Back in April I went on my (first ever!) girls holiday to Warsaw in Poland. I had never been to Poland before so was particularly excited to experience a new country. Read on about what I experienced below:

Where I stayed

My friend booked an airbnb. It was a cute place and perfect for what we needed even though the beds scared me as they were so high! The flat was in a building that had been around since the war (which is rare for Warsaw) and had a catholic shrine in the middle of the courtyard, which wasn’t surprising since it is a Catholic country but I had never seen before. It was my first time I stayed in a airbnb place and have booked an airbnb place for my second trip to Poland in July!

Where I ate

Nocny Market

Nocny Market Neon Sign

Nocny Market

This was a cute food market located west of Warsaw. It was a bit out of the way and is located down a rather dodgy road but when you get there it just feels like you are at a food market that all the locals go too. There was a variety of food from burgers to indian to greek. Oddly enough there was a barbers and a tattooist if you fancy a trim or something more permeant to remind you of your stay…

Stara Kamienica

This restaurant is so cute! It had a saxophone player there! This posh restaurant had a variety of polish and european cuisine at a very reasonable price.

What I did

Gestapo Headquarters in Poland

We managed to pack quite a lot in a short amount of time. We visited the Gestapo Headquarters. This building is very imposing from the outside. It is a very small museum which inside consisted of all the individual cells that prisoners were kept in and you could read all of their engravings on the wall. Accompanying this there were interactive displays educating you on the impact the Nazi’s had on Warsaw. It was very informative and certainly worth a visit.

Pastel buildings in Warsaw Old Town

Old Town in Warsaw is another place you must visit whilst you are there. Old Town is an UNESCO World Heritage site and had been completely gutted during World War 2 and had been restored to as close as the area looked like between the 13th and 20th century.

Mały Powstaniec

We just got a free map which showed us all the places and statues that you needed to see and had a wonder around. We also went to Lazienki Park which is the largest park in Warsaw. It is so beautiful and I couldn’t help but take lots and lots of photos of the palace and the amphitheater.

Palace Gardens in Poland

Finally, I couldn’t forget the bar crawl in Warsaw, for 60 zolty you got 2 cocktails or beers, a free shot and entry into pubs and bars. I am so glad we did it just because it saves having to google all the individual bars yourself, it was also a great chance to meet some new people. It reminded me of my times at Uni!

Have you ever been to Poland? Do you have any recommendations for Krakow? Let me know in the comments below!

 

Blue vintage caravan selling cocktails

I went along to the Birmingham Seasonal markets in Brum today. It was located in Digbeth at The Bond Company. I had been to the winter market before and although it was very cold I had an amazing indian fish and chips and spiced apple drink. Part of the reason I went to the summer one was the Original Patty Men was going to be there and I heard good things about them so I was eager to try one.

What venders were there?

If you have been around the street food markets in Brum then you will recognise the vendors, as well as the O.P.M there was Bournville Waffle Company, Pietanic, The Middle Feast, Buddah Belly, Leave it to Esme, Low ‘n’ Slow, The Jabbywocky and Banh Cuon. There was also The Little Gin Company and The Bus Bar Company.

In addition to this there was an arts and crafts and food market indoors. Lots of vendors selling cakes and postcards which is always a great addition as you can take something away!  The vendors included: Peel and Stone ,BAKE, Pip’s Hot Sauce, Jam Vs Custard, Sarah’s Feisty Flavours, Buzzards valley, Barrel & Bone, Baladee, and The May Bakery.

The crafts included: Sarah Ray, Known as Unknown, Kimberley Simone, Dotmoth studio, Stained and Fused Glass Art, Curate, Hannah Stevens Illustration, Automaton Ceramics, Lily & Giraffe, How Brave is the Wren, Rolling Roses, Upsydaisy Craft, Tatie Lou, Kitty & Min, Lulu In Stitches, PrettyPolitical, CraftyBun Studio, The Peaky Squirrel

What did I eat?

Original Patty Men Burger

I had a strawberry and lime cider and Original Patty Men cheese burger. This will be an unpopular opinion but the cheeseburger was ok. I really did not understand what the hype is about. They do have a restaurant which I have been told I need to try so I am willing to give it another go. I also had shared a brownie from Bake which I have had before and was lush. Overall, it really was worth going for the £2 entry as there was so much on offer.

People at the Birmingham Summer Seasonal Food Market

 

 

Shake That Ting Milkshake Shack

When my mate told me that Digbeth Dining Club was coming to Codsall, I knew I had to go. Digbeth Dining Club is popular in Birmingham for its amazing street food as well as music and entertainment. I have been into my street food festivals recently so couldn’t wait to see what it was about.

What food was there?

There was a small selection of vans ranging from waffles to milkshakes, Nepalese, burgers, indian, hot dogs, Caribbean. They have lots of different vendors go each time and this time they had: Shake That Ting, Bournville Waffle Company, Esmies, Baked in Brick, Manlia Munchies, The Middle Feast, Handmade Pizza Co and Frank.

