Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Revisiting Bicester Village: Review

Bicester Village Outlet Oxford Review

Hey Owlets,

Today we're having a bit of a do-over. If you remember back in August I visited Bicester village and was less than impressed. If you haven't already read that post then make sure you take a look so you know what happened before reading the update.

To give you a brief outline, I stopped at Bicester on the way back from visiting family in Milton Keynes. As a blogger I've heard so much about the outlet and it's somewhere that I've always wanted to visit. I wasn't exactly looking my finest as I was only planning to travel home, but I don't suppose you would ever think to dress up to go shopping. When I got there, I was fully aware that the centre wasn't going to cater to anyone of my size, but you know how much of a handbag addict I am, so that was what I was here for anyway! Walking round the shops it became apparent that I perhaps wasn't their usual clientele, but at the point that a shop assistant said " we don't cater for people like you", I was pretty sure I was done and not going to go back.

Bicester Village Outlet Oxford Review

On the way home, I wrote a blog post about my experience as I didn't want other plus size bloggers to go and be disappointed as I was. Bicester Village actually saw my blog post, and invited me back for a VIP experience to make up for the first trip, which I really appreciated.

The VIP experience basically means that you have a private area to take a well-earned break from your shopping that you can come back to at any time and you don't have to carry your own bags, which doesn't sound like a lot but believe me it makes your day much more relaxing than fighting the masses without a break.

The room we were shown into was beautiful, had plenty of space for several guests to have their own separate areas and also had changing rooms to try on clothes in comfort. The decorations were modern, but the whole area was comfortable so you didn't feel like you couldn't relax. When we visited we had free reign of the whole house, and the staff outnumbered us two to one, which is crazy to think about.

Bicester Village Outlet Oxford Review

When we arrived we went to guest reception and were driven to "the apartment" as they call it. When we got there we were shown upstairs and offered coffee and pastries for brunch which were all rather tasty - although it did upset me to have my coffee served on a Taschen book. With free reign of the place, we walked onto the then snow-covered balcony and watched the world go by. As part of the package we had "hands-free shopping" which meant someone would pick up our bags and bring them back to the apartment, then later to the car for us. We were also given a 10% off voucher, but this was the most useless bit of paper I've ever been given, because not one shop that I visited actually accepted it, even when buying full price items.

Bicester Village Outlet Oxford Review

Armed with our VIP umbrellas we set off for a bit of retail therapy and, yes, I was the only person stupid enough to get on the sleigh. Given the chance to look around without the rude sales rep from our previous visit, both Dad and I were amazed at how good the deals were. I did do a bit of Christmas shopping, but the main present bought that day was for myself. If you've not seen my beloved Mulberry purchase all over my social media, then where have you been? I'm pretty sure you're all sick of seeing it now but the Mulberry Bayswater is a bag that I've wanted since I first became interested in fashion around a decade ago. I managed to get the bag for less than half price and it was limited edition from the AW17 collection, so it was a current style.

Bicester Village Outlet Oxford Review

All in all, I really enjoyed my second attempt at a trip to Bicester village, although I still wouldn't necessarily recommend visiting if you're bigger than a size 14. I'm acutely aware that I was invited back after my miserable experience the first time and the staff were probably briefed on this as I was asked specifically what day and time I would be arriving and who with.

However, if you're thick-skinned and love designer hand bags, or you're thin and love designer clothes then it's well worth a visit because the deals are great and it's a really unique place to go.

Have you visited Bicester? Let me know what you thought in the comments below.

Love and Feathers, 
 The Owlet 💜 

You can find me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram & Pinterest

Saturday, 20 January 2018

The Power of The Internet

Plus Size Blogger Fashion Inspiration

Hey Owlets,

I’ve got a bit of a story and a thank you for you today.

If you were following me on Twitter around the start of November, you may have seen everything kick off, but since it happened I’ve had to retell the story so many times that my family have convinced me to write a blog post.

Back in November last year I was invited to attend an event in West London which I was ridiculously excited about as I’m always looking for an excuse to flex my Oyster card. When I got there however, things really weren’t how I expected. 

When I got to the event I introduced myself as a blogger but was shrugged off so I went and sat down. A few minutes later the photographer called for a photo of all the bloggers together so I stood up, at which point he said “not you”. Giving him the benefit of the doubt, I told him I was a blogger in case he didn’t realise - his response was “I know but not you” so I had to stand there watching these pretty Barbie-girl bloggers having their own mini photoshoot. I waited for a while but it was clear I wasn’t what they were looking for so I turned around and left. Quite rightly I was upset - I felt like the fat cheerleader that no one wanted- so I tweeted a bit of a moan as I walked back to Shepherd’s Bush station.


