Friday, 16 June 2017

Dear Facebook, I Quit



Bloggers and social media go together like salt and pepper. If you read someone’s blog you automatically expect to be able to chat to them over Facebook or Twitter. Unfortunately, the ease of being able to connect with people also makes it easy for less considerate humans to do the same.

At the start of this month I opened Facebook, hunted through the many options that try to dissuade you from disconnecting, and I clicked “Deactivate My Facebook Account”. I took back my offline life.

I wasn’t originally going to write about this but I’ve learnt a lot and I’ve been asked so many questions, so hopefully I can answer them for you and I’m sorry if this ends up like an essay.


Why I Deactivated My Account

Basically, I quit Facebook because I was sick of the abuse I was getting. It’s sad, but as a blogger I’m pretty used to the abuse and it doesn’t tend to affect me. However, when it’s someone that you’ve considered a friend for quite a long time, it’s a lot harder to stomach. Worse still, it wasn’t just one friend that seemed to have a knife aimed at my back.

The nature of a being a blogger means that you do tend to give up quite a bit of privacy. Something about sharing parts of your life leads people to think that they’re entitled to know everything about it and this usually incites a level of anger at the things you choose not to share, and sometimes jealousy because you’ve done something that they perhaps don’t have the confidence to do.

After three months of harassment on Twitter, followed by some “friends” deciding to try and make my life a misery, two weeks dealing with the fall out and trying to keep a lid on everything I’d had enough. Unfortunately, my “friends” got their way. My life was miserable - I was noticing that every day I was waking up, dreading checking my phone and felt unsettled every time it rang. I couldn’t deal with it anymore and decided to take control.



What Happened After I Deactivated My Account

The first thing I noticed was a sense of feeling lost. The abuse I’d received from these “friends” made me wary of trusting anyone. I made a new account so I still had access to my Facebook page and added six friends that I know would support me, but essentially I’d chosen to cut myself off from everyone that I normally talk to. For the first few days, I kept staring at my phone as it didn’t ring and the day seemed to be a lot longer. It’s not until you delete Facebook that you realise how much time you waste mindlessly scrolling. I kept thinking “What do I do?”, because over the last 6 years of Facebooking I had somehow forgotten how to pass the time.

One of the things that was most apparent during my time away was a sense of isolation. I had these 6 friends added to my new Facebook - the ones that I talk to every day - but without any pages or groups I had no connection to the outside world. Adam in particular would repeatedly say “Have you seen this?” “No Adam, I deleted my account”. Without Facebook I was the last to know everything. Yes, I could get news from BBC but they don’t usually report on my friends. I found that because I wasn’t getting this constant stream of content throughout the day I sat down in the evening and would watch both the local and national news.

Blog wise, I noticed that engagement on my Facebook page and views on my blog dropped like a stone. I have a lot of friends and family that read my blog who, thanks to the algorithm, won’t see the post on The Owlet but will see when I share the post to my personal page. Without sharing, my Facebook posts weren’t being seen so they wouldn’t know there was a new blog post up - it did make me consider reactivating in order to save my dying blog stats.



What Made Me Reactivate My Account

One night, Adam and I were due to Skype but he was late. When he called me he was on the phone looking worried. I’ll keep this anonymous of course, but one of our close friends struggles with depression and had posted a worrying status. Because I deleted Facebook, I didn’t see it and Adam was so stressed he’d forgotten to tell me. We spent the whole night trying to get in touch with her and even though she was fine, I felt guilty because in escaping the blue prison I hadn’t been there for her at a time when she was struggling. I felt like if I’d been there to talk to her she wouldn’t have gotten to such a low point. This made me realise that really you can’t be without it at my age, so I reactivated my account.