Image of a BBQ cooking on a mini

Image of a Burrito

I decided to go for this chicken tikka burrito where the meat and the wrap was cooked in an old mini. I also went for the waffle at the waffle van, it was ok but I don’t think it was anything special for £4.50. Finally I had this amazing chocolate milkshake the from the Shake That Ting shack. Normally with chocolate milkshakes they have to be good enough to beat McDonalds. I usually find that with milkshakes they can be too watery as they bulk it out with a lot of ice. However that milkshake was thick with ice cream and cream and chocolate syrup – it was worth the money. All the vendors seemed really reasonable in price normally round the £4-£8 mark.

Frank the corndog stall

Chocolate Milkshake in hand

Would you recommend?

The Codsall version was lovely and it has made me want to visit the Digbeth one so yes I would recommend.

 

Image of a desk with a pennant and books

Welcome to Blog 101, session four is focusing on free or low cost photo editing and image creator apps.

I can and do regularly use Photoshop in my day job for quick tweaks to artwork (I am not a designer at all!) but I don’t have the application at home and neither the advance skills needed to make use of the program. Here are four tried and tested programs that are free that I use.

Canva

This is my favourite program for creating social media images for my posts. The templates are wide and varied from social media images to adverts to printed media or you can create your own custom dimensions. The templates make it very easy to upload your images and overlay them onto your template. Canva gives you great design ideas and tonnes of different fonts and you can get a precise colour by typing in the hexcodes.  If you are creating a poster using canva and wondering if it prints well, my previous manager has created a 60×40 inch poster before and it has printed fine.

Picmonkey

I often resize my photos using Picmonkey. Again this program is easy to use with its resize, text overlay and has templates like Canva. You can add more effects with the photographs itself such as light effects. Less tools seem to be available free unlike Canva.

Fotojet*

I was recently contacted by Fotojet to try out there online graphic design maker. It very much reminded me of Canva albeit a more stripped down version. Again there are lots of functions such as templates to create social media images, create your own custom templates and background. I will write a more comprehensive post about this program separately. It does what it says on the tin, you can edit and create images and the program is easy to use however I think if I had to choose either Canva or Fotojet I would choose Canva as there are more design options.

VSCO

VSCO is an mobile phone app where if you are a bit bored of the Instagram filters and want to move up in the world it is the equivalent of the cooler older brother or sister. I mainly use VSCO for the filters and to resize images normally to put straight on Insta or Twitter. Favourite filters include HB1 and HB2, X1 and A6. A while ago it underwent a massive redesign and it looks pants now and I feel made the app harder to navigate.

Which low cost image and design programs do you use and recommend? Let me know in the comments below!

 

Image of Rebecca Merchant at the Manchester 10k with her partner James Perkins both holding up medals

I ran the Manchester 10k yesterday which was organised by Great Run the organisers famous for the Great North Run. It was my first organised 10k and although I wasn’t building it up to be anything special, it was quite poignant since the the attack at the Manchester Arena on the Monday. On social media everyone was encouraged to wear yellow ribbons and plenty of people wore yellow and bees and wasn’t going to let a terrorist attack stop us.

The 10k they put people in waves white, blue, green, orange and pink. Waves were allocated by the how long you think it would take you to run the race. I was put in the pink ‘wave’ which was the last wave to go as I put down a time of 1hour 20 minutes.

Rebecca Merchant at the start line of the Manchester 10k

I hadn’t done as much training as I could have done, I do have a baseline of fitness however with the circuit training that I do and the Parkrun’s. I did however run a 10k twice before the event, I had never run one before and I did not want to go into it blind. My two practice runs didn’t put me off but it made me aware of the distance I was facing. If I hadn’t had run those before hand I would have still ran the 10k but would have had a bit of a shock!

It is important to make sure you have fuelled beforehand and keep yourself hydrated. There were two water stops on my way round the 10k and I made the most of them and drank it rather than throwing the water over me. The water is going to be better inside you then out! Another thing I learnt is that there warm-ups are pants! I had better warm-ups at the Race for Life events and they are only 5k. I wish I had warmed up properly beforehand as I really felt stiff the next day.

Rebecca Merchant at the start of the Manchester 10k

I asked on Twitter beforehand if we could bring headphones and we could which I was really glad about because music really keeps me going. Although it is worth pulling the headphones out right at the end to soak up the atmosphere. At every opportunity I waved and put my thumb up at the police and first aiders – many police officers came from different areas Nottingham, Derby, Wales and South Yorkshire were drafted in to protect us so thank you to them. At the end I loving it and was waving at the crowd and was encouraging the crowd to cheer for me.

Key points to take away:

  • Fuel and hydrate up before the event.
  • Keep some paracetamol on you incase you get a headache.
  • Find somewhere to warm up properly.
  • Take some protein straight away  after the event.
  • Practice beforehand at least go to the Parkrun’s or short runs but at least run a 10k beforehand so you get an idea of the distance.
  • Wear shorts not leggings – you will just get hot. I also wear vests rather than shirts.
  • Make sure your trainers are in good condition.
  • Finally enjoy it, make the crowd cheer for you. thank the people waving you and making the day possible!