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Getting The Girls Together: Top Tips For a Great Night Out

Hey Cats,
When you’re at school, college or uni, it seems like the friendships you forge in those years will last a lifetime. Our teenaged selves are utterly convinced that that we’ll see each other at least once a week for fun, frivolity and all around Hell-raising even if we have to take out our dentures and tuck our skirts into our girdles to do it.

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The reality is that as we settle down, establish our careers and start families it gets harder and harder to make time for the girls even as we treasure their friendship.

Every once in awhile it’s absolutely essential to plan a legendary girl’s night out to make sure that the flame of your friendship stays kindled.

Here are some tips to help you to do it in style!

Plan and commit

Loads of friends noncommittally say “We really should get together some time”. Rarely does anything come of it. So start planning early! Decide on a date that suits everyone and get things started by setting up a Facebook event and try to get people to commit as early on as possible.

Be sure to post regular updates in the event to keep the girls’ interest stoked and share ideas.

Plan it around mutual interests and an agreed budget

The important thing is getting to see one another, catch up, spend some quality time and have a few laughs. This can be a quiet affair or an extravaganza but the important thing is getting together.

Some of your friends might be earning more than others, some might have more time commitments than others. Some might be drinkers of fearsome reputation, others devout tee-totallers. It’s important to find an activity for your night out that will suit everyone’s tastes and budget.

Take lots of pictures, but be careful about sharing

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The explosion in smartphone technology means that you may be far more able to take snaps of the highlights of your night than you were in your teenaged years. By all means snap away so that you’ll have memories that’ll keep you smiling for years to come, but be considerate of others when sharing them on social media.

Not everyone is comfortable with their image being shared, so be sure to get permission from everyone in an image before you start sharing and tagging.

It’s also worth thinking about any sensitive implications photo sharing might have among girls who weren’t inviting or couldn’t make it.

Make it a girls’ getaway

This should be an opportunity to get away from the pressures of work, family and the other half for everyone so sometimes a change of scenery is just what the doctor ordered. Make sure that everyone’s transportation is sorted out as far in advance as possible… Although it’s far more fun if you can all go together.
 
If you’re planning on making a weekend of it, make sure you’re staying somewhere that’s easy for everyone to get to and within everyone’s budget. I recommend Toprooms for finding good accommodation on a budget that will suit everyone.

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Save Money With My Top Picks From Freebie site

Hey Cats,

I know it is only the second week of the month and if you're anything like me then you're already counting down the days until payday. With saving for a wedding I am trying to save every penny I can to help towards the big day. I have spoke about great ways you can save money before such as using Survey sites to earn a little extra or even still treating  yourself but with a half price voucher.

You can also try and save cash by checking out freebie sites like Gratisfication UK offer freebies online. I like grabbing freebies because  it gives you a chance to try a product before buying them. You often get money off vouchers towards a purchase too and well lets face it who doesn't like a freebie?

I love checking out these kind of sites to see what they have on offer. So I had a look through to find my favourite freebies. To get a lot of the freebies you may have to fill out a small form and get a little junk email but you could always set up an email just for this kind of thing I just use my old email and then you don't have to worry about important emails getting lost. Others are competitions but then you get a chance to win a better prize. I love the sound of this soak and sleep hamper and will be entering to win it myself.


There are lots of things on offer from baby items to money saving vouchers. The one I love browsing most is cosmetics. It can also be a good way to find out about new brands or even new launches from high end brands you may already know and love. On the gratification UK site you can find things like soap and glory eyeliner, hand creams and much more.

The site is really easy to use and you can even pick up freebies by looking on your phone. Juts have a look at all the different categories.

I really love lenor and I signed up for this free offer. It is a fantastic way for brands to get people talking about their product and trying it out. I haven't tried the wild flower lenor yet but I love the golden one they do and it usually leaves my clothes soft and fresh.

If you are shopping it is worth having a quick look at sites like this to see if they have a voucher code available to use.  You can get money off helping save money to get that item you want or saving cash like me for that special day! Have you used a freebie site before? What was the best thing you found on them?





Getting Ready For Your Next Travel Adventure: Conquer The Paperwork

Hey Cats,

Your thinking of going on an adventure right? So, the plans are in place. The backpacks have been hauled out of storage. The passports are put somewhere safe. But are you definitely ready to go? Before a big adventure, there’s always a million and one things to do. And in all the chaos of getting ready to go, it’s inevitable that something will slip through the net. So, whether you’re a list maker or a wing-it type, here’s a list of things to help jog your memory before you go.

