Looking out over the AlHambra in Spain 2016 image

 

Wow, it’s been a funny old year. All we hear in the news is how terrible it’s been, which in all fairness, it has, but I think when most of us look back at what’s happened, I’m sure we can say that it’s not been all bad.

As much as I feel I have been quite driven by anger and hurt over worldly issues over the last few months, on a more personal level, I’ve had quite an amazing year. The kind of year I never dreamed I would have. I’ve absolutely loved reading everyone’s round-up posts (and I want to read more so send me your links!) Even though they’ve been from bloggers I have followed all year, seeing everything condensed into one post, well it’s really something. I feel like the year has flown but at the same time I can’t actually get over how much has happened!?!?

So, I’m jumping on the blogging bandwagon and I’m going to take a few moments today to look back at my highlights:

 

Best Travel moments:

I hate choosing these, because I absolutely love them all!! Until I started looking back, I didn’t realise just how much we actually did over the year. We started off with a big trip to the Middle East with Mo’s family, where we spent time in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and then finished off with a spiritual trip to Saudi Arabia – which was absolutely amazing.

 

 

A few weeks later and I headed off for a weekend in Rotterdam with my Fantastic Four, which surprised us all and this city definitely captured our hearts. We originally only went for the Pal Mundo festival but managed to cram in a heck of a lot of sight seeing in the short time we were there and realised that Rotterdam is an exceptionally cool place.

 

 

Following that, I was then up and down the UK for a bit, Cardiff for Traverse, London – had a few trips here this year, Saltburn by the Sea with my wonderful familia, Leeds, Harrogate… list goes on.

 

 

In September, Mo and I decided to tick off micro-adventure on my 2016 to do list, and we flew to Spain, hired a car and spent 10 days exploring the South. It was fantastic and so different to our normal holiday agendas, we planned very little (which was evident when we couldn’t get in to certain attractions!) but we loved having the freedom to take each day as it comes (took a bit of getting used to but it was worth it).

 

 

Copenhagen and Stockholm (for Eurovision weekend!) were the other two city breaks we managed to cram in. Hopefully try and fit in a few more budget weekends next year (Denmark and Sweden aren’t the cheapest of places to visit).

 

 

Looking back I’ve realised I haven’t even finished blogging about half of these trips yet, I’ll have to play catch up and tell share some of my tales in the new year.

 

Best Food experiences:

So even though I travelled more than I thought I had, 2016 was definitely my year of food. I can’t think of anything I like more than trying out new dishes and discovering new flavour combinations and I definitely expanded my palate over the last 12 months.

 

 

Some of my greatest meals have been right here in Manchester, I’ve been lucky enough to be invited to many an opening and sample night and I’m so proud that our Northern city has really pulled out all the stops when it comes to the food scene.

Best food discovery? I know it’s not really a discovery, but considering I don’t have much of  sweet tooth, my love for poffertjes ever since our trip to Rotterdam has been ignited. I literally can’t get enough of those things.

Best food experience? Now that is tough. In April, I was amongst 12 winners to spend an evening at the School of Wok with the Macau tourist board. It was hosted by Jeremy Pang, founder of the school and the legendary Jonathon Phang, and it was such a lovely evening of cooking, eating and general merriment. That same trip I also had the pleasure of having Aldo Zilli join me for breakfast the next day. It was so nice to spend time with these two chefs that I’ve watched on various TV shows and listen to their stories and tales of working in the industry.

 

 

 

Celebrations, challenges and life lessons:

Oh, I’ve had plenty of these. I feel like it’s been an absolute emotional rollercoaster; from Brexit, to Trump, to war zones and the refugee crisis. It’s been a tough old year. I learnt that I’m not as organised as I thought I was and that sometimes you just need to take time to chill out.

Award ceremonies, weddings, launch nights, brief TV appearances, lots of dinners with friends, family… plenty of merriment! And it was a year where Mo and I found ourselves surrounded by people who were going through some seriously tough personal times. It made our friendships and love for each other tighter and made Mo and I grateful for having such wonderfully strong friends.

 

 

You know the best thing to come out of 2016? Amidst all the chaos, the drama, the headlines, the reviews and trips… I think this is actually the year I discovered who I am. For the first time in forever (I think that’s a Disney song line but I’ll roll with it) I feel like I know EXACTLY what I want to get out of my life. And what’s even more fantastic is for the first time in forever I think my Mo does too.

