BLOGMAS DAY 16: PADDINGTON CHRISTMAS MARKETS

It’s Blogmas day 16! I’ve found it quite difficult to find any Christmas markets around Sydney compared to all the German markets back home, so when I found out that there was a one-night event going on in Paddington I had to clear my plans and go. It rained all day yesterday which gave it a more Christmassy feel but it was still pretty warm so I popped on a cardigan and my Manchester Surf Society woolly hat and headed out.

When we walked into the hall there were a few stalls here and there, with a young guy playing guitar who was pretty damn talented by the way. Check out his Facebook page here. However the stall that caught my eye was the ‘Oh Fudge’ counter. Sold here were a variety of unique flavours of fudge and because you could try a sample before you bought them I tried pretty much all of them. They ranged from M&M chocolate, lemon meringue, Malteser, sour apple and watermelon, caramel, salted caramel, hazelnut coffee nougat, milk and cookies, and birthday cake. Birthday cake tasted like the cake batter before you put it in the oven which was tasty, but the caramel fudge tasted so much like Scottish Tablet I just had to buy a block.

As we walked around we passed a stall that sold candles with scents such as “Bondi Dreams”. I thought about buying a skull candle but then remembered it would probably set off the hostel’s fire alarm. There were a few stalls selling gift sets and soaps which were so lovely, and others selling handmade crafts and paintings. A personal favourite of mine was Bronte Goodison’s artwork, whose website you can find here. I fell in love with her paintings and would have gladly bought a load if I had somewhere to put them. You could tell how much time and effort was put into each piece, and a particular favourite of mine and Sophia’s was the world map.

I had actually forgotten that Helen was going to be working until I walked past the Massage Envy stall and saw her handing out flyers. I got a free 10 minute massage from one of her colleagues which was absolute bliss, and then headed off for some dinner at the hot dog stand with my mince pies.

Even though it was only a very small market and all I bought was food because I’m on a budget it was a nice evening out and finally something festive to do in Sydney.

Until tomorrow

Liv

xo

BLOGMAS DAY 15: THIS TIME LAST YEAR

Blogmas day 15 is upon us and the weather in Sydney is 18 degrees, dull and raining. Its so weird how the past few days have been scorching hot at 35 degrees but overnight the temperature has dropped by nearly half. Actually I don’t know why I find that odd considering the weather back home dramatically changes every hour…

I’m currently waiting for three packages to arrive from home which I’m super excited for because they’re all from my Mum and I don’t actually know what’s in the first parcel, so it’s going to be a nice surprise when it finally arrives. This time last year I would have still been in my student house juggling a load of uni deadlines and starting my revision for January exams. As I mentioned in a previous post I’m appreciative that I’ve got a break this year from the stress of uni work so I can enjoy Christmas without having revision and deadlines on the back of my mind. I worked so much during college and uni to the point where my Mum banned me from revising on Christmas Day because I needed a break.

Usually my Mum and I spend the day watching festive films and eating our body weight in Christmas food, but last year we decided to do something different and head up north to Glasgow to spend it with family. This was really nice because it meant I got to see my favourite pooches, Cody and Skye, and see my Gran and Granda around the holidays which I don’t usually get to do. Scotland is freezing, and I mean FREEZING, this time of year which does make it feel more festive but at the same time I hate waking up cold in the morning. 

I think it’s nice to experience Christmas somewhere other than what you’re used to, which is why I’m glad I’m in Australia this year. Home will always be there for when I eventually come back, and I’m sure once I’m back I’ll be complaining about how much I miss the beach days and hot weather.

Until tomorrow,

Liv

xo

BLOGMAS DAY 12: STAFF BOAT PARTY SHENANIGANS


Hello hello and welcome to Blogmas day 12! Last night was the Wake Up staff Christmas party, and what better way to celebrate than on a boat!? I was sober pretty much the whole night because I’m not a big drinker but my goodness I’m feeling exhausted today. 12 hours of being out in the sun and partying really takes it out of you.

