It has been quite a time recently. From the holidays of dreams, an engagement, moving house, unpacking boxes, working full time and trying to keep my mental health, well, healthy, it’s been all-go.

A PASSIONATE PERSON

You might have noticed my lack of Instagram posts and the absence of any outfit or style content over the last few weeks, but truth be told, it’s because I’ve spent most of my time recently in gym leggings with minimal make-up!

It was nice to get ‘me’ back a little last week. I pulled on my favourite leather leggings, dusted off one of my trusty hats and embraced autumn with my new NA-KD sweater.

It was the first time probably since Malta that I felt that desire to create content; the passion to put together an outfit that made me feel the best version of myself and go somewhere nice for a latte and a good old chat with my mum.

The slogan of the sweater in question summed up the vibe. When NA-KD got in touch for me to pick a few pieces from their collections, this slogan sweater really spoke to me.

A ‘passionate person’ is a pretty good definition of me. I’m not someone who can hide their enthusiasm and excitement, nor my distress and outrage. When I feel something, I really feel it; good or bad.

Finding my passion for life is something that has really changed me in the last few months. I realise my passion and creativity are a big part of my contentment and that passion doesn’t need to be anything life-changing.

It can simply be that feeling of fully embracing life and appreciating the little things. Of setting time aside to do something we really love and enjoy instead of letting the day-to-day routine drag us down into thinking we simply don’t have time to find our passion.

What do you think? I’d love to know what you’re passionate about and if you make time for whatever it is!

SHOP THE LOOK


 

Following an amazing trip to Malta, I wanted to share some of the best things to see and do if you’re planning your own trip to the beautiful country.

\\ WHERE WE STAYED //

The Victoria Hotel Malta review

THE VICTORIA HOTEL, SLIEMA

After looking at loads of accommodation options, it was The Victoria Hotel in Sliema, Malta that stood out.

Part of the AX Hotels group, I really couldn’t fault anything about this gorgeous hotel. We booked through booking.com and upgraded to a Junior Suite.

We paid approximately £1,300 for a week stay with breakfast included, which I think was a really great price for what we got.

One thing I would recommend to any ladies (or gents, of course) with long hair – take your own hair dryer! There is one in the room, but it was no match for my unruly locks and I ended up buying a hairdryer in one of the shops.

Book your stay at The Victoria Hotel, Sliema here

LOCATION OF THE VICTORIA HOTEL

The hotel is ideally situated just a few minutes walk to the main Sliema strip, which has great bars, restaurants and shops, as well as a beautiful walk along the marina.

The hotel is actually joined to its sister hotel, The Palace Hotel, which has a great dining offer for guests of both hotels.

One of the offers was pizza and pasta evenings, letting you pick a set starter, a pizza or pasta and unlimited drinks for three hours for just 16.95 Euro each!

There are plenty of dining options in the hotel outwith this too, so you never needed to go too far.

 

ROOFTOP BAR AND POOL IN SLIEMA, MALTA

The Victoria Hotel was the top of our list due to many factors, but one of the main aspects was that it had its own rooftop pool, perfect for relaxing after a day of seeing the sights.

At night, the rooftop turned into the 360Bar with chilled music, good cocktails and a nice atmosphere, with views out across Sliema.

We ended up here every night – it just seemed the best place to be.

 

STAFF AT THE VICTORIA HOTEL

This was one thing I really could not fault. From the moment we arrived, every member of staff was polite and welcoming, ensuring our stay was as perfect as possible.

The staff on reception were always helpful with suggestions of the best routes to take and travel recommendations.

Special thanks has to go to Danielo from the 360bar, who by the end of the week knew our drinks order before we’d even sat down!

 

\\ FAVOURITE RESTAURANTS IN MALTA //

THE CHOPHOUSE

Best for… steak and cocktails with a view

Okay, so I was always going to be a little biased about this recommendation as it was where we went for the most perfect dinner on the night we got engaged!