And none of that would have been at all possible without my family, my friends but I’m afraid most importantly… my BLOG!!!!

So, massive thanks to the world wide tinterweb for giving me a space to say what I want to say, to offload all my stories, learn lots of new and exciting computer skills.

Hope you all have a fantastic last day of 2016, and can’t wait to get cracking with the New Year 🙂

 

** Still time to send me over any ‘this time next year’ resolutions if anyone was still thinking of joining in! **

 

How’s 2016 treated you? Anyone sad to see it end? 

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#thisGirlcan

 

I recorded my first vlog the other day. It did not go to plan. I will be posting it on YouTube in the next few days, but for now I’m going to share what I was talking about on here, a platform I am much more comfortable with!

So why don’t you grab a cuppa and I’ll fill you in…WR10K ambassador (1)

Last week I received the wonderful news that for the next few months I will be representing Womens Running magazine as one of their ambassadors. Amazing! I was majorly excited, I was feeling super confident, my ego took over for some strange reason and I remember thinking wow this will be a piece of cake.

I ran the Great Manchester Run back in May, and although I absolutely loved taking part, I was extremely disappointed in my own performance at the race and applied for this opportunity with Womens Running to give me a second chance to redeem myself.

The Manchester Womens Running 10km run is in September and as one of their ambassadors I will be keeping them updated on my training progress and thoughts, in the hope we can encourage more people to get into running.

The weekend flew by. No training.

The week flew by. Still no training.

After the realisation of how unprepared I am, how overly confident I had acted and a few other external factors thrown in, well, on Friday night I somehow fell into this negative state of meltdown. A full on crazy sobbing emotional and physical breakdown (my poor poor husband).

Ultimately this resulted in another wasted weekend and Monday morning, after a number of motivational pep talks from my other half, I woke up, took a long hard look at myself in the mirror and thought – I seriously need to get a grip.

So I did.

I reminded myself why I signed up to do this in the first place:

1 – I need to get fit.

It’s not really about how I look, it’s about how I feel. I’m past 30 and I spend so much of my time sat at a computer so I know it’s more important than ever to start taking care of myself. My fitbit stats last week were absolutely SHOCKING! I know if I don’t get into some sort of routine now, I never will.

2 – I need to conquer this challenge

I started the blog as a way to prove that I could still travel, still go out and discover new things, new places, new cities whilst holding down a full time job. Now I need to take it to the next level and prove I can do the travelling, work full time, keep up the blog, freelance AND still look after myself.

3 – To encourage others to run

I’m probably being very stereotypical here, but in the Indian community – sport is not a big thing – thankfully that’s changing, but truth be told most of my Indian/Pakistani family and friends don’t take part in any regular exercise- especially the women. I looked at many, many lists of ‘top fitness bloggers’ and not one of them featured a blogger of Indian heritage. So I wanted to do this to stress the importance of exercise in our community – as high cholesterol. diabetes and heart disease is a big issue that can be tackled through a healthy lifestyle.

and lastly…

I love running

I love that anyone can do it anytime, anywhere. It’s got me through some hard times in the past and finishing any run has always given me a great feeling of achievement.

 

On Monday I got ready for work. I Powered through the day. I wrote a MASSIVE hit list of things to do. Created a work schedule. A training schedule. Recorded my first video. Packed my gym bag. Celebrated my wedding anniversary and went to bed feeling like my old self.

We all have our off days, sometimes its a few days where we don’t think we can do something, don’t feel like we’re good enough and stress and fatigue can make everything look dark.

You just need to remember you’re never alone, you’re not the only one and sadness isn’t always a bad thing as the very wise philosopher Francis Bacon reminds us – “in order for the light to shine so brightly, the darkness must be present”

 

inspirational quote - Jet Set Chick

 

Bottom line I’ve got 53 days to prove – This Girl CAN.

Now…

Who’s with me?

 

 

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Jet-Set-Chick-Birthday-Blog-Makeover

 

Last Friday, I celebrated my 31st birthday and decided it would be the perfect time to treat myself to a blog makeover! So this is it 🙂

I’ve still got a few bits and bobs to sort out, but the majority of the transition is complete. I thought it’d be worth having a quick run through on what’s changed:

The whole design!

Bit of an obvious one really. I was dying to get rid of all the dark tones on my last layout and move to something a bit brighter.

