How To Plan For Christmas Gifts: Research, Research, Research.

How To Plan For Christmas Gifts (1)

The Christmas season is creeping up on us faster than we ever expected so while you might be able to escape the shops for another month, you’ll soon need to get organised. Thankfully, Christmas gift organisation is one of my specialties so I wanted to share a few of my secrets to help you get just as organised, so that’s what I’ll be talking about today. 

In my last post, I spoke about laying the foundations before you even starting Christmas shopping. This included looking at your budget, how you were planning on dividing it up and who exactly you were buying for. I’ll link that here for you if you fancy a read. Today’s post is going to be focusing on looking more in-depth at gift ideas, how to get the perfect present and keeping your lists up-to-date so you don’t become overwhelmed. 

Okay, you’ve looked at your budget, you have written down every person you’re going to buy for, what’s the next step? Well, I’m a woman who loves her research and I’m not the type of person to buy something spontaneously so I give myself at least a few days of online research. That doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to buy online; we are very thankful to have some many wonderful independents stores not only on our high street but online too, so we have an amazing range of shopping choices. Maybe online research isn’t your thing and you prefer walking around the shops in your local town or village, that’s great too. For that, I would recommend you have your note taking preference with you so you can write down what the product is, the name of it, what shop it’s located in, how much it is and who you think would be suited to it. You would do the same system with online research too but you would include the website link if needs be.   

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Another way to research is a very obvious one but works wonders. If you don’t mind them knowing, ask the person what they want. Most of the time, you’ll get two answers; you’ll either get “Oh, I really don’t know, I’ll have a think about it.” or you’ll get “Awk no, you don’t need to worry about getting me anything.” These two answers are the most frustrating answers for someone because if you’re planning on buying someone something and they say they don’t want or need anything, then you’re on your own. Some people will let you know exactly what they want and I always love that because especially if they’re a difficult person to buy for at the best of times, this takes the weight off your shoulders. Going back to the frustrating folks however, it’s not always a bad thing that they don’t tell you what they want because that’s where you put your research hat on and look at what they enjoy. An example of this would be Jane; she’s a coffee drinker who loves an adventure, she tells you all the time about the crime novels she’s been reading and she loves a good weekend away. Right there, you have four prime examples of gifts for Jane. You could get her a specialist coffee that you haven’t heard her talk about, you could get her a voucher for an adventure day somewhere close to where she lives, you could pre-order the latest crime novel or get her a special edition of her favourite one and you could get her a travel gift set of products for her next trip. Again, depending on your budget, I’m almost certain something will fit your budget for Jane. 

You might ask, “Do I have to do this for everyone?” In my opinion, it’s easier, yes. It will save you time in the long run when you’re running around mid-December and you’re not sure what to pick up or the worst case, Christmas Eve. (If you do this, I really don’t know how you do!) What you can also do is ask other family or friends of the person you are buying for because they may know them better than you. They may know what film they want or what book they are actually dying to read but just haven’t picked it up yet. You just have to make sure you choose someone who isn’t going to go and tell the person straight away because we all love a surprise don’t we? Another good tip to keep for the future, not just for Christmas but for someone’s birthday is to keep a little note of things they say throughout the year of potential presents. You’ll be amazed at what you can pick up from a conversation from someone when you think about it from a gift angle.  

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After a few days of using whatever research route you fancy, you should have a list of potential gift ideas for most of the people on your list. This doesn’t mean you have to buy every gift for them but it will make it easier to see the options you have before making that decision. It might sound overwhelming but trust me, it is much more beneficial to have your plans laid out in front of you rather than panic buying at the last minute. Once you do this, you can go back to your budget and see how much you had planned for each person to see if one of the gifts fits in. In an ideal world, it will but sometimes it might not and that’s when you have to make a decision. I believe it’s far more important to use your intuition when it comes to these decisions and don’t forget that it will involve being flexible but you have to be sensible too. 

