How I Approach Brands as a Blogger

But, something people ask me a lot is how I approach brands as a blogger.

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When I put out my post about how I retain my traffic I vowed that I would put other posts, like how I’ve grown my social media and how I’m so productive (which I really don’t think I am that productive because half of the time I’m laying in bed playing Brawl Stars and the other half I’m sitting in the living room scrolling through social media).

But, something people ask me a lot is how I approach brands as a blogger.

There’s loads of information on the internet about how to approach brands. All it takes is a simple google search and you have reams of information at your disposal, for free. That’s all I did, googled, read, scrolled, read some more, and practised.

I look back at some of the first emails I sent when I was first approaching brands and I must say, I cringe. In some of them, I sound like a little girl asking their parents for some sweets in the sweet shop when they’ve run out of pocket money. In others, I sound like a high-flying journalist who lives in a high-rise building in New York. Well, dress for the job you want, I guess?

Anyway, both of them showed my experience or lack of. As much as I had read, I still didn’t really know what I needed to do. Sure, I knew I needed to attach a few documents here and there, I knew to be a little formal but not too formal (whatever that means) and I knew I should offer them what I can do, but, what could I do? I wasn’t sure really. I can write a blog…? Great Lauren, that’s 95% of the internet then…

It’s not until recently that I’ve really learnt how to approach brands. It takes time. You have to send your cringe emails, you have to start from the bottom. You have to collect rejections.

Collect Rejections

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I contacted this company three times before they agreed to work with me [planner gifted from Mr Wonderful]
 It might sound ridiculous to say collect rejections. If you’re approaching a brand why would you want them to reject you? Well, it’s simple. I didn’t know I needed them now, but I did. Every rejection helped me to mould my own email format. Most responses would come with a reason why they rejected me. I made a note. I learnt from it.

The less exciting ones are the: “We just don’t have the budget right now.” – which equates to real-life terms “I have money but I just don’t like the plans you’re offering and would rather go for a meal with a different friend“. Or “We’ll keep you on file for future opportunities.” which roughly equates to “Please don’t ever call us again, we’ll call you. Which, ultimately, will be never.You have to take those ones with a pinch of salt. Just because they don’t want to work with you now, doesn’t mean they don’t want to work with you, ever.

Utilise Social Media

That person sitting behind the Twitter or Instagram of the business pulls a lot of strings, in some cases. They are the ones who see how you perform. Sometimes, they’re even the marketing managers. Or, they have access to influencer budgets. Make use of them.

I don’t mean start stalking them, liking every post and commenting below everything saying “Wow I’d love to work with you!!!!!!” because let’s face it, that’s creepy. But, drop a like every so often. Things you genuinely do like that is. Make a thread of businesses you’d love to work with and tag them in. Write posts about them or take photos with their products and tag them in. Build a relationship with them and then slide into their DM’s.

You might find you get a contact detail for the person you do want or in some cases, they’ll show interest and ask if you can talk about it in emails. Result.

Do Some Voluntary Work

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We took photos with our Truprint book and created a post before I landed a collaboration with them

I know this won’t sit well with a lot of people, but, unfortunately, it’s the way the world works. It’s a way to build experience. Build your brand. Build your reputation. You can’t walk into blogging and start at the top with PR parcels to review and experiences to… um, experience?

PR’s, your audience, marketing teams, brands – they need to see what you can do. They need to see that you’re good at reviews. They need to see that you take an alright photo. They need to see that you genuinely do use their products. Your posts should show your personality and show why you should be trusted to create content.

Address the Recipient 

General office etiquette here, but, there are so many people, without generalising, usually the much younger generation who don’t address the recipient in their emails. Sending an email without a name almost guarantees that you do not get a response. Unless you have trudged long and hard across the internet and they really don’t disclose who works for which department, which, in all honesty, is a very small amount of brands then you need to include their name. 

There are so many ways to get the contact details for who you want. Don’t do like what I did and used to email the customer services email every time. I mean, I cringe just thinking about it.

You’ll need to find the press contact which is usually in a secret little portal on their website. It’s never hard to find when you know what you’re looking for. Look for press and then look for the contact. Some brands you’ll need to sign up for their press releases which will give you a login to their press portal. Sometimes there are limitations, such as circulation and if they like your blog, for them to send you a login credential.

References

You know that stupidly annoying part of a job application where they ask if they can contact a reference and you know they might not ever do it, but you kind of like, have to tell them yes please feel free to contact my previous boss whom I didn’t like much praying that they wouldn’t actually contact them, no just me?

Well, the beauty is, you have the power to attach a reference.

Previous brand collaborations are your reference. If you’re wanting to work with a perfume brand, attach a previous perfume brand reference if you have one. That simple email where they say “we have loved this, thank you!”. That’s a reference. Hotel stay reposted your blog post and said: “we love this post that @____ has done and what a great review!”. That’s your reference. Not there yet? Don’t worry there are more options.

Your audience is your reference too. Somebody has messaged to say how much they love your blog? That’s a reference. Direct the brand to messages that show you’re reputable. One or two is sufficient. Don’t go on overkill.

