Our Trip to Canada - Part One

Hello everyone! The recent lovely weather has inspired me to finally sit down and write a blog post on our trip to Canada. Canada is one of those places that I've always wanted to visit but never thought I would get the opportunity to. My boyfriend's brother moved to Canada with his fiancĂ© a couple of years ago and they very kindly invited us all to stay at their home for a couple of weeks last Summer. Last summer seems so far away now but the sun is out and I'm feeling all the holiday vibes so I thought I'd share our adventure with you. (I mean, I might already be day dreaming of our next adventure whilst scrolling through destination2.co.uk...) Did someone say the Maldives?!

We spent two weeks exploring Canada - the majority of our time was spent in Ottawa (where they live) and we also took a trip to Niagara Falls, Toronto and Montreal. It was the most surreal holiday I have been on and I thought I would do a mini blog series based around our trip (as I think the post would be super long if I tried to fit it all into one!)

I thought I would break the blog post down by destination, and share with you the activities we did whilst we were in each place along with things such as the food we ate etc. FYI - the images in the blog post were taken on my iPhone so sorry the quality isn't 100%!

If there’s one thing that excites me when visiting a different country, it’s the food! Now anyone that knows me will know that I’m not the most adventurous of eaters however I do like to try and push myself to try new foods. I mean it's good to always try something at least once (how will you know you hate it if you haven’t tried it?) Saying that, when I go out to eat I do tend to stick to the same kind of food - I’m a HUGE lover of pizza so of course I have try all of the pizza’s to confirm which tastes the best!

I thought I'd write the posts in a diary style, and take you through the days...

Day 1 - 2
Our flight landed into Montreal and we had around a two and a half drive to Ottawa. We arrived late afternoon Saturday and had a relaxing evening, however because of the time difference it was soon bedtime for us! We stayed up as long as we could but I caved in early as I was falling asleep at the garden table - woops. Day 2 was also a nice and slow, relaxing day - we took it easy whilst we adjusted to the time difference (which took me longer to get used to than I expected, I think it took me around 3-4 days). We headed into Ottawa and had a little stroll around, before tucking into the traditional Poutine (basically cheesy chips and gravy, need I say more?) at a restaurant called Bier Markt.

Day 3
On Monday we set off on a 6 hour drive to Niagara Falls - I think this was the day I was most excited for as I've always wanted to go to Niagara Falls. I still can't get over the fact that I have managed to see one of the seven wonders of the world (only 6 more to go)! On our drive down we took a couple of pit stops and I finally got to try a Wendy's burger - they were so yummy! When we arrived in Niagara, we checked into our hotel (which was about a 5 minute walk away from the falls), freshened up and headed out. We took a trip on the Niagara Falls Cruise to get up close (it was literally like standing under a shower) it was such an amazing experience and I very highly recommend it if you go there! We then went back to our hotel and showered, before heading out for dinner and drinks. We had dinner at The Keg Steakhouse & Bar which overlooked the falls - the food was incredible. We then headed to the Casino for some after dinner drinks and a play on the slot machines!

Day 4
We started the day off with an IHOP breakfast before heading down to Niagara-on-the-Lake. We went across the lake on the cable car pictured above (which I must say was pretty scary!) before heading to the shops for a little walk around and a coffee. We then drove back to the falls and took a walk around downtown Niagara where we went to the arcades and played glow in the dark wizard mini golf (so random)- it was super tacky but I absolutely LOVED it! We then finished the evening off with a few drinks before catching a firework display over the falls. It was breathtaking!

Day 5
We had a quick stretch of the legs before beginning our 6 hour journey back to Ottawa -  I also got to try my first Tim Hortons (which I am now obsessed with). I'm so so happy that they recently came over to the UK and have conveniently opened one up right next to where I work - bingo!

Stay tuned for Part 2 - Ottawa!

Disclaimer - this post is in collaboration with Destination2

I hated Running...So I became a Runner

Last Summer, after I had returned from my 2 week getaway to Canada, I decided it was time to kick myself up the butt and start exercising properly. I knew I had put some weight on but I didn't realise to what extent. I looked so unhappy and unhealthy in my holiday photo's and I was upset at myself. How hadn't I noticed that I'd piled on a stone (and maybe a little bit more)? I suppose I hadn't even tried to avoid it - I never watched what I ate, I drank full fat fizzy pop on the regular and was guilty of little-to-no exercise... and it had started to show - not only physically, but mentally too.

My boyfriend is a regular runner (ya'know he does a half marathon just for fun). He would wake up at the crack of dawn and run before work or come home from work and go for a run. I mean, naturally I thought he was crazy, like why would I go outside and run and get all sweaty when I could have half an hour extra in bed in the morning, or get home from work and slump on the sofa binge watching Netflix? (Yes I still do that now... but I don't feel guilty anymore because at least I exercise too). I was so lazy and he was so energetic and fit and healthy and I wanted to feel like that too. I was fed up of feeling constantly sluggish and I just felt so tired and irritable all of the time. As a result of this I also had constant headaches and I had to force myself to do things, as I genuinely never had the energy to do anything. Enough was enough.

I first started (and tried) running a couple of years ago but I would get out of breath after about 5 minutes and give up. I decided it wasn't for me, so I bought myself an exercise bike to try that instead... but that didn't cut the mustard either and I got bored of it. I just didn't feel like it was doing anything, I was just working out my legs, and only marginally at that.

