No more secrets: RIP The Victoria’s Secret Show

This time last year sixty unnecessarily attractive women were flouncing around a catwalk in New York in their pants, with thousands of adoring and slightly jealous fans glaring at their eight abs and thighs which refused to wobble. Fast forward twelve months, and on the anniversary of the infamous Victoria’s Secret Annual Fashion show, the secret is no more as for only the second time in twenty-four years, the brand has cancelled its flagship catwalk parade. Pass the pigs and blankets, the Christmas diet is off.

After the show last year, the brand faced criticism from body positive activists and trans-rights groups after the creative director of VS, Ed Razek, stated that there is no room in the show for plus-size or transgender models due to it being ‘a fantasy’ and using the excuse that they tried in 2000 to use plus-size models and ‘No-one had an interest’. I mean, if you’re going to go off the results of something you tried eight years ago, you’re not going to manage to flourish in the fast pace society we currently live in, to put it bluntly VS- get with the times. These off-the cuff comments from the guy in charge of VS’s lucrative image confirmed what many had been sharing their concern about for years- that Victoria Secret was out of touch with the real world. But then again, isn’t that the point?

Victoria’s Secret has always been a fantasy; An unquestionable concept of perfection with the Angels gargantuas levels of beauty setting standards no every-day Joanne-Bloggs could ever reach. I remember growing up and idolising these women in their underwear, desperate for an inch of their beauty and a foot of their success. There were always questions around the body image the models were portraying to young girls, but I would flippantly put it down to jealously, an ‘I can’t do that so she shouldn’t be able to do it either’ attitude so many women seem to carry. But as the years go by and society shifts towards representation and visibility of all beauty ideals, I’ve began to question the jealous attitude I was so convinced surrounded the Angels, and have started to wonder if we’re all just a bit sick of being told we’re not good enough.

Beautiful women are everywhere. They’re in the street, they’re in the magazines, they’re on the tele and they’re down the local Co-Op. But there was no display on earth of such goddess-like females than The Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show. It became more about the models, the figures and their looks than the clothes teeny bits of fabric that adorned them. Social media would be scattered with tweets from ‘normal’ women sharing their misery at eating their dinner that night, shamed by the pangs for chocolate that protruded out their stomach. Confessional: I am one of these women, guilty of always tweeting about how shit the VS show made me feel. I mean if you’re a girl, you’re basically expected to share how inferior these women make you as if it’s a right of passage into Bridget Jones’ Diary. Across the land women would tune in to watch these glamazon’s stomp down the runway, their body shimmer glistening off their perfectly pert 32c boobs. Outfit after outfit that no-one is paying attention too, model after model that everyone can’t take their eyes off from. The Angels make no secret of the intense training and dieting they have to embark on to walk in the shows, yet every female viewer sitting on the sofa will still mutter ‘How do they look like that?!’ , As if we haven’t seen a daily update on the gram’ of the models squatting in the rain. They’re committed, I’ll sure as hell give them that.

To walk in The Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show is a dream for many, and a reality for a very elite few. I truly acknowledge all the dedication and hard work those girls put themselves through to be in the indescribable shape that they are in when they step out on that runway. They’re athletes, they’re supermodels, they’re bloody super women. But insisting the brand, and specifically the show must stay a fantasy, just might be what kills them off. We’re experiencing a shift in society where women all over are awakening to their sexuality and choosing to own their bodies and all their flaws, and we want brands which invite us to celebrate that. Is there a space for The Victoria’s Secret Angels in this new wave of feminism society? I hope so. We should all be able to engage in body positivity and female ownership of ourselves as sexual beings, but a little variation of what those bodies look like wouldn’t go a miss either.

#12BlogsOfChristmas

What not to say on the day: How to avoid that family argument.

Ah Christmas. A time for giving, a time for getting, a time for swearing and throwing pigs and blankets at your little brother who laughed at your new Christmas jumper. Having to spend time with work colleagues you’ve spent the year trying to avoid in the lift, and family members who you’ve muted on Facebook is enough to make anyone scream ‘YOU’RE NOT MY MUM’ (An Eastenders Christmas classic). But whilst telling your Uncle who sympathises with Prince Andrew to fuck off might seem like a good idea, somethings at the dinner table are better left unsaid- at least until you’re out of the roast potato firing zone. Who am I kidding, no one wastes roast potatoes. Here’s my top tips on What not to say this Christmas to avoid that family argument.

Who did you vote for in the general election? Just don’t. This is never going to end well. What exists in your mind as a polite exchange of knowledgeable opinions and concerns for the country will only end with a ‘DIDN’T KNOW YOU WERE A SECRET RACIST’ and a ‘What, You hate Jews do you?”. Political conversations belong on Twitter, where you can argue with a total stranger about things neither of you understand. It’s so much easier to block a username than your Gran.

Not another bath bomb. You get the hint, you must stink. Bath bombs, Shower Gel and some weird Body mist no-one knows they purpose of, your bathroom kitchen is going to look like Boots spewed up in it. But of course, you love your present. Another Lynx Africa ser is just what you wanted. You‘ll be thankful for it come September when you find it round the back of the sink.