Psst - decided that you want a new adventure, but not sure what to do or where to go? Check out one of my recent blog posts for some inspiration.

Visas and applications


While travelling is fun, exciting and spontaneous, you can’t forget about the more sensible side of things. Depending on where you’re going, you might need to apply for visas. Some are easy, like the electronic travel authorisation system for Canada. But others need far more time spent on them, and some even need to be done on paper or in person. Make sure that wherever you go, you have the right paperwork with you. Take copies of your travel insurance, your medical insurance, and anything else that might help, such as a driving licence. If you’re really struggling with visas and paperwork, why not look at booking with an operator or tour group that can complete this for you?

Contact details

Firstly, sort out a phone that you can use anywhere in the world. Some phone models are locked to operators and tariffs, so make sure you buy an unlocked phone that you can use any kind of SIM with. Then, find a tariff that will let you contact your loved ones whenever you need to. Some companies offer great rates, and might even throw in bonus presents. It’s easier now to stay in touch, as nearly all the places you’ll stay will have Wi-Fi. But to be safe, make sure you have some mobile data. This is a very useful article about using your phone abroad.


Then, give your details to a few family members and friends. If you’ve got any contacts in the country you’re visiting, swap details with them too. It’s a good idea to write down any useful contact details, just in case your phone breaks or goes missing.

Medical needs and insurance

From insurance to medication, it’s vital to sort out any medicine-related needs before you leave. If you’ve got an ongoing prescription, see if you can stock up, or whether you can get it in the country you’re going to. Your doctor will be able to give you the best advice on this. If you’re going to a country that requires vaccinations before entering, make sure you get these done in plenty of time. Some have very strict time limits, so you need to be careful what you get done and when. If you’re taking out medical or travel insurance, make sure you’ve got a copy of all the paperwork, and you know exactly what’s covered. For example, if you’re going skiing, and you’re covered for medical treatment but not getting off the mountain, you could be in trouble! If you’re a bit puzzled by insurance, here’s some great tips on what to look out for.

Do you have all your paperwork ready?


Magical Ideas For A Winter Break

Hey Cats,
Does the winter time leave you feeling a bit down? The long nights and cold winds can drain all the energy out of you, can’t it? I’m determined that this coming winter is going to be a bit different. I’d love to treat myself to a special winter break away. I’d save some money by budgeting well for Christmas and then blow it all on a fabulous few days that would leave me invigorated and full of energy. So, here are the options.
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A road trip in the South of France
The area around Nice is spectacular at any time of the year. By visiting in the Winter, you get to avoid the crowds. I would stay in Nice itself but hire a car so that we can do loads of exploring because lazing on the beach is not an option! If it’s warm enough I’d love to go for a stroll along the Promenade des Anglais and pop into the Matisse Museum.
A day trip to Monte Carlo is at the top of my holiday list. I just have to see the harbor with all the huge yachts and exclusive restaurants. I may even blow some of my hard-earned cash in a casino.
Snow spotting in Lapland
I may decide to embrace winter and head somewhere with proper snow such as Lapland! I adore the look of the tree hotels and would love to spend a few nights in one. There are so many unique experiences to try in Lapland. I just have to be pulled on a sled by huskies or reindeer through the magical countryside.
I’d also love to see Levin Lapinkyla, a traditional farm in Lapland. Smoke saunas, Finnish culture, reindeer, and alpacas sound like heaven to me!
A romantic break in a Scottish castle
How romantic would a break in a 15th-century Scottish castle in the depths of Winter be? Very! The spectacular Argyll Tower is just 3m from the sea and in between the showers, we could go for bracing walks on the amazing 3 miles stretch of beach. The perfect way to get there would be to fly into Wick airport but arriving by car on the spectacular coastal road is not a bad second option.
Once the bad weather sets in we can retreat to the fabulous restaurant or snuggle up in front of a blazing peat fire. Sampling a glass of Scotch whiskey would keep us warm.
Overall, there are a few things that every winter short break must have. It's best to head for somewhere that is not too far away because traveling can be tricky. Allow plenty of time for your journey.
Head for somewhere that has plenty of indoor attractions and entertainment and cosy restaurants and cafes where you can retreat when the bad weather sets in. Packing for a winter break is easy! You need one pair of warm walking boots and one smart pair. Loads of layers so pile in the T-shirts and jumpers and a waterproof layer. Don't forget gloves and a hat!