Highlight your Skills

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Flat lays I actually feel confident with! [gifted from The Perfume Shop]
 Now, this is one that I really feel like I’m preaching something that I can’t actually do very well myself. I genuinely do find this one the most difficult to do. When I first started blogging I was hopeless at taking flat lays, so I never mentioned them. In fact, I purposely swerved away from fragrance brands or products that I like, purely because my flat lays would have been laughable.

Instead, I focused more on the things I can take photos of, or Alex can take photos of. Holidays, food, travel accessories, clothes. Things that I knew I would be able to get photos of. After researching how to do flat lays for a long time, I finally felt confident enough to start contacting brands offering flat lays.

The point I’m trying to make is: Bloggers are almost expected to do everything. Photos. Writing. Social media pushes. If your strength lies with writing, show them that. Share a recent article that highlights your writing. Don’t offer something you don’t believe you can achieve. Not everybody can have strengths in the same things. It’s what makes us different, I mean, I can never compete with the dreamy flat lays that katelovesx.co.uk creates. Neither can I compete against some bloggers for a social media photo.

But, that’s okay. We are all different. We all have different strengths and weaknesses. Share your strengths. 

Discuss Engagement

Twitter analytics, Instagram analytics, LinkedIn connections, blog visitors, Facebook impressions, they’re all important and they all count towards your engagement. I would even go as far to say your Pinterest unique visitors count, but be wary of this one.

Everybody grows so quickly on Pinterest because somebody who sees a pin you’ve saved, which actually has nothing to do with you and they never clicked your profile or even knew they saved it from you, counts. So, I tend to leave Pinterest out of my circulation, but add it to the bottom as additional information.

Your monthly circulation is probably much more than you’d even imagine. The last time I  worked mine out, which was in November, I was getting a consistent 3.5million reach from across the platforms. I lowered it down to account for the odd inconsistency. I didn’t want to have to work it out each month.

My Twitter analytics show that in the past 28 days, my tweets have reached 1.16 million. That’s a phenomenal number for somebody who has just over 5,000 followers. That counts to my monthly reach. My Instagram shows that 1,500 people consistently watch my story. That counts. These are people that the product can potentially reach. Do your maths. Attach screenshots.

Of course, follower count is just as important. Add in your total follower count and share how it breaks down, either in a list form or as a graph. Canva is a great way to do this. 

Media Kit

You’ll need to add a media kit to even be considered by a majority of brands. There are many ways to create your media kit, but I find Canva to be the easiest. Sell yourself. This is your portfolio. Work you have created. Brands you’ve worked with. Talk about you, talk about your blog. If you’re struggling about what to write, ask a friend to help you. They will probably know your qualities better than you do.

Be Thankful

If a brand does work with you. Be sure to create the work in a timely manner and keep them updated when content goes live. Attach links for them to see the content. Ensure that you are fluid with them and share the impressions, views and likes that content has gained. Be sure to thank the organiser of the collaboration. Manners go a long way.

Hasta luego,

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Pinterest:

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A Day in the Life in… Episode #9

This week, we’re in Pyeongtaek, South Korea

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This week, we’re in Pyeongtaek, South Korea ! I’ve teamed up with Amaris to bring you the similarities and the differences between living in Alicante, Spain and Pyeongtaek, South Korea. (A last minute change of location!)

Don’t forget to read Amaris’ blog to get all of the information about how Amaris’ day went!

This week, it’s the lead up to Christmas, so before we let go of those festive feelings and kick into the New Year, let’s head back to pre-Navidad! Today, it’s short and sweet.

Thursday 20th December 2018:

It’s a quiet day on the Costa Blanca. The day starts quiet and I feel, well, not very festive. The sunlight comes bursting through the curtains and the heat can be felt through the glass. I wake up late and find myself in a rather frantic rush.

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It’s been surreal this year. Where did Christmas come from? It doesn’t seem a whole year since we last did our carol service at work, yet here we are again ready to dance and sing with my colleagues dad. The children love it when he comes in and they can have a good old sing-song. This year, it’s Must Be Santa, Santa Claus is Coming to Town and We Wish You a Merry Christmas. It’s so heartwarming to hear them sing in English.

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I rush to get ready and head off to work. It’s such a more enjoyable experience now that we have a car. The journey is a lot more pleasant.

I head into work and its straight to business. I woke up so late that breakfast wasn’t even a thing, I didn’t even get to my cappuccino! I make a mental note to head to the bakers to pick up some delicacies and a coffee during my break.

Costing just 4€ for everything, it’s a good deal. A few empanadillas de Carne, pizza with mushrooms, cheese and ham and a cappuccino. My kind of lunch.

We make little Christmas decorations, like a snowglobe for the Christmas tree with the children’s faces in to take home. They love making it and I must admit, seeing their faces light up and talk so passionately about where on the tree they’re going to put their ornament makes me feel a little more festive. Especially after our little sing-a-long too!

christmas carol sing a long esl children

After a late finish, we head back home and Alex prepares a quick and easy dish. Spaghetti Carbonara. It’s a new dish that has been making its rounds on our dinner rotation plan. It’s quick. It’s fairly simple and it’s delicious. Alex is such a gem for always making the dinner.

