Friday, 19 October 2018

My unpopular opinions on Walt Disney World

I love reading 'unpopular opinion' blog posts so I decided it was time I wrote one of my own. I might well have unpopular opinions on all manner of things, but I thought I'd start by blogging specifically about my unpopular Walt Disney World opinions.

I don't understand the massive Starbucks obsession

I'm quite partial to a Starbucks hot chocolate when I'm at home. However, I really can't understand why people flock to Starbucks in Walt Disney World when there are so many other amazing options available. Why would you spend money on a drink you can buy on your nearest high street when there are so many delicious park-exclusive beverages to try?

I don't like the Carousel of Progress

I've only been on the Carousel of Progress once and I really didn't like it. It's one of those classic rides that everyone seems to love, but it didn't do anything for me. It did break while I was on it which meant I had to watch the same scene about six times, but I don't think I'd have loved it whether it was working or not.

I don't enjoy meeting 'face' characters

As I've mentioned before, meeting characters isn't a huge priority for me when we go to Walt Disney World. When I do meet characters, it's absolutely essential that they're 'costume' characters who don't have the ability to talk to me. I have no idea how to talk to characters and just thinking about it makes me cringe.

I don't see the point of posing in front of walls

I'm on Instagram and I love Disney so I should enjoy posing in front of the bubblegum wall, right? Wrong. I'd prefer to pose for a photo with a beautiful backdrop, and Walt Disney World certainly isn't short of beautiful backdrops. I've also never been a fan of copying what everyone else is doing, and it does sometimes feel as if everyone in the world is posing for bubblegum wall photos.

Children shouldn't be allowed to sit on adults' shoulders during shows and parades

Why do people think it's acceptable to block everyone else's view by lifting a child onto their shoulders? Pick them up so that their head is level with yours by all means, but don't be selfish. Children don't have a special right to a better view than everyone else. Don't even get me started on adults who push children (who are often as tall as I am) to the front when I've queued for the perfect spot for an hour...

I can't stand the thought of eating a turkey leg

I've tried and loved most of the classic Disney snacks, but I will never understand how people can eat those gigantic turkey legs. Even the thought of them makes me feel sick. Give me a massive sugary snack over a meaty one any day!

Hollywood Studios is my least favourite Disney park

Hollywood Studios has always been my least favourite park since I started going to Walt Disney World in 2012. Although I love some of the rides and attractions there, particularly the Tower of Terror and the Beauty and the Beast show, it doesn't hold the same appeal as the other parks do for me.

There's no need to film every ride, every show and every parade

I often wonder what it must have been like to visit a Disney park before camera phones were invented. I don't understand why people feel the need to film every ride, show and parade... when are you ever going to watch those videos? I get irrationally annoyed when I have to watch something through someone's phone screen because they insist on filming everything and blocking my view.

Do you agree with any of my opinions? Do you have any unpopular opinions of your own to share? Let me know!

Friday, 12 October 2018

A weekend away in the Gower

Last weekend, we took Jessie on her very first holiday. She stayed in my parents' house with us for one night last Christmas, but the three of us had never been on a proper holiday together until last weekend.

We'd been researching dog-friendly hotels in the Gower for a while, then one of our friends recommended the King's Head Inn in Llangennith which sounded perfect. The Gower is an ideal distance for a two night stay, and it also meant we could stay at my parents' house for the third night as they don't live too far from there.

We finished our packing on the Friday morning, then left for Llangennith at around 2pm. If I'm being completely honest, it probably took me longer to pack Jessie's things than to pack my own belongings. I bought a new backpack for her to mark the occasion which she seemed pretty excited about, even if that's not particularly evident in this photo.

It took us just over an hour to get to the King's Head Inn. We'd been allocated a spacious ground floor room, and the pub itself where we'd eat our breakfast and dinner was only a stone's throw away. 

We went out for a walk to explore our surroundings as soon as we'd unpacked. The clouds were beginning to gather and we were concerned that it might rain, so we were eager to do some exploring before the weather turned. We walked towards Rhossili for about half an hour but decided to turn back before catching a glimpse of the beach. We had the whole of Saturday to explore and didn't want to tire Jessie's little legs out too much on the first day. In true holiday style, we did make time for a family selfie before making our way back down the hill! 