Plus Size Blogger Fashion Inspiration

By the time I got to Paddington my phone had frozen because of all the notifications. I checked Twitter to find that some bright spark had looked at my Instagram stories from when I arrived, put two and two together and started a flurry of tweets telling the brand that they were out of line. 

This continued all night long with someone even starting a thread about “why @theowletblog should’ve been who you focused on”. Until now I don’t think I’d ever realised just how powerful you, my amazing followers, really are and it gave me an idea.

Earlier that same day I’d fallen in love with a coat in Oxford Circus Primark - the only issue was that they didn’t have it in my size and for some reason it wasn’t listed on the system which led to me spending maybe 3 hours travelling round London Primark stores looking for the size 20 coat of my dreams. Having slept on it, I remembered what had happened the day before and wondered if I could use this power to my advantage, so I tweeted a picture and asked that if anyone went past their local Primark they would check the store for me, and if they didn’t live near one to retweet it so maybe someone else would see it, but I never expected the response that I got.

Within 2 days over 50 stores had been visited. I had tweets from people that had nothing to do so went into their local town/city just to visit Primark for me, which was incredible, but no one found anything.


Plus Size Blogger Fashion Inspiration

On the evening of the second day, I had a tweet from one of my followers that works in Primark telling me that the coat was now on their system and there was one available in Birmingham, so I dropped everything to call and reserve it.

That Saturday I was visiting a friend in Brum so dragged her to pick up my long-awaited coat. Less than a week after this mad journey began I was sat in a cafe cursing the unseasonably warm weather as I overheated in my new ensemble.

So this post is a thank you to all of you! And an apology if since then you’ve gotten absolutely sick of seeing my beloved embroidered coat on every social media platform that I have - it’s fair to say it was worth all the effort to get it, and what I love even more is that I now know just how much we can achieve together if we put our minds to it.

Thank you all - much appreciated!

Love and Feathers, 
 The Owlet 💜 

You can find me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram & Pinterest

Thursday, 11 January 2018

My 2018 Goals and Wishes

goals wishes new years resolutions for 2018 plus size bristol blogger

Hey Owlets,

Happy 2018!! 

I feel like I've posted a lot of "life reviews" over the last few weeks - a review of my 2017 goals, my year in photos and what 2017 taught me so make sure you read those if you haven't already. Now we're actually in the new year, I wanted to look forward instead of back to discuss some goals I have for 2018 - this year I've got less goals as I want to focus on actually achieving what I set myself.

goals wishes new years resolutions for 2018 plus size bristol blogger

Goals

Enjoy More, Document Less

My first goal is probably a bit "anti blog" but so often I find myself thinking "I can't eat this until I've photographed it" or I'm on a trip somewhere and suddenly remember that I've not posted anything on Twitter or Instagram stories. In 2018 I want to focus on enjoying what I'm doing, rather than on documenting every single thing that happens. There will still be blog content, but from now on I want to focus on making memories the old fashioned way.


Travel More

Last year I got to go abroad for the first time which was absolutely incredible, but I've been bitten by the bug and since I came back all I've wanted to do is leave again. This year I want to take more time to see what's outside of our island, even if it's just for a few days.


Stop Apologising for Taking Care of Myself

We all need to focus on our happiness from time to time, but I spent most of last year running myself into the ground while simultaneously apologising for not being active online 24/7. This year I need to learn that taking time for myself isn't something to apologise for.

Better Organisation

I'm sort of carrying this goal over from last year's list, but I've changed it a little. Last year I wanted to get better at time keeping, but in all honesty since graduating I think I've gotten worse, not better. This year, however, I'm changing it slightly as I would like to get better organised over all, not just in terms of time keeping but. 2018 will be full of to do lists and reminders on my phone - wish me luck!

goals wishes new years resolutions for 2018 plus size bristol blogger

Wishes

Last year I wrote my wishes thinking they were really far-fetched and never going to happen, but since some of them did, here are my "stretch goals" for 2018.

Do a "Proper" Photoshoot

Don't get me wrong, I love doing shoots for my blog out in the open somewhere but getting to do a proper studio photoshoot from the other side of the camera would be an amazing experience. I also think it would be great for a confidence boost too!

