Farewell, Elettravelle!

Sunday, 3 May 2015

{Found here}

It's been a long time coming, but one rainy Saturday afternoon in Wales I made the decision to put Elettravelle to bed. Worried I'd regret my decision, I sat on the idea for a while before realising a few weeks later from that same spot in Wales that I was ready to move on. I took the plunge and bought a new URL, began work on creating a new site and filled a notebook full of ideas and new directions. I'm not abandoning ship completely - I'll be continuing here under the new name of Moon + Forest - but content will be shaken up massively and I'll be writing solely about travel. It's my job, the thing I'm most passionate about, the only thing I've ever wanted to do and writing about my weekend, posting snaps of books and sharing lists is no longer cutting it. It just isn't fun any more.  

I have a lot of posts written up and ready to go and though my heart is a little heavy to say goodbye to something that's been a huge part of my life for so long, but it's nice to feel inspired and confident that I can create something worth reading again. 

Everything will be moved over to a new URL - www.moonandforest.co.uk and it would be lovely if you'd stick around. If not, thank you for all of your support and kind words over the last three years. And for those of you just here for the lists and coffee snapshots? Well I'm sure they'll still eb making an appearance from time to time. 

I'm hoping to have a new site up and running by the middle of next week, and in the meantime I'm trying to be a bit more active on my Twitter account. 

Thanks for everything!

The Trouble with Happiness

Thursday, 9 April 2015

The Trouble With Happiness

If there's one thing I've learned in my twenty five years it's that nobody really likes a grumbler. Sadly this is a category that I most definitely fit into. I like to moan and I have an almost admirable tendency to fixate on the bad and remain oblivious to the good. I wouldn't describe myself as a naturally happy and positive person, but I do try to surround myself with optimism and inspiration as much as possible and remind myself of everything I have to be grateful for at the end of every day. The trouble is, I often think there's too much pressure to be happy and a lot of expectation that unless you're dedicating your life to doing the thing you love the most, you're not truly living. People can be quite aggressive about it and while a certain amount of positive thinking is motivational, too much can be almost as detrimental to your emotional well-being as none at all, especially if it's a little fragile to begin with. 

I think the thing that gets me the most is the 'say yes' mentality that's circulating a lot at the moment and the worrying trend for people of influence to suggest that you shouldn't give a second thought to your financial, the impact your actions have on others and the state of your mental health. I've mentioned a lot that I suffer from a debilitating mental health condition that impacts pretty much every aspect of my life. Thankfully the days where I wonder how I managed to find the strength to even get out of bed in the morning have become less frequent, but it's crippling and I can't turn it off on a whim. To suggest that I can is hurtful, dismissive and makes me feel like a failure. 

My idea of pure unadulterated happiness is a life of travel - riding rickety railways across entire continents, climbing mountains higher than my brain can comprehend, exploring cities I never knew existed. It's not an impossible dream and I know there's money to be made in it someday, but right now I have to be realistic. Right now my rent won't pay for itself, I have other feelings to occasionally put before my own and well, now just doesn't feel like the right time. Maybe it never will, but that doesn't mean I've achieved any less than the person living their dream right now.

I recently finished reading Us and though I didn't really rate the book overall, this particular quote really struck a chord with me:

'The problem with telling people that they can do anything they want to do is that it is objectively, factually inaccurate. Otherwise the whole world would just be ballet dancers and pop stars.'

I wouldn't ever want to discourage someone from chasing a dream or make somebody feel that their mental health should hinder them in anyway, I just wanted to let you know that it's okay to be realistic sometimes. That next time you read about someone who gave up the grey Monday mornings and miserable commutes to pursue their passion, remember that you don't have to do the same to be happy. It's okay that the highlight of your week was a Netflix binge with more sweets than any human being should be able to consume, it's okay to make compromises, and it's okay to not feel like you're doing monumental things (but you definitely are).

Do I mean that you shouldn't give every day your very best shot or that you should surrender yourself to wallowing all the time? Absolutely not! If a low mood is becoming detrimental to your health, please get some help and take some steps to try and change that. Go and make your life the very best it can be and don't be scared of failing, just know that sometimes life is shit and there isn't a great deal you can do other than have a cry, eat some pizza and try and pick yourself up again. Please never let anybody make you feel bad about that.

41 (and a half) Hours in Edinburgh

Sunday, 29 March 2015

Edinburgh Castle - UK Lifestyle Blog2Edinburgh Camera Obscura - Uk Lifetsyle Blog
Edinburgh - UK Lifestyle Blog
One of my goals way back in February was to start writing a city guide series and while I've been full of good intentions since, it still hasn't really got off the ground. So today I'm dusting off the cobwebs in this little internet corner and beginning with a new favourite...Edinburgh! Catching a train straight from work on a Friday night (after a katsu curry pit-stop and a tantrum about a forgotten wallet) my expectations weren't particularly high for some reason, but on my first visit to Scotland I fell head over heels for the city and was heartbroken to have to come home again. 

