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30 May 2016

Afternoon Tea at Chewton Glen

I'm not going to lie, I've been a little bit obsessed with Chewton Glen for a while. It's a luxury boutique hotel, in fact the only privately owned 5* hotel in Britain. And having heard its name thrown around due to being fairly local to me (based in the New Forest, Hampshire), plus watching a lot of vlogs from Youtubers who have paid it a visit, I was determined to make it as a guest one day.

Luckily this day was not too far away, and a couple of weeks ago, my aunty told me she wanted to take me as a 21st birthday treat to afternoon tea at the hotel. Having made her drive me through the grounds on previous occasions, I cannot tell you how excited I was! Finally I could go inside!

As I was lucky enough to be treated to a celebration afternoon tea, first up was (of course) Champagne, they bought out the Taittinger and as it was all very cute we cheersed to my birthday. Definitely not a bad way to start the celebrations!

Just as we were processing the champagne (and getting a couple of snaps) one of the staff arrived with a birthday card! I felt so lucky and at the end of the tea we were also all given a sample to take home of their English Breakfast leaves which was such a lovely thought to commemorate the day. Swiftly after I was given my card, my aunty produced her own present (as if today wasn't enough in itself!) and I felt so overwhelmed and EXTREMELY lucky!

After choosing our tea (Earl Grey for me please), we were brought out tea pots and, the most important part of any afternoon tea, the cake tray! It was laden with sandwiches, scones and the most delectable array of cakes you ever did see. 

Prepare your stomachs.

As you can see,  we're a cream before jam kinda family.

After ANOTHER plate of sandwiches, and more tea, we were so full I thought my top might pop open. Luckily, Chewton Glen is surrounded by incredible gardens and lawns, so we decided it was probably best to walk everything off, to avoid having to roll home. Which became a serious possibility after my last cake.

I keep gushing about it but it was honestly one of the most beautiful places I've ever been. I cannot recommend the experience enough and I'm already thinking up excuses to go back! 

I feel so lucky to be starting my 21st in such a wonderful way! If you're ever in the area, Chewton Glen is 100% worth every penny!

Ciao for Now!

23 May 2016

Ticket for One, Please - The Stigma of Doing Things Alone

Last Thursday, I bought a train ticket. I had just finished exams, but having been on a solid 3 for the last ten days (as explained briefly a couple of posts ago) I decided to take time out and have me time.

'Me time'.

It sounds a lot like a phrase reserved for middle aged single parents who have to get away from the children and the housework. But I firmly believe it's necessary for everyone, even 20 year old students with little responsibility. 

After being politely declined my invites to watch the Royal Ballet's performance of Frankenstein by my friends, I spent the night before toying with whether I should go alone. Would people judge me? Would it look like I have no friends? Eventually, I decided my want to go and see the performance outweighed any judgement I may get. So at 5:30pm on Wednesday,  I hopped on a train, with my ticket for one, and found myself in London.

I had two resolutions. Do not get the tube anywhere, and do not freak out and message one of your many of friends in London. This, is me time.

I grabbed myself a coconut latte from Starbucks because hello they are heaven in a cup, and traipsed through the crowds of 6pm commuters, past the London Eye, over Waterloo bridge and towards Trafalgar Square. 

On arrival, the security man looked at me, armed with my sandwich and bottle of water. 'Don't worry, everyone talks to each other at these things, I'm sure you won't be alone for too long!'. Repeating exactly what I had already heard from two friends and my mother earlier in the day. 

Which was the catalyst to this blog post.

Why was everyone so concerned about me going alone, without company? 

I am  (I like to think) a self assured, independent, just-about-adult woman. When I was 18 I bought a lone plane ticket and moved to Italy. In 2 weeks I'm once again going it alone to France. And yet the thought of sitting alone in a restaurant or going to the cinema by myself makes me cringe far more than leaving the country. 

