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Looking back on holiday moments and memories


I recently found myself in charge of organising the family holiday snaps for the past 20 years. There were beach scenes, mountains and all the cousins looking different each year as we got older. Seriously, if you looked at pictures of us back then and met us now, you'd think that we weren't the same people.

Travelling with my family (and now my friends) is one of my all time favourite things and having the photos of our adventures together really hit home how important it is to me.You can have them up in frames, in albums like these from truprint or scattered across multiple social media platforms. Either way, having a flick through brings back some of the best memories and it got me thinking of my favourite holiday moments.

Two day drive to Italy

When I was a teenager, we drove to Italy. 2 families with six kids in tow. We stopped off at every border a long the way, we had walkie talkies in the cars, we got lost in Germany and one car broke down near Paris. It really sounds like the holiday from nightmares but it was actually one of the best I ever had. I met my first boyfriend, I got closer to my cousins and we have so many stories from that trip that we still chuckle over them today.


Getting up close and personal with some penguins

Yup, that's right. Actual penguins. Althougjh my trip to the Falkland Islands was kind of tarnished by being viciously dumped, I still got to experience a bunch of things only a handful of people can. I sat on a beach surrounded by penguins, we were followed by a sea lion, my dad went swimming with dolphins whereas I was too scared too...



First Holiday with friends

In second year of uni, a bunch of my old school friends (including Charlie, Distracted) took a trip to Barcelona. It was my first holiday without my family which felt a little strange, but I was spending it with some of the very best people. Some of the pictures we have make you think 'oh, Lord. What were we doing' but some of them also just make you smile. I still have vivid memories of shot bars and beaches but also of the architecture and remembering where to go for the best ice cream in the city. Oh yeah.



Going on holiday with my boyfriend

I have been on holiday with a boyfriend before but I was still at university, we hadn't been together for a long time and we both had very different ideas about holiday-ing. in 2015, I got to have my first 'grown up' holiday with Gary. We spent a weekend together in Nice and just RELAXED. No rushing around trying to get things done before we left. We didn't worry about being touristy, we just ate all the food, drank all the beer and chilled on the beach. It was amazing. We got to be silly together in a different place.



A holiday without the beach

Looking back on all the holidays I've had... I'm pretty sure a beach has always been involved somewhere. However, earlier on this year I went on a short break to Bucharest. A little city trip is something I hadn't done before and it was an entirely different type of holiday. Exploring was more important than relaxing and spending time with the best people in the world.


These are just some of my favourite Holiday memories and I'm sure there will be plenty more to come. What are yours?



*Disclaimer; this post is in partnership with Truprint but all words are mine, mine, mine.

Adopting with the RSPCA: Giving Dobby the House Cat a home

Adopt a cat RSPCA
Introducing, Dobby the House Cat
A couple of months ago, I got a text from the other half saying he wanted to talk about getting a cat.

It seems that my years of badgering him had finally bloody paid off!

We already knew that we wanted to adopt rather than buy. I've spent too much time watching Dog Rescuers and Kitten Rescuers (where I cry... a lot... and say I'm going to rescue all the animals), so I know that there are so many animals that need a loving home after past experiences. I mean, there's nothing worse than not being wanted and sitting there waiting for someone to take you home one day... So we started browsing the RSPCA website everyday and even set up email alerts.

As we live in a flat, we knew we needed a house cat. We didn't want to just get any cat and keep it in the house because we knew that wouldn't be fair. We did a hideous amount of research and discovered FIV positive cats and learnt that they are generally left behind the longest. This could either be down to how a lot of FIV+ cats are Toms who have their fair share of battle wounds, or a lack of understanding in the difference between FIV and HIV. Either way, our poor little Dobby (previously known as Victor) had been waiting at an animal hospital for nearly two months because no one wanted him. It broke my little heart and from the moment we met him, we knew he needed to come home with us.

Adopt a Cat RSPCA
Just look at those eyes!

We spent what felt like and age looking for Dobby before we knew it was him. Every time I came across a new 'profile' (LIKE CAT TINDER.), I bubbled with excitement. I was picking new names for them and pretty much getting WAY ahead of myself. We were doing this properly though.

Adopting a cat isn't as easy as rocking up to an animal shelter and saying 'I want a cat, please'. The people at the shelter want to ensure that you're going to give any animal you take with you, a loving and safe home. The first thing Gary and I did was pop by the visitor centre in Finchley to arrange our home visit. There were kittens and old boys and all sorts of fluff balls. I could have stared at them all day and desperately wanted to take them all home with me.

