*DIY Insta Heart Collage

I first got into photography back in University.  Only back then I didn’t call it “photography”, it was just something I did.  Taking photographs to capture moments was something that – for whatever reason – I felt was important. Long before I had a fancy DSLR and was obsessed with Instagram (it didn’t even exist back then!), I lugged around disposable cameras on drunken nights out, drunken nights in, adventures away and trips down the beach (Swansea University is literally right on the beach).  It was a point, click, fingers-crossed world where you never knew how the photographs were going to turn out until you popped down to Boots to get them developed, and then laughed at them with housemates as you stuck them up on the wall with all the others. Photographs really were – as Angela Carter once wrote – chunks of time you could hold in your hands.  Good times!  And that’s probably the last time I actually got a proper film of photographs developed.

Nowadays I’m taking more photographs than I ever have in my life – and yet they remain in digital suspense on Instagram, my blog and on Facebook.  They can be seen by the entire world and yet I only get to see them if I log in and scroll!  What happened to those walls covered in photographs? So when Printiki got in touch with me recently and asked if I’d like to try their photo printing service, I said, yes please!

You can order prints, posters and albums of your favourite grams straight to your front door in varying sizes and shapes (matte or glossy), from retro Polaroid-style photographs to the square ones I chose.  You can even add text to them in their easy to use editor.  Choosing which photographs to print was the hardest part, and once I’d ordered them they dropped onto my doormat barely three days later! 🙂  I was really impressed with the colour and quality – and you guys know how much I love colourful things!

There’s a very boring bare wall above my sofa at the moment that Sunny and I have been having arguments over what to put up there, so I took a tip from my university days and decided to brighten it up with a heart shaped collage made with my new prints!



What do you think?  ♥  Do you ever print your photographs?  What do you do with them?

Why building self-esteem involves building up everyone else’s first

I’m standing in the queue at H&M.  I only popped in to “have a quick look” but whaddya know?  In the space of twenty minutes I’ve managed to rummage the rails, make not one but two trips to the fitting room, snap an awkward mirror selfie and ended up in the queue for the tills with half the shop draped over my arm.  And that’s when it happens.  There are a couple of girls at the head of the queue who are talking and laughing.  They’re looking my way, I’m sure of it.

Thirty seconds ago my full attention was on the pink off the shoulder top I picked up and whether it’s going to make me look like a bottle of Pepto Bismol, but now it’s 100% on the girls and the way they’re laughing.  At me?

Oh God.  It’s my hair isn’t it?  They’re laughing at my hair (who isn’t?), I think to myself, running a self-conscious hand through the back just in case it’s sticking up.  Nope.  Okay, well maybe there’s something on my face?  I did inhale a Lidl cinnamon bun earlier and what’s the betting the icing is all over my chin? I wonder, as my tongue takes a sneaky swipe at my lips.

I come up empty.  They could be laughing about last night’s episode of Love Island for all I know, but no, they were looking at me so immediately in my head I wage war.  I laugh inwardly at them, taking pot shots at their bad eyebrows, their clothes, the claw-like fake nails and even faker fake tan.  I’m throwing thought-daggers at them until they pay for their stuff and walk away, without even a glance in my direction; completely unaware of the poisonous thoughts I’ve been brewing.

For a long, long time, that’s what I did.  Throughout High School and my early twenties I was obsessed about what other people were thinking about me and I automatically assumed that whatever it was and without any evidence, it was bound to be bad.  I dealt with it by doing exactly what I thought they were doing; I thought bad thoughts about them.  It was a quick way of reassuring myself, of feeling better about my own “faults”.  I poked fun of badly blended foundation to feel a little bit better about my terrible acne.  I pulled faces at people’s clothes to feel a bit better about what I’d thrown on that morning.  I snorted at bad writing and sloppy grammar and assumed stupidity to make myself feel more confident about my own words and feel better about being a “swot”.  Of course, I never spoke those thoughts out loud, though.  Honest.  I was far too shy and uncertain of myself to do that.

I thought that in doing this I was building up my own self-esteem, but in fact all I was really doing was just making myself more and more insecure.  Distrustful of others and spewing negative thoughts – and negativity in general – all over the place like vomit.