What, about a cinema, requires company? You're essentially sat in silence for the best part of two hours. It's obviously always nice to discuss the film afterwards, but usually other people will have seen it in their own time anyway. Nothing about the cinematic experience requires a companion. 

Most of us are in peoples company so much the only time we're alone is during a drive to work or when we're asleep. And even then, a lot of people have someone to share the bed with. Which makes 'me time' essential.

It's essential because it gives you self awareness, it boosts your confidence and most importantly, you get a break from being anything other than wholly, 100% yourself. I'm not saying necessarily jump on a plane to Italy alone (woops), but don't let 'me time' be restricted to the walls of your house. And most importantly, never let a lack of company stop you from doing something. Go to every concert or film you could possibly want to go to, go shopping and spend hours browsing the clothes rack without the pull of a bored friend. Go and sit in a coffee shop and read your favourite book until the barista's have to kick you out. 

The stigma of doing things alone only exists as long as you feel embarrassed by the prospect of it. And the likelihood is, those people who do judge, haven't actually tried it. 

Shake off your friends, go to your favourite restaurant, and get back to me.

The likelihood is, you'll enjoy it far more than you think.

Ciao for Now! 

15 May 2016

Internet Freedom and Future Schedule

I've had a bit of an internet break. Not so much the recreational part of the internet, but the section where I feel obliged. You may have read my blog post last week on Starting a Blog. I've been having a bit of a 'meh' time recently and thought I'd stop internetting and use some of my brain power to concentrate on university and exams and my current real life... instead of trying to break through the writer's block and sluggish obligation I felt to put content up on my internet areas.

I want to be able to read my blog and know I've put my all into every post. Every section of it should be a reflection of me and all that I do and enjoy and love, and I felt for the last 10 days or so it would be ignorant to the point of insulting, to post content on here which I don't enjoy myself just for maintaining views. 

So, instead, I took a break and other than revising, made sure to fulfil three of the most important P's in life, pimms, picnics and nearly p***ing myself laughing on multiple occasions. 

In the meantime, I wanted to give you the lowdown on what will be happening from now until September, the fourth P. Planning. 

I'll be living and working in the South of France from June 5th-September 6th, during which, I will have one day off a week, and undoubtedly terrible internet. I obviously want to keep up Alice's Antics because I do love it despite needing a break every so often.

Instead of posting as I have the last 5 months (other than this week, woops), on Wednesday, Fridays and Sundays. I am going to post once a week, every MONDAY.

On Mondays, I am your gal. Starting tomorrow! That's right. 0 blogs in 10 days, 2 blogs in 2 days, party party party. From then on, it will be blogs every Monday to kick off your week.

 I will schedule posts so no matter when my day off is, you will see the notification to make you aware I'm still alive and still blogging. And you better come and check it out. Arguably Alice's Antics peaked during my months in Italy which can only mean being abroad is good for me and thus I should go abroad more often.

As for Youtube, I have decided to not to Weekend vlog as you may have seen, because I feel there's a bit of pressure to do something interesting and at the moment, I'm sat in Caffe Nero, surrounded by books and revision. So I will be posting as and when I have days I think will be good material. I'll probably record throughout my time in France but whether the Internet will allow me to upload will have to be a touch and go scenario... 

So, starting today until approximately September 6th (give or take) I will be posting a new blog post every Monday and I will be vlogging as and when and hopefully will get a couple of vlogs up whilst in France but who knows.. 

Sorry for the shambles of a post but I wanted to keep you all updated!

Ciao for Now!

6 May 2016

So You Want to Start A Blog?

With 3 years under my belt of blogging, a little but wonderful following, and what seems to be a weekly fashion of people popping up into my inbox/Facebook asking for some blogging guidance, I think it's about time I published this blog post. 

A couple of years ago I wrote about my top tips for the actual blog starting process,  this post is a bit more of the stuff you need to take into consideration before you take it up. 