A week later, Inspector Nicole from the RSPCA popped by to visit. I had been nervous all week because what if she decided we couldn't have a cat? I wasn't ready for that kind of rejection at all! Luckily, it wasn't as big and scary as I thought it would be. She also didn't just turn up with a cat like in the dream I'd had the night before... All that happened was she had a little chat with us, took a look around the house and then (happy!) started showing us pictures of cats in the area who needed a home. She mentioned Victor, a little Tabby stray who was currently sitting in the Hospital in Holloway after having an abscess removed and some of his teeth out. There was only one picture available on the website so she went to the hospital after seeing us, took a bunch more pictures and emailed them over. We booked in to visit him the next week.

The first meeting

When we finally got to meet him, he hid under the sink, would only emerge for food (despite me literally lying on the floor so I was his level and not big and scary) and basically didn't want to be anywhere near me and Gary. He was battered from his tough life on the mean streets of Hounslow and he needed a home. Despite Gary saying to me that morning that we might not bring him home, we fell in love with his little wonky face and he became ours and he became Dobby the House Cat forever.

For the first two days, Dobby stayed away. He was still unsure of where the hell he was after spending so long at the hospital. He didn't realise that the fancy bed was for him and (even now) he hasn't quite worked out how to use his scratching post. He hid under the bed in the spare room for two days but then he started to creep out a bit more and eventually get comfortable.

Now, he doesn't shut up and clearly couldn't be happier. He miaows all the time, stands up like a meerkat to lick your fingers, nuzzles up against you and has claimed one of our sofas as his own. In short, his a bit of a legend and the actual best boy.

Adopt a cat RSPCA

Adopting Dobby is the best decision ever, even if it has led to my mum asking whether it's 'first cat, then kids' (cue le me cackling away). If you're thinking of getting a little fur baby of your own, I strongly recommend you adopt. There are so many boys and girls who are desperately in need of a forever home.

Live in a flat? That's fine! These little tykes can't go outside. Want a kitten? They're all right here. We chose to adopt through the RSPCA and shall be supporting them even more moving forward. There are lots of other cats charities out there but through the RSPCA, this is some of the support you'll get.

  1. As many meeting with the cat you like, if you're not sure he likes you
  2. Free More Than pet insurance for the first 6 weeks (if you renew with them, they also make a donation to the RSPCA)
  3. Discounted Pet care plan for only £10 per month to cover all the necessities like additional vaccines 
  4. Check up with the RSPCA after the first 6 weeks to see how you're both getting along
  5. Support at the other end of the phone whenever you need it
  6. All cats you adopt are micro chipped, vaccinated and neutered/spayed
  7. A warm bubble in your heart knowing you've helped someone else find happiness

Now, just for the Lols, here's a bunch of things we have learnt about Dobby the House Cat since bringing him home:

  1. He like standing up like a meerkat. It's not very helpful when you're trying to put his food down
  2. He likes belly rubs, apparently this is weird for a cat
  3. He's missing lots of teeth so he has a wonky mouth and dribbles a little bit during chin scratches
  4. He doesn't know how to use a scratching post
  5. He's not fussed about boxes (weirdo)
  6. He has the loudest purr known to man...
  7. ... and the loudest miaow
  8. Who gives a crap about beds when you have a perfectly good sofa to malt on
  9. He desperately wants to try pizza (but is SO not allowed)
  10. He's the best and most handsome boy in the world
Don't you just desperately want a happy face like this in your life?


See more happy and fluffy cats using #MoreThanCat on Twitter or you could click right here

Disclaimer: This post is in partnership with the RSPCA and More Than but I was going to tell you all about Dobby anyway. All experiences in the post are my own and I genuinely like both companies. So there.

Why I'm afraid of the Handmaid's Tale


Now, this has been everywhere now and I'm a tad annoyed it took me so long to get on board. The Handmaid's Tale  is one of Charlie, Distracted's favourite books and she has been telling me to read it for years but I didn't pick it up until October last year. Fast forward to 2017 and everyone's talking about it again.

If you're not sure about what the Handmaid's Tale is (well, you should read it anyway), It's set in a Dystopian Future where women's money, livlihoods and, eventually, identities are stripped from them, all in the name of the 'greater good'.


The Republic of Gilead (former USA) is under the control of a Totlitarian Government, having overthrown the Democratic one before. The country is erily the same yet not at the same time. Spies (The Eyes) are watching every movement you make. There has been a drop in fertility and therefore a drop in childbirth. The women are blamed entirely for this. For their 'promiscuity', their general lifestyles, for being gay and so much more.

You look at situations like this and think 'that will never happen in the West'. What is shocking, is that makes it more shocking. It doesn't take away the reality of the world outside of our little corner. There are places in the world where FGM are practiced, women in Saudi Arabia were allowed to vote for the first time in 2015, there are countries in the east where women can't leave the house without their husbands and they can't drive. But it'll never happen in the West, never in our little bubble. Seeing it on our screens and hearing these things in English words make it real for us too, not just something halfway across the world.

