Thursday, 15 August 2013

Throwback Thursday- Roam Cambodia



It's always around this time of year where I start to feel a little nostalgic, as my very first solo travel adventure began around three years ago today. I remember feeling SO scared and I had no idea what lay ahead of me.

This picture* was taken around ten days into my trip when I'd met up with a lovely bunch on a Roam Cambodia tour from Gap Adventures.

We woke up at something ridiculously early like 4am to get to see the famous Angkor Wat at sunrise and stay 'til sunset -like true tourists! Amy puked in the van, Nicola (M) got stung by a horse fly, I broke my flip flops and nearly fell down a pretty high rock, but all in all it was a great day and an unforgettable experience for certain!

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Birthday celebrations

My mammoth week long birthday celebrations are finally over. I've had such a perfect time celebrating with nearly all of my favourite people and I've been so spoiled by everyone. I'm feeling incredibly grateful and happy with my life and all of the people in it right now. You guuuuuys!

The celebrations kicked off the night before my birthday with an incredible cake tower made out of CHEESE (A savoury cheesecake if you will) on a heart shaped slate cheeseboard. The perfect accessory for any cheese lover, from my equally cheese fiendish boyfriend.


The next day I opened lots more lovely presents and headed off to Woburn safari park, because you're never too old to want to see/stroke/steal animals. NEVER! I spent a good 40 mins trying to coax a monkey on to the roof of my old Clio, but they were far more interested  in the fancy cars and big people carriers. My boyfriend took so many amazing pictures with his fancy zoom lens, but they probably won't be uploaded for another ten years or so, lost in the realm with all our stunning Italy pics! (Boys! :-P)




We had a lovely day mooching and picnicking with my awesome new hamper before heading over to spend the evening with my family eating delicious Mediterranean food and laughing at the fail 'finger cake' my mum lovingly baked for me. (Sorry mum!)

(Carrot cake)
The bike of my dreams!
The next day I got to see my two best friends, eat burgers at my favourite burger place, pop some prosecco and open yet more gifts! The girls got me tickets to go to the Dirty Dancing future cinema night all together, so I am naturally peeing my pants with excitement already. Roll on the 30th!

The main celebration was on Friday night where I'd booked a booth at the Renaissance rooms in Vauxhaull for the famous London Roller Disco. 
Oh my god. I knew it would be a good night but it was even funnier than expected! Just imagine the cheesiest, most retro nightclub ever, then imagine it mildly drunk, then with all of your best fiends, then imagine it ON WHEELS! Pink light up ones in fact for me!
It was non stop hilarity from start to finish. The staff were fun and friendly (which I wasn't expecting after reading so many reviews on line), the venue was big enough to skate without being crushed, the stewards who pick you up and try not to laugh at you when you heroically fall down (a lot) and the free champagne all made for a really great night!
Also- going to the toilet in roller skates is REALLY HARD! Here's a few pics of the night before I was unable to even hold let alone use my phone...



The rest of the weekend has been spent recovering, hanging around at home (literally) and having a very quaint and girly Pintrest inspired picnic in Hampstead. Perfection!




Now I'm ready to hide myself away again and have no more celebrating for a while. Getting too old for this :-p 

Thursday, 8 August 2013

New age, new job

I'm afraid this is another 'Me' post, but after such an eventful two weeks I couldn't help but write about what's been going on.

Yesterday was my birthday, woohoo! A quarter of a century old, but very happy about it. Plus, some very exciting news to reveal!

After my week from hell last week, I can't tell you how good it feels to finally not be in pain and to be able to drink, celebrate and be merry with my special ones.

Anyone who follows me on my Twitter would no doubt have heard me moaning about my infected wisdom tooth, my body's bad reaction to antibiotics, and then the final yanking out of said tooth. It was pretty grim and I was a sleep deprived, starved, emotional wreck by the end of it.

Beast of a tooth!
Still, a week later and I'm happy to announce that, in the midst of all the mayhem, I managed to bag myself a new job!