Friends

Someone on Twitter asked how my friends reacted, and if they contact me less as a result. I messaged the people that I speak to regularly to tell them I wasn’t going to be around but didn’t post publicly. That actually gave me a lot of insight into my friends as well. Most people wished me well, offered support and gave me their number if I didn’t already have it, but some read the message and ignored it, which in itself said a lot. I did text the people that gave me their numbers saying “Hey, how are you?”, and again a few didn’t bother to respond.

Before deleting Facebook I would’ve said I had a core group of around 20 friends that I spoke to a lot. Having been through this, I now have a group of maybe 8 people that I consider true friends but I know that they will support me and I can trust them. Since reactivating my account I’ve had barely any messages from people who weren’t added to my new Facebook. I think a lot of people took it as a sign that I didn’t want to know them anymore, rather than needing to escape into my own headspace for a bit. But that’s okay, it’s solidified who I consider friends. While I was offline my friends Ruby and Sophie messaged me every day to ask how I was, and by not being present on Facebook, I was able to focus on the people I value most - I think I’ve spoken to my friend Alicia almost every day since I deleted my account.


Overall

It’s not until you step away from social media that you realise it’s effect on you. I was only offline for a week, but I noticed my mood completely change to a point that I was happy and relaxed again. I had more time to focus on important things like being with family instead of being on my phone in the same room as them, and was able to work on content. 

I don’t think it’s viable for me to live without social media as a blogger. Yes I had more time but without outside influence I lacked inspiration. I think in 2017 our way of socialising is being highly accessible instead of meeting at the pub for a catch up, and without my social media I think I would be left out. However I think having a social media holiday is a necessity, whether you delete Facebook, leave your phone at home or simply log out once a week. Whatever you choose to do, give yourself chance to reset and recharge.

Would you delete your social media? Let me know in the comments, and if you have any questions feel free to ask in the comments or on Twitter. 

Love and Feathers, 
 The Owlet 💜 

You can find me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Bloglovin & Snapchat.

Thursday, 8 June 2017

Follow Me to: Dinner with InTheFrow and British Heart Foundation



Hey Owlets,

I'm so excited to be sharing this post with you! A few weeks ago I had a message from fellow blogger Victoria from InTheFrow, inviting me to attend a charity dinner in aid of the British Heart Foundation. In case you don't know my dad has Dilated Cardiomyopathy, so the BHF is a charity that's incredibly close to my heart.

Thank you Alicia for the photo!!

Before we get into the dinner party pictures, I have to say a massive thank you to Simona from Arcadia's PR team. I had 5 days to find a red dress, and she actually ordered an Evans dress to her office for me to pick up because it wouldn't get to Bristol in time. I won't lie - this picture was taken by my friend when we met up for coffee before I promptly rushed off to try my dress on in the bathroom. Yes, I was that excited about it.


I'm so gutted - it was such a busy evening that I never got chance to take a proper outfit photo, so this picture is all I have. My beautiful dress was by a brand called City Chic from Evans, and Victoria actually thought it was a Self Portrait dress. If you're not familiar with Victoria's blog, she writes about luxury fashion and is a Self Portrait addict, so this was a massive compliment for the dress. My heels were from George at Asda. I've had these for about 4 years and have never found a more comfortable high street pair of heels (even if Oxford Circus tube station escalators did ruin the stiletto and I was balancing without the rubber part all night).

If I'm ever going to spend money on an investment piece, it will always be a handbag. I can't bring myself to spend more than £50 on shoes when they're going to be scraped across Oxford Circus pavements and tube station platforms, and I find that every time I've tried on a more expensive pair of heels they've been less comfortable than my old-faithful high street alternatives. Talking of investment pieces, I wanted to keep to a nude theme with my accessories to match the dress lining, so chose to carry my nude Michael Kors bag. It was a bit big for dinner but it matched my outfit so well that I decided to take it anyway.


The dinner was held at the incredible Sanderson Hotel. If you look from the outside it looks like an office block, and you would never expect to find the beautiful and decadent interiors that run throughout the bars and dining areas. I absolutely loved it there and now need any excuse I can to go back.


