Starting My Health Journey


It’s time for me to make a change…

Sometimes you take a look at yourself and realise that the way you live needs to change. Well, that’s what happened to me anyway. I realised that there are many things I am unsatisfied with the way I currently live my life- and whilst I haven’t been satisfied with them for a while, I’ve always been so sure that I couldn’t change anything that I allowed myself to stay stuck in my ways.

With the rise of the ‘that girl’ and ‘clean girl’ trends going around on social media, I became an avid fan. I love the idea of being able to have an organised, healthy lifestyle but as I sat on my bed looking around at my messy bedroom, I got disheartened. Those TikTok girls just weren’t me.

But then I thought, why couldn’t that be me?

Smoothie from Unsplash

There is one thing I want to make clear. Wanting to be like these girls isn’t me thinking I’m not good enough, or skinny enough, or perfect enough etc. That isn’t the (toxic and unreachable) goal here. What I want is the essence of these videos. Things like being in control of their lives, living a healthy lifestyle, exercising regularly etc. Those are what the videos made me want for myself.

Those who know me or have followed me for a while know that I live with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Only a few months ago I had to stop work because I couldn’t handle it, so a healthy lifestyle change was so far from my mind. But thanks to me taking some time to focus on improving how I manage my illness, I’ve gotten to a place where I can not only work properly again, but also where I can think about making these lifestyle changes.

So, what’s the plan?

Doing a dramatic lifestyle change isn’t something that is going to easily happen overnight (trust me I’ve tried the short term approach…). It is something that is going to take considerable time and effort. Sustainable change is something that builds up within you. You can’t play a beautiful Sonata without first putting hours of practice into your instrument, no?

The same goes for lifestyle. You can’t create this wonderful, vibrant lifestyle without first putting in the effort to get the foundation correct.

Image from Unsplash

So, what sort of things will I be aiming to do in my big ol’ lifestyle change?

Here’s the list:

  • Create and stick to a morning routine
  • Eat healthier
  • Come down to a healthier weight
  • Exercise (min) 3 times a week
  • Organise the space around me
  • Focus more of my time on wellness and mindfulness
  • Make more time for the things I enjoy

I’ll be going into what I’ll be doing to achieve all these goals in a (near)future blog post (so make sure to subscribe to get updated!) but for now, I want to go more into the why of what I’m doing.

Salad: Unsplash

What I want to gain.

Being healthy for healthy’s sake is great and a reason enough in itself but there are definitely reasons for me deciding to take this leap.

Chronic Fatigue Management

One of my main reasons is further managing my CFS. Whilst diet and exercise are not cures for chronic illnesses, the benefits of living a healthier lifestyle should transfer over to other aspects of my body- including my condition.
The better a grasp I have on it, the more things I can do in my life unencumbered by symptoms or even the fear of symptoms.

More Energy

Similar to the above, I believe this lifestyle change will help me have a higher energy baseline- meaning I can get more done and do more higher-energy activities throughout the day.

Looking Better

Quick preface to this- all bodies are beautiful and we should all love ourselves exactly as we are. Whilst I am a big promoter of body positivity, I don’t believe there is anything wrong with wanting to look healthier- which in my case will involve losing some weight. You can definitely be curvy and healthy too but for my own personal journey, the outer benefits are a goal too, as well as the (slightly more important) inner benefits.

Creating Lifelong Habits

I’ve used the word sustainable a few times in this article already because it represents the sort of changes I want to make. Short term fad diets may work in the short term but once they end, it is so easy to slip back into old habits (see: me and keto). The changes I am working towards now as 23, are changes that I want to last my whole life!

Journal: Unsplash

5 Social Accounts Inspiring Me Right Now

Earlier I mentioned seeing videos on social media that started me off wanting to make a lifestyle change. I thought I’d share 5 accounts that are providing me with the inspirational and motivation to make these changes.

1. @honeybobabear

I love Honeybobabear. Her organisation videos combined with her bubbly personality make me want to rearrange my entire life until it looks as aesthetic as her Starbucks cup collection. You can check her out here as she organises her bedroom! P.S. I want to be her best friend ngl

2. @journalnicky

Fellow Bullet Journal lovers will enjoy journalnicky just as much as I do! Her journal page designs are the perfect inspiration for your planners. Check her out here.

3. @kaylieestewart

Kaylie Stewart is ultimate #thatgirl goals. We’re taking morning routine, healthy living, workouts- the works. She always makes sure to emphasise doing all these things for you and not for anyone else which is one of the reasons I love following her. Check her TikTok out here!

4. @thehomeedit

OK so whilst I know I discovered these guys from their Netflix show and not on socials, their socials still slap and are always #goals so they make the list. Clea and Joanna are the ultimate organisation queens and I kinda dream about them coming to organise my life, they let me stay and help, we become besties (including Sumner because she rocks) and I start the UK chapter of The Home Edit. You can check out their unreal space transformations here and also on their Netflix Show: Get Organised with The Home Edit.

5. @miriam.gin1

Miriam’s TikTok is full of amazing amazon finds that are meant to make life so much easier! She collects amazingly handy items for all over the home that fit both form and function! You can find her videos here.