We started at 1pm in Roy’s cafe until a private bus took us to King Street Brewhouse in Darling Harbour. This is where I started to feel light-headed because of the heat so I stopped drinking, but everyone else was starting to get quite merry which was a great sight to see. At 4 our boat arrived and we boarded. I’ve never been on a private boat before so I felt proper fancy and the staff were so lovely. It was free alcohol the whole time we were on there and a DJ played inside the lower level. We cruised out of Darling Harbour, under the Harbour Bridge and past the Opera House, up to a secluded beach in North Sydney, and bearing in mind we were on the boat for around 2 hours before we docked it was safe to say most people were already steaming by the time we got there. 

Getting off the boat with a load of inflatable unicorns and rafts was interesting to say the least, the parents on the beach looked a bit baffled but the kids ended up playing with the inflatable raft so at least they were content. My personal favourite was the inflatable unicorns, which were like the swans I always see on the YouTube summer parties and luxury instagram pages so I was really in my element at that point. Oh and did I mention FREE PIZZA? Free Dominos is the way to my heart and there was enough to feed us three times over, so thanks Dave and Dev!

After a few too many slices of pizza and a game of cricket we boarded the boat and made our way back to Darling Harbour. By this point you could see how drunk people were and I’m surprised no one fell overboard (here’s looking at you, Tiemen)… The two hour journey back was filled with music, drinking and a lot of bad singing, if you can even call it singing. I don’t have any photos from after we got off the boat but we went to Cargo and ended up back at Side Bar. 

It was such a great night and I’m so glad I get to live and work with these lot, they’ve really made my time in Sydney a memorable experience and I’m going to be so lost without them when I eventually leave Australia (if I leave, that is). Hope you all enjoy my collection of favourite photos from the day! Most were taken on my Go Pro but some were from other people’s cameras and phones so apologies that they’re all different sizes and filters.









Much love,

Wake Up Family

xo

BLOGMAS DAY 11: MY CHRISTMAS PLAYLIST


Hello and welcome to Blogmas day 11! Today’s post is going to be much shorter than usual as I’ve been working this morning and then have my staff Christmas boat party in just over two hours. Now that it’s only two weeks until Christmas I’ve started my journey of listening to festive songs as much as possible to the point where I’ll probably be sick of them by next week. So to mark the start of my festive listening I’ve put together a playlist of my favourite Christmas songs.

 

Rocking Around The Christmas Tree – Brenda Lee
Most Wonderful Time of the Year – Andy Williams
All I Want for Christmas – Mariah Carey
It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like ChristmasPerry Como ft. Fontane Sisters
Jingle Bell Rock
– Bobby Helms
Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow! – Frank Sinatra
I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday – Wizzard
Last Christmas – Wham!
Fairytale of New York – The Pogues ft. Kirsty MacColl
Santa Claus is Coming to Town Jackson 5

All of these songs are the classics you’ll find on every Christmas album, but they never get old. I mean, if they got old they wouldn’t be called classics, right? I’ve probably forgotten a few from the list that I’ll realise when I start clicking around on YouTube for other people’s playlists, but for now those are my ultimate favourites.

 

I’m off to get very merry at my staff party so until tomorrow guys,
Liv
xo

 

BLOGMAS DAY 10: TOP 5 UNDER £5


Oh wow we’re in double digits now people, blogmas day 10 is here! I’ve got a jam-packed weekend so today and tomorrow’s posts are going to be short and sweet. Have you ever been stuck on what to get someone for Secret Santa or find yourself browsing for ages trying to find little bits and bobs to fill up a stocking with? Well look no further because I’m about to give you a quick rundown of 5 gift ideas I’ve found to fill a stocking with that won’t break the budget!

1. Chocolate 
Whether it be a Terry’s Chocolate Orange or a bag of gold coins, I always had some sort of chocolate treat in my stocking from my Mum. They’re great for nibbling on throughout the day while you’re waiting for that heavenly Roast to cook.

