of grated nutmeg
  • 60g butter
  • 85g soft brown sugar
  • 1 small egg
  • 2tbsp golden syrup
  • 150g icing sugar
  • 6tsp lime juice
  • Lime zest, to decorate

 photo Ginger amp Lime Biscuits 9_zpstufppxja.jpgSift together the flour, bicarbonate of soda and spices into a bowl. Add the butter and rub together until the mix looks a little like breadcrumbs. Beat the egg and golden syrup together, add to the flour mix and stir until the mixture holds together. Tip the dough out, knead for a short time until smooth, wrap in clingfim and chill in the fridge for 15 or so minutes.

Roll the dough out (0.5cm thickness) on a lightly floured surface. Cut out your chosen shapes (we went square, you could go traditional gingerbread men!) and place on a lined baking tray. Bake for 14-16 minutes at 175C, or until lightly golden-brown. Leave on the tray for 10 minutes and then move to a wire rack to finish cooling.

When cooled make the icing and decorate. Simply beat together the icing sugar and lime juice until smooth, pipe/spoon onto the biscuits and scatted over the zest. Leave to set before boxing up – I didn’t and had a bit of a sticky mess the next day!

 photo Ginger amp Lime Biscuits 6_zpsozctiwdc.jpgI found these Ginger & Lime biscuits were delicious served with a cuppa – I really enjoyed taking one (or two!) to work for my 4pm pick me up. Naughty, but really rather nice…

Have you enjoyed #GBBO2016? Has it inspired you to get baking?

Lifestyle: Hygge

Hygge is perhaps the biggest buzz word of Autumn 2016 within the blogging community. Ignoring the hype, it’s a concept I’ve been both familiar with and actively trying to incorporate it into my life for a while now. Hygge means creating a nice, cosy atmosphere, enjoying the good things in life, making the most of the people around you. The warm glow of candlelight is hygge. Friends and family – yes, hygge too. A good plate of your favouite dinner. Snuggling into bed. All hygge.

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Hygge (pronounced ‘hue-gah’) is a quality of presence and an experience of togetherness. It is a feeling of being warm, safe, comforted and sheltered. (source). 

And what better way to really ‘practise’ hygge that create a cosy bedroom sanctuary, just perfect for Sunday evening pamper sessions, lazy Saturday mornings and for just hiding away from the world.

Whilst we have settled into our flat, it’s not quite ready to show off to the world yet. Whilst most things have found their place, I’m still waiting on my bedside shelves to be completely finished off, I’m still waiting on finding the perfect lamp (because hello adulting). I’d normally have done a ‘room tour’ by now after moving in, but I’m just not quite up to sharing it yet. These snaps are a bit of a sneak peek, if you like!

 photo Hygge 4_zpsxaecnrr1.jpg photo Hygge 6_zps5xq4rny8.jpg photo Hygge 7_zpsvqdmbzmx.jpgRight from our move-in date, SleepyPeople helped us feel completely at home by providing us with a Silentnight Complete Bedding Set*. Having a good night’s sleep and feeling settled go hands in hand for both me and W, so it  says a lot that our bed was cosy enough to settle into pretty quickly. Good bedding is so important for a decent bit of kip, and this duvet is just the right balance of thick and comforting, without being heavy and hot – a godsend for weirdos like me who can’t sleep without a duvet even on the hottest of nights!

We’re also doubly thankful – after fifteen minutes of attempting to make the bed on move-in day, we sadly concluded that our new bed was in-fact a king-size. This collaboration email came literally about ten minutes later, saving both us and our bank balances from having to buy yet more bedding!

 photo Hygge 1_zpsqxscdzgj.jpgFor me, fitting hygge into my daily life is about making time for me, whether it’s leaving five minutes earlier so I can really enjoy the walk to the tube station (I cross the river on a footbridge and the view is gorgeous), or taking the time to cook a particularly nice dinner (courgette risotto has been a highlight recently). It’s about taking ten minutespost evening workout to do a spot of yoga and a few breathing exercises. It’s sitting with a facemask, deep conditioner and book. It’s taking an hour to eat a single bar of Dairy Milk (a rare but much-loved treat). For me, it’s enjoying the little things in life.

Do you try to fit hygge into your life?

University: Is A Degree Worth The Cost

This is something I’ve been pondering lately. Whether my degree, my single A4 certificate, is worth the approximately £38k worth of debt it’s cost me. Whether it was worth the tears and stress it caused. Whether, if I had the choice, I’d go back and do it all again.

 photo Is Uni Worth It4_zpsyehyblru.pngIn short, I’m not sure I would.