My cold is still lingering around and the weather has dipped drastically now the sun has long gone. I get on my cosy pyjamas, warm up my kuddli buddy from The Hot Water Bottle Shop and settle down in bed to play a few games of Clash Royale.

One more day of work and then we’ve finished for Christmas. It feels so surreal. So soon, almost unexpected. Tomorrow, we have our works party and I’m so excited to find out what we get up to. I get an early night. Tomorrow will be a crazy one.

Another day has ended in Benidorm. It’s time for bed.

Similarities and Differences

 

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Credits: Korea Tourism

 

I’m not going to lie to you when I opened an email from Amaris saying she was documenting Pyeongtaek, I had no idea where it was, what it looked like or what exactly life is like there.

I’ve been doing some googling to try and find out enough about it as I can to share with you all today. So, bear with me, because this one is certainly off of my normal radar!

Pyeongtaek is a city in Gyeonggi Province in South Korea. My initial thought would be how many people would be living there. There has to be millions right? A huge city like this? Aren’t all of the cities in South Korea huge? How wrong I was. Sure, the population is bigger than that of Alicante, but, surprisingly, not by much! With a population of 427,460, it’s a little more than the Alicante population of 330,525.

The time difference between Spain and South Korea is, as expected, enormous. I can’t even begin to envisage what sort of jetlag it would bring. For comparison, 7:00a.m in South Korea is 23:00, the day before here! It’s funny how Amaris would have been already well underway of her documentation day before I’d even got out of bed! When I woke up at 11:30, it would have been 19:30 in South Korea, meaning Amaris would have been nearly finished, before I’d even begun.

One of the most distinct differences is most certainly the language. I’ve always admired those who are able to speak a second language, and they say once you learn a second, the rest becomes a doddle. Now, after trying to learn Italian, I can say it’s certainly easier to follow the rules and understand a wider range of vocabulary, but, I’m not too sure it’s a walk in the park. However, languages like Chinese, Russian and Japanese have always fascinated me. They are so incredibly different that learning Spanish would give an absolutely zero advantage to learning one of those languages.

In South Korea, the language of Hangeul is one of the most unique creations to the nation. Born in 1443 by their late King Sejong, it was introduced to aid all locals to read and write the new language. It’s quite fascinating to read about Hangeul and how the alphabet is composed of basic consonants and vowels, each with their own set sound. A dot or a line adds to form more sounds. The 5 main consonants (ㄱ, ㄴ, ㅅ, ㅁ, ㅇ) imitate the shape the lips and tongue make when producing that particular sound. It makes it sound easy, right? I highly doubt it’s as easy as it looks though! I mean, how do I even make those shapes!

Hansik refers to the traditional Korean food, usually centred around rice, soups and side dishes. Most foods in Korea contain an element of meat and vegetables as the main ingredients, which are boiled or steamed in brine or water as opposed to fried. Traditional Korean food, therefore, is a very healthy diet to follow. Outside of Hansik is the popularity of fermented foods. The most well-known is Kimchi which is fermented cabbage. Now, I’d try the Hansik, but I think I’d rather stick to my pasta as opposed to the fermented dishes!

Now, I’m not sure why this surprises me, but I didn’t expect Korea to be so cold. With highs of 1 degree in the day and lows of -10 at night, I’m sure there’s a dusting of snow on the ground there.

I must admit, looking through the photos on the Korea Tourism website, which has helped me massively in writing this, has really shown a beautiful picturesque location. I have loved finding out more about Korea and I hope you enjoy it too. For the photo, I opted for a photo of Gyeongju Donggung Palace and Wolji Pond which is in the Gyeongju National Park and not actually in Pyeongtaek. There weren’t any photos without copyright that I was able to use, but I’m sure Amaris will have plenty of gorgeous photos on her blog, so go take a look if Pyeongtaek has intrigued you!

 

 


 

Next time, we’ll be comparing the similarities and differences between Spain and Vienna.

Want to know all about life in Vienna? Well, stay tuned because next time I’ll be teaming up with Susanne.

Make sure you’re subscribed to my blog so you don’t miss an episode!

Hasta luego,

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If you want to be a part of this exciting series then please feel free to fill in the contact form below. I look forward to hearing from you!

*Please note, next available date is currently July 2019.
If you want to sponsor this blog series or any of the blog posts, please contact me via my Contact page.

A Day in the Life in… Episode #8

This week, we’re in Frankfurt, Germany!

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This week, we’re in Frankfurt, Germany! I’ve teamed up with Molly from Frankfurt to bring you the similarities and the differences between living in Alicante, Spain and Frankfurt, Germany.

Don’t forget to read Molly’s blog to get all of the information about how Molly’s day went!

Similarly to last time, I head off to Leicester, UK again, via Birmingham! I guess this one is a four-way comparison?! Talk about going above and beyond, hey? Read all about our just-in-time journey and Christmas events over in the UK.

