IMG_4862
I may have just recently stepped off the aeroplane from sunny Rhodes, but I’m already dreaming of another getaway. However, I’m fully aware another holiday would be super greedy, especially when I’m trying to save up again after buying my house. So in my latest bid to try and source a form of getaway, I’m currently looking into heading off somewhere a little closer to home – perhaps a road trip?

I got the bulk of my road trip getaway inspiration from a super cool interactive road trip guide to Route 66 in America – which yes, I know is a little too far away. The guide takes you on a virtual trip through all the sights, signs and scenery you would typically pass along the way down route 66, and it may me think that I don’t travel enough around my own country – the UK.

A couple of months back I did embark on a mini road trip to the Lake District, which is a good 2 and a half hour journey from where I live. OK so it’s nothing in comparison to the long winding roads of America, but it was definitely a trip and a half, and something I’d love to follow up later this year.

So in true Emma style, I’ve put together a little round up of tips, inspirations and all sorts surrounding my thoughts on road tripping, and what to consider if you’re planning one too!

IMG_4922
IMG_4885
1. Plan the time of your drive
The reason I say this is because if you plan your travelling times right, you could catch some stunning sights along the way that you wouldn’t see otherwise. Take for example, when myself and some friends went on a road trip to the Blue Mountains in Australia, we decided to wait until a certain time to leave the following afternoon, so that we passed a particular area set in the mountains, we would catch the most beautiful sunset. Seeing the golden orange sun sinking into the ginormous mountains at dusk was a sight i’ll remember forever, and really made the road trip home enjoyable. Have a good think about your destination, and if it’s worth setting off around sunrise or sunset to catch some beautiful scenes.

IMG_4791
IMG_4797
IMG_4805
IMG_4809
2. Choose a place with lovely ‘stop offs’.
When I recently visited the Lake District, we first pulled up at a smaller part of the town for a little break before reaching our destination. I researched heavily about the route I would take and which way I would drive in, which lead me to find a lovely little walk uphill called Ornest Head. At the summit of Ornest Head, it gives breath-taking views across the entire Lake Windermere and surrounding mountains. We stayed at the top of the mountain for a good half an hour, taking in the surroundings. Once we had completed the walk, we set off to our destination feeling like we had gained another little tourist attraction on the way! So before you set off anywhere; research, research, research!

IMG_3127
3. Pack a picnic
Road trips can be long – much longer than you originally plan. You never know what traffic problems you are going to hit, and god forbid, if you break down and have extreme delays. Come prepared by putting together a travel inspired ‘car picnic’, in case you don’t pass any service stations or just get hungry in general! Liven it up a little with a touch of travel novelty – I’ll always bring my new camera lense cup which is pictured above. It’s literally brilliant! I just recently got this, and I’ll be saving this for keeping my coffee warm and getting my caffeine kick along the way.

It’s also handy to pack the usual car journey essentials: a bag of sweets, a bottle of water, a sandwich, and a few other bags of treats to pick at to keep yourself entertained.

IMG_3132
IMG_3131

4. Bring a travel book
So this one only works if you are a passenger, but it’s a good one all the same. Long road trips (or flights, if you chose to go abroad instead) can be a huge pain and a drag for the passenger, so make sure you pack a good book to get lost in. For me personally, I always choose motivational and inspirational books, which get me thinking, or give me a chance to reflect. When I’m travelling I just feel it’s the perfect time to think about myself and my life, and reading a bit of a ‘deep’ book always goes down better during these moments.

The book I have recently been reading is one I would recommend, called ‘Emotional Resilience’, by Geetu Bharwaney. The aim of the book is to discover knowing what it takes to be agile, adaptable, and to perform at your best. Before I started to read this, the book explained that it touched on developing your emotional resilience so that you can be bulletproof, and to prepare yourself against even the most challenging situations. It aims to let you focus fully on achieving your goals, getting things done, moving ahead and being the best you can be. I’m always looking for ways to be my best self, and as an ambitious yet emotional person, I always like to seek a little help with developing these areas of my life. I guess it’s more about how our minds work and how to train ourselves to be resilient to any bad news, life knocks and all sorts of negative situations.

I found the book empowering from the first few chapters, as it talks you through the best ways to handle your emotions, thoughts and actions. I’m guilty of being a person that can focus too much on the things I can’t do, rather than the things I do well at, which can lead me to negative emotions, which can ruin my mood. These are the types of feelings that can come across as lacking confidence and positivity, which is never attractive to your boss, colleagues, friends or family.