The meats a bit tough. Your designated cook has been slaving away in the kitchen since 7am, spritzing the Turkey with oil like it’s one of the lads of Geordie Shore prepping for a day at the beach. They’ve shoved their hands up the arse of a bird, also like the lads off Geordie Sh…. never mind. Their hair stinks of goosefat and the tiredness in their eyes circle their pupils like a festive red bauble. They’ve spent months debating whether to follow Gordon Ramsay’s or Jamie Oliver’s recipe, only to forget to season the dried up bird altogether. She’s drier than ghandi’s flip flop and she’s tougher than a Tory cutting NHS funding, but by god almighty the last thing you do is tell the cook what you really think. You must mutter how delicious it is whilst helping it down with a gulp of prosecco in-between each bite. If you’re feeling brave, sneak some under the table for the dog. If he’ll have it.

I don’t even like Christmas. Allow me to let you in to a little Christmas secret, no-one cares. Sure the festive spirit isn’t for everyone but you’ve made it this far, so just shove on your paper hat and give the fortune teller fish a go. And if all that fails, pour yourself another tipple and let the alcohol fade out the noise of people actually having fun.

I don’t want to listen to the Queen’s Speech. The Queen hasn’t sat quietly through rumours of her death started by a guy with a penis as his profile pictures and her years of speculation about her husbands infidelity for you to find your Aunt Karen’s story about her bunion operation more interesting than Her Majesty’s speech. It’s just what we Brits do. Like putting the teabag in first or saying Ant before Dec, the Queen’s speech is a quintessential tradition for all households to raise a glass too. And if you’re not a royalist, it’s just another excuse to drink. Hoorah.

Board Games are for kids. Do the kids have to have all the god damn fun on Christmas Day? They’ve already got Santa, let us have Articulate I beg you. From a good old fashioned game of monopoly which no-one enjoys playing, to a game of ‘HEADS UP’ on your little sisters phone (Okay so it’s technically not a board game but it’s the 21st Century guys, save them trees), spending quality time with people you don’t like, playing games you can’t stand is what Christmas is all about. So crack out the Scrabble board, It’s what Jesus would have wanted.

Check out the other blogs in the #12DaysOfChristmas series!

Can you survive a digital detox? | New Years Resolutions

When I was approached by a production company earlier this year about undertaking a Digital Detox experiment for a radio documentary, I smugly accepted. ‘How hard could it be?’

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My phone has been my companion for many years now. My legal guardian who looks after my friendships, keeps me updated with the outside world, entertains me and puts me to sleep at night. The world of Twitter and Instagram acting as my alarm each morning and tucking me in at night. News outlets would be my breakfast date, one thumb firmly stuck to the screen scrolling through the papped pictures of Z-listers and articles on a man in Sheffield who grew a potato which resembled Boris Johnson, the other hand shovelling in the cereals of which I’m not acknowledging the taste. I best get ready for the day. I jump in the shower, my right arm stretched out from under the waterfalls thumping away on the touch keyboard of my phone. Now is the the perfect time to check my emails. The conditioner sits fully soaked in my hair as I click through the link of the ASOS newsletter and end up eight pages deep on their sale section, again. *Ah I just remembered!* The Disney themed PJ’s I spot in the sale remind me of my friend who’s just got back from Disneyland. I open up Facebook and search for their profile, I must brush up on how their trip went before whatsapping them to ask how their trip went. I look down and catch a glimpse of my thighs, is that cellulite glistening amongst the suds of my shower gel? I should probably go to the gym at some point. I open up the gym’s app and scroll down through the classes. I might go to yoga tomorrow night, but I’m sure I’ve got something planned. My thumb hovers over the calendar app and scrolls through the dates- AHA! That’s it, I’m already booked. Dinner with a friend at the new Sri Lankan restaurant in town, the perfect opportunity to get some new Instagram content. Yoga and cellulite will have to wait. Maybe I’ll do some stretches at home. I step out the shower and dry myself with one hand, my eyes fixated to the screen in my palm. Google: Quick Yoga poses you can do at home. I scroll through the articles with little intent, I’m laying down on the bed, my ten fingers wrapped around the device. Ouch. A shooting pain runs through the front of my head. What it could be? I wonder if Google can answer me. Google: Sharp pain on side of head, causes. Brain Cancer. Brain tumour. Blood clot on the brain. I nervously laugh, what does Google know anyway. My phone rings, it’s mum, up pops the front camera. ‘What are you upto?’ Oh nothing much really.’ We FaceTime for half an hour my mum, the dog and me. ‘I’ve got to go, I’ve got things to do’ I close down the screen and open up ‘Notes’. I’ll jot down a to-do list to help motivate me. ‘Head to the gym. Buy some food. Need toilet roll and milk. Check invoices have been paid. Book eyebrows appointment’. I think I deserve a break. It’s lunch time now, what should I make? Google: Healthy lunch recipes for one. Chickpeas, Lentils, Eggs and Salad. As if, my eyes roll as I reach for the tin of beans and sausages. Two minutes on the microwave, what do I do in this wait? I open up Twitter to have a debate. “@_JessicaDavies Are beans a breakfast food or a side dish for dinner?” I scroll through the trending. Impeach him. Man City. #MondayMotivation. PING. Thank god, the timeline had stopped refreshing. My second date of the day, and this one was hot. Beans and sausages and an Instagram bot’. I scroll through the feed as I finish my lunch, then open up WordPress ‘It’s time for some work’ I think. I type and I type, the words flowing out then my thumb reaches down and clicks out of the app. It’s reaching for Insta’, it needs to see more. A mind of its own, it’s becoming a chore. I look at the clock, it’s 1.30pm. I’ll be awake for another twelve hours, I’m sure.