Saturday 8th December 2018:

I awake before my alarm. I always do. It’s like my body is too afraid of sleeping past an alarm that might not go off. Yet, the alarm hasn’t let us down before. It’s 3a.m, I could’ve slept for another hour, it’s still dark out and there’s not a stir to be heard.

I get up and do some cleaning of the apartment. It’s weird Rio not being in the apartment. It’s scarily quiet. Walking around the apartment without my shadow following me is something I don’t like. I miss my little friend.

orcheta fiesta 2018/2019

Last night, we headed up to the Orcheta festivals. With refillable wine for 3€ (up to 3 times) and a lovely wine glass to keep, all whilst wandering around the Christmas market and spending time in the plaza looking up at the beautifully simplistic Christmas tree. It’s positioned just in front of the church, which gives radiates a lovely Christmassy feel. It was colder than down by the sea up there, it felt like Christmas.

I start to do some last minute packing and sync my playlist ready for the plane.

We head off to the airport, the start of a just-in-time journey. Without leaving a lot of spare time, we headed off. Alex decided he didn’t need a sat nav for a journey to an airport he’s unfamiliar with and decided to take the, well, scenic route. Without going through the tolls it takes much longer to the airport. We were already late.

A missed turn and wrong junction into Elche later, we arrive at the airport. I dash out and check the case in whilst Alex parks the car. It’s all rush. The board saying 10 minutes to boarding, yet I’m standing in a queue at bag drop with Alex nowhere in sight. I was convinced we wouldn’t make it.

Luckily, customs wasn’t too bad and I got through. Arriving in the departure lounge as the plane was boarding. I had seen Alex quite a way behind me in the customs queue. We should just make it.

He joins me a little later in the queue and we’re straight on the plane. No time for a Starbucks or a sit-down today.

After a 2 hour and 10-minute journey, we land at Birmingham International Airport. Being the front of the plane, we were off and through quickly. The case was already on the carousel by the time we made it off the plane and through customs 15 minutes later.

Connecting Birmingham Airport with the train station is a quick, free and regular shuttle. We headed on it to get our train tickets to Birmingham New Street. It’s Christmas Market time!

For just over £3 each, we had a single ticket to Birmingham New Street. Taking around 20 minutes, we arrived into the big city of Birmingham. Ready to embrace Christmas at the market and do a spot of shopping at the Bullring.

birmingham christmas market bullring

The Christmas market was empty and relaxing at 9:30a.m, with the stalls just starting to set up. I can’t imagine it’s the same midday or late at night. We were able to wander around at our leisure and take photos with barely anybody in the vicinity.

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The Bullring was also lovely and quiet at this time of the day. The miles of railings that queue people up for the escalator were deserted and the queues at the checkouts were non-existent. It meant we were in and out within half an hour. Picking up a few pieces from the Body Shop sale and the Boux Avenue sale.

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We stopped for a hot chocolate at the Christmas market, keeping the Christmas mug as a souvenir before heading off for the train to Leicester.

Heading into Leicester to then head back out again, to stop at a train station you’ve already passed but didn’t stop at is more annoying than I can actually write. How can you ride through the station and not stop? But then, on the way back, on the same train, stop? Just let me off the train as you’re passing through? They’d stop the train in Spain if you were passing through and pressed the button…

Marley was happy as ever as we arrived. Wanting to give all of the cuddles. He gets so happy when we’re back.

king charles cavalier and christmas tree 2019

We prepared for the Christmas party in the evening, stopping by the local town centre to pick up some snacks and DVD’s for at home, and picking up car parts for the car. It’s funny to say we’ve got a car. I’m not used to it yet.

The rain poured. Torrential rain came battering down as we ran through the high street to get back to the car and back home.

spread of christmas food christmas shopping and recipes

My mum had prepared a banquet of food laid out in the kitchen and the conservatory, along with contributions from everyone at the party. Sandwiches, Cuban Rice, Pulled Pork, Samosas, Thai Spring Rolls, Crisps, Profiteroles, Cakes and Biscuits. There was so much food!

We had a lovely, but tiring evening with everybody who came. Feeling exhausted, after being up for 24 hours. It was time for bed.

Similarities and Differences

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Frankfurt Tourism – used with permission

Frankfurt is a central German city renowned for its big business, bustling banks and tremendous trade shows on one side and the captivating culture and general cosiness on the other. Although a huge contrast between two parts, the big metropolis of Frankfurt has something for everyone, fairly similar to Alicante.

When I think of Germany at this time of year, I think of the Christmas markets. It was lovely yet highly coincidental that we headed to the German Christmas market in Birmingham on the same day as Molly would be documenting her life in Frankfurt, and hopefully hitting up one of the Frankfurt markets. In terms of visitors and size, the Frankfurt Christmas market is one of the biggest Christmas markets across Germany. With elaborate stalls and creative decorations, paired with the trimmed up St Paul’s Square and the towering tree, it makes it a beautiful place and one I hope to visit.

