Tuesday 19th April: A simple Twitter hashtag  exposes a world of sexual harassment  and abuse as women contribute their stories on the social-media site.

Started as part of a campaign by Everyday Sexism, the hashtag became the catalyst for thousands of stories, including those that occurred to women as young as primary school age.

This came after the government announced an inquiry into sexual violence and harassment in schools; an issue which the Everyday Sexism project feels has been “overlooked for too long”.

These stories are not easy to tell. But in a society where 84% of women are catcalled before the age of 17, they are incredibly common.

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No one stood up for some of these children. Friends and family denied any molestation took place. Girls were told they were overreacting or basically asking for it. Some women tell of how they were too scared or even ashamed to speak up as children.

Some women are sharing their stories for the first time. There’s strength in numbers.

I don’t want to make this about me, but I too have experienced this type of harassment.

I remember walking with friends at 10 and having white vans slow down whilst drivng past us. I remember being just 13 and being catcalled from building sites. I remember the twisting sensation in my stomach as I struggled with being slightly flattered (in my insecure, almost pre-teen mind) and knowing how wrong it was. I remember being 17 and being made to hold my driving instructor’s hand because I ‘had to learn to drive with one hand on the wheel’. I remember being 20 and having my crotch grabbed as I made my way up the stairs to the VIP area at a club. I remember being 24 and being called an ugly slut because I didn’t respond to “Hey sexy! Come and sit on my face!” from a 15-year-old.

NO WOMAN, or MAN for that matter, is alone in this struggle.

Let’s break the cycle.

http://www.creativeadawards.com/hurt-girl/

http://www.creativeadawards.com/hurt-girl/

Screen Shot 2016-03-15 at 11.29.35I love going on holiday. I love the new food, new places, the relaxation, the SUN. I can’t wait until the start of the new year when I can start nagging my other half to start looking at holiday websites with me to plan our next adventure (it drives him nuts).

We often book package holidays and they’ve always worked out best for us. I’m a bit of a homebody – packing a backpack and heading off somewhere exotic with just my flights booked and not much direction has never been my style. Everyone is different.

We are planning some bigger, adventure-style holidays over the next couple of years (Canada in a camper, Australia and Japan!), but for right now, a package is perfect for us (and our wallets).

So, with the risk of sounding like a typical Brit abroad, here are my reasons as to why booking a package holiday is a good idea.

Everything is included
No faffing around with airlines and transfers and booking direct with hotels at the risk of a mix-up. You get everything – PLUS your baggage. And that’s always a win.

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Variety
There are plenty of beautiful and exciting destinations out there and going on a package holiday doesn’t mean you’re confined to an overcrowded resort. Just do your research. There is a budget for everyone – and cheaper often doesn’t mean worse, but just off the beaten track (which is a god send for some holidaymakers).

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Value for money
You pay one price, less if you book way in advance. You can often pay in instalments, which is great when you’ve just booked a grand’s worth of holiday and don’t quite have that in the bank this month (!). Download VoucherCloud – we got £80 off our holiday that way! We also try to book a deal with bed and buffet breakfast. That way, we can eat a big breakfast late morning to set us up for the day – then we only have to worry about dinner and drinks. Sorted.

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Trustworthy
If you’re booking through a package holiday website such as Thomas Cook, Thomson or similar, it’s not like they can just advertise accommodation as five-star willy-nilly. If you book a five star, you can pretty much guarantee you’re not going to turn up at a Fawlty Towers-esque establishment with ideas above its station. Many websites also have Trip Advisor plug-ins now, where you can read the tried-and-tested reviews of guests who’ve stayed in the same place.

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Help is at hand
If you’re a worrier like me, it’s reassuring to know that you can go and speak to an English rep for advice or to be pointed in the right direction. You can get your information quickly and efficiently without tripping over the language or confusing anyone. Similarly, if there was an accident or emergency, it’s great to know of someone who will know the best thing to do.

We’re off to Cyprus in June. I went there lots of times as a child and haven’t been for about 15 years! I love it there and cannot WAIT to show my laddo all the joys of the island. We’re flying with Thomson, of course.

 

I don’t have much of a sweet tooth and always prefer something savoury. However, I’ve perfected the recipe for these biscuits to be just on the right side of sweet, but still a little ‘spicy’ due to the ginger. They are harder, rather than soft and chewy and also so flexible as to how they can be decorated.

Funnily enough, they’re also a brilliant hangover cure (I think it’s the ginger)!

Tip: They’re lovely to eat, but there’s no harm in sticking a hole through before baking and then adding a glaze for a tree decoration at Christmas!

You will need:
350g plain flour, plus extra for rolling out
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tsp ground ginger
3 tsp ground cinnamon (to be fair, you can alter the spices to your requirements. I always add more cinnamon)
125g butter
175g light soft brown sugar
1 egg
4 tbsp golden syrup

Any decorations you feel like for decoration.

Method:
1. Preheat the oven to 180C. Sift together the flour, bicarbonate of soda, ginger and cinnamon into a bowl. Add the butter and mix until it looks like breadcrumbs. You can use a food processor if you like. I don’t – and it takes ages. Stir in the sugar.

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2. Beat the egg and golden syrup together a little, add to the bowl and mix until it clumps together.

