9 April 2019

Why I'm Giving Up With Instagram

Instagram; it's the social media platform we all love to hate. 

With its ever-changing algorithms, swipe up features and instant stories it's no wonder that the average millennial spends over 60 minutes scrolling through the app every day. What started out as a place to share an instant snap, hence the name Instagram, has now become a career opportunity with some influencers using it as a main source of income.

I don't know about you, but I find that crazy.


I joined Instagram when it first launched in 2010. I was thirteen at the time and it was one of the first apps I downloaded on my iPod Touch (yep, I was one of the cool kids). I was obsessed with Justin Bieber and used Instagram to keep up to date with what he was doing, I even had an account dedicated to him - the world's biggest fangirl or what!?

Back then Instagram was all about the instant snap and nothing was staged. I'd share photos of my coffee, a selfie of me and my pals in big glasses holding up the peace sign or a snap of Justin Bieber with a caption expressing my love for him (and secretly hoping he'd choose me as his One Less Lonely Girl).

Spoiler: He never did. 

Every photo was of the worst quality, a little bit blurry and accompanied by the Nashville filter with the cute little border around the edge - as shown in my very first Instagram post. There was no pressure back then, every photo was good enough and it was a source of creativity and fun.

So,  why am I giving up with Instagram? 

In 2013, I made a brand new account. I felt like I'd outgrown my original Instagram and wanted to distance myself from my cringe-worthy posts and badly edited photos. I was sixteen at the time and it was then that I started to feel the pressures of Instagram. 

The blogging and YouTube industries were rapidly becoming popular and creators were getting more recognition for their work. Influencers were experimenting with editing techniques, photo quality was improving and consequently, Instagram became the most popular social media platform.

Instagram has consumed my life. 

As a small blogger, I feel a large amount of pressure to follow the latest trends, use a good quality camera, post content every single day and edit my photos to match a certain theme. It's more about statistics than enjoyment and that makes me really sad. If a certain photo doesn't reach a certain engagement, there's a feeling of failure that lingers. Why are we getting so upset over how many likes a photo has? It's madness. 

 I'm too busy watching other people live their lives to live my own. 

But seriously, what does it matter?

Anxiety and other mental health issues in young people are at an all-time high and I think that Instagram is a big contributing factor. 

The truth is, life isn't as perfect as it seems on Instagram. You see a snap of someone's day, literally ten seconds of what could be the worst day of their life, and you think everything is going brilliantly. Let's be honest, we only share the good bits and most of the photos we see haven't been taken on that day anyway.

Instagram is a fantasy land; almost everything is set up,  photoshopped within an inch of its life and therefore creating an inaccurate perception. I don't wake up looking great every morning, frankly, I look like I've been through ten rounds with Anthony Joshua (and that's on a good day).

Maybe it's time we stop sharing photos for the sake of engagement and actually post content that is inspiring, motivating and that we're proud of. We should be removing the pressures that we've unknowingly built up and actually get back to what Instagram was made for; the instant snap into everyday life; the good, the bad and the ugly.

So I'm going to stop

I don't want to deal with the pressures of Instagram anymore. I don't want it to be the first thing I check in the morning. I want to be able to go out with my friends without feeling like I need to document that. I want to stop comparing my life to others. And I know that only I can change that. 

Instagram can be the most toxic place if you allow it to consume you. 

From now on, I'll be posting what I want when I want. I'm done worrying about editing and themes and outfits. I just want to enjoy sharing my photography without trying to work out what day I should schedule the post for so that it matches my non-existent theme. 

If something I see online negatively affects me and I start to send myself in a downward spiral, I'll unfollow or mute. I want to fill my timeline with content that inspires and motivates me. That's what social media should be about. My mood shouldn't change so quickly just from scrolling through a few photos on an app and I'm so glad I'm realising this now. 

I just hope we can all go back to using Instagram for enjoyment and make it a place that's less about judgement and comparison and more about fun and creativity. 

