Sunshine Blogger Award

Sunshine Blogger Award

There’s me, just minding my own business on a Friday when a little Twitter notification pops up. Yoohoo!

Ross has tagged you in the Sunshine Blogger Award!

Fridays don’t get much better than that. Being acknowledged for the hard work I’m putting into my blog feels just like when you dip a chocolate biscuit into tea and get the soak level just perfect. Or buttery-marmite crumpets. Just lovely.

I’m a little late posting as I’ve been absolutely manic working and preparing to move house. I’m sure most of you feel my pain of living in packing hell. I pack a box, then spend an hour looking for something. Which is, inevitably, in the packed box.

Ross is pretty much like me – just a human wiggling their way through the world, one tweet at a time. He’s honest, funny, thoughtful and his writing reads like a dream. He covers everything from equality for women’s boobs to nerdy guy stuff about comic book movies. There’s very few male bloggers in the sphere and it’s lovely to see one who has a diverse range of interests. He’s also great at showing his personality in his writing!

The Rules!

  • Thank the blogger who nominated you and link back to their blog;
  • Answer the 11 questions the blogger asked you;
  • Nominate 11 bloggers to receive this award and ask them 11 new questions; and
  • List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo in your post and/or on your blog site.

Here’s Ross’ questions and my honest answers

If you could see any Band or Musician that has sadly passed away who would you see?

This would 100% be Whitney Houston, in her golden days. Or Amy Winehouse. (75% Whitney though). Both these women were phenomenal singers and performers. They also put on a show day in, day out, whilst struggling with a lot of internal problems. Something most of us can relate to. Plus, I love a good singalong!

What are your thoughts on Avocados?

I bloody love avocados but it’s so hard to get the perfect level of ripeness. I know that’s the most first worldly middle-class issue to have. It’s still an issue, though. Perfect in a sandwich on crusty bread. Yum.

What is your biggest pet peeve?

People with no manners. Using manners doesn’t cost a thing. Not using them can cost you a lot.

Would you rather have no hands or no feet?

No feet, definitely. You can do almost anything with your hands. Imagine trying to brush your teeth with your feet. I’m just not that flexible.

We are going to form a band, what position would take?

Front and centre. Honestly, I’m large and in charge. If I wasn’t in the actual band, I’d definitely be the manager.

What is the most influential quote you have in memory?

“Those who matter don’t mind. Those who mind don’t matter”. Don’t worry about everyone’s opinions of you. The people whose opinions matter will support you. Those people who don’t aren’t worth your time.

Which is scarier, Space or the Depths of the Ocean, and why?

The Ocean! As far as we know, there’s nothing out in Space waiting to gobble you up with gnarly teeth.

What are your thoughts on the scandalous “Reality” TV shows, such as MADE IN blah blah or Real Housewives of who knows-where?

Honestly, I used to be a big fan of the older reality shows. The Girls of The Playboy Mansion was my life when I was at uni. Now, I think it’s a bunch of garbage. It’s all staged. People are very quick to ditch their morals or dignity in favour of 3 column inches on the DailyFail website.

Morecambe and Wise or Two Ronnie’s?

Ronnies! I still think they’re hilarious, even if it is in that cringey grandad way.

If you could hang out with any Kids TV Character from your childhood who would it be?

Rosie and / or Jim. I’d happily spend my days chugging along on the old Ragdoll boat.

What Animal would you be most excited to see at the Zoo?

HEFALUMPS. Elephants are my favourite animals on the planet by far. I’ve been lucky enough to visit two sanctuaries in my time. I’ve spent hours up close and personal, plodding along. It’s the best feeling.

Honestly Holly’s Sunshine Blogger Award Questions

  1. Sunshine or snow?
  2. How do you feel about gin?
  3. Was Salem in Sabrina the Teenage Witch the best character ever?
  4. Do you ever read any news publications in actual print form anymore?
  5. Why do you blog?
  6. Should the Kardashians be put in the bin?
  7. What 1 sentence would you say to Donald Trump?
  8. Do you feel bad about how much plastic you use?
  9. Do you exercise as much as you should?
  10. What’s your favourite drink?
  11. What takes up too much of your time?

Honestly Holly’s Sunshine Blogger Award Nominations

Mia over at Blog, Mia, Blog. She’s honest, kind and loyal!

Melissa at Geek Magnifique. Mel and I were in the same English class at school. I’m in awe of where she’s gone with her writing and has even written her own book!

Louise who runs My 3 And Me. She’s a blogger who writes about being a mum and a whole host of other things, including her Tracks of My Years series of guest posts, which is just brilliant.

Hannah at As Seen in SW16. She writes about living and loving in London. She also has one of the best jobs ever!

Emma Rollason who blogs about beauty, fashion and lifestyle in a refreshingly honest way.

Chealsea who writes over on That Skint Gal. She’s sweet, funny and her pictures are great!

This babe on Love You and Them. She writes as fast as I think and everything is pink!

Jackie at Fashion Fairytale. She’s a plus-size fashion blogger who lives life and its prettiness more than me.

Antoria at Finding Satori who writes on mindfulness, self love and gratitude in a really calming way.

Katie who blogs about books on A Novel Idea. She writes on all genres of books, as well as other lifestyle topics.

Rosie who’s just started Indie Shropshire who writes about local events, lifestyle and wedding planning!

Make sure you all follow each others’ socials and get to know each other. Let’s keep this community building!

Hastings in a day

Hastings Day Trip - Honestly Holly
Hastings Day Trip - Honestly Holly
Hastings Day Trip - Honestly Holly
Hastings Day Trip - Honestly Holly

I grew up in and around Hastings

Hastings Beach Pier

Hastings is such a beautiful area, rich with history and an every changing culture. 12 years ago I left for the bright lights of London but my family remained. I have the luxury of knowing Hastings both as a local and as a tourist. I’ll be doing a short series – Hastings in a Day, Hastings in a Weekend and Hastings in a Week. I’ll focus on things to do, things to see, places to stay and things to eat, for all weather options.

This week, it’s Hastings in a Day. Being less than 2 hours from London by train or on the road, Hastings is an easy option for a day out. Whether you’re looking for family fun or a romantic day at the seaside for a couple, there’s something for everyone!

Things to Do

When the British weather does us proud, I would definitely recommend wasting some time playing mini golf at Hastings Adventure Golf. If it’s good enough for the World Mini Gold Championships to be held at, the course is good enough for me! It has water features, sound and light effects, shade and is a great price too.

Hastings Adventure Golf

© Hastings Adventure Golf

The beach is meters away, with arcades across the road and refreshments all round. There’s a big car park just next to it or it’s a short walk from the town centre so it’s easily accessible from all areas.

If the weather isn’t on your side, there’s plenty of alternatives too. One of my favourites, especially with children in tow, is the Blue Reef Aquarium. This is again reasonably priced, with a big car park right outside, and right on the beach. The displays have everything from Nemo look a likes to reptiles. There’s even a shark tunnel where one can stand in awe with the tank above them full of life!

Blue Reef Aquarium Hastings

© Blue Reef Aquarium

Tip – buy tickets online ahead of your visit and get them cheaper!

Things to see

If you’re around the mini golf and the aquarium, you’ll be in the area locally known as the “old town”. This area is rich with history and has a great mix of the old and new. George Street (which runs parallel to the main road) is a beautiful small cobbled street that every visitor needs to see!