We were led through a stunning decked courtyard, filled with water features and lined with trees, into a side room where our dinner was held.


I don't want to spam you with photos of the food but it was absolutely incredible and perfect for me with all the gluten free options. I also love that you can see the details of the dress in this picture.


The dinner was beautiful, red and heart themed in order to raise awareness of the incredible work the British Heart Foundation do and it tasted amazing.


My evening was made when the lovely Victoria and Emma from the BHF surprised me with a birthday cake as it was the week after my 21st birthday. Honestly, this absolutely made my night! Although I had already eaten too much so one of the waiters packed my birthday cake into a patisserie box and I had my cake the next day instead (spoiler - cake tastes even better when it's breakfast).


I'm so sorry I didn't have many photos to share with you - I didn't have room to take my proper camera and the camera on my phone just wasn't up to the job, but I hope you still enjoyed following me to Victoria's BHF dinner.

I want to say a massive massive thank you to Victoria for inviting me, Emma from the BHF for organising it, and to Simona for my absolutely beautiful dress! The British Heart Foundation are running a "Wear it. Beat it." campaign trying to encourage people to throw red themed parties to raise money this summer, so let me know in the comments- what kind of red-themed party would you throw?


Speak soon!

Love and Feathers, 
 The Owlet 💜 

You can find me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Bloglovin & Snapchat.

Thursday, 1 June 2017

Dealing with Travel Anxiety: My Tips


Hey Owlets,

Today I’m here with probably my most requested post EVER. I think I’ve been asked to write this by at least 3 people every week for the last 6 months. I think probably only long time readers know, but I used to suffer really badly with travel anxiety. I’m not talking actual anxiety attacks, but more the gut wrenching feeling of fear before a train journey, despite knowing exactly where I’m going, having been there many times before and knowing that there’s another 4 trains to catch if I miss my train home. Regardless of the logic, before a train journey I wouldn’t sleep, I would wake up feeling sick, and I usually ended up having to take something to settle my stomach before I would feel well enough to travel. These days, I usually don’t think about getting on a train. I actually choose to get the train into the city rather than the bus, and while I still get nervous before travelling large distances that’s more to do with being far from home than actually getting on the train and I’m a lot calmer than I used to be. So, my tips.



Plan Every Part of Your Trip

I cannot stress this enough. Adam would say I’m bordering on being obsessive, but planning everything gives me control and means I know what I’m doing. My preparations start the day before - I check the train I’m getting and the number of stops to my destination, as well as what time the return trains are. I screenshot these in case I lose signal. I’ll screenshot a map if I need to get to somewhere specific, again in case I have no signal and I’ll keep the address and phone number in my notes in case I get lost. I also keep a copy of the tube map on my phone, and have an entire folder of different apps that I use to get me around whatever city I’m in - if you’d like a list of my essential apps for travel then let me know!

If I’m going somewhere unfamiliar I will plan 2 hours to get ready so I don’t have to rush, get the bus before the one I actually need just in case it doesn’t turn up (trust me, that’s standard for Bristol busses). I get to the train station at least 20 minutes before my train and buy my ticket in the ticket office so I know I have the right one. I’ll then sit down on the platform with a bottle of water and put my earphones in until my train comes. 



 Research Your Destination

Travel anxiety usually stems from the fear of the unknown, and that’s simple to fix with a bit of smart Googling. I’m that kind of person who will search pictures of the train station I’ll be coming into the month before I actually intend to travel there, followed by “walking” the route from the train station to my destination on Google maps, multiple times. I’ll look to see how close I am to any shops or where I can eat lunch. I find that researching using more than one source helps because you see a few different perspectives, meaning that your information is more reliable. I also like to use Instagram for research. If I’m going to a new city I’ll search the city hashtag and find somewhere that I’m really excited to visit, then look on Google for reviews and maps for how close it is to where you’re going.