Flexibility is so important, not just when starting this process but also for your piece of mind. We all know that in life, we can have all the plans in the world but things can change. In this case, they might not make the product you want anymore, it might be out of stock or it’s something that you don’t think will fit when you see it in person. All perfectly okay reasons too and you shouldn’t beat yourself up about it either. It’s all about being able to move with that change and not panicking about it. While I talk about how important your budget is to keep everything in check, give yourself a little wiggle room sometimes and the same with the ideas too. If you don’t, you risk trying to make everything perfect and becoming too overwhelmed because you couldn’t get that exact packet of coffee you wanted for Jane and you feel like your plan is falling apart. Sounds dramatic I know but you would be amazed at the amount of people (including myself) that stress so much about this time of year. 

I hope you were able to take something away from today’s post because I really mean it when I say that I absolutely love researching for this time of year so if I can help just one person take the stress off a little, then I will have done my job. Leave any more suggestions for me down in the comments or over on my Instagram or Twitter 

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Restructuring Your Morning Routine.

Restructuring Your Morning Routine (1)

Morning routines are always a talking point and they are something I truly believe in. As someone who became so dependent on them, I wanted to write about restructuring your routine if you feel like something isn’t working, if you find yourself losing motivation from it or if you find yourself feeling like you’ll never have the perfect one. So that’s what today’s post is all about. 

Last Summer, I wrote about my morning routine (I’ll link it here) and it consisted of waking up at 4am, meditating, getting ready and heading to the gym all before getting ready to start the work day. I absolutely loved this routine but one of my main problems with it was that I wasn’t going to bed any earlier for quite a while. I should have been aiming for around 9pm but often, I wasn’t going to sleep until around 11pm or even midnight. Keep that up over a few months and I started to feel tired all the time and even though I physically felt stronger, I was mentally and emotionally exhausted. I haven’t done this morning routine in quite a while and since I have been unemployed and on the job search, I found it hard to get myself in a routine during this time off. 

I believe routines are so important and they really help build the foundation of your day. I know that something that I realised when I did experience my time off during the Summer was how much I depended on a routine in the morning so when I didn’t have one, I found it very difficult to find my purpose for that day unless I had an appointment booked that day. That took some getting used to and over time; once I managed my feelings and realised that they were perfectly valid, it was only then I was able to trial getting back into that mindset again. 

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Over the last few months, I have trailed going to the gym early in the morning again and I have also looked at going out for early morning runs. Meditation was something I was very focused on last year but this year, it simply slipped so again, this is something I have trailed out too. I tried out different forms of journaling, listening to informational audio, switching around my “getting ready” routine and changing when I try and organise the day ahead. All these take practice and it’s all about finding out what works for you. 

Everyone has their own little bubble on YouTube; some like looking at cats being adorable (I tend to do that on Instagram, to be fair) others like to watch video podcasts but for me, one of my top watches online are routines, morning and evening ones. I love watching these routine videos because while I know it is slightly exaggerated, I would say most of them are true to life, and I find it’s really good to pick up one step of someone’s morning and add it to your own. This can also be where we fall down however; they say “comparison is the thief of joy” and it can be, if you let it. You have to look at who you are watching and see if it fits your life too. For example: if you’re watching a twenty something who is a full time content creator who doesn’t have to get up until 7am while you’re a working Mum or Dad and 7am would be far too late for you, you can guarantee that one routine won’t work for the both of you. That doesn’t mean that their routine is silly or that it’s unrealistic, it just means that it works for them and that’s what helps them through their day, but that should be no reflection on you and how you choose to wake up. 

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That’s where you get to be creative. You have to look at your situation at the minute and what comes into play. I’ll use myself as an example; I’m in my late twenties with no children, exercise and meditation is important to me, I can’t skip breakfast and I love listening to either podcasts or audiobooks. So ideally for me, my morning routine would consist of either a run or a gym session most days of the working week, I would add a meditation in at some point each morning, I would prioritise breakfast and I would make sure I listen to something informational either as I get ready for work or in my exercise setting, whatever that may be. Now, it is very similar to my previous routine but I know that in order for it to work this time around, my bedtime routine needs to work towards going to bed earlier. 