From art galleries to restaurants, tattoo shops to book shops, there’s something for everyone in George Street! It’s always full of life and is one of the most picturesque streets in the world to me.

Things to Eat

All this walking and sight-seeing is bound to build up an appetite! At almost every turn you will find a fish & chip shop or an ice cream stand. It’s almost mandatory to have a 99 Ice Cream when you’re at the seaside and I fully encourage it. They’re good for the soul.

If you’re after something more substantial, then the Codfather or the Blue Dolphin should be where you go for fish and chips. Beware of the seagulls though if you’re going to takeaway and eat on the beach!

If you’re after something more sophisticated, the Two Bulls Steakhouse is a must. I went with my mum and had the satay beef skewers last year. We couldn’t find a single thing to fault.

Hastings Two Bulls Steakhouse


If you’re going in a group, the cheapest way to travel is probably by car. With the A21 extension being recently completed, the journey time from London is down to just under 90 minutes. That’s time for only 2 podcasts!

If you’re going it alone or a couple, it might be cheaper for you to get the train. The trainline often do great deals on tickets on certain times of day. Make sure you take a good book or film for the journey as it can take over 2 hours. However, the trains are always clean and air conditioned and there’s a lot of stunning scenery to watch along the way!

Hastings Seafront Selfie

Why I picked Lyrical Host when I went self-hosted

Self-Hosting Made Easy with Lyrical Host - Honestly Holly
Self-Hosting Made Easy with Lyrical Host - Honestly Holly
Self-Hosting Made Easy with Lyrical Host - Honestly Holly

Lyrical Host



When choosing to go self-hosted, I did a lot of research. I’m a nerd, and I studied hard. The internet, blogs, social media groups – they’re all saturated with affiliate programmes. Lyrical Host was the clearly winner, in my eyes.

For disclosure, I am a member of the Lyrical Host affiliate programme. Should you choose to sign up for hosting with Lyrical Host using my links or referral codes, I will be paid commission, which I will also be grateful for. Though I have a vested interest in bringing people into the Lyrical Host fold, I truly love their service and know no one will ever regret choosing them! Using my links won’t cost you any more – in fact you’ll actually get a discount on going direct!

The ethos of my blog is Honesty. Honestly, I would recommend Lyrical Host to anyone looking for a tailored package, with great customer service, super easy navigation and endless support. I see them as the boutique bridal shop on your high street vs the massive overpriced mall down the road. Quality, personalisation, and supporting a local business rather than fuelling consumerisation and the slave trade.

I am the wrong side of 30 (just). My technical capabilities are okay but they’re not my forte. I just knew that I would need a lot of help. The thought of migrating from Blogger to WordPress! It just melted my mind!

There are cheaper hosting companies out there, but I cannot believe you’d find one with better customer service. It’s the same as flying economy, business or first class. Your plane goes to the same place. It does the same things. It’s just the more expensive service is better!

With web hosting, I think it’s the same sentiment. However, I can actually afford 1st class with hosting!

Any questions are answered in minutes. Either on the phone, Facebook chat, or through the support system in the client portal. You’ll never wait long for help with Lyrical Host.

If you’re looking to move and considering Lyrical Host, pop onto their website or their Facebook page and try the live chat option with one of the team. They’re super friendly and always so helpful!

There’s a few areas that are vital to decide on when picking your host and your plan.


If you’re not a tech person like me, you may feel a bit lost in all the jargon. Basically, what you need to know is Lyrical Host’s autoscaling means that in the busiest internetting times (yes, I know that’s not a word), it’ll move your host through the back end resources and servers to ensure that your website stays live, fast and reliable, so your visitors don’t get antsy.

Lyrical Host only offer 100% SSD web space. This means the web space is held on a driver with no moving parts (expensive hardware stuff). That means less wear and tear, much less chance of anything deteriorating and there being any issues behind the scenes. It also means the servers, and therefore your sites, can work a lot harder, a lot faster and with a lot less risk.

Lyrical Host business card

Lyrical Host have amazing firewall software so your site is constantly scanned and protected. I once had someone try and attack my site (I mean, why?! What am I doing that they want to take me down?!). Lyrical Host got straight in there. They held my site, fought off the hackers, and had me back in action in minutes. I didn’t even know it happened!

There’s so much more, that you can find here on their technologies page, if you’re after more info. You can also pop onto the messenger and they’ll explain anything you don’t understand. Unless you’re like me and happy to live in ignorant bliss!


A lot of hosting programmes will advertise at being £x per month. Then you go through the rigmarole of filling out all the forms, trying to sign your life away only to discover they want a whole year upfront, plus domain purchase, admin costs, all sorts.

If you’re just starting out with your site, you probably can’t afford that. Whether you’re setting up a blog for fun, or a website for your new business venture, keeping costs to a minimum is vital. With Lyrical Host, you can spread the cost evenly and the upfront costs are less than you’d spend on lunch with a friend.

All the added extras that you absolutely need but are then charged through the roof for by some hosting services? They’re all included with your monthly cost with Lyrical Host. SSL certificates, email accounts (mine is



I started my site mid month but I get paid on the last working day of the month. To keep all my finances tidy, I arrange for all my scheduled monthly outgoings to come out of my account on the 1st of the month. Lyrical Host were happy to change my date and my next bill pro-rata to ensure that I could keep organised, no questions asked!

All I paid up front was my yearly domain registration – to own – and one month of fees. That is it. Literally. I paid less up front than I would for two cocktails in London. What an amazing feeling!


I started my blog on, other people start on all sorts of platforms. For what I wanted to do (blog), WordPress is the best platform. Full migration to wordpress (or the platform you choose) is free in the service and so worth it. I literally would have NO idea what I’m doing.

All I had to do was pick a theme, book a slot with the team, give them my blogger login and off they went. Within an hour, my site was ready. They transferred all my old posts, logos, into my new theme and loaded it into my site. I got a message – was live!

Ongoing Service

If I have a quick question – I pop onto Facebook chat and Jenni replies in seconds. No question is too silly. They’ll always answer, explain what you need and never be anything but lovely. For anything bigger or more technical, I raise a support ticket. Within a couple of hours, I’ll get a response either saying my issue is resolved or asking for more information. I’m not so good at explaining the technical problems!

Some hosting sites will literally just put your site on the internet and leave you to it. If you want general advice or want to learn more, they’ll charge you or tell you to buy tech support somewhere else. Lyrical Host will answer any questions, even if it’s about a plugin they have nothing to do with, just because they’re nice humans!

They’ll also champion you as a client. They keep up to date with your content, they interact on social media, they drop you a line and see how you’re doing. Lyrical Host actually care about you as a person, and your business. You’re not just a dime in the bank or a figure in their sales stats.

You also get access to the resource centre. Not only do you get the whole back catalogue, but you’ll also get new content monthly. This will range from posts on how to get started with WordPress, to free icons to download or blogging tips!

Basically, you can expect to be welcomed and loved from start to the end of time. Any problems you have, they’ll fix. Any questions you have, they’ll answer. Except maybe about the meaning of life, though I’m sure they would give it a try!

All of this can be yours, and with 10% off either by clicking my affiliate link here or entering the code “Honestly23” – at check out!

Lyrical Host 6 reasons

Good luck!