Find Something to be Excited about

This is where I come back to using Instagram for research - especially as a blogger. I like to find a place that’s really pretty like a nice park or find something unique like a cat cafe or Playground Coffee House in Bristol. Choose somewhere that you’re really excited to visit, because that gives you something to focus on and look forward to, and makes it worth the stress of travelling.



Prepare Distractions

Stress gets to us all, no matter how well organised we are, so I try to prepare as many distractions as I can. Wherever I go my laptop goes, meaning I can work on my blog and answer emails so I have something to focus on. If I’m not going far then I just take my phone and have a load of apps to distract me. 2048 is a lifesaver and if you don’t already have it on your phone I suggest you install it - you have to drag the numbers together to try and make 2048 (I haven’t yet, but it’s something great to focus on when you don’t have signal to scroll through Instagram). I also have playlists that I listen to specifically when I’m traveling - things that you can sing along to that are feel good, or something like tropical house that’s super chilled out to help you relax. 

Don’t Plan Too Much

I think time pressure can play a massive part in how stressed you feel on a trip. If you try to cram too much in a day then you’ll feel pressured to do everything with encourages stress. Try to plan one or two bigger things or three smaller things to do during your day trip, and if you have extra time then you can always think of something else to do, or it gives you time to relax, grab a coffee and have some downtime.



Always have a backup plan

This goes for everything, but having a back up plan is essential so that if something goes wrong, you know what to do next before the stress-mist descends. I never catch the last train - if something requires me to catch the last train I either won’t go or I’ll book a hotel because if you miss that then you have no way of getting home, and having the one extra train means that if anything happens, there’s an insurance policy. 


Managed to take this on self timer - go me!

Don’t Rely on your Bankcard to fix Things

This is something I have been guilty of before and I learnt the hard way that going out with a bit of shrapnel in your pocket and thinking “Oh well, I have my bank card” is a terrible idea. Last month I was coming back from London and didn’t realise but my card had stopped working. I was meant to be going back to Adam’s but there was a change of planning on the way home and I ended up staying on until Bristol. Neither of us had any cash, and when I got back to my home station I couldn’t get any money out the ATM for a bus or taxi and was stranded two miles from home with no money. In the end I rang my neighbour almost in tears and she came to rescue me, but if she hadn’t been around I would’ve been walking home at midnight with a giant suitcase trailing behind me.



Hopefully these tips will help you if you’re an anxious traveller - over the years they’re things that I’ve picked up from my own experience. If you have any more tips, leave them in the comments below and if you’d like me to do a list of the apps I don’t travel without then let me know.

Love and Feathers, 
 The Owlet 💜 

You can find me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Bloglovin & Snapchat.

Thursday, 25 May 2017

Follow Me To: My 21st Birthday!


Hey Owlets,

IM OLD!!

So I'm officially 21 now and I felt like that called for a very special week in pictures- my birthday week. I've had the best week of travel, parties and spending time with friends and family so I thought I'd bring you along. Obviously the above photo isn't from my birthday week, but it's pretty much become my own personal meme every time I'm excited about something.
I started my birthday week by handing in my final EVER uni assignment - I'm still not over the fact that I'm no longer a student. I'm kind of gutted that I didn't get to celebrate with everyone else, but in the evening there was a dinner to honour the Chair of South Gloucestershire Council's end of term and she's a family friend so I wanted to go and support her. As it happens, I ended up doing my fair share of celebrating there and it was a really good night. 

I don't have any photos from Saturday - we were all tired so had a lazy day mooching around the local shopping centre and grabbed a coffee before going home and relaxing. In the evening we went to the church for a concert by a local brass band. They were AMAZING but again, I don't have any photos - sorry!


Sunday was one of the main days of my birthday week. This year it was my 21st, Dad's 50th and my Nan's 75th all within a month of each other, so we had one big family party to celebrate all our birthdays. We hired a boat for the day, sailed around Bristol, ate lunch, enjoyed the scenery and did a lot of chatting. We actually did this on exactly the same boat three years ago for my 18th, so it was nice to be back to celebrate again.