Take Part in a Fashion Show

Last year I said I really wanted to take part in a fashion show which at the time I kind of knew wouldn't happen but it was a wish, not a goal after all. Again I'm writing this knowing it probably won't happen but I think this would be an amazing confidence boost if I did get the opportunity. 

Write a Book

This is another goal carried over from my 2017 list. One thing I've wanted to do since I started The Owlet is to write a book to help other people that are struggling with body confidence. I originally felt like you had to be a "bigger blogger" to do this, but after watching my blog grow over the last year, it's something that I'm really inspired to start in 2018, regardless of my following.

goals wishes new years resolutions for 2018 plus size bristol blogger

Writing my goals for 2018 was the easy part, now I have to actually complete them which is the real challenge. Wish me luck, and feel free to bug me throughout the year if I've not ticked any of these off!

What goals have you set yourself this year? Let me know in the comments below.

Love and Feathers, 
 The Owlet 💜 

You can find me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram & Pinterest

Monday, 1 January 2018

What 2017 Taught Me


Bristol Plus Size Blogger The Owlet 2017 review

2017 has been a year of change. I’ve gone from student to graduate, homebody to traveller, in a relationship to single and from nobody to The Owlet, trekking across the country with a railcard in hand. But most importantly I’ve gone from miserable to not just content but happy, with a regained love for life that seemed to have gone missing for most of the year.

Looking back, January was the last time I felt true happiness when I visited the Go Glam Gala, stayed overnight in London and for the first time met people who read my blog. Since then I feel like my life and emotions have gone on a bit of a Yo-Yo; happy in January, miserable by March, bittersweet happiness at graduation in July, then by September the most miserable I’ve ever felt. Just two short weeks later I was a new person - travelling, free from anxiety and unhappiness, and properly smiling for the first time in what felt like forever. Okay that euphoric feeling was short lived, but the lessons I learnt have stuck with me, and despite everything that happened, I stayed happy.

So, here’s what 2017 taught me

Bristol Plus Size Blogger The Owlet 2017 review

Be Selfish

Not unkind, but put yourself first. Before my holiday of a lifetime, I always put myself last. I spent every ounce of energy making other people happy, even though I knew I’d left none for myself. I started to notice who I was messaging first all the time, who would only speak to me when they wanted something and who was sapping all my energy. I decided it was time to give myself some attention and focus on my happiness. Don’t do something because someone else wants you to do it, do what will bring you happiness.

Bristol Plus Size Blogger The Owlet 2017 review

Be Kind

One of the things I’ve seen far too much of this year is spite - not just personally towards me, but in the blogging community and further afield. Being spiteful is one of those things that I’ve just never understood - I wouldn’t have the time or energy to be nasty to someone all the time, and even if I did I’m sure I’d find better things to fill my time with. We can’t all afford to donate to charity or have time to volunteer for charity, but we can all take a few seconds to show someone kindness - be that complimenting someone, saying hi to someone at a party that looks uncomfortable, buying an extra bottle of water or sandwich to give to someone in need or just standing up for someone who needs a friend. We all have time to give kindness, no matter how small.

Bristol Plus Size Blogger The Owlet 2017 review

Not Everyone Will Like You

That’s something that’s been really hard for me to learn this year. When you through hundreds of thousands of people into the same space no one is every going to get on with everyone. Sometimes they’re friends stabbing you in the back, sometimes they talk behind your back or are outwardly aggressive, and sometimes they’re strangers hiding behind the anonymity of the internet. We can’t force everyone to like us, but you can limit how much power those people have. If an anonymous account calls you fat or says they don’t like your hair, it says more about them and their shallow values than it does about you. Focus on the people that make you truly happy, and let everyone else get on with it.

Bristol Plus Size Blogger The Owlet 2017 review

Learn When to let go

One of the last things I learnt was the hardest lesson of all - learning when to let go. When I chose to put myself first, that meant cutting the toxic people out of my life; when you’ve invested so much in someone it feels like you’re in too deep, you can’t give up now because you’ll lose all the work you’ve put into that person and their happiness. But sometimes people won’t be helped or can’t be fixed and all they’re doing is dragging you down. It’s not easy - you’ll miss them - and only you will know when that time is right, but I can promise you that cutting something out gives room for something better to grow.

Bristol Plus Size Blogger The Owlet 2017 review

2017 has been a year of change in a lot of ways, but it’s also been the year of growth. The past 52 weeks haven’t always been easy, but they’ve taught me a lot about myself and others. I’m stronger than I was last New Year’s Eve, I’m happier than I was in 2016, and above all I’m so ready to see what 2018 brings.