I look at the handmaids tale and I realise that I already have more rights and priveledges than even my Grandmother before me (maybe even my mum, in some respects) and there's always a little niggle in the back of my head thinking 'what if they change their minds and this is all taken away?'. It's not an unrealistic thought to have, especially considering the state of the world right now.

My boyfriend doesn't really understand my feelings on this as it seems to farfetched. I think it could be too close to reality before we know it. That thought terrifies me.

We don't know when, how or if it would start bnt it would have happened before we have realised it. Everything we know and love can be swept away from uner our feet and we won't even see it coming.

Has the Handmaid's Tale impacted you as much as it has me? 

A weekend by the sea in Cornwall

smashleighjayne
Fowey Harbour

It’s not very often I get to go on multiple little trips away in one year. After years of pretty much staying put in London, I’m absolutely loving it and am always thinking about the next break. I have loads of bloody holiday to take at work too so I should probably start actually sorting myself out.

This weekend, I was well chuffed to be Captain Charley’s +1 for the Sea and the City trip to Cornwall with Travelodge. I used to go to Cornwall all the time as a kid with my family for caravan holidays so I knew it would be an entirely different experience as an adult. For a start, I’d be more interested in exploring small towns and trying new food than dancing with Sid the Seagull and Lizzy the Lizard.

After a traumatic journey to meet the girls where I not only missed a train but I then missed my stop once I was on the train and had to turn around again… (I know, typical me), we were off on our five hour journey to St Austell. Praise be to Jasmin for volunteering her car and her role as driver. We wouldn’t have made it here without you.


Charlestown Cornwall
The lovely seaside town of Charlestown

I’d never heard of St Austell before and, after we had checked into our Travelodge, we eventually googled what to do on our little holiday, over freakshakes, pasta and hotdogs at the always classy Frankie and Benny’s. It turns out that cornwalls.co.uk said that ‘although some might describe it as pretty grim, it does provide an ideal centre for some of the loveliest beaches in Cornwall’. We did notice that it was, as Charley dubbed it, ‘the Chav Centre of Cornwall’, and when we asked some of the locals what we should do on our weekend away, they, in no uncertain terms, told us there was nothing to do in St Austell.  Hasty planning on phones over dinner was then underway. Note to self: Research where you’re actually going BEFORE you get there.


One thing I remember as a kid was that the beaches in Cornwall were always gorgeous, I mean, they have actual sand and everything. It was top of the list of things we had to do. After the absolutely wonderful (although slightly sticky) weather we have been having in London, I packed skirts and sandals in a positive mental attitude. When we opened the curtains the next morning, it was grey and drizzling. As the Scottish say, it was pretty dreich. Oh well, a little rain never hurt anyone!


smashleighjayne

Smashleighjayne
Left to Right:

Now, despite the negative statements we have seen about St Austell, they were definitely right about it being a ‘centre’, we had a whole day of adventures where we visited the beach and I had a little dance in the rain, explored the gardens of the fancy and stately home of Lanhydrock and popped by the harbour of Megavissey. As well as jumping out of the car in a tiny village because the houses were so instagrammable. Such blogger clich├ęs.

smashleighjayne
My awkward/limping strideby with Jas. Picture by Charley.

smashleighjayne
Here's my stupid 'I have Ice cream' face - Picture by Jas
Walking, eating, sitting, driving. We made sure we could see as much as we could and eat as much as we could, not a single moment was wasted. We tried new things and got to know eachother even more and, all in all, we had the BEST time.

smashleighjayne

Breaking up our wanderings, Charley and I not only used our little Travelodge to sleep and refresh (dude, are those beds COMFY by the way), it also became a little blogging hub for us. A place to bounce hashtag thoughts off each other and remember anecdotes and quotes from the night before edit photos and check Twitter. Thank you Wifi. It’s the reason why I have this post up sooner than any other I have done this past year. I’ve actually had time and a place to do it!

smashleighjayne

Cornwall is so much more than just sandy beaches though. There are National trust building scattered all over the joint, brewerey's and independent bars, AMAZING food and, well, too much to discuss in one post. watch this space instead for more things to do in Cornwall.

In the meantime, you can keep up with our adventures and more that Cornwall has to offer on Instagram right here:

#BangarangByTheSea


#SeaAndtheCity


What Harry Potter means to me: 20 years later



I have never hidden my love for Harry Potter, not once over the past 20 years. It's all a part of my charm, really.

From the "Boy who Lived" to "Nineteen Years Later", the Harry Potter books have been with me through everything and have shaped the person I am today. I have been to midnight releases, seen the play twice, become an ambassador for Lumos and I am still waiting for my Hogwarts Letter. Everything I am started with a few notes written on a napkin all those years ago.