We had a glass of wine and a beer in the pub's outdoor seating area before making our way back to our room to feed Jessie and to get ready for our evening meal. The pub had a dog-friendly eating area which meant we were able to take Jessie along with us for all our meals. We met dogs of all shapes and sizes in the pub over the two days and Jessie made lots of new friends. On the Friday evening, she even felt comfortable enough to steal another dog's chew when they took their eyes off it for five seconds. Naughty Jessie! 

It was forecast to rain pretty much all day on Saturday and, true to form, it was pouring down when we went for breakfast. We were trying to decide how to deal with the wet weather while we ate our breakfast, then we looked out of the window and realised it was brightening up. We thankfully didn't see another drop of rain all day, and we were pretty delighted that the forecast was wrong. 

After breakfast, we got ready to set off for a long walk. We decided to take a different route to the one we took on Friday afternoon for a change of scenery. We walked through the village to Hillend campsite, then on to Llangennith Beach from there. It was Jessie's first time at the beach and she loved it. She seemed fairly non-plussed about the sea, but she was definitely a very big fan of the sand and the shells.

We had a little paddle with Jessie in the sea and walked along the beach for quite a while, then we turned and walked back towards the campsite entrance. We stopped outside a little cafe for a hot drink and some toasted teacakes (and some treats for Jessie), then we walked back to the pub for an afternoon drink to reward ourselves for completing such a long walk. 

We then had a couple of hours to relax before heading back out for our evening meal. We met the usual crowd of dogs and their owners, but all the dogs and humans were noticeably much more tired than they'd been the night before after walking all day! Poor Jessie was completely zonked and was fast asleep within minutes of us getting back to our room. 

On Sunday morning, we had breakfast then drove to my parents' house after we'd checked out of our room. My brother happened to be staying for the weekend so it was great to be able to catch up with him too, and Jessie loved all the extra attention. My mother cooked a lovely Sunday lunch, then we enjoyed a relaxing afternoon and evening interspersed with a couple of little walks for Jessie. She was very excited about seeing everyone but was clearly still exhausted from her exciting exertions the day before. 

We went for a hot chocolate and a cake in Costa with my parents on Monday morning before heading back to Penarth in the afternoon. We immediately threw ourselves back into reality and did all our unpacking, laundry and food shopping in record time ready to go back to work the following day. 

It was so lovely to spend a proper long weekend with Neil and to be able to take Jessie with us wherever we went, as well as having the opportunity to catch up with my parents and my brother. It's no secret that I love going on holiday (who doesn't)?, but there's always a tinge of sadness when we leave Jessie behind which is why this one was so enjoyable. We'll definitely be booking to go back to Llangennith at some point! 

Have you taken your dog on holiday recently? Let me know if you've got any recommendations! 

Friday, 28 September 2018

Ten things I love about blogging

If you've read last week's blog post, you'll already know that blogging is one of the new hobbies I've picked up over the last few years.

Inspired by Cat's blog post a couple of months ago, I thought it was about time I blogged about why I enjoy blogging so much. This also means I had the opportunity to make use of one of my greatest loves... a list!

1. I like to think of my blog as a digital journal or scrapbook. Although I look back at some of my older posts and cringe at the quality of the photography and sometimes even the writing, it's nice to be able to look back at the things I've shared over the years and to relive some of those memories.

2. I find it much easier to write about things than to talk about them. I've shared some very personal posts on this blog over the last two years since my cancer diagnosis, and it always feels very therapeutic to be able to get those feelings down on paper (or on screen).

3. Following on from the last point, writing is a great distraction for me when I need to escape from whatever thoughts I've got whirring around in my busy brain. Writing also helps me to be more mindful and to anchor myself in the present moment, which can only be a good thing.

4. Instagram is my favourite social networking platform, and I like to think of my blog as an extension or a supplement for my Instagram grid. If I've been somewhere instagrammable and shared lots of photos on Instagram, you can almost certainly expect a follow-up blog post on the topic.