Lots of Love,
Meg
xxx




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19 March 2019

Afternoon Tea At Kensington Palace


A few weeks ago, Mum and I had a girly weekend in London. We saw a trip advertised by our local travel company including free time in London, tickets to Princess Diana's dress exhibition and afternoon tea at Kensington Palace. We've always said we'd like to go on a weekend away together and this was absolutely perfect. 

We travelled to London bright and early on a Sunday morning, stopping for two McDonalds and at a service station with a Wetherspoons (you could tell we were down south!). I'm not a keen traveller but we were there in no time and being sat at the front of the coach meant we got the perfect view of everything going on. We even saw royalty!

As we were approaching London we saw a police escort on the opposite side of the road, followed by a huge black landrover. Everyone leaned over to the right-hand side of the coach and sat in the black landrover was none other than Prince Harry, most likely on his way to Wembley to watch the rugby. It's exactly how I think people imagine London to be. (Note: we don't always see royalty). 

We stayed at the Holiday Inn, Kensington and it was such a beautiful hotel. There was a doorman in a top hat ready to help us all with our luggage and it's safe to say that Mum and I felt like we were in a film. We've always walked past hotels in London with doormen stood on the door and said that we'd love to stay there one day, but we didn't expect this from a Holiday Inn. 

As we had an early arrival at the hotel, our rooms weren't ready so we handed our luggage to the concierge and ventured into Kensington. We normally stay around Oxford Street so I was very excited to see a different part of London. 

It wasn't long before we came across Kensington Palace - it was literally down the road from our hotel. We walked through Kensington Gardens and saw the main gates to the Palace. I recognised it from photos I'd seen of the floral tributes to mourn Princess Diana when she passed away in 1997. Other than that, I spent most of my time running away from pigeons and hiding from the parrots that are free to roam around the park - if you know me, you'll know it's my worst nightmare. 

We also saw the Royal Albert Hall where the BAFTA's were being held that night. It's situated in front of the golden statue of Prince Albert which was shining beautifully in the late afternoon sunlight. 

We left Kensington Gardens and wandered around the suburban streets of London. It was every Instagrammer's dream and I'm sure Mum was fed up with me taking photos of all the houses. We both noted that it made us feel like we were extra's in Mary Poppins, which we'd been to see just a few weeks before. The streets of London really are the prettiest, and I couldn't help but notice that they smell exactly like the Creed aftershave. 

Eventually, with a bit of help from Google Maps, we made it onto Knightsbridge High Street. It's like a completely different world and I was a tad overwhelmed by all the shops I wanted to go in. It was at that point that Mum and I decided we needed to go back just for a shopping day. We had a browse in ZARA and Topshop but as much as I enjoyed looking around, I was itching to get to Harrods. 

'Are we near Harrods?' I asked Mum for the sixtieth time as we left Topshop. She laughed, pointed in front of us and there it was. The biggest department store in London. I WAS BEYOND EXCITED!

Mum had told me so much about what Harrods was like when she was a little girl, I always remember a story about there being a pet shop on the top floor. I couldn't wait to get inside and have a look around. Of all the times I've been to London in the past few years and I've never been to Harrods - something needed to change. Without a second thought, I dragged Mum across the road and in through the main doors. 

Harrods was beyond my wildest dreams. It sounds like an exaggeration but I walked through the doors and my mouth dropped to the floor. It was beautiful, like stepping into a completely different world. One thing I noticed was that you could tell who was there to shop and who was there as a tourist.

It had absolutely everything, from an estate agent to a pet clothes shop to the most beautiful Chanel section I have ever seen. We spent the rest of the afternoon going from floor to floor, looking at stuff that we (sadly) couldn't afford. The attention to detail in the architecture was stunning, the toilets had three floors but sadly there was no pet shop on the top floor. We browsed the designer brands and I bought a cute little phone case from the Harrods Gift Shop - considering it was £9 for a key ring, I thought £12 for the phone case was pretty reasonable. 

We could've spent the whole day getting lost in Harrods and when we finally came out, at closing time, it was dark and the whole building was covered in twinkling fairy lights. I stood taking photos of it for a good half hour (my camera roll was almost full!). I think it's very safe to say that Harrods is my new favourite store. 

