Thursday, 30 August 2018

Beijing Foodie Bucket List

I am the biggest foodie! Not so much the kind of foodie that loves expensive food, just the kind of girl that loves food of all kinds. Beijing has so many incredible restaurants and I'm looking forward to eating my way around them this year.

I'm sure our list will grow but these are the restaurants and bars we can't wait to try.

Print out this list and try out some of these great places too!
I will update my thoughts about each place as we try them. 

Check out my Beijing Bucket List too!

Are there any places missing that we should check out? Let me know! (especially Mexican style!!)

Wednesday, 29 August 2018

22 Incredible Expat Bloggers You Need to Check Out

As an expat, I love reading other expat blogs and seeing their adventures and experiences. Plus, let’s be honest, us expats are usually always have an eye open to spot the next opportunity. Over the past few years I’ve discovered lots of incredible expat bloggers so I’ve compiled a list of my favourites so you can check them out too (you should!) 

 Life with Baby Kicks– Laura blogs about expat and mummy life in Qatar. I love her honesty as she blogs about life in the most down-to-earth way.

Lady & Her Sweet Escapes– Anne is a Filipino blogging about expat life in Dubai. You’ll find lots of food on her blog, as well as lots of lists, travel and informative posts about living as an expat in Dubai.

Sara and Catherine’s Tales– Sara is an Italian who blogs about expat life in London. Her blog is stunning, and curated by her own admission, but I love to read about her adventures in one of my favourite cities. While her content is curated, she is also candidly honest in her content too. 

Linda Goes East– Linda started out in China before moving to South Korea. She completely throws herself into the culture of her host country. You’ll find lots of lists and travel advice as well as posts about her host country from somebody with true knowledge. 

Living a Dream in China– Sara lives in Guanzhou and has been living as a China expat since 2010 so if you’re looking for tips from somebody who really ‘gets’ China then this is the place to look.

Tieland to Thailand– Super organised and informative blog about life in Thailand. Chris and Angela have done a great job of documenting everything travellers and expats need to know about Thailand. 

Drive on the Left– A blog by two Americans living in China. Their posts are varied and unique, but honest and humorous.

Helene In-Between– Helene moved to Germany from Texas and blogs about life abroad and travels. She’s also nailing Instagram and shares tips about blogging and making a living from it.

❤ Expitterpattica– Lucille has lived in many different countries and hits the nail on the head with every blog post. I find myself nodding along as she publishes the very thoughts that are in my head. 

❤ Paper Crane Stories– Joella is now living in California, following a stint in Beijing. You can find a mix of both countries on her blog, as well as updates about general life. 

❤ Heart My Backpack– Silvia has an incredible travel blog but it doubles up as an expat blog as she writes about expat life in Norway. Her photography is incredible and all of her blog posts are dreamy but full of great information.

❤ Endless Distances– You can find a bit of everything on Sarah’s blog but a whole lot of posts about expat life in the UK. I love her photos, her generally chatty posts and her many lists.

❤ Local Adventurer– So this one is slightly different as Esther and Jacob blog about their life in cities within the USA. They move to a different city each year, see all there is to see there (and I mean all) and write incredible posts about their experience before moving on to do it all again.

❤ City and See– Katherine lives in Japan but blogs about a whole lot of things travel related, including lots of tips and tricks for visitors to her host country.

❤ Sweet Life in the Sandpit– Mizra married an Arab man and is happily living in Abu Dhabi and blogging about it. I love the style of her blog and I especially love her monthly favourites where she features some great places to check out.

Migrating Miss– I love Sonja’s blog! She uses a country as a home-base to travel and blogs about both. She also features fellow expats on her blog to share their stories.

California Globetrotter– Lorelei is from California but living in Germany. She is the definition of the every girl and blogs about expat life in Germany as well as travel. You will find all sorts of prettiness of her blog.

❤ Girl Tweets World– Jayne is a Brit living in Melbourne and blogging about it, plus her many other travels. Her blog is a mix of fun and informative posts and her down-to-earth personality shines through in them.

❤ Attention to Darling– Erin is a very new expat, having recently moved to London. Her blog, her Instagram and her family are gorgeous. She oozes prettiness in everything she does!

❤ Adventures of a Jersey Girl– Jersey Girl shares a refreshingly honest view of expat life, blogging from Kuwait.

❤ Hannah International– Hannah is from the UK and blogging about expat life in South Korea, as well as her many travels.