In Frankfurt, all shops and stores are closed on Sundays and public holidays. This is similar to what they have recently brought in to Alicante. Although, most shops, especially in the old town and during the summer months open on a Sunday.

Whilst at the Christmas market, I didn’t try any of the German delicacies that were on offer, opting only for a hot chocolate, as it was so early in the morning. The German cuisine is one that I haven’t had many dealings with, other than being impartial to the odd Frankfurter sausage and the German pizza that I tried in Leicester: in the Rutland and Derby.

Interestingly, the Frankfurter Würstchen are only used for sausages that are produced in the greater Frankfurter region, those produced outside of Frankfurt are known as Nach Frankfurter Art, which means “made like the Frankfurters, but no in the Frankfurter Area”.

As of 2016, the population of Frankfurt was a staggering 736,414, compared to that in the Alicante region of 330,525. There are over double the number of people in Frankfurt, which just shows how bustling the city must be. Whilst I was researching the statistics of the tourism in Frankfurt, it was interesting to see that the rise of tourists heading to Frankfurt has not only increased dramatically since the past year but also over the past months. I can only imagine that number will continue to incline now the Christmas market is well underway. In 2017, 217, 539 people from the UK stayed overnight in Frankfurt, whereas in 2018 so far, 247,208 people from the UK have stayed overnight. It just goes to show that it’s steadily increasing and one to watch for a future trip away.

Frankfurt Airport is a major international hub located in Frankfurt. It’s the fifth-largest in Germany and one of the world’s leading financial centres. Operated by Fraport and the main hub for Lufthansa, it’s a very busy and financially solid airport. On average, there are 1,365 flights per day departing and arriving into Frankfurt compared to only 347 flights each day to and from Alicante. It’s a staggering difference.


Next time, we’ll be comparing the similarities and differences between living in Alicante, Spain and Seoul, South Korea.

Want to know all about life in Seoul? Well, stay tuned because next time, I’ll be teaming up with Amaris to bring you A Day in the Life in South Korea compared to Alicante, Spain.

Make sure you’re subscribed to my blog so you don’t miss an episode!

Hasta luego,

Lauren signature

If you want to be a part of this exciting series then please feel free to fill in the contact form below. I look forward to hearing from you!

*Please note, next available date is currently July 2019.
If you want to sponsor this blog series or any of the blog posts, please contact me via my Contact page.

A Day in the Life in… Episode #7

This week, we’re in The New Forest, UK!

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This week, we’re in The New Forest, UK! I’ve teamed up with Emma from lifeofemmax to bring you the similarities and the differences between living in Alicante, Spain and The New Forest, England.

Don’t forget to read Emma’s Post to get all of the information about how Emma’s day went!

This week, it’s a little different. I start off in Alicante and arrive in Leicester, UK. It’s almost like a three-way comparison! Find out about my treacherous journey filled with surprises, my Fosse Full of your Favourites campaign and how my day went!

Saturday 24th November 2018:
I awake sharply, stunned by my own nightmare. One that makes an appearance every so often yet keeps me thinking about it for the next week or so. In a daze, I check my alarm. 2:27a.m. I have another 45 minutes before my alarm will ring. I’m on two hours sleep. Today is going to be a long day.

The sounds of Rio snoring are echoing around the room. For a dog so little, he snores so loud. He’s stretched out on the end of the bed, he looks comfortable.

I drift back off to sleep shortly after, though not for long…

My alarm buzzes at 3:15 and I awake at the first ring. I’m wide awake. Alex less so. I’m dashing around the apartment finding a change of clothes because I suddenly don’t feel like wearing a t-shirt and skirt to travel in at 4a.m, I’m rushing around trying to find my keys that I remembered I hadn’t packed. Why do I save things for the last minute?

The streets are deserted at this time of night, the waves seem to crash along the shoreline. The wind whispers between the apartment blocks. There’s not a soul around. a faint sound of music travels through the air, gently arriving like a whisper from Benidorm, a reminder that this is a contrast to what is happening in the centre.

The bus arrives and as always, the driver says hello to Rio. What feels like thousands are eyes glare out of the window and watch you get on. There are faint sounds of “he’s so cute” and “look, he’s waving!”. I assume they’re talking about Rio, as opposed to Alex, but then again, who knows!

The bus is 13€ return, so it’s ridiculously cheap. The journey takes 45 minutes and the lights are dimmed. I try to drift off to sleep, until my phone pings.

“We’ve found this little fella. I don’t know what to do.”

Then there’s a photo attached, a cute little dog looking sad on the street. Alex is like me. He cares about people. He wants to do something.

It’s 4:10a.m and I’m trailing through all of the lost dogs’ sites, perros perdidos, anything to try and locate the dogs’ owner.

Meanwhile, I arrive at Alicante airport and begin arranging my things. There isn’t a lot of time to hang about after waiting in the line for bag drop. The new Ryanair system is so much better. There’s no wandering around the airport with a suitcase. It was so easy just getting on the plane with my handbag. No having to get out my liquids. Plus, you can take full-size liquids in your case now! As long as it’s in the hold.