Happy New Year everyone, let’s make the best of it.

Love and Feathers, 
 The Owlet 💜 

You can find me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram & Pinterest

Tuesday, 26 December 2017

My Year In Review: 2017

University Of South Wales Photojournalism Graduation Cardiff Blogger

Hey Owlets,

Last year I wrote a blog post looking back on all the things I'd done in 2016. It was half selfish because I wanted to be able to look back and see what I did and how I've changed, but you seemed to really enjoy reading back so I thought I'd do the same for 2017. If any year was going to show my journey, it would be this one. Even thinking back I'm proud of how far I've come, so scrolling through my iCloud drive was an emotional trip down memory lane.


January

London Skyline from Hilton Waterloo

2017 was a year of growth for me, both personally and as a blogger. In January I was invited to my first ever "big girl" blog event. I walked into the room surrounded by the likes of InTheFrow, SophDoesNails and Lydia Millen, and I have to admit I kind of wondered what I was doing there. I was about to sit awkwardly in the corner - as is my usual go to - when someone stopped me and asked if I was The Owlet and told me that they loved reading my posts. The GoGlam Gala was the first time I'd stayed overnight in London and we had such a good time that from then it was kind of impossible to separate me from London for more than a month.



February

Bristol plus size fashion blogger

February was The Owlet's first birthday and to mark the occassion I did the most ridiculous photoshoot in a tiny dress when it was SNOWING outside - I'd consider that serious dedication. I know it's kind of a strange thing to choose as my favourite memory from a month, but I feel like it wasn't until my blog turned one that I started to take things seriously. At a year old, The Owlet was still pretty unknown and I was very much a newbie. Ten months on, I've met people through my blog that I consider to be close friends, I've gotten to travel, I've grown in confidence and I've learnt so many things and changed so much that I don't even relate to the girl in this photo anymore. To this day, 97% of my posts have little to no SEO in them because I had no idea what that was or how to do it until a few months ago - and okay it's going to take me months to fix that, but I'm proud that I've picked up a new skill so quickly.



March

London Blog Conference The Owlet

I've done some strange things as The Owlet but March saw one of my weirdest experiences ever. In general this was a bit of a quiet month but it was the first month when my blog started to spread. I was invited to go to a blog conference in London which I was really excited about, however when I got there things got a bit weird and when I tried to leave I was repeatedly stopped. I wrote a blog post about the event and it was the first article that ever got over 10,000 views. Of course I was really proud of the views, but what it really meant was that I'd shown a lot of people that they needed to be more careful.



April

UK Blog Awards 2017 2018 The Owlet London Lifestyle Blogger

April's favourite memory was my first "pinch me" moment that I'd felt as a blogger. In January I'd found out that I was one of the finalists for Lifestyle Blogger of the Year at the UK Blog Awards. Okay I didn't win, but getting into the finals and getting to go to the awards evening in London was such an incredible experience, and I got to meet some bloggers that I'd looked up to since before I started The Owlet, and some that I now consider good friends.


May

Bristol Plus Size Blogger Afternoon Tea at Thornbury Castle

May is the month where I officially got old! In other words, it was my 21st birthday. Of course my highlight of this month is probably always going to be my birthday, but this year was a particularly special one. I was lucky enough to get to celebrate with friends in Cardiff, then with my friend Panda in London, then with my extended family at the weekend, and finally with my parents on my actual birthday. It was more like my birthday month than day, and I enjoyed every minute of it! One of the things I absolutely love is afternoon tea, so my parents treated me to tea at Thornbury Castle and it was every bit as amazing as it sounds!



June

InTheFrow Sanderson Hotel London Plus Size Fashion Blogger

June for me was another "blogger highlight" month. If you've been reading my blog a while then you'll know that Dad has a heart condition, so it felt particularly special when I was invited to InTheFrow's dinner to celebrate her working with the British Heart Foundation. Victoria is a blogger that I'd been following for about a year at that point so it was amazing to be asked to come to the event. We had dinner at the beautiful Sanderson Hotel in central London and spent the entire evening relaxing and chatting all things blog.



July

University Of South Wales Photojournalism Graduation Cardiff Blogger

This July is a strong contender to be one of my favourite months of the year. On 6th July I put on my heels, cap and gown and celebrated one of my biggest achievements to date - graduating from University of South Wales with a degree in photojournalism. Of course, me being me, I somehow ended up doing PR photography on a photojournalism course, but I still look at my final project now because I'm so pleased with it. While I don't miss the stress, I really miss being in uni - my drive, focus and motivation kind of wained in the months after graduation. After two years of being miserable studying in a college, I loved (almost) every minute of being in Cardiff - now my hair has grown back, I'd go back in a heartbeat!



