Monday, 25 June 2018

Naked Yoga

For the last month or so, I've been spending a portion of my mornings or evenings naked on my yoga mat. In an effort to try and work in some exercise into my daily routine, I decided to give yoga a shot. I've done a couple of classes at my gym before and enjoyed it, but fitting in half an hour at home every day seemed more achievable than weekly classes, in part because it's so bloody hot right now and at home I can do it in the nude. The Youtube channel Yoga With Adriene is one I've watched in the past, after seeing The Anna Edit recommend it years ago. I did the odd video a couple of years ago, but never consistently tried to work it into my life despite enjoying it. This time, I decided to attempt one of Adriene's annual 30-day yoga practices

Yoga with Adriene True
Sorry for the uninspiring picture, but y'know, it's NAKED yoga. And also I'm pretty damn chubby and not super willing to put semi-clothed photos of me trying to do downward dog with my boobs brushing the floor.

I bloody loved it. I won't lie to you, I was frequently a sweaty crying mess on my yoga mat at 10.30pm on a Friday night, but the moment when I finally nailed that movement I'd been struggling with for days was so sweet. It reminded me a lot of when I used to do Couch to 5K, something I'm considering starting again if the temperature ever gets low enough for me to entertain the idea. 

Adriene's wacky encouragement, talking me through the moves and telling me to smile and enjoy the moment without pushing myself too hard really worked for me. It was never about throwing myself around or forcing my body to move in a way that wasn't right for me; it was about stretching myself, finding my limits and gradually pushing them a little further each time. I definitely exceeded my own expectations, even if I did have to repeat a couple of days when I became flustered and failed to get through the video in its entirety because I sucked at downward dog. 

By the end of the thirty (maybe more like thirty-four) days, my body felt a little more limber, and I felt like if I needed to move my body a little after a long day sat at my desk I knew how to. It's been about two weeks since I finished the series, and I honestly miss it. I miss the downtime it gave me to put my phone down and focus on my body, to concentrate on how to move and trust someone else to direct my movements in a way that left me feeling good. Find what feels good is Adriene's mantra, and I'm really here for it. Pushing yourself is good, but pushing yourself in way that is kind and respects your body's limits. No more of this "push past the pain" that I remember from when I used to attempt Jillian Michael's 30 Day Shred. It's not for me at all, and I'm not sure that punishing your body is a positive mind set for anyone.

Find what feels good, folks.

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Monday, 18 June 2018

Altrincham Market

Sometimes it's just good to get out of the city, and fortunately, Manchester is one of the better-connected cities in the north-west. I've added a tab under Manchester for all the places I've written about that are day-trip-distance, and I plan to add to it over the summer. 

Altrincham Market

Altrincham is dead easy to get to from the city, with the Metrolink getting you there in about half an hour. There are two big things people go to Altrincham for: the ice skating and the market. I haven't been to the rink in years but definitely need to some time soon as I used to love ice skating despite my general ineptitude, but I can confirm the market is excellent. 

Altrincham Market
Altrincham Market

Markets and food halls are huge in Manchester, with Altrincham's Market Hall an early example of the phenomenon that has spawned Mackie Mayor and GRUB, both of which I definitely need to write about soon. Altrincham Market is split into three main areas: Market House, New Market Square and the covered market. 

Altrincham Market Pie
Altrincham Market

Market House consists of several restaurants in a small space, all churning out brilliant food at affordable prices. The market model allows several businesses to share the rental fees and collaborate to make running a small restaurant economically viable. It allows brilliant traders who aren't massive chains or conglomerates to compete in today's restaurant market, and Manchester definitely embraces independent restaurants.

Altrincham Market
Altrincham Market
Altrincham Market

New Market Square consists of a few smaller food retailers, usually more of the snack or picnic type rather than restaurants as well as outdoor seating, while the covered market's content varies each day of the week. There are frequently up-and-coming musicians playing live on the stage made of hay, and you can sit anywhere and listen to the music and eat from any of the independent food vendors. On different days the covered market features vintage clothing, crafts, homeware, antiques, books, stamps, ceramics and jewellery. They stock all sorts on different days so it's worth checking what's on if you're planning to visit but the food is a failsafe every day except Monday when the whole market is closed. 

