My top TV show recommendations

As it’s pouring with rain today, and sadly the glorious summer seems to have ended, I thought I’d share my top tv show recommendations because y’know, what else you gonna do on a rainy day other than snuggle up infront of the tv?!

Ok I confess, maybe I do spend too much time watching tv but when the programming is this good can you blame me?

Dark

It’s not often I get fanatical about a programme but Dark was SO GOOD. It’s a Netflix Original sci-fi thriller and I have been recommending it to everyone. It’s a German language series but we just watched the dubbed version as we find subtitles too distracting (and the only German I know is how to order a small chocolate milkshake! ha!). The story begins in the year 2019 and starts with a young boy who goes missing. It then centres around four families and their connections to each other in the fictional German town of Winden. The show is a little reminiscent of Stranger Things (which I also love) but takes on a much different twist several episodes in. I can’t say much more without major plot spoilers but if there is one show to watch on Netflix right now it is Dark.

Dark Tourist

Sticking with the dark theme, we happened across a series called Dark Tourist. It is presented by David Farrier, a journalist from New Zealand, who explores the phenomenon of dark tourism. If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, it is basically defined as tourism to a place of death and tragedy. Farrier travels the world and satisfies the morbid curiosity in all of us. One of the most notable things he does is take a bus tour to the area of the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan – where eventually the radiation levels read so high on the geiger counters that the tour is then halted. He also meets drug lord Pablo Escobar’s number 1 hitman in Colombia and takes part in an Indonesian funeral ritual involving digging up a corpse, among many other things. Some of the viewing is not for the faint-hearted but it is an intriguing watch.

Lee Daniels’ Star

I’m currently in the middle of watching season 2 of this drama about a girl band trying to make it big in Atlanta, USA. This show tackles almost every issue under the sun from violence, drug abuse, transgender identity and toxic relationships, all of which are intertwined with the highs and lows of trying to make it in the music industry. It features some relatively fresh faces to acting who hold their own alongside some big names such as Queen Latifah and Benjamin Bratt. Oh and the soundtrack is pretty fab too!

RuPaul’s Drag Race

I am very late to the party but I can’t get enough of RuPaul’s Drag Race. If you’re unfamiliar, it’s a competition hosted by iconic drag queen RuPaul, to find America’s next drag superstar and has had 10 seasons already. The programme is the perfect mix of funny, sassy, creative and touching, I feel more sparkly just by watching it. I’ve only managed to watch the 3 most recent seasons as that’s all Netflix have got now, so if anyone knows where I can watch the older series please let me know! If I can find it on an android tv box or something I will be very happy.

Image via unsplash

What are you watching on tv at the moment? Leave me your recommendations below.

This was a collaborative post with Latest Deals.

How to be Happy – Book Review

How to be Happy by Eva Woods

How to be Happy - Book Review

If there was one book that I have read in the past year that I believe should be made into a movie, then this is it! So much so that I recommended this book to my mum, who then recommended this book to my aunt and now I am recommending it to you.

How to be happy by Eva Woods tells the story of Annie. Annie is not in a good place – she doesn’t like her job, her mother is in hospital and after a run of awful life events she generally feels quite down trodden and, well, sad. And then along comes Polly – a riot of colour and bursting with fun, laughter and joy. Polly is everything Annie is not.

Annie is in no mood to make friends but Polly is persistent and forces herself into Annie’s life with the aim of helping Annie find happiness in just one hundred days. Polly shows Annie that life is too short to be miserable and slowly but surely, Annie starts to believe her. What Annie doesn’t realise is that Polly needs her, just as much as she needs Polly.

Without revealing any major plot spoilers, this book is a bittersweet tale of friendship, life and love. It’s called ‘How to be Happy’ yet it is also very poignant and reminds us to live our best lives. As Polly would say, “Life isn’t about avoiding the storm; it’s about learning to dance in the rain”.

My mental health issues

With it being Mental Health Awareness Week, I thought it timely to write about what has been going on with me lately, in particular with regards to my mental health.

One week into the new year – my feet were itching and I was craving some sunshine and adventure, so we booked ourselves an amazing holiday to Malaysia in April, where we would celebrate our fifth wedding anniversary. I was excited, I hadn’t felt this excited in a long time.