Then, in my late twenties something clicked.  Call it Saturn’s Return or the impending approach of the big 3-0, but something changed.  It wasn’t so much that I stopped caring about what other people thought of me, I was just tired of going to war over it.  I was bored of wasting my time and energy in pursuit of something I’d never know, and wasn’t really any of my business anyway!  I wasn’t ever going to be able to root around in people’s minds and find out what they really thought of me.

So I gradually changed my mindset.  Instead of throwing mental daggers at someone when I thought they were talking about me, or thinking about me – I shook it off and countered with a compliment.  I thought something nice about them.  I complimented their smile, or their attitude, talents, clothes, makeup.  They were just thoughts to begin with, but soon enough I started to say them out loud too.

Soon, instead of assuming that everyone was thinking bad things about me, I started to realise that it was entirely possible they might be thinking nice things too.  If I was doing it, then other people must be too, right?  Suddenly, I wanted to know what those nice thoughts could be.  Maybe they thought my hair looked good, or that I’d killed it with my liquid eyeliner for once?  Maybe they liked what I was wearing or – who knows – maybe they thought that I was funny, pretty, smart… talented even?  Wow.  People are actually really nice!  (…Mostly.)  And maybe I am all those things.

By building up everyone else’s self-esteem, I’d somehow inadvertently built up a great big tower of self-esteem for myself.  The truth is, if you go shooting negative thoughts at others, you’ll be just as wounded by the kick-back.  So send out some positive ones instead and maybe you’ll get some positivity back 🙂

Have a good weekend everyone! ♥

Why it’s Okay to Unfollow

I was flicking through my Instagram feed the other day.  It’s a strange mix.  There are the sporadic posts from friends and family (including my Dad; whose Instagram theme includes scribbling lines over Google Maps to show the world where he’s been walking), random pet accounts (cute!), mixed in with some online friends, beautiful bloggers and bakers – y’know for a bit of daily inspo.  (Oh.  And unavoidable adverts.  Ugh.)  I scrolled down – liking, saving, commenting – and then, I got stuck.

Wait.  Who the hell’s that?  Oh.  The account of a friend of a friend who followed me and I – politely – followed back.  Another grainy gram of a night out with some friends I didn’t know in a bar I didn’t recognise.  Why was I still following him?  Enough was enough. I clicked through to his profile page and my thumb hovered over the The Blue Button of Doom… but then something stopped me.

I felt guilty. Guilty about unfollowing. After all, they were still following me. So wouldn’t it be rude to cut and run? A prime example of poor netiquette? A sort of virtual dine and dash? I mean, by pressing that button you’re basically sending the message to that person, “I’m not interested in you anymore. Buh-bye!” Never mind the fact that they might be a virtual stranger or that you’ve never spoken beyond a couple of comments with emojis, it feels cold and cruel to hit that button. All of us have been on the other side of this at some point, so we can relate; we know how it feels when someone blue buttons us. It stings a little, and you’re left wondering what tweet, which instagram or snapchat was it that finally pushed them out the door.

Think about it. How many people are you following on various social media platforms that you’d quite like to ditch but don’t because you feel guilty? Those polite follow-backs, friend of a friends, old school friends you haven’t spoken to in a hundred years. How many tweets and Instagrams do you eyeroll your way through every single day just to scroll to the people you actually care about, to the content that makes a difference to your day?

Social media has become such a massive part of our every day lives. Scrolling Instagram is the first thing I do in the morning (or at least it used to be pre-puppy!) and the last thing I do at night, and like it or not, those internet relationships we forge through social media are becoming just as important and as valuable as our “real life” ones. They matter. So why are we hanging on to the ones that don’t – the ones that don’t excite, inspire or interest us – just because we feel bad for unfollowing? Would we waste our time like that offline?

I hope this isn’t coming across as bitchy or cold, it’s meant to be the exact opposite. I’d rather have a feed that’s full of mutual, meaningful relationships and content that I value and feel inspired by, than one clogged up with names I don’t recognise and content I don’t care about.  Wouldn’t you?  And it goes the other way too; don’t keep me on your feed and in your life because you feel like you have to, keep me there because you want to.

