Summer is on its way and it won’t be long now until we have a new arrival in the house when our baby decides to make an appearance. I don’t know about you, but I always feel like I want to get out of the house more and make the most of the days when the summer is here, but it can be hard to muster up the energy for such activities! And I have no idea how I will feel with a newborn thrown into the mix.
I was recently sent some Health Lab Plant-Based Protein Balls which I thought would be perfect for me. As well as offering a much needed energy boost, these balls are also made to promote happy skin and positive gut health made from the finest plant based ingredients across the globe.
Some of the flavours include chocolate, salted caramel, peanut butter and berry. The protein, probiotics, and hemp balls are all vegan friendly and the entire range is also gluten free. There really is something for everyone. The 8 flavours and their unique health benefits include:
Thrive: Choc Brownie Protein Balls Game Changer: Salted Caramel Protein Balls Power: Peanut Butter Choc Hemp Energy Balls Pick-me-up: Espresso Hemp Energy Balls Happy Skin: Choc Sea Salt Collagen Balls Skin Hero: Choc Cherry Collagen Balls Gutsy: Mixed Berry Gut Health Balls Glow: Choc Matcha Gut Health Balls
I have found that the balls have been great to take the edge off my hunger or between meals, during pregnancy I often need a bit of a boost and want to choose a healthy snack and these energy balls have been the perfect addition to my diet. I think they would also be great if you were breast-feeding and needed a healthy way to get in those extra calories. These would also be ideal for people with busy lifestyles or as a pre/post gym snack.
I have tried many varieties of ‘energy ball’ and these have to be the nicest ones I have had, often the flavours can be bland and boring but these felt like a real treat and kept me away from eating an alternative unhealthy sugary snack.
Available now in Wholefoods and in Waitrose, RRP from £2 for a 40g ball.
*I received these items free of charge in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and I was not influenced in any way.
Today was another early start and jam packed day of sightseeing with a 45 minute journey to today’s first activity. I had booked us tickets for the Colosseum for 10:30, again somewhere I was recommended to book skip the line tickets for. Rome really wasn't as busy this time of year as some of the photos I have seen so it wasn't really necessary as there was barely a queue anyway.
We got in and had a look around and walked around the whole Colosseum. In hindsight, I wish I had paid for a tour here as it gives you access to extra areas and we would have had a better idea of what we were looking at but it was still great to see all the same. I remember when I went to see the Statue of Liberty and was very underwhelmed, it looked tiny compared to what I expected. The Colosseum was not like that, it was huge and was exactly what I had hoped it would be.
Our ticket also included access to the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill so afterwards we headed across the road here. There was quite a big queue for this and it was really warm and there wasn't any shade. An attendant came up to us and said we could skip the queue as I was pregnant, so she let me in a side gate and then James got to go to a shorter queue. It was a bit pointless really as I still had to then wait about 15 minutes in the blazing sun for James to get through. It would have been better if we had gone in together but it saved us a bit of time anyway. In here, it was really nice looking around at various ruins and climbing up high to get a great view over the city. By this point through we hadn't eaten or had anything to drink for hours so we were getting a bit tired.
We left the area and went to find food and found a place called Pizza Forum. I had risotto and James tried Gnocci for the first time. I think this place was a chain restaurant but it did the trick and we could finally have a drink and a sit down.
I really wanted to visit the ‘mouth of truth’ or Bocca della Veritá so looking on the map this wasn’t too far from where we were. We hopped on a bus and found the church. There was a queue for a photo but we must have only waited about 15 minutes in total and it was shaded. You could pop a donation in the pot if you wanted, but essentially this attraction was free and it was fun to get a photo.
We still had some time to kill in the afternoon so we headed to the Baths of Caracalla. We only had about an hour here as they closed but it was quite cheap to get in and was good to see a proper Roman Bath set up.