It really is a powerful book that is teaching me how to  quickly adapt to tricky and pressured situations and get the best from them. Through tips and guidance, the book talks to you in a friendly and understanding manner about how to be at your best all the time, handling everyday demands with dignity and pride·  The end goal of the book is for you to realise your full potential – whether on your own or with others. I’m not quite there yet, but I’m getting there!

IMG_3130
5. Think about your feet
More of a fashion focused bit of advice is to think about your feet, which I know is something we don’t consider straight away when we think of travelling. Sometimes, it’s best for me to wear my heaviest shoes, especially when I’m flying anywhere, or as a car passenger. Because of any stop-offs or times you may want to stretch your legs, prepare your feet by inserting a form of an insole – one which will take the pressure off the balls/heels of your feet, especially when sitting down for long periods of time in heels. I recently started inserting the Nine To Five Heel Insoles, which give instant relief from any burning pain I get from wearing heels. They have a slightly sticky texture so that the insoles won’t slip around or move, plus come with a light peppermint scent to keep your feet (and shoes!) fresh and fragranced.

I’ve started to keep these in my bag for other non-travel related occasions too, such as going from desk-to-drinks after work, or on a night out. This particular pair are slim and shaped to your foot shape, making them discreet enough even when wearing strappy sandals. A pair of insoles from Nine To Five cost a fantastic £5.95 – a bargain in my opinion for saving my poor little feet!

IMG_3129
5. A confident driver
Possibly one of the most essential points to consider when planning a road trip is to make sure the designated driver is a confident one. I for one don’t usually nominate myself, and it’s not because I’d say I was a bad driver, but I genuinely don’t really enjoy driving around unfamiliar roads, or areas I’m a bit unsure of. I think it comes down to the fact I never had to do a lot of driving once I passed my driving test – I spent the best part of 7 years driving half an hour maximum to work, which was the furthest I would drive myself really. If I was every planning any long distance trips, someone else would usually rush to the drivers seat, meaning I never really opted for the role. I like to think that although I don’t anchor after being the one in the drivers seat, I took great care when it came to passing my test, making a number of errors throughout my test and re-sitting until I felt confident and knowledgeable to be good driver.

Learning to drive is by far one of the best things I learnt to do, as it opens up room for freedom and independence. If I didn’t drive, I wouldn’t have the job that I have today, as it’s impossible to get to any other way apart from motorways. If you’re a non-driver but considering learning, think about the opportunities and choices it can give you. Take a look at Pass N Go for a little more information if you need some encouragement…

IMG_3128
6. Pack some games!
And last but not least – don’t forget the games! You need something to keep you entertained during the long drive (or other form of travel), especially if there is a group of you. Trivia cards, a pack of playing cards, dice games or anything easy to carry in your handbag make fun little games. Trivia ones are usually the best, as it means the driver can take part too, without having to take their eyes off the road!

mococo a

Calling all accessory lovers! If you follow me on Instagram and some of my other social media channels, you may have noticed that I have been going a little crazy over my latest possession. I am now the proud owner of my shiny new Olivia Burton The Dandy and Tan Watch – a beautifully designed leather strap watch with gold finishings and clear, classic face. Believe it or not, I actually have owned the same DKNY Silver Strap Watch since my 21st birthday (I have nw just turned 30!), and as much as I loved it, I really needed to update it and switch to a softer, more timeless tan leather strap design.

Olivia Burton is one of my favourite accessory designers, so it made sense to opt for a watch from her lovely creations. Established in 2012, Olivia Burton is famed for creating timepieces with a unique style and vibrant personality. Although the designs have that touch of individuality, I find the pieces are also classics with lots of longevity, which I find important when choosing a watch. Olivia Burton combines inspirations from catwalk trends, vintage finds, global street fashions and the English countryside to create covetable must-have styles every season. From big dials to bracelet styles, it’s hard not to fall in love with the stunning collections…

IMG_3120 IMG_3121 IMG_3122 IMG_3123

So the good news I have today to share is that Olivia Burton herself is actually coming to the Mococo store in Chester in July, giving people the chance to meet her and attend a very exclusive event! My watch displayed in my photos is from Mococo – a store I personally love as they seem to have handpicked jewellery and watches from all my personal favourite designers, and retail them all together. I regularly browse their website and love all the dainty, cute and feminine pieces from Daisy, Chlobo and Swarovski, as I live a little far away from their beautiful Chester store.

The Olivia Burton x Mococo takeover event will take place on July 14th, between 6pm and 8pm, where Olivia Burton will be taking over the Chester Mococo store. There will be a very special embossing station so that all purchases made on the night get their own unique personal message stamped onto the watches. As well as being given the chance to browse and shop the brand new collection, guests can sip champagne and nibble on sweet treats whilst enjoying the ultimate fashion experience with no other than Olivia Burton herself.