I also know what doesn’t work for me: I’m not one for journaling, I have tried it in the past but I don’t think it’s for me at the minute, so I wouldn’t add that to my personal routine. As much as I love blogging, I know that my brain isn’t awake enough in the morning to start writing a blog post, so I wouldn’t put that pressure on myself. I also don’t like baths so adding a bath into my daily routine (no matter how relaxing it looks) would be unrealistic because it’s not a priority to me. It sounds really simple but as much as your routine is to set you up for the day, you want it to include activities that are going to lift you up. There’s always this debate and one of the topics that it normally revolves around is exercise; some people say they wake up and exercise even though they don’t want to. Now thankfully, I don’t have this problem because I do genuinely love the gym but I simply don’t see the point in scheduling in something you don’t like every day because “you have to”. 

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I came across a few articles that I found quite interesting that talked about different morning routine methods: Life Hack have a great one focusing on thirty changes you can make a difference to your motivation, Develop Good Habits have thirty-four habits that even gives you the estimated time of how much each one would take, Medium have an article which explores when one person took on a number of different routines to see which one worked out best and for a shorter read, Success have an article on what entrepreneurs mornings look like. This is what I mean when I talk about getting creative, whether you see one thing in these lists or five things, you can work out if you want to slot them into your own routine and how you are able to do so. 

Morning routines are so personal and I don’t believe that not everyone needs one. I do believe that we all need one because mentally, I think we all need to have something that sets us up for the day because it’s all about those foundations. If I wake up later than I should do, it almost always sets me off on a bad foot and while you shouldn’t let a bad morning put you off from the rest of your day, it’s something that I still struggle with. We put so much emphasis on how other people are living but as long as you look at what YOU’RE doing to improve YOUR day, then that’s really all you can control. 

I would love to know your thoughts on morning routines, if you have one and if it’s beneficial for you, whether that’s on Twitter, Instagram or the comments below. Thank you so much for reading today’s post, I hope it resonated with you in some way.

How To Plan For Christmas Gifts: Budgets, Savings and List-Making.

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Now that we are into the glorious month of November, it’s the perfect time to start thinking about Christmas, or maybe you already have. Either way, it’s important to lay the foundations of how you are planning to plan Christmas this year and every year after this. In today’s post, I’m going to talk about some of the most important factors you should consider not only for your loved ones, but also to keep you not feeling overwhelmed with budgeting and list-making. 

This time of year; while it might be the most magical, it’s also known as one of the most stressful too and no-one wants that, right? There are so many factors as to why we get stressed and they include; not feeling like you’ve brought good enough presents, feeling like you have to please everyone, not having a very big budget and there’s even competitiveness to see who can out buy who. I could do an entire blog post on the different stress factors that affect us around this time of year but if you sat with yourself for five minutes and asked yourself “What causes me stress?” You will have answered your own question and you wouldn’t have needed to read an entire blog post to figure it out. 

First and foremost, your budget is the number one factor that needs to be considered before you even think of spending money. We all have good intentions in the beginning but then we see one thing that might be a little above our price range, and then we see something that would be the perfect addition to the other present. All of a sudden, you’ve spent more than you were meant to and either; you worry about not spending the same amount on someone else, you have to spend less on someone than you planned or you have more anxiety around the January credit card bill.  

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First, you must look at how much you can afford to spend outside your outgoing bills and necessities. Setting yourself a budget without looking at this will set you back when you do eventually start counting numbers. It doesn’t have to be complicated too; most of us have online banking which will give you an online bank statement that you will be able to see all your outgoings. Once you work out how much you can save, then you can see how often you can do this and how much you can comfortably save. Some people like to do it monthly or fortnightly and it depends on how you are paid. For freelancers, it may be slightly different because you don’t have a constant set date for payments but those on benefits or in work, you’ll have an idea of when your money is due into your account. Ideally, you would like to start saving a few months before the Christmas season starts (but I can’t imagine putting out a Christmas themed post in August, that would be too much, even for me) but it’s quite easy to keep saving all year round for next year.  