August

Bristol International Balloon Fiesta Media Pass Plus size travel blogger

I feel like this is a bit of a cop out because I realise that I featured the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta in last year's review post, but it's genuinely something that I always look forward to, as each year Bradley Stoke Radio runs a stage for the four day event. This year we were lucky enough to be given media passes which was incredible. These passes meant that we were allowed onto the field, even during the night glow. I can't quite explain why, but being able to dance between the balloons as they light up in time to the music is the most amazing feeling. I actually ended up missing one of the night glows this year because I was ill, which I was absolutely gutted about, but I'm still so pleased that I got to be in the arena for one of them!



September

Las Iguanas Temple Street Birmingham Review

September is the one month this year where I struggled to find a highlight to talk about.  In September, I was going through some personal issues and to put it bluntly I was completely miserable and barely left the house. However, there were a few bright moments, as I of course sought refuge in my favourite city. One day that brightened an otherwise difficult month was a trip to review the new Las Iguanas on Temple Street. I had a great evening drinking cocktails and eating Mexican food with my Brum friends, and things don't get much better than that!



October

Plus size blogger Royal Caribbean Independence of the Seas Cartagena

I keep saying to my family that in my mind 2018 started in October this year, and that's because I feel like it's when I discovered the new me. At the end of September, a week before my parents were due to go on holiday, Dad turned to me and said "I'm fed up of seeing you like this. You've got a passport, come with us". It's taken me 21 years to do something spontaneous but it was the best decision I've ever made. October 2017 is the month I met new friends, found confidence, found happiness and learnt to enjoy every part of life - even if it's not always going to plan. October was also the month that I wrote the blog post that I'm most proud of, even now, which became my most viewed blog post EVER! 



November

Italian Embassy London Ciao Gusto on Ocado Review

From October onwards things just seemed to keep getting better. November was the hardest month to choose just one memory from. On 17th November I got to go backstage at Motorpoint Arena in Cardiff to hang out with a band that I've loved for most of my teenage years. Meeting Enter Shikari was undoubtably one of my highlights of the whole year, but they were just about beaten. The week after I met Shikari, I got the train to London to go for a meal at the Italian Embassy and I'll be honest, it hasn't sunk in even now. Ciao Gusto invited me to dinner to celebrate a year of them being in the UK, and the food was as amazing as the surroundings.



December

Ralph Lauren Bicester Village Oxfordshire Review

December was decidedly more quiet than the previous two months so I don't really have any earth-shattering stories to share. I feel like I spent October and November making up for how unhappy I was in September, so it was nice to take some time off of travelling to spend time with my family. I must admit my highlight of December is a bit of a selfish one but I finally got to go back to Bicester Village. After the bad experience I had earlier in the year, the PR team invited me back for a VIP experience which definitely made up for the first trip. I also got to treat myself to my dream bag; having wanted a Mulberry Bayswater since I first got into fashion I have to say it lives up to everything I'd imagined. I'll have an update to the original post coming in the new year, but for now if you'd like to see what happened then click the link below.



Enter Shikari The Spark Backstage Interview at Cardiff Motorpoint Arena

So that's it, my most life-changing year ever condensed into one blog post - and I had to squeeze my photo with the Enter Shikari boys in somewhere! 2017 has been a bit of a rollercoaster for me, but given the chance I don't think I would change a thing because even my worst moments led me to being happy. Thank you to everyone who's helped and supported me over the last year. It's incredible to think that writing a blog has led me to find an amazing group of friends, had me travelling the country and continent and helped me towards meeting my idols. Roll on 2018, because I feel like things can only get better from here!

Love and Feathers, 
 The Owlet 💜 

You can find me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram & Pinterest

Tuesday, 19 December 2017

November in Pictures


Birmingham Social Gas Street Basin

Hey Owlets,

It's time for the last "In Pictures" post of 2017 - where the hell has this year gone? I realise I could do a December in Pictures, but no one wants to read something that's jammed packed with Christmas in January, so I'll be doing my annual Year in Review post in place of that. If you fancy a bit of a throwback, have a read of my year in review for 2016 here.

I'll freely admit that November was not my most jam-packed month ever. I have no idea how I managed to spend an entire month running errands, but it was a tale of two halves because when I did do something, it was particularly awesome.