❤ The Say Hello Edit– Catherine blogs about the best of both Sydney and London, the two cities she lives between. She also includes lots of other features in-between and I love the randomness of her blog.

I'm sure you have found some awesome ladies with a follow in this list, but if you are an expat blogger or know of any awesome blogs that I've missed from this list, let me know!

Monday, 27 August 2018

Why Going Home as an Expat Is Hard

I spend the night before lying in bed feeling sick to my stomach, fighting back tears. It’s always hard, it never gets easier and every time I do it, I feel numb, trying to cut myself off from that awful feeling that is to come. The goodbye!  This is how I spend every night the day before I return to my expat life. Do any other expats go through this feeling? (please tell me I’m not insane) 

As I pack my suitcase to go home, I feel excited! I think about the people I want to see, the things I want to do, the clothes I’m going to buy and the food I want to eat. I’m going on holiday, of course it’s exciting! 

As soon as I arrive home I sink back into life in the UK, because as much as you expect it to, nothing changes. My favourite lip balm is still on my bedside table where I left it, my winter boots are still in the wardrobe and the weather is still a very prevalent conversation. I always expat things to be different, but they never are and it makes it easy to slot back into the life I have known for most of my life. 

Fast-forward a week and I start to feel restless, because although home will always be my home, it’s not MY home anymore. I only have 1 nail polish there and I really want to use the specific colour that I know is on my bedside table half-way across the world. I’ve stared at the same view out of my window for most of the year, but now I miss it. Not because it’s a great view, but because it’s comfortable. It’s what I know! 

The life I’m living in the UK is a holiday, and we’re all ready for home after a long holiday. But when the time gets closer, so does that feeling of dread. The goodbye! I start to dread it and feel emotional about a week before. The guilt begins to creep in and starts to take over. I feel myself getting rattier with everybody as the goodbye looms. I feel incredibly unsettled and anxious; I always have so much to do when it’s time to leave, but nothing at all to do at the same time. 

The night before it is the worst though. I think about how upset my mam always gets when we say goodbye and it breaks my heart. There is no bigger feeling of guilt than the guilt I feel the night before I leave. Knowing that I leave my mam feeling so upset is devastating and it’s so so hard. 

A tiny part of my feels like it would be easier to never go home, because if you don’t go home it’s easy to plod on with the life you live, calling on Skype and sending daily messages through WeChat (usually about why my recipes are a complete disaster when I followed the recipe completely) and not think too much about the distance. Of course, that’s completely not true, it’s always great to see everybody and live in the land of normality for a short while, but it’s so hard too. 

Once I arrive back in my second home, that unsettled feeling continues. I miss home, I miss my mam and I feel so guilty for putting my family in this position which they didn’t choose. After a couple of weeks, I settle back into expat life and go about my daily routine again until the time comes when it’s time to go home again and that unsettled feeling rears its head again. 

Despite the horribleness of these feelings, I will never not go home, I just wish it was easier. I wish it didn’t unsettle and upset me so much. I feel like I spend such a long time preparing and travelling home, but these feelings put a dampner on the time I’m there which means I never fully make the most of my time at home. 

Sara wrote a post about her feelings saying goodbye to family and I completely related to it, it’s like she typed out my mind. Check out her post.

I wish I could say I had the answers to how to stop these feelings, but if I did you can be damn sure I’d be using them. For me, I’ve accepted that it’s part of the choice I made when I became an expat and I just have to live with that until it's time to make a change.

That said, if anybody does have any tips or a magical solution to make the bad feelings go away, please send them my way!


Thursday, 23 August 2018

Afternoon Tea at Ghiaccio, South Shields

When it comes to end of year teacher gifts, I received the most thoughtful of gifts from one of my lovely parents. Anybody who knows me will know that I am a huge fan of afternoon tea, and that is exactly what she got me! But, she went one step further! She asked Paul where I lived in the UK, researched afternoon tea nearby and bought me a voucher for a local cafe so that I could enjoy it over the summer. Is that not the most thoughtful gift?

The cafe itself wasn't the most comfortable of cafes. The seats were a little hard and uncomfortable and it wasn't the most Instagrammable place, but the staff were so friendly and cheerful and that definitely made up for it.
The great thing about the afternoon tea is the chilled-out vibe to it. There are different options and the staff are happy to change things up for you to give you what you want. Just let them know what you want and they will be happy to do it for you. They also do lots of themed afternoon teas for special occasions.

The afternoon tea was pretty good. Don't go expecting Ritz standard food because you will be disappointed, but for the price it's not bad at all. I suspect that the food is all shop bought, but the 5 year old in me loves a 'picky' tea so that doesn't bother me at all.