On Monday I did absolutely nothing, and had the duvet day that I should've had after hand in. I'll spare you a photo of that - it's probably scary. Instead, here's a picture of the gorgeous Regent's Park in London and a hint at what I did on Tuesday.


On Tuesday I got to spend the day hanging out in London with one of my closest friends. Panda (not his real name, can't remember why I called him that) lives in Kent and it's so rare that we get to meet up more than every few months, so it was a massive treat to be able to meet up two days before my birthday. It's been so long since I last saw him that we didn't do a lot and spent most of the day sat in Regent's Park chatting, had lunch in Shepherds Bush Market, got coffee on Portobello Road, and went back to chatting, this time sat in Green Park. We never normally do a lot when we're in London together, but it's nice to have chance for a catch up, especially near my birthday.



On Wednesday I had a really nice day planned. There's an antiques market on the outskirts of Cardiff and it's tradition that Adam and I visit near my birthday and pick another vintage camera to add to my collection. If you saw my Penarth post you will know how much I loved it there, so the plan was that we were going to go to the market in the morning then Penarth in the afternoon. Unfortunately the weather had other ideas. I had to go into uni to hand something in for my final project then I was due to meet Adam back at Cardiff Central station, but the weather was so bad that he met me in uni and we spent a good hour sat in the student union waiting for the rain to pass - spoiler alert, it didn't, and this is the reason there's no photos of me from Wednesday. 

We gave in and ran to bus stop and got on the bus to Tremorfa. Unfortunately the weather wasn't doing us any favours there either. The market is all inside, but that umbrella is still serving a purpose - it's upside down to catch the water dripping through the ceiling. I didn't find a new camera to add to the collection either - gutted.


After our failed trip to Tremorfa we were soaked through, shivering and hungry so went to get a late lunch. This actually worked out well because I've been meaning to take Adam to the Prince of Wales pub for a long time. I don't think I've mentioned before, but Adam's a bit of a history nerd and loves theatre, so going for lunch in a pub converted from a theatre would be his idea of heaven. He loved it, although I didn't get to talk to him much between the staring at the ceiling and taking photos on his phone. Worth it though. 

Annoyingly this is the best photo I have but on the other side of the pub all of the original theatre seats still exist. After lunch we had a wander into St David's Centre to do some shopping then escaped back to Bristol, which was a lot less rainy, but it's Wales so the rain is expected.


Thursday 18th May was my actual birthday, and we unintentionally had a really relaxed morning. We all got up a bit late, sat opening presents and my Uncle Bob came over. Mum and Dad had been driving me mad all week because they wouldn't tell me where we were going, and Adam knew so as usual tortured me by dropping unguessable hints.


The torturous hints were worth it though, when the penny finally dropped as we turned towards Thornbury Castle. We had afternoon tea, complete with Tiffany coloured macarons (even if Mum did pronounce it with two Os and announced that she didn't like coconut when they were mentioned). I won't lie, I ate one scone, a sandwich and half a cake before leaving with a full stomach, an even more full patisserie box and a food coma. Dad had to get back to present Drive Time on BSR but the celebrations didn't stop there for me.



If you remember last year, Crown and Glory held a workshop to make your own flower crowns in House of Fraser. This year they came back but with the option of making fascinators instead. I'm still desperately saving to try and get back to Ascot so went for this option. I love Crown and Glory anyway because their floral crowns are really unique, but getting to make your own is particularly special because you know no one has the same thing, and they always bring really unique pieces with them. Last year it was toadstools, this year it was little fabric birds and glitter butterflies.


