awards-season-manchester

 

I’m not big on fashion. Or beauty. Or make-up. Or anything that way inclined for that matter. What I wear, what I look like, never really requires much thought from me. Every so often though, I can pull off a decent looking outfit – but most of the time I put together some shockers!!

Well, this time last month, I was lucky enough to be invited to not one, but two award shows – The seriously amazing Asian Media Awards and a week later, the Portman Travel staff Awards. Both in Manchester. Both required me to make an effort to at least look half decent.

And so the struggle began… as usual, nothing ever goes smoothly when I need it too. The stress of work, deadlines and general commitments meant my skin was at its worst and I literally had no time to sort myself out, not just during the lead up but even on the day! (Seems to be a running theme at the moment) Luckily, one thing these occasions taught me is that in times of need sometimes crazy control freak people like me have to accept help. I am so grateful that Mo and I both have a fabulous network of friends, family and even great business connections, we’re lucky enough to always have people on hand to help:

 

Skin issues??? Enter Rejuvenate….

I normally have no major issues with my skin. But I never realised how much stress could actually affect it. I was in a right state. When I spoke to Leena at Rejuvenate I don’t think I even listened to what treatment she wanted to give me. I basically poured out my problems and asked her to fix it. Based in a super central location in the Northern Quarter, Rejuvenate is the perfect place for a skin – or body – pick me up. Considering how much time I’ve spent in this part of town I had never noticed it before, but they’ve actually been going strong for four years.

 

 

There are a range of treatments available from skincare to slimming, all non-invasive. A team of highly trained professionals and in super clean, professionally kitted out rooms spread over three floors. Clinic Manager, Leena, showed me some of the most popular techniques and machinery, such as mesotherapy and then after assessing my skin advised that the best thing for me at the moment was to have a fruit enzyme peel. It smelt great, it felt great and it didn’t take long at all (a key element when you’re pressed for time). It was the perfect treatment to try out pre-event, and more importantly it made a MASSIVE difference. Mo had been telling me for weeks to get a peel done to sort my face out, so he was super chuffed that I finally had and it had worked so well (probably more chuffed that he was right, for once).

I was quite sceptical at first about what difference it would make but I was pleasantly surprised and would definitely do it again! It was as relaxing as having a spa treatment, but satisfying to know that it’s also beneficial.

 

What to wear??? Enter Mo…

Deciding on an outfit always turns into a serious drama. Dress-gate was no different. I couldn’t find anything I liked. I literally must have ordered a gazillion dresses to try on and hated them all. By chance I stumbled on a website I’d never heard of before (I just don’t shop online) littleblackdress.com and it was here that Mo picked out a dress for me – one I wasn’t keen on at first, but Mo did the right thing and ignored my objections. As soon as it arrived home I loved it. Finally, a dress that didn’t make me look too short, too fancy and was the comfiest thing I’ve ever worn (yes that’s right I’m at that age where I need comfort!). Dress-gate was over and Mo and I survived it. Hallelujah!!

 

No time to get ready??? Enter the wonderful Faaiza….

Most Asian families are pretty big. Really big. Mo and I are no exception to this. Ours are huge. So it is impossible to get to know everyone. Faaiza, is a relative from Mo’s side, I knew her from Facebook and we’d met briefly once at a wedding but unfortunately never spent much time together. A lady of many talents, one of which is professional make-up artist, on this occasion, her fabulous skills came to my rescue. Faaiza was going into the city that evening (to check out the fabulous Vogue Exhibit) and en route, she popped in to fix me up. The only time I’ve ever had my make up done by a professional was my wedding day so this was a bit alien to me. But I’m no good at putting it on myself (no matter how many Youtube vids I watch), so I really did need some help.

I was also in the STRESSIEST mood after bad traffic, hair issues, no time – she calmed me right down and I don’t think I could have relaxed that evening had she not come over. Literally saved me from having a melt down, and somehow made my face look pretty in the process! If anyone is in need of a great MUA (I believe that is what they call a makeup artist in the world of social media, these days) then she is definitely your girl – https://www.instagram.com/faaizavadia.mua/ – take my word for it, you’ll love her! Faaiza is perfect for me because she does not trowel the makeup on with a shovel and has a very natural style designed to enhance features. I would use her again in a heartbeat.

 

 

I had the BEST time at both events and I was so incredibly touched by all the support and love I received from friends and family! It was quite emotional actually, when you read encouraging messages from your nearest and dearest. Writing a blog isn’t as easy as a lot of people think, even harder when you work full time and have other commitments too. Sometimes, it can get so busy that there are moments you neglect those that you’re close to (unintentionally, of course!). So when something like this happens, it’s a great feeling to know that not only is the work you’re doing being appreciated, but also that even if you have been a bit shitty getting back to someones text (in some cases a LOT shitty!), they still love you and understand your current situation.