Let’s get started.

It’s time to stop talking the talk and time to walk the walk. Walking is enough for now though because I still hate running :P.
I’ve just finished my smoothie and now I’m off to do a workout so make sure to keep your eyes peeled for more updates on my health journey and my next article going into more details of how I’m conducting all the changes.

Charlotte x

5 Relaxed Places to Eat In Durham


Unsure of where to take the squad for tea?

Sometimes you want to go out for a good meal but don’t fancy getting dressed up to the nines. Whether you’re a family looking for a relaxed place to take the kids, or a group of friends making last minute, chill plans, these are my recommendations for a chill meal out in Durham.

La Spaghettata

Known to Durham students as Spags, La Spaghettata is a budget-friendly, authentic Italian restaurant with heaps of charm. Being owned and operated by Italians means you know the food is going to be on point- and boy oh boy it is. Plus I am a huge snob when it comes to Italian food, having lived there for 8 months so any time I recommend Italian it’s a big deal.

Loved by students and locals alike, Spags has a real family-focused vibe (very Italian!) and you feel like you’ve come round to your nonna’s for dinner.

My personal recommendation is the lasagna!

Lasagna goals

Fat Hippo

Anyone in Durham and/or Newcastle who hasn’t been living under a rock knows about this incredible North Eastern burger chain. Their creative burger stacks are unparalleled, plus they have best vegan burgers you can get (once my boyfriend thought it was meat and had to get them to check!)

Unreal sides, like dirty waffle fries and tater tots, paired with their unbelievable burgers means there really is something for everyone here. There are also beautifully thick milkshakes to kick that sweet craving too! Hardly a low-cal meal but once you take that first bite, you’ll know it’s all worth it.

My recommendation here is the classic Fat Hippo Burger.

Cheesy Tater Tots? Yes please!


Akarsu has a fantastic variety of Turkish food on it, including hot and cold meze, wraps, seafood dishes and veggie options. There really is something for everyone! On weekdays from 12-5, they have a brilliant lunch deal where you can get 2 starters, a main and a drink for only £14.95!

My recommendations here are the Vine leaves to start and the Tavuk Shish (charcoaled chicken skewers with rice) for the main.

A selection of starters

Treats Tea Room

Looking for a light lunch bite? Treats Tea Room provides a fantastic selection of paninis, toasties, burgers and salads- as well as having fantastic breakfast/brunch options. With its eclectic interior design and friendly faces, Treats is definitely a family-friendly fave.

They also do wonderful coffee and cakes if you’re in the afternoon tea mood!

My personal recommendation here are the paninis. I can’t pick just one because so many of the combos are amazing!

Bacon, brie and cranberry toastie

The Food Pit

Ok I know this is a bit of a cheat considering there are multiple food options here but it is all in one building so it counts :P.

The Food Pit is an awesome street food venue with multiple vendors; including Thai Food, Greek, Mexican etc. You will be absolutely spoilt for choice and there will definitely be no moaning about someone not having an option.

My personal recommendation is the Pad Thai from Manao Thai!

Pad Thai

Yum Yum in your tum

These 5 restaurants are my recommendations for anyone looking to go out but not out out. You can rock up in trackies, jeans or whatever you wore to work that day and won’t feel out of place in any of these establishments.

Have you been to any of the restaurants mentioned here? Let me know in the comments!

What are affirmations? (Plus 10 to start your day!)


What even are affirmations?

You’ve heard the word now and then, with wellness spiritual gurus preaching the power of positivity. Getting up at stupidly early hours and running a 5k with a green juice might be their way of life- but it is certainly not mine. So when I initially heard about affirmations I thought they were a bunch a hooey (yes I just used the word hooey.)

Turns out though… they aren’t hooey at all!

Affirmations are positive phrases or sentences that are used to affirm positivity within us. It’s literally in the name guys.

When you tell yourself over and over that you’re ugly, or not good enough- those thoughts will become habit and your sense of self will only decrease. Affirmations are the opposite of this. By using positivity whilst talking about ourselves- even if at the time we don’t believe it- eventually, with repeated use, our view of ourselves are bound to increase.

The Science.

According to a article, affirmations work in conjunction with the brain’s neuro plasticity.

Do you ever have those dreams where when you wake up, you’re confused because it just seemed so real? You might find that that is due to the brain mistaking imagination for reality. Even in situations that are imaginary, certain parts of the brain may still activate as if you were doing the task in real life.

Regular repetition of affirming statements about yourself can encourage your brain to take these positive affirmations as fact. When you truly believe you can do something, your actions often follow.

Repeatedly thinking, speaking or writing down positive thoughts about yourself will cause the brain to eventually take those thoughts as fact- increasing the positives in the way we view ourselves.

We’ve all had time where we think we’re not smart, ugly, not good enough etc… so it can be hard to say these affirmations when we don’t believe them to be true. But that is precisely why they should be said in those times. We are smart, we are attractive, and we are good enough- now all we need to do is trick our brains into making us believe it!

