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...

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!

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. 

Approaching the port  
The main reason for choosing this hotel!

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!
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 @

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
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?