1 Year of Blogging GIVEAWAY!

I'm so happy that in June I will have been blogging for a whole year! To celebrate, I'm running a giveaway which will end on the 26th June 2018. The 26th June was when I uploaded my first blog post on Becx Blogs so it will be lovely to announce a winner a year on from then. There are loads of ways to enter, and there's a whole month to do it so get sharing!



a Rafflecopter giveaway

Terms and Conditions

There is one prize bundle to be won.

The prize consists of Revolution Redemption Palette Iconic Elements, Q-KI Mani-Care Set, Baylis & Harding Skin Spa Body Cream, Baylis & Harding Skin Spa Cleansing Soap and Collection Lusciuous Lashes Cat's Eye.

This giveaway is international.

Giveaway entries close on the 26th June 2018 at 10.00pm BST.

You must be 16 or over and have permission from the household owner to give your address for the prize to be sent.

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/5d6f076a3/?

My Ulcerative Colitis Journey: Symptoms and Diagnosis (PART ONE)

Today, the 19th May, is World IBD Day, and I wanted to start a new blog series to raise even more awareness for Inflammatory Bowel Disease. I’ve blogged quite a lot about IBD, and I had a fairly popular series where others shared their story, called Voices of IBD. I’ve helped a lot of people share their experiences with either Crohn’s Disease or Ulcerative Colitis, but I’ve never fully shared my own story – so I thought a new series was in order!

This series is going to be all about My Ulcerative Colitis Journey, from the start of my symptoms, diagnosis, trialling medication, coping, and mental health. In part one, I’m discussing all about when I started to get symptoms, and how I got my diagnosis. This is going to be an extremely personal post, but if you’ve read my blogs before, you know I’m not a shy bairn!


Just quickly for any lovely readers who don’t know – Ulcerative Colitis is one of the main forms of Inflammatory Bowel Disease. It’s an auto-immune disease affecting the colon and causes the immune system to attack itself. It causes inflammation, ulceration and damage, which leads to pain, bleeding and a host of other issues. For more info check out the Crohn’s and Colitis UK website.

From the age of around 19, I started getting ‘stomach issues’, with bloating, gas, abdominal pain and regular diarrhoea (I just realised I can’t spell diarrhoea, so thank goodness for Grammarly, otherwise a post all about poo would be impossible). I visited the GP a handful of times – probably around 10 times over the space of 3 or 4 years. Each time I was told it was just IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), which is not the same as IBD but that’s for a different blog post! If they weren’t saying IBS, they said anxiety manifests with physical symptoms like the stomach problems I was having and so I was put on anti-depressants, as well as given Ibuprofen for the pain.

For 3 or 4 years, I was struggling with an undiagnosed illness, with no medication and it’s no wonder I got as bad as I did. In the spring of 2016, around May, my symptoms worsened significantly. I had an unreal amount of pain in my stomach, so much so that I could have been ringing the bells of Notre Dame, I was hunched over so often. I started bleeding a scary amount from my backside, so much that the toilet looked like a murder scene. I had an endless urge to go to the toilet as if I was going to full-on poo myself, sometimes I would have watery diarrhoea, and sometimes it was just streams of blood and mucus. I was going to the toilet more than 20 times a day. Passing poo was incredibly painful, and I had to heavy breathe as if I was giving birth. I would be on the toilet for up to an hour sometimes, with intense pain and blood just leaking out. Let that sink in, imagine spending half your day on the toilet and trying to work in a preschool full of 2-year olds. It’s safe to say I wasn’t a very fun person! I’m just glad it was so close to the summer holidays and that I was only part-time.

At the time, I remember thinking it’s cancer. I couldn’t help it, I remembered the adverts about blood in stools and colon cancer on the TV and it didn’t help that every single Google search screamed cancer in your face – I know, I know, slap the back of my hands for googling symptoms… never ever do that! So I was dealing with a lot of stress at the same time, popping Ibuprofen like there was no tomorrow to try and control my pain, and had a butthole that felt like razor blades because I couldn’t stay off the toilet. P.S. flushable wipes are my saviour, and rough toilet roll is the devil reincarnate.

