Blogging and Self Confidence

As I'm writing this it's 10.30pm on a Saturday night and I'm listening to Christina Aguilera's 'Stripped' album, which is making me feel super sassy so don't tell me this girl doesn't know how to live on a Saturday night. I was about to get my pyjamas on, get into bed and read a magazine (because c'mon it is 10.30 guys), but I had the sudden urge to write a blog post. I've had this vague topic floating around in my head for a while and not quite known how to express it, but something about being deliriously tired seems to bring out the word vomit in me so here goes. 

What I want to talk about is blogging and self confidence and the odd relationship between the two. I say odd relationship because I wouldn't necessarily describe it as bad, it just definitely affects it in certain ways. Blogging has had a very positive effect on my self confidence. I think it's something to do with putting myself out there and pushing myself out of my comfort zone that has given me a renewed sense of confidence in myself. I'm no longer embarrassed taking outfit pictures while members of the public wonder who the hell I think I am, I don't hide my blog from anyone anymore and I'm more comfortable with myself and my style. I'm also lucky to have lovely blogging friends and readers who big me up and make me feel more confident by being so darn nice (thanks you guysss). I'm still not the most confident person, but when I think back to how I was three years ago before starting this blog to how I am now, somewhere along the way I've learnt to accept myself for who I am.

Then there's the other side, the little creeping thoughts of doubt telling me more people would read my blog if my photography was better, telling me I'd have more Instagram followers if I was thinner, telling me that there's no point in writing anything because I'm never going to be as successful as x, y or z. A more common name for this side is comparison. Comparison is, as they say, the thief of joy and every now and then it drags me down and completely demotivates me. It's actually a lot of work having a blog around a full time job and sometimes comparison makes me want to stop altogether because how can I produce my best work and a blog that I'm truly happy with when I simply don't have the time I'd like to dedicate to it? I'm sure this feeling is something that a lot of people can relate to. (Can we just take a moment to appreciate that 'Beautiful' came on as I was writing this paragraph and it made me giggle a bit because is there a more fitting song? Big up Christina you babe.) At the end of the day I can't compare myself to a full time blogger because I'm not one, but I still do. I think the most important thing to remember is that everyone else does this at some point. We all compare ourselves, self criticise and doubt our abilities and as much as I think we shouldn't, I know it's not something anyone can just switch off.

With the positives of self confidence through blogging there also come negatives, but I suppose that's like everything in life and as long as the positive outweighs the negative (which in my experience it does) then I'm OK with that.

Does blogging give you self confidence?

Amy x

Being Quiet Isn't a Bad Thing

The only negative thing my teachers ever had to say about me at parents' evenings was 'she's very quiet', to which my dad would always reply 'well that's not a bad thing is it?' My dad may not think it's a bad thing, but unfortunately most people do. As a quiet person that makes things difficult. I'm quiet because I'm shy and not all that confident so for it to be the general opinion that being quiet is a bad thing just makes me less confident, shier and, you guessed it, even quieter. Vicious circle eh? A few weeks ago Rachel put this feeling into words much better than I ever could so pop over to her post, but I thought I'd try and stick up for all us quiet gals and list the reasons why I think being quiet isn't a bad thing (and just FYI, being loud isn't a bad thing either).

We make the best listeners | Just because we're not saying anything doesn't mean we're not listening. In fact, we're really listening. If you ever want someone to rant to we're your gals because we'll let you talk it out and only give you advice once we've considered everything you've said (and only if you want it.) I actually secretly love being the person that people rant to, it makes me feel useful.

We can keep secrets | Not being the biggest talkers (and often being fairly reserved souls) means that we're unlikely to shout about our own secrets, never mind yours. This may be a sweeping generalisation as I'm sure not every quiet girl is a good secret keeper, but well, I am haha.

When we speak, people listen | This is my favourite thing about being quiet and it's something I always mention in job interviews when asked about a negative quality. People aren't used to us talking so when we do speak up, people listen and automatically think that whatever we have to say must be important (until they realise that I mostly talk drivel...)

Just because we're quiet doesn't mean we're boring | In fact I kind of feel bad for loud people because I feel like they have a reputation for being fun that they must feel they have to keep up, whereas a lot of people expect quiet to equal boring so if you're even a little bit fun or interesting you disprove that.