I head to Starbucks and have the Christmas hot chocolate. Today is a Christmas themed day, so I need to get into the spirit. A coffee in my local cafe is 1,60€, the small coffee in Starbucks was 5€. Incredible.

Shortly after, my plane starts to board and my phone pings again.
“I pressed all the buttons and his owner came down.”
Alex had stayed with the dog until 6:00, putting him on Rio’s lead and let the dog lead him to his apartment. The owner came down and they were reunited. They had been looking for him for some hours. The owner was fairly old and told the dog off, she didn’t thank Alex, but I think in times like these, we forget about what somebody has done for us and more in shock. I like to think she’s grateful for what he did.

The flight was fine. I sat next to possibly the worst person on the plane. Constantly putting his feet in my leg room, and shaking me to wake up every time I fell asleep. Even though I was leaning the other way. Conveniently, every time I fell asleep, he or his wife had a reason to get out of their chairs. So, shaking and “get up then.” was, of course, the only possible thing to do. Why do these people find me on a plane?

I land at Birmingham and make myself sound stupid. Amazing.

I get to customs.
“Are you from Leicester?”
“Yeah, how did you know? Is it my accent?”
“No, it’s on your passport. Which part?”
The traffic in the Midlands is crazy. There has been a huge accident. I linger around the airport playing Clash Royale. I love that EU roaming means I can still use my phone as normal.

After a treacherous journey, I arrive home. Marley goes wild. His tail wags. He jumps up and down. There’s no time to hang around though, the traffic isn’t moving and I’ve got to get to Fosse for the Full of your Favourites Christmas Campaign.

We get to Fosse after crazy traffic. Everywhere was bumper to bumper. Insane. The weather is cold, but nothing too bad. It was quite nice to feel the wintry air and see the grey sky, it was a change from the constant blue!

We get our hands on the Christmas Full of your Favourites advent calendars from Fosse and proceed to have some photos taken by Will, the photographer. It was so fun getting into full cheese mood! Well, I do a love a little cheese at Christmas…all the time… 

I wander around Fosse doing some Christmas shopping, I’m feeling very lucky to be able to pick out lots of different bits and pieces for my family, and a few treats for myself! I have been wanting the Yankee Candle Christmas Calendar and some new socks so I was able to treat myself to those! Primark is so good for socks, £2.50 for packs of 5 Disney socks. Amazing!

The Yankee Candle advent calendar was such a great deal too. Down to £16 in Boots, yet advent hasn’t even started yet! I very nearly ordered Christmas Eve Yankee Candle, that was going to cost me £10 with delivery! But, I have Christmas Eve in my advent calendar and many more! The home is going to smell lovely!

We stop for a cake and coffee in Druckers in the Food court. It’s such a nice place to sit and relax. The Christmas decorations look stunning too. I can’t believe October was the first time I went in there! It’s 100% worth a visit!

I head over to Curry’s to pick up my shiny new camera. I am so excited! It’s a Panasonic Lumix, after the recommendation from Romi!

It was a huge saving for Black Friday, down from £179 to £129! I’m excited to have a camera that doesn’t weigh a lot, but takes high-quality photos and videos! The staff in Curry’s were really helpful and really friendly, which makes all the difference too. Especially me, who had no idea what kind of memory card I needed!

After a 6 hour shop, and an eyebrow waxing appointment finished. We head back home. The traffic has lifted now and the journey took a tenth of the time than it did getting there! Marley is stalking out of the window and his tail wags happily when he sees me.

I go through all of the packages that are piled high in my bedroom. Hot water bottles, toiletries, travel equipment, candles, gifts, chocolate. There is so much to go through and take photos of. I spend a good 5 hours videoing the unboxing and taking photos. The darkness has settled in so it’s getting harder and harder.

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After dinner, we portion out the cake from bakerdays. It’s a letterbox cake that gets delivered to your door. It was a beautifully presented cake with different languages saying Merry Christmas, very fitting for a language lover like me!

We snack on some Popcorn Shed “Say Cheese” popcorn whilst watching a Christmas movie until I can’t stay awake any longer.

It’s time for bed.

Similarities and Differences

Rich with cultural heritage lying on the outskirts of Southampton, The New Forest is filled with history, both factual and a little spooky. The land of William the Conqueror and his ‘Nova Foresta’, to the smuggling crimes along the coastline. The New Forest is an interesting spot to research and one that has me craving to visit.

The history of New Forest is intriguing even to those who aren’t passionate or massively interested in history. It’s one of those places that has you craving for more information when you start to research.

The long stretches of green and hilly fields are somewhat polar opposites to that of the long stretches of sandy white beaches that we find here on the Costa Blanca coastline.

Founded in 1079, The New Forest is certainly nothing new. Compared to our booming little fishing village that only started to grow in the 70s. I mean, we could always compare the New Town of Benidorm and the New Forest as a somewhat slight comparison.