There are a lot of people who dismiss the Harry Potter books as children's books which will always irritate me, they are so much more than that. These books introducted me to the most wonderful love and the most harrowing grief. They helped me to understand the horrors of the world even if I couldn't stop them. The held me as close as I held them and they kept me safe. Certainly not just a children's book.



When I first picked up these books at the age of 9, I had no idea, as cliched as this sounds, the journey I would go on. I had no idea that a book series would bring me so much happiness and also so much heartache. I didn't know that they would become a security blanket for all of the hardest moments of my life and I had no idea that at the age of 28, I would be as excited as I was yesterday when I finally bought my first set of robes.

I can't really explain why these tales of a boy wizard mean so much to me but I can tell you a few times I have needed them and how they helped me.

When I was little, I was quite smart, I don't mean like a child genius, but I was clever and as a result I was bullied. It didn't stop when I got older either. The same thing happened all over again when I went to Secondary School. As a kid, I automatically assumed something was wrong with me. Hermione Granger taught me there wasn't. When I was going through the motions again as a teenager, she reminded me there was nothing wrong with me. I used her as my inspiration to always aim for the very best. Yes, Hermione didn't have the best time for a while and also did a 'I'm running to the toilet to cry', but she was the 'brightest witch of her age'. Being smart was her strength and i would also be mine.



When I moved to University, I was afraid. Not as in, scared to death, but nervous. I was moving out of my home town and moving to a strange city where I knew NO ONE. I was alone. But then I remembered Harry's first journey on the Hogwarts Express. He was alone in a whole new world let alone a big city. He did alright, didn't he?

Last year, my Nanna got sick and passed away. The first thing I did when I was packing to go up to Scotland to see her was pack the The Prisoner of Azkaban. I bloody needed it. I had my own Dementors to fight and will do for a while over the coming months. I used it as my talisman. I used it to feel safe and strong. The Dementors are still there but I have my own little Patronus whenever I need it.



These are just a handful of times where I have needed these books. Not all the times I need them are hard either. I use Harry potter and the Philosopher's Stone as my travelling book whenever I'm going on a long journey. Gary and I have spent all day watching all of the movies and doing Harry Potter puzzles just because we can. I read it in the bath, I read it on the tube when I've had a tough day at work and I am always carrying at least one thing that is Harry Potter related.

I feel extremely proud an honoured that I am a part of a family beyond imagination. I've made some of my closest friends through our mutual love for these books. Harry Potter has given me strength so many times and I'm sure it will be the same for my children, when I'm finally brave enough to part with the exact copies I have held dear for so long.



I will be there when they find the Stone. When they close the chamber. When they save Sirius. when they join the Order. When they mourn for Dumbledore. when they mourn for them all. It'll be as real for them as it is for me.

Happy birthday, Harry Potter. Thank you, Jo.

What the hell is going on in my head?


Over the years I have battled with my own Mental Health problems and have come out shining at the other end regardless of the hard work it took to get there. I may have been exhausted but there was a massive smile on my face.

Over the past year or so I have been experiencing something different and I have mostly kept it to myself. After beating one thing, I didn't want to admit that something else was wrong. I'm not really sure what it is, I have a rough idea but I could be entirely wrong.

I have tried really hard to not let it show. I smile as much as I can and have been known to be 'annoyingly positive' (direct quote from a former employee). Like wearing a mask.


There are a couple of things that could have triggered this, the past few years really have had their ups and downs. I've been made redundant twice, been diagnosed with epilepsy and I lost one of the most inspirational women in my life, my Nanna. In short, it's been pretty shit (except for some things) and over the past 12 months it has been especially hard to cope.

What exactly is happening, though?

Sometimes I can't sleep and sometimes I struggle to breathe. I shove headphones on so I don't have to talk to people and sometimes my whole body feels heavy.

The other week, I wrote about a drop in my body confidence recently, and that's certainly had an effect on how I feel as I go about my day to day. I've found myself wearing more baggy clothes and where I can't, cardigans are my saviour. I'm always worried that there will be a nasty glance or nasty comment and it's been a while since I have felt confident in my own skin.


I have proper 'imposter syndrome', I've not long started a new job and have convinced myself (pretty much every morning) that they're not going to want to keep me. I know it's stupid but my brain tells me 'you're not good enough', 'you're terrible at this job', 'you're way out of your depth'. I absolutely adore my job so it does put a dampener on things every morning and I find myself on the edge of my seat frequently.

I'm reaching a milestone in my relationship that I have never reached before. It's always been at this point when they leave... As I approach that milestone I am constantly questioning every move I make, unintentionally causing arguments because , in my head, he's going to leave anyway.

The rational part of my brain knows this is stupid. It knows the whole thing is stupid but there is still that little whisper and I end up doubting myself on all levels and wish people just couldn't see me.

Maybe it's not anxiety, i don't really know. Maybe there's something else happening up there that I don't really understand but I'm sure I'll work it out.