For the rest of the evening, we looked around a few more shops, had dinner at Pizza Express and then headed back to the hotel on the tube (which I navigated myself AND didn't get us lost!). When we got back to the hotel, we checked into our *very posh* hotel room and spent our evening sat in the lobby, drinking cider and watching everyone come in from the BAFTAs in their long sparkly dresses and tuxedos. The hotel constantly had pilots and air hostesses coming in and out from Heathrow. I just love how London never sleeps. 


We woke up the following morning feeling refreshed and both very excited for our royal day ahead. The breakfast at the Holiday Inn was delicious; it was self-service but I had a full breakfast with a selection of sausages and eggs that were cooked to perfection. If you're looking for somewhere to stay in London that is good value for money, I highly recommend.

Then, it was back on to the coach and headed towards Kensington Palace, the current home of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and their three children. Fun fact: their apartment is said to be haunted by the ghost of Princess Sophia and is one of the most haunted apartments in the Palace. 

We also had access to Princess Diana's dress exhibition as well as the Gardens and other exhibits such as the chambers of King William III and Queen Mary II; the first royals to take residence in Kensington Palace. 

Being able to walk around the chambers of  King William III and Queen Mary II was fascinating. The architecture was beautiful and I could tell how much effort had gone into preserving certain artefacts. As I stood on the staircase, I felt like royalty. I could just imagine the Kings and Queens walking around in big dresses and all the extravagant parties they must've thrown. I'm not going to lie though, it did creep me out a little bit. 

One thing I did notice was all the photos pinned around the palace walls, whether that be of Prince William and Princess Katherine or Prince Harry and Meghan. There was also a tribute to Princess Diana which was very fitting - it's so lovely to see them keeping the memories of her alive.

Princess Diana has been an inspiration to me since I was young. She was the first real-life Princess I ever knew and I always looked up to her. I even had an imaginary friend called Diana when I was at school! Whether that be from her incredible work for charities or through her effortlessly chic style, I've always admired her elegance and kindness. I think she's an unsung role model to females everywhere.  

It's safe to say that Princess Diana is a fashion icon and the exhibition really captured this. We saw how Diana transformed from a shy young girl to a glamorous young woman who used her image to communicate with the world. The exhibition included some of her most iconic dresses, including the black dress she wore when she danced with John Travolta and the classic checked suit she wore on her Honeymoon. The outfits tracked her evolution as a Princess, trend-setter and woman whose legacy will live on forever.

Each dress told a story, such as the dress she wore to Brazil on a state visit. Argentina had just knocked them out of the World Cup and she asked that the dress not include any colours that appear in the Argentinian flag - how lovely is that!? Diana sold most of the dresses in the exhibition at an auction in New York a few months before she died, giving all the proceeds to charity. 

As we walked around, reading and admiring the beautiful dresses she wore (my personal favourite is the white dress with swallows) it's clear why she was such a style icon. There were quotes lining the walls from designers who had worked with her and it made me realise just how loved and missed she is. It was also interesting to compare the dresses we saw in Harrods the previous day - I'll be honest, they really don't compare.

After spending a good hour looking around there dresses, and getting over how beautiful they were, we went to look at some of Princess Victoria's crowns as well as a handwritten letter she wrote to Prince Albert on the day she met him. Then we had a look around the gift shop and had one last walk around Kensington Gardens. 

Does anyone recognise the garden in the background of the photo? It's where Prince Harry and Meghan had their engagement photos taken so obviously, I had to have my photo taken there too. It'd be rude not to. 

Then it was time for afternoon tea. 

We walked into the dining room to see ten tables set perfectly with little china cups, small plates and cutlery including a fork and spoon in one. There was unlimited tea available and the actual food itself was to die for. Included in the tea for two was six little finger sandwiches, two scones with jam and cream and two little cakes - strawberry cheesecake and tiramisu. It doesn't look like much but my goodness was it filling!

Oh, my opinion on the food? Absolutely divine. No, like seriously. The scones were warm, soft and fluffy, the cakes were sweet and the sandwiches were surprisingly tasty. I even drank my tea with my little finger in the air. I felt like a Queen but sadly, Liz herself didn't make an appearance. 

