Monday, 4 December 2017

Monday Medley #19

It has come to my attention that Blogmas is supposed to be purely Christmas content. So far, that hasn't really been what I've been doing. Sure, I could switch up the rest of my planned posts and go full on Crimbo, but honestly, I'm already bored of Christmas gift guides, Christmas party dressing, Christmas makeup looks and Christmas wishlists. Blogging is frequently extremely materialistic, but my god is that amped up in December. While there will be a bit of Christmas-themed content nearer to the 25th, for now I'm going to treat Blogmas as a challenge similar to Blogtober or All-in August, in which I attempt to post every day in December. Hopefully, you're all on board with that. For now though, I'll get on with the things I've loved reading in the last week.



READING

PRINT

I'm about halfway through Dissolution by CJ Sansom and I'm loving it. It's a murder mystery set during the Tudor period. The book was recommended by a friends and even though crime thrillers aren't usually my thing I'm really enjoying it. It's a quick and easy read, and if I wasn't so blooming busy at the moment I'm confident I could race through it in a day or so. It's packed full of twists and turns and well worth a read if you're looking for something new.

DIGITAL

I love Imogen's blog and her content is always outstanding, but I really enjoyed her recent post on what 'healthy' means for her. The ups and downs and a complicated relationship with weight is something I can definitely relate to. She puts it far better than I could, but I too am afraid of failure, but every tiny step I take in the right direction is a win.

If there's one thing you should read this week it's Alice's post about her recent operation and the journey she took getting there. It's a story of misdiagnosis and frustration with her body, and I can't do it justice in the few words I have here. Above all, her message is to be gentle and love yourself, which is something we could all stand to do a little more.

These days I love a skincare posts more than makeup, and with my skin frequently freaking out, I feel like I need a face mask to cover every eventuality. I've been looking to make a few more purchases, and Lily's comprehensive list of masks for every skin concern has definitely given me some inspiration. I need to make a Cult Beauty order ASAP...

It's no secret that I love Elena's blog after discovering it a few months ago, but I'm loving the series she just started on buying a house. Mortgages and the actual process of house buying seems like an impenetrable minefield, and as it's something I'd like to do in the next few years, I am so here for it. There's no bullshit about giving up avocado on toast for a year to earn a deposit, it's honest, no frills advice and explanations about how to buy a house. I'm very much looking forward to the rest of the series.



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Saturday, 2 December 2017

How To Spend A Day In Kobe, Japan

I mentioned in my Top 5 In Osaka post that one of the best things you can do while visiting the city is to get out of it. There are so many smaller cities and towns within an hour's train ride that are well worth a visit, and Kobe is top of the list. It's known for the best beef in the world and is pretty as a picture, and at just a few hundred yen by train from Umeda station it's cheap and easy to get there. While some people recommend staying the night I really don't think it's necessary unless you're combining it with a trip to Himeji, as the best bits of the town can be seen in a day.

Kobe Nunobiki Falls Stairs

When you first get off the train at Sannomiya Station make sure you head West to visit Ikuta Shrine. It's half-hidden behind a giant Tokyu Hands department store (also worth checking out for a random assortment of tools, beauty and homeware), but it's actually one of the oldest Shinto shrines in Japan. It dates back to the third century and is a little pocket of peace and quiet amongst the hustle and bustle of the town centre. If you decide to pray, remember to wash your hands in the small building to your right upon entry - there's a useful picture diagram for the correct order in which to do it.

Osaka to Kobe train
Train to Kobe

Kobe Streets

Ikuta Shrine, Kobe
Ikuta Shrine

Ikuta Shrine, Kobe

Ikuta Shrine, Kobe

If you're feeling peckish, get yourself to Wanto Burger. However, if like me you're a fan of the Lonely Planet guidebooks, you might as well ignore the map for Kobe, as quite a few sights and places to eat aren't in the right places. Wanto Burger is one of them, so rather than following the map, stick to 3-chome and head West, pass Don Quijote on your right and you'll soon see it. It's a really great burger bar in the style of an American diner, with a DJ booth, friendly staff and incredible food. Their English is patchy but enough to get by, so there's no worry that you'll end up with something other than what you order. It's expensive, but you're only in Kobe once so I went for the namesake Wanto Burger, which was incredible. It included proper Kobe beef at a fraction of the price you'd pay in the cities and it's cooked to perfection. Do yourself a favour and get it. They're not super vegetarian-friendly, but they do have a few options. If you're obviously a foreigner they'll probably ask you to pop a sticker on where you're from on a big world map; my brother and I were pretty pleased that we were the only people from Manchester, and indeed, the only Northerners by the look of it.

Wanto Burger, Kobe

Wanto Burger, Kobe

Wanto Burger, Kobe

Wanto Burger, Kobe

Wanto Burger, Kobe

Wanto Burger, Kobe

After that, head back to the central Sannomiya station and take the underground to Shin-Kobe station. You may be tempted to walk, but if it's even remotely summer-time save yourself for the walk you've got coming up and just drop a few hundred yen on the tube. 