If you haven’t yet been to Chester, it’s an absolutely beautiful place, a place I wished I visited more often. The town centre is super pretty, laced with history and has that quaint feel to it. If you need any excuse to visit, this is definitely it!

mococo
If you need some more information about this exciting event, head over to Mococo’s social media channels, as they have lots of news and information surrounding the takeover. You can find the Mococo Facebook page here, Twitter here, and of course, good old instagram here.

I’ll be posting a few reminders about this lovely little event over on my social media channels too, as I am super excited about this event (as you can probably tell). Do let me know if any of you guys are interested in attending, it will be a fantastic evening!

IMG_5214
I have recently come back from a little week away in Rhodes, and boy did I need it. A week away in the sun might not sound like much to many of you, but when I realised it was the first real break I have had in two full years, it dawned on me just how much I needed a little bit of time to escape.

As many of you will know, I’m all for people working their asses off and making a fantastic life for themselves. I dedicate pretty much all of my spare time to running this blog and my boutique, rarely giving myself much free time for ‘chilling out’, lazing around or doing ‘nothing’. But recently, I’ve been working super long hours in my day job, along with trying to squeeze in seeing my friends and family, and everything got a little bit mental…

And this, dear readers, is a fine example of that ‘little-too-late’ moment when you realise you are on the verge of exhaustion. As much as I love my blog, my freelancing, my little dress boutique, my job, etc etc… it’s by no means OK for me to start letting things suffer – such as sleep and spare time. I’ve recently learnt that these two precious things aren’t luxuries, they are essentials, and it really is OK to give myself time out.

So I packed up my (overweight) case and headed off to Rhodes, just as this blog closed its eyes for 8 sweet days. My ASOS Marketplace Boutique also shut up shop for 8 days (I’m not too proud of that by the way, but when you’re a one man band, there is literally nothing else you can do. Except don’t go on holiday. But that’s the mistake I made over the past two years).

Does my scenario ring true to any of you guys over there? If so, take a read of how I have been spending my well deserved ‘time-off’, and hopefully it may inspire you to do the same. And don’t you dare feel guilty!

IMG_5201

IMG_5198
1. Became a Tourist
As much as I love taking a casual Saturday day time and turning it into a little trip to an undiscovered bar/cafe/walk nearby, nothing beats getting out of your local area and jetting away. I enjoyed nothing but strolling around the ancient Old Town of Rhodes, sailing off on boat trips, walking along the beach front and exploring new sites. One thing I absolutely love doing when going on holiday is checking out local markets, and browsing the range of handmade jewellery and clothing. Hey, you can take the girl out of her shopping city of Manchester, but you can never take it out of the girl!

IMG_5463
IMG_5411

IMG_5407

IMG_5385
2. Stopped Exercising
As much as I can’t praise exercise enough for keeping your body in good shape, it’s fine to take breaks every now and again. After taking on a pretty tough job where I have a rather long commute and work long hours, I had to make the decision to cut back on the gym and working out a little, at least until I got myself settled into a new routine. But hey, it’s OK, everyone deserves a break sometimes. Our bodies need to rest just as much as our minds do. As long as you try to fit in a little bit of walking when you can, plus making other small efforts and eating well, it’s nothing to feel guilty about. Make little mental notes to do things such as taking the stairs instead of the lift, walking the long way round to the staff car park, and ditching the car when nipping to the corner shop.

In the last month I have probably clocked up around 5 gym sessions, which for me is really quite poor. But a holiday to me should be just that – a holiday – and by no means would you catch me running around the resort in my leggings in the 34 degree heat!

Instead, I threw on my brand new Boohoo Crop Top Bikini which I managed to get in the Boohoo sale – for an incredible £10! I lay back on the sunbeds, took short strolls along the beach, and went for a couple of swimming sessions. This brightly coloured number has to be my favourite bikini I’ve owned in a long time, and laying down resting in the sun seemed so much more appealing with this fab item to hand.

IMG_5468
IMG_5340
IMG_5333
IMG_5034
3. Ate, Ate, and Ate Some More…
Following on from my point above, I have also been eating like a king during my time out period. I mean, when you’re on holiday to a foreign country, it can be really hard to keep up with your usual eating patterns and diet plans. For example, I can’t consume much dairy, as I literally break out with spots. But try staying in an all-inclusive hotel where everything contains cheese, and there’s no soya milk, and creamy yoghurts are staring at you at the breakfast buffet every morning at 8 am. Lets face it – diet rules just ain’t going to stick. So I’ve been treating my time out to indulge in all my favourites such as pizza, cheese baguettes, pasta dishes and the typical Greek take-away favourite – Gyros! If you don’t know what a Gyros is, its pretty much a fancy name for a kebab, except the meat is a little nicer (think slices of pork with red onions, tomatoes and tzaizki) and it is ridiculously tasty. As long as you don’t overload yourself with bad food after bad food on a daily basis, then taking a healthy eating break is sometimes the best thing to lift your mood and cheer you up!