As January continued, a sense of unease came creeping in. Having dealt with (mainly social) anxiety for a long time I told myself that I always feel shit in January and February and that it would pass once March came along. I got myself some herbal remedies, went back to yoga class and brushed off that gnawing feeling as a seasonal thing.

Late February, one Sunday I had gone upstairs to lie down and read a book. My husband came up to check on me as I had just disappeared without saying anything… and that’s when it first flooded out. I was scared, anxious, crying. Something bad was going to happen. In the pit of my stomach I knew that something bad was going to happen. I didn’t want to go on holiday. I didn’t want to go to work. But I also didn’t want to cancel my holiday or quit my job. Something did not feel right. I am not an overly emotional person and I rarely cry in front of other people, including my husband.

Two days later I managed to get an appointment at a walk-in centre to see a doctor who referred me to online therapy. I began therapy but around five weeks after my first breakdown, it hit me again. That escalating dreaded, miserable, hopeless, nauseating feeling. I wasn’t eating properly. I wasn’t sleeping properly. And I had had a headache and jaw pain for about two weeks straight.

Cue another doctors visit. She asked me questions and sent me for a blood test, stating that I was showing severe symptoms of anxiety and depression. She also prescribed me anti-depressants and a sedative and told me to come back to see her the following week. As I was crossing the road from the surgery to get to the pharmacy my mind considered what would happen if I just stopped and let the oncoming traffic hit me. I didn’t want to die, quite the opposite, but if I got knocked down then I could rest up and not feel like I had to try to prove how bad I was feeling.

That weekend was my birthday and easter – two of my favourite things and yet I was in no mood to celebrate. I felt like a robot. Like I was physically present but void of any emotion, or any good feeling at least. Everything was going on around me but I wasn’t really there. Smiling was an effort. I don’t know how it looked from the outside but I ended up going AWOL from work because every day I woke up with a racing heart and a big black cloud over my head.

I returned to see the GP as requested and the reception I got was less than friendly. My blood tests were fine and it seemed as though she had more or less forgotten that she had asked me to return, she almost seemed angry that I was bothering her. My mum came with me so I know I wasn’t imagining the doctor’s unfriendly attitude. If I didn’t have white coat syndrome before then I’m pretty sure I have it now. I was in a much worse state than before.

What then followed was me being signed off work for two weeks and then cancelling our holiday. A holiday I had had on my bucket list for many years. Travel had felt like the only cool thing I had to show for my life and here I was not even being able to do that. I felt like shit. On top of the dread of the future that I was carrying, plus the fear of the ‘bad thing’, I was now laden with guilt for cancelling our wedding anniversary holiday, guilt about taking this adventure away from my husband and the sense I had let myself down.

In hindsight I should have seen this coming and believe me, I spent plenty of time punishing myself about it. In all honesty I haven’t been truly happy for a long time for various reasons but thankfully I got help before it got any worse. I would urge anyone who is feeling low to talk to someone about it, you may be surprised just how many people have been in the same boat as you and I’m forever thankful to my friends and family who have supported me over the last few months. I am also grateful that mental illness is spoken about more and with campaigns such as mental health awareness week it allows for more people to seek the help that they require.

For more information about mental health awareness, try mentalhealth.org

Avoiding too much sun

At the moment most of us are longing for a little bit of sun, which is apparently finally on its way. We spend all winter looking forward to feeling the warmth on our skin and getting a little bit of a glow. We dream of being able to go out without piling on a thousand layers first. Of just being able to walk down the street in a t-shirt or dress, without having to take a jacket “just in case” and we can’t wait to sit outside in the sun reading a book and sipping an ice-cold drink.

Many of us have already booked summer holidays, perhaps staying with Elegant Address, and are counting down the days until even more great weather, with a much smaller chance of rain, and some of us are just starting to come out of a winter funk.

This is great. The sun is fantastic, and it should be enjoyed. Getting more sunlight can boost your mood and confidence and help you to sleep better. It can encourage you to get out and do some exercise, and it gives you vitamin D levels a huge boost, which can help to fight off and prevent infection and disease as well as improving your mental health. Being out in the sunshine also gets us out there with our friends and family more and could help you to get a bit of a digital detox.