Altrincham Market
Altrincham Market

I spent the morning there a few weeks ago, wandering around it with my boyfriend and eating a really great chicken and leek pie and resisting the temptation to buy all of the handmade crockery. It's a lovely little area and well-deserving of its local fame, whether you're going for the covered market or the food. I particularly recommend Honest Crust's incredible pizzas, the Great North Pie Co. and La Cucina's simple Mediterranean food. 

Altrincham Market

I'd definitely take a trip out to Altrincham if you're in Manchester for a couple of days, whether you're after some upcycled badminton racket mirrors or a great lunch, there's something for everyone. For more information on the website check out Altrincham Market's website!

See you on Friday for something different!

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Altrincham Market
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Saturday, 16 June 2018

Six Months In

We're six months into 2018 and I'm having a bit of a rethink. I've really knuckled down this year, working hard on my blog and investing a great deal of time and effort in it, but the last month or so has been really hard. 

Manchester Town Hall

I don't feel like it's quite clicking with me; I'm not writing the things I want to write, often forcing myself to hammer out a Monday Medley for the sake of it even if I've barely had time to read any blogs that week. It's not how I want to be spending my time, as it leaves me feeling unfulfilled and frustrated. I've rejigged the kind of content on this blog several times, and while some would criticise me for inconsistency, I'm actually completely okay with it.

It means I can look back at different times and different content and see who I was back then. I've been writing here for over two years, two incredibly tumultuous years, two years in which I've changed a great deal. The kind of things I like to consume as a reader have changed, and as such the kind of things I like to write have as well. I've considered leaving blogging behind entirely, but there are still aspects of it that I truly love. 

I've lost interest in things like my Monday Medleys, in the majority of beauty content and I find a lot of the more general lifestyle stuff a bit tedious. What I enjoy is travel writing, book reviews and opinion pieces. I like fashion content that goes deeper than "I got this top from Topshop" and I like explorations of society and little things I can relate to. I love writing about this wonderful city, sharing the places I truly enjoy visiting time and again. I still love a good list post, but the majority of the time I want to read something with a bit of substance. Looking back at my favourite posts of the last year or so, those are also the posts I'm most proud of and enjoyed writing.

As for social media, I've fallen out of love with Twitter, but I think I want to start scheduling tweets again properly and keeping up with it. Despite my frankly embarrassing Instagram following I'm really enjoying editing photos and posting regularly, and it's something that I want to keep up even if I have barely 250 followers. I enjoy it and that's all I really care about right now. I want to write the things I love and ditch everything I don't. Basically, I'm Marie Kondo-ing my blog which can only be a good thing.

I think I'm going to pare things back to two blog posts a week since three was becoming overwhelming even with Monday Medleys taking some of the strain. I need to do some serious planning and reorganising to get myself sorted again, but hopefully, from next week Brambling Blog will be heading in a whole new direction. Watch this space.

Peace out bitches.

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Monday, 11 June 2018

Monday Medley #40

It's Monday morning and comme d'habitude, I'm running late with this blog post. I've been struggling this last week or so to really put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and get the words out. Often I find that if I stumble with one post then I hit a roadblock for a few days and quickly become swamped. This is all coming out pretty easily though so I'm hoping to do some major multi-tasking today and catch up with myself. 


Platt Fields Manchester


WATCHING

Once again, I haven't watched very much this week, my free time generally being consumed by books or PS4 games. I've finally got round to starting Dishonored 2 and I'm loving it. It's difficult in way that isn't discouraging as there's always a different way around a problem, and since I'm terrible at the fighting element of the game I'm basically dependent on sneaking, climbing and distractions to get by. It makes for a very tense gameplay situation, and the elements of horror in the game mean I'm frequently scared to death as I inch past a terrifying clockwork robot, desperately hoping it doesn't see me.

READING

Sophie might as well have her own section on my blog by now for the amount of times I've mentioned her in Monday Medleys, but she consistently produces brilliant content that I want to read and share so I'm not remotely sorry about it. She's currently on a road trip on America's Pacific Coast and I am insanely jealous. It looks absolutely stunning and she's having the most incredible time, meaning that I'm thinking that I need to get saving for my long dreamed of American road trip.

