Hull Spotlight: Thieving Harry's

Not to overload my blog with monthly features, but here's another one! To celebrate Hull being UK City of Culture this year I thought I'd do a little series on my favourite places in Hull - independent shops, cafes and the like because the independent ones are what really makes a place aren't they? Don't get me wrong, I love a good Costa, but there's nothing like a place with unique personality and a personal touch. Plus it feels pretty darn good to give local businesses a bit of support and love in a year that I'm sure is going to be an insanely busy one for them!

A place I knew I had to include because it does the best coffee I've ever had (in italics because that's how much I mean it) is Thieving Harry's. The coffee is just the right strength for me, the milk is so creamy, the temperature is just right and it's basically everything that the coffee snob and ex barista in me wants in a coffee. The cafe itself is in the most beautiful old warehouse by the marina on a cute cobbled street and the interior has kept the warehouse vibe with heaps of quirky features, while emanating cute cosy cafe at the same time. Dreamy.

I'd just like to point out that the pictures in this post weren't taken all on one visit - I'm not that greedy I promise (although I probably could eat all of this if given the chance because it's all so delicious). Let's start with breakfast. I don't actually have a picture of my all time favourite breakfast from here, probably because I guzzle it down as soon as it comes before I've had a chance to take one, but it's their homemade honey baked granola, which is served with greek yogurt, berries and a berry compote and I genuinely think I could probably live off just that and not get bored of it. What I love about their breakfast menu is that it's served until 3.45pm so you can literally be the latest riser ever and still get there in time for breakfast/brunch. Anyway, what I do have a picture of breakfast-wise is their eggs on toast with chorizo and tomatoes. They do a variety of eggs on toast (yes avo lovers, they've got one for you too) but I think this is my favourite even if I do leave feeling like I need to eat nothing but kale for a month because I've got chorizo fat oozing out of pores (too good to resist though).

Now let's talk about lunch. It's funny because the lunch menu isn't the biggest, but I'm still always in a dilemma trying to choose between things to have. My favourite thing to get is the soup of the day with half a grilled cheese (usually the avo one because I really am that basic). The soups are ridiculously tasty - posh soup at its best I'd say and I don't know how they make it, but there must be some ingredient in it that makes even the most boring sounding flavour soup the tastiest thing you've ever eaten. Also the soups are perfect for dipping chips in - is that a gross thing to do? Then there's the grilled cheese, which I need to find a different word but 'tasty' to describe because I feel like I've used that a zillion times already, but yeah...they're bloomin' tasty.

I'm yet to visit in the evening, but that's 100% on my to do list as I know they're open late on weekends for drinks and food ands it would be the best place to just chill and drink with friends in. So basically if you like amazing coffee, great food and a unique and beautiful setting this is the cafe for you and one of the many reasons you should visit Hull (or just go to the cafe if you already live here...)

What's the best coffee you've ever had?

Amy x

An Open Letter to My Disabled Sister

Dear Bethany, 

You will never read this because you can't read and if someone read it to you you wouldn't understand most of it anyway (or be interested enough to listen for that matter!), but I felt like I wanted to write this down. If I can't tell you all the things I want to tell you then I can at least write them down so everyone else knows! I wish there was some way I could explain to you that you're the most important person in the world to me and I'd do anything for you, but I'm pretty sure you do know that you're loved and I'm glad that you know that, I just wish you knew how much. Although you definitely know that you have most people wrapped around your little finger (if you could teach me how you do that that'd be great) so maybe that means that you do know.

I also wish you knew how sorry I am. I'm sorry that you have had to suffer so much in your life and that you still and always will have to suffer. I wish I could take that away, but all I can do is be there for you when you do. I hate that you don't understand why, but you take it all in your stride and to you it's just part of your life and you get on with it. You're the strongest person I know. I'm also sorry if I've ever been selfish and not put you first. I'm much better at putting you first now I'm older, but I'm not sure if I always did when I was younger. I'm sorry if there were times people said mean things and I didn't stick up for you and I'm sorry if I was ever embarrassed by you being noisy in public because sometimes when lots of people stared, I was. I'm not now because if people are really so ignorant that they're surprised to see someone with learning difficulties out and about then maybe they should stare so they can learn a bit more about you. I'm so glad that you aren't aware that people stare and if you were aware I know you wouldn't care anyway because nothing phases you, plus you'd stare back twice as hard!