I went to see my GP in the July. I realise I left this ridiculously late and looking back I think I’m a bloody idiot and don’t even know why I waited so long. It was a mixture of fear of what it would be, anxiety, stress, dealing with work and feeling so unwell. But, I suppose we live and learn.

My GP seemed concerned with the volume of blood, and I had the good old finger up the bum. It felt like a shard of glass up my backside, I was already so sore! She decided to send me for an urgent referral to the hospital for investigation. Seeing the words urgent just made me panic even more. I remember Eric and I had a trip to London and Harry Potter Studios for his birthday at the start of August, and again, how the heck I managed that I have no idea. I must have been on some kind of adrenaline spike from the pain pushing me through or something. I could probably give you a tour of all the toilets in London, and I spent a good hour in the one in Hamley’s toy shop while Eric browsed the collectables.


Around 2 weeks passed and I finally got a letter with a date for a Flexible Sigmoidoscopy, along with an enema to take. A Flexi Sig, is a scope that goes into your bum and looks at your large bowel. I had to take the enema a couple of hours before my appointment and my good god – that was one of the most painful things I’ve ever experienced. Because I was so inflamed, all the backed up diarrhoea coming out of me burned like crazy and I cried the whole time. Wasn’t one of my best moments I must say. Bless Eric for being moral support and talking to me through the door, and bringing me water to drink when I felt dizzy and sick. Couple goals, am I right?

I was so stressed for the scope test that my heart rate was too high before I could have it done so I had to be heavily sedated. Some people fall asleep from sedations but nope, not me. I was too stressed that it just kind of dampened that down a little bit, so I remember everything, felt everything and saw everything.

So Ulcerative Colitis is inflammation and ulceration of the colon… now picture a tube being pushed up there rubbing against all the painful parts. It wasn’t pleasant, and I kept pumping because they were blowing air inside my colon to open it out so they could see. So not only was I sedated and drugged up, but I was in pain and couldn’t stop pumping on the poor doctor! I could see how bad my colon looked on the screen in front of me, and they took biopsies. Straight away the nurse placed her hand on my shoulder and said “it’s not cancer”, as I had just told her how worried I was about that during my pre-procedure consultation. After I was wheeled to a room to relax after the procedure, and the sedation wore off enough for me to realise I’m back in the real world, I was given my diagnosis straight away. 

So in August 2016, I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis. I was told it was likely made worse by the Ibuprofen I was taking, and that I needed to see a specialist in 4 weeks.

I felt relieved that it wasn’t the big C I was thinking, but I also felt so much worry and stress about what this meant for my life now. Being diagnosed with an incurable, lifelong condition that affects your everyday life is a bit of a brick to the face. It’s hard-hitting, and I almost didn’t want to believe it. I was glad to have a name for it though. So I could have some kind of action plan, do some research and get the medication I need to control it.

And the rest is for the next post in my series!

I hope you liked this post. I think I’m going to make this a long series since this year I will have been diagnosed for 2 whole years! I have a lot to say from the last 2 years that someone might find helpful, useful, or insightful! If you haven’t already read my other IBD posts, there’s a tab at the top of my blog called Health and you’ll find them all there!

If you’re able to offer any donations – on the 30th June I’m doing the Crohn’s and Colitis UK WALK IT event for the 2nd year running. Last year I could only manage the 5k, but this year I’m pushing myself to do the 10k. I have a just giving page, where the money goes directly to the charity, and I would appreciate every single donation given! 


JustGiving - Sponsor me now!

Ordinary to Extraordinary through Blogging and Influencing

Let’s talk about Inspiring people on the internet! Last week I was lucky enough to not only attend The Culture Vulture Blogging and Influencing event at the Thought Foundation in Gateshead, but I was asked to be on the blogger panel! This was a huge opportunity for me, so I absolutely had to have it in a blog one way or another.

The theme of the event was #ordinarytoextraordinary and how everyday ‘average’ people (like you and me) can do amazing things through the power of blogging, vlogging, social media presence and influencing. You don’t need a particular background or credentials, a large skillset or even a lot of tools and equipment – you just need access to the internet to be able to use the platforms, a camera (or camera phone), and something passionate to write about or take photos of. For the most part, it’s a free hobby if you already have internet at home, which a lot of people have nowadays!