10 Affirmations to Start You Off

Not sure where to begin? Here are 10 affirmations that you can use in your daily life.

If you’re wanting to make lifestyle changes, remind yourself that you are on the way to being the very best you.

Life can really get us down, but reminding our brain to look at things positively will help us start the day in a better place.

Think you aren’t enough to succeed? Well, you’re wrong. You are brimming with potential and all you need to do is figure out how to access it!

Naysayers and bullies may try to keep us down with hateful words and actions, but at the end of the day, they are inconsequential. We are more than their negativity because we choose to be.

This needs no explanation. Each and every one of us can work towards the life we want to live. Yes external factors will always get in the way but if we believe we can make our lives better, then we will find it easier to take the steps we need to take to reach it.

We can’t hope for our lives to change without being willing to change ourselves. Being open to growth and new possibilities will prepare us for when they come.

Our mistakes don’t define us. What does is how we bounce back from them.

The picture says it all. We are worthy of respect and should not accept anything less.

Life can suck and I can’t tell you that I feel positive and upbeat all the time, not by a long shot. But this affirmation will help our brain to start seeing the world in a brighter light.

Whilst we may be open to change, actually making change is difficult. But, we do have the strength to do so already within us.

Stay Positive Folks

I hope these affirmations will come in handy on the days you struggle to think of some yourself.

P.S. If you are a fan of these, follow my instagram @livinglifefree__ for daily affirmations!

Parklife 2021: How to do a festival with a Chronic Illness

chronic fatigue

If you’ve been following my Instagram @livinglifefree__ then you’ll know that a few weeks ago I went to Parklife.

What is Parklife?

Parklife is a music festival in Heaton Park, Manchester. It is one of the UK’s biggest festivals and you’ll find the headliners are always big names. Most of the music is either quite mainstream, with acts like Megan Thee Stallion and Becky Hill headlining, or electronic- with techno being the most common genre.

There are other genres and lesser known acts too playing on the multiple stages throughout the weekend, so make sure you keep an eye on the lineup to find your favourites.

“But Charlotte, you have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, how the hell did you manage it?”

Well, I do make a good point! Here is how I did it and the advice I would give to any other spoonie who wants to experience a festival.

Intoxication Station

If there is one thing festival culture is known for, it is the huge amount of drink and drugs that are consumed. This section is not intended in any way to sound preachy- if you want to take anything that is 100% your choice. I can only give advice based off my own experience.

My first piece of advice is to drink smart. Getting drunk at 10am pres with your mates sounds fun in theory, but when that wears off, you’re left tired, fatigued and drunk very early on into your festival experience.

Either space out your drinking throughout the day, making sure you are staying on top of your fatigue levels, or wait until later on in the day before you start. Alternatively you can stay sober! This is all about managing your body so that you can experience festival life to the fullest.

As for drugs, I can’t personally comment on the effects of common festival drugs such as cocaine, MDMA and ketamine but my advice from research would be to avoid them. The boost in energy may relieve the fatigue for a short while but during a comedown you will feel far worse. As for weed, my advice is similar to that of drinking but do bear in mind it might make you feel more tired or put you in a fatigued state.

Rest and Re-Taxation

Being at a festival means that something is constantly going on. When you’re constantly surrounded by crowds and loud noise, it can be both mentally and physically taxing. That is why finding pockets of rest is so important.

Constant stimulation on all fronts is a very common trigger for chronic illness symptom flares. It will be unlikely that you will find a rest spot free of all things that might lead to symptoms, so try to take out one or two variables instead.

For example, on the Saturday around mid-afternoon I was starting to flag. My body was tired and being in a crowd was stressing me out. Since I was enjoying the music, my friends and I stopped dancing in the crowd and went to sit on a nearby hill. Whilst I could still hear the music, it was nowhere near as loud. I did a quick meditation and some deep breathing (imagine how that must have looked to passers by lmao) giving my body and mind a chance to rest. Taking moments like this was integral to my spoonie survival.

Hydrate Feel Great

This one is pretty self explanatory. Whether you are sober or not, you still need to keep hydrated. At Parklife, there were designated areas that you could go to fill up your water bottle for free as well as as bottled water being sold all over the venue. There were even specific soft drink kiosk that you could go to if you just wanted a lemonade so you didn’t have to wait in the stupid long alcohol queues.

Yum Yum In Your Tum

“But eating is cheating!” your 16 year old self cries from behind her bottle of Glenn’s vodka

Erm… hell no,” is the response!

You need to make sure you are eating a festival. Whilst street food may be spenny* as hell, it is worth it to top up your energy levels and to drink safely. Unfortunately, your body won’t suddenly decide to act differently for a weekend so take care of it like any other day.

* slang for expensive

Camper & Campress

Yes the title is a not-so-subtly reference to my more recent short film with Buff Productions (that you should toooootallyyyy check out here: ) but I do have my reasons!

Parklife is not a camping festival, so I knew I could go home and get a good night’s sleep, but if you are going to a festival such as Glastonbury or Download, not being able to get a restful sleep may negatively impact your day 2 experience.