Ditching social media came at the perfect time for me. I was a slave to my screen, brainwashed by the apps. My mind trained never to switch off from the online World, my thumbs muscle memory trained to automatically hover directly over the Instagram spot. I was frustrated, I was tired and I was ready to make a change. The Digital Detox saw me have all my social media passwords changed and the app’s deleted. My online world vanished in a flash. I felt a sigh of relief but also a gasp. What do I do now? How do I bide my time? When I’m waiting in a que until it’s my place in line? When I’m waiting for a mate in a coffee shop or a pub? And where will I post all the pics’ of my grub? I met professionals, professors and influencers throughout the week who gave me some tips on how not to be weak. Do I ask for a selfie? I’ve got no page to update. By the time I’m back online it’ll be four days too late. I spent time getting to know the crew I worked with, chatting and sharing our thoughts and ideas on the car journeys instead of building up an invisible wall and having my nose permanently stuck to my screen in any awkward silences. I took onboard all of the tips the coach gave me, I bought an alarm clock so my phone wasn’t the first thing I see. I felt better, I felt energised, I felt like I’d turned a corner. But just three months on from my experiment and to the digital-free world I’m nothing but a mourner.

I’ve got a new phone, its exciting and new. I’m constantly checking and swiping and scrolling and uploading. I hate the habit I’ve got back into, the addict I’m slowly becoming.

In the New Year I’ve decided to make it my goal to stick to the limiting of my social media usage. I felt so much better when I felt I was utilising my time effectively, and enjoyed engaging with social media more when it was viewed as a reward. This time around I won’t be going into the Digital Detox blind, so hopefully I’ll be able to spot the slip ups more efficiently and correct them before the endless scrolling creeps back into my life again. Do you think you could complete a Digital Detox? What tips would you give to help prepare me for my break offline?

My Digital Detox Documentary is available to listen and download on BBC Sounds here

The soundtrack to your Christmas Party

One drunken Summer evening over a game of Rapidough, you offered up your gaff’ and your Chardonnay stained sofa to hold the Christmas party none of your mates actually want. Fast forward four months and you’re arranging the Kevin the Carrot shaped vol au’ vants on a tin-foil tray in anticipation for your eight guests arrival. Your living room is an all-expense spared venue, littered with cardboard cut-out photo-booth props and some shoddy tinsel you found in the back of the airing cupboard. The £2.99 bottles of Buck’s Fizz are warming up under the glare of some unnecessarily aggressive fairy lights as you FaceTime your mum for the third time just to make sure that 180• is ‘definitely the right temperature’ to cook Asda’s beige snack pack selection. Everything is in place to host the best Crimbo party since 2002 when Uncle Derek passed out in the four-dip selection after one to many Baileys, but alas something is missing. The soundtrack to your evening. The sweet music to your ears. A total cheese fest which will have your guests screaming “PASS ME ANOTHER MULLED WINE GOD DAMNIT”. It’s time to get this party started with the Ultimate Christmas Party Playlist. Forget the Wensleydale, it’s time serve up this cheeseboard of greatness.

Listen through Spotify:

1. Jingle Bell Rock- Bobby Helms.

You must do the Mean Girls’ talent show dance or you simply can’t sit next to us. I don’t care if there’s only three chairs.

2. Get the party started – Pink.

It speaks for itself. A classic. An all guns blazing anthem which will have Linda wishing she never organised childcare for the evening.

3. The Sweet Escape- Gwen Stefani.

This is exactly what your guests will be plotting right about now.

4. All I want for Christmas is you- My Chemical Romance remastered.

Just as your friends thought they had the evening sussed, you throw in a curveball with this reimagined and rather horrific take on Mariah’s classic.

5. Jolene – Dolly Parton.

Pass around the shots of Advocaat, it’s time to start singing.

6. One way or Another – Blondie.

One way or another you’re going to make this party a night to remember. Let’s hope it’s not by food poisoning the guests. Time to lay out the beige buffet.

7. Pony – Ginuwine.

All the women collectively stare at the one semi-attractive looking guy and hope he starts humping a pillow. No such luck yet. Guy sheepishly goes out for a fag.

8. Fairytale of New York- The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl

It’s time to lift the spirits, until someone mentions Kirsty got killed by a boat propellor. Instant mood kill. Make sure your offensive work colleague doesn’t sing the F word. That’s so 1998.

9. Last Christmas- Cascada.

You take full advantage of the mood killer by throwing in this remix. “Who remembers Cascada?!” You shout, trying to stir some nostalgia in the 90’s kids. No-one answers.