Once you look at your in-goings and outgoings are each month, that’s when you can sit down and write a list of everyone you are going to buy for. “You’re making a list, checking it twice. Gonna find out who’s naughty or nice…” Well, not exactly but it’s really important to have it all written down in front of you. It’s your own preference on how you want to do it; paper and pen is a treat option but if you prefer having it with you at all times (if you’re not like me and don’t carry a notebook with you at all times) then I would recommend an online notebook. My personal preference is Evernote because there is a phone application version and a desktop version that sync up perfectly together, plus it’s really easy to use. 

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With your electronic or hand-written list prepared, then you will have the clearer picture. We can all say we have all the names in our head, but there’s nothing like having it in our head, is there? This will vary for every single person because we all have different priorities and a wide range of family and friend situations. Apart from children and parents, I don’t think you would need to priorities each person on the list because if they’re on it, they are a priority. That’s not to say if you’re not buying a present for someone that they aren’t a priority but we all have to have our limits when it comes to the holiday season. 

As I mentioned earlier, the main two ways that most people define their budget is either an overall price point or by person. Again, this will very much depend on your family and friend situation and how many you are planning on buying for. I know for me, I tend to look at my budget as an overall first and then divide it down, simply because it’s easier for me to look at it with more detail. There’s no right or wrong way to divide it up, it’s totally what you want to spend but with a more intention outlook on it, you’re more likely to spend your money more wisely. 

I didn’t want to bombard you with too much information in this post so my next post on this subject will be live very soon. That will focus on gift ideas, how to choose what for what person and how you can have little ideas in the back of your head all year around. I really hope you enjoyed today’s post; I absolutely love anything organisation wise so it’s a real treat for me to write.  

My Issue With The Term #GirlBoss.

The phrase “girl boss” is one that has blown up only over the last few years but it’s something that a lot of women can relate to and have attached themselves to. Being your own boss is what many people strive for, but I have a problem with the phrasing of it so that’s what I’ll be discussing in today’s post. 

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The term #GirlBoss first became popular in 2014 when Sophia Amoruso published her autobiography with the same name, and then in turn, that turned into a Netflix series for one season. Ever since, the term has been used across the globe by women business owners, women entrepreneurs and women who are winning at life. 

As someone who doesn’t own her own business and uses her blog as a hobby rather than making a career from it, I can firmly say that I can’t relate to the #GirlBoss terminology in any shape or form. I kick ass at day-to-day life things but I don’t think I can necessarily call myself a Girl Boss by getting all my workouts done for the week. 

I believe the term itself is becoming over-saturated and you might be thinking who I am to say that considering I can’t identify with it? Well, I simply don’t understand what the difference is between a “girl boss” and a “boss” apart from the fact that there is a gender specific in front of one of the terms. There’s a reason I can’t see a difference, it’s because there is none.  

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Sometimes even I have to think before I speak because I still use the term ”girl” instead of “woman”. It’s so easy to do and I’m getting used to describe a female as a woman now but I find it difficult to see what this is doing for equality. I’m not saying it’s making it worse by any stretch of the imagination but how much is this actually helping our case? 

I can completely understand that women have fought for so much over hundreds of years (we mustn’t forget that men are also fighting for women’s rights of course) and we must acknowledge that women’s inequality has affected us through issues like voting, career movement, our own bodies (Yes, the Abortion Act of 1967 that doesn’t apply to Northern Ireland, I am looking right at you and we are still fighting to get our own bodies recognised as our own to be able to make our own decisions) and quite frankly, that’s only hitting the nail on the head very briefly. We’re seeing more women CEO’s which I think is fantastic and as a woman, I couldn‘t be prouder to be around while this change is happening. It’s becoming even more prevalent with the blogging industry taking off and many able to make money from something that was unheard of ten years ago (and that’s only one industry that has started to flourish, I haven’t even touched on the growing industries like STEM for example) However, why do we need to stick a description of a woman in front of it?   

Being a business owner, an entrepreneur, a manager in a company or starting up something on your own from scratch is something to be proud of, and rightly so. I can imagine that it’s a lot of hard work and graft alongside the achievements that go together with that. (I say imagine because again, I haven’t been through this experience on a business level so I’m solely basing this off stories I have heard from those that have been through it.) In my opinion, I don’t think the term is more empowering than your regular “boss” or “entrepreneur” and that’s why I have trouble giving it the praise it’s currently receiving.