If you’re one of those people who can sleep anywhere regardless of noise, you will probably be fine (also you’re a wizard and I hate you) but to those awkward sleepers like me, it might be worth booking a place to stay such as a hotel or AirBnB. Get a real bed with some peace and quiet so you can rest fully for another day.

Just Believe!

No dumb pun in this title because this one is no joke. Whilst everyone’s situation is different, a lot of us are so used to being ill that we see a situation like a festival and think “there’s no way I could manage that!”

If there is one piece of info that I have learnt from Dr John Eaton (founder of Reverse Therapy- which I will write about in an upcoming post as well as the person who is currently providing me with treatment, and author of the book Reverse Therapy which I would recommend every spoonie to read) is that my body has the capability within. If you don’t believe you have a reservoir of capability within you, your body wont believe it either. Knowing your limits is so so sooo important but when we are so used to ‘failure’ it’s hard to think that we have the ability to ‘succeed’ within us.

One thing that helped me to get into this mindset- believe me it is not easywas creative a negative scenario contingency plan list. I wrote down all the possible had scenarios I thought might happen and thought about the actions I would take if any of them occurred. By preparing in this way, it took away the fear of the unknown, meaning I could just focus on the positives, whilst still paying attention to the signals my body was sending me.

You’ve Got a Friend In Me

When going to a festival or an event like it, try to go with friends/family you can trust. I’m very lucky to have a wonderful and supportive group of friends who understand that I have my limitations.

Having some members of your support network with you is my biggest recommendation of them all. Plus, isn’t making memories with the people you love the whole point?? (*dies of cringe*)

Quittin’ Time

Whilst this may seem contradictory to previous points, it is in fact their important companion. Managing our illnesses is all about listening to our bodies. When you’ve tried taking time to rest and have really made the effort to believe that you can do it, but your body is still telling you that it isn’t happy, then it is ok to call it a day.

If you can walk away from a situation with no regrets, knowing that you have tried your best and have had an experience- good or bad- that you can look back on, then walking away isn’t giving up, it is a victory that you have created on your own terms.

I left Parklife at 18.30 on Sunday and have absolutely 0 regrets. I saw everyone that I really wanted to see, had such an incredible Saturday (so much so that it has claimed a space in my top few days ever) and had a great time with my friends. I did everything I set out to do so when my body told me that it had had enough, I listened to it and walked away without looking back.

I had the most incredible weekend at Parklife 2021

Realising it was an experience that I was capable of having was such a huge step in learning to manage my Chronic Fatigue Syndrome without limiting what I allow myself to experience. I hope that these tips can help someone like me, and show you that whilst it is not as easy as it is for everyone else, we can do it too!

Let’s live life free ❤

Charlotte x

York: The Weird and Wonderful


When you have a few hours spare in the most haunted city in the world, it’s only right that you go exploring!

I’ve been to York before. I’ve seen the York Minister, I’ve fangirled over the Harry Potter Stores in The Shambles and walked along the castle walls. But this time, I was on a mission. I wanted to find the weirdest and most wonderful shops in this weird and wonderful city.

I like to think I succeeded! Check out my finds below.

The Portal Bookshop

Walkin into this independant bookstore was like walking through a portal (hehehe get it?) into a world of LGBTQA+ celebration. The shelves were lined with both fiction and non-fiction LGBTQA+ books, flags and badges and the person who owned the shop was so lovely and a pleasure to talk to!

Whether you’re a member of the LGBTQA+ community, or an ally like mysel, you are welcomed with such a lovely warmth into this store. If you’re wanting to grab an awesome fantasy novel or educate yourself on social issues, then why not choose to head to this local business instead of the nearest chain?

Want to head there yourself? Find it here:

The Portal Bookshop
5 Patrick Pool
York, England YO1 8BB

Or check them out on Social Media!

York Armoury

Much like these bewilderesd strangers, I too was in drawn in by the weapons on display in the window of the York Armoury. You might have notice the Keyblades (big up Kingdom Hearts) or mayve the crazy masks, dragons or full sized shields is what grabbed your attention, but for me, as soon as I saw this display I just had to go in.

The shop itself is a clustered mixture of both fan replicas of classic weapons (such as Mjolnir!), collectables, armour and real ass swords. Being a massive weeb, the Katanas were the think I was most excited to see. Sadly I neither had the funds, or the need, for a`sword of my own so looking had to be enough for me.

Check them out here!

15-19 Stonegate
YO26 8AS

Käthe Wohlfahrt

Ok so this one was probably the most fun for me to experience. This place is the real Christmas Wonderland and let me tell you, Christmas isn’t just in December for these folks.

Whilst you’re not normally allowed to take photos, the staff inside were lovely enough to allow me to take a few to show you guys a sneak peak!

Founded in 1964, this German company embodies everything Christmas. From beautiful tree decorations to beautiful statues, you feel like you are transported to a Winter Wonderland, no matter what the season. There is even an entire room just made of genuine German Black Forest Cuckoo clocks!

Walking around the shop, you feel pure joy and wonder whilst each room unveils a new surprise. A must see from me!

