November 01, 2015

pumpkin picking and ghostbusters drive-in

Halloween has always been one of my favourite times of year, and I don't ever let the fact I'm no longer the age for trick or treating let me from having lots of Halloween fun. This time round I went pumpkin picking for the first time ever, to a place that had a Halloween bouncy castle, pumpkin pie and soup for sale and a maize maze too. I absolutely cannot wait for the day I have a little one to dress up in a skeleton outfit to take along with me. Before the visit to pumpkin patch, we took the hounds for a walk in the forest as the weather was just so perfect. 


From trawling the internet, I could only find one pumpkin patch within the whole of East Anglia, which is absolute madness considering how much of a wonderful experience it is. This particular one was based in Lakenheath, which has a fairly large American community due to the airbase and probably explains the American style pumpkin patch. As we went on the day of Halloween, most of the best pumpkins had already been picked, leaving lots of bumpy and gnarly looking characters. Personally, I prefer them like that anyway. 


Midway through pumpkin choosing, we took a break with a slice of pumpkin pie and warm sugared donuts. I ate the latter too soon to photograph them, oops. 


I carved mine into a pixel face!


Later that evening, we went to a drive-in movie screening of Ghostbusters. The venue was based in a field next to a pub so naturally we had a few pints after parking up and waiting for the film to start. Throughout the film were staff in American bomber jackets delivering pizzas and nachos to everyone in their cars and along with our flask of hot chocolate it was the best way ever of spending Halloween evening. 



October 24, 2015

leesa double mattress review

Before I get started with my review, I wanted to tell you the horror story of my previous mattress. A white van pulled up to the street of my old house and the salesman got talking to my mum. He told her that he was supposed to be delivering a mattress to a customer but she'd decided not to take it and as their warehouse was based up north asked if my mum wanted to take it for a cut down price so that it wasn't a wasted journey for him. He claimed the mattress to be worth over £500 but said he'd take £120 for it and as she had the money in cash (this was clearly his lucky day), he handed over the mattress and off he went. Once she told me what had happened, my heart sank, and I tried endlessly phoning the company for a refund but to no avail. It was so flimsy that you could both hear and feel the springs. To cut a long story short, I've been stuck with that shoddy mattress for two years and have the backache to prove it.

My mattress related prayers were answered when the guys over at Leesa offered to send me a mattress to review. As a girl who considers her bed to be her best friend, I counted down the days until it arrived. I used the ordering process on the website as to have the proper customer experience and found everything to be an absolute breeze. It takes the mattresses 3 to 5 business days to be built up and from there just a couple of days to be delivered. Mine took a total of 7 days. 

Once the waiting is over and your mattress arrives, it comes packed tightly into a cardboard box. It really is astounding that a double sized mattress can fit into such a small package. It took both me and my mum to lug this up the stairs, but if there was no one else around then one person could most definitely manage it alone. Lets try and ignore my hideous carpet, we are currently renting and I dream of wooden flooring.


Once you've opened up the box and started to cut free the mattress from it's sausage-like state, it springs to life and within moments resembles a regular mattress shape. At first, I noticed a slight chemical odour, but this disappeared within a few days and was the only hint of an issue that I could find to mention. I'd say that's pretty normal with a new mattress though and is just down to it being absolutely brand new. 


It takes an hour for the mattress to take shape and expand fully, but after ten minutes I found myself lazing around on it as I just couldn't remove myself after giving it an initial comfort test. I wish that words could be effective enough to describe to you the relaxation level that I'm experiencing right now. The mattress is soft enough to feel luxuriously comfortable, yet firm enough to give wonderful back support. A balance that I have never yet experienced in a mattress, aside from the ones at fancy hotels. 


The milo seal of approval. 


I've been trying out my Leesa for a few days now and each day I feel more like I'm sleeping on a giant marshmallow than the last. If I had the option to spend the night testing one of these out, I would have without a doubt started saving to invest in one myself. It's rang true to me just how crucial it is for your general wellbeing to have a well built mattress, we spend a third of our life sleeping, so I implore you to spend that time well. 

Leesa offer a 100 night risk free trial with free delivery on all of their mattresses should you want to be completely sure that it will be the right mattress for you. Plus they donate 1 in 10 of their mattresses to charity and plant a tree for every one sold!

A Leesa double mattress comes in at £590 (including free shipping) but if you pop over to http://www.leesa.co.uk/thejessicalife or use the code JESSICALIFE50 at the checkout you will get £50 off your brand new mattress.

October 17, 2015

marrakech | riad papillon and les deux tours

Although Marrakech seems like a million miles away now that Autumn is fully setting in, I've settled down back at home after Summer and have had ample time to put this blog post together featuring the two beautiful places that I stayed out whilst in Morocco. If you haven't already read my main post (naughty you!) then check it out here, but come back once you're done. 