5 tips for dating online

Hey Cats,

As many of you may know I am getting married to the man I love....once we have saved enough money EEEKK. However what many of you don't know is the story of how we actually met! We met online over 3 years ago now on a dating site! Once upon a time meeting new people and especially dating online was a big taboo but you would be surprised with how many people are now taking the leap and trying the online world. It makes sense really in a world that is so full of social media, computers and a digital age that naturally we will start using that to explore the dating world. So if you haven't ever considered the option of dating sites because you think that you won't find love there then let me give you a few tips and see if you want to have a go for yourself,


Be Honest

The main thing about dating sites is setting up a profile to somehow link up with potential matches. Various sites do this differently for example OkCupid use a match percentage system where you can answer questions and see how your matches have answered or some are much more shallow and come down to just seeing a picture and seeing if you like the look of them.

Ultimately though the first thing people will see are your pictures and your profile. The best thing to do with your profile is let your personality shine through. I am pretty sure mine had some awful joke and all the bands I loved. The most important thing though is being true to yourself because sadly not everyone online is, We have all seen the show Catfish it is the ultimate binge viewing.



You may look banging on a picture from two years ago but use recent pictures, don't pretend to like something just because the other person is a hottie and loves darts because you will get found out at the end of the day and it will all just make for an awkward date. Plus I find it helps find a true match for you! Being plus size in the dating world I was always upfront and used full pictures and let me tell you it can also help get rid of some idiots that it isn't worth wasting your time with. you are beautiful however you come so just make sure you let your real beauty shine through and you will find a better match.

Talk to varied people

Dating sites give you the chance to speak to a wide range of people and just because you are chatting with someone does not mean you have to meet up or even be romantically linked. It is important that you realise that consent is a huge thing and just because you chatted to someone doesn't mean you owe them anything but you can also talk to some really interesting and different people compared to those you may meet naturally. Sometimes speaking to someone with different interests can be where you actually end up meeting your match!

With varied people I also mean varied locations. There is life outside of your town and at the end of the day a whole new adventure could be waiting for you. If you would have told me a few years ago I would be living in the country I never would have believed you. Plus a date is the perfect excuse to explore a new place.



Try specialist sites

The world of online dating has something for everyone from people who actually just want a friend to people who have a kink. You can find dating sites for single parent dating which is a great way to meet other parents who know what it is like to date when you already have children. Dating sites always seem to be marketed at a younger audience but if you are a little more mature and want to meet people around your age then you could try a site that is tailored towards over 50's dating. Using targeted sites like this can already skim down the selection of people and can also be a way of avoiding awkward things like your son finding your profile if your not ready to talk about it or just want to keep it private for your own reasons, There are dating sites for alternative people and adventurous types. Just make sure you are not getting trapped into a big payment scheme. Some dating sites will ask for a payment but try the free trials first and see if you like it before committing to a payment,

Have fun and stay grounded

Sometimes when people try online dating they can't believe how suddenly they are in demand with lots or even just a select few always wanting to talk to them. Make sure you know what you are looking for and that you don't get so caught up in the sites that you barely look up from your phone or laptop. Still go out and enjoy yourself online and offline.



Always be safe

Most important of all is safety! Don't give out your address or even be careful with who you decide to add onto your social media and phone. When meeting up which you should totally do if you feel right about the person make sure it is in a public space and let people know you are going. It can be tempting to let someone come and pick you up or come to your home but just take things st your own pace and in your own time,

SO are you going to give it a try or have you already had a go at online dating before?


*collab

The Long Trip Home - An Adventure Of Origins In Kenya

Hey Cats,

For this adventure, we’re going to look a little further than Derbyshire. Instead, we’re going to look at a truly bucket list worthy trip. To a lot of people, Africa holds an almost magical allure. It’s the cradle of humanity, as they call it, and to many, it feels like a spiritual trip home. So, let’s go back to where we came from, in particular, looking at the sights and sounds of majestic Kenya.