10. Let me blow your mind – Eve and Gwen Stefani.

It’s time to break out the big guns. The voul au’ vants are set and the Lambrini is being passed around. Now is your time to shine.

11. Who’s that girl- Eve.

Right off the back of your big debut, the crowd is left wanting more. ‘Who’s that girl?’ They ask. ‘I don’t know, my girlfriend dragged me here’.

12. Good as Hell – Lizzo.

Incase anyone forgot, now’s the time to remind them. You just took a DNA test turns out Uncle Derek isn’t your real uncle after all.

13. Truth Hurts – Lizzo.

Seems fitting following the Uncle Derek confession. You down another shot of Advocaat and reach for the mic tv remote.

14. Super Bass- Nicki Minaj.

Fuck Uncle Derek, you were never that keen on him anyway. Family drama forgotten and the rapping begins.

15. Baby please come home- Mariah Carey.

Someone moaned that you’re not playing enough Christmas music. You hear a mumble coming from the kitchen ‘Baby can we please go home?’

16. Blue Christmas- Michael Bublé.

Shit, you’ve put everyone off going off-pisté with the rap. Time to bring out the golden ticket- Father Christmas himself (aka Michael Bublé)

17. American Boy- Estelle & Kanye West.

A classic of all seasons. An anthem to make everyone join in. Kanye’s part is missing but everyone knows it anyway. ‘Wait. Who the fuck thinks a 5ft 7 guy is just their type?”

18. Dance wiv me- Dizzee Rascal.

You’re practically begging them to get off their feet. Everyone avoids looking you in the eye.

19. Dog Days are Over- Florence and The Machine.

Thank god this thing is wrapping up, who’s idea was this anyway?

20. You’ve got the love – Florence and The Machine.

You push everyone out the door with a half-arsed hug and an enthusiastic ‘We must do this again next year!’. You’re definitely not doing this again next year.

Check out the rest of the #12BlogsOfChristmas !

Top Tips for the perfect Welsh Road Trip in 2020.

National Geographic have listed Wales in their top 20 places to visit in 2020, but of course I already knew that it should be top of your bucket list. I’ve been living in Wales for twenty years, growing up in mid-Wales before moving out of the seaside town of Aberystwyth to embrace the big city lights in Cardiff, where I’ve resided for the last seven years. In 2019, I decided to embark on a few Welsh Road Trips of my own, visiting places all over Wales on a low-budget adventure with my mates to discover more about the land I call home. I’ve put together my top tips and recommendations of where to go, where to stay and what to do when you embark on your own tour of Cymru next year. Beware, you may just need a raincoat.

Where to go:

Mid-Wales

Often overlooked when it comes to ‘Top Attractions’ and ‘Must see’ lists, Mid-Wales holds a nostalgic charm which you won’t find elsewhere. It’s Victorian towns are somewhat rundown, suffering from lack of funding plunged into the South. But the 1920’s style Piers which are now home to nightclubs and the tongue-tizzling smell of the chip fryers which fill the air will have you longing for your seaside holidays as a child.

Aberystwyth would be the top of my list, for it’s charm alone will intoxicate you, but the thirty-odd pubs all within a 0.5mile radius will also help you out. Thrust into the spotlight after it’s appearance in Netflix’s The Crown Season 3, this charming seaside town is the best place for a pub crawl #culture. Be sure to stop by Downies for an Admiral (a 4 shot of vodka and redbull – the cheap version– concotion which will set you back around £4.50), Rummers Bar for Live Music and The Academy for a game of pool and some people watching- this is the best place to line up the person you’re gonna wanna try and snog later on. There is two and a half nightclubs in the town, Pier Pressure which is for the young un’s and the Pier Brasserie which is a 25+ venue. When I say venue it’s basically a restaraunt of which they clear the tables to allow for a make shift dancefloor. My mum enjoys this spot, if that helps. Head here in the day for some decent food and to watch the famous starlings who live under the Pier. The star of the show is Why Knot Nightclub, which lives behind one suspect doorway. I hear it’s recently had a rennovation and you can now buy noodles from a food station inside the club. What more could you possibly ask for? (There’s a lot left to ask for tbh).

There is some gorgeous foodie spots in town, such as Baravin on the seafront which is probably as trendy as any Aber spot is going to get- they also do a great carbonara, more-ish handmade pizzas and gob-guzzling cocktails. The Ultra Comida is an olives, cheese and stuff shop with a few tables out back for some authentic tapas and wine. The owners run the much-loved Curado tapas restaraunt in the Capital City of Cardiff, so you know you’re in good hands. Y Hen Llew Du is a great spot for homemade pub grub at really decent prices, just beware of the Welsh Social Students who’ll plough in (pun intended) to the pub at night.