Last year I had a flower crown and it unintentionally ended up being really statement so I've only worn it for photoshoots. I wanted to hold back and have something more wearable and I love the end result. I was determined that I wanted a little bird and I wasn't sure what dress I wanted to wear so went for pinks, purples and blues as most of my dresses have those colours in. I love the fact that as well as some new pieces, a lot of the flowers they use are vintage because I feel like that adds to the uniqueness. If you didn't see my Instagram story, I actually wore this all the way on the walk back to the train station, and all the way home. Massive thank you to Crown and Glory for my headpiece - I'm just looking for excuses to wear it now.


Friday was an admin day so I'll skip that. On Saturday we had a BSR event to attend which I didn't think I'd write about. It was only going to be a quiet event but we had a really good time. It was an afternoon garden party and we were a bit worried because it had been raining all day. It stayed cold but it dried up, and when we got there there was a miniature train going around the garden, which was super cool and nerdy. Freya (far right) is the youngest in our BSR family and I got volunteered to ride the train with her (no complaints from me). We went around once, and having stood waving at us, it didn't take much encouragement for Dad to join us, as did Freya's dad Steve. It was a bit of a squeeze - especially going through the tiny tunnels on the track, but I don't know if Dad or Freya enjoyed it more!

On Sunday I went out for birthday lunch with my family as I didn't see them on my actual birthday, but I didn't take any pictures because we went to a tiny little country pub and it would've been a bit awkward to get my camera out.



So that's my birthday week. I don't normally get as spoilt as this, but it was a special one this year! Thank you so much to everyone who wished me a happy birthday, and thank you so much to my family, friends and brands that gave me such thoughtful gifts. I hope you enjoyed coming along with me. Let me know what you'd like to see next in the comments below.

P.S. It had to be an owl cake didn't it?

Love and Feathers, 
 The Owlet 💜 

You can find me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Bloglovin & Snapchat.

Thursday, 18 May 2017

10 Things to Do While I'm 21


Hey Owlets!

I can't believe I'm saying this but as you're reading this, I'm out with my parents celebrating my TWENTY FIRST BIRTHDAY. Fetch the dentures, I'm officially old. I've been pretty lucky growing up - I joined a radio station, started my blog and the last few years in particular have been amazing. However, there's always room for improvement so when someone suggested doing a bucket list for my 21st birthday I jumped at the idea.


1. Take Part in a Fashion Show

I have spent way too much time staring at size 8 models on the catwalk. I always like going to Bristol Fashion Week because they have more realistically sized models, but I'd love to walk in a plus size only fashion show - I think the sense of achievement, especially with being confident enough to do something like that would be amazing.

2. Be on TV

 I've been on the radio for six years now, but when I visited BBC back in November (here's the blog post if you want a refresher) I was utterly sold that I wanted to be on TV. Not on a cringey reality TV show - that's really not my style - but I'd love to do something that matters or that's important to me. Something about being body confident, dressing yourself happy or talking about fashion or blogging. I've been a documentary nerd all my life - I would watch documentaries over cartoons as a child- so getting to make my own would be amazing.

3. Make My Own Perfume/ Lipstick

I feel like, compared to the others, this is a really insignificant bucket list item but I'm a massive beauty junkie so being able to create something all of my own would be amazing and I love the idea of having a perfume or other beauty product that's completely unique to you.


4. Do Something Different

I think it's easy to play things on the safe side and get stuck in a rut, and I'm very much guilty of this so this year I want to challenge myself to do something that scares me. Travel somewhere new on my own, go bungie jumping, fly a plane.  I don't know but something that I've never done before.

5. Go To a Festival

This is something I've always kind of wanted to do but at the same time, I don't like massive crowds. I think I need to suck it up and get on with it. Not a massive festival just yet, but something like Love Saves the Day in Bristol would be perfect.

6. See A Show in the West End

I know this is kind of a small thing to be on a bucket list but I've always wanted to see Phantom of the Opera in the West End. We went on a field trip when I was in school but the traffic was bad and we missed half of it, so I'd love to go back and see it properly.