And although I didn’t win at either event (seriously, how hard does one have to work to win a damn trophy these days?!!? 😉 ) I was just very honoured to be nominated. And honoured to be invited and meet so many wonderful people. Honoured to be able to share the evening with my mother, who may not always get the whole blogging thing, but thats never stopped her pushing and supporting me however she can! And of course it’s always nice to have Mo by my side, my biggest fan and champion – poor thing doesn’t half put up with some serious grief from me 😉

 

 

Award winning or not, my blog is definitely my greatest achievement, it’s the one thing I’ve felt truly passionate about and through all its ups and downs I’ve still persevered and will continue to do so!

Oh, and I couldn’t end this post without using the most common phrase at any award show at least once:

There’s always next year…

 

*** Thank you to Leena at Rejuvenate and Faaiza for both stepping in to help me out in my time of need! My Rejuvenate treatment – fruit extract peel – was complimentary ***

 

Can you offer any advice on how to cope better in these situations? Am I the only one who finds looking nice so stressful!?!?!

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Kingston did a great job of hosting the Traverse blogger conference last year. For 2016, we all flocked to Cardiff, which I was super excited about for a couple of reasons:

1. I get to discover a new place

I have never been to South Wales before, but I’d heard lots of good things about it (did you know there is a castle smack bang in the middle of the city?!).

2. Learn, learn, learn

Last time, I was pretty new to blogging and not quite sure what I was wanting to accomplish from visiting the conference. This year I was in a position to know exactly what elements of my blog needed improvement, what I needed help with and I was much better prepared in general to make the most of my weekend.

 

Getting there:

A few years ago, I used to take a train to where I worked in Wilmslow, and every day I would get on and wish I could stay on all the way to Cardiff.

I no longer have that feeling. Whilst the Transpennine express service is great, there are far too many stops between Manchester and Cardiff central! I love train travel, I really do, but the Friday night service after work was busy, it was noisy and I had to continuously keep waking myself up to check I hadn’t missed my stop. I ended up dabbling in some poetry writing for a Cathay competition, which I unfortunately didn’t win, but at least it helped pass the time.

I was lucky enough to get a discounted ticket through work this time round, but when you’ve booked your Traverse ticket, keep an eye on their website as they’re usually able to negotiate train rates for attendees.

 

Where I stayed:

If you are taking the train to Cardiff and fancy a no fuss place to stay, then I would definitely recommend the Sleeperz hotel. It’s literally round the corner from Cardiff Central station (literally!). Its clean, a decent size and the staff were great from start to finish.

It was a really well equipped room too, didn’t have to ask for anything it was all there. Hairdryer, ironing board, tea tray, a great desk and like every hotel should have these days, free wifi.

 

What I learned:

Wow, I learned so much!?!? So I’ll just share some of my highlights:

  1. Tika gave a great talk on the value of being a blogger, how we are different and what bloggers need to be aware of when trying to work with brands – stats, stats, stats! use them to your advantage.
  2. The YouTube panel Q&A session was a great intro to the world of video, I learnt the vlogging community is just as strong, if not stronger, then the blogging one, so reaching out is important.
  3. Judith’s talk on sexy SEO was a chocolate throwing fact-based session. Probably the most useful one of the day, Judith flew through a whole load of statistics that we should and shouldn’t use as bloggers, a lot of which I had never heard of. I booked a quick one to one with her after to go through a few specifics on the blog.
  4. The final talk I went to was about creating food content with Niamh. Her talk was hilarious, her advice was simple (but genius) and I now find myself stalking her blog on a regular basis. Her tips on food photography were brilliant, and have really helped me evaluate setting the food scene.

 

Who I met:

Some great brands and amazing bloggers! Check them out:

 

Some tips if you’re thinking of going next year:

1. Book early! – It’s cheaper, you’ll have peace of mind and it’s something to look forward too.

2. Same goes for the Sunday experiences, book them early too – the good ones fill up quick.

Here’s a few sneaky pics from my day with See Wales:

3. Follow @Traverseevents so you can be first to know about tips 1. and 2. above.

4. Try and make it for the Friday social, I haven’t managed to get down both years due to work commitments, but they always look mega fun.

5. Do not forget to take a notebook and pen – you’re going to need it!

6. Meet as many people as you can – I’m still working on this one, I’m not the best at networking but the more I put myself into these situation the more I improve.

7. Talk to the brands, they’re all there because they either work with or are wanting to work with bloggers.

8. Have fun! cheesy I know, but sometimes you can get carried away with all the work stuff it’s easy to forget.

 

That’s it for now, well until I finish writing about my Sunday experience (which was fabulous!)

Already looking forward to #Traverse17 🙂

 

Were you in Cardiff this year? what did you think?

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TRAVEL AGENT

 

I may work for a Travel Management Company, but I am in no shape or form a travel agent, nor have I had any formal travel-type training.

As a blogger, I am from a community of do-it-yourself travel, where blogs boast about secret hacks, cost-saving websites and one click apps.

Today, I spent the first half of my lunch hour… sulking.

I had been looking at flights a few days ago which I needed to book but couldn’t at the time and on returning to the website today… lo and behold the price had increased. I was not impressed.

As luck would have it, I was sat amidst a group of experienced travel consultants. As I repeated my dilemma I was soon flooded by alternative routes to look at, each of them reeling itineraries off like it was second nature. I was quite in awe.