5. I publish a new blog post every Friday at 5pm, and I've found that having such a defined schedule has really helped me to brainstorm and organise ideas for new content. When I used to publish hap-hazardly a few years ago, I'd either go for weeks without posting anything or I'd enthusiastically post a few times per week and use up all my ideas too quickly.

6. I particularly enjoy stretching blog posts on a certain topic into a series, such as my 'Twelve posts of Christmas' series or birthday haul posts. It makes my content last for a few weeks and also makes the posts more digestible for my readers.

7. Very few people read my blog, if I'm completely honest. However, although I'd be lying if I said I never got annoyed about this, I do blog for my own enjoyment first and foremost which means it doesn't really matter how many people read my posts in the grand scheme of things.

8. I'm pretty shy in real life. Blogging has allowed me to find my own voice and to share my experiences, all from the comfort of my laptop while wearing my pyjamas and drinking a hot chocolate.

9. I don't blog about divisive topics. This is partly because I've always worked in places where I have to remain politically neutral, but also because my blog is my happy place. I blog about whatever I want to blog about, and not necessarily about whatever everyone else is talking about.

10. Last but not least, my blog serves as my 'brain dump' for photos, exciting times, new adventures and, occasionally (see point 2!), difficult times. I love having a little corner of the internet that's all mine where I can document snippets of my life and blog about the simple little things that make me happy.

Have you blogged about why you love blogging? Let me know in the comments!

Friday, 21 September 2018

Hobbies of an early-30-something

During that hazy twenty minutes between my alarm going off and eventually forcing myself out of bed, I always have a quick scroll through the day's Timehop memories. I joined Facebook about 11 years ago which means that Timehop now shows me updates from as far back as 2007. I was in my third year of university for the first half of 2007 and worked in Tesco for the last half, so life was very different back then.

My daily trip down memory lane has made me realise that my hobbies and interests have changed quite a bit over the last ten years as I've got older and my lifestyle and priorities have changed. I enthusiastically decided a few weeks ago that this would make an excellent topic for a blog post.

So, here's a bit of an audit on how my hobbies have changed from my early 20s to my early 30s...

New hobbies

I set up my blog in 2011 and have been blogging pretty regularly since, particularly over the last five years. Blogging is a great creative outlet for me and I do genuinely enjoy updating my own little corner of the internet.

Although I used to walk everywhere when I was a student, that was more out of necessity rather than because I enjoyed it. I couldn't afford to pay for taxis and I didn't pass my driving test until I was 21, so walking felt like a bit of a chore. Nowadays, I love going out for walks around our beautiful local areas.

Eating Believe it or not, I used to be quite a fussy eater when I was younger. While I was at university and for a couple of years afterwards, I didn't really appreciate the joy of food like I do now. I'm not a very good cook and I couldn't afford to eat out much, so I used to live on pasta and beans on toast. These days, it won't surprise you to hear that I LOVE eating. 

Walt Disney World
I went to Walt Disney World for the first time when I was 25 and I well and truly caught the bug. I've been six times since then and fully intend to go back next year.

I've always worn pyjamas (obviously), but I've only started getting really excited about them during the last few years. I think I prefer shopping for new pyjamas than shopping for actual clothes.

I was absolutely terrified of dogs in my early 20s. Now, I think I actually prefer dogs to people most of the time and I've even got my own amazing dog.

Old hobbies

In my early 20s and for many years before that, I used to spend an absolute fortune on rugby tickets. I went to watch Swansea playing regularly when I was still in school, and I bought tickets to watch both Cardiff and Wales on a regular basis throughout my time at university. These days, I'm not bothered about watching the games on TV let alone in real life. I'm not sure when I fell out of love with it, but at some point it just stopped being a priority for me.

Collecting newspaper cuttings
Anyone who has ever lived with me will know that my bedroom walls and furniture used to be completely covered in newspaper cuttings featuring my favourite rugby memories, my favourite rugby players and my favourite celebrities. I also had separate folders full of cuttings which I couldn't fit on the walls. About six years ago, I decided that my bedroom walls looked much nicer without all that clutter and I haven't looked back since! 