This put us at about an hour from our apartment, so we made the journey back and got freshened up for dinner. James found a place on Tripadvisor called Tommi's Burger Joint so we thought we would give it a try. It was really good. Similar to Five Guys I would say. Service was fast and there was loads of different sauces and toppings you could add to your burger free of charge, Probably one of the best burgers I have had in a while and a great atmosphere too.
We woke up early again today to head to Vatican City. Luckily we were only 5 minutes from here so we didn’t have to get up quite as early as the day before. It was recommended to me that we get skip the line tickets as queues can be as long as 4 hours! So I pre-booked these online before we went for 9:30am, just after opening time. Turns out being pregnant means you can pretty much skip any line anyway - but it was good to have a backup plan.
The Vatican museum was vast and had different areas. I think we managed to explore it all. It was great to end up at the Sistene Chapel to see the famous Michaelangelo ceiling. You weren't allowed to take photos in there however. We ended up walking absolutely miles this day, mainly around the museum.
After our morning of exploring, we decided to grab some lunch. I once had a friend tell me he bought 2 gelatos and 2 drinks in Vatican City and it was something ridiculous like €60, so we left the area and went and found somewhere local to our apartment in Borgo. We found a place that had been recommended by many other bloggers and vloggers called Pizzeria Bonci. When we got there we could see it was very popular as the queue was huge. We took a ticket and awaited our turn in line. The counter was stacked with many different types of pizza with all different toppings including broccoli, potato and then your standard pizzas too. You choose what pizzas you want, and how big and then you pay for them according to weight. It's a great idea. We had 3 fairly large pieces each and it was just over €20. They box it up for you and you can then take it away and eat it as there isn't much seating outside.
We then went and got our first Gelato of the trip from Old Bridge Geletaria, which was absolutely delicious and a huge 3 scoop cone was only €4!
For the afternoon, I had plans for us to head back to the area of Piazza del Popolo, Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain, Pantheon and Piazza Navona so we could wander in our own time but I think the previous day had caught up with us so instead we just chilled out at the apartment for a few hours before dinner.
We both had a bit of an upset stomach (we think it was the pizza, as it is sat out and then re-heated when you order) so we stayed in for dinner and cooked bolognaise jacket potatoes.
After a busy first full day in Rome, today was about to get busier! I have always wanted to go to Pompeii but thought it was miles from Rome. When I found out you can do a day trip there, I had to get us some tickets. I am very thankful to everyone that donated to our honeymoon fund at the wedding, the generosity of our friends and family meant that we had a bit of extra money to book excursions and things that we could only dream of doing. Due to the time of year, this actually included a visit to Naples instead of Mt. Vesuvius, which suited me just fine as I don’t think I fancied a long climb/walk up a volcano!
A 7:30am start meant getting up early for us as the meeting point was about half an hour from our apartment on public transport. Luckily the buses and metro start really early so we didn’t have any problems planning out routes and I wrote down the names of all the stops we needed to take before we went. We left in plenty of time just in case there was cancellations or no bus came and we had to walk but we still managed to be late as the metro station was closed. We couldn't actually find the meeting point. We literally ran from the metro and still didn't know where we were going. Google maps was rubbish. James called the tour operator and the lady on the phone directed us to the office. We got in and showed our ticket. At this point we were 20 minutes late. They spoke in Italian to each other and looked at their watches concerned. Thankfully the bus was still waiting as another family was running late. We got dropped off at the coach and got on (it was packed as everyone was waiting for us) but I am so thankful we got on or I would have been devastated!
The tour began with a coach journey to Naples. We got to stop off at Naples Bay and it was beautiful. I would love to come back to Italy and stay this side one day. We then made our way to Pompeii, it took just over 3 hours. When we arrived in Pompeii we were treated to a pizza lunch before starting our tour. We then made our way to the ruins and another tour guide took over from there.