Top 5 Meals in Cape Town

Top 5 Meals in Cape Town - Honestly Holly
Top 5 Meals in Cape Town - Honestly Holly
Top 5 Meals in Cape Town - Honestly Holly
Top 5 Meals in Cape Town - Honestly Holly

Our trip to Cape Town in April was overwhelming. We did so much that I can’t do it justice in one post! I’ll be breaking it down each week, with a highlight of each area. This week, it’s all about one of my favourite things….food!

As we were staying in self-catering apartments, we had to figure food every day. My partner lived in Cape Town for 18 years so she had a long list of places that she wanted to eat. Luckily, she also knew what a supermarket looked like, what products were good, and not to eat polony!

We had discussed and saved a long time and sorted our holiday budget so we could afford to eat happily whilst we were there. I was surprised to find that the supermarkets were about on par in price with UK supermarkets. The average household income in the UK is around £27,000 and in South Africa it is around £10,000. So for food to be the same price, it’s the equivalent of a bag of microwave rice costing us between £3 and £5 on average.

Comparatively, the cost of eating out in Cape Town is a lot less than in London.  Which is great for us because the cost of stocking up the cupboards with all ingredients etc for cooking was heading towards more than eating out! Plus when you go out for dinner, no one has to do the washing up.

Thanks to our historical knowledge, research and recommendations from M’s friends, we had a great time eating our way round the city. My top 5 meals are here!


One of the first places we ate was Spur. Imagine TGI Friday’s with a native American theme… and a lot cheaper.

Spur Food

In the style of the true gluttons we are, we ordered a lot of different things. Spur’s nachos are infamous, so we had to have a big portion of those! We also had wings, calamari, fries and veg sides (very butter spinach and butternut squash). We didn’t manage to finish it, along with the cokes and beers we had, it was just too much. Including the tip it came to less than £25 and it kept us going all the rest of the day.


The next place we hit up was Salushi, in Claremont. We’d gone on a tour of the suburbs, seeing where M lived and grew up and this was on her must-eat list. I have to say, I was definitely not disappointed. As we went during the day in the week, it was relatively quiet so we had our pick of outside tables.

Salushi Food

The waitresses were welcoming and funny. The food was beautifully presented and delicious. We ordered enough that we couldn’t finish it, despite having climbed around Kirstenbosch National Gardens for hours just before. Still our bill came to around £25 which was more than just a bargain! I’d definitely recommend the Bon Bons to eat, with an iced tea to cool you off in the heat!


After days of running ragged, M and I decided we needed some down time and a date night. We wanted to go out in the evening, for dinner and drinks, but the city centre isn’t really safe enough after dark for us to be doing that. Luckily, the area we stayed in, is super safe so we felt okay to wander about. So we stumbled upon Knife at the Marriot, and I’m so glad we did! Everything was wonderful.

Knife Food

The restaurant itself was beautiful, the waiters were fantastic and the food was heavenly. The cocktails were also a big hit! They have a partner restaurant, Fork, in the town centre which is more of a tapas vibe but this place was great for our date night. Including 2 courses, cocktails and a large tip, the bill came to around £80 for the two of us, which was the perfect end to the evening!

Cocktails at Knife Food Drink

Mozart On Church

When we were staying in the town centre, we decided on a day of museums and wandering, as a lot of the things were nearby each other. Obviously to survive a day of traipsing about, we need to fuel up! We pottered about and came across this beautiful little cage, Mozart on Church, nestled between antiques markets and buskers on Church Street. The coffee was delicious, the eggs were poached to perfection.

Made with love Food Drink

The buskers nearby weren’t going to win the X Factor any time soon but they were a nice background. A lot of Cape Town is super modern or commercialised but this place had a real laid back, beachy vibe. No rush for your order, no suited waiters, with plenty of hipster arty types wandering around.


Now, a Gatsby isn’t a specific restaurant or café, it’s Cape Town’s odd signature dish. For a city with the most wonderful mix of ethnicity, in Africa, based on the sea, I’d expected it to be something fresh and salad like with lots of spices. I think a LOT of Brits and Americans would love a Gatsby. It’s basically a massive long bread roll, filled with Malay spiced steak, chips, salad, cheese and sauce.

Gatsby Food

It’s essentially a heart attack in a bun and makes no sense with the country’s heritage but it’s GLORIOUS. One feeds at least 3 to 4 people and they come in about a fiver each. You’ll find them in “greasy spoon” type cafes or independent restaurants. The posh version any of the chain restaurants aren’t worth it at all! The food was glorious but I think, for me, the topping was the company. I was with M’s friends, the girls who love her most in the world, who had welcomed me into their homes and hearts with big open arms.

And the rest

There was SO much else to share in terms of food. We ate out every day, for convenience and cost mostly, but also because we’re on holiday and wanted to live without restrictions and have fun!

Here’s the run down of where else we went, all of which I would thoroughly recommend!

Rockpool – Sea Point. Popped in for brunch. Great food with great views!

Food Breakfast at Rockpool

The Galley – Fish Hoek. We went in with the intention of Fish & Chips in their takeaway but got drawn into a fancy fish kebab in their restaurant, whilst watching kids play in the waves of this secluded beach.

Food Fish kebab

LouLous – Green Point. This was a night out out for a friend’s birthday. Tapas and booze. The food was amazing and I wish we’d been there for an actual dinner and not to consume copious amounts of rum and gin. Also great party venue on a Saturday night if you’re looking for a little party but not a huge club!

Cape Town Fish Market – Century City. More Sushi! We just couldn’t help ourselves. I thought it was a bit bright on the lights but the sushi is made to order and totally on point. Great options for cheap wine that pairs amazingly, too!

Food Sushi for days

NowNow – Various locations. Imagine Subway with the quality of Waitrose and the health levels of Whole Foods. A touch pricier than some on-the-go places but still cheap, quick and delicious!

Braii – the best way to enjoy food in Cape Town is with the locals. Any South African will tell you the best way to cook is to Braii (BBQ)! It’s more complex than a Great British BBQ. You have to wait a long time. Plenty of beers and snacks are needed but the end result is SO worth it. South Africans really know how to season and fire their food!


Books galore! My 2018 top 5 so far!

Top 5 Books to Binge of 2018 - Honestly Holly
Top 5 Books to Binge of 2018 - Honestly Holly
Top 5 Books to Binge of 2018 - Honestly Holly
Top 5 Books to Binge of 2018 - Honestly Holly
Books are amazing!
Growing up, I loved reading. I spent more time in the library at school curled up with books, than I did outside playing. I feasted on everything from The Famous Five and Mallory Towers to Shakespeare. Yes, honestly, Shakespeare. My mum had “the complete works” and I knew the ‘Romeo, Romeo’ soliloquy off by heart 10 years before I knew what a soliloquy was.
For me, reading is escapism. It’s becoming totally absorbed in another world. I get carried away with emotions of books; I laugh at them, cry with them (Dumbledore’s exit in Harry Potter had me sobbing). Last year, however, I let my love of books slide. Actually, everything slid. Gym, reading, blogging, I was one lazy beast in 2017.
I made myself a promise that I would read more in 2018. Not because I felt like I should, but because I deserve to. Reading makes me happy, and I deserve to be happy. I haven’t set myself a limit or minimum of books to read. I haven’t prescribed when or what. It’s just happening! It seems like since I decided, an abundance of books have come into my life! I want to share with you these books as each of them have impacted me! I won’t share on the synopsis, so as not to ruin them but want to share how each made me feel.