When we'd drank Kensington Palace out of tea, it was sadly time for us to depart for home. As you can tell, we had such a lovely weekend and if you're visiting London I highly recommend going to Kensington Palace, even if you do just go for afternoon tea. 

Lots of Love,
Meg
xxx







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5 February 2019

Disneyland Paris Christmas 2018 │Day One:Travels, Sequoia & Annette's

Well, I haven't done a post like this in a while - a whole two years to be exact.
If you read my recent Disney post, you'll know that in December one of my besties Chloe and I went on a very festive break to Disneyland Paris. I'm aware that we're in February, so I hope you don't mind a little bit of festive cheer, even if it is two months late.

I stayed in London overnight with a close friend and bright and early on Monday morning, I met Chloe at St Pancras International. We traveled via Eurostar which, in my opinion, is the most efficient way to get to Disneyland Paris. Security was plain sailing, as it always is, and we went straight to PRET to get some on-journey snacks. When we were paying for our food, we overheard that our train had been delayed by half an hour. Great.

Half an hour turned into 45 minutes which then turned into an hour.
Chloe and I passed the time by catching up on each other's lives, eagerly anticipating our boarding call. The last time we saw each other was on our Halloween trip to Disneyland Paris in 2016 so as you can imagine, we had a lot to talk about.

Eventually, our train was called and we joined the rush of people heaving heavy suitcases down the platform. The rest of the journey was straightforward; we passed the time by doing our makeup, playing games and watching To All The Boys I've Loved Before.


As soon as we arrived, we jumped straight on a shuttle bus to our hotel. We chose to stay in on-site in Disney's Sequoia Lodge and I'll tell you now, we couldn't have picked a more beautiful place to stay.

The one perk of staying on-site is that the magic of the parks never leaves you. 
We pulled our cases into the lobby and neither of us could believe our eyes. It looked like one of the lodges you see in movies; there were Christmas trees on every corner, roaring log fires, twinkling lights draped and hot chocolates with cream and marshmallows. I'll be honest, I cried. It was beyond my imagination. 

It turns out that the Eurostar delay played in our favour as our room was ready early and we'd just missed the dreaded torrential rainstorm forecast for the afternoon. The cast members who checked us in were so helpful and had so much time for us, explaining our dining plan, reservations, and room keys. 

Included in our holiday package was the half board dining plan, entitling us to breakfast each morning in Café Hyperion as well as one full meal each day. The plan could be used in every restaurant apart from those including character dining, however, there is an option to book a Plaza Gardens character breakfast which we took advantage of. 


Sequoia Lodge is like a mini resort and I LOVE IT! 
I've stayed there once before but our room was in the main building, so being able to stay in one of the smaller lodges was lovely. Our room came with two double beds (much to the delight of Chloe and me), a huge bathroom mirror, a decent hairdryer, and a power shower. We couldn't have asked for much more. 

We dumped our stuff, put glitter on our faces and within minutes we were on our way into the park. 


Another great thing about staying at Sequoia - I promise I will shut up about this hotel at some point - is that it's a 10-minute walk from the parks. It's a beautiful walk through the woodland, around Lake Disney and then through the Disney Village. Obviously, shuttle buses are available but in my opinion, walking is so much quicker! 

When I turned the corner and saw the sun setting around the Disneyland Hotel, I could feel the excitement building inside me. I just wanted to get inside and walk down Main Street. I wanted to see Disneyland Paris in all its festive glory. My stomach was full of butterflies, I didn't know the perfect way to express my emotions. 

As we scanned our passes, I heard them announced that the parade would be starting in ten minutes. There were no questions asked. Chloe and I rushed to the edge of Main Street and luckily, we got a front row spot for our first parade of the trip. 


One thing I was most looking forward to was seeing Disney Stars on Parade in the dark. It took me back to being a little girl when Disneyland Paris had a nighttime parade before the fireworks - I still wish they'd bring that back.

We didn't have to wait for long before the music started and the characters came dancing past. There's something about watching the parade in the dark that adds a little extra magic. The floats are twinkling as they go past, character interaction is amazing and seeing the dragon breathe fire is SPECTACULAR! It's a completely different experience.