Going out on a Friday and/or Saturday night
I used to go out quite regularly at the weekends in my early 20s, but these days I love nothing more than to curl up in my aforementioned pyjamas on a Saturday night with a film and a hot chocolate (and perhaps a glass of wine if I'm feeling adventurous).

Hobbies that have lasted the distance

I've loved reading since I was about four years old when I used to devour new Enid Blyton books every day. My love for reading has never wavered, and I hope it never will.

I started going to the gym during my second year at university. I've been a member of a few different gyms over the years and have experimented with exercise classes, cardio and weight training. This is definitely a hobby that's remained very constant over the last ten years or so.

My love for Disney has grown since I started visiting Walt Disney World (and so has my collection of Mickey ears), but it's always been there since I was a little girl who was obsessed with 101 Dalmatians, Bambi and the Jungle Book.

Listening to music became a hobby in my mid teens, and it's still up there as one of my favourites. My music taste hasn't really changed since then... I'm currently listening to S Club 7's Greatest Hits.

I did have quite a big gap where I didn't watch Neighbours for a few years during my mid 20s, but it's well and truly back in my life now and brightening up my evenings.

Buying pink things 
This isn't really a hobby as such, but pink has been my favourite colour for as long as I can remember and that remains the case to this day!

How have your hobbies changed over the last ten years? 

Friday, 14 September 2018

A summer of afternoon teas

Before last month, I'd only been for one afternoon tea in 2018. Can you believe it?

Thankfully, this precarious situation has been rectified over the last few weeks and I've been for two afternoon teas with lovely people. The first one was a brand new experience and the second was in one of my favourite haunts, so I thought I'd blog about them both to give you a bit of a flavour!

Sarah bought a voucher for a Mad Hatter's afternoon tea in Llety Cynin for my birthday back in June. We decided to book it for a Saturday in mid August as a mid point between both our birthdays. I stayed in Sarah's house on the Friday night to make a proper weekend of it, and we drove to Llety Cynin on the Saturday afternoon with high expectations.

From the minute we arrived, we definitely weren't disappointed. The function room was smaller than expected and only had about six tables, but this was a good thing as it meant our food was brought out quickly and it was nice and quiet. The room was perfectly themed and we even had photo props on our table. It was immediately clear that a lot of thought had gone into the whole afternoon tea experience as well as the food itself.

I had a peach iced tea to start which was tasty and refreshing. We were told we could have tea, coffee or iced tea to drink, or all three if we were so inclined! Unlimited drink refills were also made available for us if we wanted them, free of charge. 

The food came out within about ten minutes and it was a very impressive sight, to put it mildly. I loved the effort that had gone into the presentation, mostly because it made it very instagrammable. We had a selection of sandwiches, chive scones with cream cheese and parma ham, and an amazing selection of cakes.

The cakes were all homemade, including the Jammy Dodger, and the macaron was one of the best cakes I've ever had at an afternoon tea. I didn't need to eat anything for the rest of the day which is always a good sign that they didn't skimp on the portions. 

A few weeks after my great experience at Llety Cynin's Mad Hatter's afternoon tea with Sarah, Liz came to visit for a few hours on a lovely sunny day. We booked a table at Pettigrew Tea Rooms as it's one of our old favourites, and Liz also brought Abigail along (her 8 month old baby) for her very first afternoon tea experience!

One of the many plus points for Pettigrew Tea Rooms is that you have loads of choice when it comes to your drink, sandwiches, scones and cake. They have a great choice of flavoured teas on offer, as well as coffee and hot chocolate. I went for the Mango Noir tea as I'd never tried it before, and I managed to drink an entire teapot of it. 

We chose egg mayonnaise, brie and fruit chutney, and cheddar and tomato on mixed bread for our sandwiches, and we also had fruit scones with all the trimmings. And, as is customary at Pettigrew Tea Rooms, we had a massive slab of cake to finish. We both opted for the Passionfruit, Lime and Coconut loaf cake to take away and it was scrumptious. I was a little bit gutted that I offered to share it with Neil.. that'll teach me for trying to be thoughtful. 

