It's been a while since I did a Life Lately post, considering all I've done in the past 18 months is eat everything, travel more than usual and sleep very little. But I'm back again, sharing all things daily life to trips, because to me, that's where it all started for Little Winter. And alas, weekends in this household (and week days for that matter...) are for catching up with friends over a few Aperol Spritz and gins (or wine, we're not fussy) and pizza. After all, is it even summer if you're not hungover and lacking sleep most days?

My job leads me to all kinds of wonderful things, and last week was spent at Taste with Asia de Cuba. After a morning of some stand installing (actually, I can't take credit for this - I totally sat in the sun and helped with the ivy arrangement. Oh and some time-lapses, cause social), we spent the evening debating which dishes to order, admiring all of the beautiful stands (Ketel One have nailed it) before heading to Laurent Perrier for a bottle of the good stuff. THIS is why I love London life.

Last weekend, the girls and I took a spontaneous trip to the New Forest. We headed straight for Lymington where we pottered the quaint streets, ate our body weight in delicious food and refused to leave the cute town without buying an ice cream. Once we'd ordered our favourite flavour (honeycombe for me, Candy Floss for Kim), we jumped back in the car in search of horses. To our delight we came across plenty, along with some baby donkeys - which distracted us right until the evening. Pro tip: don't carry carrots in your handbag - they'll definitely try and befriend you a little too much!

Currently feeling all of the feels for my family who took part in the London to Brighton bike ride. After waving them off at 6.30am on Sunday and falling back asleep, then realising how late I was to get on the road myself, it was tense whether they'd beat me to the finish line (could you imagine, especially considering I was driving?!). Unluckily for them they had a bike issue, which gave me plenty of time to park up, grab a bite to eat (and pop to a few shops) and collate 12 videos of other bikers cross the finish line (I could not let myself miss that moment!). Whilst a brief trip to my favourite seaside town, it's always a pleasure to be there.

I couldn't not share a Life Lately post without this one popping up. What a character he's turned into since we moved to London. With the options of heading outside, some days he merely sits at the back door and declare that plenty of fresh air. And other days, he'll be out whizzing about on the grass for hours on end, inviting all the other cats in the 'hood to our home. Not that I'm complaining, because cats. This is his favourite spot - the perfect place for checking if his food bowls been filled up, keeping tabs on when the front door opens and which neighbour cat is coming in through the back door. He's got it good.

We're always heading home, because there's nothing like spending time with family. So the other weekend, we loaded up the car, picked up Kim and Stew and took them for an adventure to the smallest county of England, Rutland. The weekend was absolute bliss - making ourselves at home in the garden with a glass of wine in hand, evening walks in the field (not so ideal for those with hayfever) and tucking into a delicious home-cooked dinner before curling up for a peaceful night sleep. Once awake and fed (again), we popped on our trainers and went in search of bikes to hire at Rutland Water. With 11 miles under our belts, and a hungry stomach, we finished up the weekend with lunch in Stamford before venturing home, all calm and completely content.

Here's to more weekends like these.
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I'm going to be honest here, if not a little naive, and say that I never in my life imagined that mental health would affect me on a personal level. I was always aware of it, acknowledged it, helped in raising awareness of it, and tried my hardest to understand it for others, and be the support that they needed.

But I never expected to deal with it myself. In such depth.

I always thought my nervous ways were down to me being a downright wimp.
I always thought my constant worries were purely because I was an overthinker.
I always thought my insecurities were just from school years of bullying.
I always thought my feelings of comparison were just what every other girl dealt with in their life.
I always thought my overspending on clothes each month, was down to being indecisive.
I always thought my morning tears from my reflection, was a sign that I was just a bit of a diva.

I always thought this was, just how everyone felt.
This was life.

Until the day I broke down in a way I'd never broken down before. I sat on the sofa, having picked my scalp to pieces, the entire contents of my wardrobe piled up on the bedroom floor and in floods of tears. Exhausted. Because those feelings had increased more than ever before. The feeling of guilt and ungratefulness when people would say such kind things to me, I couldn't take it. I couldn't believe them. And that feeling of hate towards my body, my face, my thinking, and my full self, was real. So very real.

It took me a while to pluck up the courage to actually talk to someone, someone who could help.
We talked about everything: how I felt towards my body, my looks, my personality, the way I perceived life and my worries.
And we carried on talking some more. And then I cried. So we talked some more. And it was draining, it was really draining.
I was horrible to myself, and that was hard, but that was also reality. And I had to be, in order to be helped.

When I left the kind lady that afternooon, I felt deflated and confused. I also couldn't help feeling embarrassed.  I didn't want to appear like I was purely vain, or that my image was the be all of how I was defined. I worried that I worry too much. I worried what others thought from it, including the kind lady.
People always said to me that as you get older you find yourself caring less, and you worry less about what others think. I wanted to believe them, I really did. But why couldn't I? Why did I feel like this? Am I a failure that I'm nearly 30 and I care more than I ever did before? That I care too much? Do I appear vain? Or difficult when I don't want a photograph? Or dramatic when I feel nervous in a situation.

I wish I knew the answers. But I don't.