Give them a visit here:
17-19 Stonegate
Mulberry Hall, York

York Ghost Merchants

Fans of the occult may already know this, but York is the most haunted city in the world! Situated on the Shambles, York Ghost Merchants pays tribute to this in such a lovely way. If you’re looking for a souvernir from your trip- this is the place to go.

Made from a water based material that I’m not allowed to say (but if you know me personally it is something work with myself!), this shop sells the most adorable mini ghosts! Each one is unique in it’s design, so your ghost will be one-of-a-kind. You can see my very own Ghost Jojo in the pictures below (yes I named it whilst watching Jojo’s Bizarre adventure…).

The way the shop is designed, including the low light and staff costumes, walking into the small space feels almost like you’ve almost stepped back in time to haunted Victorian England! There are little surprises hidden throughout the shop which I wont spoil for you, but they are. such a joy to discover.

Oh… and check out the mini working train!!

You can find these guys on The Shambles but the full address is:
6 Shambles

The Weird and Wonderful

These 4 stores are the weirdest and most wonderful you can find in the world’s most haunted city (in my opinion 😉 ).

Have you been to any of them? Let me know!

Charlotte’s Thoughts: July 19th


Freedom day is almost upon us!

Whether or not you agree with Bojo about lifting all restrictions on July 19th* it’s happening. The UK will be out of lockdown and Covid will be treated like the flu- get your vaccine but no more complaning.

For many people this news will be a huge sigh of relief, but take a moment to think about those who may not be as excited about it as you are.

Don’t forgot the people around you who aren’t 100% healthy.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m as excited for life to get back to normal as anyone! But for spoonies, people with autoimmunine diseases, people with cancer etc, July 19th could mark the start of a really scary time.

Source: Pixabay

We each have individual responsibility to look after the people around us. I know I’m one of the lucky ones in that my Chronic Fatigue Syndrome doesn’t seem to be autoimmune, but there are thousands of people around the UK whose immune systems may not be able to handle a case of Covid-19.

I’m not saying don’t go out and celebrate- far from it! I know that I will be seeing friends and partying as hard as my body will allow me (2 wines :P). All I’m asking is that if you know you are going to be in contact with somebody who has or has had an illness like cancer, or somebody with an autoimmune disease, that you be careful.

Maybe don’t go to the club the night before you’re seeing them? Take a test, get vaccinated and overall just be smart.

The government will no longer be enforcing the rules that can protect people like this, so it is up to us to protect each other.

Stay safe everyone!

Charlotte x

*As of 5/7/21 when this article was published July 19th as the date for lifting all restrictions is still pending.

Upcoming Travels: Cornwall


T-Minus 51 Days until my UK Vacay!

Even though life will have hopefully gone back to (relative) normal by then, Max and I have decided to staycation again this year instead of going abroad.

Why? Becuase Covid will definitely still be around even if things have opened up again and even though we are double vaccinated (ill people perks 😉 ), I personally would wait a couple more months before going aborad. Also, we are saving money at the minute for our 2023 cruise around South Japan!

When the sun is shining, I bet I could show you a picture of a Cornish beach, tell you it’s Thailand and have you believe me. It is beautiful! We spent a week there last year and honestly I cannot wait to go back.

I really need a holiday…

I know everyone says that but believe me: I really need a holiday.

With the pandemic, working 6 months in my first office job, my chronic fatigue and more, it’s gotten to a point when life is getting on top of me a little! I also get really stir crazy if I’m in the same place for a long period of time. Even if it’s for a day or two, I have to get somewhere different every once in a while to stop me going (more) crazy!

I’ve been to visit Newcastle and Manchester recently which have been great, especially because I see family and friends, but it’s also because I see family and friends that it doesn’t feel like that much of a seperation. Do you get what I mean?

I want to walk on unfamiliar streets, see the ocean, try local food, marvel at architecture I haven’t seen before, and feel the sense of freedom only travelling can give you.

I need a reset.

What I see in my dreams 😛 (iStock)

So whats the plan?

Having been and done some of the things I wanted to do in Cornwall last year, this year I have the chance to not only try new things but return to some old favourites.

Being the Type-A esque traveller that I am, I love pre-planning as opposed to just gonig with the flow. Normally pre-trip you can find me scrolling through pinterest and instagram looking for inspiration and this trip is no different.

Last time

When I went in July 2020, in the brief moments of Covid respite (before the government went tits up again), I had a blast. I ate an award winning proper Cornish Pasty from Rowe’s Cornish Bakers, saw the most adorable sea floofs at the Cornish Seal Sancturay and got the most pathetic excuse for a tan (I’m so white y’all…) on Praa Sands Beach. I also saw the most incredible natural beauty at the Eden Project and Trebah Gardens.

Eden Project

As far as places I’d go back to, I would definitely visit Praa Sands again, it was one of the the most beautiful beaches I’ve been to! I loved walking around the streets of Falmouth and since it is near the flat we are staying in, I expect I’ll be there quite a bit. We very briefly went to Healey’s Cornish Cyder Fam but it was only to pick up some Rattler (best cider ever) from the shop. I would love to go and get a tour of the place this time around!