Books – January

The first book of the year I read was Domina, which I already did a full review of over here.
Shortly after that, I devoured this book – Good Me, Bad Me by Ali Land. This is one of a stack my mum passed on to me and was chosen to be the featured book for Autumn for Richard and Judy’s Book Club.
The blurb leads with “When Annie hands her mother over to the police she hopes for a new start in life – but can we ever escape our past?”. This book had me in emotional turmoil from start to finish. With a big twist at the finish that drove me to distraction. This was not a book I enjoyed in the warm, fuzzy feeling that a Harry Potter book might give. It didn’t make me nervous the way Gone Girl did. It made me stressed. Stressed for her, mad at her, sad for her. It invoked a host of emotions I don’t think I’ve felt for a book before. It’s not a light holiday read but it’s a book that changed my thinking in a lot of ways and I’m definitely glad I picked it up.

Books – February

Once I got over that, I dove into The Betrayals by Fiona Neill, another one passed over from Mumma H. She and I have very similar tastes in books so I was excited to go through the pile, though I was a little distrusting after the last book! This book I found really similar to the format of Big Little Lies and Truly Madly Guilty by Lianne Moriarty; I knew the end of the book from basically the first few chapters, but you plod through the story anyway.

If I’m honest, I wasn’t a big fan of this book. The 4 person narrative (each chapter is from the point of view from either the mother, father, son or daughter), I found frustrating. It’s hard to relate to a character or build a relationship when you don’t get to see things from their point for more than 10 pages. If you’re not looking for a book to challenge you, then go ahead and grab a copy. If you’re looking for something more demanding, I’d suggest you leave this one on the shelf.


Book for March

As I write this, I’m currently reading Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng. I found this book through Reese Witherspoon’s instagram book club; the production companies owned by her and Kerry Washington have picked up the rights to make this book into a limited TV series. I absolutely loved the way Big Little Lies was made, in terms of both production and cast, so I knew that if they had chosen this book I needed to read it before it hit the screens.
The book describes itself as the tale of two polarising families in Shaker Heights (imagine Stepford meets Riverdale) bought together by their children. I’m around halfway through and I do like it but it’s not a page turner.
My go-to books are usually mysteries or thrillers and this one isn’t gripping me. I’m enjoying the characters but there’s nothing driving me to push through to the end. I hope that it has something deeper to it, if it’s been deemed enough to make into a series. I’ll let you know how it goes when I get to the end!

Books – April Onwards

I’ve got my next  books lined up already. I go to Cape Town in April and the journey there consists of two 8 hour flights with a 2 hour layover in between. Although I don’t think my holiday is going to allow much time for lazing by a pool, I know there’ll be these journeys plus some down time, which is perfect for blitzing through books!
I will definitely be taking the latest book in the Jack Reacher series – The Midnight Line – by Lee Child. I absolutely love every single on of these books and Jack Reacher is probably the only man I’ve ever loved. The films are an abomination and I refuse to correlate them to the books I have spent literally hundreds of hours wrapped up in. This addition to the Reacher series is an extension of a novella I’ve previously read, with Reacher getting caught up in the illegal opioid trade. I don’t even own a copy of the book yet but I know I’m going to love it.
Maestra is next on the list. This is the first in the series of which Domina is the second. In my review of Domina, I mentioned that I had no idea before reviewing it that it was part of a series. My darling girlfriend read that post and ordered me Maestra as a surprise. Reviews online rate Maestra far higher than Domina, which I love, so I’m intrigued to see how quickly I will tear through the pages of this mystery.

Books – Reading List

Another from the list Mumma gave is called The Girl Before, by JP Delaney. The Sunday Times have called it the bigger rival to Gone Girl, and what all know what a storm that book was! Lee Child rates it as a “pitch-perfect thriller” so I’m invested. Expensive property, mystery, murder obsession. All of these are ingredients for a recipe for a success of a book, in my opinion, and this one is already getting a spot in the suitcase, despite it being a pretty heavy hardback!
A lighter read for the forthcoming lighter evenings is Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal. This is yet another book that features in Reese’s book club. The title itself invokes emotions from hilarity to sadness, so I already think I’m going to love it. GoodReads describes it as “A lively, sexy, and thought-provoking East-meets-West story about community, friendship, and women’s lives at all ages—a spicy and alluring mix of Together Tea and Calendar Girls”. What more could a girl want for a summer read? The beautiful cover of the book is literally the icing on the cake here.

The last on the list, for now, is Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman; her debut novel. This has already made it onto the Sunday Times Bestseller List, was awarded the 2018 Costa Debut Novel Award, and has already been optioned by Reese Witherspoon as a movie for her to both produce and take the lead role! The reviews thus far are great. A woman becoming her own heroine – something I hope I can relate to! What books are you reading now? What would be the best book you’d recommend? Comment with any books you love!


Movie Mayhem – 5 so far

Top 5 Movies of 2018? Honestly Holly
Top 5 Movies of 2018? Honestly Holly
Top 5 Movies of 2018? Honestly Holly
Top 5 Movies of 2018? Honestly Holly

We all love a good movie. There’s something about the pure escapism of delving all your senses into a different world and forgetting everything around you.

I have a wide taste in movies. I’ll watch anything except horror films. I just don’t see the point in being scared.

This year I made a promise to myself that I would read more books. This has left less time for screen escapism. I’ve still managed to catch a few films in the 3 months of the year. Some are great, some are awful! Here’s 5 that have imprinted on me so far this year.

Movie 1


© Wikipedia

The Founder

Watched on



Michael Keaton


Dramatisation of the true story of the brothers who created the original McDonald’s, and the man who grew it into the empire it is today


 Loved it. There’s so many morals to take away from this. Hard work and determination can get you very far. Looking after the people at the bottom looks after the top. Team work makes the dream work. Don’t sh*t where you eat. The cinematography is great and changes as the story evolves through time. The acting is fantastic. The story is intriguing and inspiring. M watched it with me, and she took a lot of tips from them to use in her pub!

Rating: 4.5 out of 5!

Movie 2



The Lifeguard

Watched on



Kristen Bell


Twenty-something living in New York gives up and goes back home to Conneticut where she resumes her high school job as Lifeguard at the local pool. Relationship with a teenager ensues.


Bloody awful. Don’t bother. I have never been more disappointed with an actress the way I was with Kristen in this. This film came out in 2013. It wasn’t exactly the beginning of her career when she needed to beg for roles to gain exposure. This is after “Forgetting Sarah Marshall”, after “Burlesque”, the same year as “Frozen”. There’s no excuse and her agent should be fired. It was creepy and awkward. Not in a cool, artsy, hipster way either. Don’t waste your time. Watch Frozen instead, it’s much better.

Rating: 1 out of 5

Movie 3


© Wikipedia


Watched on



Ben Schnetzer


Mid 80s – a group of miners in Wales and an LGBT activist group support each other’s causes in a time when they’re both the underdogs of society.


Love it. It’s heart warming, gut wrenching, tumultuous. I truly believe that empathy can change the world and this film proves just that. It’s a dramatisation of a true story. The aesthetics aren’t easy on the eye but the story isn’t easy on the heart. It’s a perfect film for a Sunday evening with a glass of red wine.