Aberystwyth on top of Constitution Hill, taking in the coastline of Aber seen on Netflix's The Crown Tywysog Cymru

When it comes to things to do, this might be where it runs short. The town has several coffee shops you could tour, a seafront pier that any tourist to Aber has to walk down at least once (kick the bar at the end or it didn’t happen), a Castle (just about standing), a one-screen cinema which will transport you back in time and a cliff railway dating back to 1826. TBF I’m selling this pretty well. To soak in the scenery, head to Ynyslas beach a few miles outside of the town for a sandy escape and a Mr Whippy from the Ice-Cream Van which is usually there come rain or shine. A few miles out of town in the other direction you’ll reach Nant-Yr-Arian visitors centre which is famed for its mountain bike trails, scenic walks and daily red-kite feeding sessions. They also have a cafe where you can grab some cake and coffee if ya’ know, the fourteen coffee shops in the town centre weren’t doing it for you. Check out my vlog of Aberystwyth here.

North Wales

Our best kept secret, North Wales is home to some of the most beautiful landscapes on Earth, if I do say so myself. The drive up from the South along the A470 is breath-takingly gorgeous, so much so you won’t give a toss that it’ll take your eight* hours to get anywhere. Full of myths, legends, lakes and Welsh Cakes there is no better place to soak in the fresh Welsh air than up in the Gogs’.

For the last couple years my family and I have been spending the half-term holidays up in Bedd Gelert, a small village in the Snowdonia National Park. It’s set in the valley and is a great place to base yourself if you’re tackling the mountains. An enchanting river runs through the dog friendly village, named after the Kings loyal dog Gelert #RIPBro. There’s a handful of cafés and a couple of pubs, including the Prince Llywelyn pub and hotel which does tasty homemade dishes and lets in your four-legged companions. A few doors down is Cafe Hebog, a rustic cafe serving up some mouth-watering dishes using local Welsh produce. Take a leisurely walk along the river or visit the Sygun Copper Mine nearby for a taste of Welsh history. If you’re setting up camp in Bedd Gelert, or anywhere in North Wales for that matter, mentally prepare yourself that you’ll have to drive to get anywhere or see anything.

Bedd Gelert Llyn Llywelyn Visit Wales Snowdonia National Park

The activities may be sparse, but let the nature around you become your day-out! Experience the elements of Snowdonia, the highest peak in Wales which is just a short drive away, or visit the quaint town Betws-y-Coed for some shopping and a slice of Bara Brith. When visiting North Wales, it’s rule of thumb you have to visit it’s most exciting adventure attraction- Zip World. Spread out across three different sites, Zip World is home to the world’s fastest zip line, the UK’s only mountain go-cart experience, the only Alpine Forest Coaster in the UK and an underground trampoline park, plus loads of other activties AND houses slate-cavern aged cheese – phew!

Where to stay:

Banish the idea that holidays in Wales mean staying in caravan parks (although there’s plenty of those around if you’re after one!), some of the UK’s best hotels sit proudly on our culture enriched soil. From the famous Celtic Manor Resort which greets your eye-line as you venture down the M4, to the 5-star St Davids Hotel & Spa in Cardiff Bay, the rugby star-spotting Vale Resort on the outskirts of Cardiff, and the recently named best hotel in Wales The Angel Hotel in Abergavenny, it’s safe to say we’re not short of luxurious spots. But head further afield to canolbarth Cymru and you’ll be treated to a slightly different staycation. Popping up across the lush landscape of the West are the perfect glamping pods and quirky homes for your big Welsh retreat.

Mid Wales:

Devils Bridge, Aberystwyth. A drop of luxury a short distance from the Hafod Estate in Devils Bridge, Brynllwyd Glamping Pod is the ideal escape to country living. I recently stayed over for my Mum’s birthday and we spent hours cooking pizza on the fire pit and lounging in the hot tub whose spot is perfectly aligned with a view of the sun setting over the rolling hills. There’s no tv here, but you do have your own private lake so I think that’s a fair exchange!

Brnyllwyd Glamping pod with hot tub in Devils Bridge, West Wales

The world-famous village Devils Bridge is a short walking distance away, where you can grab a bite to eat at the Hafod Hotel, ride the Rheidol Steam Railway and explore the mythical waterfalls below the bridge said to be built by the devil himself.

Rates start at £120 p/night. Sleeps up to 5 people. Book direct over on the website or via Air B&B where you can save £25 off your first Air B&B stay with this link https://www.airbnb.co.uk/c/jessicad7768?currency=GBP

Sennybridge, Brecon. If you’re feeling a little more adventurous with your accomodation, this converted vintage chicken house aka Cluckingham Palace is just the spot for you to unwind and become one with the chickens which roam around it. Based in Sennybridge, just a short drive away from the town of Brecon, this is the ideal spot to set up camp if you’re exploring the local trails of the Brecon Beacons or heading up Pen-y-Fan. Think of it as camping but with a roof, the exotic indian designed hut sleeps two people and has a log burner inside to keep you warm. Outside is the toilet and a shower head, and the small cooking area where two freshly laid eggs await you.

Converted Chicken Shed Glamping in Brecon Beacons

There may not be a hot tub, but there is a victorian hip bath for your use where you can bask in the glory of the sun and the sheep-filled fields that surround you. There’s a couple good pubs close by (around a ten minute drive) where you can fill up on fish-n-chips before snuggling down by candle light in the converted chicken shed. Check out my vlog of my stay.