We can come across as mysterious | I don't know if this is just me being weird or if other quiet people feel like this too - let me know? - but sometimes I like to think that because I'm quiet it means that I come across as mysterious. Because I don't put myself out there I like to think that people wonder what I'm really like (the answer is just quiet and not mysterious at all but yanno, it's nice to feel powerful).

Are you quiet or loud? What do you think are the good things about either?

Just a side note - I'm not sure why I thought photos of my back related in any way to me being quiet, but lets roll with it shall we?

Amy x

Staying Stylistically Authentic

Firstly, apologies for the pretentious title - I didn't have any other ideas that weren't equally horrendous or insanely long. You know when you write a post that's kind of difficult to summarise in a title without just using a whole paragraph? Yeah, this is one of those so I'll be surprised if I actually manage to put across the point I'm trying to make coherently...good luck if you're reading.

 Moving on....I feel like there's this unwritten pressure on style/fashion bloggers to post outfits that are current, that showcase the latest trends and I have in the past felt like I'm not doing it 'properly' if I've posted an outfit where absolutely nothing is still available to buy. I guess when I'm wanting to inspire other people stylistically I want them to be able to get hold of an item if they really love it and I feel a sense of guilt if they can't, which is really quite silly because firstly, I can't afford to be constantly posting new outfits and secondly, the whole point of me classing myself as a 'style' blogger is so I have free reign with outfit posts and don't have to post the latest trends. I used to do weekly outfit posts where I would literally just post what I'd worn that week (if you were reading back then thanks for sticking around babes), but I stopped those because they felt like cop out posts because they didn't really require much effort or thought, but it was a great way of staying stylistically authentic (had to get the title of the post in here somewhere to make it seem somewhat relevant).

What I miss since I stopped posting weekly outfits is showing what I actually wear on a daily basis because I guess I felt a bit more authentic by doing that. Don't get me wrong, I definitely wear all of the outfits that I post, but I also sometimes wear trousers that look like pyjama bottoms and a grubby old t-shirt and somehow those outfits don't make it on here anymore. I've always thought of myself as a style blogger rather than a fashion blogger for the very reason that sometimes my style isn't all that fashionable and I'm totally OK with that and want to showcase that side on here too.

I feel like I've got a little side tracked (but what's a rambly blog post without a bit of side tracking and a million things written in brackets eh?) but bear with me. I've never felt like I have to post new outfits, but I've always preferred doing so even though I have a LOT of old clothes in my wardrobe. I could have summarised the last three paragraphs in one sentence really - I want to start posting more old outfits. Outfits that I wear constantly and love, ones that I accidentally cobble together and realise they look great.

The outfit in this post is of the cobbled together kind - I'd taken the top and trousers on holiday to wear with other things, but decided to try them on together assuming that it would be stripe overload and hey, maybe it is, but I absolutely love it as an outfit. I picked the top up a couple of years ago from Urban Outfitters for a measly fiver in the sale. It's actually a body, which means it goes perfectly under trousers or a skirt without coming untucked or riding up. I love the unusual shape and I also kinda like that it looks like a swimsuit. The trousers are also a couple of years old from Topshop and although you'd think they're the kind of thing that would go out of fashion quite quickly they've so far stood the test of time and even if stripes go out of fashion, I'll still wear them. The sandals are - you guessed it - also old, but they're definitely my favourite summer sandals. They're grey so they go with anything, they're super comfortable so perfect for walking around in and they're also a little bit more structured and supportive than others I own, which makes them great for holidays or just summer days when I'll be doing lots of walking.

I feel like I also need to say that I think these are my favourite outfit photos ever due to the beautiful backdrop of Menton so can we just admire those houses for a moment? Getting these pictures involved clambering over a lot of rocks, which I am not the best at due to me being so clumsy usually resulting in me falling over my own feet (luckily I didn't otherwise I would have ended up in the sea).  Anyway, if you're ever in Menton, the awkward clamber over the rocks is definitely worth it to get some great outfit snaps (just don't sue me if you fall into the sea). Now if only there was somewhere like this in Hull for outfit pictures...

Amy x

The Dreamiest Day in Eze, France

When we planned (rather loosely) where we wanted to explore while we were in the South of France, Eze was at the top of my list. I didn't even know much about it apart from that it was a medieval village on top of a mountain and I'd seen the most stunning pictures. Even though I had high expectations it totally surpassed them and it was my favourite out of all the places we visited.