Pompeii was absolutely massive, you would need a whole day to properly look around the ruins here and I'd love to come back. It's very eerie seeing the ruins and then seeing Mt. Vesuvius leering over you in the background thinking it could technically erupt at any given moment. We had around 2 hours in Pompeii to explore with our guide. He really brought Pompeii to life, if we were here alone we wouldn't have really known what we were looking at but it was great to see what used to be shops, homes and even a brothel.
I found it fascinating that you could even see marks in the road where the chariots used to drive, over many years they have left lines in the road. It was great to see all this preserved history.
After a long day we headed back to our apartment, we grabbed a takeaway from a local place called Mama Eats and took it back to the apartment to eat. We then went to bed ready for another day.
It’s been a while since I’ve done any form of travel post (or post at all for that matter -oops!) so I thought I would share some of the highlights from our recent Honeymoon to Rome. Neither of us had been to Italy before and we were both excited to explore. We got married in December and originally I wanted our honeymoon to be a ‘lay on a beach and do nothing’ kind of holiday, however my husband is better suited to having things to do. Looking at anywhere warm in December was proving difficult, most places across the equator were lovely and hot but either cost an absolute fortune or there was a risk of the Zika virus, no good for travelling when pregnant.
Photo by Dan Sunderland
Eventually we decided to go a few months later, to give ourselves something to look forward to. We chose Rome as we knew there would be plenty to do, on what is probably our last ever child free holiday together for a long time! I anticipated it would be cold, but it’s not the type of sunbathing holiday anyway so none of that mattered. As it happens, the weather was pretty good most days, lovely and sunny in the afternoons.
Our flight was on a Monday, so to save us time and stress I booked us in to a hotel at Gatwick for the Sunday night where we had a picnic in the room and got a nice early night. Breakfast was included the next day and after that we headed to our Purple Parking carpark and got a shuttle bus to the airport.
Our flight was lunch time, so we got some snacks/drinks for the flight and off we went! We arrived in Rome around 4pm. I hadn’t booked any transport to the hotel so hoped we would find a reputable taxi rank but being flustered when we got there with no clue where to go, we got in a taxi with a company that ended up costing nearly 3x the price it should have done. Lesson learned, we arrived safely at the apartment and to be fair to the taxi driver he did give us a tour and explain what we were seeing for the 45 minute journey.
Our apartment was one that I found on Airbnb and very reasonably priced. The location was near to Vatican City and also close to Metro and bus routes. When we arrived we got settled in before deciding to head to a nearby supermarket to get a few bits for the room. The good thing about having an Airbnb was that we had a kitchen area so we knew we could prepare some food at home which was a bonus, and a money saver. We stocked up on snacks and breakfast foods and then came back to the apartment to rest ahead of our first full day.
Day 2 we woke up early and got ourselves ready. I booked us in for a free tour at 9:20am and it was about a half an hour journey to the start point. I am pleased I booked this as it gave us a chance to familiarise ourselves with the location and we also got to learn a bit about the history of Rome. The tour was really good and lasted a good 2-3 hours. There was no obligation to tip at the end however we did because we thought it was fantastic and really well organised. We visited Spanish Square and Spanish Steps, Immaculate Conception Column, The house of Gian Lorenzo Bernini, Saint Andrew Church, Bernini’s Angels, The famous “Galleria”, Column of Marcus Aurelius, Prime Ministers House, Temple of Hadrian, Pantheon, The Tomb of the Kings, Tomb of Raphael, Saint Ignatius Church, Andrea Pozzo’s Tromp l’oeil and finally the Trevi Fountain.
After the tour we decided to find somewhere for lunch. We ended up at McDonalds as the area we finished the tour in was a little bit busy and it was harder than we thought just to find somewhere for lunch. It's all very well finding a nice place for a slice of pizza but these places don't have any seating so it was sometimes easier to pop into a McDonalds just for a sit down.
After lunch we headed towards Castel Sant'Angelo. I had planned both bus routes and walking routes so we could play it by ear and see how I felt. Castel Sant'Angelo was right near to our apartment, so luckily for us afterwards it was easy to stagger back home and freshen up.