But, there is such a thing as too much sun. Especially when you’re not used to it. Spending too much time in the sunshine can lead to sunburn and eventually, skin cancer. It can dry out your hair, skin and nails, give you headaches and make you feel much more tired than usual. So, it’s important that you get the balance right and avoid too much sun. This can be difficult on the hottest days or when you are on holiday, so here are some tips to help you.

Image via unsplash

Wear Sunscreen
Firstly, even if you are avoiding too much sun, even, in fact, if it’s not a particularly sunny day, you should be wearing sunscreen. Even in the winter time, it’s a good idea to wear a foundation or primer with added SPF, as the sun’s rays could still be doing harm. In the summer, wear a high factor and reapply throughout the day.

Avoid the Midday Sun
The sun is generally at its highest around lunchtime, so it’s best to go indoors from around 11-2. If you are on holiday, use this time to head to a café for lunch or to take an afternoon siesta. If you do need to be outdoors, being in the shade can reduce UV radiation by 50-95% so try to find a shaded area.

Wear a Hat
Wear a hat with a wide brim or even carry a parasol on very hot days. A hat like this will protect your head, face and neck and help prevent headaches. You should also protect your eyes by wearing sunglasses that provide UV protection.

This was a collaborative post.

Gin Festival Maidstone

Gins a bit trendy isn’t it? I must admit I’m quite new to the pleasure of a nice cold G&T but with all these creative craft gins popping up all over the place, it’s sure to become my tipple of choice.

So when the lovely peeps at Gin Festival invited me along to one of their events, I thought that would be my perfect opportunity to discover some new favourites. Along with my gin loving hubby, we went to the Saturday afternoon event at the Kent Showground, Detling, Maidstone. Although the Gin Festival has been going since 2013, this year was the first year it came to Maidstone – and it completely sold out!

Gin Festival Maidstone

When you arrive you are given a guide to the festival as well as your very own copa gin glass which you can keep and take home. I thought this was particularly good and wins some eco-friendly points from me on that! There is a cashless system in place so you are also given a wrist band which you can load up with money before or during the event to ensure a smoother process at the bars rather than faffing about with money.

What to expect

There were four brands giving out free tasters, they were: PJ Gin from Belgium – available exclusively from ginfestival.com, Tinker Gin – based in Yorkshire and launched in 2017, Anno – a Kent based distillers whose delish cranberry gin tasted like Christmas and Brockmans – an English gin ‘like no other’.

Well, I quite liked them all with a bit of tonic (which was from the Schweppes 1783 premium range).

Anno Gins at Gin Festival Maidstone

Beyond these tasters there were five bars to get your drinks at, as well as a cocktail bar, snacks, food and live music. There were also masterclasses on. We attended the one held by Dan from Tinker Gins which was really quite funny (and full of swearing hehe!). It definitely adds something when you meet the people behind the drinks and learn about their passions.

Tinker Gin masterclass at Gin Festival Maidstone

Mr QLP loves a G&T and enjoyed a Brockmans Premium Gin followed by a Tinker Gin. I chose a Boe Violet Gin which was very light and sweet, followed by a Marula Gin which was garnished with peach. We also tried the Elephant Gin because 15% of proceeds go to support African elephant charities, which is enough to make me want it, but its also garnished with the winning combo of apple and ginger – yum!

The UK's biggest gin festival

The guide book given out tells you about all the gins on offer and what they taste like as well as what kind of garnish and mixer you should pair them with. There were so many gins to try it actually made it difficult to decide what to go for! I was certainly intrigued by the Hidden Curiosities gin with peppercorns and the Sweet Potato Plum gin liqueur but I’ll have to try those out next time. My only niggle was that I had really wanted to try the Zymurgorium Sweet Violet gin as its supposed to taste like parma violet sweets but it had sold out just an hour into the event. Disappointing.

Gin Life

We ended the day feeling rather tipsy but bought ourselves a bottle of Brockmans to take home! I would definitely recommend Gin Festival and I’ll be sure to keep my eyes peeled in future for some of the gins I didn’t get chance to try!

Disclaimer: I was given free tickets by Gin Festival but all thoughts are my own.

Update: Unfortunately Gin Festival have since gone into administration however if you’re looking for Gin Festivals then check out www.eatdrinkseek.co.uk/gin-festivals