As I said, it's a medieval village on top of a mountain - it's a little maze of narrow cobbled streets surrounded by little shops, cafés and restaurants. Because it's such a maze it's one of those places that you can walk around about three times before being sure that you've definitely seen all of it, but seeing as it's so pretty it's actually quite nice to walk round a few times. It felt a little like Disneyland in that everything seemed too beautiful and clean to be real and it had the same happy vibe. There's a church in a little square that was lovely, there's just something about old church smell and the shade and darkness a church provides in a hot climate that I absolutely love.

At the very top of the village was the exotic garden, which is basically what all my plant lady dreams are made of - the hugest cacti and succulents I've ever seen altogether in one garden overlooking the rest of the village and the perfect blue of the Mediterranean Sea. Absolute perfection. The gardens cost €6 to get in and it's well worth it - even if you're not into plants the views from up there are spectacular. I would advise going either earlier or later than we did - we were a bit foolish and went around midday so the sun was really beating down and with no shade it meant that we didn't stay in the gardens for as long as we would have liked (serves us right for being a) silly enough to go at that time and b) sensible enough to not stay in the sun for too long). 

Eze isn't a big place so there isn't a whole lot in terms of things to do - there are the shops, the gardens and the church, but apart from that it's mainly walking around the cute streets (how many times can I say cute in one blog post?) and drinking in the breathtaking views. After we'd wandered around for a bit we decided to do just that and had lunch with the most incredible view I'll probably ever eat lunch with. We chose to eat at the Chevre D'or, which was slightly more expensive than the other restaurants in Eze, but it was the one with the view and it was totally worth paying that little bit extra. The food was nice, the wine was INCREDIBLE (but then all wine seems to be incredible in France) and I can't even describe how nice it was to sit in the sunshine (under a parasol because we're both typical pasty Brits) with a gentle breeze and this absolutely stunning view. It was with a heavy heart that we left our lunch spot behind and headed to the bus stop to travel back down the mountain.

I can't recommend Eze enough if you're in that part of the world. The easiest way to get there (unless you have a car and you're confident driving it up a mountain lols) is by train to Eze then the bus from right outside the train station up the mountain to Eze village. You can also walk, which takes an hour, but it's not suitable to do in sandals (apparently - I wouldn't know because we saw the no sandals sign and turned round to get the bus instead) and the bus is only 1.50 each way. 

Have you ever been to Eze?

Amy x

Wardrobe Staples | The Trench Coat

What I've discovered about my staple items is that they all seem to be year round wardrobe pieces rather than season specific and one item that definitely sees me through every season is the classic trench coat. I'm sure most people will own one of these in some form or other and I really think there's one to suit everyone as there's so much choice when it comes to trench coats in terms of colour and style.

A trench coat is such an iconic British wardrobe staple. It can be dressed up or down, layered over a jumper in winter or a worn as an evening cover up in summer (or an all time of the day cover up - let's face it, we are in Britain after all). Jack Wills have put together a really interesting guide on how to style a trench coat and when I say interesting I genuinely mean it. As well as styling tips it also teaches you about the history of the classic British trench. After reading it I felt pretty naïve that I didn't know how the trench coat actually got its name, but I won't give too much away - you'll have to read it yourselves to find out!

My current trench coat is from New Look and it's one that's made an appearance in my wardrobe all year round since I bought it a few years ago. It's a little longer and lighter than the classic style, which makes it the perfect lightweight option to still wear in summer too. In fact, the very first time it appeared on this blog I styled it as a summer cover up. It goes with pretty much any outfit - a running theme with all of my wardrobe staples - and I've had so much wear out of it. A trench is just one of those items that when you wear it, you feel like a cooler and sassier version of yourself (or at least I do, I'm sure you're all already cool and sassy). Here I've styled it with my favourite summer dress from Tessie's because I'm all about that embroidery life and these red shoes that are a couple of years old but I dig out every summer and live in.

I would like to add a more structured shorter trench coat to my wardrobe because I know how much wear I'd get out of it and how effortlessly chic it would make me feel. I'm pretty sure we all have that dream of owning a Burberry trench coat, but realistically I can't afford to spend more than a monthly mortgage on a coat and even if I could I'm not sure I could justify spending that much money on an item of clothing. Jack Wills have some great slightly more budget friendly options in their new summer trench coat collection (currently on sale too) - I adore the blue swing trench because it's an interesting modern twist on such a classic.