I fell in love with this theme from pipdig.co.uk and the whole process of changing it over was pretty smooth. Pipdig provide very clear and precise instructions which made it all the more easier.

New header

My header image is no longer my favourite lion cub photo, instead its a simple illustration drawn by my friends very talented husband Giulio (click here to check his site, I’m a huge fan!).

I told him exactly what I wanted: a cartoon version of my Fantastic Four group, and he put it to paper. Few tweaks from my end (ever the control freak – I couldn’t help but add something – sorry Giulio!) and voila, it now occupies pride of place on the blog. I’m not quite done with it yet though, I’ve really enjoyed being creative with pens and pencils on paper, so whilst the main outline is pretty much sorted, I still have a few ideas I want to test out.

jet set chick

About me

Whilst sprucing up the design I thought this would be a good opportunity to update some of the static pages. The About me page is less of an essay and has some pics, you know, to prove I’m pretty normal(ish).

 

 

Disclaimer

After an extremely useful talk by the lovely Kirsten from Kooky traveller, I also decided to add a separate page for my disclaimer.

Over the last few weeks I’ve been on a number of press trips amongst my regular travels and I know I need to make it much clearer to separate the two moving forward (I have also amended any past posts to keep consistency).

If there are any sponsored posts, paid excursions, freebies – it will be clearly stated at the top of an article. I do need to reassure you that, as always, I only write about experiences that I would recommend and everything I write is an honest, personal opinion.

New page – Giving back

In this day and age, with many of us in positions where we can offer our time, money and expertise to help others, I thought it made sense to have a page dedicated to giving back, mainly as a reminder to myself if I’m honest.

Sometimes, its easy to get carried away with my own life, I wanted to have a page up as a constant reminder to do something for others.

If you have any charities or projects that you recommend I check out, or if you would like to share their stories, then please shout out and let me know as I would love to try and offer my support.

 

Think that’s it for now.

Now that the web-design headache is over with, I can finally get back to the fun part. Writing, writing, writing!!
And the travel link-up ladies have inspired the perfect post to get me back into it… travel blogger problems. Oh this should be good!

 

I would LOVE to have your opinions on my new look! Good, bad, indifferent?? – I’d genuinely appreciate any feedback 🙂

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header image for perfume pilgrimage to grasse

 

I wanted to make Mo’s 30th birthday really special. He has a real passion for fragrance and skincare so after a lot of research I decided to take him to the world capital of perfume: Grasse. I wanted to plan a complete trip, find places of interest, places he could learn from and find boutique perfumers for him to meet. Now, at the time I didn’t have much interest in ‘smells’ and how they were made etc. but I sure do now! This trip opened both of our eyes to the fascinating world of perfume creation, set within this quaint little town in the South of France.

I had booked early on for us to stay at La Rivolte, the lady there, Suzie, who was helping me pointed out popular places of interest for me to research.

I have to say though, my saving grace and inspiration for this trip was from a blog by Clayton Ilolahia. The blog titled ‘What men should smell like’ pretty much provided a complete itinerary for our trip. I read through his posts which delved into his experience and knew that everything he mentioned would be of interest to us when we visited for ourselves. He covered a number of areas in his post with some great images.

 

screen shot what men would smell like

 

So I think it only makes sense to share Clayton’s words with you and hope he inspires you the way he did for me:

http://whatmenshouldsmelllike.com/2012/12/03/scent-adventure-provence-alpes-cote-dazur-france/

I would also like to add that Clayton was kind enough to message me with a few tips at the time, for which I am ever so grateful. I needed all the help I could get.

Oh wait, I’m still not done… it seems I have a lot to say about this blog!

Just remembered that ‘what men should smell like’ was also the turning point for me falling in love with blog reading and using them as tools for everyday life. Our trip to the South of France was the first time I hardly consulted my guide book, and it was really refreshing. We pretty much only used the map inside that I had written notes all over based on Clayton’s post recommendations. I had been able to plan our days so they flowed and we weren’t wasting lots of time trying to make decisions and walking back and forth to try and fit in everything we wanted to do.

 

Mo and I at Molinard creating a perfume

 

I realised that for every type of holiday out there, there will more than often be someone who has experienced it or can offer help and advice. The best bit, it’s all online, literally at our fingertips, for us to find.  I hope one day my posts are able to help inspire someone, the way Clayton’s did for me.

 

Have you been to Grasse? Would a trip through perfume history be of any interest to you?

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