7. Be Featured in a Magazine

Kind of like the TV one, this is something I've wanted to do for a long time. I've only been blogging a  year but writing has always been a big thing in my life and I would love to be able to pick up a magazine in the local shop and see my name inside.  I'd love to do a plus size fashion edit, talk about surviving my teen years or how I got confident.

8. Learn a Language

I used to be able to speak French and Spanish - not very well but enough to get by. The last few months I've realised how much of my language skills I've lost and this is something I'd love to get back. In my family, we'll have conversations which in one sentence can go from English to Spanish to French and back to English again. Languages have always been important to me and it's time I stopped neglecting them.

9. Learn To Drive

I'm going to hate myself for saying this so publicly but I really need to learn to drive, and if I tell you then you can badger me about it on Twitter. I love travelling and there's some places I'd love to go but it's such a massive pain when you have to rely on trains for everything. Now I've finished uni this is something I really want to focus on.


10. Do Something Luxury

It's all very well and good bargain hunting, but sometimes I do like to feel a bit luxurious. I'd love to go somewhere or do something to treat myself - maybe a spa visit, a holiday in a pool side villa or save up for that Chanel bag I've always wanted. If you've earned it, then you deserve it right?


So there we are - the ten things I want to do while I'm 21. I know that's a lot to accomplish in a year and I don't expect to do them all but I'm going to tick off as many as I can.

What do you want to do before your next birthday? Have you got any suggestions of what I can add to this list or do you know anyone or anything that can help me? Let me know in the comments below or tweet me @theowletlblog. Speak soon!

Love and Feathers, 
 The Owlet 💜 


You can find me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Bloglovin & Snapchat.

Friday, 12 May 2017

Follow Me To: Cheltenham with Kate & Tom's


Hey Owlets,

You always say that you enjoy more photo-heavy posts, which is just as well because I've got somewhere stunning to share with you today and I think you'll be saying be careful what you wish for after this. If you're a blogger, you will understand the feeling of opening a promising email to find another scam or marketing bulletin thinly veiled as a "blogger opportunity" while you look longingly at YouTubers with millions of followers being whisked away on press trips. So when an email inviting me and eight friends for a holiday in Cheltenham landed in my inbox last month, my jaw hit the floor (especially as I don't even think I know enough people to fill this house)


Kate and Tom's are a luxury holiday home rental service - think Air B'nB, but exclusively for affordable luxe houses rather than sketchy house shares. We stayed midweek which would've cost £1500, which is £166 each if there's nine people sharing the house which I don't think is too bad. So, two weeks ago I packed a suitcase and headed to Bristol Parkway station (I think that photo sums up how excited I was). Now, I'll be honest with you. All I'd seen of Cheltenham previously was near the uni when I went for an interview and I wasn't overly impressed so I couldn't work out why anyone wanted to stay there.... oh how wrong I was. 

Photo: Kate & Tom's
This beautiful view is looking at Montpellier Terrace where our house was, from across the beautiful Montpellier Gardens. As soon as I arrived I was ready to eat my words. I'm actually annoyed I didn't do more prior research as I don't think I made the most of my time at the house although I did have a really relaxing few days. While we were there, Cheltenham Jazz Festival was on in the gardens and, while I didn't get chance to go,  we were so close that you could hear it in the house, which I loved.



I got to Cheltenham before my friends and met the home owner who showed me around the house - I think throughout our entire conversation the only thing I managed to say was "Oh my gosh" repeatedly while my mouth hung open. I've never been anywhere quite like it - wherever you stood you were never more than 5 feet from something Instagrammable. In fact I was so distracted that after the owner left I spent 15 minutes looking for the WiFi password because I wasn't paying attention when he told me. 