Trench coat - New Look (old) | Dress - Tessie's  | Shoes - F&F (old)

Are you a trench coat fan?

Amy x

This post was sponsored by Jack Wills, however all opinions and love of trench coats my own.

11 Days in Antibes, Cote D'Azur

a view over rooftops, blue sky

If you follow me on Instagram you'll have been subjected to some serious holiday spam while I was away in the South of France a couple of weeks ago. I did a round up of my top five places we visited here and promised that I'd do some more in depth posts about my favourites. I thought it would make sense to start with Antibes, which is where we were based for the full eleven days we were in France. Personally I thought it was the perfect place to be based because it was more chilled out and relaxing than a big and busy city, but it was lively enough for there to be things to do and see whenever you wanted.

My favourite thing about Antibes was how quickly it started to feel like we lived there rather than just staying there. I think it helps when you're staying in an Airbnb rather than a hotel because it's your own little place where you can cook your own food and make into a little home for your time away (even if said home is horrendously hot and stuffy because you booked somewhere without air conditioning - nice one Amy). Although there was plenty to do and lots to explore, I loved just wandering the streets of old town in a morning before buying fresh croissants from the boulangerie to take back to the apartment and eat on the balcony. It'd be a nice life wouldn't it?

Things to do:

Beaches // Obviously one of the main attractions of the South of France is the beaches and Antibes doesn't disappoint on that front. There are a few different beaches in Antibes, but our favourite was a small pebbled one surrounded by the old town walls. It was cute, never too busy and felt a little like something out of Game of Thrones with the surrounding walls. There are sandy beaches too if that's more your thing, although personally I found it a welcome change to not find sand in my shoes for days afterwards.

a light blue choppy sea coming into a pebbly beach surrounded by a high stone wall

Old Town // We stayed in old town and it was just the cutest. The buildings are all pretty colours, there are lots of nice little bars and the streets are cute and narrow. It's the perfect place for just wandering round dreaming of one day owning a house with shutters on the windows or for grabbing a bite to eat or drink. The atmosphere is chilled out but lively both during the day and in the evening. During the day you can wander round the market (more on that in a moment) and to a boulangerie and then in the evening there are plenty of restaurants to suit everyone's tastes.

Walk the cap // This was probably one of my favourite things that we did and the walk is so worth doing. It takes about an hour and a half to two hours depending on whether you're stopping a lot to take pictures or not (we did) and you walk all along the cliffs right next to the sea. The path is mainly manmade so very safe (there are barriers too don't worry) although I'd recommend trainers for sure as there are some rocky areas. The views are stunning and we did it in the evening, mainly so that it wasn't too hot, but it also meant that we saw the sun setting which was just beautiful. 

Marche Provencal // In the centre of the old town there is a big covered market selling fruit and veg, fresh fish, flowers, herbs and spices and heaps of other goodness. It's a bit more expensive than the supermarket, but there's just something very French about wandering out and buying fresh food to eat every day isn't there? It's on every day and once it's closed it's transformed into outdoor seating for the surrounding bars and restaurants. I can highly recommend the olive tapenade (I came back to England and bought some from Sainsbury's straight away but it is NOT THE SAME). 

Harbour // There's a nice little walk you can do through and around the harbour and the town hall (which is a very impressive building). I think you can actually walk as far as Biot on the footpath, but we didn't make it quite that far! The harbour is very pretty and it's a good opportunity to pick out which luxury yacht you'd like when you win the lottery. 

Museums // There are a few museums in Antibes. We went to two - the Picasso Museum and the Peynet Museum. If you're into art they're both well worth a visit and if you're not they provide a nice fully air conditioned break from the heat and the sun! Out of the two I'd recommend the Picasso Museum as there was more to see and there was also a little promenade outside with some stunning views and some cacti that the plant lady in me was extremely envious of.

Wander // Just wandering around the streets is something I love doing everywhere because it means you really get to see and explore a place plus you stumble across interesting things you might not otherwise have seen. Antibes has the cutest streets and a gorgeous sea front so it's a great place to just wander, soak up all the atmosphere and sunshine and snap away at all the pretty coloured houses and streets. 

Have you ever been to Antibes?

Amy x