Rate starts at £50 p/night. Sleeps 2. Book via Air B&B and save £25 off your first Air B&B stay with this link https://www.airbnb.co.uk/c/jessicad7768?currency=GBP

North Wales

Bustling B&B’s and quaint cottages are scattered across the Northern range, but my favourite spots include a hot tub and a hut. Do we see a trend occuring?

Bedd Gelert, Snowdonia.

A pricier alternative to the small wooden huts, the Forest Holidays luxurious log cabins are the ultimate spot to unwind. The Bedd Gelert site is still quite new, meaning everything is up to date and the hot-tubs blast out the bubbles for your relaxing big bath. Star-gaze from the tub with a glass of bubbly in hand, or cosy-down in front of the log fire and watch a movie from the film selection available.

Forest Holidays Bedd Gelert Snowdonia stay

There’s an on-site kitchen which can deliver pizzas and curries to your door, as well as on-hand staff who host activities for little ones. The Welsh Highland Railway stops at the camp so you can jump on and off to explore the surroundings, or wave to the passengers from your tub.

Prices vary. Sleeps from 2-10 people. Book direct at https://www.forestholidays.co.uk

Check out the other entries in the #12BlogsOfChristmas

The Alternative Christmas Soundtrack: Podcast reviews

Nothing screams ‘it’s festive season’ like belting out Mariah Carey’s All I want for Christmas whilst decorating the tree, but sometimes we could all do with a break from the festivities (December is a long month right?) To help drown out the noise this Christmas, I’ve reviewed three of my favourite podcasts.

Happy Place Podcast with Fearne Cotton

Happy Place with Fearne Cotton

A special space for mindful conversations, Happy Place with Fearne Cotton was the first podcast which had me hooked. A follow up to her hit book ‘HAPPY’, Fearne uses the podcast as a platform to share her own experiences with mental health and explore the topic of feeling blue with a variety of well-known and inspiring guests.

The topic of happiness leaves an open invitation to endless conversation; What is being happy? And can you ever truly reach a state of happiness? The subject matter may seem a heavy one, but what Fearne is best at is making you feel as if you’re sat in your own living room having a natter over a cuppa tea with your mates. This easy-going approach to what are hard-hitting issues including depression, heartbreak and addiction allows you to reflect on your own emotions, and sit comfortably in the thought that it’s okay to not be okay. Featured guests range from the extremely funny Dawn French in the first series of the podcast, to none other than former secretary of state and leading ‘Nasty Woman’ Hilary Rodham Clinton in more recent episodes. Lesser known names but equally as inspiring, are the likes of writer, journalist and all round bad-ass Bryony Gordon, and Poorna Bell who courageously leads a discussion on grief after losing her husband to heroin addiction.

This heart-warming club of which we are all invited to join is Fearne’s greatest work yet, and I’ve blissfully adopted her noteful ‘Mmmmm’s into my every day life. Insightful, endearing and a virtual hug through your headphones, this podcast is perfect for anyone who needs a little extra support this Christmas.

Happy Place is available on all podcast platforms, for more info click here.

My Dad wrote a Porno

My Dad wrote a porno

I mean, it’s quite literally what it says on the tin. Jamie Morton’s dad wrote a porno, or to be specific- a dirty book about the pots and pans industry and a horny AF women called Belinda. But instead of burning it on the log fire and gifting his Dad coal for Christmas, Jamie turned his Dad’s filthy thoughts into a groundbreaking comedy podcast. I mean seriously, he really did. Joined by his two best mates Alice Levine and James Cooper, the cringed out trio narrate the books whilst picking apart the porn inside. It’s simply genius. The child-like laughter at the mention of bodily fluids and the grossed out sighs let-out by the three friends as they bond over the ludacris which is Jamie’s Dad’s sexual fantasies, teleport you right back to when you accidentally first watched a sex scene on the tv with your parents. Imagine Kevin and Perry Goes Large, but in 2019. No thank you Mrs Patterson.

The show has become a cultural phenomenom, touring the World as a Live show and garnering a loyal celebrity following. Ever thought you’d hear Lin-Manuel Miranda review an independent porn fiction? Well now you can with the addition of the Footnotes episodes. This podcast is probably not one to listen to whilst dishing out dinner with your gran (be sure to scrub those pots and pans kids), but it certainly will help break the ice at a work’s Christmas do’.

My Dad wrote a porno is available on all podcast platforms, for more info click here

The Guilty Feminist with Deborah Frances-White

The Guilty Feminist Podcast

I’m a feminist but I got paid money to pose topless for men’s magazines, and I enjoyed it. Yep, I think I qualify for a membership into this movement.

This comedy podcast is anchored by tear-rollingly funny comedian Deborah Frances-White, as White and her panel of mischevious accomplices share their 21st Century Feminist views, along with their insecurities, hypocrisies and fears that undermine them. As a self-confessed feminist who’s outspoken about the movement, I am all to aware of my actions, morals and principles which pop up on a regular basis and scream ‘BAD FEMINIST! BAD FEMINIST! GET DOWN FROM THAT MAN!”. Whilst we live in a society which continues to scrutinise eachother’s every move (can you be a feminist and get a bikini wax!?) this refreshingly honest series allows women across the World to breathe, and remember we are not perfect. Think you thought you knew what a Feminist was? Think again.