The night was filled with some fantastic speakers who not only left the audience in awe but offered such valuable and supportive advice for other bloggers and influencers across social media platforms and to brands, PRs and marketers. I thought I would do a ‘round-up’ of what I took away from the event and learned.

Deb Sharratt from My Boys Club, a family and lifestyle blog, was the first speaker who gave advice on having core values for your blog. Your core values reflect not only your blog but you as a person to your readers and to any brands that might want to work with you. She was passionate about ethical blogging, which was something I loved. Things like declaring sponsored work or gifted items, being transparent with affiliate links, and posting honest reviews from your own opinions. Having an authentic and honest blog builds trust with your followers and brands and creates a positive atmosphere for your space on the internet. Deb also highlighted the importance of posting relevant content to improve your DA (Domain Authority), and the use of follow links for non-sponsored content and no-follow links for paid content. Guest blogging and crowdsourcing is also very useful for improving your DA and blog traffic, and helps support other bloggers too. She also listed some very helpful apps and websites like Later, Hootsuite, Stumbleupon, Pixabay, Unsplash, Missing Letter, and Appsumo.


Lisa Dawson was the next guest speaker who is an interior design blogger and Instagram influencer from Lisa Dawson Styling. She spoke about the importance of consistency with your posting and having a minimum amount of posts, whether it’s 3 times a week or just once a month. Lisa also suggested that posting at the right time is a must. If you post a photo in the middle of the day when most people are working, then it’s just going to get lost in the sea of images in Instagram – so posting before 8.30am before people go to work or after 6.30pm, is what seems to be the best time. Instagram has grown so much over the last few years and for photos to be noticed they need to be “shit hot”, as Lisa put it. You need to stand out from such a large, and I mean a LARGE amount of people on the app now, and I agree it makes sense to post your best work. She advised using 30 relevant hashtags because they get your photos to an audience who may not be following you already.


Next up we had Crime Viral, and wow she was such a boss lady, and I admired her so much! Cheish spoke of the importance of engagement with your readers and creating a community around your blog and social media. An example she gave was asking open-ended questions, ask your followers or readers what they think on a subject, and engage them in an open-ended conversation. Creating a sense of community keeps your readers involved with your blog and your posts. She also said that it’s a great idea to reuse old content, which was something I would have never thought of doing. Especially if the content was popular and you can repost it from a different perspective or angle, with a different conversation outcome.


The following speaker was Dominique from All That Is She on Instagram. Dom has such a beautifully creative feed using only a basic camera and props from around the house, with the help of her 2 daughters and husband. She shows that you’re able to create amazing content without the need for the fanciest of equipment – you just need imagination. She recommended using the Weekend Hashtag Project (WHP) from the Instagram official account, which is announced every Friday. Instagram feature their favourite posts using the hashtag in line with the theme every Monday or Tuesday, which gets your post seen by around 230 million followers! Dom has had a few of her posts featured and it gave her a real boost with her following.


The last part of the event was a brilliant Q&A with a blogging panel… which I was on. I was lucky enough to be sat with Pip Milburn, Helen Newman, Hildy Harland, Sharon Sinclair Williams and Cheish Merryweather. Look, there’s me in the photo right in the middle! As I said the theme of the night was ordinary people doing extraordinary things, and here I am, an ordinary person, being able to do something amazing like offer my thoughts and advice in a room full of people alongside some fantastic bloggers. We discussed our own stories of how we got into blogging, starting up and what we did to get seen in the community. As well as how to vlog and do insta-stories in public or to strangers on the internet, our thoughts on sponsored content,  and working with brands. We bounced off each other and the audience, and the vibe was insane!




I know I’ll be taking on all of this advice and I’ll be rethinking how I approach my own blog and social media. Hopefully, this blog has given some useful information to any bloggers out there, new or established, and for anyone who’s thinking of possibly starting a blog. If you are thinking of becoming a blogger - my advice is to just do it! Anyone can be a blogger or influencer, you are capable of doing extraordinary things no matter what your background is. If you have a passion for a topic, whether it’s beauty, lifestyle, parenting, culture, travel, food, or the arts… your voice deserves to be heard.

The Lake District Bucket List

The Lake District is one of my favourite places to go in the UK and I’ve been a few times now. I thought I would draft up some of the things I’d recommend doing whilst there if you decide to take a trip too!