From Shin-Kobe, follow the signs for the cable car and head all the way up to the Herb Gardens, then follow the trail back down the mountain for around an hour, wending your way down a path carved into the mountain and following the Nunobiki Waterfalls. If gardens aren't your thing you can just go half way up and see the waterfalls before coming back down again, but you'd be missing out. Watch out for the creepy crawlies as you wander through the forest; my brother encountered a huntsman spider and I don't think I've ever seen him move so fast.
 
Nunobiki Falls Path, Kobe
Nunobiki Falls Path

Nunobiki Falls, Kobe

Nunobiki Falls, Kobe

Nunobiki Falls, Kobe

At this point you'll likely have a few hours to kill before heading back to Osaka, but those are the main things you really don't want to miss. I'd recommend grabbing a drink in iznt, a bar right by Ikuta Shrine and the stations.

For a flying visit to Kobe that's should mean you get to see a good portion of the town and the main sights, but there's always plenty more to see and lots of things I didn't have time for. That's all for today, and you might think I'd be running out of Japan content by now (and you'd be right) but I still have a few more things I'd love to share before I finish sharing my newfound love for this incredible country.


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Friday, 1 December 2017

My 2017 Resolutions in Retrospect

Safe to say that since I posted my 2017 resolutions back in January, I haven't looked at them since. I had very good intentions, thinking I'd print them out (maybe even laminate them, oo-er) and stick them on the front of my fridge or something. Without even looking at them I can tell you that I definitely didn't achieve them all, or even most of them. 





I'm hoping that by looking back at them now, before I even start thinking about 2018, I can figure out where I went wrong, although I think forgetting they existed might have been the crux of the problem. Perhaps by reflecting on my failures (and maybe successes?), I can set more achievable goals for next year? More likely I'll just think of something generic and aim that general direction for a year and be happy with that. For now, though, let's see what I forgot I was supposed to be doing in 2017.

Read at least one book per month 
Okay, this definitely didn't happen. I'm still working my way through my Spring Reading List, let alone my Summer one. I'm determined to finish my TBR pile before the end of the year but it's proving to be slow progress. There will no doubt be something reading-related on my 2018 list, but maybe the knowledge of how much I've missed reading regularly in 2017 will make me stick to it a bit more.

Keep track of spending
Thanks to a pretty cracking spreadsheet made for my boyfriend, I have kind of managed this. I at least know roughly how much money I can spend each week and can sort of stick to it, but it's Cleo that has really made a difference in the last few months. It's an AI that communicates with your through Facebook messenger and its website, and it tracks and categorises all spending and income across multiple accounts. Apart from shaming me for my Maccies breakfast habit, I've found it pretty useful for identifying where I waste spend the most money.

Go outside on weekends
I really struggled to find reasons to leave my flat on weekends. I don't have many friends in Manchester, so if I wasn't seeing my boyfriend I often ended up retreating into my own little world for two days. I found that wasn't great for my mental health, and I really wanted to make an effort to at least go for a walk in the park every weekend. I did achieve this most weekends, and it's become a hell of a lot easier since moving in with my boyfriend as we're frequently out and about. I reckon I can call this one a success.

Post twice a week
Overall, it probably did average out at about twice a week. The relatively quiet months of May and June were balanced out by All-in August and hopefully will be by Blogmas. These days I aim to post three times a week, with one of those being my Monday Medley post.

Read more blog posts
Oh, this was definitely a success! I'm surprised at how well I've done so far but we are coming up to fitness so I think it's all downhill from here. I read blog posts a lot these days, primarily through Bloglovin' and have enjoyed it so much that I even started my Monday Medleys to share the love a little.

Run twice a week
YEAH, this did not happen. Not even close. Pretty much as soon as I moved back to Manchester in November 2016 I stopped running, due to the cold and the more hostile environment of the city. I was used to running down country roads on summer evenings, and a frosty November on the outskirts of the city centre wasn't a place I felt comfortable running in. As much as I may have intended to start running again, it didn't happen. January is cold, too.

Do Parkrun at least once a month
Ditto.

Only eat office biscuits on Fridays
I don't even know why I attempted to do this. What a ridiculous idea. I need my biscuits.

Plan meals ahead of time
This didn't happen much while living alone, but over the last two months of living with my boyfriend, we've really embraced this. It saves us a tonne of money, ensures we eat healthier and order fewer takeaways, and generally means we're more organised and eat better.

So, a bit of a mixed bag. The fitness ones were a complete flop, but I'm pretty happy with how most of it turned out, particularly considering I couldn't remember what I was supposed to be doing. As for 2018, I think maybe I'll try and be a bit more realistic as to what I can achieve.

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