The show is filmed in front of a live audience and carries a similar feel to panel shows such as ‘Mock the Week’, keeping the content light in it’s delivery, but heavy in it’s topics. White is joined by a variety of guests, from fellow comedians to trail blazers and ambassador’s. This series provides women with a safe space to share their anger at the patriarchal society, whilst also admitting that we secretly like it when you pay for dinner. Me? Guilty as charged.

The Guilty Feminist is available on all podcast platforms. For more information click here

Check out the other blogs in the 12 Blogs Of Christmas and let me know what your fave podcast is!

The Ultimate Gift Guide for Women, by a woman.

The Ultimate Christmas Gift guide for women by women. Shop gift ideas for your mum, sister and girlfriend

Whilst the promise of an over-priced mulled wine and an Instagram pic’ opportunity at the local Christmas Market may be enough to entice the woman in your life out onto the shopper-littered streets, personally you couldn’t think of anything worse than pulling on your beanie hat and tackling the dreaded Christmas shop. As the 1st of December hits and the festive reality sinks in, men across the land let out collective sighs of ‘What the hell am I going to get Mum this year?‘ and ‘Girls are so difficult to shop for!‘. But Christmas shopping for your girlfriend doesn’t have to end in a last-minute dash to Boots on Christmas Eve.

I’ve put together the ultimate gift guide for women, by a woman which will save your Mum from another bath bomb set and have your wife gleefully unwrapping your sack this year. It’s a Christmas miracle!

1. The Happiness Planner 2020

thehappinessplanner.com, £36.34.

The Happiness Planner 2020 - Perfect Christmas Gift for your sister
The Happiness Planner 2020: Spiral Bound

Set her up for a goal-kicking 2020 with this journal. Jam-packed with mindful text and inspirational activities to release the bad-ass woman inside, this on-trend, pastel-hue diary with a twist will have her breaking down ceilings and conquering her goals before you can say ‘Nasty Woman’.

For: Your yogi-loving younger sister.

Price: £36.34

Shop at thehappinessplanner.com

2. Our Special Place Scented Candle by Illumer

notonthehighstreet.com, from £29

The Perfect Gift for your Girlfriend this Christmas. Personalised Candle of your special place
Our Special Place Candle by ILLUMER

Show her that you really do remember making those memories with this personalised map detail scented candle. A gold love heart marks the spot, putting your special place on the map and confirming your spot as the romantic one out of all her mates BF’s. If you really want to show off, add your own message to the lid and secure your space in the boyfriend hall of fame forever.

For: The Australian girlfriend you met on your gap year.

Price: from £29

Shop at notonthehighstreet.com

3. Personalised Jute Bag by Tillyanna

www.joules.com , £30 – *CURRENTLY £27 IN THE BLACK FRIDAY SALE! Plus Free Standard Delivery

The Perfect Christmas Gift for a teacher, your mum, your sister and wife. Save on the Black Friday Sale!
Name and Location Jute Bag by Tillyanna

Most women only want two things- to save the planet and look stylish doing so. Okay, that’s a total exaggeration, but it’s a damn good place to start. Help set her up for the day with this practical jute bag, big enough to hide a bottle of sauvignion in on parents evenings.

For: Your clever AF wife.

Price: £30 (£27 in the Black Friday Sale)

Shop at www.joules.com

4. Onno Indoor Plant Pot, Hortology

hortology.co.uk, from £27.99

A trendy vintage plant pot for your mum or your nan. The perfect Christmas Gift

Indoor plants are having their en vogue moment right now, and with cacti and succulents leading the pack even the laziest of green fingers can get involved with this trend. Add some colour into her life with this on-trend plant pot. Note, you’ll probably want to buy a plant for her too.

For: Your mum who’s sick of scarves.

Price: from £27.99 , bag a discount when you sign up to their newsletter.

Shop at hortology.co.uk

5. Evangelisque Body, Ann Summers.

annsummers.com , £50 – *CURRENTLY HALF PRICE IN THE BLACK FRIDAY SALE!!! NOW ONLY £25.00

Treat your partner to some sexy lingerie this Christmas. This lingerie is perfect for your girlfriend and wife.
Evangelisque Body, Ann Summers

Don’t shy away from buying your partner sexy lingerie. Receiving a sexy gift could be the ego boost she is looking for and can remind her that you still fancy her and want to see her looking- and most importantly feeling beautiful. This body is a flattering design which covers the stomach (an area many women are self-conscious about) while still showing off those gorgeous curves of hers. Tip: Nose through her underwear drawer in the least pervy way possible to find out her size, choosing the wrong one could be a touchy subject.

For: The fiánce who needs to take her mind off the wedding planning.

Price: £50, sign up to their newsletter for discounts. – CURRENTLY £25.00 IN THE BLACK FRIDAY SALE!