Chloe and I were both wearing our matching light up Christmas ears from Ears Ever After and we got so many compliments from characters, especially when we turned the lights on. As Rapunzel and Flynn went past in their carriage, Flynn pointed to our ears and Rapunzel said they looked as pretty as the lanterns. Then Aurora came over and told us how beautiful we looked. 

We got the royal seal of approval. Life goals, complete.


If this trip taught me anything, it's that there's Disneyland and then there's Disneyland at Christmas. It's a whole new magical experience.

That first time seeing the castle at the bottom of Main Street is up there with one of the greatest feelings in the world. It was twinkling like pixie dust had be sprinkled all over it. I felt breathless like my body couldn't handle the mixture of emotions going round in my head. Did I want to cry? Laugh? Smile? Dance? Who knows.

I felt teary eyed as I walked towards the Castle, but then it started to snow and I lost it. Everything was perfect; Mickey-shaped garlands were draped over Main Street, the Christmas tree sparkled in the middle of Town Square and I was with one of my best friends in my favourite place. It's what dreams are made of.


We hung around Central Plaza for a while, taking photos and trying to come to terms with how magical it looked. All traces of reality had disappeared and we were in the perfect winter wonderland.

When we checked into the hotel we tried to book an evening meal at Captain Jacks as part of our dining plan. However, they told us that there was no room but we could enquire at the restaurant when we had a chance. So, Captain Jacks was our first port of call.

We made our way through Adventureland and into the restaurant. A very lovely cast member checked the system and told us that there was a reservation available for Wednesday night, our last night of the trip. We booked without hesitation. Chloe adores Captain Jack and it's been a dream of mine to dine in Captain Jack's (previously Blue Lagoon) for years - it was perfect!

Top Tip: If you want to book a table service restaurant at your hotel but there's no availability, then enquire at the restaurant in the park. It's still part of your dining plan and it means that you won't miss out! 


We left the restaurant and made Pirates of the Caribbean our first ride of the trip. Chloe hadn't been on it since the refurbishment last year, so when she saw Captain Jack now had his own permanent section, she freaked out a little bit. It's the perfect ride if you want to get warm as the queue is indoors and it's always a short wait. 

After Pirates, it was time for mine and Chloe's all-time favourite ride; Big Thunder Mountain. 
We were determined to go on it in the dark so when we saw that thirty-minute wait, we jumped straight in the queue. Within ten minutes we were hanging on to our hats and glasses (gold star if you got that reference) and whizzing away under Thunder Mesa. We cry-laughed the entire way around and the view of the Castle was breathtaking! 

Top Tip: If you can, go on Big Thunder Mountain in the dark. It's SO MUCH FUN!

Coming off Big Thunder gave us the buzz of energy we needed and once we'd calmed down, we made our way to It's A Small World. This is one of my favourites and always reminds me of family trips with my grandparents. As we started off on the boat we hummed along to the classic song, but what I wasn't expecting was for the ride to be Christmas themed. I was lost for words. It was adorable. 


After a long (kind of stressful) day traveling, we decided to skip Disney Illuminations and made our way towards the Disney Village for some food. Bizarrely, most of the restaurants in the park closed at 5pm, I understand that it's winter but I'd have hoped they'd be open for longer.

I'll be honest, I was craving a burger so Annette's Diner was top of the list. We were able to use our half board dining plan and I couldn't quite believe just how much food we got. I started with onion rings, then moved onto my chicken burger (which was to die for) and then finished things off with a slice of chocolate cake. I basically rolled down the steps on the way out. 

Annette's was lovely. It's a proper retro sixties diner and the staff serve you on rollerskates - I was completely baffled and couldn't help but wonder if they have to go through a rollerskate audition before they get the job. The staff were constantly photo-bombing guests selfies and couldn't have been more helpful, plus the food was absolutely delicious. My burger lived up to expectation and was exactly what I needed. 