Rating: 4 out 5

Movie 4


© Wikipedia

Pitch Perfect 2

Watched on



Rebel Wilson & Anna Kendrick


The sequel to the college acapella sensation film, Pitch Perfect. The Bellas move onto an international championship in Europe in an attempt to restore their brand.


Love it. Acapella is everything I wish existed in my schools when I was a teenager. This film has everything. Romance, campness, girl power, music to sing to. Anna Kendrick is one half of my spirit animal and Rebel Wilson is the other. The characters are relatable. They screw up, they bitch, they put each other back together. Perfect for a night in with the girls!

Rating: 5 out of 5

Movie 5


© Wikipedia


Watched on

Amazon Prime Video


Matt Damon & Julianne Moore


A 1950s suburban family falls apart at the seams and madness ensues


This is an odd one. “Kooky” is the word that comes to mind. The acting is fantastic. Damon & Moore work so well together. The story is ludicrous and predictable but you stay intrigued the whole way through. There’s also a sub story addressing the racial tensions in America in the 50s. It was really tough viewing, for both stories, as times. There were elements of surprise. Comedy comes in the form of hindsight and cliches. Drama galore. Great for those times where you want something gripping but not too challenging.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Amazon Prime is currently running a promotion offering a FREE 30 day trial of their services! 

Movies to Come

I’m flying to Cape Town tomorrow. My journey consists of 2 flights, each between 8 and 10 hours. Both ways. So I have roughly 36 hours to fill on planes. I’ve done a similar journey when I went to Thailand a couple of years ago. But it’s still hard work! Some of this time will go on crap naps. I’ll spend a good portion reading. But that still leaves a whole lot of dead time to be filled. Luckily, we’re flying with Emirates who have the best in-flight entertainment in their industry by far. I’ve been reviewing their site for what’s on at the moment. My “to watch on the plane” list is massive! So I’ll attempt to watch them all.

Here’s my selection from the list: Jumanji; Pitch Perfect 3; I, Tonya; The Greatest Showman; Molly’s Game; All I See is You; Coco; Darkest Hour; Detroit; Get Out; Murder on the Orient Express; Three Billboards Outside Epping, Missouri; Battle of the Sexes; Victoria & Abdul; Atomic Blonde; Home Again; The Dark Tower.

This is just the new movies – there’s so much more on there, including a Disney documentary on African Cats with Samuel L Jackson and Patrick Stewart narrating! Have you seen any of these? What films would you recommend?


Gin! Glorious Gin! Every day is a Gin Day!

Gin cocktails, Best Gin, Glorious Gin! Honestly Holly
Gin cocktails, Best Gin, Glorious Gin! Honestly Holly
Gin cocktails, Best Gin, Glorious Gin! Honestly Holly
Gin cocktails, Best Gin, Glorious Gin! Honestly Holly

We Love Gin!

I never used to drink gin. Ever. My mum has always drunk gin (with coke, don’t ask). I go through phases with drinks. In my late teens, when I thought I was super knowledgeable and classy, I solely drank Tia Maria and coke. At uni I progressed to lager and sambucca (separately) solely on a cost factor. Eventually I found the original love of my life – dark rum. I’m no expert on rum; I’ll drink anything from golden to dark – though never light or spiced. Considering my partner runs a pub I should probably know more. Show me mercy, please.

Then, when I met M, I jumped on the gin bandwagon. She drinks gin like it’s going out of fashion, excuse the contradictory pun, it’s very much the fashion now. Enjoying a good quality gin is one of her favourite ways to end her day.
In the early days of our relationship, I was attempting to impress her. I turned to gin to try to turn her to me! Turns out she thinks I’m perfect the way I am and I didn’t need to try – who would have thought?! Now she’s a huge inspiration to me!
So now, if I’m just having a drink or two (which isn’t very often), I’ll have gin. Rum is still my number one girl for a Big Night Out but gin is my day to day friend. I am, however, pickier about my gin than I am my rum. Now, I’m learning a lot about different brands and different types.

Mass Produced Gin

Mass produced gins seem to all taste the same top me. They’re pleasant but nothing to get excited about (though Aldi’s own brand gin is award winning, delicious and doesn’t hit you hard in the wallet). Side note – I went to an amazing PR event (which I actually paid for) by Bombay Sapphire about 18 months ago, and I wish I had HH23 then, it was a blogger’s dream!
The pub M runs is owned by a corporation who jumped on the gin bandwagon last summer and we suddenly had 10 gins on sale. Brands like Bombay, Hendricks and Gordon’s mass produce these. I guess they would have to, to keep up with the demands of a huge pub chain.
The menu changes every winter and summer and now we’ve got a new gin menu! Their new summer drink is an “Ultimate T&T”. It’s a Tanqueray 10, with Fever Tree Mediterranean tonic and a slice of grapefruit, with plenty of ice of course. Tanqueray 10 is a premium of the mass-produced gins. I have to say, I’m pretty bloody impressed with it. The bottle is so pretty. The taste is paired so well. The softness of the tonic and the sharp cut of citrus in the grapefruit just work! I accidentally had 3 before I could go home!
Though we are a branded pub, I’m also very big on supporting small businesses. I love products that have a more personal touch to them.

Small Batch Gin

So we’ve been investigating other small batch gins to see the difference. The first that we’ve tried is 1606 – a small batch London Dry distilled in the UK and distributed by the British Honey company. They only make 300 bottles per batch and they’re not always available but we got the timing right for the latest batch! We bought a bottle through a friend and decided to crack it open when my mum came for a weekend.

The bottle is classic and striking; much like this juniper-led gin with strong scents of the Sicilian oranges used in the distillation. We chose to pair it with the classic fever tree light tonic, with slices of oranges. I actually forgot to take pictures of the drink, as I got carried away drinking them.
The gin is easy and delicious to drink. I find some gins can be quite aggressive in taste but this is perfect for summer. Light enough to quench thirst in a pub garden on a summers’ day. Heavy enough to combat the end of a bad day!
The second is Tiger Gin, which I found through Instagram. I was scrolling through several accounts that are followed by The Gintern. She has probably the best job ever. Imagine a week in her life! I got my hands on a small bottle – enough for 2 drinks – and thought I’d try a normal light tonic and a flavoured tonic.
I didn’t have any ice which made the whole experience odd. On first opening the bottle, I noticed it smelled very boozy. Not a bad thing, in my opinion, but perhaps a little strong for those of you couldn’t drink enough to sink a ship and all its pirates, like I can.
I also didn’t have any garnish so apologise for being uncouth. With just the light tonic, it was fairly standard but with the elderflower tonic, it was much fresher, lighter and more enjoyable. My favourite Fever Tree tonic is the Mediterranean (which just so happens to have the prettiest bottle) but I think with maybe one of the rose or orange infused tonics it would be just as great!
Having originally though that it was a little strong, it seemed to disappear really quickly from my glass. I had my gin with dinner (because gin is for all occasions) of a chicken fajita type concoction and it was really pleasant too, didn’t overpower the flavours of my food at all!
Then I sat and listened to the Women’s Hour podcast all cosy in my gin glow.
I’ve found a few other gins I’d like to try too. The fruity flavoured gins on sale in Aldi and Lidl look super tasty, there’s a new JJ Whitley gin in the pub that I’d like to try. I’ve seen a few people supping on Salcombe Gin lately and I’d like to jump on that bandwagon. John Lewis sell a gin that a customer in the pub was raving about called Unicorn Tears that I want to try just because of the fact that it’s sparkly. Mostly, I want to try a gin called Silent Pool. I was recommended this by a tenant of mine who manages bars in high end hotels in London, and is assisting with this product being launched in Italy!
What is your go-to drink? What gins would you recommend?
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Gin Cocktails

7 Podcasts you Need to listen to Now!

7 Podcasts That Will Change Your Life! Honestly Holly
7 Podcasts That Will Change Your Life! Honestly Holly
7 Podcasts That Will Change Your Life! Honestly Holly

I worked out recently that I spend, on average, 20 hours per week in my car on my own, travelling to and from work. I used to spend all that time being absolutely brain dead, listening to the same 12 songs on the radio every day. The traffic is something drives me mad – pun intended – and can, frankly, make me miserable. Who knew that a podcast would save my melting brain?