Brian and I both love a good steak so he had done his research and booked a table with an incredible view of Valetta at this beautiful steak restaurant. As soon as we arrived, we were greeted by Matthew and given the option of going straight to our table or having a drink in the plush bar area (already a plus in my book).

I opted for a bramble, which was hands down the best I’ve ever tasted. Plus, look at that presentation! I’m going to have to buy all my drinks their own palette from now on.

Post-bramble, we were shown to our table, with a gorgeous look out across the water. In terms of the food, I cannot recommend it enough! We’re still talking about that amazing steak and loved it so much, we went back on our last night too.

I’d recommend booking a table in advance too, especially to try and get a table with a view.

Visit The Chophouse Matla’s website to book

 

PORTOPALO, SLIEMA

Best for… pasta and wine

We found this restaurant on our first night and loved the relaxed vibes; the perfect setting to enjoy spaghetti carbonara and a bottle of prosecco.

It wasn’t as crowded and busy as some of the other restaurants along the strip, which made for an even nicer dining experience.

You can find Portopalo on Facebook here

 

GIORGIO’S, SLIEMA

Best for… a quick bite

If you’re out and about and want a nice, but quick food stop, we really liked Giorgio’s.

It was always busy, but a good location and the staff were good too.

 

\\ THINGS TO DO IN MALTA //

TAKE A CATAMARAN TRIP

Before we went to Malta, we booked a day cruise on Tip Top One and could not recommend it enough. Leaving from Sliema, the all-day trip takes in some amazing sights, as well as serving up all-day food and drinks included in the price.

I think we paid 100 Euro each and it was so worth it. So many other boat cruises leaving from Sliema are really overcrowded, but Tip Top One take you to the quieter yet just as beautiful (if not more so) stops and the staff are all great.

The food was delicious too and cooked on-board. We loved that you were sat at a designated table, so no worrying where you’re going to sit!

The spaces book up fast, so make sure to secure your place before you go.

More info on the Tip Top One trips here

 

 

TAKE A TRIP TO VALETTA

This was my favourite day as it’s where we got engaged! Take a water taxi across the bay from Sliema and explore Valetta.

I won’t say much more on it just now as I’m going to write a full post about our engagement day in Valetta, but definitely add it to your must-see Malta list!

 

VISIT THE WALLED CITY

If you have time, take a trip to Mdina, which was Malta’s old city up until the medieval period. The city is still confined inside the original walls and feels like something out a film.

In fact, Game of Thrones as used the very location to film some scenes! We paid to visit the church, which was amazing, and had a walk round the historic streets.

From Sliema, it is most cost-effective to head to Valetta bus station then get a bus out to Mdina, but Brian and I decided to treat ourselves to a taxi there and back instead, which cost around 50 euro all-in.

\\ GOOD TO KNOW //

GETTING A TAXI IN MALTA

After being totally ripped off for a taxi in a previous trip (I’m looking at you, Rome), I’m always a tad apprehensive of getting a taxi from the airport.

We needn’t have worried, though, as Malta’s taxi system is even better than home! You pay a set fee at the airport taxi kiosk, so no scary surprise rates, and you know everything is legit.

 

A TIME OF CELEBRATION

Totally unknown to us until we arrived, we were actually in Malta for The Feast of the Assumption celebrations, which was amazing to see.

This takes place on 15th August each year, but it seems the celebrations continue for the weekend, with lots of fireworks, decorations and music.

 

HOME COMFORTS

Malta has a lot of British influence, right down to the Marks and Spencer stores! With Valetta really busy, and wanting a quiet lunch, we opted for good old M&S!

That very pink gin and tonic and beer were the drinks we had straight after the proposal in the gardens and this picture makes me smile every time.

 

Oh my god – I’m engaged!

The man I love so much proposed on our dream holiday to Malta with the most perfect yellow diamond ring. I didn’t stop smiling the entire day, or the day after. A few days later, it was time to head home – and that’s where the problems started.