Shop at annsummers.com

6. Isla Chunky Throw, Urban Outfitters

urbanoutfitters.com , £60 – *NOW £30 IN THE BLACK FRIDAY SALE! PLUS AND EXTRA 20% 0FF WITH DISCOUNT CODE EXTRA20

The perfect Christmas Gift for your girlfriend, sister or best friend. This chunky warm vintage style blanket
Isla Chuky Throw Blanket, Urban Outfitters

A blanket worth staying in for. Snuggle on down to Netflix and Chill in this chunky crochet inspired throw, big enough for two. The neutral tone will fit right in with any room decor.

For: The second-year student girlfriend. Keep away from thieving housemates.

Price: £60.00 – CURRENTLY £24.00 IN THE BLACK FRIDAY SALE WITH CODE EXTRA20

Shop at urbanoutfitters.com

7. Tanya Whitebits Self Tan Bronzing Mousse

tanyawhitebits.co.uk , £16.99

The perfect fake tan! The best self-tan. Shop beauty for your girlfriend
Tanya Whitebits Self Tanning Mousse 200ml

Stop trying to fight the self-tan battle with your GF because you’re never going to win. Instead, get on board and introduce her to the perfect Summer glow with this tanning mousse, made of organic and natural ingredients. No more biscuit smell for you, no more patchy tan for her- win win!

For: Your New Years Eve Party Date- *probably won’t recommend as a gift if it’s your first date, although it’d certainly break the ice.

Price: £16.99

Shop at tanyawhitebits.co.uk

8. Weirdo Hand Embroidered Velvet Cushion by Jordan Lovella

etsy.com/uk , £26

The perfect personalised Christmas Present for your sister or your mum. A hand-embroidered cushion case.
Weirdo Hand Embroidered Velvet Cushion by Jordan Lovella

Actions speak louder than words, and your older sister never lets you get a word in edge ways anyway. Share the sibling banter and say it with a cushion. Check out the seller’s etsy shop as they also do customised requests, in case you’ve got something personal to get off your chest.

For: Your bossy older sister who used to eat worms as a kid.

Price: £26

Shop at etsy.com/uk

9. Three Month Flower Subscription, Bloom & Wild

bloomandwild.com, from £65 – *BLACK FRIDAY SALE! SAVE 15% OFF WITH CODE BRIGHTFRI

The perfect Christmas Gift for your Nan or Grandma or Mum. A flower subscription the personal touch
Three month Flower Subscription, Bloom and Wild

Because giving isn’t just for Christmas. Buy your loved one a flower subscription and spread the Christms cheer throughout the year. Starting off with a 3-month option and expanding to a years subscription, this gift is perfect for your gran who’ll appreciate the virtual hug and gentle reminder that you’re thinking of her throughout the year.

For: Your loveable Nan who you don’t get to see as much as you’d like.

Price: Starting at £65 for three months

Shop at bloomandwild.com

10. Fujifilm Instax Mini 9

very.co.uk, £64.99 – *CURRENTLY £57.99 IN THE BLACK FRIDAY SALE!

The perfect Christmas Gift for teens, for your daughter and for your friend. This polaroid camera is perfect for festivals and special memories

OKAY Boomer. So you blinked and suddenly your little girl is now a teenager and your once hero status has been demoted to embarassing dad. Gain brownie points fast with this purple instax mini camera, perfect for capturing all those totes emosh moments with her BFF’s.

For: Your Instagram obsessed teenage Daughter

Price: £64.99 – *CURRENTLY £57.99 IN THE BLACK FRIDAY SALE!

Shop at very.co.uk

11. Cat Shaped Himalayan Salt Lamp

sourcediy.com, £17.59

A mindful Christmas present for the yogi in your family. The perfect gift for cat lovers
Cat shaped Himalayan Salt Lamp

It’s so ugly that it’s bloody great. This pussycat shaped salt lamp will serve more purpose than just looking ghastly on a cat lovers bedside table. Himalayan salt lamps work as natural ionisers, helping to keep the air clean and give off the perfect orange-y hue to relax under after a long day at work. I personally think everyone should own one of these lamps, they add such a comforting glow to a room and make the perfect gift.

For: Your mum, your girlfriend, your wife, and you.

Price: £17.59

Shop at sourcediy.com – if the kitty isn’t doing it for you, you can purchase a crystal shaped lamp here.

12. Rose Quartz Face Roller, Oliver Bonas

oliverbonas.com , £25

The perfect Christmas Gift for beauty lovers. Rose Quartz Face Roller, the best gift for your sister

The must-have accessory of the season, the Rose Quartz Face Massage rollers are said to encourage lymphatic circulation and drainage, and cell turnover, which helps to reduce tension and inflammation in the skin. They also wipe away your tears when you’re feeling a little down. Sounds like a winner to me.

For: Your hormonal lover who doesn’t want to get dressed unless it involves going out to buy Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream.

Price: £25

Shop at oliverbonas.com


Ho Ho Hope you enjoy shopping for your loved ones, remember it’s not the gift but the thought that counts. And if all else fails, women fucking love chocolate. Or wine. Chocolate and wine.

Keep an eye out for the other blogs featuring in the #12BlogsOfChristmas