Riad Papillon is a traditional style warm and welcoming Riad tucked away down winding cobbled streets leading from the Souks. Although the location is central, once you enter the Riad it's easy to forget that you are staying in one of the busiest cities in the world as it's just so quiet and peaceful. Even sat out on the rooftop terrace we didn't once hear any sounds of commotion. The manager takes care of everything and is always around to help you with anything you may need and to give you directions, and reads your mind whenever you are fancying a mint tea. They've even created an app filled with places to eat, a map of the Souks and shops to visit. Genius!


Our room was so unbelievably quaint and cosy that as soon as we arrived in from the airport I took a quick nap to wind down. Although it's in a traditional style, there's still air con, a television (that you will be too busy to even glance at), a mini bar and the sweetest little shower room I've ever seen. 


I don't usually tend to be a 'breakfast person', and often just nibble at a croissant, but the Moroccans most definitely have strong breakfast game and I made sure to indulge in clearing my plate each morning. Fig jam on local traditional bread, pancakes, poached eggs, fruit salad, yoghurt, freshly squeezed orange juice and a pot of mint tea meant I had the perfect start to the day. 


After three nights in the Riad, we said our goodbyes to the other holiday goers we'd made friends with, along the wonderful staff and headed to our next stop. 


Les Deux Tours is a short drive away from the city nestled between the cacti and camels of the desert and is what I can best describe as a luxurious and elegant oasis of calm. You know the kind of hotel you walk into and think in your head "I've arrived", this place is exactly that feeling, again and again. Our room overlooked the gardens and was without a doubt the greatest that I've ever stayed in. 



The grounds of the hotel are covered in unusual plants, trees and flowers, with winding little paths taking you from the vegetable patch, to the pool, and all the way back to your room again. Along the way are ponds filled with turtles, cats basking in the sunshine and a bunch of sleepy goats. 


We planned on venturing out into the city once more before leaving, but fell so in love with the pool and sunbathing with a cocktail in hand that we just couldn't bare to drag ourselves away. That and indulging in an Argan oil full body massage.



Hanging out at Les Deux Tours made me feel so at peace and as if I had completely escaped from the real world for a short while. I've always found that whenever I find a special place like that, I cannot help but return once again and fully intend on doing so in a few years. 

Should you be considering a trip to Marrakech, I truly recommend going for a two centred stay as I did. You will then have chance to immerse yourself into the city and meet the locals, before retreating away to the calm and serenity of a hotel with a bounty of space and a pool to dive into.



September 30, 2015

aldeburgh food festival buys

Every year without fail, I make the hour trip to Aldeburgh Food Festival which is by far one of my favourite events. I didn't take photos this time as I took loads for a blog post last year, so instead decided to show you what I bought. All of the brands are local to Norfolk/Suffolk but most can be bought online too. 

Food


Hillfarm Garlic Mayonnaise (£3.59) | This mayo has a mighty powerful garlic twang and is the perfect partner for a plate of chips.

Hodmedod's Sea Salt & Cider Vinegar Fava Beans (£2.29) | Roasted broad beans have become my new favourite healthy snack so I was thrilled to spot this salt and vinegar version. They are even tastier than crisps!

Purely Saucy Scotch Bonnet Chilli Sauce | I put Tabasco on pretty much everything, being the chilli kick craver that I am, but have found myself wanting to try something even hotter which is where this purchase came in. 

Purely Pesto Sundried Tomato | More tasty pesto, enough said. 

Purely Pesto Pea Shoot | I'm completely addicted to regular pesto and have it at least once a week with pasta, but decided to go for a change this time with the pea shoot version. It's much lighter tasting than regular pesto and goes wonderfully with a sprinkle of feta cheese.  

Pump Street Bakery Chocolate Shavings (£10) | At the festival were hot chocolate shots, which tasted beyond incredible to the point I just had to buy this huge jar full of shavings to be able to make the same at home. I'm going to make sure that from now on I always have one of these stocked in my cupboard. 

Drink


St Peter's Brewery Grapefruit Beer, Spelt Blonde & Honey Porter (£2.19 each) | Whenever I'm in the mood for a beer or lager, I opt for St Peter's without fail. My favourite is their Grapefruit version which is too good for words, followed by the Honey Porter, a darker beer with a subtle chocolatey/cherry taste, and the Spelt Blonde, an all round great tasting light lager.  

Edward's Cordial Rhubarb & Lavender (£4) | I don't tend to be a lavender fan when it comes to food and drink, but in this cordial it's ever so subtle and just balances the tartness of the rhubarb perfectly. It makes a nice change from Robinsons orange squash! Plus it can be used as an alcohol mixer too. 

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September 24, 2015

overcoming a fear of flying


I've been lucky enough throughout my life to have jetted off to different parts of the world from a fairly young age and therefore got used to flying and airports since before I can even remember. That being said, since before last year, I'd had a gap of not going abroad for three years and had the horrible experience of a bad panic attack whilst flying. 