Let’s be honest, it’s no secret that I work hard to keep my anxiety at bay, but I thought it might give me a break for the time being (how wrong I was).

Pre-proposal, I wrote a blog post for Scottish Wedding Directory on how important it is to look after your mental health when planning a wedding. I actually wrote the words, ‘if you had a broken leg and got engaged, you wouldn’t wake up the next morning with your leg miraculously fixed’, yet I totally didn’t expect my anxiety to hit full-force just a matter of days after the happiest day of my life. As if getting engaged was going to just magic all negative thoughts away forever.

I write about weddings every day (for work, not just like some sort of wedding-loving lunatic), I excitedly chip in with advice to my friends on their wedding planning and I’ve always dreamed of getting engaged one day, so what the hell is wrong with me?

The day after we got back from Malta, I couldn’t shake the feeling of unease. Of frustration, anger and sadness. Not at being engaged, but at my anxiety for not understanding that this is meant to be a time of happiness, celebration and all things joyful – not doubting everything in my life.

By Friday evening, I got a migraine whilst I was out for a celebratory dinner. Heading to my bed, I couldn’t help but cry. And then I cried a bit more. Then I woke up on Saturday and it was as if I wasn’t ever going to stop crying. Sobbing on FaceTime to my new fiancé, then came the guilt. I don’t deserve him. I’m ungrateful. We can’t get married. If I can’t be happy during this happy time, I’m never going to be happy. The more negative thoughts that popped in my head, the more the tears came.

I did what anyone does when they’re in the middle of a crisis: I Googled. And I found so many other people who were the exact same as me. I felt relieved. So me and Brian don’t need to split up and call off the engagement. It’s actually just a really emotional time. But why does no one ever speak about this? I thought – and still think to a certain extent – that I’m a horrible person for not skipping around in some sort of fairytale, but is this just something everyone gets and keeps quiet about?

I had never really thought before how hard it can be to accept a life change for the better. I’m a daughter, sister, friend, writer, blogger, girlfriend – I’ve never been a bride-to-be before. Suddenly, everything feels so real. So grown up. Like everything has changed and, even though I wanted this, it’s surprised me how utterly overwhelmed I feel.

The last time something this life-changing happened was that fateful day, just over three and a half years ago, when I found out my amazing dad had died. When Brian asked me to marry him, I felt the shock hit me like it did that day in January 2015. Isn’t it weird, how your brain reacts to the happiest and the worst news in a similar way? I guess I didn’t realise it at the time, but it was that feeling once again of ‘things are never going to be the same’. Of course, getting engaged is a pretty great thing, but my anxious nature has led to a horrible confusion. Fear is what fuels the anxiety and, unfortunately, my poor brain has experienced so much fear that I don’t think it knows what to do with so much happiness so it reacted in the only way it knows how and that is to try and run and distance myself from what’s causing me the intense fear. Not really ideal when you’re meant to be a smiling bride-to-be whose dreams have all just come true.

I should probably also mention, the day before we got engaged, we also finally got the news that we were waiting on: a move in date for our house. Again, something I’m so excited for, but also a massive change and all in the space of two weeks. Without my dad, everything is bittersweet. It’s time for Brian and I to have our own home, but leaving my mum is one of the hardest parts. Leaving my childhood home for the first time hasn’t really sunk in yet. Not having my dad to help with all the dad things hurts more than I can say. He’d have been there, winding me up about the amount of clothes I was having to pack up and telling me DIY tricks that I would never, ever remember. I know how proud he would be of Brian and I. I know how happy he would be, but that doesn’t take away from that heart-wrenching pain that he’s missing this. Two of the biggest life milestones I’ll ever experience and he’s not there. Some days I can handle that, but others it just feels as raw as when we first found out he was gone.