The menu included:

Cheese savoury sandwich
Coronation chicken sandwich
Egg mayonnaise sandwich
Tuna and cucumber sandwich
Cheese quiche
Sausage roll

Fruit scone with cream and jam

Strawberry milkshake
Strawberry donut
Chocolate Brownie
Lemon slice
We had a lovely afternoon eating, drinking tea and chatting. 

Would I go back? Possibly not, not because it was bad. It really was great for the price, but there are so many other places to try and I want to try them all. However, they do an ice-cream afternoon tea which I would definitely go back for! 

If you want to check out Ghiaccio's afternoon tea you can find details below

Website: (not currently active)

Do you have any afternoon tea recommendations to try? Let me know!

Wednesday, 22 August 2018

Cirque du Soleil - Toruk at the Cadillac Centre, Beijing

I've seen Cirque du Soleil twice now, watching Wintuk in NYC and Le Reve in Las Vegas. Both shows were absolutely incredible so when I saw that Cirque du Soleil was in Beijing the weekend I arrived back, I booked tickets! (PS - sorry for the awful quality photos)

The show was Toruk: The First Flight  which is inspired by Avatar. Being filmed in China, the Avatar Mountains are definitely a place high on our bucket list too! Beijng actually has a lot going on in the centre, and we often don't take advantage of it as Beijing traffic often means we sit in traffic for at least an hour each way. This is something I want to get better at this year as I want to have truly experienced Beijing by the time I leave.
Anyway, back to the show! The Cadillac Theatre was HUGE, probably the biggest theatre I've ever been in but the audience was tiny. It really wasn't a good turn out which surprised me. The tickets were pricey and I didn't pay for the best seats, but the theatre was so empty that people all moved forward anyway, bonus! Also, they were the worst seats I have ever experienced! We're going to see NHL there next month and I may pad out my jeans for a more comfortable experience!
The set was incredible! I wasn't sure whether to expect much from it as travelling shows sometimes can't do things as well as they would in a theatre set up for them, but it truly was amazing! The effects and the backdrops were stunning!

The show was good, but definitely not my favourite! One of the things I really enjoy about Cirque du Soleil is that there is always so much going on and it's fast-paced and exciting, however Toruk was the opposite; it was quite slow. The story of Toruk was great, but there was a lot of story telling and not so much of the talent on show. What we did see was amazing though!
The costumes were absolutely stunning too. As you can imagine, Avatar costumes were pretty extreme and they completely nailed them. I loved the colours and how accurate the costumes were. There were also some animal costumes were which stunning; they reminded me a little of The Lion King West-End Show.

Wintuk is definitely still my favourite; I loved the story and the talent was incredible, but Toruk is definitely worth a watch too if you get the chance!

Have you seen any of the Cirque du Soleil shows? Which is your favourite?

Monday, 20 August 2018

Our Beijing Bucket List

Arriving back in Beijing after a holiday is always refreshing, like arriving for the very first time, filled with enthusiasm and excited to explore the city.

With so much to do in this big and busy city, we've  created a bucket list of the things we really want to experience in Beijing. I'm sure our adventures will help us to discover so many more and there are definitely lots of things that don't quite make our list, but we're excited to start thinking them off.

Here's a printable list that you can print and use as a checklist if you're planning a trip to Beijing.

I will update this page with our experience as we tick things off our list!

Check out our Beijing Foodie Bucket List too.

What's on your Beijing bucket list? Let me know if I'm missed anything off that is worth doing too!

Saturday, 18 August 2018

Beijing Moments #1

A couple of months ago I adopted Mary's New York Minutes series and created 'Beijing Moments.' But I want my blog to reflect more of our every day life which I think will be great to look back on in years to come, so rather than making it city based, I am going to make it life-based. So, here is my first reformed Beijing Moments post.
Food Prep - Last year I had an awful diet in Beijing, living on fast food, takeaways and cake! I made a pact to live better and look after myself more and so I prepped a whole load of healthy meals to keep me on track when I'm back at work. Now my entire house smells of onion though, it's not ideal!
Cirque du Soleil - Toruk, The First Flight - Cirque du Soleil performed in Beijing and we went to see the show on Sunday. It was a great show and it was so good to get out of our little town of Shunyi and do something in the city. Check out my full post about the show.