I also want to say thank you, because without you I wouldn't be the person I am today. You've made me more selfless, more caring and more patient (sitting through meal times with you has sure made me patient!) and you've also given me the chance to love unconditionally. Thank you for loving me unconditionally too. You don't know or care what my job is, what I like to watch on TV or that I have this blog. All you know and care about is that I'm your sister and that's so unbelievably refreshing to be judged solely on loving and being there for someone.

My favourite thing is seeing you smile and laugh and my least favourite thing is seeing you unhappy or unwell. Luckily, you're smiling and laughing more often than not and I'm grateful for that. I'm going to keep this short and sweet because I think I've managed to say everything I'd want to tell you if I could.

Amy x

Let Your Feet Do The Talking

I love wearing a fairly basic outfit and having one standout thing at the centre of it - quite often this is an accessory or crazy coloured nail varnish, but it's not often that it's shoes. I'm generally quite safe when it comes to shoes - my most worn pairs are my black chelsea boots and my plain white trainers. However, I've been on the hunt for something quite specific - rose gold trainers. And after mucho hunting and vetoing the super out there ones, I found them. The perfect pair of rose gold trainers.

Because the trainers are obviously the centre of my outfit I wanted to keep the rest fairly simple so I'm wearing my black polo neck top, Topshop Mom jeans and faux leather jacket. Plus a hat because even though it makes me look a little less like a fashion blogger and a bit more like a numpty, it was COLD.

Let's talk about the trainers though because they're the perfect colour, not so shiny that I run away screaming and they're also super comfortable. I discovered on the way to taking these outfit pictures that I'm probably going to have to wear them tied up because they slip off my feet otherwise, but that's OK with me because they've got rose gold bits at the end of the laces too. They're basically a rose gold dream.

Are you a fan of rose gold?

Amy x

Living With Emetophobia

I wrote a post touching on this subject a while ago, which I kept lighthearted, partly because I was embarrassed to write about it and probably partly because I wasn't ready to write about it properly. Well, here goes, here's me writing about it properly...

I suffer from emetophobia, which is a fear of vomit or being sick. Some people are afraid of actually  being sick and some are afraid of vomit itself - for me, it's both, although there are varying degrees of panic - e.g. someone being drunk sick isn't as bad for me as someone being ill sick because there's no chance in the drunk case that it could be something I could catch and be sick with myself.

It's funny because I've always classed myself as emetophobic, but it's only in the past year or so from reading other blogs and researching it that it's kind of dawned on my that it's a real thing, I've actually got it and there are heaps of other people who do too. It's not just me being weird, which is what I'd always thought.

I'm not really sure where the phobia comes from. During my research I read something interesting that said it usually comes from a memory you've repressed, which would explain why I'm not 100% sure where it started. I do remember not being emetophobic when I was about five years old so it's not something that's always been there.

Anyway, enough of the boring details - what I really want to talk about is how it effects my everyday life. After reading other people's experiences of emetophobia I count myself very lucky that my phobia doesn't seem as severe as most people's. Generally the only thing that really affects me everyday is the fact that I'm constantly looking where I'm walking in case I need to avoid any vomit on the street (and if I do I also hold my breath until I'm past). I've also started holding my breath as much as I can in hospitals and in the doctor's surgery. I think also the possibility that someone might be sick somewhere nearby is always with me and is something that I'm constantly thinking about - how big the risk is in a certain place for example and I'm also always listening out for people saying they feel ill so I could get away if needed.

The main thing I'm worried about is someone being sick near me and me not being able to get away from it and also therefore possibly catching something and being sick myself. I don't particularly like flying for that reason - I'm worried someone will be sick on the plane and there will be nowhere for me to go. Sometimes I feel horrendously selfish - about a year ago I was in a car with a friend who was suffering with really bad morning sickness and obviously felt horribly ill and I snapped at her and told her that she wasn't allowed to be sick in the car with me there. I'm aware I couldn't have caught morning sickness, but being in a confined space with someone being sick would have been something I couldn't handle.