I'm going to be re-entering the world of full time work after an intense- yet- incredible three years freelancing, adventuring and exploring, so I'm a little nervous but very excited to get started.

I'll be joining the well-known team at CloudNine as a specialist social media and digital recruiter, working alongside social media recruitment 'guru' (we love that word) Steve Ward, and one of my fellow class of 2009 Journalism graduates and fellow blogger, Holly, the original (and best) Yummy Mummy! So yes, feeling very lucky indeed! I will have a lot to learn and it will be a slow start, but I'm keen to give it everything I've got and, hopefully, still find the time to blog, sing, song write and indulge in all my other random hobbies along the way...

The first thing on my list to purchase ;) 
I have definitely rambled on too long to include my birthday summary in this post now as well, so it'll have to be scheduled for the next one.

Stay tuned for monkeys, mountains of cheese, birthday treats and CAKE, so much cake!

Thursday, 1 August 2013

July summary

I CAN'T BELIEVE IT'S AUGUST!

That means one week 'til my birthday woohoo- Roll on quarter life crisis!

I thought I'd start doing a month's summary in pictures, so here goes:


From left to right: 
1. Shooting an advert on David Hasslehoff's balcony in London overlooking the Thames
2. Getting very excited for my Birthday roller disco. Free entry and flashing skates?!
3. A hilariously drunken girly night out with my best friends and a lot of rowdy 50 year olds (family friends)
4. Weekly dinner dates with these two sexy ladies
5. DIET? What diet? 
6. The one where I couldn't stop buying shoes. (3 pairs in a day to be exact)
7. My brothers birthday, talking his pug pup to the pub and him terrorising the locals for attention
8. The aftermath of a very messy food fight for another TV job. I was playing a waitress.
9. My wonderful grandma (Big G) and the gorgeous Harvey two-face

That's my July summary. Where's yours? ;-)

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Perfect American pancakes

As a thank you for playing nurse to my poor man-flu ridden boyfriend all last week, he surprised me to some amazingly naughty but nice American pancakes for breakfast at the weekend. Topped with lashings of maple syrup and fruit as a side, it wasn't a bad way to wake up on a rainy Sunday!

Clearly he knows the way to my heart well ;-)


Check out the recipe here, courtesy of Jamie if you're interested! 

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Hashtag heatwave

Guys, we need to clear something up here,

IT'S NOT A HEATWAVE, IT'S HOW SUMMER IS SUPPOSED TO BE!

The next time I hear somebody complaining about this heat, I want to have them banished to a lifetime of miserable, grey, cold winters. Send them to Scotland or something.

(Sorry Scottish readers)

But this sun and heat is incredible. It makes almost everyone so much happier and friendlier and just generally makes London a much lovelier place to be.

If we could just have every Summer like this and have it last for more than five days at a time, then I would probably/maybe/maybe not consider stopping moaning about how much I want to leave England all of the time.

Anyway, because I am clearly not capable of writing anything of readable worth today, here's some photos of recent London sun adventures.

Long may it last!

Getting ready to take on Andy Murray at the #hitthewinner competition
Pedalo's in Regent's Park with the wife
Clearly the picnic was so good she didn't realise I was steering us right into a tree...


Hiring a hot tub is the way forward!
Pimms, naturally
Tree monkey
One of many, many bbq's

Is anybody not loving this weather? Find me. We need to talk ;-)

Monday, 15 July 2013

I'm out of work and I want to cry

Looking for work sucks. Whether you've been made redundant, you're fresh out of Uni, or you're just between jobs and looking for a change, we've all been there!
It's a lonely time and frankly, whether you liked your job or not, searching for a new one is probably more boring than the lot of them put together.

It can feel even harder if you're not entirely sure which direction you want to take. But don't stress, this post is about finding a way to use this to your advantage. After all this is probably the most time you're going to have on your hands for a while, so make the most of it!