One of the things that struck me most about the city was how peaceful it was - it reminded me of a less manic Chester with all of its beautiful buildings and maze of deserted streets. Living in a city like Manchester where buildings are imposing, people are rushed and you're never more than five feet from being knocked over by a bus or tram, it was a bit of a shock to the system to enjoy a quiet stroll through the city centre on a Saturday afternoon and encounter people eager to engage in conversation and stop you to let you know that your shoelaces are untied. In fact, the only low point for me was falling off the kaleidoscope tunnel inside Camera Obscura. Oh, and also trying haggis. Traumatic, did not enjoy.

Here's what we got up to during our fleeting visit and some of my favourite places to explore, shop and eat:

Edinburgh Camera Obscura - UK Lifestyle Blog DO

Camera Obscura and World of Illusions 
{549 Castle Hill, £13.95, Website}
Whilst the main attraction is undoubtedly the Camera Obscura itself, which is said to have caused mass hysteria, vomiting and fainting amongst guests during its debut in the 18th century, other highlights include a terrifying maze of mirrors, the kaleidoscope tunnel,and of course the incredible views from the observation platform on the top floor. The price is steep and we were worried we might not enjoy it all that much without children in tow, but we both agreed that this was the best thing we did all weekend and worth every penny. Do try to go on weekdays during term time though...

National Museum of Scotland
{Chambers Street, Free, Website}
We didn't get to spend as much time as I'd have liked in the Museum of Scotland as we were mainly visiting for the Game Masters exhibition (go go go!) but it's top of my list for the next visit. There's loads to see there with exhibitions covering everything from the natural world to Scottish history and technology. Best of all, it's completely free!

The Museum of Childhood
{42 High Street, Free, Website}
The Museum of Childhood was one that we stumbled upon accidentally when we got lost, but decided to pop in based on the very inviting gift shop at the front. This is another Edinburgh freebie and though it doesn't look like much upon first glance, there are actually a few floors of displays dating back from the 18th century to the present day. We only spent around fifteen minutes there, but it's well worth the visit for a trip down Memory Lane. Hint: Avoid the doll room. Seriously, don't go in there.

Edinburgh Calton Hill - UK lifestyle BloggerEdinburgh Calton Hill Monument - UK lifestyle Blog EXPLORE

Prince Street Gardens
We stumbled upon the gardens purely by chance when we got lost walking from Haymarket and became intrigued by some huge tombstones. They're a great place to get a good view of the castle and house the floral clock, Ross Fountain and a statue of a dog called Bum. We wandered for a while and watched an Irish band performing in the bandstand. 

Calton Hill
Originally our plan was to climb Arthur's Seat in the morning before getting our train home, but after getting a little overzealous with our all-you-can-eat breakfast and not having a great deal of time on our hands we decided to stick to Calton Hill on the recommendation of one of the hotel staff. I'm glad we did and although we'll make the time for Arthur's Seat on our next visit it was still a great place to view the city from above and there were lots of interesting monuments to explore. 

Edinburgh Calton Hill - UK Lifestyle Blog EAT

Mimi's Picnic Parlour
{250 Canongate, Website}
I'd be lying if I said the incredible cakes on display weren't the main reason we tried Mimi's, but there's also a great selection of sandwiches and stovies too. My top tip? Try the chilli jam sandwich and order the Mint Aero everything.

Mums Great Comfort Food
{4A Forrest Road, Website}
I didn't want to leave Scotland without trying haggis so feeling particularly ravenous from our Calton Hill climb and an afternoon of gaming we decided to stop at Mum's as I'd read some really good reviews. In all honesty the selection of mash was the thing that appealed most, but I knew we'd made the right choice the minute we were were served our Reese's milkshakes. I decided to go for a pie as big as my head and sample the haggis Tom ordered. I quickly came to the conclusion that haggis is gross but I'm still daydreaming about the pastry.

Caffe Lucano
{37-39 George IV Bridge, Website}
It was mainly the promise of goats cheese that brought us in to this family run Italian restaurant and though the restaurant was fit to burst our waiter couldn't do enough for us and was happy to recommend some of his favourite dishes. There isn't a huge amount of choice on the menu and portions are quite small, but everything was cooked perfectly. 

Edinburgh Royal Mile - UK Lifestyle Blog SHOP

W.Armstrong & Sons
{83 The Grassmarket, Website}
Armstrong's was a place I'd read about before we left for Edinburgh and made a mental note to try and visit, but completely forgot about until walking past it on our way back to the train station. It was a little busy as it was Sunday afternoon, but the shop is a real treasure trove for vintage wares. I had to exercise some serious self-restraint in the cashmere cardigans section. 

Southside Books
{58 South Bridge}
With piles and piles of second hand books practically obscuring the window, we knew we were on to a winner here. Granted there might just be too many books crammed into such a small shop, but Southside Books sparked all kinds of far-flung ideas to run away and open my own bookshop in a beautiful city. 

What are some of your favourite hangouts in Edinburgh? I have a feeling we'll be back to explore them pretty soon...
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