Friday, 13 April 2018

Edinburgh Travel guide x

I recently ventured across the pond to the land of the scots and I could not wait to share this one.
I promised myself that this year I would become more adventurous and plan a couple trips abroad. Edinburgh was always a city I wanted to visit and what better way to kick off the new year than with a trip! I enjoyed Edinburgh so much and I instantly fell in love. From its beautiful architecture to its lovely people and its homely feel, Edinburgh has it all and is the most perfect city for a quick weekend away. Its narrow and cobbled streets are steeped with history and magic and the beautiful castle towers over the city providing a constant reminder of Scotland's beautiful heritage. It truly is breath taking and the pictures below don't do it justice.

From the minute I arrived in Edinburgh I felt safe and at ease and I couldnt wait to explore in the daylight. It reminded me so much of Ireland, green, beautiful and submerged in history everywhere you go. Edinburgh was one of those places that caused me to leave a little bit of my heart behind.  Its my idea of a perfect city and left me wanting to experience more.

~ Day One ~ 

Having our hotel based on the Royal Mile it was the perfect place to start off our tour of the Old town.  Edinburgh's Royal mile is one of the cities most iconic streets. Its long cobbled pavement stretches through the heart of the beautiful city almost appearing to reach Scotland's rugged coast. Its teeming with beautiful tourist shops, selling everything from dainty souvenirs to Scotlands gorgeous cashmere.  Its well worth a visit. I managed to catch the most beautiful sunset here and Its a view I will never forget. 

One of our very first stops was St. Giles Catherdral. Whats a city tour without visiting its cathedral right ? Although in my opinion all of Edinburgh's buildings were just as pretty as its churches.
Another must see in the royal mile area is Cockburn street. This was by far one of my favourite streets in Edinburgh. Its home to some of Edinburgh's most quaint shops and the sound of men playing the traditional Scottish bag pipes and singing old Scottish songs echoes the streets. It is truly magical! 

Edinburgh is known for its incredible castle. It can be seen from so many areas around the city and has played a very significant role in Scottish history. One interesting fact is that it is home to the oldest crown jewels in the world! On recommendations from other people I never actually went into the castle. Many people have said that the Castle is far too overpriced for what you get to see, so I settled for the exterior and it was just as beautiful. The area around the castle is a perfect viewing point for seeing the city from a height. No trip to Edinburgh is complete without a trip here, thats for sure. 

Just like Ireland the rain poured in Edinburgh causing us to run for shelter to the nearby Camera Obscura. I had heard of this place from many people and had to give it a try. It was incredible. It basically consisted of many stories and rooms of optical illusions. From a mirror room to a tunnel of light, it has every optical illusion you could ever imagine! If you want to have a good laugh Camera Obscura is the place for you. 

Although the rain poured and poured and I literally looked like a drowned rat haha i refused to let the rain win and I continued to wander the beautiful streets. I can tell you not many cities are as stunning as Edinburgh in the rain. Although it was grey and dreary, Edinburgh continued to shine and no word of a lie I felt more at home there than Ive felt in any Irish city! 

Whats a holiday without eating every sweet treat in sight ? Having watched Zoella's Edinburgh vlogs I was on the hunt for one specific cupcake shop in Edinburgh and my god did it live up to the hype. We made a quick pitstop at Cuckoo's Bakery for a cute little cupcake and a warming cup of tea and chatted to the locals like we were one of their own! It was great to get out of the rain and the cupcake was one of the nicest I've ever tasted. Be sure to check out their Instagram for some drool worthy cupcake grams! 

~ Day Two ~ 

After spending the night before frantically looking up all the Harry Potter related places in Edinburgh, I was on a mission to tick every single one off my list. What many people don't know is that J.K Rowling was living in Edinburgh during the writing of her famous series. After visiting Edinburgh I can now see why she chose that beautiful city for inspiration. Its magical streets and its mystical and haunting architecture have Harry Potter and Hogwarts written all over it! Rumour has it she sat for days inside the 'Elephant House' coffee shop, beside a window overlooking Edinburgh Castle and an old school which looks exactly like Hogwarts. It still baffles me that I was in the same place where one of the most iconic series of all time was written! 

My first stop was to the beautiful Victoria Street, which supposedly gave J.K Rowling the inspiration for the famous Diagon Alley. The street is lined with colourful shops and houses and there is for sure a magical atmosphere! 

My last Harry Potter related spot was the graveyard that J.K Rowling supposedly got the names for many of her books characters. Including the most iconic name of them all... 'He who shall not be named' ( Voldemort ). Just behind this graveyard is the iconic building that looks like Hogwarts and after seeing these two places side by side I can see how it would set her imagination alive! Its mysterious, creepy and magical all in one! 