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3. Tip the dough out, knead it briefly until it’s smooth, wrap in clingfim and leave to chill in the fridge for about 15 minutes.

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4.  Roll the dough out to a quarter of an inch thick on a lightly floured surface. Using  whichever shape cutters you fancy, cut out the shapes and place on a baking tray, leaving a gap between them.

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5. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until they look lightly golden-brown. Leave to cool, then decorate away!

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I absolutely love filling these out – almost as much as I love reading the ones you post. This one was fun to complete – feel feel to copy and paste the questions and then link me to yours at the bottom of the page!

Happy blogging, always!

Ella

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Why did you start blogging and how long have you been blogging for?

I’ve been blogging on and off since about 2012 when I left university. I was looking for a job in my chosen field and wanted to keep my creative juices flowing. I began blogging seriously last year and cannot believe the opportunities I’ve been given and the brilliant people I have met. My blog has been a great outlet for me over the years and I can’t wait to see what the future holds. Sorry, so corny!

Name a beauty regimen that you rarely do?

I never do my lips. Kylie Jenner-esque lips are IN right now, but not for me. I’ve only ever stretched to lip balm. Maybe it’s a confidence thing, or maybe my lips are just too thin – but I feel with bright lips I look like an absolute clown. Sometimes I take it upon myself to go and get my colours done (tah-dah) and buy a lipstick with the intention of starting a lip routine. I never keep up with it though!

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Is washing your make-up brushes something that you do regularly?

Yes! I find it so therapeutic. I always wash them and have previously just used Johnson & Johnson baby shampoo. Now though, I’ve got the Superdrug B. Makeup Brush Cleanser, which you can see reviewed here.

How long will you last with chipped nail polish?

About five seconds? Seriously, it’s my worst thing. I’ll sit on my own hands so I don’t have to look at them. I spent years biting my nails and after taking so much time to make them lovely again, I can’t bear to see them looking scruffy! I do my nails about three or four times a week to keep on top of it and my nail varnish collection is out of this world…

What is your worst beauty habit?

Not taking my make up off after a night out! I know it’s the biggest sin…but sometimes the night was just so good, you just have to pass out. I try to take extra good care of it the next day to make up for it and always tell myself I’ll try harder!

Name something non-beauty related that you put off doing all the time?

Getting rid of stuff in the junk drawers. You know the ones, full of stuff that is kind of useful, but you never use (until you throw it away – then you need it!). I’m a neat freak, but these drawers n my house are very much ‘out of sight, out of mind’.

When going out somewhere, do you leave getting ready to the last minute?

Absolutely not! I always feel better if I’ve planned, and rushing will just make me feel rubbish all night. Anyway, getting ready is the best bit!

Would you rather go out with messy hair and nice makeup or nice hair and no makeup?

Nice make up and messy hair, definitely.

Could you ever leave the house without any makeup on?

I used to be really insecure about that and felt quite shy to be in public with no make up on. However, you learn to give less of a shit as you get older so I don’t mind now. I like to make an effort, but I’m not going to lose my mind if someone sees me without my face on.

Name your top five beauty products

  1. NARS Sheer Glow Foundation
  2. Max Factor Bronzing Powder
  3. MUA Undress Your Skin Highlighter
  4. Urban Decay Naked Palette
  5. Rimmel Scandel Eyes Mascara

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It’s coming up quick!

Valentine’s Day to me isn’t too, too much of a big deal. In my relationship, we like to show that we love each other in lots of ways, all year round, rather than blowing the budget on February 14th. However, I do look forward to receiving a card with a lovely message inside. In fact, I’d forgo any presents and an evening out for those thoughtful, heartfelt words.

We usually agree not to give presents for Valentine’s Day, but this year I couldn’t resist. Here are two perfect presents for the boy I wanted to share with you all.

Engraved Heart Love Lock
£21.99

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Laddo and I went to Germany to visit his family very early on in our relationship. On a sunny June day in Cologne, we bought a cheap red lock from a seller and wrote our names on it in a borrowed Sharpie. We then connected it to the Hohenzollern Bridge, among thousands of others and threw the keys into the river. It was lovely, romantic and one of my best memories – but the padlock itself was a little makeshift.

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However, this lock is solid brass and you can personalise your padlock with Any Message up to two lines of 15 characters.

We’re visiting Germany again in March – who knows, we may have time to add this upgraded version to the bridge!

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Lovers’ Name a Star Gift
£29.99

I hadn’t realised The Man was so into space, stars and the like until he took me to the Royal Observatory as a surprise and proceeded to tell me everything there is to know about black holes, gaseous planets and the Meridian Line. I’ve found him something I think he will be so excited about – named two neighbouring stars after us!

You receive a framed certificate with both star names, unique database reference numbers, two star area co-ordinates sheets with your actual star’s location, and educational astronomy starter pack, with sky chart and star plotter to help you find your stars.

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The names are then recorded within the Intergalactic Star Database! Super exciting stuff. Oh, you also get two heart-shaped chocolates with this set – win for me.

I can’t wait to see his reaction!

The company behind these lovely presents is I Just Love It, whose main goal is hunting down new gift ideas and innovative ways to make something original, personal and beautiful.

You can buy these yourself from ijustloveit.co.uk. Check out their other bits and bobs too – some lovely stuff!