As I student I don’t exactly get to spend my evenings doing very fancy things. When I was contacted by Veeno to try out and review their wine tasting experience for two I was over the moon as it sounded like a fantastic experience and makes quite a change from the local pub. I went with my lovely friend Kat who runs her own blog and if you are interested in music and reviews, please check her out.

What is Veeno?

Veeno is an Italian wine cafe that has 15 outlets across the UK – including Manchester, Leeds, and York that opened from 2013 onwards. All of their wines are produced in the family vineyard in Sicily, as well the food being imported from Italy too. The authentic Italian experience was probably my favourite things about Veeno. You knew you were being looked after by people who had fantastic knowledge on the food and drink from the country and I felt lucky to be able to try their food recommendations that are specifically chosen to match each of the wines.

What did we do?

I had been asked to try out Veeno’s Selezione wine tasting which says on the menu that it includes “white, rose and red” wine that includes their “best labels”. This costs £25.90.  This is accompanied with spuntini which is an Italian concept for sharing and usually means a leisurely meal.

The experience

The loveliest lady called Maldina spent the evening explaining the wines, the different flavours, and even whereabouts in the vineyard the grapes came from. It was honestly incredible to learn so much about wines, considering my poor lack of knowledge before!

I would say, don’t expect this to take 45 minutes. We arrived just after 7:30pm and didn’t leave until after 10pm. Not at any minute did we feel it was too much as we got to spend a perfect amount of time experiencing each wine.

The wine and food

Before any of the food was brought out to us we were asked about any dietary requirements or preferences that we had as they would ensure it was tailored to what we liked. I thought this was a lovely touch and it ensured that you would enjoy every part of the experience. Each of the foods is specifically chosen to highlight the different notes in the 6 wines and I was honestly really surprised when I noticed how the flavour of the wine changes with each food.

Maldina also let us know that you can order their food to take away which, considering how obsessed I became with a lot of it, is something I will definitely do in the warmer months.

We had 5 different wines which included 2 whites, a rose, and 2 reds. I am not a massive red drinker, not at all really, but could still appreciate the quality and taste of every single one. I completely fell in love with one of the white wines we chose and to know the ins and outs of what you’re drinking is really special.

On top of this, we also had a dessert wine and 2 desserts that perfectly ended the evening – something neither of us were expecting.

I have to give a huge thank you to the lovely people in Veeno who really looked after myself and Kat and provided us with a wonderful experience. If you are looking to take your friend out on a special occasion or celebrate with your partner, Veeno is honestly perfect. We were completely new to wine tasting and we felt comfortable and welcomed throughout. For £26 you get much more than you pay for and that is exactly why I would recommend to anybody who asked.

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Being a redhead has definitely shaped my life. It honestly baffles me whenever I sit down and think about it that a colour, and more specifically, a colour of hair, can divide so many people and generates so many varied opinions. On a more broad spectrum, I’m sure we can all come to the conclusion that bullying is wrong, despite the fact that many of us accept it as a characteristic of childhood and growing up. I was lucky enough to not be bullied in life but taunting has been prevalent since I can remember. This is an aspect that I have felt privileged to not be the victim of. But, generally, I stand alone. I can recite a number of news articles I have seen where people have committed suicide due to bullying surrounding their hair colour. In my opinion, it is not addressed enough and it leaves this small 2% of the population subject to such hate with little support systems available.

I distinctly remember a circumstance where I was in my local city and I ended up being followed and had slurs shouted at me by total strangers. Admittedly, this has been a one-off type situation in my life but that doesn’t make it any less shocking. Scaling it down, I have experienced comments my whole teenage life where people thought they were complimenting me through the line “you’re fit.. for a ginger” or other similar points. If you place yourself in the mind of a 15-year-old girl, being told that, in someone’s view, one of the things holding you back from being attractive is the totally arbitrary hair colour you were assigned at birth – you are undoubtedly wired to hate your appearance. I’m not insinuating that this hurts any more or less than people being told that glasses, or braces, or that fetching bowl cut your mum gave you, are hindering you being “attractive” but hey – I had most of these and was lumbered with being a redhead too.

Let us not forget the jokes that you have to accept because “it is just a joke”. I can assure you that hearing a comment about my fiery temper will probably result in exactly what you have asked for… which probably doesn’t help in playing up to stereotypes but oh well, eh? Another personal favourite of mine is the quip, “we wouldn’t lose you in a crowd”, sometimes the originality is baffling, I must confess.