Contrary to what I thought I knew, the New Forest is not actually all Forest. There are large open spaces of heath, bog, grassland and ancient woodland. It’s like something you’d read in a fairytale book. Living amongst the local people, you’ll find donkeys, cattle, pigs and sheep which graze freely in the New Forest. It’s unbelievable to compare the small farm that we have that lies on the edge of the city and up in the mountains. Although filled with similar animals, I can’t help but think they have a much better and rich lifestyle in the New Forest compared to the burning heat of summer here with little to no grassland to live on.

The New Forest has 42km of coastline, which is swamped by the 250km of coastline we have here. I can only assume that the summer coastline of the New Forest is a lot less empty than the summer coastline here.

The New Forest was an important location in the First World War, wounded soldiers were brought and treated in make-shift hospitals that were set up by the locals. Its location on the edge of Britain on the south coast meant it was a crucial location for British, Commonwealth, US and Canadian troops in World War 2 as well. Across The New Forest, there are still remnants and evidence of the WW2, which played a major role in the D-Day operations.

Although a million miles away from the action of the wars, Benidorm paid homage recently to the efforts made by soldiers in the WW2 by recreating the action on the Poniente beach. The dramatic beach landing was quite a contrast to the usually Ryanair plane landings, with around 50,000 visitors marvelling at it. The D-Day recreation was at the end of September and featured a musical show, costumes and lights. The reinactment show of World War 2 in Benidorm was a spectacular and colourful event that paid homage to the fights that took place on the Normandy coastline.

I can’t compare with England without comparing the weather, can I? What more do we love to talk about than a good weather update? The weather in The New Forest was a chilling, but dry 12 degrees, whilst the weather in Benidorm was a slightly more welcoming 18 degrees. It’s funny that I wore the same clothes in both places, yet didn’t feel colder being in England. That was until I landed in Spain on Sunday 25th and felt the heat meet me!


Next time, we’ll be comparing the similarities and differences between living in Alicante, Spain and Frankfurt, Germany.

Want to know all about life in Frankfurt? Well, stay tuned because next time, I’ll be teaming up with Molly from Miss Molly TV to bring you A Day in the Life in Frankfurt compared to Alicante, Spain.

Make sure you’re subscribed to my blog so you don’t miss an episode!

Hasta luego,

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If you want to be a part of this exciting series then please feel free to fill in the contact form below. I look forward to hearing from you!

*Please note, next available date is currently July 2019.
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A Day in the Life in… Episode #1

This week, we’re in Manchester! I’ve teamed up with Connie from http://www.earthtoconnie.com to bring you the similarities and the differences between living in Alicante, Spain and Manchester, UK.

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A Day in the Life in…
Alicante, Spain compared
to Manchester, England.

I cannot believe that here I am writing the first episode of my brand new series a Day in the Life in… It was only a couple of weeks ago that this was just an idea, yet here it is, on the internet, posted and ready for you to have a read.

This week, we’re in Manchester to bring you the similarities and the differences between living in Alicante, Spain and Manchester, UK.

Friday 21st September 2018:

It’s 12:03 so I guess that officially marks today as “documentation day”. I’ll be honest, I’m feeling a little nervous. What if it all crumbles to nothing? What if it’s boring.

The suspense is weird, it’s pretty intense. This is something completely new. Something I’ve never put out before. Something nobody else has put together before. This is my project. I want it to be perfect. Or as close as.

The nights are so hot it’s still near enough impossible to sleep so the fan is whirring gently in the background, though I can’t say it’s making much of a difference.

Rio is finding it pretty difficult to sleep too. His feet pitter and patter across the tiled floors as he searches for the cool spot.

Considering it is midnight, the noise of the cars and motorbikes fills the otherwise silent surroundings.

After a few games of clash royale, the dustbin van comes speeding by. That’s how late it is. It’s time to sleep.

I wake sometime around 10 and, of course, the day starts with a café con leche and a few games of clash royale. I’ve got to try and beat the triple elixir challenge.

I take a walk, thinking about the people who holiday here. Somewhere in the world, it’s freezing cold, yet here I am in a denim dress sweating in 27 degrees heat. I think of the people excited to land at Alicante airport.

I watch the glum faces pass by on the airport transfer. It’s a nice place to be. They don’t want to leave.

There isn’t a cloud in the sky and it’s hard to recognise where the sea ends and the sky starts. I am on route to shop at MABS charity shop, stocked up with my new bag from JoTotes and a few reusable carrier bags.

 

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Rows and rows of clothes, piles of DVDs and books to fill any bookcase. There’s always something you want to buy.

I manage to pick up a few dresses, some books and DVD’s all for a mere 14€!

Getting back, Rio is excited as ever to see me. He didn’t expect me back. Do dogs expect you back? It was a nice surprise for him.

I have an hour (to try and stop sweating) before heading off to work.

The tram commute was no different from any other. It’s only a few stops. It’s nothing strenuous. It’s usually pretty full at this time, mainly because people put their bags on their chairs so people usually end up sitting on the steps.

I can’t help but think that this wouldn’t be socially acceptable in London. Everything is regimented. Here, it’s free.