As much as we wanted to spend the night singing karaoke in Sport's Bar, we thought it was best to call it a night and walked back to Sequoia. I was so ready to dive on that comfy double bed and I think I fell asleep straight away. We had an early morning ahead of us and another fun day in the park!

Lots of Love,
Meg
xxx



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21 January 2019

Skin Update │ 100 Days On Roaccutane

I've officially been taking roaccutane for one hundred days. 
I'll be honest and say that my skin situation has been getting me down recently. I seem to have gone backwards in the normal cycle of things and the dreaded 'initial breakout' is happening to me right now. I expected it to happen in the first few weeks, not the third month. 

Despite this, I'm trying to remain positive. I've seen some drastic improvements, especially in the texture of my skin and even after three months, it still doesn't feel like I'm taking a tablet!

The First Tablet

I was prescribed roaccutane back in October and have been taking 30mg (my lowest possible dosage) for the past three months. The dose is based on my height/weight and my dermatologist discussed this at my first consultation.

When I took my first pill I was absolutely terrified. The entire day consisted of me pacing around the house wondering if I was making the right decision. My acne is now classed as mild/persistent and with roaccutane only being used in the most severe cases, I thought my dermatologist had made a mistake. Then I remembered that he's the professional and wouldn't prescribe it if I didn't need it. 

As I watched the two little pills roll around in my hand, I started to psych myself up. I knew I was going to spends months battling dry skin, dry lips and mood swings but this could be a permanent solution to my acne, a confidence issue I've lived with for 10 years. 

So I took the pills and felt (and still feel) exactly the same.  

Side Effects

Roaccutane gets a lot of bad press because of the side effects associated with it, the most severe being constant low mood and suicide. I've been incredibly lucky, only experiencing mild side effects on my low dosage. I got dry lips and dry skin pretty much straight away but that was to be expected and it's nothing that a bit of moisturiser and lip balm can't solve. 

Nearing the end of my first month I noticed that I was getting very tired and therefore sleeping a lot. This is a side effect that is hard to combat but I have found that exercising and keeping myself active has helped a little bit. In terms of exercise, I have been experiencing sore joints in recent weeks. I'm currently working on ways to ease this as I don't want to stop going to the gym.  

So, how have I been feeling? 
Well, I'll be honest and say that my mood has changed. Its not been a dramatic change but I have noticed myself feeling low and having a lack of interest in things. The only way I can describe it is feeling hungry, there's food there but you can't be bothered eating. However, it's hard to know if this low mood is caused by roaccutane or personal issues. To help with this, I try to keep myself busy and have some much needed me time. I've also noticed that things get to me quicker than they normally would; I get upset about the smallest things and become aggravated quickly. 

Other minor side effects include a few nosebleeds, some bad dreams and my periods have definitely been more painful. Dry shampoo is also a thing of the past, I'm only washing my hair a few times a week now! 

Apart from that, it's been plain sailing. 

PROGRESS

Wow, this still makes me nervous!
In terms of my progress, you'll see that the texture/condition of my skin improved drastically in the first month but has now deteriorated again. This was to be expected and I know that things have to get worse before they get better. I'm hoping that I'll be seeing drastic improvements in the next few months. However, I must say that my skin is SO SMOOTH!

STRUGGLES

Okay so, I'll never be able to get used to putting lip balm on every hour, the low moods are a real pain and not being able to pick at my spots is TORTURE but trust me when I say, its really not been that bad. I realise how lucky I am to have had a straightforward, positive experience in the first few months and I really hope this continues for the rest of my course 

PRODUCTS

I'm going to do a more in depth post about the products I've been using very soon so I'll keep this brief. I've found that keeping it simple and using a small number of products has been the best option because I need to let the medication work its magic. I've been using products made especially for dry skin from brands like Simple, La Roche Posay and Cetaphil.

My Current Favourites


What Next? 

I'm going to see my dermatologist for my follow up appointment on Friday. He'll be upping my dosage to 40mg which will hopefully speed up the process and improve my skin dramatically. These next few months are going to be full of big changes and I'm already excited to see the end results. 

If you ever have any questions about roaccutane, my messages are always open! 

Lots of Love,
Meg
xxx


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