I could get public transport but it takes the same time and costs three times as much. I also can’t have personal space or the temperature how I want. So I’m sticking with driving. I can’t change the traffic (the A13 is notoriously one of the worst roads in the whole universe). I can’t take away the negative time but I can change what I do with that time.

I’m not sure where I got the brainwave from but I finally decided to give in to podcasts after hearing about them since I was about 18 and had no idea what they actually are. I sound about 73, I know.

Turns out podcasts are pretty cool. They’re like radio shows but for a purpose, on a specific topic, with people who actually care about what they’re saying and don’t play the same awful re-purposed songs.

Having discovered this wonderful world, I felt compelled to share the podcasts that I’m loving at the moment, in the hopes that they bring you a level of mental stimulation too. I use the Castbox App – mostly because it’s the first one that came up in the Play Store.

From The Heart Podcast

The first podcast  ever discovered was from Yoga Girl, called From The Heart. . I’ve been following her on Instagram for a long time and find her to be a breath of fresh, honest air in the confusing and somehow pressured world of yoga. She talks on everything spirituality, motherhood, current affairs. She’s moving, funny, awkward, thought provoking and generally just a beautiful, light soul.

©Rachel Brathen

Desert Island Discs Podcast

The next is BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs led by Kirsty Young. This is a condensed version of the radio show and it’s utterly brilliant. DID has been running since 1942 and is still wonderful, 76 years later. Guests range from Russell Brand to Professor Phil Scraton of QUB. The guests explore music that has deep meaning in their life and it’s fascinating to see the way Kirsty leads them through an emotional journey, even making Tom Hanks cry!


Super Soul Sunday Podcast

When I need motivation or a source of light in a tough day, I turn to Oprah and the podcast of her Super Soul Sunday Conversations. Her guests are of the highest calibre. They explore feminism, human rights movements, comedies, life advice. My favourite episodes so far have definitely been either Maya Angelou or Ru Paul, though I’ve hundreds of episodes to catch up on!


Talk Stew Podcast

To change things up from the female narrative (and to feed my love for him), I’ve been avidly tuning in to Reggie Yates’ Talk Stew podcast. Reggie and his BFFs sit in what sounds like a cold dank room but keep the energy light, jossing with each other whilst flowing through natural conversations with their guests. I was surprised at how articulate and well-rounded Goldie is in 2017 and discovered that Little Simz is pretty famous in Australia! I think this has been a real labour of love for Reggie and I’m really enjoying being part of his journey on my journeys.


The Guilty Feminist Podcast

I subscribed to The Guilty Feminist because I thought I should, if I’m honest. I often feel that I’m not a good enough feminist. I envisaged it to be akin to Germaine Greer and I couldn’t have been more wrong. I haven’t looked into the background of this but these women are funny, intelligent, and brutally honest. I think they’re my kindred spirits. Their sections on “I’m a feminist but…” have me in hysterics that have my fellow A13 dwellers looking at me through the car windows worrying if they should call the police.

Happy Place Podcast

Fearne Cotton has blossomed in the same way Reggie has and is a much more authentic person, living in pursuit of good mental and physical health, and her Happy Place podcast is another stream in her network. I’ve only listened to one episode so far, with Dawn French, which was of course enlightening and emotional. She’s only got 3 episodes so far and the other two are queued and ready to play coming home from work this week.


Homosapiens Podcast

Lastly, and by no means least, is Will Young and Chistopher Sweeney’s Homosapiens podcast. This is based at the LGBT+ community, filling a void they felt in the market. It addresses important issues in the LGBT+ world that are not addressed enough, with equal parts compassion, respect, humour and intellect. Their informal conversations and discussions amongst the pair between their interviews and discussions with each week’s guest have me feeling like I’ve just got my mates in the car with me and make my boring journeys whizz by!


In the Queue

I’ve been recommended a few more podcasts by friends and followers, and have also found a few more along the way so will be delving into these in the following weeks too:
Fit & Fearless – The Girl Gains
Happier – Gretchen Rubin
What’s The Tee – Ru Paul
Ted Talks – everyone
The Balanced Blonde – Jordan Younger
The Goal Digger – Jenna Kutcher
The Lively Show – Jess Lively
UnLadylike – Cristen & Caroline
Women’s Hour – BBC Radio 4
Self help Podcasts
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A Week in the life of Holly, Honestly

A Week in My Life - Honestly Holly
A Week in the Life - Honestly Holly
A Week in my life - Honestly Holly
A week in the Life - Honestly Holly

I have many roles in life, as do most women in 2018. I am a property manager (estate agent), a girlfriend, a daughter, a sister, an auntie, a friend, a pub wife, a blogger. Each of those roles pull me in 8 different directions and, honestly, I struggle to keep up with any of them. A week in the life of me can be so many different things!

A lot of women I know in life or follow on social media admit to feeling that they’re failing in at least one aspect of their life. The media however depicts so many famous women as sailing through life juggling all of these roles, without breaking a sweat. “Effortlessly” is a word that flies around a lot and a topic I’ve recently heard Mindy Kaling discussing openly.

 The ethos of my blog is Honesty. I try very hard not to portray on social media that I am succeeding at any of these things in life. What I want is to show the truth of myself and the life of a modern 30 year old living and working in London. I want to subvert the blogger stereotype of dreamy shots all filtered in the same dusky pink hue and show the reality of the sweat and tears involved in actually functioning as an adult in 2018. I think a “week in the life” is a great way to show normality.

 Thus, was borne “A week in the life of Holly, Honestly”. This will be a recurring feature periodically through the years. This last week has been a particularly brutal example of getting torn in all directions and an insight into the madness that is my life. It’s also been a week full of anxieties and me thinking I’ve failed at everything, as usual. We’ll start with Saturday, as this is the first day of the week after my post on a Friday.


One of my best friends came to the pub for lunch and then we headed over to Lakeside to do some shopping and catch up. We hit up Primark with a vengeance, determined to bag myself a new foundation but they didn’t have any in my shade! Luckily, I did nab this lip crayon in Velvet Matte Dulce de Leche which is a perfect colour for me and I’m smitten with it.

I was also over the moon to see this full window ad in Primark with these beautiful women who actually have real human bodies!