Back to School - We went back to school this week! I don't understand how it became the end of summer so quick and I was definitely not ready to go back. Luckily there were no kids in this week so we just had lots of meetings, time to organise classrooms and preparation time. On a side note, look at my classroom transformation! I will be posting a little classroom tour on my 'teacher blog' next week if you're interested in checking it out.
Candyfloss Skies - The weather in Beijing has been so random, with lots of storms and rain but it has let to the most beautifully coloured candyfloss sunsets.

This week has been a quiet but full on week as I have settled back into Beijing, began work and got prepared for the children starting school next week.

What have been the key highlights of your week?

Thursday, 16 August 2018

A Heartfelt Post About Weight Gain and Body Confidence

This is a post I wasn't sure I would ever write because it is such a raw emotion for me. Very raw! It's not something I ever like to draw attention to and I feel so ashamed of ever letting me weight get so out of control. Gaining weight completely destroyed far too many years of my life and affected me in ways that only the very closest people in my life  know. I think lots of girls struggling with weight and body confidence struggle with these feelings and most people around them are probably completely unaware.

On the outside I was always happy and bubbly. I just got on with life - did my job, smiled at people and found all possible ways to cover how I really felt about myself. I also became an expert liar to cover up anything that might blow my cover. Looking in, you would think I was a girl who was perfectly happy with myself. But inside, I was dying!

Life became a vicious cycle. I ate because I was unhappy and I became more unhappy because that made me gain weight. When you see curvy girls that are full of confidence and happy in their own skin I have so much admiration for them. I wished I could feel like that about myself but I just couldn't. Perhaps, deep down those girls feel exactly the same as I did, who knows?

My weight affected every single thing in my life. When I say that it's easy to think that I'm exaggerating but I truly do mean every little thing.

 When heading off on a holiday, I'd spend days before stressing about how to squeeze myself into the aeroplane seat and panic about the embarrassment of having to ask for a seat belt extension (luckily I never had to but the fear was real)
♥ Eating out at restaurants was an uncomfortable experience. I always felt that people would judge  me for my food choices and that the only acceptable thing on the menu for somebody of my size was salad. And let's not get started on restaurants that cram  tables and char into a tiny space!
♥ I became completely anti-social, not because I didn't want friends but because I had nothing to wear. And I had such little confidence I felt that nobody would really want me there anyway. 
 I became an expert a hiding my body. Whether it was folding my arms or holding papers up in front of me, every stance involved covering my tummy as second nature. I could never just be natural and comfortable. 
 Squeezing into my tight clothes every day because I was forever losing weight so there was no point in buying new ones. Then spending 5 minutes stretching them to make them look acceptable. Leaving the house each day knowing I looked awful but having no other option. 
 Planning all of the fabulous things that I wanted to do, the life of my dreams, but then reality would hit and I'd realise that I just wasn't in the right place mentally or physically to live the life I wanted. 

These are just a few of  the ways in which my weight affected me on a daily basis but there was so much more.  

The most important thing that my weight gain affected was my relationship. I became insecure in my relationship and just didn't see why Paul would want to be with me. Because of that I pushed him and pushed him, expecting him to leave. I hated him touching me and felt completely undesirable, which naturally wasn't great for our relationship. And the worst thing of all is that he didn't deserve that. He didn't the weight (well, he did some) but yet he suffered like he had. 

It's so easy for others to judge you for your weight and every single day I would wake up and think 'I've got this' but it's just not that easy is it? Then on days when I failed, I failed big time. It was a vicious cycle that I just couldn't get out of and it destroyed me. In every single way.  I hated myself, I hated my lack of willpower and I felt so deeply unhappy. 

I spent this summer trying hard to lose weight. I did it and I finally feel like I'm finding myself and my happy again. I still have work to do, but I'm making steps in the right direction and that is huge for me. 

Have you or do you ever feel like this? Get in touch - I get it! 
How do you manage your relationship with food, weight and body confidence?

Wednesday, 15 August 2018

Charlie & the Chocolate Factory Afternoon Tea at The Chesterfield, London

If you're a fan of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, or chocolate in general, I'm sure you'll jump at the chance to indulge in the chocolate heaven that is The Chesterfield's afternoon tea.

First, let's talk about the decor. On walking up to The Chesterfield I was a little underwhelmed but that quickly changed when I got closer and saw the beautiful decoration, both inside and out. The Chesterfield is incredibly Instagrammable and so grand! We arrived a little early so popped into the bar for a quick drink before our afternoon tea. I'd highly recommend getting there a little early for the bar snacks alone. We got Twiglets, olives and nuts - do bar snacks get any better than that? 