Being the big tourists we are we hopped on the 'Hop on, Hop off tour' which allowed us to see the remaining sights that we missed along the way. As I am a huge fan of the Royals there was no question about it I had to go see the Queen's Scottish residence 'Holyrood Palace'. If your a big fan like me I couldn't recommend it more. It gives a great history of the residence and what it was used for, and you can even go into the rooms that the queen spends time in when she is in Edinburgh! 

Another must do if your in Edinburgh is the 'Edinburgh Dungeons'. I can honestly say that I hadn't laughed like that for ages. They are equally as terryfying as hilarious and well worth a trip. 
And lets not forget about the shopping fanatics! If your a shopping fan Princes street has it all from high end to lower end stores, to satisfy your inner shopaholic! Arthurs seat is perfect for the outdoors'y type that want to fit in a bit of holiday exercise. Do you believe me now that Edinburgh has it all ?

I can honestly say that my trip to Edinburgh was one of the best trips I have ever taken. Although it was short and sweet, I got a real sense of the place and I cannot wait to return someday. Forget Paris, or Barcelona, Edinburgh should be the top European city on your list.

Lots of Love 

Rach x 


Tuesday, 20 March 2018

What I learned from taking my first solo trip abroad x

For as long as I can remember my heart burned with the desire of seeing the world. People who have had the drive to make seeing the world and experiencing different cultures top of their list have always interested me. Over the years I found myself drawn to watching travel videos on youtube and lusting over the picture perfect travel photos on instragram with the hashtag 'WANDERLUST'. It eventually got to the point where I thought to myself, this could be me. If only I had the courage to do just that.
After my first trip of 2018 to beautiful Edinburgh, Scotland (Blogpost to come) its safe to say I caught the travel bug and I was itching to get on a plane again and get away. Particularly to the city I had been dreaming of for such a long time, mystical Prague nestled in mainland Europe.

Ryanair had a mini sale and I kept seeing the idea of Prague pop up everywhere. Its as if it was calling me and eventually I bit the bullet and bought a solo ticket to the Czech Republic. Being a very anxious person I expected to be overcome with nerves and eventually cancel it but strangely enough I was calm, excited and started to plan straight away. It felt right, and from then on I was overcome with independence and bravery.

Although it was just a weekend I learned so much and it was definitely one of the best experiences I have ever had. Here are a few things I have learned by taking the first step out into this big world on my own!

1. There are kind souls everywhere 
I know we are all taught from a young age never to talk to strangers but don't take that too literally. However I do believe strongly in trusting your gut instinct and if you simply feel a bad vibe off of a person, chances are your instincts are leading you on the right path. Don't interact with someone if they simply send alarm bells ringing in your mind but also don't let the misconception of the world being a super dangerous place put you off either. When I arrived in Prague I was met with nothing but kind people. My taxi driver chatted to me, giving me a brief history of Prague and showing me the passing sights on the way to my hotel. It was very refreshing to talk to a local from a european country that I knew very little about and he had a smile on my face the whole journey.
This continued throughout the trip, form the receptionist, to the tour guides and the craftsmen working in the Easter markets. This trip showed me that its so important to interact with people. You learn so much from just a little conversation and there are kind people in each corner of the globe. Just one small conversation could leave a footprint on your heart forever!

2. Planning is absolutely essential
Having only a weekend in Prague I was egar to fit in as many sights as I possibly could into that short space of time. I started planning this trip weeks in advance and lets just say I went a bit ott on the planning but it truly paid off. I knew everything I needed to know, from the tourist traps to the hidden gems off the beaten path I knew it all. I had all my tickets booked in advance which saved so much time, effort and even money in the long run.
As it being my first time abroad by myself it put my mind at ease knowing that I had everything under control and nothing could possibly go wrong, and if on the off chance it did, I would be prepared for it.
It really is so important to be extra organised for your solo trip. It certainly makes your life easier and the trip more enjoyable.

3. Google maps is your best friend 
I think everyone agrees with me on this one right ? Im not going to lie I did try and be the typical tourist and use an old fashioned map, but as you can imagine I failed miserably! Google maps was an absolute lifesaver for me. It got me too and from my destinations without any problem, making it such a stress free and easy trip. Being able to download maps and save them for later is also a huge bonus!