Today is the first day since we got back that I’ve been able to start looking at the positive future. There’s so much pressure on us to be ‘happy’, but what exactly is happy? How can you truly measure it? I was really honest about how crap I felt on Instagram stories over the weekend and the response was so surprising to me. So many people feeling the same and it made me realise how much emphasis is put on everyone to be happy, be positive and have the best. time. ever.

I wanted to write this for any person, especially any fellow bride-to-be, who is freaking out that you aren’t happy enough following something amazing happening in your life. A few days after I got engaged, a major blogger also posted that she too had said ‘yes’ to the ring and it looked like she was legit the happiest person there ever was. It made me feel even more of a fianceé failure. It was weird to then look back on my own social posts from just after Brian proposed to see that, to the Instagram world, I too was the happiest I’ve ever been, with not a hint of the panic or anxiety I came to face. It really shows that, no matter what is posted on social media, you never really know the full story – you just see the good bits.

I’ve spoken a lot to those closest to me about how I’ve felt this week and it’s made me realise that, actually, this is all incredibly normal. It’s taken me a few days to digest, but I’m starting to rise to the surface again and see that my happiness doesn’t need to be all-singing, all-dancing to be happy. The day I got engaged was an incredibly high, high, but that’s not going to be real life every single day, but it wouldn’t be ‘normal’ if that was life every single day.

One thing I’ve taken away from all my highs and lows is the constant that is always there – the support. Along with my friends and family, it’s Brian who pulls me through the hardest days. It’s him who, no matter how hard everything seems, manages to get a laugh out of me. I showed him this post, which I had originally wrote just for myself to get my thoughts in order, and he told me to post it, in case it could help anyone else. It’s a new chapter for us after some really tough years and, although it is overwhelming, I couldn’t have a more supportive person by my side.

// LET’S GET SHOPPING //

From a young age, going a good shopping trip on a Saturday has always been my idea of fun. Pair that with getting to shop with your besties and getting to call it some sort of ‘work’, well – dream come true.

After loving the St Enoch Centre garden party earlier this month, Victoria, Yasmin and I knew we wanted to plan a summer shopping trip.

Cue an early morning Saturday meet up at the Starbucks in St Enoch’s Centre to plan our style stops. Planning a shopping trip with military precision: this is why we’re friends.

// TOPSHOP ST ENOCH CENTRE //

You’ll know from reading previous blogs that I massively rate the Topshop on Argyle Street, but people are always surprised when I tell them that it’s actually part of St Enoch Centre.

We must have looked like heavy duty shoppers as the lovely Personal Shopping team helped us into the Personal Shopper suite to commence an almighty try on of approx. 29,623 items we’d picked up in the store.

Just an FYI, the Topshop Personal Shopping appointments at the St Enoch Centre store are completely free – more on that here.

// IN THE BAG //

I opted for pieces in Topshop that I can wear abroad or at home. Whilst writing this, I’m also packing for my holiday (last minute packing – eek) and I’m taking all the gorgeous styles from St Enoch Centre that I picked up, but that I can also see me wearing loads at home.

More on my style picks later – let’s get back to the shopping.

// HOLIDAY BEAUTY HAUL //

One of my main go-to spots in St Enoch Centre always has to be the Debenhams beauty hall. With brands from Dior and Make Up Forever, to Bobbi Brown and Kat Von D, it is a beauty lovers haven.

You’ll see the holiday beauty products I added to my basket if you watch my video below, including my favourite ever bronzer and the eye palette you need for holiday!

// SMELLS LIKE SUMMER //

One part of the beauty hall that really caught our eye was the Spritz Bar, helping you find your perfect scent.

The Mon Guerlain fragrance is still on of my favourites for summer!

// DESIGNER STYLE //

Finding the Calvin Klein section in Debenhams felt like some sort of hidden gem! Tucked away in the nightwear section, you could totally wear these CK tshirts tucked into jeans with layered necklaces.

Another designer I was happy to see in the St Enoch Centre Debenhams was Tommy Hilfiger accessories – there was a Tommy beach bag that I’m still thinking about now!