Trebah Gardens

This year

One place I’m dying to visit is the Lost Gardens of Heligan. I love beautiful gardens and seeing the flora and fauna. I didn’t have time to make it here last time so it is a must this time around.

The next thing I really really want to see is St. Michael’s Mount. It is built on a small island surrounded by water- so visiting it is very much dependant on the weather. You have to buy tickets in advance but if there is bad weather, they say they will try and give you 24h notice and give you a full refund.

St. Michaels Mount (

Another castle I would like to visit is Tintagel Castle which is said to be the birthplace of the legendary King Arthur! Other locations I might try to visit are St.Ives, Padstow, and Trevose Head.

I’m just so excited to get away! Oh to relax on the beach, take in the sights and grab a yummy late breakfast with Max overlooking the sea- what a dream!

Only 51 days to go! I’m counting 😉

Much love,

Charlotte x

Uni for a Spoonie


If you’ve been keeping up with my instagram @livinglifefree__ then you will know that I finally got to wear a graduation gown! I still haven’t had a ceremony (thanks covid…) but putting on that gown and standing infront of Newcastle University’s iconic arches made it feel a bit more offical: I’m a graduate!!!

Graduating in general is huge! But as a spoonie?

Graduating whilst having a chronic illness is a legendary achievement and I will damn well toot my own horn for managing to do it.

Hours lost from lectures, study time, practice (I did a music degree), and my social life often made me wonder if it was all worth it. My Chronic Fatigue Sydrome started around the start of my second year and had a huge impact on my studies all throughout my that year, my year abroad, and my final year.

I remember crying constantly because all my friends were going out and I couldn’t keep up and worrying that they would forget about me (which also did wonders for my social anxiety…). But then when I did have the energy to go out, I had to justify whether that energy should be spent on socialising, or on catching up on the hours of uni work I’ve missed.

Overall, I think you can guess that my uni experience was probably quite different to most peoples. But, even with all of this, I managed to graduate with an amazing grade: a high 2:1! (1 mark off a first too!) It makes me think, imagine what I could have achieved if I was healthy?

This is without even mentioning the pandemic!

So… How did I do it?

Want to know how I made it through uni as a spoonie? I’m going to share my tips and tricks with you and hopefully I can make your life a little easier!

Just a quick note: everything here is based on my own university experience. I know that everyone’s uni and course will be different!

Get to know your lecturers

I was super lucky in that some of the lecturers around the music department (shout out to Paul Fleet, Ian Biddle and Jane Nolan!) who were really supportive.

Whenever I had an issue, I knew I could go and talk to them. Whether I needed an extension on my assignments, or just to vent about life, I was very lucky to have lecturers who cared.

I know that most courses are a lot larger than mine, so here is how I got to know my lecturers:

I had an assigned personal tutor. When I joined the uni, I was assigned Dr. Paul Fleet as my port of call for any issues that I had. We had regularly scheduled check-ins to make sure everything was going ok, not just academically, but also how my general well being was. We bonded over our mutual love of Star Wars and sarcasm so when the time came when I started to get ill, I felt comfortable going to him to ask for his advice.

I also got to know other lecturers by going to speak to them after the lecture is over. No matter if you have 50 or 500 people in lecture, you can always go up to your lecturer to ask a question or make a comment when your lectures are over. Even if you just go up to say thank you, showing your face will get you on their radar.

You can also make an appointment to go and see your lecturers 1-on-1. Dr. Ian Biddle and Dr. Jane Nolan were both people I would arrange to see 1-on-1 quite frequently. Ian was one of my lecturers and was also one of the people who supported me the most in terms of going through the university wellbeing and extension system during my final year. Jane was my major project supervisor and was a key player in me actually getting work complete and submitted. Jane, along with Paul, Ian and the rest of the music department staff all knew of my condition.

By being on constant communication with my department staff, I developed relationships with lecturers who helped me academically and with my overall wellbeing.

Get Consideration from the University

An area of the Newcastle University campus

During my third year, I had something called an SSP. Essentially, this was something that put a note on my file saying ‘hello extensions people, this gal has Chronic Fatigue and so if she asks for an extension, chances are she needs it so give it to her ok?’ (or words to that affect 🤣).

I had to jump through a few hoops to get it done, (thanks again Ian!) including getting offical medial evidence. Which leads me onto my next point…

Get Medical Evidence of your Condition

This might be easier said than done for alot of spoonies as getting an official diagnosis of our conditions in the first place is a nightmare.

Whether you’re applying for an SSP or SSP-equivalent, or for an extension/consideration, having medical evidence will always make things alot easier. Infact, sometimes it will be required. Whether this is right or wrong (as some people may not have an official diagnosis or may have a negative mental experience that does not require a long-term label), it is often requested by universities to back up your claims.

You can get evidence by contacting your GP or Specialist and asking them to write you an official letter stating your medical condition(s).

Live close to your University Campus

Imagine this: you’ve made it to bed at a good time and are excited because you think you might actually be able to make the 9am you’ve missed for the past 3 weeks. You get up feeling pretty good the next morning but then you think: It’s a 45 minute walk to university! By the time you get there, you’re not going to have the energy to get through the lecture, let alone the rest of the day!