4. Get lost, wander and soak it all in 
There were occasions when I completely abandoned google maps and wandered through the cobbled streets of Prague, truly emersing myself in its beauty and utter magic. I think to truly appreciate a city you have to wander and get lost. You come across the most unexpected places and hidden treasures and get a true taste for what life is like for the locals. So on your next trip, put the phone away and soak it all in. After all we don't all have the privilege to travel and if your one of the lucky ones its so important to be grateful.
Trust yourself, your heart and your bravery and let the streets guide you.

5. ALWAYS buy travel insurance
Unfortunately my amazing trip came to a rather frustrating end however I didnt let it ruin my first big adventure. When I arrived at the airport I was informed that my flight would be delayed. I wasn't concerned as I thought it would only be by a mere hour or maybe even less. But to my surprise it turned out to be more than 6 hours delayed!! ( shoutout to Ryanair) haha. I can tell you it was hard not to panic in this situation but I essentially held it together and made the best of a bad situation and read my way through a whole novel haha.
Anyway the moral of the story is always buy travel insurance. Whether its for a solo trip or a big group holiday, its essential for things and situations like this. However I learned my lesson and travel insurance will be one of my priorities next time.

Although I have only mentioned a few things I have learned I could truly not condense down what this incredible trip has taught me. I have learned to trust myself and now I feel brave enough to do just about anything. As the saying goes " A bird sitting on a tree is never afraid of the branch breaking, because its trust is not in the branch but its own wings. Believe in yourself " !!
I urge you all to step out of your comfort zone in any shape of form. Its far more rewarding that it is scary.
Where too next ?? 

Love Rach x


Friday, 23 February 2018

The importance of self love x

As romance still lingers in the air following the highly anticipated Valentines day I wanted to talk about something that I only came to terms with this year. The art of self love. In my opinion self love is an art. Its something that doesn't come naturally to most and takes time , effort and patience to perfect. In reality its an art that one will never fully master due to the heavy weight of the worlds pressures and anxieties on our shoulders.

Up until this year the words "Self love" meant absolutely nothing to me. I would mistake the term with a large ego, or overbearing confidence. The type of confidence that would make you out to be cocky or thinking your better than anyone else and oh how I was wrong.
For the majority of my life I placed all my love and encouragement in others and spent my time building the ones I loved up which eventually meant that I was breaking myself down in the process. It was a paradoxical cycle. I abandoned myself and completely underestimated my self worth and what I could offer to the world. I am sure this is the case with many people.

In todays fast paced society it is so easy to get caught up in the never ending cycle that we call life. As humans I think we forget how important it is to love ourselves and take time out to rejuvenate and revive ourselves. Our worlds' most dominant and influential people have always placed an emphasis  on the importance of being kind and loving to thy neighbour but they always seem to forget the most important part. As the saying goes 'one cannot pour from an empty cup', and this could not be any more true.
There is so much hate, bitterness and hostility that prevails over our planet, and the stress of this could ever so slightly be relieved by teaching our people to start small. An act of self love is a miniscule step but a huge step in the right direction. The way I look at it is, if you feel good within yourself you will want to do good and express good to others. It's a win, win situation, don't you agree ?

In modern day society people are often compelled to abide by a strict and timely routine and find it very hard to make time for themselves. However self love doesn't have to be time consuming. I have learned this particularly over the last year when life has gotten a tad bit more hectic due to college, social and wellbeing commitments. For the first time in my life I feel like I have balanced the weight of looking after myself and working hard and it has done wonders for my mental health.

I have mastered how to incorporate certain things into my day that make it far more enjoyable. Whether thats taking time in the morning to sit and drink a cup of tea in the peace and quiet, or listening to a motivational podcast on my walk to college, self love is all about making life more enjoyable for ourselves and creating harmony and happiness from within. After all if you have love and happiness within you can project it outwards to the world. There is nothing more threatening to ourselves and the world than a spiteful and angry heart and mind. By making simple changes life can be that bit more wonderful!

It is so important to look after ourselves and treat ourselves like we treat others. Self Love isn't just as simple as buying ourselves a bar of chocolate. Its the little things like constant words of encouragement, having patience with our mind and body and most of all fuelling ourselves with nothing but positivity, good food, exercise and happiness. These tiny things tend to be overlooked ( this was the case with me in the past anyway), and if we make a change and invest in these things our lives can be that bit better!

How I incorporate self love into my day 

1. As I mentioned already I love to listen to motivational podcasts walking too and from college or whenever I have a spare moment really. My favourite ones to listen to are ones based on the law of attraction, mindfulness or simply people sharing their stories about mental health and positivity. My all time favourite podcast is by Lavendaire she is so inspiring and well worth a listen. 