Birmingham Stable Pizza and Cider Dinner

My first day out this month was a trip to one of my favourite cities in the world - Birmingham! I know, you're probably sick of seeing it by now. I actually went up there to hang out with a few friends for the day, but in the evening I got to visit Stable Pizza for dinner which was lovely as ever - particularly as I'm now meant to be gluten free, and I honestly couldn't tell the difference between the two bases! I've actually already reviewed Stable before, so if you fancy a read (or a watch - if you remember my YouTube days!) then click here.

Bristol Bradley Stoke Bonfire Night Fireworks Display

Remember remember the fifth of November; every year our town council put on a free fireworks display for the people of the town, and every year they outdo themselves! One of my favourite things to do is photograph the whole event - I think once you've seen one firework display you've seen them all, but I love watching the crowd's reactions.

M&Co Press Day Spring Summer 2018 London

I feel like I was a bit all over the place in November - between Bristol, Brum and London I always seemed to be on a train but that's my favourite way to be! On 7th November I found myself back in London for a few blog events - one of those being the M&Co press day. I must admit, it was kind of weird to be talking about Spring/Summer in November but they had some amazing pieces, so keep your eyes peeled for their release early next year.

Birmingham Christmas Market Plus Size Blogger

On 11th November I was back in Brum to spend the day hanging out with Purely Amy. She's one of the first people I met through blogging and she's remained a really good friend ever since! If you were following me on Twitter a few months ago, you would also know about the ridiculous lengths I went to to find this coat (I'm honestly considering writing a blog post about it - what do you think?) so today's photo had to be of my long-awaited coat.

Backstage at Enter Shikari The Spark Cardiff Gig

17th November is when my mind was completely blown - 15 year old Becky would be so proud. Earlier this month an email dropped into the BSR inbox asking if anyone would be interested in interviewing ENTER SHIKARI. Yes, you read that right - the band that I've been obsessed with for most of my teenage years. Having spent over half an hour interviewing Rory, I was put on the guest list for their Cardiff gig and as if that wasn't good enough, I was then invited backstage to meet them before the show. I'm not one to get starstruck - at the end of the day they're just people - but I won't lie, I was pretty much a blithering idiot. They say never meet your idols - but the Shikari guys couldn't have been kinder and their gig was incredible!! I've pretty much listened to "The Spark" on repeat since, even in place of more festive tunes, so it's well worth a listen.

Willow Brook Centre Bradley Stoke Christmas Lights Switch on 2017

The next day I crawled out of bed at stupid O'clock in the morning on very few hours of sleep, ready for a day at the Christmas Lights Switch On in my local shopping centre. For the blog, it's probably not the most exciting thing to ever happen, but when I've gotten to do amazing things like travelling the country and working with my idols and favourite brands, I love nothing more than going back to my roots, spending a day volunteering in the community and making lots of noise with BSR. Dad, of course, took his roll as mayor incredibly seriously - have you ever seen a mayor duet with a Robbie tribute act? No? Don't worry, you've saved your ears!

Dinner at the Italian Embassy Ciao Gusto Italian Food Week

As if the previous week meeting my favourite band hadn't been enough to blow my mind, on 22nd November I was back in London for dinner at the ITALIAN EMBASSY. It was one of those weird "pinch me" moments as a blogger when you think "how the hell did I get here from writing about clothes on the internet?". If you haven't already seen it, I wrote a post all about my trip to the Italian Embassy. It was amazing to meet such inspiring people and I felt so lucky being able to eat dinner in such beautiful surroundings. 

Rofuto Birmingham Afternoon Tea Food Review

On 26th November I was back on another train, for another trip to Birmingham and another Rofuto visit. If you've not already seen it, I wrote a review about Rofuto's afternoon tea here, but over the last few months it's been one of my favourite restaurants to visit. I have no idea where you could find a better view of my favourite city, and they're the only people who've ever managed to get me to eat avocado and like it. This time I was there for afternoon tea with Bumble - if you don't know what that is, it's an app where you can make friends, find a date or even a business contact - the latter I've found particularly useful.

Rofuto Afternoon Tea Restaurant Review Park Regis Hotel Birmingham

So that's it, my last "Month in Pictures" for 2017. I honestly don't know where this past year has gone, and November just flew by. Stay tuned for my Year in Review post soon - I'm actually really looking forward to writing it as it's been one of the most influential years of my life.