The afternoon tea is served in the conservatory, which has the most beautiful floral decoration on the ceiling. The sun was shining bright so it did get a little hot at times and you will definitely need your sunglasses to be able to see all of the lovely treats on your plate. 
To start,  they served us a cream soda drink with popping candy inside. I'm not going to lie, it was probably the best thing I have ever tasted! I forgot how good cream soda tastes! We both ordered the chocolate tea, because when in chocolate land, what else would you choose? I didn't love the tea - it wasn't too chocolatey, it was spiced with a chocolate after-taste. It was ok, but next time I would definitely opt for something else, and there were plenty off other choices on the menu. 
Now for the best bit - the food! 
I've got to be honest, the sandwiches weren't great.  One of the best things about afternoon tea for me is the different flavoured breads, and although the breads were all different flavours, I couldn't taste them at all. There was so much filling though which made up for this a little. The sandwiches we got were

honey roast ham & cheddar cheese & tomato chutney on onion bread
roast chicken with grain mustard mayonnaise and nibbed almonds on white bread
Scottish smoked salmon with horseradish cream cheese on beetroot bread
free-range egg mayonnaise & watercress on basil bread
Cucumber and cream cheese on white bread

We got  2 scones which were served with strawberry jam and clotted cream with a fruit scone and a chocolate chip scone. I'm never usually the biggest fan of scones (I'm a terrible British person, I know) but the chocolate chip scone was the best thing I had ever tasted!  It really was incredible - squidgy, moist, chocolate - just divine! 
The desserts are always my favourite part and they were yummy. In true Wonka style, the desserts all had an exciting twist that made me feel like a child all over again. My favourites were the white chocolate egg and the milk chocolate bar - hands down! The desserts were really varied and included  
blueberry macaroon
bubblegum eclair
fizzy lifting cake
fruity tart
orange cupcake
white chocolate golden egg
milk chocolate bar

Note:This afternoon tea was particularly popular for children so if you're not a child-friendly person, you may prefer to miss out on The Chesterfield. If you do have kids then The Chesterfield will be absolutely perfect for you - they really make it special! 

The tea costs £38.50 per person or 45.50 with a glass of champagne. They also  do a children's afternoon tea for £19.50. 

If you'd like to experience chocolate heaven, you can find out more information on their website and

Have you sampled afternoon tea at The Chesterfield? What did you think?
Which afternoon tea should I try next?

Tuesday, 14 August 2018

Back in Beijing

I arrived back in Beijing on Friday, and as I sit writing this at 3am on Monday morning, the jet lag has well and truly taken affect.

The thing with expat life is that whn you know you're done with a place, you just know. This is the first time I've flown back to Beijing and really not wanted to. There is such a thing as outdoing your stay in a place that isn't home and I think I'm reaching that point with Beijing.

I regularly go between the feelings of being ready to move back to the UK and wanting to stay abroad. One thing I did realise this holiday (or at least I think I did) is that I am ready to return home. The longer I am away, the harder it feels and I live with a constant guilt of not making the most of my time with the people and things that matter most.

Aside from the negativity that underlines this post, I am feeling quite positive and motivated about being back in Beijing though. For the first time I have a sembelance of a plan for the future and me and Paul are in a much better place to be able to action our plans and work towards out goals. While I'm ready to go home, there is still so much we have done in Beijing, China and beyond and I want to leave feeling satisfied with my time spent here.

So, with a 2 year contract still to complete, I have a few key things that I plan to achieve with the next 2 years in Beijing:
  1. Save - want to save as much money as possible so when we go back to the UK we are able to set ourselves up nicely. This is going to be the best opportunity we will ever have to put some money behind us. 
  2. Lose weight - I want to work on this steadily until I reach my goal. No fast-track dieting, no beating myself up for the odd treat, just healthy weight loss. 
  3. Explore - I don't want to see ALL of Asia, but there are some key places I really do want to explore and I want to use my time in Beijing to do all of those things. Realistically, when I leave China I doubt I will ever return, and I'm much more likely to want to holiday in Europe or the USA, so this may be my only chance to see those places.
So, with 3 key goals and 2 years to achieve them, I'm ready to make Beijing life work for us! People are expats for so many different reasons - travel, experience, family, money, etc. Sometimes those priorities and motivation change! We began expat life for the travel and experience, however, our next 2 years of expat life will be to set up our future! 

What are your reasons for choosing expat life? Or if you're a homebird, what are your reasons for preferring to remain at home?
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