For dinner, we tried to find somewhere nearby on Tripadvisor. The 3 places we picked out we couldn't actually find - we found this a lot, the names had changed on some of them. We walked around and finally found a little pizza restaurant and sat outside under giant patio heaters. I really felt like I was on holiday and the pizza was great - first full day was a success.
Have you ever wondered about what your past was like? Where you've come from, or where your ancestors originated from? I have always been curious, however never acted upon wanting to find out. Late last year I was contacted by a company called Living DNA who can provide a home DNA test which gives you an accurate view of your ancestry.
I couldn't wait to try this out and eagerly awaited my test kit to arrive in the post. I received my DNA testing kit and it came with everything I needed including clear and simple instructions. I made an account and linked my test to it so that I could be updated when it was received.
I had to take a swab of my DNA from the inside of my cheek, all instructions and kit was provided so it was really quick and simple to do. I sealed my sample and popped it in the pre-addressed envelope. Results can take up to 8 weeks to arrive so I posted this as soon as I could.
Christmas came and went and I finally got an email saying my results were in, and I logged onto the website straight away to see what they said. The results were well worth waiting for.
This kit costs £99 and can be purchased over on the Living DNA website. Are you curious to find out where you came from? Living DNA give detail on your family ancestry stretching back 10 generations with a breakdown of countries and regions. As a female, I could only see my maternal ancestry (the motherline) and the migration paths going right back to when the first humans migrated from Africa.
As expected, my results showed that I am 100% from Great Britain and Ireland, which confirmed what I knew about my family history already. The exciting part is, the Living DNA test breaks this down into regions, which again, matched up to what I know about some of my direct relatives, including where I come from too, as you can see on the below map. The sub-regions included East Anglia, where I am from, Ireland, Yorkshire and Cumbria!
Screenshot obtained from Living DNA
I then had a look at the Motherline ancestry map, which proved very interesting indeed. I don't know a lot about my ancestry, or how far back it goes and where people originate from so I cannot confirm if these results are exact but I still thought it was fascinating.
My motherline haplogroup is a collection of related family lines that I am connected to through my MtDNA. I share a common ancient ancestor with all of the people who also share this haplogroup. These can be associated with geographic regions and the map below shows where this group is most commonly found today.
You can also check out your migration map, which shows the journey your ancient ancestors could have taken as they moved across the globe.
As you can see, there's quite the variety of regions in my map! Some very surprising results and really makes me want to delve further into my family history as I could uncover some amazing information. Overall, I am really pleased I took this opportunity on as I have uncovered some amazing things and feel like I have only scratched the surface of what I could find if I put some time into doing some proper research.
If you'd like to embark on this journey yourself, head over to Living DNA and order your kit today. The sooner you get started, the sooner your results will be back.
*I received this DNA Kit free of charge in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and I was not influenced in any way.
I absolutely love cocktails and as the festive season starts to near, I love the thought of going out on a cold crisp evening after work and having a cocktail or two in a warm bar or restaurant. After all, it’s all about having that Friday feeling. Now you can have that Friday feeling all day with the new range of TGI Fridays’ brand new bottled cocktails.
The bottles come in 500ml sizes and contain 10% alcohol content.
I was lucky enough to receive all three and had great pleasure in testing them all out for you. First up was the Long Island Iced Tea, this was blended wit fruit alcohol and vodka and had a nice tangy lemon flavour to it, like most previous Iced teas I have had in the past. I am not usually a fan of iced tea but this cocktail was sweet and had a really nice flavour.
The next cocktail I received was probably my favourite, the Pink Punk Mojito. I loved the vibrant colour of the cocktail too, perfect for a girls night in. The cocktail contains pineapple juice, cranberry juice, lime juice blended with fruit alcohol and vodka.It has a slight minty flavour which makes this the perfect festive drink, you could even serve it with a candy cane.