I'm on a mission to make sure I book in a couple more afternoon teas before the end of 2018, and I've already got one booked in tomorrow with Amy which I'm very excited about. As always, keep an eye on my Instagram for updates. 

Do you have any afternoon tea recommendations for me? Let me know in the comments! 

Friday, 7 September 2018

Our fourth wedding anniversary

It was our fourth wedding anniversary last week. I know I know, I can't believe it's been four years either. 

Our anniversary fell on a Thursday which meant we didn't do much to celebrate on the day itself. However, we still opened our cards and presents and indulged in a few cranberry and white chocolate welshcakes from Fabulous Welshcakes.

The themes for fourth wedding anniversary gifts are fruit, flowers or linen, depending on which version you read. Neil and I don't stick to the themes too rigidly, but sometimes they can provide a spark of inspiration.

I had some lovely gifts from Neil, as always!

Beautiful flowers and a Mickey and Minnie Disney Traditions figurine. We got engaged in Walt Disney World five years ago so I love the sentiment behind this figurine. 

Cute Winnie the Pooh pyjamas which I've been coveting from Asda for ages. I'm a little disappointed that it's still too hot to wear long pyjamas to bed. 

Neil also bought a little floral charm for me from Amazon which fits perfectly on my Pandora bracelets. It's very pretty but didn't photograph well, so it couldn't be featured in the blog post! 

I got home from work on the day of our anniversary to discover that Jessie had very thoughtfully bought us a card. She'd also written a lovely message in it, although her handwriting looks suspiciously similar to Neil's. I still find big events and anniversaries a little difficult after the events of two years ago, so this gesture meant the world to me. 

We wanted to make sure we celebrated our fourth anniversary in style, so we went to Llanerch Vineyard for our celebratory meal last Saturday evening. It was a beautiful day which made the tranquil surroundings even more spectacular. 

We went the whole hog and had three courses (obviously), and everything tasted just as good as it looks in the mouth-watering photos below...  

Asparagus, black garlic emulsion, and a beer and charcoal polenta coated poached egg.

Sirloin steak with confit'd banana shallot, mushroom ketchup, crispy capers, smoked pancetta and truffle salted chips. 

Strawberry and pistachio meringue with clotted cream and vanilla ice cream. 

After finishing our meal and walking back to the car via some lovely views, we went home to Jessie and shared a bottle of wine to finish off the evening. Well, Neil and I shared a bottle of wine. Jessie had a dental stick and some chicken. 

I can't quite believe that another wedding anniversary has been and gone! We're now wondering how we should celebrate our fifth anniversary next year... watch this space. 

Friday, 31 August 2018

My wedding day highlights

Truth bomb... I didn't enjoy wedding planning in the slightest.

It was stressful, it was expensive, it was time consuming, and it often felt as if it wasn't worth all the stress just for one day.

However, even though there were times when I couldn't wait for the day to be over, the day itself was perfect. I managed to relax and to enjoy it, and all that meticulous planning and preparation meant that nothing went wrong on the day. 

As it was our fourth wedding anniversary yesterday and I've been looking through our lovely wedding photos, I thought it would be nice if I blogged about some of the things I particularly enjoyed on our wedding day. Some of them are pretty obvious highlights which I knew I'd enjoy, but others took me completely by surprise on the day.

1. Getting ready

I thought the morning of the wedding would be a massive stressfest and that everything would feel really rushed. And what on earth would I do if my wedding dress suddenly didn't fit any more?! Thankfully, it turned out to be a lovely morning with my mother and my bridesmaids. The lady who did my hair and make up was super friendly and put me at ease, and we were all ready and raring to go by the time the cars turned up to take us to the church. And, most importantly, my wedding dress fitted like a glove!

2. Walking down the aisle 

I was partly dreading this part in the run-up to the wedding just in case I tripped over my dress or bawled my eyes out, but I loved walking down the aisle with my dad and seeing all my friends and family waiting for us. Although a few tears did threaten to spill over when I saw everyone staring and grinning at me, I managed to hold it together and didn't end up with make up all over my face.