Considering I spend every spare minute I have looking at travel, for any new destination it usually takes a good few hours of research to come up with the solutions these ladies were suggesting.

Today, was the day I fully appreciated the service an agent can provide. Heres why…

 

The Brief:

Transport required for four people to get from the UK to Rotterdam.

Solutions:

Direct flight from Manchester to Rotterdam

Fly to Amsterdam from any North-west airport, train to Rotterdam

Fly to Brussels from any North-west airport, train to Rotterdam

Ferry from Hull to Rotterdam

Ferry from Harwich to Rotterdam

Eurotunnel drive straight to Rotterdam

Eurostar to Brussels, Train to Rotterdam

 

Now I should point out that although all the above options were discussed, they all advised me to just stick to my first option and book the direct flight from Manchester to Rotterdam.

HOWEVER – the fact that within minutes, these super agents were able to come up with all of the above was pretty damn impressive. I thought it would be nice to point out that sometimes, its ok to get help…

Travel Agent vs. DIY Travel

Knowledge

If you’re just booking flights, then doing it online is probably the best way to go. However, if the flight you’re booking is a multi-stop trip, or one that comes up with a number of layovers, this would be a good time to call in the experts. With extensive knowledge of route deals, an agent can usually advise the best path, taking your personal preferences on timing and cost into account.

Peace of mind

Another benefit to booking through an agent is if there was ever an emergency, more often than not, you have the company to rely on. Having that extra manpower behind your booking is often reassuring, especially as customer service is such an important part of the business and most have 24 hour contact centres ready to help.

Travel partners

Most companies will have preferred airlines, hotels, etc. that they partner with. If they work with the kind of brands you normally go for anyway, then you may just have bagged yourself a bonus. Agents who book preferred partners can offer special deals, occasionally room upgrades and can also pass on any special requests you may have to the right people (rather than typing it in a comments box and hoping it’ll get noticed).

Time-saving

If you’re booking a trip and don’t have time for any planning, then a good travel agent is most definitely worth their weight in gold. They will not only sort out transport and accommodation, but will help you piece together itineraries with recommendations on places to eat, excursions, etc.

 

So if you’re lacking in time and want to take the hassle out of holiday planning, then a travel agent is most definitely your best option.

But if you’re after the best deal and you’re willing to put in the effort, then there are hundreds of websites, apps and guides out there nowadays ready to bring your dream trip to life.

Needless to say, those of you planning on going down the DIY route… the most useful tool available online, is of course travel blogs!! (like this one perhaps?) Full of tips, tricks and pre-planned tried and tested schedules ready to spark that wanderlust and get you started on your journey.

Now, if you’ll excuse me… I have some flights to book!!

 

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It’s been a whole twenty five days since I last logged on to my blog and I am feeling some serious withdrawal. I’ve definitely not lost interest and I definitely have NOT run out of things to talk about.

They say that bad things happen in threes. I’m hoping thats true because I’ve definitely had my fair share of the three this year. This summer has not only been p***-poor weather wise, but after having planned my social calendar to include numerous events and blogging work, I’ve near enough had my whole schedule wiped out and replaced with numerous hospital visits and days, even weeks of worry and treading water. My dad, grandmother and then finally my own hospital experience has taught me an important lesson, which has been extremely hard to get to grips with –

I just cannot plan everything.

Working full time, writing a blog, investing time in other new business activities… there is no way I could function without being completely militant with my google calendar and constantly writing and rewriting lists. I’m sure every other blogger out there knows the importance of planning, scheduling and the like. So to have that control taken away from me has been testing.

Today’s my first day back in front of a computer screen and it feels great! Before I was confined to my hospital bed, I had reached the stage where no sooner had I half boshed out a review on somewhere, I had also started collecting new ideas for something else and immediately move onto a new post. I seem to have accumulated a mountain of unfinished drafts waiting for their final read throughs, photo accompaniments or even just simply waiting for the publish button to be pressed.

 

taken from lifehack.org

 

Now that I’m back on track, I’m determined to tackle that folder and be able to start putting out fresh content again. I’ve got a number of exciting trips and outings coming up over the next few weeks, personal and blogging-type ones:

 

Belated Anniversary Barcelona Trip

THIS trip excites me very much. I loved Barcelona last year, and thanks to #GoWithOh I’m finally going to be able to take Mo and show him why I think Barcelona is one of the best capital cities for art nuts, like us.

World Travel Market

WTM is one of the most important events in any travel professionals calendar. It’s an event that brings together industry professionals from all over the world to secure deals, network and share new content with the travel community – a community that involves bloggers! This will be my first time attending and I’m probably more nervous than excited, eek!

Friends Reunion Trip

Last year we enjoyed a wonderful weekend away in the Lake District at the Coppermines. Due to conflicting schedules we never managed to get away this summer but we have all set aside dates to do something this November. Location and activity are both TBC but I know it’ll be fun no matter where it is.

 

Of course, even though I’m preparing for and excited about all of the above… you just never know whats round the corner.

Lifeis what happens to youwhile you're busymaking other plans

 

Would love to hear any tips or recommendations people have on any of my upcoming trips above?? Especially any WTM tips! Please do share, any advice would be much appreciated 🙂

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