Love and Feathers, 
 The Owlet 💜 

You can find me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram & Pinterest

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Review: My Goals for 2017

Goals and Wishes - what I achieved in 2017

Hey Owlets,

Long time, no see! I'd originally planned to post every other day in December but, let's be honest, I think we all forget how crazy this month is, and every year we go into December just as unprepared as the last having sworn we would never do that again.

Last year I made a post about my goals and wishes for 2017 in which I talked about what I wanted to achieve in the coming year. Some, of course, were more pie in the sky than realistic - or so I thought at the time. If I'm brutally honest I'd kind of forgotten about that post and just gone through my year as normal until one of my friends asked if I was going to make another for 2018. So yes I will do that, but for now I wanted to take a look back at how I'd done throughout 2017 because I actually managed to shock myself.

Goals and Wishes - what I achieved in 2017
Copyright "Dad's Photos" - thanks Dad...
My first two goals were better blog photography and to be more confident, and I think I've achieved both of these. Towards the start of the year, that better blog photography came from the help of Adam and while there was a brief transition of dodgy tripod photos after we broke up, I'd say that me and my tripod are starting to get along very well! Also Dad's blog photography has improved a lot after Adam and I broke up, so he wouldn't forgive me if I didn't give him at least some of the credit! I also wanted to become more confident this year, which I'd say I've definitely managed to do. But the thing I didn't expect was to have gained confidence in all areas. When I wrote my goals for the year I was thinking about body confidence, but on top of that I've found it easier to speak to people, I've been happier travelling, and more confident in my abilities as well as being able to look at a photo and think "damn girl, you look good!" (even the stupid ones).

My third goal was better time keeping - the less said about that the better because I'm pretty sure that since finishing uni any time keeping I ever had has gone out the window. A goal to be moved on to 2018 I think.

Goals and Wishes - what I achieved in 2017

My final goal was to travel more, and when I wrote that I kind of reined myself in a little - I really wanted to say about travelling abroad but I thought "that'll never happen" so kept it to exploring more places in the UK, which granted I have done. But my major achievement was travelling abroad for the first time, and that changed everything. If you haven't read one of my first posts ever to spread like wildfire, then take a look at my life lessons from the holiday of a lifetime. The only issue for this is that I've been bitten by the bug, so my aim for 2018 is to write my CV and start applying for some part time jobs so that I can have more holidays but still keep the blog going!

Now, onto my "stretch goals" - I called these my wishes because I never thought in a million years that these would actually come true, and for the most part they haven't yet. I still haven't gotten to do a proper photoshoot with a brand, I still haven't taken part in a fashion show, I've yet to start writing my book and I didn't win UK Blog Awards 2017, but I did achieve one thing on the list. This summer Nicole, one of the nicest people I've ever met and blogger at abeautifulchaos.co.uk asked me to be on the COVER of her magazine - Beautiful Minds. Being in a magazine was one of those wishes that I thought wouldn't happen until years down the line, if at all, so getting to spend the day with Nicole and talk about something I'm so passionate about was incredible. If you've yet to read the magazine, you can buy it here. And while I didn't get to do a photoshoot with a brand, I got to do an incredible photoshoot in a field full of sunflowers with another blogger called Steph from Stephanie Dreams Photography/ Steph and The Spaniels that was so iconic that almost every Instagram post I've made since then has had someone comment with sunflower emojis - I think they're now my personal flower.

Goals and Wishes - what I achieved in 2017

So that's it for my 2017 goals round up - considering I scoffed at myself as I wrote most of these, I'm incredibly proud of how well I've done - even managing to tick something off the "never going to happen" list. Keep your eye out for part two of this post when I run through my 2018 goals and wishes (because I rambled too much as per usual, sorry!!)

Did you achieve some of your 2017 goals? Let me know on Twitter or in the comments below

Love and Feathers, 
 The Owlet 💜 

You can find me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram & Pinterest

Sunday, 3 December 2017

Luxury Gift Guide: Blogmas 2017

Plus Size Blogger Luxury Christmas Gift Guide

Hey Owlets!!

Today is day two of my week of gift guides, and today I'm bringing you my favourite category because everyone likes a bit of luxury at Christmas, don't they? In this post you'll find gifts that are over £50, so if you're looking to treat someone (like yourself) then these next set of gifts are perfect!