I'm lucky not to have any particularly obsessive symptoms when it comes to my own hygiene apart from the obvious things like avoiding sick people, but I don't constantly wash my hands and I'll happily eat food from the reduced section - I actually see it as building up my immune system, meaning I'm less likely to get ill if I do eat something a bit dodgy. I'm also not put off the idea of having children, which is something I know does affect a lot of emetophobic people, but I just haven't thought about it too much and if I do get morning sickness or my child is sick I will just have to deal with it and I'm determined to try as hard as possible not to pass my phobia onto them.

If someone is sick around me or even just mentions that they feel sick that's when the fear really sets in. It's a feeling that most people are probably familiar with - that horrible twisting feeling in your stomach and your heart suddenly beating twice as fast. As well as avoiding the person I need to avoid anywhere they've been - I can't use a toilet someone has been sick in, touch anything they've recently touched or if it's on the floor I won't step on that part of the floor for a good few months afterwards.

It's something I'm really hoping I'll be able to get over - I myself haven't been sick since I was eight years old, which I'm sure hasn't helped my phobia at all. It's something I quite like bragging about, but while I was researching emetophobia apparently it's usually the case that you won't have been sick for a long time and rather than it being because you're superhuman (as I thought obvs) it's actually just because you take more precautions that others to avoid being sick. I think I'm basically hoping that when I have children I'll get over it because I'll have to, whether it happens naturally because I'm exposed to it or whether I need to get some sort of therapy to enable me to actually look after my children when they're ill!

Do you suffer with any phobias? I'd love to read any posts anyone has on emetophobia so please link them down below if you do!

Amy x

For the Love of Jo Malone

For a good few years wandering around any Jo Malone shop/department I can find (there isn't one in Hull - sob) and spritzing myself with my favourite scents has been my guilty pleasure when I'm out and about. It really is one of those perfume brands that can just made you feel ten times happier/more attractive/vaguely rich (call me shallow if you wish, but you know it's true). When I'm wearing Jo Malone I feel like a sassier, more confident version of me. For some people it may be a designer bag or a pair of heels that makes them feel that way. For me, it's Jo. 

I know there's supposedly some sort of science to how you mix Jo Malone perfumes and this mixture probably doesn't fit that science at all, but I love the smell of these two mixed. They smell amazing on their own too obviously, but together it's like the English Pear and Freesia adds a freshness, while the White Jasmine and Mint stops it smelling too sweet. Dreamy. (And that's about as technical as I get when it comes to describing perfume).

These are definitely my special occasion perfumes so I'm sure they'll last ages, but seeing as I still need something to spend my birthday money on (should spend it on something sensible like a kitchen cabinet, definitely won't) I might treat myself to a body butter or a candle because obsessed. 

Are you a fan of Jo Malone? What's your favourite scent?

Amy x

Time You Enjoy Wasting Is Not Wasted Time

The title of this post is an expression I first came across a long time ago and quite liked, but it didn't really ring completely true with me until recently. In a time where we're constantly multi-tasking and trying to get a million and one things done, wasting time isn't really a positive and I for one feel kind of guilty if I sit down and read a book when I know I could be cleaning/blogging/ironing etc etc.

That was until about three weekends ago when I sat down in front of the telly on a Saturday afternoon and watched three episodes of Ex on the Beach back to back. Yes, really, don't judge. I wasn't doing anything practical or useful and I wasn't doing anything that would teach me something new, in fact I was sat watching a load of young adults shouting and swearing at each other. But man I really enjoyed it.

And that was when I made the decision to not feel guilty about the fact that I'd just wasted an afternoon because was it wasted if I'd enjoyed myself? I think this feeling is probably familiar to a lot of us - we enjoyed doing something, but the washing didn't get done so we felt bad for having done something we enjoyed. Let's stop feeling guilty for enjoying ourselves and let's stop beating ourselves up just because we've not got the million and one things on our to do lists done.