2. Lush bath bombs
Because you can never go wrong with a good lush product. If you’re stuck on which one to get there are so many blog posts and YouTube videos of Lush hauls with reviews and recommendations on a variety of products.

3. Fluffy socks 
They don’t necessarily have to be Christmas themed, even if they’re just stripy or a plain fall colour I still love receiving a new pair of cosy socks for Christmas. Plus they’ll get you through the rest of Winter and come on, if you live in the UK they’ll get you through “Summer” too.

4. Books  
I don’t know about anyone else but if I was given a new book in my stocking I’d be proper pleased, and I’m sure fellow book enthusiasts would agree. You can buy books from Amazon for as little as £3.65 and pay no extra for shipping if you have Prime.

5. Festive phone case 
What better way to get into the the Christmas spirit than to Christmas-ify (I’m going to count that as a word for now) your phone?! Amazon sell loads of cases for an affordable price, and if you’re a Prime customer some of them come with free next day delivery. You might want to give this present a little earlier than Christmas day though so they can get more wear out of it, unless you’re like me and will continue to have Christmas decorations up for as long as possible, even after the day has been and gone.

So that’s my little list of gift ideas under £5. This week I might do a Top 10 Under £10 post but as I’ve got a really busy weekend ahead I only had time for a short post today. Tomorrow is our staff Christmas boat party so I’ll do a photo set on Monday of our shenanigans if it’s not too crazy, which it probably will be…
Until tomorrow guys,
Liv
xo

BLOGMAS DAY 9: FAVOURITE CHRISTMAS ADVERTS


Hello and welcome to Blogmas day 9! Every year I look forward to seeing all the new Christmas advert air on TV and as soon as the Coca Cola ad comes on for the first time everyone knows the countdown to Christmas day has begun. Personally I think the UK always has the best Christmas adverts, so even though I’ve not been home this holiday season and don’t have access to live British TV I’ve still been keeping up with all the adverts through Youtube and Facebook, and for today’s blogmas post I’ve compiled a list of a few of my favourites. Instead of having a post full of videos I’ve just linked them in instead, so if you click on the name of each advert company it’ll take you to the video on Youtube. Coca Cola would be on here but I feel like it’s already implied that it’s one of my favourite ads.

Heathrow Airport – Coming Home for Christmas
When I first watched this ad I thought it was going to be about a child losing their teddy bears and Heathrow getting them back safely, but this wasn’t the case and I was pleasantly surprised by the twist at the end.

John Lewis – Buster the Boxer
Although The Journey (2012) and Man on the Moon (2015) are two of my absolute favourites and always brought a tear to my eye, John Lewis still did well with this year’s advert and I love all the little woodland creatures too.

Apple –  Frankie’s Holiday
With a Christmas twist on Frankenstein I really did have a tear escape whilst watching this. I like that the Apple product isn’t the centre of the ad, but rather spreading Christmas cheer and making sure everyone is included.

ALDI Australia –  Nothing Beats the Perfect Aussie Christmas
This one really made me laugh. It focuses on getting an Aussie family into the Christmas spirit like the rest of the world who celebrate it in Winter and don’t celebrate the day with a BBQ in the sun. I think the whole advert is really well done and

M&S – Christmas With Love From Mrs Claus
“Don’t forget Australia” “I won’t. Easily done.”
This year M&S have showcased Mrs Claus as the main savior of Christmas and shows that family is the most important thing, even if you do annoy each other sometimes.

WWF UK – #iProtectTigers
This is a really heartwarming advert and usually I only see Christmas ads promoting clothes or food stores, so it’s nice to see an animal charity one too this year.

I have a couple of other ads I really liked this year too, and like I said the Coca Cola one would be on here but it’s usually the same one every year so I’d rather showcase some of the newer ones in this post.