It was only when I got back from my summer holiday last year, after being upset about not having the energy to enjoy myself as much as I could, and feeling uncomfortable with the way I looked and felt, I decided to give running another go.

I joined the gym and I had so much determination. Somehow it just clicked. I started forcing myself up every day before work - and boy it was hard, but I was SO motivated. I knew that I'd rather get up early and get it "out the way with" so I could come home from work and relax. I realised that, as the old saying goes, you get out what you put in and only I would be able to change the way I felt. I also became more wary of what I was eating, I converted to sugar free pop (because I wanted the caffeine kick but hate coffee) and I started to cut down on snacking, and stuck to 'naughty' meals on the weekend and started eating more basic dinners during the week (e.g. chicken & rice with vegetables).

I started by running 2-3 times a week for around 10 minutes at a time. I then gradually increased the time to 15-20 minutes and eventually to 30-40 minutes. I have only recently (in the last couple of months) been able to continuously run for around 50-60 minutes comfortably, however I usually stick to doing a "long run" on the weekend and generally keep to a couple of 30-40 minute runs during the week. I also increased my pace gradually once I was comfortable with running for around 30 minutes straight at the same pace. E.g. from running a pace of 8 mins a km to 7 mins a km etc. I want to build up both my endurance and my speed and I like to set myself personal goals and compete with my past run times - I always aim to beat my last run, even if this is just by a second or two!

I will also be taking part in the Great Manchester Run in May and this will be my biggest challenge yet as I will be running 10km. I signed up to run with work, and I have chosen to raise money for Manchester Royal Infirmary (specifically for the cancer services that they provide). The longest run I have achieved so far is 8km, so I am almost there! Ideally I'd like to have managed a 10km before this time, and my goal is to complete the run in under 70 minutes - wish me luck!

Do you go running or have any tips or tricks to share? I'd love to know!

My Career Journey & What I do for a Living

When I was little I wanted to be an archaeologist/paleontologist (I was obsessed with dinosaurs and fossils & to this day my all time favourite movie is still Jurassic Park), in my early teens I wanted to create websites (and at the age 12 I did - with the help of Freewebs. Prior to that, I built up my knowledge of HTML on Matmice. Did anyone else use ever this website??) and then in my late teens I decided that I wanted to work in the Media. I took Media Studies at A-Level and went onto studying Film and Media Studies at University (oh, how fun it was to encourage people that in fact it was a real degree.)

I'd never really thought about what I'd actually end up doing, I just knew that this was the direction I wanted to go in because I enjoyed it. When I actually started my degree, I loved it. It was exactly how I thought it would be and I had the opportunity to be creative. However that was first year, and after first year the course became more or less just theory based. I had to write essays upon essays on topics such as 'Analyse the music in the opening sequence of Shutter Island in 3500 words'. I mean, I liked films and I loved watching them, but when it came to taking them apart and critiquing or analysing them it just wasn't for me. I was naive and should have realised that just because the degree had the word Media in the title - it wasn't going to be like it was at A-Level, were I could create movie posters and write movie concepts and let my creative juices flow.

Nevertheless I stuck it out - I was loving University life and I didn't want to let go of that freedom that I'd always wanted. On reflection, I should have changed my course in second year and worked towards a degree in something I was more passionate about. By the time my final year had rolled around I was really struggling - multiple essays and a 10,000 word dissertation on something that I merely loathed by that point was difficult, however in my head all I could think about was giving it all I had and sticking it out just that little bit longer - I mean if I had got that far, surely a few more months wouldn't be too bad.

However, I didn't end up sticking it out.

As I've grown up I've realised that not every well paid job is degree-essential and pure ambition, hard-work and determination is sometimes enough. Fast forward to the now, and I am the happiest I've ever been. I went straight back into retail after moving back home with my parents, and soon after that manage to land myself my first real 9-5 office job. I wasn't the traveler type, I had a sudden ambition to earn as much money as I could, and fast, because I wanted to save up enough to move out into my own place, in Manchester. Ever since I was younger I'd always wanted to move to the city - Manchester was the closest to home (around a 30 minute drive) and city life was calling me.

After 6 months of commuting I had finally saved up enough to move back out again. I continued to work for the same company until they unfortunately went into liquidation a year later, before quickly getting myself another admin job where I met my amazing boyfriend who I now live with too.
After 2 further years of working for the second company, I decided it was time for a change - a new adventure, and as of January this year I work for the NHS - and I absolutely love it. I work as a Medical Secretary Assistant and I find the job so incredibly interesting and rewarding.

This is just the beginning of my career. I might be nearly 26 (and nowadays you're kind of pressured into feeling like you have to have all of your shit together by now) but in actual fact, not all of us do. I still don't know exactly what I want to do but at the moment I'm excited to see where my new adventure takes me. I'm happy, I'm content and I'm earning enough to save up for a house, pay the bills and go out during the week for Tapas or eat a fancy brunch on the weekend.

It's never too soon, or too late to do what makes you happy - not every one will experience the same journey but we all have the same goal - to do something we love for a living, we just all work towards that goal in our own unique way.

What do you do for a living? I'd love to know!