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If you call yourself a girl boss, then all power to you. Absolutely no judgement here but I simply believe that we don’t need to add another phrase to our vocabulary that we already have something so powerful for. 

I’d love to know your thoughts on this post. Do you agree or is it an agree-to-disagree situation? Let me know either in the comments or on my Twitter or Instagram. Thank you for reading today’s post; understandably I know that I’m on balancing on a fine line when it comes to speaking about equality but for me, it was something that I have been thinking about writing for a while. (All photography included in today’s post is by the wonderful Jess Lowe)

The “Not Finishing A Book” Guilt.

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Do you have the guilt? Do you feel guilty for not finishing a book and do you know why exactly that isWell, that’s what I’ll be looking into in today’s post. 

Reading or listening to a book is a funny thing; I know for me, I felt like I had an obligation to finish it, no matter what. I have either spent a certain amount of time on getting through it; the money I have spent buying it or I have the emotional connection that I thought I would absolutely love it and I should give it a chance. Ever since the beginning of the year, I have been able to get through more books, thanks to listening to audio books and I thought by doing that, it would be easier for me but I still came across the same problem I had when reading a book. 

Guilt is a funny thing and it affects everyone in different ways. If you’re like me, you will feel guilty with almost everything you do. It’s a very heavy weight to have on your shoulders at times but acknowledging that is a step in the right direction. Having explained a number of reasons above, I think my biggest problem was knowing that I had paid money for something and if I didn’t finish it, it felt like I had wasted my money. In a sense, I did but I often try to donate books when I can, especially if I have already read them or if I feel like it would be suited to someone else. I’m giving someone else that experience of reading it, is it really wasted money if that is the case? 

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We don’t seem to talk about the peer pressure surrounding books. I’m a child of the Harry Potter generation and everyone was obsessed with these books but for me, one book in and I couldn’t get to grips with it. I’m not sure if it was the language used, whether the story didn’t appeal to me or possibly not being the right time for a certain story (I’ll be exploring this further with another blog post). It’s the same with Game of Thrones or Lord of the Rings; two books that have had wild success in both their book and film form but both I don’t have a lot of interest in. I tried to read the first Game of Thrones book but the size of it was enough to put me off. (I even tried the TV show but it definitely wasn’t my cup of tea). This type of guilt made me think there was something wrong with me because I didn’t love what everyone else was loving. It’s strange, you know, because you wouldn’t expect everyone to love the same television show or to love the same hot drink so I don’t know why I had this perception with books. I would be lying if I didn’t admit that the fact that I still feel like a failure because I felt like I couldn’t connect with the Harry Potter books. I may still give them a shot but because of my feelings towards them in my earlier years, it may be tainted now. 

Another book that I thought would tick all the right boxes for me was “The 12 Rules to Life” by Jordan Peterson. It’s very popular at the minute and amongst the controversial headlines that seem to be popping up, it has been getting very good reviews. I’m an avid reader of self-help and non-fiction books so I thought this would be right up my alley. I bought the audio book version through Audible because I had originally seen the hardback version and the size of it intimidated me, so this was the next best option. With over fifteen hours of listening, I thought that it would be perfect because it was going to keep me engaged but something wasn’t right and I didn’t know what it was. It was frustrating because everyone and their mother was talking about this; I wanted to like it, I wanted to connect with it but I couldn’t. Nothing from it seemed to stick and I again started to have this worry about failure.  

However, a few weeks later I had been listening to one of my favourite podcasts and the host Georgie had been talking about things not being for you right now. It didn’t matter what it was; I believe she was speaking about advice and she always says at the beginning of her Q&A podcasts that if something doesn’t resonate for you right now, that’s completely fine. It was something so simple but it clicked with me that the advice that the book was providing; doesn’t mean it’s bad advice or it’s something that I can’t click with at all, it just doesn’t resonate with me right now. I think when situations happen like this, it’s on you to look at other aspects of your life instead of telling yourself it’s not for you at all. I believe it’s different with fiction so I’m obviously focusing on self-help; what are your external and internal factors that could be affecting you? What is your reason for reading it? Are you looking in the wrong direction for the help that you need or are your factors a sign to tell you that this isn’t for you right now? 