I arrive at Mercadona and pick up a multipack of naranja con gas. 1.62€ for a pack of 6, I can’t complain.

Work is like a dream, again. Everyday smiling faces come running into my class. Ready to sing. Ready to dance. Ready to learn.

Their faces look puzzled when they learn a new word, but they absorb it like a sponge.

Alex meets me at work today. It’s only a short shift. Three hours. It’s been a year but I’m still thankful for my work/life balance.

We decide to head into the nearby city. Bustling streets lined with the most beautiful coloured houses perched upon the beach.

We’re lucky to have somewhere as beautiful as this.

The beach and the coloured houses make a beautiful setting for taking some photos for my Jo Totes sponsored campaign. I’m sitting on the beach wondering how this became my life.

Every opportunity I have to pinch myself. I still call my mum. I still call Alex. I still jump around the house with Rio.

 

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Then, there’s that moment when I spot my next collaboration in the distance. It’s that moment that it really hits home. I’m here and I’m doing it. We’re here and we’re doing it. Together.

Five years ago, I looked up at this building. It felt like a second home. A life in Spain never felt possible. It was a dream.

Yet here I am. Sitting here about to return. A whole new person. With whole new dreams.

We walk around until we find a beautiful bar with the most gorgeous garden. Laura’s Garden. It’s an Italian restaurant but we only go in for some wine and a snack.

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An hour or two passes before we leave for the tram. Have you ever left unplanned and it’s just in time for the next tram? I don’t think you can put that satisfaction into words.

I mean, its 20 degrees so sitting at the tram stop would be no hardship, but who wants to wait around for an hour when they don’t have to?

We walk down the mountain and there’s a welcomed gentle breeze. I appreciate the breeze whilst I can. I know once we get home, it’ll be stifling.

Dinner seems like too much of an effort for a Friday night so we head to the recently opened market at Carrefour. Hot dogs, fries and chicken fingers with another wine for 17.80€.

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We’re only waiting 5 or so minutes before the food is ready.

The food was good. Very good in fact. Though, I was a little annoyed that I asked to remove the onions but I forgot to ask to remove the mustard. The hot dog had an imprint of the restaurant name on it too, it was a nice touch.

We get back home around 22:30. The darkness set in a few hours ago. The only sound is the insects chirping in the tree and the odd motorbike whizzing by.

Another day has come to an end in Benidorm. It’s time for bed.

Similarities and Differences between Manchester, UK and Alicante, Spain

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Earth to Connie

I guess it would go without saying that there would be such a drastic contrast in weather. It’s bizarre to think that only 2 hours away can bring such a change. The thought of a winter coat makes me sweat at the thought of it. It’s mad that here it’s shorts and T-shirts yet in Manchester, the winter wardrobe has already arrived.

This will be our second winter here and it already feels strange. It’s incredible how quickly you become disconnected from what was the norm. No wonder we booked so many trips away to escape the winter blues. No wonder flights are filled everyday flying from Manchester and the rest of the UK to Alicante.

It was interesting, but hardly surprising, that Manchester has so many homeless living on the street. It’s becoming a huge problem nationwide. For a reason I’m not too sure of, we don’t seem to see anybody living rough near us.

I cannot even begin to imagine waking up at 7:00, let alone to do what Connie did! If there’s any comparison I took from it, it’s the struggle to get up early. Connie was up a lot earlier than I, but I imagine I ate a lot later.

I miss the social aspect of the UK, although this is coming from somebody who spent most of my time sitting in my bedroom with Alex watching films, the option to meet up with friends was there if I wanted it. Funny how the mind works.

Manchester seems to have a lot of lower buildings than those in Benidorm, or mini New York as a lot of people have started calling it. It’s incredible to think that Benidorm has the most high-rise buildings per capita in the world.

After a quick Google, I found out the population of Manchester is a whopping 510,746 compared to our little permanent population of 69,642. I can’t help but wonder how many people aren’t a part of that figure though.

I also found out that Manchester airport commutes 26 million passengers a year, compared to Alicante that carries 20 million passengers. I try to think that it’s a close figure, but then you think of six million more and you’re like, well, okay that’s a lot more.

Manchester has far more history in terms of growth and industry than Benidorm. Benidorm truly has boomed. Back in the 1950’s, this was just a small fishing town, yet here it is now one of the biggest tourism locations in Europe. Manchester, however, boomed back in the 19th century with its textile industry.

Rather interestingly, Benidorm comes from the Arabic word meaning “sons of” whereas Manchester derives from Roman and Latin descent.

Next time, we’ll be comparing the similarities and differences between living in Alicante, Spain and Orlando, USA.

Want to know all about living next to one of the world’s biggest theme parks and iconic locations in the USA? Well, stay tuned because next time, I’ll be teaming up with Taylor from tayloratdisney.com to bring you A Day in the Life in Orlando, USA compared to Alicante, Spain.

Make sure you’re subscribed to my blog so you don’t miss an episode!

Hasta luego,

Lauren signature

If you want to be a part of this exciting series then please feel free to fill in the contact form below. I look forward to hearing from you!

 

 

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