I'd never really experienced flying nerves up until this point so didn't expect to suddenly get them, but on a flight returning from France I felt extremely panicky and spent the whole time trying to talk myself out of thinking the plane was about to drop out of the sky, to which every little sound and bump soon led to a full blown panic attack. It was truly one of the worst experiences of my life, I was shaking pretty badly and had a completely dry throat but felt too scared to even move my arm to drink from a water bottle. The whole thing only lasted a couple of minutes until the flight attendant made me feel much better but for the next bunch of flights I went on I would worry for days in advance about the same thing happening again. 

I have a ridiculously wild imagination whenever anxiety creeps in. Before getting on one plane, a news crew were filming in the airport and all I could imagine was it being used as footage about our doomed flight. I've also convinced myself before that spotting water dripping off the bottom of the plane was fuel leaking and even worried that we were going to crash into another plane midair simply because I could see it. The only real way to not get worked up is to recognise that all of these silly stories are coming from an overactive imagination and just to laugh them off as works of creative genius. 

Since then, I've had quite a crazy year and have been on 10 flights in just 12 months. With each flight, I learnt new tips and tricks to keep anxiety at bay, and although on some I still felt waves of panic, I'm now at a point where I've finally learnt to enjoy flights rather than be terrified of them.   

Always pay a little extra and book a seat next to the window and towards the front of the plane | I had my first ever flight away from the window last year, and truly hated every minute of it. I'm the kind of person who needs to see what is going on and being able to look out of the window is essential for me to feel relaxed. I also find that my favourite place to be is towards the front of the plane, as at the back I feel like I'm being dragged along by the plane and in the middle I feel penned in by people. My little secret, seat number 10a is the place to be.

Have a pamper night the evening before you fly | Nothing calms the nerves quite like a long soak in a hot bubbly bath with a mug of hot chocolate. My weapon of choice to fight anxiety and trouble sleeping is Neroli Oil which I burn just before bed in my Neal's Yard Oil Burner. Trust me when I say it will soon become your best friend. 

Take photos above the clouds | The main reason I do this is to remember back to the flights I've been on and that they all went absolutely fine. It's also a great way to learn to appreciate how beautiful it is to be above the world and to stop relating the experience to fear. 

If you feel a panic attack coming on, tense your muscles as hard as you can for a few seconds at a time | This is by far the best tip for panic attacks that I've ever come across. It works at bringing your mind back to reality rather than drifting off into anxiety. 

Have a big bottle of water handy | A bottle of water is a security blanket for anyone prone to panic attacks. It's so important to keep hydrated while flying, as often feeling dehydrated and lightheaded is where a sense of loss of control and panic can start. 

Divide your time up and use a reward system for each hour that you get through | I've become quite the pro when it comes to playing off anxiety against itself. For every half hour on a short flight or hour on a longer flight that I get through, I have in mind something that I will do so that I'm constantly reminding myself of how quickly the time is going. Usually it will be something like, getting a cup of tea, starting to watch my film, listening to an album and so on. 

Avoid sleeping for short haul flights | I've tried so many times to fall asleep so that the time will go faster on a flight, but always end up waking up half asleep and feeling completely disorientated which is an ideal way to start off a panic attack. Plus, if you want to learn to enjoy flying, you will first have to get used to all of the sights, sounds and feelings of being on a plane, rather than sleeping through them all. 

Take a cosy pashmina with you | Having a cosy airport/travelling outfit is absolutely invaluable and a cashmere scarf that doubles up as a blanket once you're on the plane is honestly one of the best things money can buy. 

Watch a film or listen to an audiobook | I recently read an article which referred to anxiety as a small child trapped inside your brain that is in need of distraction. This is why you will find that the more you allow yourself to get lost in a film or give your attention to anything other than the noises and bumps of a flight, the less chance you have of getting nervous in the first place. 

Make use of the air con | The moment I get sat in my seat on a plane, I make sure that the vents of air con are all open and facing in my direction. The feeling of fresh, cool air does wonders for stress and instantly starts to relax me for the flight ahead. 

See your time on the flight as your escape from the hectic rush of people at the airport | For my last few flights, I began to realise that most of my anxiety with flying is actually associated with the stress of the airport more than actually being on an airplane. A couple of weeks ago, I had the worst experience of being ill at Marrakech airport and standing in line for passport control whilst feeling faint for what seemed like a decade. Once I'd hopped onto the plane, I felt a sense of relief that I'd done all I needed to at the airport and all I had left was to just sit back and relax.

Plan what you are going to do at your destination | On your outbound flight, take some maps and guidebooks with you onto the flight. You can then use the time you have to plan each day and get excited about landing. For on your way home, check the world map on your phone and plan all of the places you want to next visit!

All said and done, it's so important to realise just how common flying anxiety is and that you absolutely will learn to overcome it and to enjoy flights, should you keep taking steps forward. If you feel so overwhelmed by a fear of flying that you just simply cannot get on a plane or endure the experience, consider booking yourself in for a Fearless Fyler course with EasyJet (#notsponsored). I fully believe in the power of the mind and that absolutely any fear can be cured simply with subjecting yourself to it over and over again until you eventually get so bored with it that you learn to let go. Stop labelling yourself as a nervous flyer and start convincing yourself that you are a capable flyer, and soon to be confident flyer.