I dyed my hair several times in my teenage years to avoid comments and used being a brunette as a platform for a new, reformed and confident me. However, I swore to my dad that semi-permanent would always be the way and this often left me out of pocket and eventually accepting my ginger roots and eventual horrific grow out. This is something I must thank my dad for. By never going permanent, I learnt to love and accept my hair colour as much as possible and without this inevitable shove into self-love, I feel like I would have significantly struggled later on in life.

Another comment that I thought was worth mentioning is the concept that ginger hair will only suit women. I know that I am definitely not the victim of this as I identify as a female but for guys who have grown up with being a redhead, I can only begin to imagine how hard it is to be essentially named and shamed as “unattractive” off the bat. I have seen this more than enough times and it infuriates me. Have you seen Ed Sheeran? Prince Harry maybe? Let us not be too rash here.

This process of altering my appearance to suit the constraints of beauty imposed by others around me and the wider society ultimately fell to fake tan. You can imagine a very young and confused Ella attempting to fake tan and completely messing it up. I know that most girls went through this stage but being quite pale (although I do tan!) and predominately freckly, any attempt to cover them up was welcomed.  Imagine lots of orange streaks and stained hands and you essentially have pictured what my attempts were to construct an image of myself that suited this ideal of “attractive” that I was told my whole life I didn’t fit in to.

I know that some people will read this and be like “Hey, I love you hair! The colour is so unique” or “She’s just saying she had it hard” but I did, I truly did. Weirdly enough, what made it harder was compliments. In the space of a day, I could receive a hateful comment about my hair and by the end of the evening, it would be completely juxtaposed by a stranger stopping me in a shop or restaurant to say how much they loved it. This type of confliction has made it extremely hard to accept me, strangely. I think it is such a natural part of human nature to look at yourself and only focus and reflect on the negative and completely disregard the positive.

I will admit, hairdressers do seem to really like me. That is one thing I will totally take and own it. Whenever I need a confidence boost, I have learnt over time that getting my hair done is probably the best thing to do. However, this doesn’t stop unwarranted comments even then about colours I should “avoid” and how I “can’t wear” certain items. There is only a number of times in 21 years where I can hear that I will suit green and have to act surprised.

Although I have been light hearted at points, I thought it necessary to be really honest at this given moment. Being a redhead has been a series of conflicting emotions that have shaped my life and how confident I feel in my appearance. These neverending thoughts have led to me researching the “ginger gene” and the likelihood of ginger children. Part of me feels resolute in standing up to people who for some reason feel obliged to attack people for being different. Another part is terrified to bring someone into the world to have the same experiences as me both through interactions with people and internal torment. This is quite a daunting and troubling thought process to have at times and it is saddening that from just being a redhead it is something I have felt that I have to consider.

I wanted to end on the note that inspired this discussion and is something I have always said whenever asked about being a redhead. Nobody looks like me. Magazines, films, bloggers, anything. I know that redheads don’t make up a large proportion of the population and therefore even a smaller percentage of celebrities and other icons but it has been a struggle from a young age to not have many people in the public sphere that I can identify with – appearance wise. What Disney princess was I? Always Ariel and her hair is red… to be pedantic. Hell, there isn’t even an emoji that looks like me but don’t worry… there are 3 different cutlery ones. I frequently search for redhead YouTubers or bloggers because I never feel like I am exposed to much inspiration when it comes to hair, makeup and fashion as there is such a limited number of us. (If you know any good ones, please let me know!)

I am slowly learning to love my hair and I am frequently informed that it is something I will grow to love in time and for once, I actually agree with people’s comments. Being different at a young age is difficult, no matter what it is that sets you apart. It will inevitably shape how you perceive yourself and others but I assure you, you will love your hair in time. I cannot express how much adoration I have for children with gorgeous flame hair and how I always feel the need to compliment them on it. I see people my age that I obsess over due to the shade of red hair that they have. Every shade is different and to me, that makes it pretty amazing. Nobody looks like you, yes, but why the hell do you want to look like everybody else? Embrace individuality, embrace your colour and embrace yourself.

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I love a bargain and finding one on eBay is always so rewarding, especially for under £5. I thought I would share some of the best things I have found recently with you guys. If you’re interested in posts about fetching yourself a good bargain I can throw you back to last year where I did some posts entitled “Under £20”, my favourite being the Under £20: 36 Date Ideas.

Mesh Top

I first saw Lydia Rose from fashioninflux post about these I jumped straight over to eBay to check them out. I just found her blog post from last year that mentioned some of her other favourite finds that I definitely recommend giving a read. I have seen these tops everywhere at the moment on the likes of Pretty Little Thing, Missy Empire and other Instagram dominated brands and thought for a fraction of the price I couldn’t help but snatch it up! Just typing in “mesh top” to eBay seems to open up a world of gorgeous little bargains which are perfect dupes for high street brands.