Until tomorrow,
Liv
xo

BLOGMAS DAY 8: CHRISTMAS COOKIE CHAOS

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Oh my goodness I’ve been so excited for this post. Welcome to Blogmas day 8! Ever since Helen moved to Coogee we’ve been saying we’re going to take full advantage of the oven and cook some festive treats. Trying to find a day where we’re both off work has been a little hard but we found the time and I’ve been so excited to finally bake and make this post. We got the recipe from food.com but I’ll note down the recipe and instructions anyway because it was so fun to do and we hit a few bumps along the way. This recipe was for gluten-free gingerbread cookies as Helen is Coeliac, check out her blog here as she’s written a post about her experience with it and our cookie making skills.

Ingredients:
2 cups gluten-free flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 pinch of salt (we forgot to put this in)
1 egg
125g butter
1/4 cup golden syrup
1/2 cup brown sugar
Icing sugar
Red food dye

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So we whisked together the butter and brown sugar, which was so messy because the butter wasn’t that soft, even after placing it in the pre-heated oven (170 degrees Celsius) for a few minutes. After whisking in the golden syrup and egg we added all the dry ingredients and mixed them in gradually until we had quite a thick dough. A quick lick of the spoon and it was ready to be covered and refrigerated. Depending on the temperature of your fridge I’d recommend varying the length of time you keep it in there for. The instructions say 1 hour but when we took it out and tried to knead it it was still very wet in the centre. This might have been due to the amount of flour we put in the mix but we stuck to the recipe so maybe not.

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This is where the chaotic part came into play. First off we didn’t have a rolling pin so we had to cover a glass in flour and just go with it, then we discovered how sticky and wet the dough was when we tried to cut shapes into it because we didn’t have any shape cutters either. It got EVERYWHERE.

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So ditching our original plan of cutting them into candy cane and snowflake shapes (we were just going to draw shapes onto paper, cut them out then slice around them), we just rolled the dough into small to medium sized balls, placed them into the cake tin and flattened them into circles from there. This turned out to be so much easier than cutting into the sticky batter but although the recipe said it made 30 we only got 12. We probably could have stretched it to 16 if we didn’t rinse away all the batter that got stuck to our hands and chopping board.

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The oven was already heated at 170 and the instructions recommend around 15 minutes. The cookies rose a significant amount so they turned out a bit thicker than expected and a few stuck together. They took around 20 minutes to bake, give or take a few minutes, as we took out the top tray first and let the bottom tray bake for a tad longer. Waiting for them to cool was so tedious because all we wanted to do was get stuck into icing and decorating them. Once they had cooled down enough we made up two bowls of icing sugar; one red, one white.

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Because there were 12 we decided to just decorate 6 each whatever way we wanted. A really good idea we had for this was to create little makeshift piping bags from sandwich bags, so we poured the icing into separate pouches, squeeze them into on corner and cut a tiny bit of the corner off. This turned out to be a lot easier and more efficient than spreading it with a knife or pouring it on with a spoon as it made the icing flat and even and it allowed us to decorate them with patterns. And voila! The finished product:

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Granted our icing skills may need a little work but they tasted delicious. I’m so pleased with how these turned out and even though they’re still really sugary they’re a tad healthier than normal because they’re gluten-free. We’re planning on making a festive cake a few days before Christmas, so keep your eyes peeled for that post nearer to the 25th. After the clean up was done and the icing had dried we enjoyed them with a nice cup of tea in the sun.

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Oops. All gone!

