I joined the gym recently after years of avoiding it and thinking that hopping around the living room doing YouTube workouts was enough. I just turned 26 – and my naturally fairly lean body is starting to betray my horrendous habits of basically living off carbs and wine. It was time.

Truth be told, I was super nervous about going to the gym! I thought everyone would know that I was a total fitness n00b (which I am) and that I don’t know what I’m doing (which I don’t). My impending mid-late twenties pushed me over the edge though, and I signed up. And went. That was pretty much the hardest part – everything else just kind of gets normal after a while.

Here are my first impressions and tips on first joining the gym. I would really recommend it. I honestly thought I’d hate it and scoffed at people who work out on a hangover, or go to gym on a Saturday. I am now one of those people!

Choosing your outfit
Ooh honey, gone are the days of polyester shorts and P.E. pumps. It’s practically a fashion show at my gym. I thought long and hard about whether my lycra shorts I usually wear for pole were too much. Nope! I never thought I’d be one of those people who care about bloody activewear for fuck’s sake, but I’m finding I’m perusing Sweaty Betty and Lululemon more than Boohoo and Missguided at the moment! Although, wear whatever the hell you want. You’re there to impress yourself, not others.

What the fuck does that do?
Literally no idea what half the stuff does in the gym. There’s about 1,000 buttons to press, things to clip to other things, and who knew there was about 40 different types of weight shapes? Not me. Get yourself on a quick induction programme to be told how to use the equipment effectively (and safely!). Save yourself from being this woman.

Who are all these people?
Amongst the normals, i.e. me, there are some people there who are the equivalent to spotting a zebra in Ealing Broadway. Gym lore! I’ve heard about these types and was so pleased to find out they do actually exist!

Muscle Man – he looks like the ‘after’ photo for a protein supplement, with inSANE body-builder muscles that only he, and the girls on Love Island actually find attractive. He’s probably on Tinder.

Lipstick Lauren – oh man this girl! Her clothes say gym, but her face says nightclub. Often seen doing bicep curls with a cute weight, one hand on hip and facing a mirror, you know that her Insta is going to be full of ‘#sweaty’ sports bra pictures 2.5 seconds after leaving.

Grunty McGrunterson – we get it. You’re working hard. Like Maria Sharapova on the tennis court, Grunty makes himself heard with every rep. People looking over just makes him grunt louder. He also throws his weights on the floor afterwards and doesn’t put them back. Naughty.

Texter – a close relative of Lipstick Lauren, she spends an hour on the treadmill walking at 2.5mph. It’s too hard to navigate the touchscreen once your heart rate goes up.

Nude party fun
Lots of naked people about! Usually ones of your sex, but still. Get used to it ma man.

It’s harder than it looks…but it feels great
The first thing I was told on joining was to ‘make sure you push yourself every time’. So I have been. It’s not fun or pretty and I’ve definitely been on the verge of fainting after asking a girl if I could have a copy of this sick abs/cardio workout she was doing. Wish I hadn’t. But I’m glad I did. I never believed that you could feel good after – but for some reason you do. Sometimes there’s nothing more I’d like than to watch shit on telly and eat pizza in the warm, rather than dragging myself to the gym and running my ass off for 45 minutes. But DO IT. It’s win-win. Honestly, you feel so much better, and you get a better ass.

As you all know, we’ve been to Thailand recently. I’m heading to Turkey in August and Will and I are going to squeeze in another adventure in September for his birthday. I’ve been browsing websites for the best deal and have found an amazing one on Holiday Gems. A week in Tenerife with bed and breakfast for £230 anyone? Yes thanks.

Before you go though, you’ll need a few essentials to get you through. I was lucky enough to be able to go on a shopping spree to sort my life out before hitting the beach. Here’s what I can’t be without when I’m heading on my holidays.