IMG_5171
IMG_5469

3. Looked After My Skin
There’s nothing like a good relaxing break to really think about your skin and overall health, so that’s something I really focused on during my mini break. I’m always really cautious about the ‘evils’ which can make my skin and health deteriorate, such as smoking, alcohol, and late nights, and thankfully I limit these as much as I can at the best of times. I’ve never been a smoker, but I have so many friends who still get caught up in the bad habit, and the effects really are starting to show. Small wrinkles around the lips, yellow stained finger tips and the first signs of discoloured teeth. Luckily, a few of them have started to turn to options which make the process of quitting a little easier, such as e-liquids. I’m actually quite happy when they turn to this option instead of the horrible cigarette habit, there are so many fruity smelling flavours that I actually enjoy the scent! If you’re reading this and are a smoker yourself, I am in no way trying to dictate that you should stop, but there are so many people turning to other ways to stop the traditional smoking habit in a bid to improve their health and extend their life. There’s a piece on the BBC here which I found quite interesting about e-liquids etc…

A few other changes I made during my break was switching up my usual vodka and coke’s to vodka, soda water and a slice of lime instead, just to cut down on the amount of sugar. I don’t know about you, but sugar sends my skin wild. After just a few days of sweet treat indulgence, I’m breaking out everywhere!

I also tried to get to sleep before midnight every night, despite being on holiday. I really struggle to get the recommended 8 hours sleep, and the bags under my eyes are firm proof!

IMG_5229
4. Read and Became Inspired
Whilst I’m always busy working, I realised that I never actually spend any time curled up with a good book like I used to. I was an absolute reading addict at one point: fiction, non-fiction, motivational or inspirational – I read everything. So during my holiday, I embarked on a reading mission to get through the entire #GIRLBOSS book by the Founder of Nasty Gal (fashion brand). I love a good book which tells the story of someones success through light-hearted prose, and this book certainly does that. Just reading about the passion the author has for building her own brand and making something of herself reminded me of the goals and aims I’ve always reached out for. Reading about successful women out there who have dedicated their lives to creating their own business, yet having fun along the way, really enlightens me, and it only encourages me to work harder and be more passionate.

If you’re feeling a little stuck in a career rut, or are in need of some life inspiration, I honestly can’t recommend this book more. People who read it say it’s life changing, and at first I doubted how it could really be that powerful. But trust me ladies – it’s super motivating!

IMG_5261
So there you go, a little bit of a discussion about taking time off, and the importance of relaxing. In today’s world we become so ridiculously busy, that’s its nice to step back every now and again and realise that our bodies are in much need of some R&R. So do it!

IMG_5320
As many of you may have noticed, the blog has been pretty quiet for the past seven days. Don’t worry, I haven’t been neglecting it or doing a mini disappearing act – I have just been enjoying myself on my first holiday in pretty much two years! Those of you who read What Emma Did will know that I pretty much post every day, and I literally haven’t giving myself a break over the past two years (the four years before that I used to blog around 3/4 times a week). I think I managed a little getaway to Barcelona last year, in which I spent three days over in the Spanish sunshine, but aside from that, its pretty much been blog/work/blog on continuous repeat for a long while.

If you follow me on my social channels (here’s a shameless plug to say why not come and follow me on my favourite channel – Instagram? I’m over at @whatemmadid_!) you’ll see that this time it’s been the Rhodes sunshine I have been enjoying. I jetted over to one of the busier areas, Rhodes Town, and stayed in a lovely little beach front hotel called Hotel Kipriotis. As always, I’m 100% frank and honest in this blog so I have no shame in sharing that I managed to find this little June time break for as little as £215 for a week. Bargain, right? The hotel came with breakfast every morning (a buffet one at that too – which means yes, I had around 4 courses at 9am every morning. Belly really is gonna get me!). I took some time out to visit the ancient Greek part of Rhodes too, which is the Old Town. There were so many lovely little traditional Greek buildings, ruins, market stalls and a stunning port area.