I spent the evening fulfilling my Pub Wife duty and did a shift on the bar. We had a cracking night with a big engagement party in; everyone was in a great mood and the bride to be was super happy! Rolled into bed around 1am and was probably asleep by 130am.I spent the night worrying that I haven’t been a good enough friend of late and my dreams were riddled with images of bridges crumbling. How dramatic.


I was up early to drop M to the pub to open, then hit the road for the 70 or so miles down to Hastings where my family live. My brother offered to cook a roast for us all for Mother’s Day which was brilliant!

I gave my mum this card from You Said It cards and she loved it! They do a great range of ‘alternative’ (read cheeky to downright rude) cards which exactly suit the humour me and my mum both have! They are great quality and offer a variety of colours for the envelopes to just suit the person receiving it! I’d like to thank You Said It for the opportunity to try their product!

I really dislike driving in the dark so I headed home around 430, picked M up on the way and went home to dinner. Then, I spent the evening frustrated that I hadn’t done enough on the blog that week. It was like I hadn’t written enough posts, engaged enough with others. M gave me a strong pep talk and calmed me down like only she knows how!


Mondays are always busy in my job. My work is people’s homes which don’t close of a weekend so there’s always loads to keep me busy on a Monday and the day just flies by!I had planned to go to the gym Monday evening but a mixture of being exhausted and M having gone to the pub after work means I ended up going home, getting dinner and settling on the sofa to plan and pay some attention to social media.Naturally not going to the gym made me feel like I’d failed. We’re going to Cape Town at the end of April. I’m not a small person by any means but I’m definitely carrying extra winter fluff and I’m not ready yet to be revealing what hibernation and winter food has added to my waistline!


I really detest Tuesdays, thanks to my friend Katie. She made me realise that they’re the worst; the warm glow of the last weekend has gone and the next weekend can’t even be seen on the horizon. They always seem to take about 15 hours too.Luckily I had a busy day with inspections, furniture installations, preparing contracts, the usual. I went to a property to bleed some radiators and re-pressurise a central heating system too. Sometimes if you want things done, you just have to do them yourself!I also managed to bag myself a fire safety certificate after completing an online training course!

I never go to the gym on a Tuesday. They always leave me feeling a bit bruised and I like to just go home and snuggle under a blanket and turn my brain off.On Tuesday, Jay Z and Beyonce announced they’re bringing their new On The Run 2 Tour to the UK. I spent most of my time planning how many meals I would have to skip to buy us tickets. Conclusion – about 15 months. Sigh.


Attempted to go to the gym in the morning. What I actually did was turn off my alarms and go back to sleep. Later than I usually would and had to panic faff to get to work on time.I drive an hour each way every day to work so I like to keep myself entertained with a mix of the radio, my Amazon Music playlist and podcasts to keep me company on those particularly bleak days of traffic on the A13.

Amazon Music Currently has a promotion where you can get 3 months’ membership for just 99p! See the banner below for more details

Today, I chose the Women’s Hour podcast, my first time tuning in to it. Margot Robbie was on this episode, talking about her new film “I, Tonya” and I was taken aback how smart and knowledgeable she is!I managed to inspire myself to make a beautiful breakfast in lieu of going to the gym. I think this is going to be my staple in spring!

Another busy day at work, met another tenant and moved him in; another happy customer! For me, your home is the centre of your world, where you start and end every day. I get great job satisfaction knowing people are comfortable and happy in their homes!I downloaded the Preview app to try and get more organised with my Instagram posting. Apparently, I have no idea how to work it. I tried to schedule a post. It was edited beautifully, wrote a great caption and apparently scheduled it for 11am on Thursday but it didn’t post! If anyone has any tips on how to use this, please let me know!


I MADE IT TO THE GYM BEFORE WORK ON THURSDAY MORNING. It has taken me 3 weeks to actually manage it! It was hard bloody work. I was super surprised when I left the house at 615am and it wasn’t dark! I did a short 25 minute full body kettle bell circuit, courtesy of The Food Medic and got super sweaty. I’d have liked longer but the traffic was awful, even at 630am. The A13 is the bane of my life.

I was full of energy all day and surprised I wasn’t drained. I was focused, awake, and happy. The sun shining probably contributed a lot to that too!I did a couple of inspections in the Royal Wharf development. There’s a lot of fantastic scenery in the area I work in but this creepy abandoned mill really caught my eye.

I went to the pub for dinner and to have a catch up with a few of the regular customers who had been at a funeral that day, which was bitter sweet. Getting up an hour an a half early had me knackered by the late evening so I was tucked up in bed and asleep by 1030pm, a very rare occurrence for me!


Friday was another super busy day at work! Luckily we knock off at 530pm on a Friday and the traffic wasn’t so bad. It was still light when I got home! I can’t wait for spring to bloom and the sun to be out every day. It makes such a difference!

M was out for the evening with her friend, so I had the house to myself. I attempted to make a tuna sandwich as I was so caught up in planning and reading. I failed. The lid came off the peppercorns and destroyed my dinner.

I threw a proper tantrum and ordered Indian as a replacement. I gave up on using my brain for any longer and settled in with Pitch Perfect 3 which I absolutely loved!Summary
I feel like I’ve been to a hundred places and done a hundred things but my life really revolves around 4 places. Work, home, pub and Hastings. This “week in the life” has been hectic and I’ve not achieved any of the things I wanted to. Life doesn’t always go to plan. I spent far too much time this week dwelling on my failings. I was not focusing on what I have achieved or planning what I can achieve. This is a part of my personality that I am slowly changing over time but it clearly still needs work! I very rarely feel that I am “enough”. I need to work harder on being as kind to myself as I am to others. How has your week been? What anxieties have you had? What achievements have you made?

How does a “week in the life” of you look?

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Top 10 Inspirational Women Quotes

Top 10 Inspirational Women Quotes
Top 10 Inspirational Women Quotes
Top 10 Inspirational Women QuotesTop 10 Inspirational Women Quotes
Top 10 Inspirational Women Motivational Quotes - Honestly Holly
Top 10 Inspirational Women Quotes

Here’s to Strong Women. May we be them, may we know them, may we raise them!

In honour of International Women’s Day, I didn’t just want to share this piece with you, I needed to. Women are the future! I have so many women that I look up to, especially for inspirational quotes. I could have written another ten thousand words on this, ten times over. In the interest of keeping it sweet (sorry, it’s not short by any means), here is a list of the 10 women who are currently inspiring me as a woman. I’ve included an inspirational quote from each person, what the quote means to me, and why each woman deserves to be on my list.

Helen – My Mum!

Inspirational Quotes

She always taught me that whatever I am doing, do my own best at it. Don’t compare myself to anyone else, but put your all into the things you care about!   

My mum is my rock. She’s my best friend, confidante, boost when I’m down and ego curber when I get carried away. There’s nothing in the world I can’t talk to her about, and she’s probably the only person on the planet on my wavelength. She gets just as upset about the injustices of the world as I do, as well as getting just as excited about a new gin the way I do. We have had to work at our relationship to get to where we are, and will continue to do so. I am so blessed to have such a smart, empowering, funny, kind, hard working, non-judgemental, all round wonderful woman to lead me through life! My mumma loves life quotes as much as I do!

M – My Girlfriend

I am the best at what I do, and I’m proud of it!