THE TAN

L’Oréal Sublime Bronze Self Tan Overnight Elixir – £9.99
Anyone who knows me knows that I am the WORST tanner in the world. No matter how long I lie in the sun (responsibly of course), wishing and hoping, I’ll still be the same hue of mayonnaise that I started out with. Super. So, what’s wrong with a little cheat sesh? This stuff goes on before you head to bed and develops overnight, leaving you with a lovely tan – which lasts up to two weeks. Sorted.

I wore this the weekend we went to Brighton and got SO many compliments as it looked natural.

THE SWIMSUIT

Black Mesh Insert Strappy Swimsuit – River Island – £30.99

THE FUN

Check out literally EVERYTHING in the New Look holiday shop. Here’s a few of my faves.

Yellow Pineapple Beach Blanket – £19.99

Beverage Boats (pack of 3) – £9.99

Pink Flamingo Inflatable Pool Float – £19.99

If you’ve got all the holiday gear but no idea, head over to Holiday Gems website to take advantage of a cheap holiday this summer. Alternatively, check out their Facebook and Twitter.

What are your holiday essentials?

I’ve been wearing make up for years. I was addicted to it as soon as I swept a tiny, sharpened-down Kohl eyeliner that was being passed between about five of us (yuck!) around my entire eye. Since then, it’s been a fun game of trial and error as I try to find the perfect products to suit me.

I’ve had some disasters in the past – bright green eyeshadow and heavy kohl, greasy, cheap foundation, bright pink blusher…! You can also see some products I regret buying here.

Luckily though, I’ve settled down and have honed my core products down to those that work for me.

I often get compliments on my make up, which is lovely. I’d like to share what I wear on a daily basis for those who are interested. Of course, these may not work for you, and they may not work for me forever. Who cares, it’s an excuse for another shopping trip!

Dior ‘Diorskin Forever’ foundation, shade 10, £35

I’ve tried hundreds of foundations. From drugstore to high-end, I’ve never been able to find the one that fits me best. This is the perfect foundation for me. Full coverage, but not cakey. Glides on lovely with a Beauty Blender and lasts all day. They’ve released a ‘Star’ foundation which I believe includes an illuminator. I’m going to get a sample and do a comparison blog of the two – stay tuned.

Max Factor Creme Puff power – Tempting Touch – £6.99

Love this stuff, it sets your foundation really well. Don’t go mad with it though, the shade I use still has some coverage in it so you don’t want to end up looking cakey. Use the translucent one if you don’t need any more coverage.

I also use the Max Factor Bronzing Power in shade Golden 2, £6.99. It’s a similar consistency to the pressed powder – creamy and goes on smoothly. It’s not too dark so you can start off lightly and build the colour up if needs be.

MUA Undress YourSkin highlighting powder in Iridescent Gold, £3.00

Ugh! Amazing! Everyone should use this. This cheap product beats all of the high end highlighters I’ve ever used. Sometimes I go a bit mad and it looks like I’ve got headlights on my face, but we’re all going for that look anyway, right? GET ONE.

Makeup Revolution New-trals vs Neutrals eyeshadow palette, £6.99

Another absolute winner from the high street. This eyeshadow palette is EVERYTHING. Just look at those colours. After years of wearing brown shimmer with a darker colour in the crease, this palette has made me way more adventurous. 10/10 would recommend to anyone.

L’Oreal Paris Super Liner Eyeliner Ultra Precision – black – £6.49

Incredible. I’ve used eyeliner on my top lashline since I was about 14 and have used countless eyeliners over the years. This is one of the best. The sponge-tip gives you a good amount of control, it’s super black – and most importantly, lasts all day. Winner.

Benefit Bad Gal Lash mascara – £18.50

This is a great mascara. The brush is massive and deposits just the right amount of product on your lashes without making them clumpy, which often happens with big brushes. It seems to last for ages too. I tried the Benefit ‘They’re Real’ mascara previously, which was okay – I didn’t rate the brush at ALL though. Too plasticky and I poked myself in the eye about 6,000 times. This one’s a stayer for now though.