Call me Mrs Motivator! (Or not..) Here's some tips and suggestions from survival methods I've picked up over time:

Self evaluate
Write a list of all the things you've ever wanted to do in your life. Footballer? Actress? Lawyer? Hey, I'm not dissing your ambitions, this could be anything. When you're working 40+ hours a week it's so easy to forget you once had a life outside of work, so get some perspective, look at what it is you want to be doing and where you want to be; set yourself goals and work towards them, however ridiculous they may seem at the time.
And, if you really don't have a clue, check out this ingeniously fun website for endless hours of inspiration!

Learn a new skill
I'm such a skill hoarder. I love learning new things but my downfall is sticking to them. Still, being out of work is a great way to teach yourself something you've always wanted to do but never had the time to. Learn another language, teach yourself guitar, get acting lessons, or start cooking crazy recipes! Aside from being great brain trainers when you feel like you're loosing your mind on job sites, learning new skills also adds more depth to your character and makes you far more interesting when you do finally get that those job interviews rolling in.


Temp
Bit of a controversial one here, but I've heard it work for a lot of people. Some say it's a waste of time you should be spending looking for a 'proper job', but temping for me is great because you're constantly learning and adapting to new environments. You meet new people, pick up (even) more skills, you get paid a fairly decent wage, and if you impress them enough you might even get a job at the end of it. Win win!

Put yourself out there
So many people put their successes down to being in the right place at the right time. It's much easier to dazzle potential employers with your charm and wit when you're actually in the same room as them, as opposed to sat in your dressing gown at home typing out pages upon pages of desperate sounding covering letters. You need to stand out from the crowd, and the best way to do that is to network and really get yourself out there. Go to meetups, public speaking events, networking socials, gatecrash a party if you have to! (No, don't do that. But you catch my drift). Always carry personal business cards with you, always be friendly and enthusiastic, and always be as interested (and interesting) as possible. In time you're sure to meet someone who knows someone, who works for someone, who runs a company, who's eagerly awaiting for someone just like you!

Go self employed
More and more people these days are ditching the 9-5 and deciding to be their own bosses.
It has it's drawbacks of course, no pension, no paid holidays, less stability, and the dreaded self assessment tax return once a year. But once you've gotten past that, being your own boss means you can choose your hours, choose exactly where you want to work, how you want to progress with your own career, and basically only have to answer to yourself, your contractor at the time and, occasionally, HMRC (*shudders*) Don't expect instant results or an easy ride, but the flexibility, longterm job satisfaction and pride in your accomplishments will all be worth it in the end.
You can find more info for registering as self employed here and here.



DON'T GET DEPRESSED

Easier said than done believe me, I know. Being out of work can feel so depressing and make you feel worthless if you let it get to you, but it's important to keep focused, be positive and continuously take inspiration from all the wonderful things around you. It's so easy to slip into depression when you feel like everyone else around you belongs somewhere and you're never going to have money or a sense of belonging ever again but you will. The universe isn't that cruel.

I want to go back and slap my sad, cereal eating (why always with the cereal?!) unemployed self round the face and say pull yourself together! Because the more you start seeing what you CAN do, as opposed to what you feel you constantly keep getting knocked back for, then you can start to rebuild yourself again. Find what works for you and make it happen. Keep yourself busy, allow yourself to be inspired and please remind yourself- It won't be this way forever!

I'm going to set up an 'Inspiration' tab on this blog soon enough, so hopefully I can pull together all of the things that have helped me along the way so far and share them with you too!

I hope these have helped a little. Share your stories and your advice below!

*All images courtesy of www.facebook.com/wtfshouldidowithmylife

Follow Little Lost online

If you've enjoyed reading Little Lost, why not keep up to date with my latest posts over on Bloglovin'.

Since the tragic death of Google Reader, I don't know what anybody else uses to follow their favourite blogs, but I've turned to Bloglovin' (Where I follow about 300 random different blogs!)

My profile is looking pretty sad, so if you do like my blog please do pop over and give me a follow, it will give me the kick up the bum I'm needing to blog more and not feel like I'm getting completely lost in the already over saturated blogosphere!