By no means am I a blogging Goddess, but I am pretty fluent in HTML, SEO and good ole' Googling the shit out of anything I don't know. And I got you here, to read this, so I feel qualified to probably give you some life advice if you do fancy starting your own online internet space.

It's probably worth mentioning, this is if you want to gain a following of some kind. If you want to start a blog for yourself and keep it like an online diary, you totally do you. This is for the people who would like to start a blog but are a bit baffled as to what it takes.

Establish what you want to get out of your blog. And if the answer if 'money' or 'free stuff' then  I'm sorry to burst the bubble of blogosphere, but the likelihood is, you won't succeed. 99% of the successful bloggers I either know personally, or follow on social media, started their blogs as a hobby. You will only ever grow a following if you're passionate about blogging, and enjoy it enough to put in the time and effort. It's far more likely you'll be the one putting in money, through advertising packages or blog templates. Start a blog because you love what you're writing about and there's a chance you'll reap some benefits. But it should definitely not be a defining factor!

Realise from the off, a blog is a commitment. I never thought in a million years when I started Alice's Antics in 2013, I'd be blogging through my gap year and into my university time. But the balance of blog life/real life definitely has its ups and downs. The lovely Imogen actually wrote a blog post on how to balance student life with blogging, and I 100% agree with every point. It is a commitment, but it should never be a chore. Which is another reason you should write because you enjoy it! 

Blogging also means nailing other social media platforms. Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr more specifically. You need to be active across the board. Your blog may be your outlet, but these are how people find you, read what you have to say, and follow you. It's a more personal connection and gives readers the chance to get to know the blogger. It's also important in terms of PR and Marketing, as a lot of companies who may be looking to work with bloggers, take across the board followings into consideration too. 

SEO and DA are both terrifying and very real. Or in their longer terms 'Search Engine Optimisation' and 'Domain Authority'. Start Googling SEO, find out all there is to know to make your blog one of the first when people search for keywords. Domain Authority is a number between 1-100 which determines your blog as a status in its own domain ( domains don't count because of the leverage of 'blogspot'). This is another thing PR companies look into if you're thinking of taking it seriously.

Consistency is crucial in keeping an active following. You've got your blog, your DA is through the roof and Twitter pretty much makes you want to be verified. You need to be consistent in your posting, so readers know where to come and when to expect a blog post. This works for all of the top Internet humans. Think of #SuggSunday, or how Hannah Gale posts 5 days a week or the Saccone Joly's have a video out at 6pm every day. People will keep coming back if they know when to expect you! 

Not everyone is going to 'get it', register and be okay with that. When I first started Alice's Antics, my family and friends questioned me daily on my sanity. From 'Why would people care what you have to say' to laughing at me taking photos of everything everywhere. I'm 100% sure my first views are from bitchy girls and boys at school who wanted a laugh. Some of those people are never going to get it, the internet world isn't for everyone, and that should be absolutely fine with you. Similarly, some of the people who laughed when I started in 2013 have messaged me in 2016 asking me how to start a blog- so it's all swings and roundabouts. Have a tough skin, and brush it off. If you enjoy it enough, you shouldn't care.

Above all, it's vital to be passionate about what you're writing about. Blog because you love it. Readers can always tell when something is half-arsed, and as I've mentioned, NEVER let it become a chore.

I hope this helps clarify a few bits to anyone considering writing a blog!

Ciao for Now!

4 May 2016

Midweek Motivation

Disclaimer: This was originally meant to be a serious picture, but I quickly gave up on that. 

May the fourth be with you! 

Don't mind me, just cracking out some Dad jokes.

So this Wednesday, I'm feeling a little bit of a slump. The grind of revising for exams is back and thanks to being a walking human again, I'm back at work work. Which, although I originally did miss, the novelty has worn off a little bit and the balance of revision/work/keeping sane has become a slight chore.

So I thought I would write a list of all the things I am looking forward to this month. And encourage anyone else in a rut, to do the same. It's very easy to get bogged down in the present instead of taking a step back and realising there is a lot to look forward to. Summer for one. It's MAY people, summer is just around the corner! 