My Voucher Codes has been looking into whether a degree is worth it, with some quite interesting results! With nearly 425,000 students having started university this year, it’s clear it’s still very much the popular option for post-18 education. They’ve had a look at what are students are getting for this money and how best to approach University so a student can achieve maximum return on their investments – have a read here.

 photo 12565358_10153494959529541_4248232404245365900_n_zpszpriqbcz.jpgI did love my university experience, I made friends I know I’ll be forever close to, I gained a First in a subject I did (and indeed do) love. My degree is as relevant to my career as it can get, my placement year was a blast. But there’s still a little niggle at the back of my mind that wonders whether it was really worth paying 9,000 pounds a year for.

Back when I applied and began university, a degree was the only way to get into the career I wanted, the career I have finally just begun. The year after they started taking on apprentices, and that’s continued. Typical – I know for definite had that option been available I’d have taken it.

Then there’s the experience, the qualifications. I went for a very applied course, which hopefully has cut my time to being fully qualified in half. I also did a placement year in the exact field I wanted. All things I hoped would help me get a job. I actually heard “you’re too experienced” and “you have too many exemptions” after final-stage rejections more times than I care to remember last year. Turns out you can be (and I don’t want to sound like I’m blowing my own trumpet here!) “too good” for graduate roles…

 photo University Goals2_zpsrujei6ip.jpgIn terms of my actual degree, I enjoyed it. I felt like I got a good amount of teaching – 20+ hours pretty much every week in all three years. I did extremely well, with the exception of two modules. The majority of my lecturers were hugely intelligent, approachable and generally willing to help. I got exposed to specialist computer software that even most recent graduates don’t get near once on the job.

The university experience? Well as someone who doesn’t particularly like a lot of alcohol (more than one glass of wine sends me to sleep), I was never going to love it. I like my sleep, going out at 11pm isn’t really for me – that’s bedtime! Don’t get me wrong, I had some great nights in with friends, I don’t feel like I ‘missed out’ but I certainly wouldn’t have said the experience was worth it.

So yep, I have a piece of paper worth £38,000. I’ve gained two best friends, strengthened my relationship and learnt an awful lot of maths. At the end of the day I got my dream job, which of course makes it all worthwhile. But if you’re umming and ahhing about going? I’d strongly recommend looking into all other alternatives first!
 photo IMG_2064_zpsixzhuz5n.jpg photo Is Uni Worth It3_zpskkthoifw.jpg

*Collaborative post.

Do you think university was worth it? I love reading about other’s university experiences (check out Amy’s experience here – it’s quite similar to my own!) so I’d love to know if you think it was worth the money/debt!

Travel: A Wander Through Dovedale

One of my favourite childhood memories involves loading up picnics and dogs into the car and setting off early for a day of walking, picnicing and fresh air. Invariably we’d forget something (the dog leads, on one memorable occasion). Almost always one of the dogs would hare off after some kind of animal. Quite often the same dog would come strolling back, hopelessly pleased with herself, carrying some kind of smelly dead animal. Quite often those day trips involved a trip to Dovedale, on the southern edge of the Peak District.

 photo Dovedale Peak District 2_zpsalhramx3.jpg photo Dovedale Peak District 1_zpshyfawocp.jpg photo Dovedale Peak District 4_zpsl9djzxj6.jpgDog drama aside, it was always one of my favourite places to go. I was slightly gutted upon moving, at the age of 10, to be told that it was now over 2 hours away and infeasible for a day trip. I’ve visited so many places since, but Dovedale stayed with me. And when looking for a place to break up our journey up North, it turned out to be the perfect place.

We didn’t walk as far as I’d hoped, but we got a good three miles in before hunger pangs set in and the clouds got dark. In retrospect, we’re glad we turned back when we did as the rain on our return was rather heavy, and the path was getting a lot busier – it paid to get there early!

 photo Dovedale Peak District 5_zpsjnz8v4ka.jpg photo Dovedale Peak District 6_zpshsvd0zb7.jpg photo Dovedale Peak District 7_zpsfdb9ewss.jpg photo Dovedale Peak District 8_zpsuhu78nij.jpg photo Dovedale Peak District 9_zpsdnyv4ik7.jpg photo Dovedale Peak District 10_zpsrrtwhal8.jpg photo Dovedale Peak District 11_zpsfvbd2b95.jpg photo Dovedale Peak District 13_zpsjgby9exa.jpgIt was as beautiful as I remembered. Rolling hills, calm river, those iconic stepping stones – though they’ve definitely been evened out at some point over the last 12 years! Something about being by water, whether it’s a lake, river or the sea, just makes me feel so much more peaceful. And this was just wonderful. There was hardly anyone around on our outward walk, leaving us to amble in companionable silence or chat quietly. Perfection!

I’d forgotten quite how beautiful the Peak District is. I’d forgotten how much I enjoy a decent walk. I’m now working on a walking holiday next year – how wonderful would a short break be, plenty of exercise, nice B&B’s (no camping here!) and good food? Sounds like a perfect holiday to me…
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Have you ever been to Dovedale or the Peak District? Where’s your favourite spot in the UK?