Charlotte Tilbury Lip Lustre in Blondie – £16.50

I’m literally the WORST with lip products. Some of my friends are so bold and wear lovely bright lipsticks which suit them so much and I’m a bit jel. Unlike the rest of my make up, I’m not sure how to do lipstick well. I’ve also got rather thin lips (this may be subject to change though…stay tuned), and am paranoid I’ll get lipstick on my teeth or smear it about my face. I’m trying to be a bit more confident with it though. Until then, I’m a fan of a simple lip balm. For big nights, I’ll use this lovely lip gloss from Charlotte Tilbury. It’s not sticky or tacky, and it’s not too bright, but is noticeable – perfect for my nights out.

And that’s it! I love hearing about new products and would love to hear about your go-to pieces. Let me know!

I’ve recently returned from the holiday of my dreams to Thailand. I’ve literally been dreaming about the trip for the last 17 years, and I’m so pleased Will came along for the ride. You can read more about that here. You can also view our video here.

Anyway, there were a few things we were surprised, shocked and delighted about over the two weeks, and we wanted to share our experience with you.

Mosquitos are little bastards
Oh my actual god though. My housemate gave us some industrial bug spray that we used in like two days. After that, it was practically a free-for-all on my body. I was basically one big itch. And it’s not like they were just NORMAL bites – they were practically fucking MOUNTAINS. If you’re susceptible, like me, grab some Jungle Spray with that DEET ingredient in it, or whatever. Or just don’t ever go outside.

Avoid animal tourism
Leaflets, leaflets everywhere offering trips to see elephants, tigers and other animals in zoos. Don’t do it. The elephants are often chained and they are NOT SUPPOSED TO BE RIDDEN! The tigers at tiger temples are also regularly sedated so they are all floppy and cute for you to get your Facebook picture with them. No no. I was desperate to see elephants. It was the one massive thing on my bucket list and I wanted to make sure we did it right. We chose the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary.

There is no riding of the elephants – despite their large and strong build, elephants do not have the spines to support a rider. Long days of being ridden, either bareback or with a saddle, can cause painful damage to their spines not to mention the additional pain caused by the saddle itself and the wear on their feet from walking all day with improperly supported weight.

Chains, bull hooks and the like are not used to subdue, coerce or manage the elephants. In Thailand, there is a long-standing tradition of training elephants for the tourism industry. The training method, called the Phajaan or crush, is exactly as it’s English translation would suggest – a method to crush the spirit of the animal. Bullhooks and chains are part of this method and are usually continued to be used while tourists are enjoying their ride through the jungle. BIG NO.

We did the afternoon half-day – it was enough, from about 11:30am to 6pm, with pick up from the hotel. We got water throughout, lunch and snacks. They also gave us souvenir bags made by a local village.

Never pay full price
Like, never. There are wonderful, wonderful markets with anything and everything, already at a cheap price. Check out the Chiang Mai Night Bazaar and the Sunday Market in Bangkok. We found out that it’s super fun to haggle. I mean, don’t take the piss – they are trying to make a living. But knocking a few hundred baht off an item gives you a little thrlil – try it!

Don’t take the piss out of the King
Thai people absolutely love their Royal Family. There are MASSIVE shrine things everywhere, and the country has been in a state of mourning since the King died last year. In fact, it was recommended we wore a black ribbon when we went to visit The Grand Palace. I found it pretty funny at first – like, could you imagine huge shrines to Liz and Phil all over the UK!? But make sure no one hears you say ANYTHING about old Kingy – it’s actually illegal.

Absolutely do not feed the monkeys
We went on a boat trip to Monkey Island which was lovely – we saw the monkeys, they were SO cute. There was a mummy one with its little, tiny baby clinging onto it –  I nearly cried. Until I saw a couple of them absolutely terrorising another tourist. Actually vicious. Keep ya distance.