2. I love the idea of nourishing myself from within and have recently really focused on having a healthy and clean diet. I don't like using labels as I find it very restricting so I wouldn't call myself vegetarian, but recently I have tried my best to cut down on meat products and incorporate more fruit, vegetables and whole foods into my diet. I have noticed a huge difference in my energy levels and my mood since. Of course I still love to treat myself to some chocolate because i absolutely love it, and in my eyes life is too short. Don't you agree ? 

3. Of course eating well and exercise go hand in hand and I am a huge advocate and believer in the power of exercise. It does absolutely wonders for my mental health and never fails to put me in a good mood and increase my positivity. I try to incorporate some form of exercise into my daily routine, whether thats a light yoga class or an intense HIIT class. However I am always conscious not to over work my body and the most important thing is to listen to your body and never over work it! 

4. One thing I have tried out in 2018 is meditation and it is now my favourite part of the day. I absolutely love it. Its the one time where i totally switch off, focus on my breath and let the worries of the day fall from my shoulders. I love using guided meditations and I couldn't recommend Jason Stephenson's channel any more. It never fails to put me in a good headspace.

5. Lastly right before I go to bed I spend time doing something that will completely relax me for example watching an episode of friends on netflix or reading the book I'm reading at the moment. It is so important to reward ourselves after a long day at work, school or college and surviving the challenges that the day has thrown at us. By celebrating the little things life is a bit more enjoyable!

Loving ourselves is so important. After all our relationship with ourselves is the longest and most committed relationship we will ever have, why not make it the most meaningful and loving it could possibly be ? As the quote goes " To fall in love with yourself is the first secret to happiness".
So I urge you to do something that brings you happiness and peace at least once a day! Trust me you will watch your life gradually change and your mindset and mood shift to a better place.

Love Rach x 

Sunday, 11 February 2018

5 lessons I have learned in 2017 x

Is it too late to say Happy new year ? Even though it is February I think its never too late to reflect and think about what the previous year has taught us, therefore I took the month of January to deeply reflect on 2017's most valued lessons. Although January is quiet a dreary month it is also one of my favourites. I have always loved the idea of a fresh start and a new beginning and January is just that. It is a blank slate which allows for so many opportunities and new experiences and yes I am very excited.
For me personally 2017 has been one of those rough years, but a very important year. I have gone through many experiences I never thought I would go through and they have taught me life long lessons that I will hopefully carry with me throughout life. As we step into a new and exciting chapter I think it is so important to sit back and reflect on the previous years biggest lessons. This post is dedicated to the good the bad and the ugly challenges that I have endured which have led to the most beautiful lessons.

1. Hard work pays off
2017 was a huge year for me as well as many as i was doing the dreaded Leaving cert and trying to get into college. These final exams brought endless days and nights of panic and tears but looking back now i have realised it was all so worth it. I worked myself to my absolute limit and it paid off the minute I opened my exam results. Throughout the whole two years of my leaving cert I continuously beat myself up over the fact that I wasn't working hard enough or i could be putting in more hours. This was my subconscious beating me down when in fact I gave it my all! That was clearly evident when I opened my results and I was exactly 100 points over what I needed for my college course. I was ecstatic!
The past year has taught me that if you work hard enough anything is possible. It is up to you how hard you work and what direction you choose to take. The hard days of grafting and making your way up in the world are so worth it when you reach the final goal. 2017 has taught me that dreams don't work unless you do and that you are so capable of living out your dream if you take the time to invest in it.
Life isn't plain sailing! It comes with hard days and good days, and as the saying goes, you can't have a rainbow without a little rain right ?

2. It is okay to ask for help!
As humans we all find it very difficult to push our pride aside and ask for help and that is normal to a certain extent. However, everyone has their limits! One major thing I have taken away from 2017 is that you can't do everything on your own, no matter how much you want too. Sometimes the weight of the world is just too much and the load has to be shared. I always felt like a burden asking for help but 2017 has helped me to ease that burden just a little bit. Whether it is a major mental health related issue, or simply asking your lecturer a question after class, help is always there if you need it. It took me a very long time to realise this and 2017 has opened my eyes to just how much help is out there if your willing to let people in.

3. A tablet does not define you
This is more of a deeper topic but one of the biggest lessons I have learned to date. At 18 years old being diagnosed with clinical depression is a big one. You wouldn't expect it of an 18 year old right ? Well that's what I used to think and oh how I was so wrong! For the majority of 2017 I put off going to the doctor. I refused to think that there was actually something major wrong with me, simply because I believed tablets defined depression. I used to think going down that route was wrong and I sought alternative medical practices and methods when my life could have been a bit easier if I didn't believe the stereotypes. We are all guilty of falling into the narrow minded road of stereotypes in some aspect of life and I am sorry to say that I used to think this way about treating depression medically. 2017 has allowed me to think about mental health in a more open minded way. I no longer believe these stereotypes, and I strongly believe that a tablet does not define you.
I certainly don't think it defines me. After all if you have the flu or a cough you get medication, if you have a neurological mental illness it should be treated the exact same. A tablet will never ever define you and you should live your life the way you want too regardless!