Obviously I'm not saying I'm now going to spend my life in front of the telly and never do anything productive ever again; there's got to be a balance, but once in a while if I fancy watching three episodes of Ex on the Beach in a row (unlikely seeing as I've now finished the whole five series - LOL) I'll let myself and I won't feel guilty about it. If I want to spend an extra half hour in bed in the morning so I can read some of my book I will (unless I've got to be at work and then obvs not gonna make myself late...). What I'm saying is, as long as I'm wasting time in moderation and as long as I'm enjoying it, I'm not going to feel bad about it. I'm glad I stumbled upon that quote again and I'm glad I was able to fully appreciate it this time because it really is so true.

So if you enjoy the time you're wasting, don't feel bad about it because it's not wasted time. 

Amy x

Winter Wardrobe Staples

Winter is a never ending season - or that's what it feels like sometimes. I always think that winter should last for the lead up to Christmas and then once that's over with it can start to brighten up and the trees can start to blossom please. Unfortunately that's not the case and it's going to be cold for at least another two months yet, which calls for some staples to sneak their way into my wardrobe to help me see it out.

A chunky knit | I'm comfort over style every time and a chunky knit is my number one winter wardrobe staple. Recently I've been living (seriously, I have) in this blush pink one by Fashion Union and it's just the cosiest thing I've ever worn. It goes with anything too so you can dress it up or down depending on your mood or the occasion.

Black Trousers | I was gutted and kind of lost when my black Joni jeans got holes in them earlier this month (and pretty annoyed too actually seeing as I'd only had them for a year and I generally rely on Topshop for good quality jeans) so when I spied these black faux leather trousers in the Asos sale I hoped and prayed that they would fit and they did so there's me sorted until these ones get holes in them. Black trousers are such an unsung staple that you don't think about until you don't have any because they are just such a failsafe to throw on. 

Heeled boots | I pretty much wear nothing but boots in winter so my way of not getting stuck in a footwear rut is to wear heeled ones. They're flattering, they still keep your feet warm and dry and they look good. These ones are super old by Topshop but they go with everything so they're a staple!

A bobble hat | I love a good bobble hat in winter, not only because they look cute but obviously because they keep you warm! I love having one in my bag that I can put on if I've not dressed warm enough for the weather or if it gets suddenly nippy! I'm on a mission to find one with a bigger bobble than this though - preferably a furry one too!

What are your winter wardrobe staples? 

Amy x

5 Ways to Make the Most of Life

Photo by Leone Venter on Unsplash

I've recently come to realise that there are some (aka a lot) of things that are actually completely out of our control and all we can do is make sure we do our best with what is in our control and put our best efforts into making our own lives and the lives of those around us the happiest we can make them. Here are some small ways I'm going to be doing just that (hopefully)...

1 - Don't sweat the small stuff. I am a class A worrier, although you probably wouldn't think so as I'm pretty good at keeping a calm demeanor . I'm sure many people can relate to worrying about even the smallest of things, but in 2017 I'm going to make a real effort to try and let go a bit more.

2 - See more of the people who matter. My two best friends are at opposite ends of the country and I really haven't seen them enough this year. When we do see each other it's like nothing has changed and we do talk all the time, but next year is the year I regularly travel to each end of country to see them.

3 - Give yourself some love. I'm sure I'm one of many who runs around like a headless chicken trying to get a million and one tasks done, only to feel like I've never achieved enough. This is the year that's going to stop. For starters I'm going to dedicate one evening a week just to me. Whether I just curl up and watch a film, have a bath or some other equally exciting thing, it'll be a night where I don't do anything but relax and enjoy myself.

4 - Embrace your hobbies. Hobbies make people happier and I also find they distract from anything else going on in your life. I've really got into squash over the past year and when I'm playing it I'm not thinking about anything else.

5 - Be kind. This is the most important point of all and I feel like we could all do to remember it. One of the sayings I really live by is 'be kind for everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.'

How will you be making the most of life?

Amy x