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I certainly believe that you should give (almost) everything a second chance but at the end of the day, don’t punish yourself for not finishing something like a book. There are millions upon millions of books out there and they won’t all be for you. They won’t all be in line with your values and you certainly won’t be able to read them all. You don’t have to finish everything you start but my advice would be don’t push it away without questioning why you are doing it first. 

Have you ever not finished a book and felt bad about it? What book was it? Let me know either in the comments or over on my Instagram and Twitter. Thank you so much for reading today’s post, I hope it resonated with some of you too. (All photographs used in today’s post are from Pexels.com)

Run for Movember with MoRunning (2018).

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You all know that I love a good running race so when MoRunning got in contact with me to tell me about their upcoming race in Belfast towards the end of November, I was over the moon to be involved so let me tell you all about the charity itself, the race and all the details you need. (Disclaimer: I have been given the race entry as part of my coverage for the event but I have donated money to the charity regardless of this and as always, opinions are one hundred percent my own.) 

Before I get into the race itself, I want to tell you more about the charity if you’ve never heard of them before. We’ve all heard of Movember where many men around the globe don’t shave for the month of November to raise awareness for the unfortunate diseases and cancers that men can be diagnosed with. It’s a fabulous initiative that is growing year on year and it’s great to see it getting more media coverage. MoRunning raise money alongside their charity partner, the Movember Foundation who have three main priorities they are working towards; prostate cancer, testicular cancer alongside mental health and suicide prevention. I’ll leave you with a link to the Movember Foundation UK website if you’d like to find out more about what they do. 

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For those who have been a long reader of the blog, you’ll know that I took part in the race two years ago when it was at Ormeau Park. I wrote about taking part pre-race (which I’ll link here) but I never wrote about it afterwards which is a shame because it would be great to do a comparison for this year. However, they do have a past results page and I found my time from then; my chip time was 39:08 and my finish time was 39:25. That year, I took part in the 5K and considering I only started seriously running last Summer, I remember 5K was quite a struggle for me so a 10K would not have been an option for me. 

This year I’ll be taking part in the 10K race and with the addition of another 10K race at the beginning of November, it’ll be a great note to start AND end the month on. This race will be different for me from a route perspective; it’s something I have worried about doing hence never doing it, but I have never ran up a hill like Stormont. If you’re unfamiliar with Stormont, it starts as a mile-long hill (if you go from the bottom right to the top of the steps of Parliament Buildings) but it’s a gradual incline that doesn’t look too bad until you are on it. There is a regular parkrun at Stormont every week but the thought of the hill put me off the notion of ever doing it. I would say this will be the biggest challenge for me but it’s always good to challenge yourself, isn’t it? I can’t expect to run on flat surfaces for the rest of my life so I know at the time, it will probably be tough but long term, it will be worth it. 

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As you can see from the route, this is the route for the 5K and the 10K route. The 10K route is simply two laps of the 5K so easy enough to work out. Now thankfully, we’re not running up the entirety of the hill but it’s a good chunk. One of the biggest mistakes I normally make that Scott tries to drill out of me is taking it slow up the hills. Sounds simple doesn’t it? It’s incredibly simple but when you’re on a hill and especially if you’re a new runner like me, it can be hard to track your pace when you’re not on a flat.  

Now for the information on the race taking place. It’s happening on Sunday 25th November on the Stormont Hill with the first race leaving at 9:30am. There are three races within the event; the Mini Mo Run for all the children who want to take part is 1.5K, that begins at 9:30am. The 5K starts at 10am and the 10K starts at 10:10am. There’s a fun warm up planned and even a fancy dress competition so it’s not your ordinary race. In terms of parking, there is parking available at the event up at the main Parliament Buildings but it is very limited so it’s ideal to turn up early in case you need to find somewhere else (but it’s common to be early for a race regardless). Race packs will be collected from the starting line so another reason to be there a little early and registration closes at 9:45am. MoRunning have a fantastic page with all your queries on it (which I’ll link here) if you need any more information. 