Embrace the butt spray
The word ‘bathroom’ in Thailand is err…relative. Expect no toilet roll, ever. If there is some, it’s a miracle. Instead, embrace the butt spray. I first encountered these in Dubai, but they always had toilet paper so I never had to worry. Coming home to England after Thailand, we actually MISSED the butt sprayer. It’s a fresh feeling – don’t knock it til you try it.
Yes, people are actually that nice
At first, I worried about Thai people coming up to us all the time just to chat, because I assumed they would be trying to sell us something. I then felt guilty, because they are actually that kind and helpful. They’ll recommend places to go, what time to visit somewhere, what to eat…all with a smile and will wave you on your way. Super refreshing.

Greet people with the Wai
This was another one that threw me a bit when we landed. Most Thai people greet you with ‘hello’ (sawadee ka) and perform a little bow with their hands in ‘prayer’ position just under their chin or upper chest. I was so shocked and I didn’t know if it was good form to return it. Do. It’s really polite and by the second week it was second nature to greet people like that.

The scam is real
So many scams! You can usually tell pretty quickly though. Usually, these come in the form of men offering a tour at a ‘too good to be true’ price. They’ll take you, but will ask for more money at the end – we knew about this and didn’t go, luckily. Another one is taxis – insist on them putting the meter on, otherwise they can just choose a price out of thin air. If they don’t have one, get out. We only used one taxi, until we realised Thailand (the main cities anyway) have Uber – yay! So much easier. There are also people that say an attraction is closed, i.e. we got told The Grand Palace was closed about sixty times on the way to it – don’t listen. They just want to take you somewhere else for more money.

Eat all of the food. All of it.
I mean, within reason. It took us a couple of days for our stomachs to er, get acquainted with the food. Ahem. Anyway, once you’ve settled in, just go for it. We chose something different every night, and took FULL advantage of the street food carts. Our main rules were, if there’s no queue, don’t buy. You can get meat on sticks for like ten baht, it’s amazing. The fresh fruit is wonderful. Try mango and sticky rice – they pour a sort of condensed coconut milk on it and IT. IS. AWESOME.

Road rules do not exist
Like, at all. Try your best not to die.

Beware the bucket
This is no ordinary cocktail. It’s a toxic mix of spirits, mixers and that godawful Thai Red Bull that will make you feel very, very odd indeed. Drink at your own risk – even I was a bit tiddled and I can handle my drink (lol).

Dress politely for Buddha
Remember what I said about the King? Buddha is even more of a big deal. If you look like a Western hussy, like I usually do on a daily basis, they will not let you fling your assets at Mr Buddha. Grab some Thai pants or sarong from a market at about 150 baht (about £3.50) and wear a t-shirt that covers your shoulders. It’s worth it – the temples are absolutely beautiful, and learning about Buddhism was a fantastic experience. You can see the monks going about collecting alms and people visiting them. For the love of god, take your shoes off before going into the temple and keep your mouth shut and don’t point at anything.

Ladyboys are beautiful
Absolutely so jealous. Will had to stop me going over to one because I wanted to ask how she got her contour SO on fleek. You really will have to double-take! Head to a go-go bar – one that doesn’t require entry or payment for ‘shows’ if possible – it’s an experience!

Get loads of massages. Treat yo’ self
We paid 180 baht (£4.00) for an HOUR long foot massage that was just absolutely amazing. They also cracked our backs and did all this reflexology stuff. They even gave us tea afterwards. For that price, I’d get one every day!

Spot the 7-Eleven
There is 7-Elevens EVERYWHERE. Just everywhere. Even up in Chiang Mai where there’s no other building around for miles. They also sell everything. Thirsty? 7-Eleven. Need a plaster? 7-Eleven. Got a craving for a chicken burger in a bag, with seaweed crisps side? Yep, 7-Eleven.

We had the best time ever – we’re already planning our next trip around the globe. Where should we go?