But anyway, Old Town aside, here’s a couple of little snaps from the bargain hotel I managed to stay in for the week. Pool bar – check. Spacious room- check. Sea front view- check. Not too much more you could want…

IMG_5146
IMG_5149
IMG_5230
IMG_5232
IMG_5271
During my trip, you can probably imagine that I over packed way too many outfits and in true Emma-style, went over board with dresses. But hey, the Greek sunshine welcomes the need for pretty dresses, and that I was more than happy to contribute too. One of my favourite new styles I brought along with me was this gorgeous floral number from Quiz which you can see on the top shot and those below. Quiz is an online retailer I literally haven’t checked out in such a long time, but I was so impressed with their latest collection of occasion dresses. I’ve been much more of a classic, black and grey wearing girl lately, keeping any prints and florals to a minimum. But in light of a good old Summer holiday, I found this Navy and Purple Flower Cut Out Skater Dress is more than ideal for those holiday evening meals and drinks on the beachfront. Plus, I can get extra wear out of it this Summer for friends weddings or parties that are coming up.

At £34.99, it’s a pretty good all-rounder if you like to get dressed up really girly for Summer events, like I do!

IMG_5300

IMG_5302

IMG_5301
IMG_5291
IMG_5289

Have you found a staple new favourite dress this Summer? Do share them with me if so!

IMG_5059

I was recently tasked with a bit of a challenge that at first, I was very close to passing up on. I mean, I’m a girl, and a very girly one at that, and as much as I am super house-proud and always ‘doing up’ my house, I spend little time on the garden. Just how many warm days a year do we get here in the North West where we actually get to enjoy the sunshine? I can usually count on one hand the amount of days I spend out in the back garden, picnic blanket in tow, enjoy my own area of greenery. So it’s fair to say that I’ve let my garden be less of a priority when it comes to grooming and preening. If I spent as much time on my garden as I did my own beauty routines or styling up my own home office, then wow, it would be something of a work of art.

So anyway, back to the task: I was asked to take on a small project of ‘pimping out’ my garden by using a few tricks, tools and hacks. A lick of paint, some potted plants, and to somehow give my shed an entire makeover. So for this bit I won’t lie – a lot of the manual building and re-creating was carried out by my boyfriend, but I like to say I project managed, picked the plants, tidied the place up, and all in all gave the garden my lovely feminine touch. So lets see how we got on…

garden

before garden
garden
As you can see from the first few photos, the garden was slightly run-down and in need of a huge helping of TLC. The shed was beyond repair, and needed a nice new one purchasing. However, we set out to do this on a budget, and got the majority of DIY tools and items from bargain discounted stores, like B&M Bargains and Home Base.

So, with a strict budget of £75 (we obviously purchased the shed separately away from this budget), we decided to take on this challenge by Ocean Loans. Determined to make our outdoor space a place worth spending time in, we set out to spruce up the garden with a few budget hacks. Here’s how…

garden
garden after
1. Give the lawn a good old trim and cut. Costs the price of electricity (unless you actually need to buy a lawn mower) but it works wonders!

2. We purchased two mini tree plants which need little maintenance, and potted them in plastic posts towards the approach of the garden. We also purchased a huge bag of affordable gravel type stones to fill in the pots, which can remain there for a long time. It looks neat, fresh, and pretty!

3. Flower beds were placed in the top corner, along with small plants which once the sun kicked in for the Summer, they have literally shot up, creating a type of ‘screen’ towards the back fence. It makes the garden much more private, and to me, looks pretty smart!

4. The remaining gravel that we didn’t use in the potted plants was poured over one messy corner of the garden, right at the back. The grey/white colour brightens up the garden instantly, and to me, gives a clean, professional finish.

garden
garden details
5. Adding a small affordable feature – like this rounded table – makes such a difference as it can either be a table to sit around, or a place to rest plant pots. We actually did this ourselves, putting together a little barrel trunk with two rounded pieces of wood to make this ensemble. The next step is to paint it (currently experiencing a lot of rain at the moment in the North West!)

6. Again, seeds were bought, along side cheap little plants, that once in contact with the sun, have absolutely bloomed into the leafy bushes they are today.

7. Paint paint paint! It’s surprising what a lick of paint can do. We actually purchased the cheap-as-chips decking paint for £8 in Home Bargains, which did the job for any other bits of wood, railings and fences. By the way, that’s just me calling it cheap as chips, that’s not actually the brand of the paint!

garden plants
garden details

garden details
garden shed
garden details
And voila! I couldn’t be more pleased and happy with this beautiful, blooming garden. It didn’t happen over night, and we did slightly go over the budget (but that was our own choices – we made the more visible updates and painting improvements under this budget) but look what we now have to sit out in!

Dinner al fresco, anyone?