Plus Size Blogger Luxury Christmas Gift Guide The Jewellery Box Rose Gold Engraved Heart Necklace

Gift Idea:
Personalised Jewellery

Who For:
Female friends & Family Members

How Much:
From £6

Why This is a Great Gift:

I felt like I needed to get this one out the way first because you're probably sick of seeing this all over my social media, but I honestly can't get over this beautiful necklace from Jewellery Box is. For me, Christmas gifts are always more special is you can personalise them because it shows how much thought you've put into it. Also jewellery is always a great gift for a female friend or relative if you don't know what else to get them. The site offers engraveable gifts from £6 so it can suit any budget, but this particular necklace was £95 and is solid rose gold.

Plus Size Blogger Luxury Christmas Gift Guide Magnitone Barefaced Cleansing Brush

Gift Idea:
Magnitone Barefaced Cleansing Brush

Who For:
Beauty lovers and skin care nerds

How Much:
£90

Why This is a Great Gift:

Personally I've always struggled with my acne-prone skin, so being given the chance to have good skin is an incredible gift. The Magnitone cleansing brush vibrates to cleanse your skin more than you could do by hand, as well as exfoliating at the same time. The brush is incredibly gentle but I'm honestly shocked at how much of a difference this makes; Magnitone claim that you're able to see results from first use which I initially shrugged off because nothing works that quickly, but wow I was wrong. From the first time I used this my skin was smoother, cleaner and my makeup went on better. I can definitely tell the difference if I've not used this for a few days. If you're looking to splash out on a special someone then I can't recommend this enough!

Plus Size Blogger Luxury Christmas Gift Guide Marc Jacobs Perfume The Perfume Store

Gift Idea:
Perfume/Cologne

Who For:
Anyone!

How Much:
 £50

Why This is a Great Gift:

I feel like perfume is one of those amazing gifts for when you don't know what to get someone close to you, because you usually know what type of scents they go for and can pick something they like but haven't discovered yet. Personally one of my favourites is Marc Jacobs Daisy - I always tend to go for lighter scents so the mix of blueberries, violet, jasmine and sandalwood means that it doesn't get too sickly and you get fed up of smelling it. I found this bottle on The Fragrance Shop's website for £5 cheaper than everywhere else so it's definitely worth shopping around to get the best value for money. One thing I've learnt is that if there's a perfume that you love that's over budget, you can always ask in store if there's anything that smells similar. I've done this multiple times and it really does work.

Plus Size Blogger Christmas Luxury Gift Guide Smooth Skin IPL Hair Removal Device

Gift Idea:
IPL Hair Removal

Who For:
Beauty lovers, female relatives, anyone that likes to look after themselves.

How Much:
£199

Why This is a Great Gift:

Okay, I'll admit I was kind of terrified using this for the first time but I promise it didn't hurt. If you don't know what IPL is, it's a form of hair removal using light.  After you've shaved, you use this as a second step - the light flashes 100 times a second which stops the hair growing back. So far I've not used it enough to see a long-term difference, but it's definitely made a difference short-term. The device can be used on anyone, not just women so it's a great luxury purchase for anyone that likes to look after themselves.

Plus Size Blogger Christmas Luxury Gift Guide Zatchels Sugarcube Blue Red Handbag

Gift Idea:
High End Bag

Who For:
Friends, Close Relatives, Luxury Addicts with the budget

How Much:
£80

Why This is a Great Gift:

If you've been following me for a while you'll know that I have a not-so-healthy handbag addiction. Designer bags are absolutely my thing; in my mind there's nothing better than saving up for something you'll keep for a long time. However, I completely understand the feeling of wanting a designer bag but not being able to afford it, so this bag from Zatchels is a great compromise.

This bag is the Empire Sugarcube - at a price of £80 it's still a luxury purchase and is something that you can keep and use for a long time, but without the price tag that you could expect from the likes of Kate Spade or Michael Kors. It lacks a few of the things you'd expect in a higher end bag like the fact it's not lined, but that doesn't bother me too much as it's great quality over all and looks expensive. Zatchels products also come with the wow-factor of a higher end bag as they arrive in a dust bag with a certificate of authenticity inside, so if you're giving this as a gift for someone that can't afford a high end bag, this is definitely something that will impress.

Plus Size Blogger Christmas Luxury Gift Guide Christmas Tree Reindeers

I hope this has helped inspire you if you're looking to treat someone special this Christmas. If you haven't already then make sure you check out my Affordable Gift Guide for tighter budgets, as I have some great options there too. Also stick around because tomorrow I'll be bringing you my Beauty Lovers Gift Guide, which is absolutely one of my favourite categories!

Is there something amazing I've missed out? Let me know your favourite luxury purchase in the comments below!

Love and Feathers, 
 The Owlet 💜 
You can find me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram & Pinterest