 

Until tomorrow guys,
Liv
xo

BLOGMAS DAY 6: RAINY DAYS AND SANTA’S NEW SLEIGH

Welcome to Blogmas day 6! I’m feeling very happy and festive today as there was a thunder and lightning storm yesterday and torrential rain today. Usually I would hate it as there’s not really much to do in Sydney when the weather’s like this but as I’ve been missing home recently it’s made me feel better. I know once Christmas passes I’ll be back to my old merry self and it’s completely normal to get a little homesick over the holidays so I’m sure I’m not the only one. Today Maya and I braced the storm and did a grocery shop at Woolies. There are so many festive treats I want to buy right now but to avoid putting on a load of Christmas weight I’m going to have to pace myself. In saying that though I bought a Terry’s Chocolate Orange and demolished it within a few hours so…

My day was proper made though on the way back to Wake Up when we crossed the road to see the front of a bus decorated for the season. And who was driving this bus I hear you ask? Santa himself of course! This driver must really love his job and it put a smile on everyone’s face at the crossing. As we were walking in front he shouted Merry Christmas out the window to everyone, so lovely! 


Just a short and sweet post today as I’ve not really done anything and I didn’t get in until 2:30 last night then slept until midday, whoops… I’m going to blame that one on the Dutchies. December 5th is their Sinterklaas celebration, so they played gift swapping games and drank the night away. It was really interesting to watch and learn about because we don’t have traditions like that back home, and being taught about traditions from other countries and cultures is something I really enjoy. 

Helen and I are baking tomorrow so keep your eyes peeled for that upcoming post.
Until tomorrow,

Liv

xo

BLOGMAS DAY 5: DECEMBER BUCKET LIST


Hello hello! Seen as we’re still only a few days into December I still have time to make a list of a few things I want to do this month and try to get through them all. Whilst I’m writing this there’s a huge thunder and lightning storm going on outside and I think every British traveler in the hostel is rejoicing because now it feels more Christmassy, even if it is for just one day. Anyway, on with my December bucket list!

See the Christmas tree light show at Martin Place.
The light show at Martin Place is on every night so I’ll be able to do this one at any time before the 25th. They had a big switch on show at the end of November but I was working so didn’t get to go, but I’ve seen the tree in the daytime and you can send a text message to it and get it featured on the banner that wraps around the tree. They have a choir performing every night along with the light show and a cafe serving hot food and drinks so it should be a lovely night.

Bake festive cookies or mince pies.
Helen and I are using the oven in her house to bake this week but we’ve not decided what we’re actually going to make yet. There’s plenty of time to try out a load of different treats but it’s difficult to narrow it down to a select few considering there are so many amazing looking recipes on Pinterest.

Have a BBQ on the beach wearing a Santa hat.
This seems very specific but it’s a tradition every year here that around Christmas you go to the beach all wearing Santa hats and have a classic Aussie BBQ. I don’t plan on skipping over this tradition as it’s something I’d really like to experience while I’m here and really get into the Aussie way of life.

Go ice skating.
That I know of there are no outdoor ice rinks in the city, however Maya and I had a quick look online and found just a normal, indoor rink in Alexandria near to where we went trampolining. It’s only a few stops away on the train so to remind us what the cold actually feels like we’re planning on going ice skating within the next week or so.

Watch a Christmas film at an open air cinema
Ben and Jerry’s Open Air Cinema has just released its Christmas schedule, with films like Elf, Love Actually, and Footloose being shown over the next few weeks. They’re even giving out free tubs of ice cream at every Sunday viewing! I’ve always wanted to go to an outdoor cinema so now seems like the perfect opportunity, especially because they’re showing Christmas movies.

Watch the fireworks at Darling Harbour.
Three months I’ve been in Sydney now and I’ve still not seen the Darling Harbour fireworks! They’re usually on every Saturday so my cousin and I planned to go on the 5th of November to celebrate Bonfire Night, but when we got there we found out they were cancelled which was pretty frustrating. That I know of they’re showing on specific dates from now until January 28th, so my next Saturday off work I’m going to head down to the harbour and finally watch them.
I’m sure I’ll think of a load of other things I want to do before Christmas, but for now these six are at the top of my list. I’ll do a review post when I tick each one of the list, so already that’s six days of Blogmas planned out!