Fantastic beasts and where to find them
If you’re thinking about visiting the country, then there’s a good chance you already have it in your mind to see some of the majestic wildlife that the country is so well known for. It doesn’t disappoint, either. Besides taking you a trek across some gorgeous landscapes, Kenya safari tours get you a lot closer than you might imagine to all of those famous beasts. Lions, wildebeest, elephants, giraffes and even super bright flocks of flamingos.
A look into prehistory
Many of the peoples of Kenya still live with these animals as a daily reality in their environment or close to them. It can be hard to imagine that perhaps we all once shared that in common. After all, Africa is where we all came from and Kenya, in particular, might be home to some of our earliest hominid ancestors. At Koobi Fora, they’ve unearthed some of the skulls of those ancestors and the stone tools they use, many of them on display. That makes Kenya likely to be one of the very first places that homo sapiens started to show up on the world stage.

The other roof of Africa
Kilimanjaro gets a lot of the attention as the largest mountain in Africa, but you don’t have to travel as far from your Kenyan holiday to see some unforgettable peaks. The aptly named Mt. Kenya doesn’t just invite climbers but is surrounded by lush forest and national parks with plenty to do. You can eat amongst the colobus monkeys in a restaurant fit in a fig tree or head to the rhino sanctuary, one of the best places to see these majestic and endangered animals.
A taste of local life
You can’t think about going home to see some of the people still living there, of course. There are a lot of different groups and lifestyles in Kenya, from the metropolitan party-loving Nairobi city-folk to the much publicized Maasai village. But one that’s quite interesting even if not entirely authentic is a trip to the Bomas of Kenya. It’s a village built from houses made in the styles of different peoples of the area. It might not be the most natural of settlements, but it’s a great way to see displayed the ethnic and cultural diversity of the country.

With the fantastic wildlife and the indomitable mountains, it can feel like Kenya’s a whole other world. But the historical, traditional, and cultural sights might just be where you’ll get the most stimulating stops on the journey. Either way, it’s well worth the long trip home for anyone.


What Are You Waiting For?

Hey Cats,

There's a strange thing that lot of people have in common. Just about everyone has things in life that they really want to do, and yet they just don't seem to do them. It seems as though the world is full of people who are constantly making excuses for why they can't do the things that would make them happy. A lot of these excuses are fairly predictable. They don't have the money for it! They don't have the time for it! They don't have the energy for it! Here's the big secret though, most of the things that people really want to do are much easier than they think. The problem is that they've built them up into their mind so heavily that they fail to realize just how simple it can be to actually go after them. Here are just a few of the most popular things that many people want to do but say that they can't, with some of the reasons why it's actually far easier than you might expect.

Travel

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Travel is probably the thing that most people think of when they have moments of "I wish I could but I can't." And some of the roadblocks to traveling can seem fairly understandable at first glance. After all, travel certainly isn't free, and not only that but you would have to spend time away from work as well which can impact your finances further. However, a lot of people fail to realize that there are plenty o things that can make travel much less expensive. Your choice of destination makes a big difference there since different places are going to cost different amounts. If you're able to be flexible about where you go then you can often save yourself a lot of money. Not only that but certain places require a little more planning than others, because of things like the ESTA requiring certain levels of eligibility. Of course, if you have the perfect destination in mind then you can always think in the long term. Spend some time saving your money so that you can both afford your dream destination, but also the time that you'll need to take off work.

Starting a new career

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There are few things more frustrating in life than getting stuck in a career that you really hate. It can make every day feel like a total slog that you just have to try and get through before you can crash on the sofa at the end of the day. One of the things that makes it so difficult for a lot of people is that they often have something that they would much rather be doing instead. Everyone has a passion for something, and many of us would genuinely love to spend our time doing that for a living instead. So why don't you? Sure, the idea of starting over in an entirely new career can be scary but so are many of the best things in life! If you're worried about not being qualified to do your dream job, then think long term. If you need new skills or qualifications, then you can get those part-time while doing your current job. Sure, you might end up working harder than you did before, but if you're working towards something that really matters, you may well find that it's worth it. Doing that may even make your job a little more bearable since you end up being able to remind yourself that, while you might still be slaving away at a job that you don't like, you're not just staying still anymore. Now you're working towards something important, and one day, when you leave that job behind, you'll be glad for all that extra effort that you put in.

Even if the thing that you really want to do isn't on this list, at the very least, it might be able to show you that you really don't need to make excuses to not go after it. Sure, going after something important might be scary, and it can often be far easier just to sit at home and imagine it. After all, if it's only ever in your head, nothing can ever go wrong. The problem there is that things might not go wrong, but they also can never be anything more than a fantasy. An imperfect reality is always going to be better than a perfect fantasy that never really comes true. Whatever it is in life that you want to do, there's only one question that you really need to ask: what are you waiting for?