But what I do know, is that I'm not alone. Body Dysmorphic Disorder affects 1.7% to 2.4% of the general population* and may be even more common than this, as people are reluctant to reveal how they truly feel. Which is why I am. I've always been fairly open with my insecurities since teenage, but it's taken me to this year to finally open up and talk about it.
I want the help. I'm getting the help. But also, I want to help others.
These feelings, they don't go overnight, and it's hard when they become so time-consuming and impact your daily life. And there are times when it's stopped me, and there will be more times when it'll hold me, but I'm working on it. Slowly.

I'm trying to talk when I'm having a bad day, rather than hiding and pretending I'm just tired.
I'm trying to make more time for me. And self care, however big or small.
I'm trying to look less at my reflection, and walk away from my negative thoughts.
I'm trying to accept that this is me, and that nobody is perfect.
And I'm trying to be honest. With myself. And everyone.

And, I'm still ordering all of the ASOS parcels, because new materials definitely help ease those feelings for a short while.
After all, we all need a little pick me up (or three right?).

"you must want to spend the rest of your life with yourself first."

*(taken from www.bdd.iocdf.org) 
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After my first trip to Italy, I was completely sold (because eating all of the pasta OBVS), so when the male booked a surprise trip for his dad’s birthday to Sardinia, I couldn’t wait. Packing up my bikinis and summer dresses excited for a few days in the sunshine, I’ll be honest and say I was a little disappointed when told that actually it wouldn’t be that warm. And winter coats were still needed. 
Sitting on the plane with my trousers and jumpers packed, I was unsure what the long weekend would bring but the moment we drove out of the airport towards the neighbourhood (it took all of 15 minutes), my views changed, and the jumper on my back didn’t quite matter anymore. I was blown away by the blue seas surrounding the island.
Rain and sunshine, Cagliari, and Sardinia as a whole, had so much to offer. The atmosphere was constant, and the restaurants were flowing with locals throughout day to night. It didn’t feel touristy at all, but the views from the winding streets were ones that should be shared more with the world. Hiring a car was definitely up there for us, and travelling around the south coast, just added to our list of why we fell in love with the rugged landscaped island. Have you ever seen such bluer seas? And actually, the cooler temperature meant that stopping at every opportunity on the roadside to explore those beaten track was not impossible. Sweaty humidity mess? Not us over here!


WHERE TO SEE
- Pula: We'd hired a car for the duration, and made our way around the South West coast starting with Pula. For peaceful and mesmerising beaches, Pula is the one. Also, behind the beach are FLAMINGOS!
- Teulada: Drive through the mountains and towards Teulada. Make sure to stop at every opportunity because, you'll be blown away at every sharp turn. Sunglasses on, petrol filled up. Roadtrip a go!
- Calasetta: On our drive, we headed to the island, Sant' Antioco connected to Sardinia. Whilst it was quiet in some areas, Calasetta is absolutely beautiful with trees lining the roads, making for the perfect spot for lunch and a potter.
- Poetto: Close to Cagliari, Poetto has the marina and whilst quiet when we visited, it's where everyone flocks to in Summer. Think delicious gelato whilst losing a few hours listening to the sounds of water hitting the rocks. Absolute bliss.
- Villasimus: Quite possibly my favourite spot from the whole trip. The beaches are something else, like a picture from those magazines, with the coastline being among the most spectacular on the island. Park up, and explore off the beaten track for endless views, and I guarantee you'll fall in love too.


WHERE TO SIP AND SNACK
Su Cumbidu: We’d just arrived, with that post travel hunger, and found this within moments of stepping into the centre of Cagliari.  Resembling a rustic beer cellar with traditional Sardinian food, this was the perfect place for lunch and to fully embrace the Sardinian way of life. Order the Sage & Saffron pasta filled with potatoes. Because OH MY GOSH.
L’oca Bianca: I’ll be honest and say, that upon entering the restaurant, we were a little hesitant. It just didn’t have much appeal, and lacked customers. However within ten minutes of being at our table, the wine was delicious, our wood oven cooked pizzas were nothing short of taste and the locals soon flocked in creating such a vibrant atmosphere. Never judge a book by it’s cover! 
Sa Domu Sarda: Another restaurant we stumbled upon where the atmosphere picked up as the night went on. Rustic furniture with a homely feel and again, dishes to delight. Order the Sardinian dumplings (because potato and cheese filling) and all of the prosecco for the perfect evening meal.
La Perla, Calasetta: We came across this seafood restaurant after driving for a few hours and ending up in the little town of Calasetta. For the small island, there was plenty of life inside. The dishes were fresh, tasty and light and the prosecco? Perfect!


WHERE TO STAY
Villa Fanny: Considering the name (I wonder why the male wanted to book this place?!) this place exceeded expectations. I’m always hesitant of hotels that are in more residential areas but the moment you entered Fanny (no puns intended…), you’re greeted with complete style and elegance in their decor, with attention to detail throughout. The boutique hotel is made of 18 rooms, with stairwells everywhere leading to each beautiful and unique room, along with views overlooking their gardens. Inside are the most welcoming relaxation areas that are perfect for a pre or post tipple, and the staff were nothing but welcoming. We could have easily stayed in the garden room for our whole trip.
You can read my full review of Villa Fanny, here.


Sardinia, you completely blew away my expectations and delivered above and beyond with your scenery and food. And the prosecco? That won't keep me away for long...


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