 

// WHAT I BOUGHT //

Striped shorts

Cropped khaki jacket 

Snakeprint dress 

Pink textured top 

Naked Heat palette 

Chanel Soleil de Tan 

Mon Guerlain fragrance

// WATCH THE VIDEO //

FIND YOUR OWN SUMMER ESSENTIALS AT ST ENOCH CENTRE GLASGOW!

St Enoch Centre gifted vouchers for our summer essentials.

You might remember earlier this year that we went to one of the gorgeous Solid Luxury lodges at Balmeadowside.

We loved our stay so were so excited when the lovely team invited Brian, Kass and I to try out their new Squirrel lodges at their Conifers site in Newton Stewart, Dumfries and Galloway.

If you haven’t heard, we’ve had pretty amazing weather in Scotland – and the weekend did not disappoint, it honestly felt like a holiday abroad!

The two-bedroom lodge is so modern and has everything you need for a relaxed weekend away. The decking area is perfect to enjoy the sunshine, complete with private hot tub.

If, like me, you’re a crazy dog person, you’ll love how well your pooch is looked after here. Kass was particularly delighted with the welcome Boneo biscuits – her fave!

Anyway, less words from me, instead I filmed what we got up to over the weekend. Hope you enjoy the video!

WATCH NOW

Want to book your own dog-friendly weekend away in Scotland? Head to the Solid Luxury website for all the info here.

Our stay was complimentary from Solid Luxury, all opinions our own.

I had no idea how to start this post. After my last blog posts talking about summer outfits and beauty events, I felt like a fraud for taking the topic of conversation to something so serious.

But, after a lot of thinking, I realised that actually, it’s important to bring this conversation to my every day chat – because that’s where it should be. An open conversation of support, power and awareness.

I can’t quite believe that, in the Glasgow area that the Glasgow and Clyde Rape Crisis Centre covers with a population of approximately 1.2 million, 52% of whom are women, even the most conservative figures estimate that one in five of those women will experience sexual violence at some time in their lives.

One in five. That could be your sister, your mum, your best friend, your aunt, your niece.

Glasgow and Clyde Rape Crisis Centre Marks and Spencer - Tender Loving Style

Although I’ve been very open and honest about my struggles with grief and anxiety, I cannot imagine the pain of dealing with rape and sexual assault and, before Marks and Spencer got in touch about the work of the Glasgow and Clyde Rape Crisis Centre, I would never have known such a support existed here in Glasgow. And it really made me think of how many other women won’t know abut this support service, because we all hope it’s something we never have to deal with.

The crisis centre is the busiest in Scotland and helps nearly 2,000 rape and sexual assault survivors, holding around 20,000 counselling calls in addition to face-to-face counselling sessions every year.

Before now, women with disabilities faced issues in receiving face-to-face counselling due to limited access to the centre, despite being three times more likely to have been abused as a child.

This was where M&S came in. Glasgow is one of 10 locations selected for M&S’s community transformation programme, as part of Plan A 2025. The retailer is currently trialling a range of actions in Glasgow to help tackle the issues that matter most to communities – such as unemployment, skill shortages, loneliness, poverty, mental health and wellbeing.

Glasgow and Clyde Rape Crisis Centre Marks and Spencer - Tender Loving Style

The M&S team got to work

Earlier this month, the M&S Argyle St store colleagues kick-started a week-long volunteering drive, helping to transform the facilities at the Glasgow and Clyde Rape Crisis Centre and improve access for disabled rape and sexual assault survivors.

The store raised more than £6,000 over the last year for the charity and helped renovate a space at its base on Bell Street to enable women with disabilities benefit from its face-to-face counselling service.

Following advice from the Glasgow Access Panel, they required much needed funding and man power to install appropriate flooring, a hearing loop system and sensory lighting as well as an evacuation chair.