South Lakes Safari Zoo

Probably one of my favourite places in the Lakes. South Lakes Safari Zoo is just a short drive from Ulverston. It’s fabulous, as part of the zoo is a safari so you can walk around with animals like lemurs, kangaroos and peacocks roaming free around you; which makes for a super immersive experience. You can buy feeding bands to hand feed animals like giraffes too which is something you can tick off your bucket list.


Derwentwater

Derwentwater is the lake by Keswick in North Lakes, and it’s such a serene sight, especially when the weather is nice. You can watch the boats and the birds while you have a picnic. You can even pop to Hope Park for a stroll afterwards.


Puzzling Place

Puzzling Place is a very intriguing museum in the heart of Keswick, which is less than £5 AND dog-friendly! It has an anti-gravity room, lots of perspective pieces and is just full of brilliant illusions. You can spend hours in this place enjoying the mystery!


Kendal Castle

Take a nice, long walk through Kendal’s beautiful streets, which is in the South Lakes, and up to Kendal castle for a photoshoot in front of the rolling hills around you. Afterwards, take yourself to the local Chocolate House and buy some famous Kendal mint cakes!


Lakes Aquarium

The Lakes Aquarium is right by Windermere and makes a lovely addition to your Lake District bucket list. It’s one of the most well-kept and hygienic aquariums I’ve ever been to, with a section all about the species living specifically in the Lake District itself. Very educational and beautiful! 


Helvellyn Hike

If you’re outdoorsy like me, you'll want to see the amazing views from the top of Helvellyn, the third highest mountain in England. The best advice I can give is to park at Wythburn Church car park by lake Thirlmere since there is a direct route up the mountain from there. Don’t forget your camera and some walking poles!
























There are still so many things I'd want to do there, like a hike up Scafell Pike or walk with wolves with the Predator Experience, but I no doubt will be returning to the Lake District soon! Have you done some of these? Let me know your recommendations for my next visit!


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April Favourites 2018

I know this post is a little late, and that it's May now, but I still wanted to share some new finds that I absolutely love!

I don't have a photo of my first favourite, but I am OBSESSED with my new Canon G7X Mark ii camera. I've been using it to vlog, take blog photos and I carry it with me everywhere. I was lucky enough to get it as a birthday present, but I know you can get it on Amazon, or at most electrical goods stores. The quality of this camera is so good, and it's really user friendly too, it's perfect as a multi-purpose camera that you slip into your handbag!

My next favourite is the EX1 Invisiwear Foundation, which I've been dying to get for a couple of months, but they never had my shade in. This foundation has amazing, buildable coverage but somehow still manages to stay lightweight and doesn't look cakey! I never thought I'd see the day where I'd find my perfect foundation!


I had also been looking for the Revolution Conceal and Define concealers for ages but all the lighter shades were always sold out. I ended up ordering online; which I'd never normally do, I hate online colour matching. Now, I've used the same Collection Lasting Perfection concealer day-in, day-out for years, and nothing could ever knock it off its pedestal for me. These Revolution concealers now take pride of place on that pedestal.


I got this Sleek Face Form Contour Palette in the beauty kit for my college course, but when I no longer needed it, I just kept it for myself! It's got such a pretty shimmer bronze shade, with a matte contour and a natural highlight. I've been wearing these most days, especially since we've been doing tanning at college so I'm darker than I usually am. It's cheap and cheerful!


I definitely feel like this has been in a favourites post before... but I can't remember! It wouldn't hurt to mention how much I love The Body Shop Strawberry Body Butter again. It smells divine, and reminds me so much of the smell of Calpol... am I right? I use this every few days after a lovely hot bath and my skin feels silky smooth. The strawberry range at The Body Shop is by far my favourite out of all of them!


Last up, I got this super cute mint green jacket from Primark for just £9, can you believe that?! It's such a pretty colour and a great lightweight jacket for the upcoming summer months. I did find I needed to size down, I'm usually a medium or a 10-12; but for this jacket, I had to get a small which is a 6-8. So if you're interested in getting one, be sure to try it on!


I'm sorry I missed my March Favourites blog post, but I'm getting back into blogging now! You can expect lots more posts from me over the next few weeks to months! ❤