We need to shed the guilt about unfollowing someone, just as we need to learn to either ignore or live with that sting we feel when someone unfollows us.  It might feel personal, but it’s not.  Not really.  The relationship never got personal.  They didn’t get you, and that’s okay.  Hitting that blue button from time to time (and being blue-buttoned) is a necessary part of finding your tribe. 🙂

Why You Don’t Have to Use Your Voice

So – as it turns out – on the 8th of June we’ve all got to make another trip to our local polling station.  Another election.  Really?  Hands up if you rolled your eyes a little when Theresa May emerged from Number 10 to address the nation?  And not because General Elections aren’t terribly important, or because broadcast media always have to sneak in a little close-up of her leopard print kitten heels (y’know, just in case it slipped your mind that a woman – yes a woman – is currently running the country)… but because from now until the polls close (and let’s be honest, for at least a week or two after) there’s going to be a lot of shouting and ranting online and that same question posed to bloggers and YouTubers over and over and over again: “WHY DON’T YOU USE YOUR VOICE?”

Over the next six weeks the internet will constantly poke and prod at bloggers to come out from their marble and rose gold blogger bat caves, lower their cameras, declare their side and release a battle cry through their content for their subscribers to follow.  Some do – and that’s fine, it’s their choice – but many choose to stay silent.  And that’s when the internet responds to the radio silence with a scoff and types some passive aggressive tweet along the lines of, “You have so many followers, you could make such a difference!” and, oh yeah, “Why don’t you use your voice and reach to inform about the bigger issues instead of going on about that latest must-have lipstick!?”  And it’s not just politics, bloggers are constantly urged to use their following and to voice their opinions on various matters.

While I understand the frustration, whether they use their voice or not, and how they use it is a personal choice.  Obviously, huge respect to anyone who does choose to stick their head up over the parapet and voice their opinions on the tougher, polarizing subjects, but just as we’re all entitled to use our voice – to shout our opinions and political views loud and proud – we’re also entitled to stay silent, or to whisper if we so choose, and shouldn’t be berated for that decision.

Everyone has their reasons for staying silent.  True, some choose to zip the lip because they hate confrontation, don’t want to offend anyone or because they don’t want to suddenly see themselves drop a hundred followers, but for others it’s simply a choice not to share.  Perhaps they’re just not interested or don’t feel well enough informed to voice an opinion, perhaps they’d just rather stick to lighter subjects (hey, we’re going to be hearing a lot of politics over the next month – sometimes you need to breathe and see something that doesn’t remind you how royally eff’d the country is)… or perhaps they just feel that their opinion isn’t anyone’s business but their own.

At the end of the day, we’re all entitled to pick and choose what we share online – on our blogs and via social media.  And when someone – blogger or not – chooses not to weigh in on a big subject, that’s their choice and they’re entitled to it.

Bungle goes to the Beach

Way back in December (bloody hell, that seems like a really long time ago!) I posted some pictures from a Boxing Day walk along the beach in Barry – and how the whole of South Wales and its dog (literally) had turned up to do exactly the same thing.  One of the reasons we love heading to Barry Island is because it’s the best place to go cute dog spotting.  We’d walk across the beach, stop for chips and watch the dogs running across the sand and talk about some distant future where we’d have our own dog.

Well, last week we finally joined the Barrybados Dog Squad and took our very real ball of fluff for his first trip to the beach 🙂



Honestly, the first few weeks of puppy parent-hood were really tough.  We knew it was going to hard, but nothing prepared us for just how hard.  He wasn’t officially allowed outside on proper walks until last week, which pretty much meant a month’s worth of house arrest for all of us.  A month of being trapped in one room with a monster ball of fur zooming around the kitchen table, eating anything and everything, ripping up puppy pads, chewing on toes (puppy teeth, man… yeouch!), and acting like an alarm clock at 5.30am.  I couldn’t wait to go outside again, and our release date just so happened to fall right at the start of the Easter holidays.

The toughest part of being outside – aside from the fact that he wants to eat everything – is that he wants to be friends with everyone.  He’ll charge across roads, across beaches and fields just to say hello to that little girl he noticed playing with a ball, that lady jogging, or that bloke cleaning his car.  He’s shaping up to be the world’s friendliest dog 🙂




Dogs are allowed on the beach on Barry Island until May 1st – so get down there while you still can!