3. Car journey from the church to the reception 

This was one of the most relaxing parts of our wedding day, and probably the most Neil and I spoke to each other throughout the entire day. The formal part of the day was over, we had the rest of the day to look forward to, and we didn't have to worry about entertaining our guests for this brief period of time. So we sipped champagne, had a chat with the driver and generally just laughed a lot while we got chauffeured to our reception venue in style.

4. First look at our reception venue 

We held our wedding reception at the Copthorne Hotel and I'd put loads of thought in to the colour scheme, the centrepieces and the decorations. I was worried that it would look like a mishmash of slightly different shades of turquoise on the day or that the hotel wouldn't have followed my very precise instructions, but it all looked perfect and just how I wanted it. (It's worth noting that this particular shade of turquoise still gives me a little flutter of stress whenever I see it.)

5. Food! 

I mentioned at the beginning of this post that some of my highlights were obvious... this is one of those obvious ones. I was absolutely STARVING by the time we sat down for our wedding breakfast meal and I couldn't wait to tuck in to the food we'd chosen for the day. All three courses were really good and I also loved our wedding favours from Fabulous Welshcakes. We put on a buffet for our guests later on in the evening so we definitely didn't skimp on food for our big day. I'd been on a strict diet for months before the wedding so I wanted to make sure there was plenty of food available for me on the day!

6. Speeches 

If I'm being completely honest, I was mostly excited about the speeches because I could just sit back and enjoy them rather than having to take part. My dad's 'father of the bride' speech was amazing and lots of people have said it's the best wedding speech they've ever heard. Neil's speech and his best man's speech were also funny and very touching, and it was lovely to see everyone smiling and laughing at all the appropriate moments. I really wish they'd been recorded so that I could watch them back whenever I feel sad.

7. Dancing 

Neil and I were dreading our first dance. We're not really dancing people, and our choice of first dance music meant that people would be staring at us for the entirety of Tangled's 'I see the light'. True to form, we didn't really enjoy the first dance and were glad when it was over, but I really loved dancing more informally to our poptastic playlist later on in the evening. I lost count of how many times the DJ played McFly and S Club 7, and that's always a sign of a good night.

8. Breakfast the next morning 

I know this wasn't strictly part of our wedding day, but it was really nice to eat breakfast with our family and friends the morning after the wedding. It was a lovely way to wind down and to say thankyou and goodbye to everyone properly before they went their separate ways and got scattered across the UK. It was also nice to sit down for some food before starting the stressful job of packing away and transporting all our wedding paraphernalia!

I really can't believe four years have already gone by since our wedding day. I also can't believe this is the first time I've blogged about my wedding day highlights... better late than never. Look out for a post about our fourth wedding anniversary next week!

Friday, 24 August 2018

The joys (and frustrations) of eBay

I've been selling items on eBay on and off for the last 8 years. In the last year or so, I've properly got in to it and it's been my most productive year yet in terms of sales. I've also bought a few items from eBay for the first time ever, although I definitely do more selling than buying at the moment.

I thought I'd list some pros and cons of both selling and buying on eBay for my readers. I've also got some tips for those who are thinking about starting out, along with my personal buying and selling rules.

What's great about eBay?  

  • The eBay app is fantastic and makes listing and re-listing very simple. Gone are the days when I had to photograph all my items then laboriously sit and list every item on my laptop. The app is also great for buyers and easily lets you keep track of items you're watching and those you've placed bids on. 
  • My eBay obsession means that I'm regularly de-cluttering my wardrobe. I have a pretty strict 'one in, one out' policy when it comes to new clothes and bags, and selling items on eBay helps me to enforce that. 
  • The integration between eBay and PayPal is seamless, so you never have to worry about how buyers are going to pay you or how you're going to pay for items you've won. Once you've linked both accounts, all the work is done for you. 
  • Although eBay is generally known as the place to go for pre-owned bargains, you can also buy new items from well known brands at hugely discounted prices. For those of you who are nervous about buying used items, this can be a good place to start. 
  • The majority of sellers offer 'click and collect' as a delivery option which is very convenient when you can't get parcels delivered to work and don't want to keep knocking on your neighbours' doors when you get home. 
  • The most obvious benefit is the extra cash, which you can then use to buy the new things you've made room for! For example, a couple of months ago, I had a really good month on eBay so I bought myself a beautiful Kate Spade bag. It was guilt-free spending as it was bought entirely out of my eBay profits, and everyone knows that guilt-free spending is the best kind.