  
Photo: Kate & Tom's 

Having located the Wifi (which was probably the only thing I had to complain about - the house was so huge the WiFi didn't reach!) I started exploring. The first task, of course, was to select my bedroom. Honestly, I would've been happy to stay in any of the bedrooms as they were all stunning, but seeing as I was the only person sharing a bed I felt that warranted the room with the four-poster. I feel like I look just a little bit smug in that photo. I was slightly jealous that our bathroom was a lot smaller than the others, but it was still really high quality. However, it was sad to see that there was quite a big scrape on the floor because the door wasn't high enough. In a house this incredible, it was sad to see damage that could have easily been remedied.

Photo: Kate & Tom's
One of the things that stood out to me is that the house was advertised as catering for nine adults but the fifth bedroom was a single room which was set up more like a child's bedroom and I don't think it would've been very comfortable for an adult staying in there so that's definitely something to keep in mind when booking.


I really want to say that I went out exploring, but I'll be honest - the house was so amazing that I spent the entire afternoon wandering around and sitting in every room for a while before I got something to eat and led on the bed scrolling through Instagram until the others arrived. In hindsight I wish I'd realised how close to everything I was, because if I had I would've gone out for a walk.



Once my friends arrived I showed them around the house, we picked our rooms and went down to the local shop. We were planning to go out for dinner, but in the end we were so excited about having such an incredible kitchen that we chose to cook instead. Two of our friends were Norwegian, I love anything Spanish and one of us was vegan so we all cooked what we loved and helped ourselves.


I think just as much as we were excited to use the kitchen, we were trying to find an excuse to sit at the table under the antler chandelier.



Throughout our entire stay, we all kept saying how amazing it was that everything was different but worked well together. There were hats everywhere, old lightbulb lamps, owls and glass specimen jars and the bedrooms looked lived in with little touches everywhere. My friend Sandra actually walked into my room and said "Why do you need this much jewellery for three days?" and was shocked when I said it wasn't mine. I would've loved it if they had an honesty box where you could buy the pieces of jewellery. There was a bracelet with small glass beads and painted roses that I wore out on the second day, and being able to keep that as a keepsake of our holiday would've been a lovely addition.


We'd planned to go out for a day trip on our second day there but in all honesty the bed was too comfortable and all of us overslept. Adam had to go home as he had work in the evening so Adam, Sandra and I went out to explore the area around the house. We walked through Montpellier Gardens and down to the shops on the Promenade. I actually didn't realise how close we were to the centre of Cheltenham. One right turn off of the Promenade and you're one street away from Regents Arcade which backs onto the main high street. We didn't have long until Adam had to get his train home, but we found some lovely shops and a really nice bakery. We spent most of our time on the Promenade as we'd seen the town centre before but I think if you're going to Cheltenham for the first time then I'd recommend doing the same, as the Promenade was hands down the most beautiful part and had the most unique shops, while the high street had all the usual chain shops that you can find anywhere.


In the afternoon, Adam left and we had bit of spare time before going to the jazz festival. I planned to go back out for a bit more of a wander but out of nowhere the heavens opened and it got freezing, so I decided to stay in and write my latest travel post (have you seen my trip to Penarth yet? I was writing that in this picture). The reason I took this photo was because I threw on a jumper and when Sandra walked into the lounge they laughed because I'd started to blend in with the decor. As I said - in this house you're never more than 5 feet from something Instagrammable.



On the last day we all went full blogger. We had to check out by 11am so we all got up and spent the whole morning photographing and filming in every room in the house and stock piling Instagram photos. After that we got into the car, had a drive/wander around Cheltenham then drove home via having lunch out. It's been two weeks and I'm still having holiday withdrawal symptoms. I thought I would leave you with this amusing titbit - on the last day while I was packing I noticed the bed held away from the wall by a stack of books - I'll leave your imagination to work out what that's for.


I just want to say a massive thank you to Kate and Tom's for inviting me and my friends for this amazing holiday. Two weeks before deadline I really needed a break, let alone one as incredible as this and it was great to get to explore somewhere new. Let me know where you think I should explore next in the comments below.

Love and Feathers, 
 The Owlet 💜 

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