4. Give credit where credit is due
I mean this in a personal context as well as everyday life. It is so important for us to give ourselves credit. If you get a good result in an exam, or manage to beat your new personal best in your favourite sport, it is so important to celebrate the little things. I certainly didn't do enough of this in 2017 and it is so important. We are so hard on ourselves when we go through the toughest of times and still survive. I can proudly say I have been through days where I thought I wouldn't survive and here I am! That is something worth celebrating! I think anyway.....

5. Be gentle with yourself
Lastly but certainly not least, be kind to yourself. I spent the majority of 2017 beating myself up over things and it is something I hope to reduce greatly. Self love was non existent for me and that was so wrong! We only have one body, one life, what is the point on not loving every piece of our being ? After all you are the only person who gets to live your life. 2017 taught me that you cannot look after anyone else if you can't look after yourself. It has taught me that self love is a must and self belief is one of the best qualities anyone could have. Although I haven't mastered the whole self love and self belief thing, time is the way to achieve this. Always be kind, believe in yourself and above all love yourself even the parts that are hard to love! Everything starts from within. After all how can you receive love if you don't love yourself first ?

So there you go, 5 major lessons i have learned from 2017. It turned into a long one so I will leave this here. I hope your 2018 is full of Joy, laugher and love. There is a whole year ahead full of possibilities and its up to us to make the most of the next 365 days.

Love Rach x 


Friday, 2 February 2018

Simply Rach - The introduction x

Welcome to my little corner of the web. It has been a long time coming and I finally bit the bullet and started this blog. For those of you that don't know me my name is Rachael and I am from the beautiful emerald isle.

I am so excited to kick off my ninteenth year with something new and exciting. I think it is so important to express yourself and this blog is me doing just that.

My passion in life has always been writing. It was always my way to relax and be creative and unfortunately I didn't pursue that side of myself in University. I always had a dream to become an author or work in some journalism sector of life but my university path took me a different route yet I couldn't be happier. Having a blog will allow me to keep that side of me alive and share my writing with some people that may enjoy it!

If you know me you may know that I have very strong opinions and feel very deeply about certain aspects in todays society. This platform will allow me to speak out about what I feel is important and that really excites me. I think its so important to speak up for what you believe in and although I haven't been a strong advocate for this in the past, my desire for 2018 is to be true to myself and project my voice no matter how small my contribution to society is. I hope some of my blog posts can spark something within you too and give you a thought to take away after every read. I have always been a personal writer, my english teacher could vouch for this also hehe, and here you will for sure find true and personal posts that come straight from the heart.

My inspiration for starting this blog has been my struggle with mental health and my newly found passion for my own physical, emotional and spiritual wellbeing. Mental health is such a huge part of my life and I really feel there is a certain lack in our society when it comes to speaking up about this issue. However I do believe that one day the stigma will eventually be broken down. It is a topic that is very close to my heart and something I am proud to talk about, and although Im just a regular 19 year old girl from the middle of no where, you would never know a blog post could get the conversation going for at least one person!
I think when you go through life and experience something challenging, it is always beneficial to share your story with others. If I could help at least one person with one post that would make me the happiest girl in the world. Its an issue that people seem to walk on eggshells for which I strongly believe should not be the case. One step at a time we can break the stigma!
2017 was the year of harsh lessons and growth for me that shaped me into a whole different person and this platform will allow me to share my journey with my mental wellbeing and will hopefully inspire at least one person to look after their mind, body and soul!

Growing up in a small town I can tell you it is extremely daunting to share my desires and hopes to start a blog. But part of self growth is to ignore the negative comments, your self doubts and fears and move forward. This is something I have always wanted to do and I promised myself in 2018 I would take the step. As a young girl my biggest idols have been bloggers, from Retro Flame's Erika Fox to Zoe Sugg aka ( Zoella ) they have taught me so much over the years and their creativity always inspired me and continues to inspire me on a daily basis. I loved the concept of sharing little pieces of my life and documenting it in little posts. Life is too short to sit back and leave your voice unprojected. If you have a passion, let it consume you and set your soul alight! As the Dr. Seuss quote goes;
"Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind" 

So thats me. Simply Rach. Who knows what my 19th year will bring. I will just have to wait and see.

Rach x 

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