On a more sombre note, I wanted to share Lauren's post about her experience with domestic abuse. It's an emotional read, but is ultimately uplifting and positive, demonstrating the recovery process at its finest. 

Cherie genuinely has one of the best blogs out there, her writing is top notch and her photography is dreamy. This week she talks about the phenomenon of unhappiness in our twenties, easily capturing the heart of the problem as a struggle between time and money. This was probably my absolute favourite read this week and is definitely worth a read today.

And that's a wrap! Only an hour late but shhh it's fiiiine.





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Wednesday, 6 June 2018

Low Key Gothic

Okay, confession time: unlike basically my entire generation, I never had an emo phase. I never had a "chavvy" phase, a sporty phase or really an anything phase for my entire teenage life. The closest I ever got was when I convinced my Mum to buy me a pair of those chequered vans in pink and black, which I wore to death paired with jeans that didn't fit and (probably) pink t-shirt. I never had the cool backcombed hair and sweeping emo fringe with a dyed stripe, and I have literally never owned a tracksuit or hoop earrings. My teenage style was a basically cat-lady/librarian-in-training, and I didn't pay a great deal of attention to what I looked like.

Casual goth style in Manchester

I could say that I miss those days of not giving a damn, but the truth is that I cared a lot about how I looked but didn't know how to figure out what I wanted to look like or how to get there. Even today, my style isn't particularly out-there and doesn't have a strong aesthetic. Sometimes I see goth girls dressed to the absolute nines and looking incredible; I love the intricacies of the aesthetic. Whether it's the huge stomping boots, the tattoos peeking out from sleeves or the heavy makeup looks with black hair, I just admire anyone who pulls off a strong look. Occasionally, I want a little piece of the action.

I'm extremely pale. Pale to the point that people think I'm wearing white tights from a distance when in reality I just have my legs out. Light bounces off me and can blind drivers. So I reckon I'm halfway there for the whole gothic vibe, but I could never commit to it by dying my hair. I think black hair is gorgeous but the dye is incredibly difficult to get rid of and I'd end up spending years growing it out; I've considered buying a black wig just for fun, but the reality is I would never be bothered wearing it and I get pretty sweaty even without a load of extra hair. If I fancy channelling a little bit of that emo vibe I have to do it with my clothes and makeup. I wore this outfit for a friend's birthday night out, which involved going to Manchester's big emo club, Satan's, and I decided that I fancied dressing the part but in a way that still felt me.

Casual goth style in Manchester

I though this dress, which I've talked about before, could be dressed a little differently to fit the purpose of the night, and when combined with about four times as much eyeliner as I usually wear and a lipstick so dark I think I've only ever worn it on Halloween, and I felt pretty prepared. I straightened my hair for the first time in about six months, and altogether I felt cool enough to convince my boyfriend to snap these photos of me before we went out. 

Casual goth style in Manchester
Sorry for the crappy photo quality on this one, I was already drunk when I took it!

In the end, I ended up feeling like I fitted in with the group aesthetic while still retaining my fairly vanilla self. I'll never be a full-on emo and I'll never get back my lost days of teenage experimentation, but I feel a little more confident about incorporating a few stronger vibes into my style. Now, time to find some hoop earrings...


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Casual goth style in Manchester
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Monday, 4 June 2018

Monday Medley #39

True to form, I'm running late with everything this week, including this post, which is why it's going up a little later than usual. I seem to have been incredibly busy for the last week without actually having done anything. I did spend some time relaxing over the bank holiday weekend, which was when this photo was taken at Platt Fields Park, shortly before being mobbed by geese, ducks and swan who clearly fancied our sausage rolls. I'm really feeling the need to get out of the city and explore at the moment, which is probably why two of the posts I'm sharing with you are travel posts. I'm getting seriously itchy feet and if a trip to Paris wasn't already planned for the end of this month I'd probably end up booking a flight to god-knows-where.

Everything I've loved reading and watching in the last week.