For example, I bought this embroidered little number for under £5 which is a great dupe for the Urban Outfitter’s £34 alternative. I have honestly had so many compliments when I have worn it out and equally as many shocked looks when I tell them how much it cost! If you’re not into embroidered mesh tops, this spotty one is another great alternative for this version from Glamorous at £20.

Phone Case

eBay is a fantastic place to get phone cases that are on trend and look great. I recently got this stunning gold and marble case for just £3.95 which is an absolute steal. I also adore this grey, pink and marble case that is completely up my street at the moment in terms of colour and aesthetic and hey, if you can’t match your phone case to your bedroom.. why bother? eBay sellers always seem to be one step ahead in terms of picking up and replicating trends and I often see great dupes for Skinny Dip cases online. If you haven’t seen the peach theme that has been around forever, where have you been? On wrapping paper at Ohh Deer, on bedding at Urban Outfitters and cases with Skinny Dip – I feel like it is a trend people love. The peach phone case from Skinny Dip is a hefty £14 compared to the cool £3.49 eBay alternative.

Slogan Tshirt

Another fashion find is the good ol slogan t-shirt. Nobody is without a slogan t-shirt these days and this one is perfect for the feminist vibes that are everywhere at the moment too. This feminist top is only £4.99. Topshop is THE place to visit right now for a slogan t-shirt so comparing the eBay find to their £16 “revolution” alternative is such a steal!

Home Decor

I recently moved into my third year house at university and I was adamant about decorating it nicely and making it my home. I found that eBay is a great place to pick up little decorative pieces that really make a house a home. This is obviously perfect for university students on a budget who want to decorate their living space to feel more comfortable and welcoming. I bought a really sweet pom pom garland that was grey, white and pink and tied my colour theme together perfectly. It was shipped from China but arrived so quickly and was exactly what I was after! You can find them here for £3.89. I also find that eBay is brilliant for fairy lights. I have got so many fantastic bargains and some of the ones I am looking at right now include these cactus ones for just £3.69 and these adorable cream tulip ones for just 99p!

Brush Cleaning Pad

I have seen these advertised everywhere and after picking one up I don’t know what I would do without it. Silicone brush cleaning mats have completely taken off at the moment and I totally recommend getting yourself one as I have no idea how I was cleaning my brushes beforehand. This one is just £2.89 and is a complete steal. Just comparing that to the Sigma £20 alternative really puts it into perspective.

Have you found any gems on eBay?

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This month I was contacted by the lovely Betty Box and asked if I was interested in receiving a monthly box and talking through my thoughts on it. I hopped over to the website and I was so impressed that I immediately said yes.

What is it?

The Betty Box is a type of subscription box that I have never seen before and I think the idea behind it is fantastic. We have all been (or still are) young girls or teenagers that have to endure their periods and need some cheering up. On top of this, getting your head around the world of sanitary products and what best suits you at different points in your life for different activities is tiresome and can take months, if not years to figure out.

That’s where Betty Box comes in. The box is tailored towards your preferences and gives you the opportunity to try products from various brands and ranges – including Lil Let and Tampax. They also have a smaller box inside that is full of treats to get you through the week including sweet treats, beauty products and stationery. They deliver their boxes on three different dates in the month so it gives you the chance to pick the one closest to your period start date which is great. The Betty Box is also designed to fit through 94% of letterboxes which is a great feature as you won’t have to worry about collecting it from the local post office when you’re not in!

Before we get into what the box contains; if you are interested in more “sex and relationship” based posts I have linked my Contraceptive Pill Experience and my How To Keep The Spark In Long Distance Relationships posts if you wanted a little read afterwards! This topic is something I really want to introduce more of onto my blog so I hope you enjoy!

Let’s open up the Betty Box!

One thing I really love about the Betty Box are the colours and designs they use. They make everything look so put together and pretty which, for starters, is great for photos! As you can see, everything is divided up by smaller boxes or a small reusable bag so that it makes everything easier – perfect for somebody new to the experience. You also get a little booklet that just explains everything that you have in your monthly box as well as some short articles to have flick through.

What’s inside the “for you” box?


As I mentioned, the “for you” box was one of my favourite features of the Betty Box subscription service. I think it is so important to look after and treat yourself when you need it most which is why this is a perfect addition! The box is packed full of goodies from well-known brands and there is honestly something for everyone.