Also, if you're a social media geek like me, you can find more of my random life snippets over on Pintrest, Readwave, Twitter and Instagram.

I think that's more than enough ME for now!

Thursday, 4 July 2013

My blogs on ReadWave!

A few days ago I received an email about a blog post I wrote back in 2011 when I had just returned from my first solo backpacking adventure and was already preparing for the next one.

It was called The Five People You Meet in Hostels. It's been getting a hell of a lot of spam recently, I don't know why, it's pretty annoying, but anyway, I digress. The email was from a very complimentary chap called Robert Tucker, who is the community manager of a site called ReadWave, a lovely little part of the internet where people can exchange their own short stories, articles and poems in a friendly, well moderated community.

Rob told me that the site was looking to expand further by adding a travel category and encouraging writers to share personal travel accounts as well as just fictional short stories.

He suggested I add some of my travel blogs on there as well as new material and I'm glad I did! It has been selected as one of the top pics and is now featured on the homepage where I've had some lovely comments already, and none of them spam ;-)

ReadWave home page and my blog post!

I've set up my profile on ReadWave here, and I urge any other writer/reader friends to check it out, I'm sure you won't be disappointed!


Tuesday, 2 July 2013

The best burger in London

This is a bit of a bold claim, but I'm pretty sure I've now tasted the best burger in London. And I eat a lot of burgers!

Haché prides itself on being a family run restaurant whose purpose is to 'produce the best and most innovative burgers to be found anywhere', all made from 100% prime Scottish beef steak. 

When I heard about this restaurant from a friend (who couldn't remember the name) I just assumed they must've been talking about The Diner in Covent Garden, as so far their 'Arch burger' with all it's pulled pork juicy goodness was way up their as one of the best in town in my books anyway.

Still, after some quick research and strolling around the streets of Camden, I found Haché, tucked seemingly discreetly down Inverness Street just off the high street. Haché also has branches in Chelsea, Shoreditch and Clapham.

The Camden branch was still busy on a Saturday night, close to 10pm. There was a lovely laid back vibe with fairy lights (of the sophisticated kind) canoodling couples sharing generous portions of desserts and various groups of people tucking into crazy sized burgers and sides. It was sophisticated, but not too showy.

The menu was extensive, filled with imaginatively crafted burger ideas, sides, steaks, salads and veggie options. I opted for the good old Canadian (Smoked bacon and cheese) on a ciabatta bun with a side salad. My boyfriend ordered the Steak Louisiana which had crunchy peanut butter and cheese on a ciabatta bun with coleslaw and sweet potato fries. 


Everything was delicious! The meat was cooked to perfection (medium-rare) and it was the juiciest  sweetest, saltiest, bloodiest beef I've ever had in a burger. The serving size was huge so I couldn't eat all  of the tasty bread, but I chowed down on my side salad and shared the mouthwatering sweet potato fries and creamy 'slaw evenly(ish). 
We didn't have dessert as we were way too stuffed, but both agreed it was the best burger selection, nicest restaurant and tastiest beef we'd had so far between two pieces of bread! 

I liked it so much I revisited again a week later with my girlfriends to try out the Clapham branch. The girls are both veggies, but thankfully the veggie selection is just as good and we all left feeling very stuffed and satisfied. 
The Goat's Cheese burger with avocado, portobello mushroom, aubergine and red pesto. 10/10!
I'm now on the hunt to try and match this place. If you think there's any restaurants or pop ups that can measure up to the challenge, please do let me know and I will put my burger eating skills to the test and write about it on here if it meets the grade!

Friday, 28 June 2013

Back to reality- Italy post

Eight glorious sun filled days and over indulgent feast filled nights later, I'm home and suffering from the inevitable holiday blues once again.

I had such a wonderful time exploring one of my all time favourite countries and cramming as much in as possible in the short time we had.

I love a good travel plan, so my boyfriend left me do all the planning and it worked out pretty well despite a few minor stressful bus/train/boat transfers and winding up in a town with NO ATM FOR 2 MILES. What year is this?! Anyhow, here's a few highlights...