Until tomorrow,
Liv
xo

BLOGMAS DAY 4: 10 THINGS I’M GRATEFUL FOR THIS HOLIDAY SEASON


Blogmas day 4 is upon us, and if you’re getting to these posts through my Facebook or Instagram you’re probably getting sick of me spamming your feed every night/morning, depending on whether you’re here in sunny Australia or back home in England. I thought I would care about annoying people with it but I don’t, I needed a way to get back into writing and blogging and this so far has been the perfect way, especially because it’s getting me into the Christmas spirit too. This year I’m spending Christmas thousands of miles away from home, which has made me appreciate everything so much more. So today’s post is dedicated to bringing to light 10 things I’m grateful for this holiday season and hopefully it will make others think about what they have too.

1. Friends
When I first came to Australia I was so worried I wasn’t going to find a good group of people who I’d be really close with, but as soon as I moved into Wake Up and met everyone in room 406 I knew I had been worried over nothing. Even after the original group had gone their separate ways I continued to make friends with the people coming and going, then became part of the family when I became staff. For Christmas we’re going to Coogee beach for a BBQ and a few of us are going to Helen’s for a traditional English roast, so right now I’m grateful that I’ve met such a wonderful group of friends and can create these memories with them.

2. The opportunity to travel
I had been planning on coming to Australia for two years prior to arriving, so to actually be here now still feels surreal. This year I’m grateful to have the chance to travel and spend New Year’s Eve watching the fireworks at the Sydney harbour bridge and opera house, which has been on my bucket list for as long as I can remember.

3. Living in Sydney
This follows on nicely from my last point. Sydney is such an expensive city but I’ve been able to live here for the past three months. The city centre feels like home for me now and I love that I live in the heart of the city but can hop on a bus and be at a number of beautiful beaches within 20 minutes.

4. My job
I wouldn’t be able to live in Sydney if it weren’t for my job. I work 16 hours a week at Wake Up for accommodation and thank god I do because otherwise I’d be flat-out broke by now. Accommodation in Sydney over Christmas is expensive if you’re not living in an apartment, so to already have my living arrangements sorted is something I’m so grateful for. Plus this job has led me to meet so many amazing people.

5. Family
Moving away to university made me appreciate my Mum and everything she’s done for me, but moving to the other side of the world has amplified that and I now appreciate my family even more. I’m no longer just an hour’s drive away from my Mum and Dad in Blackpool or a 3 hour drive away from my Gran and Granda in Glasgow, so when I phone or Skype them it makes it all the more special.

6. Social Media/Technology
Nowadays it’s really easy to stay in contact with friends and family because of Facebook, Skype, etc. so I can Skype home on Christmas Day and show my Mum what I’m doing and see the house back home all decorated.

7. The weather
Something I really don’t miss about home is the weather, so as it’s dropping to -4 in Manchester I’m loving the 30 degree heat in Sydney then complain about it being cold when it drops to anything near 22.

8. Moments of peace
Last week Sonia and I took a trip to the Blue Mountains and there were moments where we’d just stand at the lookouts and enjoy the silence and fresh air. These are the moments I really love and I usually have them at the beach too just listening to the waves break on the shore. They make me feel relaxed and this gives me a second to appreciate what I’m doing right at that moment and take it all in.

9. No exams
This is my first Christmas in a decade where I’ve not had to worry about school, college or university assignments and exams. I miss being in education, I love learning and I miss everyone back at UoM, but right now I’m grateful that I have my degree and can enjoy this Christmas without getting stressed about passing exams or writing essays.

10. Having something to look forward to
Before writing this post I had a read through what other bloggers had been grateful for in their posts and this one really stuck with me. I have so much to look forward to right now and a bunch of opportunities that could take my life in a completely different direction. I’ll keep you guys updated on that front after Christmas, but at the moment I’m currently looking forward to Christmas Day on the beach and spending NYE watching the fireworks in good company.

Leave a comment below with what you’re grateful for around the holiday season.

Liv
xo