I have to admit, I was most excited by the pastel pink highlighter and the Joe&Seph’s popcorn – I have always wanted to try out their different flavours! On top of that, in the September box, you also get a tea tree lip balm, some charcoal and bamboo nose pore strips, a llama iron-on patch, a lovely dark red nail varnish and a hair mask (just to name a few!) I was really impressed by how much you get and you can clearly see the thought that goes into making these subscription boxes perfect. I will definitely be trying these out soon and if anything blows me away I will be featuring it on here soon.

What else do you get?

Aside from all the lovely treats you receive to get you through your period, you also get all the sanitary products that you have selected through the website when you build and tailor a box towards your needs. These are divided into two boxes – “for later” and “for night” (as well as the reusable bag). I was worried you might not get enough products to last you but oh my god there is almost enough for 2 months (depending on how heavy your period is). I was honestly so impressed with how much you get – more than your money’s worth for sure!

My overall thoughts

I think the Betty Box is such a great idea as it allows young girls and teenagers to feel more comfortable with their period, try new products and feel as pampered as possible throughout. I personally believe the box is perfect for parents who want to order it for their daughters each month as it allows you to create an open environment where periods are not a taboo subject and can be freely discussed. I will definitely be treating myself to another box soon as for £12.99 and free delivery, you really can’t go wrong!

 

As I am still having issues with my posts appearing in reader – please excuse my lack of posting while I attempt to solve the problem with JetPack. Please please let me know if you are receiving emails or seeing the posts in the WordPress reader as this really helps us try to resolve why it is happening!

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Knowing how to keep the spark in long distance relationships can be hard. I have been with my boyfriend while at university for three years now and at times, yes, this can be really difficult but ultimately I would consider us a really strong couple. It is inevitable at university that a lot of relationships are strained, both romantic and platonic, and especially when it is a new environment for both of you, it can be hard to know how to keep things good. I thought I would write up some of my top pieces of advice to keeping the spark in long distance relationships to help anybody who is either new to this situation or needs some helpful pointers!

I also spoke to a few of my friends and family in long distance relationships to get their advice which I’ll feature alongside my own tips.

If you’re interested in relationship posts I have written a 20 Date Ideas post as well as a budget date post called Under £20: 36 Date Ideas.

Have some ground rules

This may sound a bit much but trust me, it helps. A lot of distance relationships fail because you both expect very different things. This is why it is important to make sure you are both happy to have a few ground rules in place that ensure stability and happiness. For example, make sure to drop a text to your significant other when you’re in from a night out. If you both follow this, there are no arguments about limited contact throughout the night and one person being concerned that they haven’t heard from the other for hours. You can both respect the fact that you’re having your own time but they know they’ll be updated when you’re home and safe. I think if you expect to be messaged every hour when someone is on a night out you are a) expecting a lot from the relationship b) you may need to take a step back to let the other person enjoy their own time. side note: if this works for you, however, please ignore me! It is important to remember that every relationship is different and this is merely advice I have seen work for myself and other relationships around me.

Make time for phone calls

Try and make time around both your schedules where you can sit down and have a proper chat rather than fragmented and disjointed conversations throughout the day. These type of conversations often leave at least one party feeling like they’re being ignored or undervalued so sometimes sacrificing a few texts throughout the day to have an hour phone call at night makes all the difference. Quality time over quantity! I have seen both one of my best friends and my dad follow this and it works really well. Setting aside a time that works for you every day or two days to FaceTime or call makes everyone involved feel cared for and valued.

What goes hand in hand with this is just making sure you listen. If your partner has a busy day ahead or something exciting going on, wish them luck, ask how it was.. Basically, just take an interest in their life! Forgetting these types of little things can have more of a detrimental impact than you think. Which nicely leads me on to the next point I think!

Surprise one another and show you’re thinking about them

This doesn’t have to be huge grand gestures where you turn up on the doorstep (although I did do this for Adam’s birthday one year) but rather little things here and there to brighten their day and let them know you’re thinking of them. Adam and I always send tweets and Instagram posts to each other as well as tagging one another in Facebook posts all the time. Sometimes when you’re having a bad day and you see 20 tags in cute puppies and kittens videos, you can’t help but smile! You also can’t go wrong with a few little surprise gifts here and there…

Keep it honest

Don’t pretend to be okay with each other when you’re not. If you are feeling sad, underappreciated, angry – let the other person know. It doesn’t necessarily have to be negativity towards the relationship but just any feelings in general. You’re both there to help each other work through things and it’s important to be as open as possible when it comes to discussing how you feel. Remember not to bottle things up and make sure you support one another when you can.

Enjoy your time together

Honestly, make the most of the time you do have together. Put those phones away and just enjoy each other’s company when you can. I think this is probably one of the most important points to mention. Even if that time together is just a TESCO food shop – enjoy it.

Do you have any advice for long distance relationships?

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