Finally, I received the Passion Fruit Martini, which was also equally delicious. Serve with a side of prosecco for that extra special feel. Bring TGI's into your own home and feel like an amazing host this Christmas. Your guests will be spoiled for choice.
I am one for trying to keep active but sometimes my energy resources run low and I just need something to give me a little bit of a boost. Since training for a half marathon, my runs have been more frequent and longer meaning I struggle to recover between them. I didn’t want to injure myself but I was at a bit of a loss for what to do. I was then contacted by Myprotein to try out their new PhaseTech Range, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. Head over to the myprotein website to discover more about PhaseTech.
Myprotein is one of Europe’s biggest online sports nutrition companies, and one that I was familiar with even before this collaboration. The new PhaseTech products include phased-release breakthrough technology created to enhance performance. They have been incorporated into three enhanced exclusive blends, THE Whey+, THE Pre-Workout+ and THE Amino+. I was lucky enough to receive two of these brand new products and have been trying them out for the past few weeks now in order to bring you a proper review.
The first product I received was THE Whey+ in Vanilla Ice Cream flavour, which costs £26.99 for a 900g 30 serving tub. I think that is excellent value at less than £1 a serving. This product has a unique protein formula designed to provide your body with the right building blocks it needs to help your muscles grow and recover, perfect for me after a long 10 mile run. It contains BCAA, leucine and glutamine which help to build and repair muscles after exercising and less than 2g carbs and 1g fat. It is best consumed in the form of a protein shake, however I have seen people use this in pancake recipes if you prefer your protein in a food form! To me, it tasted great just mixed with water and in a protein shaker it mixed well. I often added extra things into my shake with the powder and stuck it all in my blender and it was smooth and delicious. The aim of this was to help me repair my muscles and I definitely found that my recovery time between training sessions was reduced. Usually after an efforts training session my legs would ache for 3-4 days, but after incorporating THE Whey+ into my life I’d only ache for one day and be ready to go again.
The second product I received was THE Amino+, a powerful amino acid drink designed to give you energy as well as vitamins and minerals to help aid in muscle recovery. It contains 14g of amino acids, BCAAs, L-leucine, and L-glutamine which all help tone muscles. This product can be added to water or juice before a workout or to give you energy throughout the day. I usually run on a Thursday lunch time with work, and I found that drinking one of these in the morning gave me a good boost before my afternoon run. It comes in three flavours, Berry, Tropical and Blue Raspberry Lime. I received Berry and thought it tasted pretty good so I would imagine the other fruity flavours are equally as nice. The texture was strange at first, a bit like having sprinkles in your drink but I got used to it pretty quickly.
Overall, I am pleased I introduced these products into my workout routine and recovery process. They have really enabled me to up my training plan and would be great for anyone who is into their exercise whether that be running like me or lifting.
If you are interested in trying these products, Myprotein also sell sample packs before committing to a large tub. Are you into your fitness? Would you be willing to give these products a go?
*I received these items free of charge in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and I was not influenced in any way.
Well where do I start with this post – I am still in shock! So a couple of weeks ago was my surprise Hen Party. Remember in my Christies Love’s Box review I mentioned that Kim had given me a Save The Date for a blog event in September? Turns out this wasn’t a blog event after all and in fact she had been plotting a hen party for me with some of my friends and family.
The day of the ‘blog event’ arrived and I had packed my camera, purse, phone and all the essentials. I was told the event was overnight so I had an overnight bag and I was also told to bring my passport too but turns out this was all to throw me off! I spent ages picking what to wear in the morning and waited for Kim to pick me up. Usually I wait for Kim in my garden and lock the back door, but this time Kim called ahead and said she needed the loo and to fill up my water bottle so I waited indoors – again, all part of her plan!
When Kim arrived, she told me to come outside. In my mind I was thinking oh god, has she crashed into my car/fence? Ran Biscuit over? Why does she need me to come outside so soon! I’ve barely had time to get my bags! And as I walked out, on my driveway were lots of my friends and family, all wearing matching Bride Tribe Tshirts. They looked fantastic! I was then given my own Tshirt to wear, a veil and a garter. In the front seat of the car was a blow up man too, which I was rather amused by.