ROME
We stayed at the lovely, fairly basic but very hospitable B&B Stella Di Roma right in the heart of the centre, which gave us a great feel for the city and made us feel like cool (fake) Italian locals. Transport around Rome is so easy, you can walk around most of it with a map, or there are two main metro lines to take you round the sights if you've exhausted yourself from walking. Or, in my case, eating. 

Plenty of statues for recreating...
The Colosseum  
Carbonara. Had to be done!

ISCHIA
I'm so glad we made the decision to hop on a train to Naples and catch a boat down to the island of Ischia. What a beautiful place! We knew nothing about it prior to going, but we knew we didn't want to stay in the city for too long and wherever we were going it had to be by the sea. I love the seeeeaaaa! It turns out Ischia (pronounced 'Iskeeyah) is pretty much where all the sun loving Italian's take their holidays. I'm a bit embarrassed to admit we didn't explore any further than our sleepy seaside town area of Ischia Port, but it was all we needed! Delicious restaurants, boutiques, our hotel with a pool and HOT TUBS and of course, the seeeeaa for relaxing and tanning. We stayed at Pagoda hotel which we were very happy with and hope to visit again one day. 

Bliss
Approaching the port  
The main reason for choosing this hotel!
SORRENTO

I was so sad to leave Ischia that admittedly I wasn't too impressed with Sorrento at first. I expected big things and although it is truly stunning it was just far too touristy after our relaxing few nights on the island. Still, we had a very friendly B&B right in the centre of town who told us all the best places to go, things to do and places to eat. We had gelato EVERY day at this insane gelateria which had just about every flavour imaginable. (Melon or lemon on a healthy day, Kinder maxi or chocolate on a pig day for me!) We rented a car and drove round the beautiful Amalfi coast, visited Pompei and Positano, attempted to visit Capri on a boat but it got cancelled (boo!) lounged by the sea and ate so much sea food and pasta I can now no longer fit into some of my jeans. But it was all very much worth it. A wonderful holiday/travellation indeed :-) 
Sorrento port and main beach
Hiking up Positano and finding beautiful lemon trees

Seafood linguine at Giginos restaurant. So delicious!
Drooling....
Can I just live here?!
I hope you liked my photos! If you're planning a similar trip and need more info on where to stay, transportation or where to go etc, please do send me an email and I'd love to help you plan away! (nicolajackson4 @ hotmail.co.uk)

Monday, 10 June 2013

Free London

I'm always on the lookout for different, fun things to do in London whilst on a budget. Especially now I'm living in zone two as opposed to zone NINE (Yes, it actually exists!)

So yesterday, as the weather wasn't as nice as expected (boo) and I was keen to get out and explore, I checked out @Skintlondon - my new favourite go-to place for all the goings on in London for under £10. (Time Out is my original main tool, but that can get pretty samey, whereas this Twitter page is interactive, regularly updated and often they give away good freebies too, so definitely worth checking out!)

I saw that there was both free vegetarian food down at Trafalgar square for the Rathayatra Hare Krishna festival, and free Ben and Jerry's by the Truman Brewery. Double free food winner!

I dragged my food loving bestie with me and we ended up having a great time. The festival was a lot of fun, full of lovely people, delicious food, fascinating culture and lots of bright, pretty dresses and suits. Naturally we got stuck right in and joined in with some dancing (we have no shame), as well as going back for seconds of the tasty veggie curry and getting henna and face-paint done. Spot the tourists!

Trafalgar Square
Feeding the 5000
Plate 1 of 2
Henna
The Ben and Jerry's core tour was tasty but less exciting, we just turned up, entered a much smaller queue than the one at Trafalgar Square, ordered our flavour and scoffed away, job done!

Ben and Jerry's Peanut Butter ice cream
What do you use to find new things happening in and around London? Was anybody else there on Sunday?

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Gym, what gym?!