What makes me want to tear my hair out? 

  • Although the app is fantastic on the whole, it does have its drawbacks. There are some things you still have to do from the desktop site on your laptop such as checking your account balance so that you know how much your monthly eBay invoice is going to be, opening an unpaid item case, and reporting buyers. Hopefully one day it'll be a full-service app!
  • Time wasters who bid for your item then don't bother to pay for it are the bane of my life. And, most frustratingly of all, you can't give negative feedback to buyers so it feels as if they're never shown up for their actions. 
  • Between eBay and PayPal, fees for sellers are quite steep. eBay will charge a 10% final value fee for every item you sell, and PayPal will slap on 3.4% plus 20p on top of that. Don't forget that eBay will also take 10% of your postage charges, so make sure you allow for that so that you don't end up out of pocket. 
  • eBay can sometimes feel like a second job. Photographing your items, listing them, packing them up and taking them to the post office takes up a LOT of time, as well as making sure items are re-listed correctly if they don't sell.

Weighing up the pros and cons, I think eBay is definitely worth the effort in the long run. However, I have set myself some selling and buying rules to make sure I don't go overboard. Rules control the fun! 

  • I never ever sell items that were bought for me as a gift. I'd feel terrible if I made a profit from a gift that someone had put a lot of thought into, and it suddenly wouldn't feel like guilt-free spending any more.
  • I regularly review my eBay pile and move things to my charity shop bag if they've been listed for a few months and still haven't had any interest. This means I'm still contributing towards good causes as well as making some extra money for myself.  
  • Whenever I withdraw my 'winnings' from PayPal, I put the money into a separate account. This means I can keep track of what I've made on eBay and it doesn't get swallowed up in my regular account. When I want to make a big purchase specifically out of my eBay funds, I'll move the money back into my current account to cover it. 
  • I never buy anything from anyone who's got less than 100% feedback. This is probably a bit harsh, but I'd prefer to have as much confidence in the seller as possible.
  • I refuse to get drawn in to bidding wars which often end up with the buyer paying way more for an item than they initially planned. If I really want an item, I'll bid when the auction hasn't got long left and will set my maximum bid while I'm at it. My maximum bid will be the very top end of what I'm willing to pay for that particular item. If someone else beats my maximum bid before the action ends, I bow out. 

Do you agree with my pros and cons? Have you got any tips to share with me? Let me know!

Friday, 17 August 2018

Pink, grey and white with a touch of Disney

We started a colossal re-decorating project a few months ago which all started with us deciding we needed to spruce up our bedroom.

Our room is pretty small and we weren't making the best use of the space available to us. Also, some of our bedroom furniture was looking a bit worse for wear as we'd spent as little on it as possible when we moved in to the house four years ago. If anyone ever tells you that buying a house and planning a wedding at the same time is a great idea, please don't believe them for a second.

We decided a fitted wardrobe on one end of the room was the best way to maximise the space. Of course, if we wanted a fitted wardrobe, that would mean replacing the carpet as it was looking a bit worn. And if we were replacing the carpet in our room, it made sense to replace it everywhere else too. And everyone knows that you might as well re-paint all the walls before you get a new carpet fitted. Can you see why this suddenly became a much bigger project than 'we need to sort out our bedroom'?

Anyway, to cut a long and boring story short, we re-carpeted all the carpeted rooms in the house and painted all the walls. You can see the results from our guest room in one of my recent blog posts. Our bedroom was the most time-consuming room of all and was the last to get finished, but it's been well worth the wait.

We opted for two single fitted wardrobes with a dressing table and two top boxes. I've got my own fitted wardrobe in the opposite corner of the bedroom, so these wardrobes are for Neil's clothes. However, the dressing table area is definitely my domain! I bought a grey stool with in-built storage and a little white drawer unit to make the most of the space underneath, and I was all set. 