We got into 3 cars and drove to a secret location. On the way there Kim mentioned we were running late and my nanny mentioned we had chartered the boat for the day so I then knew we were going on a boat. I assumed it would be one of those little ones you get on the broads, but I was very wrong. As we drove to the location I had to ask who was actually here, because I hadn’t even taken in the faces I had seen and having not given any guestless to Kim I had no idea who had come to celebrate. We got to the location and we were greeted by one of the boat crew. He said to me “ so you’ve never tried water skiing before?” and I started to panic. I thought oh god, I’ve done all my hair and makeup and it will be ruined! Luckily he was joking! We got to the boat and it was massive, not like I expected at all. We all sort of looked at each other and thought where on earth do we sit?! But once we got our lifejackets on and got moving it was really fun and we had great weather.
We played a couple of games on the boat, James my fiancé had answered some questions about me and I had to guess what he had said. We also played a game with underwear in which my guests had drawn a picture on them and I had to describe a funny story that related to it. At around 1pm, we moored up for lunch at The Maltsters at Ranworth and had a meal and some much needed prosecco and shots! After lunch we got back on the boat and headed back again. Chloe even had a go at driving the boat which was funny, then Kim and Daisy helped with getting it back in again.
We then got back into the cars and headed for the final location. A few people went home at this point and the remainder then went back to Kims where she had set out her living room and kitchen with lots of Hen Party décor. There was even a large banner hanging from the house! The kitchen was decorated with balloons, bunting and food. Costessey Cakes had provided a wedding dress made of cupcakes and also some amazing biscuits – including flip flops (an inside joke for me and Kim!). she had even gone to the effort of making sure that all of the food was suitable for coeliacs and was also egg free to cater for everyone who had came back. We had some nibbles and Kim also cooked some pizzas.
I was also presented with a Christie Loves Box – The wedding edition in collaborating with my mum who helped buy some of the items inside.
Back at Kim’s we played some more games, one was called “junk in the trunk” which I was really bad at, and we also played pass the parcel where there was funny forfeits/truths inside. I really enjoyed it. Afterwards, the rest of my guests headed home it was just me and Kim left. We watched a funny film “The First Wives Club” and went to sleep. It had been a really long day, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was so nice to see lots of my friends I hadn’t seen for a while and who made the effort to come out despite having children and busy lives. Thank you to Kim for helping to organise and host such a great event, and for all of the other ladies who came along and some of which contributed but didn’t get a chance to come. It was really nice of them!
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and one of my favourites. I am never 100% sure on what to have, but I like to start the day with a decent sized breakfast. I was recently contacted and introduced to a brand called Clonakilty who specialise in Ireland's favourite black pudding.
Clonakilty are traditionally known for their black pudding however have recently launched their new Ispini sausages in the UK, perfect for breakfast, dinners and in the warmer months, BBQs. Made using 100% Irish pork, I imagined these would have the same flavours that you get from the butchers and I couldn’t wait to try them.
I rustled up an Irish feast with some of the products I was kindly sent including Irish eggs and bread. I couldn’t miss the chance to have some potatoes on my plate too!
The Clonakilty black pudding is made using a recipe that originated in the town of Clonakilty in the 1880’s. The popularity of the black pudding has spread around the world. With such a great reputation, I couldn’t wait to try the sausages. The brand also have white pudding in their collection of fine foods.
The sausages can be grilled or fried in a shallow pan, I find it easier to fry them as I can constantly move them around. They browned off really well and served with the rest of the breakfast they were an absolute treat. Having never heard about this brand before, I am definitely converted.
What are your breakfast essentials?
*I received these items free of charge. I was not asked to write a review as such, but I genuinely enjoyed the product and wanted to share them. Please see my disclaimer for more information