Finally, MoRunning have kindly given me a discount code for anyone interested in taking part, so enter “MR18_BlogBelfast” on the website and you’ll get 10% off your running price. Another disclaimer: I don’t get any money from this code, it’s simply a way for you to get a little money off for the race. If you want to follow along with the MoRunning journey, make sure to follow them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram too.

Let me know if you’re planning on taking part in the race this November and I’ll be back in December to show off my special medal and to let you know how it all went. Thank you so much for reading, I really appreciate it. (All photographs used in today’s post are credited to MoRunning.)

The New York and Toronto Series: Yes, it’s happening!

It’s the blog post I have been dying to write and I can not wait to plan this trip through the blog but Scott and I are planning to go to New York and Toronto early next year! Today’s post is all about how we decided to go there, what was our motivation and what upcoming blog posts you can expect about the trip. 

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It’s always been a dream of mine to go to the United States of America, ever since I was little. From seeing it on the TV to seeing my older brother going to live with an American family for six weeks (I’ll never get over my Primary School stopping these annual trips happening a year before I got into Primary Seven) and I know it’s not as perfect as it seems on screen, but I’ve always wanted to see it for myself regardless.  

When Scott and I were strolling around Dublin one evening on a weekend trip, I asked him how much did he think a trip to New York would cost. I’ve always dreamed of going to New York but I thought it would probably cost around a lot more than I could ever afford and I knew I would probably never be able to save that much so it was never a top priority for me. He cackled very loudly when I told him what I thought it might cost, and he said he could probably do it for half of that (or maybe a little more than half). If you don’t know Scott, he’s like the human Google. If he hears something, he’ll Google it to find out more information on it. Admittedly it can be slightly annoying because I don’t like to find every detail of something five seconds after wondering about it, but it’s one of his quirks that works in our favour most of the time.  

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(Pretty sure the subway will never be this empty while we are visiting.)

We sat down one evening not long after that to look at where we wanted to go, the amount of time we would go for, the budget we were looking to sit at and what was going to be the best option for us. While we were talking, we decided to look up options for visiting Canada too because we know New York isn’t too far from the border, and as the saying goes, “When in Rome…” or should I say “When in New York…” We thought we would be missing an opportunity if we didn’t spend a few days in Canada. 

Selfishly, I wanted to go to Toronto for a very special reason. One of my best friends Whitney who I met online quite a few years ago now, she lives in Canada and it’s been another dream of mine to finally meet each other. I couldn’t have been happier when she asked could she come to Toronto when I mentioned the trip because she was the main reason I wanted to visit Canada. She and her husband (who I also love!) will be travelling to get to Toronto but as they are both Canadian natives, I’m sure they’ll show us the sights across the city. What’s even better is that I was speaking to Whitney last night and she asked me where we were planning on staying so I asked Scott to look it up on his booking app and when I told her where, it turns out we’re staying at the same hotel! I could not be more over the moon! It’s going to be one of the most surreal experiences finally meeting each other; she has been through most of my adult life with me, the good and the bad so I’m so happy that we’re finally meeting face-to-face. 

architecture-buildings-city-137581.jpg(I can’t wait to scope out the local parks for potential runs, if it isn’t snowing or heavily raining of course.)

In terms of planning, we have all the flights and hotels booked for this trip for early-to-mid March 2019 (Scott actually told me on my birthday in August that he had booked our New York flights so that was lovely!) We’re staying in New York for seven days, five days in Toronto and back for two days in New York before we head back to Dublin. I’m not planning on disclosing where we are staying, simply because it’s more of a safety issue to disclose what dates you are staying in a particular hotel, but I will be happily writing about the hotels after the trip. However, now we get to research and plan the fun part of a holiday and as a research junkie, that’s my favourite part so that’s where the blog comes in; I’ll be using it to document that research not only for myself but for anyone else thinking of taking a trip to these cities too. 

I can’t wait to get stuck into the research and if anyone has any recommendations of sight-seeing attractions, restaurants or anything that you think is an absolute must-see (or go-to!) in Toronto or New York, please send me your links either to my Instagram and Twitter. Thank you so much for reading, I really do appreciate it!