Thats why I would recommened living no further than a 20 minute walk from your campus/main building. Yes, even 20 minutes can be HUGE for people, I know when I was having a bad day I couldn’t hack the walk home at times. (Uber became my best friend! My bank account did not…)

A quick look at my final year accomodation

Be honest with your friends

The social side of university plays a huge part in someone’s experience. My social experience was definitely affected by my chronic fatigue. There were so many missed nights out, cancelled coffee dates and parties that I never got to go to because I was feeling awful alone in bed.

Luckily, I had some fantastic friends that were really understanding when I explained my condition to them. I’ve never been made to feel less than by any of them because of it and they did keep making an effort to involve me.

I know that I was very lucky in that scenario- not everyone is as supportive and open about people’s illnesses but on my end, it was important for me to be honest with them. Alot of times, people do care but don’t know what to do or how to handle these situations.

By talking to our friends, we can tell our them how to handle our dips/flares, what to do to best support us ect.

Newcastle University Gilbert and Sullivan Society during our performance of Iolanthe

Be nice to yourself!

Possibly the hardest tip of all: BE KIND TO YOURSELF!

Comparing yourself to the other students around you who are at full health can be really hurtful because we think we should be at the same level as them. But its OK to give yourself a break!

If you need an extension, ask for it. If you need to miss a party- do it! You are just as capable as anyone else, but sometimes us spoonies just need a little extra time.

Get graduating!

There was no greater feeling than receiving the news that I had graduated after such a rough time. With everything my CFS put me through, as well as all the stuff that Covid messed with, there really were moments when I didn’t think I would finish the year.

But, one year after I received my certificate, I got to wear the gown, the hood, and the cap (I brought my own- Newcastle doesn’t have them). I stook infront of the iconic uni arches, where everyone gets their pictures taken and felt powerful!

I had made it. I graduated with a fantastic grade and had a great experience! Uni for a spoonie is definitely possible 😀

I hope this can help you get through uni as a spoonie!

Much love,

Charlotte x

Sunshine and Mood


It’s sunny! :O

And you know what that means: Drinks (or coffees if you’re me) in the sun, bragging over the slightest tan lines and all the big hairy bellies you never wanted to see.

But for alot of people, myself included, the sun also brings a change in mood. I always find myself feeling happier in the sunshine, even when I’m sweating glowing from the heat. I always thought it was becuase I was a summer baby (June 22- birthday is coming up!) but it turns out there may be an actual scientific reason for it.

Cornwall 2020

Seasonal Affective Disorder

(Information is from the NHS website)

Seasonal Affective Disorder, also known as SAD or Winter Depression is a form of depression that tends to arrive in the winter and leave in the summer.

Although the cause is not 100% confirmed, most evidence points to the decreased sunlight exposure in the colder months. The main theory right now is that when there is less sunlight the body produces less seratonin (hormone that affects mood) and less melatonin (hormone that affects sleep).

Oh to sleep as soundly as this fox…
(Image from Pixabay)

Now mix that in with someone who has Chronic Fatigue and you have a winter full of darkness and exhaustion (not to be dramatic).

But that means when the sun comes out (which, lets be honest in the UK is a rare occasion), there is a noticable difference in not just my mood, but also my fatigue levels!

That’s not to say I’m cured on sunny days…

Far from it! Often prolonged periods in the heat will trigger flares of exhaustion. The illness never fully goes away but when you’re driving past the beautiful green trees, sunlight streaming through them on your way to work, you start the day off in a far better mood than seeing nothing but grey sky.

A beautiful sunset on a local street

Think you have SAD?

One of the things that I use- even in the summer when I’m in darker places- is a SAD lamp.

It is a portable form of light therapy and emits lights designed to mimic sunglight. They may also be called Light Boxes. I have attatched the link to the one I personally use below:

That being said… this is only my personal recommendation.If you are struggling from any mental illness I would always advise seeking medical advice.

Time for some fun in the sun!

If the weather where you are is as fantastic as it is here, take advantage and get some of that sweet, sweet vitamin D!

(Image from Pixabay)

Even uf you’re a spoonie confined to your bed, try and get the window open or a bit of time in the garden!

Remember: hydrate, feel great and make sure to wear UV Protection Suncream.

Now get off your phone/computer and go enjoy the sun!

Much love,

Charlotte x

5 UK Staycation Cities to Visit in 2021


May 17 meant that hospitality and staycations are now back on the table.

I don’t know about you but I am dying for a vacation. Work life and chronic fatigue have been tough so I like to think I deserve one right?

I know many of you feel the same- you deserve a break! This list so more for those who want to travel to explore and see the sights as opposed to those who want to relax (don’t worry this will come soon). You can get just as much of a cultural hit with UK City Breaks as you can abroad. Here are 5 of my suggestions for your UK 2021 Staycation.

(Disclaimer: All activities in this article consider the ongoing Covid-19 Pandemic and do not include any time dependant activites such as festivals)

1. London

iStock- London

I mean, this one has to be obvious right? The UK’s Capital city is a collection of culture, life, business and has a little something for everyone.