Most days, I can’t even find the words to describe her. She is funny, kind, smart, absolutely ridiculously beautiful, hard working, motivational, supportive… I could list 100 more adjectives and it wouldn’t be enough. She runs a million pound business without batting an eyelid. She’s an amazing chef. She’ll give the clothes off her back to see someone else be warm. She’ll run around for 12 hours at work and still come home and hold me whilst I cry. She’s bold, brave and determined. She won’t spout inspirational quotes at me but she’s made me see a future beyond next week. I live every day totally in awe of her.

Oprah Winfrey

Sometimes life cuts you down, learn from your mistakes, from the wrongs in the world; absorb that negative energy into you and use it to fuel your next success!  

Oprah Winfrey isn’t just a woman, she’s a phenomenon. She rose from birth in a poverty stricken family to being worth over $2billion dollars and receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Her media prowess is second to none. Her entrepreneurial spirit, grit and determination are awe-inspiring. But the item that has put Oprah into this post is one of the many things she does to progress women in the world – her Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa. The college came as an idea from her and Nelson Mandela and she ran all the way with it. The school is for girls who come for poor backgrounds but whose minds are rich and ambitions are high. I bet they are taught many strong women quotes too. The first graduating class members have moved onto universities all over the world! Also check out her Super Soul Conversations podcast, it’s just bloody brilliant.

Reese Witherspoon

Life is tough. Not everything will turn out gold. But those moments that do, embrace them!   

She may look like a sweet southern belle, but don’t let her demeanour lead you to think she is anything less than a beast! With 27 industry awards (and a further 48 nominations) under her belt, she’s taken the world of movies by storm since a young age. She juggles work, husband, religion, and friends, alongside motherhood and its intricacies, growing little humans into fantastic young people. She also founded and runs a clothing and lifestyle brand, Draper James, all of which is affordable and authentic to her personality. She also has her company, Type A Films, which bought us Gone Girl and Wild. Her movies are full of empowering quotes that I doubt she even realised the potential impact of. Reese realised that there are not enough diverse or positive roles for women in the industry, so she founded a production company and decided to make the films and programmes herself. She brought us Big Little Lies, and is offering us the adaptation of Eleanor Oliphant. Her work with the #TimesUp campaign, alongside Save The Children, the Children Defence Fund, and being an Avon ambassador, adds the sparkle to her already shining star!

Lena Waithe

Talking about change isn’t enough. We must speak up, we must practice what we preach, and we must stand in solidarity against the things that hold us back.

Lena is 2018’s rising star and couldn’t be more deserving. She’s best known for her role in Master of None, winning an Emmy for her writing in the show, the first black woman to do so. She’s also created the new series The Chi which is looking to be the talking point of TV for summer 2018. My reasoning for adding Lena to my list is her sheer determination to succeed and overcome all the adversity stacked against her. Being gay, black and female, there are so many chances for the industry she works in to typecast her to low level roles. She’s smashing through those glass ceilings, speaking her mind and following her dreams. There’s hope for all the young, queer, black girls out there looking for an inspirational woman and she’s their shining light!

Alicia Keys 

As I grow older, I learn from my life and it frees me from my past, letting me move to my future

Alicia Keys has been my musical idol since I got her first album when I was 14. It’s an album that has got me through many tough times. I’ve sung teary through “Caged Bird” more times than I care to remember. All her albums resonate with me in some way. None of her music sounds like anyone else, and she doesn’t care. She makes the music she does because it makes her happy; she is a strong woman and sings the truth of what is her life at the time. Her amazing music, her conquering motherhood with elegance and grace, refusal to wear makeup any longer aside, it’s her Alicia’s philanthropy that speaks to me in this list. She is co-founder and ambassador of the Keep a Child Alive foundation. She’s been passionate about educating people in Africa about Aids & HIV since a young age when she lost a close family friend to the disease. Alicia also actively participates in direct action in protests relating to educational budget cuts, war, racism, indigenous rights and women’s rights alongside her annual Keep a Child Alive ball.

Maya Angelou

Being a woman is an honour. The ability to produce life, complete the challenges we do, mother, nature, lead, with elegance and gentleness is incomparable. 

Clearly I don’t need to explain why mother Maya (as Oprah calls her) is on the list but I feel like she deserves every great word written about her. She is generally defined as poet, singer, writer, and civil rights activist but she is so much more than that. She is a mother to a son, and adoptive mother to many more. She’s been a writer, director and producer. She was a professor at a college. She was a journalist in Ghana. She’s worked with Malcom X and Martin Luther King Jnr on the civil rights movements. She has spoken out for black people too afraid to use their own voice. She has fought back on behalf of all women who have ever been victims of violent or sexual assault. She overcame poverty to grow to wealth. Her writing is basically a catalogue of inspirational sayings. She’s received over 50 honorate doctorate degrees, alongside the Presidential Medal of Freedom. All of this, with the calm, style, grace and power of the Goddess that she is, mother Maya will live on to be an inspiration for centuries!

Ellen DeGeneres

Being nice to other people really makes a change. Making a person laugh can change the course of their day, their life, and the world. 

Everyone knows and loves Ellen, fact. She has evolved with the times. She started with a stand up career in the 80s. Now she’s hosting her own international chat show now. She came out on a TV show in a time where it was not fashionable, cool, or “normal” to be out and actually proud. Another unstoppable entrepreneur, Ellen has gone to grow her several brands, building an empire beyond her published writing, comprising a a production company and a record company. She spearheads, a website for the LGBT+ community focusing on queer issues in the society, highlighting all negative and positive portrayals of queer people in the media. She’s won 30 Emmys and 20 People’s choice awards. She is one of the most decorated hosts and producers in the world. She may not be the epitome of women empowerment but for me, Ellen has made it to this list because of the same reason she has made it big – her mouth. Ellen is not afraid to say what she thinks. She may soften the blow of the blunt words behind humour. However, she addresses every topic that needs addressing, loud, proud and without apology.


Inspirational Quotes

I am a LOT. I am apologetically loud, opinionated and strong minded. Not everyone can cope with that and that’s their problem, not mine.

For me, the crux of the women’s rights movements, is to empower women. I think that has to start with Self. I spend as much time as every other woman beating myself up. I’m too loud, too tired, too lazy. Too brash, too fat, my skin is bad. I’m not a director, I don’t save the world. But actually, do you know what? I am fucking AWESOME. I am SMART. I am KIND. I am FUNNY. I am HONEST. I work HARD. I LOVE intensely. I deserve to be HAPPY.
I’m not perfect. I never will be. I do spend my days, trying to be good, make the world a better place, make people smile. So it’s taken me a long time (30 years so far) to figure it out. To love myself is the path to loving other people, and love life. It will be a hard path, and I have a lot to work on but, right now, I LOVE ME!

Betty Irene – My Nana

Inspirational Quotes

Treat people the way you want to be treated! Respect everyone if you want to be respected. No one person is superior to another!  

I was lucky enough as a child to have my nan living with us growing up. She and I had a special bond over musical films and cake. I remember even thinking doing the washing up was fun with her! She survived a divorce in a time it was till taboo, raised 2 kids, 4 grandkids, played football in the garden with my brother in her sixties, whilst waiting for the cake she and I had baked to cool.  I try every day to make her proud, and I know if she were still alive, she would just be glad that I’m happy.

Please, please, please, today, do something to recognise your own self worth.

Please comment with any women who inspire you, and why!