This wasn't a planned blog post, but I just woke up after an evening of over indulging in Pizza, ice cream and wine (I'm not even in Italy yet!) and had the realisation that I'm going to have to be wearing a bikini in less than two weeks time and I'm looking a little soft round the edges!

I hate gyms, and I will never be the sort of person that knows how to use all those fiddly machines, nor will I ever master how to run on a treadmill. Believe me, I tried! (And failed. Several times)
I'm surprised there's not a video on here of me like this:



I enjoy workout classes though, mainly for the social side, but also because I love collecting new skills. So far to date I've tried rock climbing, trampolining, boxing, gymnastics, running, figure skating, yoga, pilates and -my favourite- Zumba!

Still, I needed something I could do more regularly, ideally with minimal fuss and money, then I remembered someone telling me about Jillian Michael's 30 Day Shred!

Well I just tried it and aside from falling a little bit in love with Jillian, I now already can't feel my arms or legs, and I can instantly see the outline of some abs, so I'm pretty sure it's a miracle. Her videos are great, really motivating and easy to follow, especially if you're not a seasoned workout pro. All you need is a mat and weights (or two bottles of water if you're unprepared like me). I recommend you check them out, abs in 30 days and it's all completely free- without the cringeworthy gym scenes. Winner!

Try the first one here, but don't blame me if you can't walk/dress/cough/laugh tomorrow ;-)


Has anybody else tried the 'Shred' or have any other good suggestions for great workout ideas on a budget?

Friday, 31 May 2013

Italy travel planning

After many months of complaining, nagging, and fantasising about being back in the sun, I've finally settled on somewhere to go.

And in less than three weeks, woohoo! Italy here I come.

I've been obsessed with Italy for years. Pretty much ever since I got over my obsession with France. (I will never be able to speak fluent French and follow my dreams of being Amelie... sobs)
I love the people, the language, the culture, the weather, and of course most importantly, THE FOOD!

I visited Venice on a short break in January this year and I've been pretty hell bent on wanting to return ever since, particularly in the summer.

Obviously, as a travel enthusiast and backpacking geek, I knew I wouldn't be happy with sitting still every day on the beach with a package holiday, so I've created my own little travellation* itinerary! (*Travelling vacation... See what I did there? Simply genius)

The plan is as follows:

1.) Return flight to Rome £110. This is the cheapest location for a return flight from Stansted, the closest airport to my house. Thanks to Skyscanner.
2.) 2-3 nights in Rome, explore everything on foot, see all the ancient ruins, do a night tour, copious red wine, cosy b&b etc. (I'm borrowing a friend's guide book, so there'll be lots to tick off here)
3.) Catch the bus down to Naples from Rome Termini station- Only €16 return

The Colosseum at night time 
4.) Spend a day in Naples taking in the sights, eating pizza until I burst, and deciding whether to stay a night here. I've heard from Italians themselves it can feel quite dangerous at night times and in some inner city areas, but to be honest I've had my fair share of scary experiences alone in Morocco and Vietnam, so it can't be too bad!
5.) Then, take the train from Naples to the gorgeous town of Sorrento which I've been so desperate to go to ever since reading Anna's blog and seeing all her gorgeous holiday and wedding photos!
Sorrento and Amalfi coast
6.) Spend 5/6 nights at the popular Seven hostel on the coast very close by to Sorrento and within walking distance to the beach. I've been reading up about where to stay for quite a while and, although this hotel and hostel doesn't have a swimming pool (first world problems) it does seem like a great place to relax, meet other people, be surrounded by beautiful scenery, and make all the regular excusions we're hoping to take. I.e Pompeii, Capri, a boat trip around the islands, snorkelling, MORE FOOD, etc etc.

Tiramisu *drools*

7.) Train back to Rome. More sobbing. Fly home. Drown sorrows in BA free alcohol.
8.) Sleep, refresh, bore you all with holiday photos and blog posts :)

What do you think of my Travellation itinerary? Do you have any tips or recommendations for what else I should do or see whilst out there? If so please share in the comments below!