WATCHING

After seriously marathoning Arrested Development last week, as well as finishing Safe, this week has been in limbo. We both felt a bit exhausted from all the focused screen time, meaning we didn't watch much TV this week. Instead I've started playing Dishonored 2 on the PS4 and am loving it, even if I'm terrible.

READING

I'm a huge fan of Charlie's blog, so it's not surprise that she's back in my weekly favourites, this time talking about Japan. There was so much of the country I didn't get chance to see, and after reading her post Laka Kawaguchiko with its incredible views of Fuji is definitely on my list for a return visit!

Milly has one of my favourite Instagram accounts, but I've only recently started reading her blog. It's as interesting and creative as her Insta, and her post about Dubrovnik really resonated with me. Sometimes you don't absolutely fall in love with your destination, but you still like it and have a good time. This was her experience, and I can definitely relate, having felt the same way about countless other places. The kind of places where you probably wouldn't bother going to again but still had a great holiday. She talks about this phenomenon as well as the city itself, and shares some wonderful shots of the Old Town.

I honestly think that Jasmine's blog is one of the best beauty blogs out there; she's consistently fair and well-informed in her reviews and her tone of voice is engaging and interesting, meaning she's pretty much the only beauty blogger I still read. This week she talks about her interactions with PR agencies, the good and the bad, and it's well worth a read.

That's about it for this week, but I've already found so many posts I love for next week's round up and it's not even 10am so expect lots next week!



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Friday, 1 June 2018

Favourite Photos From Amsterdam

I'm back with another photo-heavy post today, and sadly it's my very last Amsterdam post! I wanted to share with you some of my absolute favourite photographs from my time in the Netherlands. They're a real mix of actually pretty photos and quick snaps that remind me of nice moments from the trip, so don't expect too much! At least I only left in one cat and two dog photos of the hundreds I took; Amsterdam is FULL of cats and dogs and I'm so here for it.  

Amsterdam Rijksmuseum fountain
By the fountains outside the Rijksmuseum.
Amsterdam collage
The greenery in Amsterdam is insane, whether it's at the Keukenhof Gardens or just at the flower stalls that seem to be on every other street.
Amsterdam canal houses
In love with the views from the bridges and the skinny and tall houses.
Amsterdam crooked houses
At the top of some of these houses you can see the hooks people use when moving house; they basically strap up their furniture and there's a special type of crane that brings it down again using the hooks! Sounds bonkers but makes perfect sense.
Amsterdam square
I look slightly lost here and also kind of like a duck thanks to the yellow shoes and the fact that my feet are turned out for some reason.
Keukenhof gardens lake
This is my absolute favourite photo from the Keukenhof Gardens becauase of the blossom in the water and the contrast of blues and yellows.
Amsterdam alleyways
I've always been a bit of a fiend for alleyways, often wandering down them even as a child and having to be retrieved by grumpy grandparents.
Amsterdam canal boat tour
I made my boyfriend take this while on a river cruise because I'm applying the NYX Soft Matte Lip Cream in the shade called Amsterdam. 
Amsterdam canal views
Ahhh these houses! Love them so much.
Amsterdam road crossing
My expression is kind of stupid here but I love this photo.
Amsterdam flower shop
Swooshy hair and flower shops are 99% of the photos from this trip tbh. 

Amsterdam collage
The ceiling in that arcade was stunning as was basically every corner of this city tbh.
Amsterdam canal houses
Blue skies and red bricks are my jam.
Keukenhof Gardens fountain
Teeny tiny cameo from my boyfriend here in Keukenhof!
Vondelpark willow trees
Willow trees in the Vondelpark.
Dogs in Amsterdam
Happiest dog award goes to this one in the Vondelpark!
Dogs in Amsterdam
Aaaand saddest dog award here to this sweetheart.
Pastries in Amsterdam
Yes, that is a chocolate and salted caramel pain au chocolat that I had for breakfast.
Vondelpark Lake
Views of the Vondelpark.
Cats and bicycles in Amsterdam
Cats + bicycles = Amsterdam
View from Vondelpark
No for real can I buy one of these please?
Amsterdam at night
I love this city at night.

I completely and utterly fell in love with Amsterdam and much like Wellington I feel like I could live here happily. I'll definitely be back.



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