1. Finally finishing exams, and (of course) celebrating the end of them. Obviously the latter part being the most important here... The weekend of finishing exams is being spent with my housemate Alexandra, visiting coffee shops in and around London and celebratory picnicking in St James' Park. Very us. Obviously I will blog the whole thing- and maybe vlog it too. But either way this is my ideal way to end exams. 

2. Being visited by Molly up in London. I actually surprised Molly last week with a train ticket to London tucked inside a card, so she can come and visit me to get away from Dorset. Searching bottomless brunches and rooftop cocktail bars has also proved to be the perfect way to procrastinate.

3. Summer shopping for the Summer Ball/France/Marbella! Not to sound like the most materialistic person in the world ever, but I'd be lying if I didn't include a guilt-free summer shop in things I'm excited for. I have a summer ball at the beginning of June to round off my year, then 2 days later I move to France until the 6th September... and then later that week I am heading to Marbella with my family for our first family holiday in 5 years! So naturally, clothes are actively being thought about.

4. The annual department boat party down the River Thames. Last year this was one of the highlights of my first year. Everyone has finished exams and anyone who's been through university knows the second year slump. No excitement of first year and no ultimate goal like third, everything is just same-y and I think a lot of us are excited to start our final year  of university. 

5. Going back to Dorset for a couple of days. This can't be underestimated, as it will be the last time back home for a full 3 months. I'm extremely excited to be leaving for France, but obviously it is a bit daunting and although I've moved abroad before, the prospect of not seeing friends and family for so long doesn't get any easier. So this will be a very family/friend orientated occasion! 

What are you looking forward to in May? 

Ciao for Now!

1 May 2016

Life Update: Exams, Vlogging and Online Shopping

We're well in need of a life catch up. 

And what's more fitting than writing a post about exams... whilst supposed to be revising for, said exams. 

Procrastination at its finest. 

After a week back at university, I am officially halfway through my exams. The next couple of weeks is almost definitely going to follow in the same fashion as the last, procrastinating 30% of the day, revising 70% and steadily turning my blood type to espresso. 

Exam season has actually, surprisingly, bought out quite a lot of good in me. Gone are the days of lie ins until midday. Living in a house where everyone is out by 9am latest has just made me follow suit and I'm finally at a place where I can crawl into bed at 10:30 and fall asleep. Is this adulthood?? 

Despite being bogged down with revision, I am still vlogging. If you weren't aware, I have been steadily expanding Alice's Antics beyond blogging and into Youtube. Which is slightly terrifying. I've been vlogging Friday, Saturday, Sunday and posting on Sunday evening, as I tend to keep any activities other than revision, for the weekend. Aka, you don't have to sit through me moaning about Plato's metaphysical realm. 'Cause nobody got time for that. But if you are interested, I'll leave a little link at the end of this post and there's always the Youtube icon in the top right. So far, I'm loving vlogging. I'm not sure why, but the thought of sitting down and making real videos freaks me out currently, so I'm steadily building up to that. But in the meantime, I hope people are enjoying the insights into my life. 

I'm going to write out a blog post about this, because it's obvs something I need to talk about as I'm leaving the country for 3 months, but in June, I'm going to work in France. I'm both terrified and excited but currently, it means a lot of online purooooosing and buying relevant things (like Havaiana flip flops. Because obviously, OBVIOUSLY I needed decent ones. Of course). 

On June 3rd, two days before I leave for la belle France, I have a summer ball. So that is also on my to-do list. I might actually make a blog post on this, because I'm going to attempt to look a million dollars for approximately £50. But dress shopping is VERY much a thing right now, and I couldn't be more excited at the thought of getting dressed up with my best friends to celebrate the end of my second year. 

I think that's everything so far! If you want to watch my vlogs then click here! 

Ciao for Now!

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