Glasgow and Clyde Rape Crisis Centre Marks and Spencer - Tender Loving Style

To gain a better understanding of the centre and its work, I speak to Isabelle from Glasgow and Clyde Rape Crisis Centre, who answers all of my questions.

WHAT WORK DOES THE CENTRE DO?

Glasgow and Clyde Rape Crisis provides support and advocacy services to any self identified woman who is a survivor of rape, sexual assault, childhood sexual abuse or any other form of sexual violence and harassment (including sharing of online images etc).

We offer a range of services that include our telephone helpline which is open every day of the week, face to face support by appointment, drop in facilities, email support, live online support, group support and outreach services across our service area. We provide support to women aged 13 years and over.

HOW CAN WE SUPPORT?

Anyone who wants to support our cause can do so in many different ways. Financial support is always very welcomed as the demand on our service increases every year. This can be done through a one-off donation or by contributing a small amount each month.

Our website www.glasgowclyderapecrisis.org.uk has information on all the ways we can be supported. All our staff and volunteers are women, so if any woman wants to volunteer with us she can get in touch with us at info@rapecrisiscentre-glasgow.co.uk.

There are many volunteering opportunities open, from helpline support worker, to fundraiser, to events staff and general cover for office and reception.

THE RENOVATION PROJECT

We have been really keen to improve access to our centre for disabled survivors. We know that a disabled child is 3 times more likely to be abused and we see many disabled women who have experienced childhood sexual abuse, particularly where there has been very close personal care involved in their childhood.

The renovation has created a room that is barrier free for women who need space for a wheelchair, who worry about walking on potentially dangerous floors, women who need a hearing loop system or special lighting for their sight impairment. This can help women feel more comfortable, safer and more valued while seeking support for their experiences.

HOW TO GET IN TOUCH

We have a telephone helpline that is open every day from 11am until 2pm and on Monday to Thursday evening between 5.30pm and 7.30pm.

Women can call themselves or a friend or family member can make appointments on their behalf. We also offer support to family members and this can be discussed with our helpline support workers. All our services are shown on our website at www.glasgowclyderapecrisis.org.uk.

THE NEXT STEPS

The renovation has been an amazing achievement, but we do want to maintain the momentum with an additional piece of work. We are seeking resources to allow us to train a number of our staff to level one British Sign Language so that deaf women can use our drop in service, which they cannot do at the moment as we don’t have a signer on staff.

That facility will continue to bread down the barriers that inhibit disabled survivors from seeking support for the trauma that they have experienced in their lives.

 

Glasgow and Clyde Rape Crisis Centre Marks and Spencer - Tender Loving Style

As well as the work with Glasgow and Clyde Rape Crisis Centre, M&S colleagues across the nation continued the week long activity by committing over 40,000 hours to volunteering at 685 local projects that make a difference to the communities they serve.

Several initiatives are already taking place across the city and surrounding area as part of the community transformation programme. This includes fortnightly meet-ups for new mums in the M&S Café to enjoy a coffee and a chat, working in collaboration with the leading social network MUSH, which connects mums locally based on their children’s ages and interests.

Stores across Glasgow will also host a monthly ‘Tea and Company’ get together in the M&S Café in partnership with the Royal Voluntary Service (RVS). The ‘friendship’ tables, hosted by RVS volunteers, are set up to encourage anyone sitting alone to come and join a conversation, with the retailer offering £1 off hot drinks for both meet-ups.

Glasgow and Clyde Rape Crisis Centre Marks and Spencer - Tender Loving Style

GET INVOLVED

M&S stores across the UK are connected to local initiatives by Neighbourly, the social network for social good. To get involved in the online conversation, follow @MarksandSpencer and #MarksinAction.

For more information on Glasgow and Clyde Rape Crisis Centre and to support their services, visit their website.

 

This post was sponsored by Marks and Spencer. 25% of the fee was donated to Glasgow and Clyde Rape Crisis Centre.