What to do there?

  • See a show at the West End (now that they are starting to reopen)
  • Ride the London Eye
  • Find fantistic food at Borough Market
  • Seek out the street art and quirky cafes of Shoreditch
  • Spark your curiousity at the many museums– including the Natural History Museum and the V&A
  • Shop till you drop on Oxford Street
  • Shop for all things indie at Camden Market
  • Take in living history at the Tower of London and Buckingham Palace
  • Get a breath of =fresh air in Hyde Park
  • Find the best view in the city by going up The Shard

Bonus Recommendation: A personal recommendation (if you’re a bit of a nerd like me 😉 ) is to visit Draughts. It is a really funky board game cafe with tons of selection and fantastic food. Oh- and bonus: You can find the entrance inside the Leake Street Tunnel– the home of London Street Art and visited by Banksey himself!

2. Manchester

iStock- Manchester

Ah Manchester, my home town; the Capital of the North, the epicentre of British Industry and the birthplace of iconic musicians such as The Smiths and The Stone Roses.

It may not be as internaltionally iconic as London but Manchester has an incredible amount to offer.

What to do there?

  • Hit the shops in the City Centre and The Trafford Centre
  • Celebrate LGBTQ+ life and party in the Gay Village
  • Check out the amazing restaurants around Spinningfields
  • See the incredible architecture of Manchester’s Libraries at Central Library and John Ryland’s Library
  • Channel your inner indie creative with the shops and foodie spots in the Northern Quarter
  • Find all the fun of Camden in one building at Afflecks Palace
  • Have one of the world’s top 10 Pizzas at Rudy’s
  • Get footy mad at Old Trafford, The Emirates Stadium and the Football Museum
  • Check out the amazing nightlife venues- (that are open and Covid safe!)

Bonus Recommendation: Have the best brunch of your life at Moose Coffee or 19 Cafe Bar! Also, if you’re a sushi lover, check out Wasabi in the Printworks- tasty plates at really reasonable prices! (Can you tell I’m a bit of a foodie 😂?)

3. Edinburgh

iStock- Edinburgh

Edinburgh: The Capital of Scotland. As hub of culture, architecture and Scottish Pride, Edinburgh is such an incredible city to visit. The last time I went, it was pre-covid at Christmas time and the whole city just buzzed with life! I can’t wait to get back here.

What to do there?

  • Visit the iconic Edinburgh Castle
  • See over 20,000 unique pieces at the National Museum of Scotland
  • Listen to some incredible bagpipe music by street performers
  • Check out the shops, bars and hotels on Princes Street
  • Get WOW’d at Camera Obscura and World of Illusions
  • Embrace natural beauty and the calmess of a village (in the middle of a city :O) in Dean Village (my personal favourite)
  • Harry Potter fans can sit in in the same cafe that the author sat and wrote some of the series at The Elephant Cafe
  • Take a hike up Arthur’s Seat, Edinburgh’s extinct volcano

Bonus Recommendation: Go for a lovely lunch at The Painted Rooster- it’s the best toastie I’ve ever had!

4. Liverpool

iStock- Liverpool

Liverpool has undergone a HUGE transformation and is now one of the most bustling metropolitan hubs in the whole of the UK. Walk the same streets as The Beatles and take in the vibe of the city.

What to do there?

  • Shop ’till you drop at Liverpool One
  • Music fan? Check out The Beatles Story
  • Take in the stunning scenery while walking along the Royal Albert Docks
  • Art Connoisseurs will feel right at home walking around the Tate Liverpool
  • Fancy some football? Check out Anfield Stadium.
  • Learn the history of the city at the Liverpool Museum
  • Check out all the Liver Bird statues dotted around the city
  • Be amazed by the stunning Victorian Architecture in the city’s St George’s Quarter
  • Surround yourself with natural beauty in the stunning Sefton Park
  • Check out the amazing nightlife venues- (that are open and Covid safe!)

Bonus Recommendation: Get your brunch on at Liverpool’s most instagrammable cafe ‘The Florist.’ Also, if you’re looking for some fantastic food and cocktails, then head down to ‘The Smugglers Cove.’

5. York

iStock- York

Ah York, the blossoming heart of Yorkshire. It may be one of the world’s most haunted cities, but there is nothing scary about how beautiful this place is.

What to do there?

  • Marvel at the stunning architecture of York Minister, one of the most stunning cathedrals in the UK.
  • Walk around the city on a piece of history with the Bar Walls
  • Dive into the history of the Vikings in the Jorvik museum
  • Be transported back to the medieval times whilst walking along The Shambles (another one for Harry Potter fans!)
  • Go for afternoon tea at Betty’s
  • Are you a trainspotter? Check out the National Train Museum

Bonus Recommendation: Got a sweet tooth? Check out the York Chocolte story to learn not only the history of chocolate in York, but the full story from bean-to-bar.

So there you have it! 5 cities that are fab for your Covid-safe city break!

What do you think of these cities? Let me know down in the comments!

Much love,

Charlotte ❤