The dressing table itself took a little longer and a lot of re-arranging before I was completely satisfied with it. I'd had my white jewellery box for a few years and it was the perfect match, so that was always going to be my centrepiece. I fell in love with the baby pink vase in Next so that went straight in my shopping basket, as did the white flowers from Wilko. I bought the little white pots from Ikea for all my make up brushes and tubes, then Minnie Mouse and Marie were given the honour of sitting on the dressing table and looking pretty. I just needed a nice white mirror to finish it all off and found one in Argos for £7. Bargain! 

The walls and the carpet are slightly different shades of grey, so we went for a grey bed from Dreams to continue the theme. It's an ottoman type which means the bed frame can easily be lifted up with ample storage underneath. We chose baby pink accessories to complement the grey and the white, and it all works together really well. I also loved having the excuse to buy new colour-coordinated bedding to go with the theme! I haven't photographed the bed in its entirety as I can never manage to make the bedding look all tidy and crease-free, but it's a big improvement on what we had before and looks so cosy. 

We put a floating shelf above the bed to house some of my many Disney teddies and Disney Traditions figurines, and my Dumbo print from Florida has been put up in pride of place. All the teddies on the shelf are pink, grey and white... I feel as if I've spent a LOT of time contemplating which Disney teddies fit in with various colour schemes over the last few weeks. 

No room is complete without some nice meaningful photos, so I wanted to make sure we had plenty of nice photographs in our room. We've got 7 small white and grey photo frames along our windowsill which are filled with a mix of Disney postcards and photos, and I also bought this larger white frame to hold some of our holiday memories. Jessie also has a whole row to herself which is just the way it should be. 

So, after a few months of hard work, I think we've finally finished re-decorating and re-arranging our entire house. What do you think of our pink, grey and white bedroom? Do you think there are enough Disney touches or should I try to sneak some more in...? 

Friday, 10 August 2018

Breakfast review: Bill's

Going for breakfast at Bill's has become a little bit of an obsession for us over the last few months.

I've visited Bill's loads of times for lunch and dinner, but we'd never got around to going there for breakfast until the end of May. We were missing our American breakfasts after coming home from Florida with a particular craving for pancakes, and we'd heard that Bill's was a pretty good substitute.

There's a Bill's in Cardiff city centre and in Cardiff Bay, and I've been to both restaurants several times over the last few years. However, when we go to Bill's as a couple, we always go to the one in Cardiff Bay as it's more convenient for us and is set in beautiful surroundings, especially on a sunny day.

On our first visit to Bill's back in May, I ordered the banana, strawberry and blueberry pancakes. You can choose between a 3 stack or a 5 stack, so I opted for the 3 stack to be on the safe side. I've got a hefty appetite but, for some reason, I REALLY struggle to finish all my food when it comes to American pancakes. 

I think you'll agree that this is a very instagrammable breakfast. The pancakes come with a decent helping of Bill's 'pancake syrup', which is basically their own branded maple syrup. The fruit adds the sweetness that's needed to break up the texture of the pancakes, and the whole dish just works perfectly. These pancakes are slightly thinner than their American counterparts which means they're more manageable for me, and I can comfortably clear my plate as long as I order a 3 stack. 

On our second visit to Bill's for breakfast in June, I chose the smoked streaky bacon pancakes. I think I marginally prefer the fruity variety, but that bacon really was cooked to perfection. My only slight issue with the bacon pancakes is that they come with a big dollop of very rich butter as well as the pancake syrup, and this meant the meal felt a little too rich for me towards the end. 

Bill's has plenty of options for breakfast if you don't fancy pancakes, but I don't think I'll ever be able to order anything else just in case I'm disappointed! There are also plenty of beverages on offer including tea, coffee, orange juice and a very tasty apple, carrot and ginger juice. 

Our breakfast usually comes to around £22, and Bill's will also add an optional 10% service charge to your bill. I think this is pretty reasonable for a good quality breakfast, and it's always a lovely experience with great service. We definitely need to plan our next visit soon. 

Have you been to Bill's for breakfast recently? What did you think?