UK Lifestyle Blog 2018-12-03T02:41:24+00:00
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Our Introduction into Mountain Biking: Reasons You’ll Love It!

Last month we dipped our toes in the water with a bit of mountain biking, and oh boy was it fun! It’s always something I thought would be an amazing thrill but I wasn’t sure if I’d be too much of a baby and not enjoy it. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Honestly, it was a little bit scary… but so it was also so much fun.

We first thought about giving it a whirl earlier in the year when we visited Lanhydrock in Cornwall but we didn’t have the time when we were last there. Then, whilst we were in Switzerland earlier this year we noticed lots of people getting trains or cable cars to the top of mountains and biking there way down, which looked absolutely bonkers but also really exciting (especially when you’re slowly meandering along with a big bag!).

We bite the bullet, headed back to Lanhydrock and hired a couple of bikes. We were instantly throw into the deep end practicing jumps and tricky terrain in the ‘skills area’, then we went and worked up a sweat on the green, blue and red trails. By the end of it we were covered in mud and our cheeks hurt from laughing so much! It’s 100% something we’ll be doing again, and here’s just some of the reasons why:

UK Lifestyle Blog | UK Lifestyle BlogKnockdown jacket in dark teal c/o West Beach*

Mental health benefits

Numerous studies show that cycling is good for your mental health. Getting out in the countryside takes you away from the stresses and strains of everyday life. If you choose a green route such as the Lodge trail, you’ll have 15 – 20 minutes to just think and sort through some of the things that are playing on your mind. Riding through nice scenery has a relaxing effect, which lasts for days after. I can totally vouch for this!

Adventure holidays galore!

Once you get your cycling legs sorted, you will be able to cycle long distances without aching. I remember this from when I used to ride regularly and when I used to run for 13 miles without stopping. People asked “how do you keep going?” well, you just do. Your legs go numb and your body drives you forward, it’s incredible.

You can go on crazy fun adventure holidays, which (believe me!) you won’t enjoy unless you’re fit enough for it. If you want to get to know a country, cycling is a great way to do it. I once met somebody that traveled across the world with his bike, inspirational! He told me all about these great cycling holidays that take you off the beaten track and let you see a side of a country that you would not normally see on a traditional holiday.

See more of your local area

It’s not just about going abroad! Going out on your bike on a regular basis gives you the option to get to know your local area better. There’s so many beautiful places in Cornwall that I haven’t explored, and jumping on a bike seems like a great way to do it! Don’t get me wrong, I love trotting through small villages and towns, but in all honesty, I’m more of a nature lover 🍃🐶 You’re far more likely to find me out on the cliffs or in the forest, than you are in a coffee shop or wandering busy shops.

**Psst** You don’t even need to go abroad to make a little trip out of it! We stayed in a cute little Airbnb just a short drive from our home and cooked up a well-deserved Waitrose steak, yum! 

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Winning a life (no, seriously!)

When you start cycling, the chances are that you will begin to set yourself goals. It starts small – you see how long it takes you to cycle your favourite route, then next thing you know you are shaving minutes then seconds off your time. Setting small goals and achieving them is a good habit to get into. In time, this habit spills over into other parts of your life helping you to be more productive. I read about this ALL the time in business books!

Your joints will thank you

I’ve become a little more health conscious these days. I still order Dominos and I don’t lift weights, but I’m certainly better than I used to be. I’m tee-total and I try and use the outdoors as my gym as much as I can by going surfing, hiking or anything else that tickles my fancy. There’s a million reasons why this is important to me, but one of them being *bare I say it* I’m beginning to feel old.

My body doesn’t feel as strong or as nimble as it used to be. Things hurt when I push my body in a way they never used to. Cycling improves your circulation as well as your respiratory health. This is great for your joints because it helps your body to carry the toxins out of your body instead of settling in your joints and causing stiffness and other problems. When I heard this, I was all over the prospect of cycling like a bad rash. Yes, please! 🙏

Catch more Zzz’s

The kind of exercise you get when you cycle helps you to unwind. This makes it easier for you to fall asleep and get a good night of sleep. Often cyclists sleep better than other people do. What more can I say!?

If you want to get started and begin, it is easy to do. There’s heaps of places you can hire a bike from, and if you decide you love it there’s lots of places to order cycles online that won’t break the bank.

December 16, 2018|Health|

How to Physically Prepare for a Hiking Trip (+ 5 Epic Hike Ideas!)

Hiking can certainly be a lot of fun, especially if you love being outdoors and keeping active. However, it’s no secret that this adventurous hobby also requires a lot of preparation – and not just route planning.

While some trails can be tackled by beginners with little or no experience, others require a higher fitness level. Planning for these trips includes assessing your fitness level to ensure you’re in good shape before you set off.

We did a fair bit of hiking in Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Slovenia and Italy our recent 2 month road-trip around Europe (and can you blame us?! Below is a photograph from one of our rest days when we were in Austria, just WOW! 😻). Planning on going hiking? Here are some tips on how to physically prepare for a hiking trip.

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1. Plansee, Austria. If you’re looking for untouched natural beauty, you’ll fall in love with Austria.

Plan before you set off!

Are you just starting out, and looking for something to “test the waters”? Maybe you’re a little more experienced, but looking to take things up a notch? Did you find your previous hiking trip a little too much, or perhaps a bit boring? 

Every hike is different, and the physical preparation will differ, too.

If you’re booking through an adventure travel company, you can always ask them what fitness level is required for the routes that interest you. They will often be able to help you assess if the trails of interest are suitable for you.

Know your fitness level ❤️

Assessing your fitness level before setting out on your first hike – or any hike, for that matter – is highly recommended. Not all days trekking will be the same, but that’s what makes it exciting!

If you regularly walk to work and back, play football on the weekends, and go to the gym three times per week, you’d be safe to class yourself as fit. More advanced trails are certainly on your radar, however, shouldn’t be underestimated.

Where a walk to the local chip shop is your primary form of exercise, you’ll need to better prepare your body!

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2. The Dolomites, Italy were truly epic! The Tre Cime di Lavaredo loop is perfect for beginners.

Get some training under your belt 

The obvious way to train for a hike is to get out and walk as much as you can. Anywhere you can reach on foot is an option – so ditch the car in favour of a walk to the local supermarket. In fact, carrying some shopping bags back from the shops will help you, too, as it is likely you’ll need to carry heavy bags with your belongings while hiking.

If hitting the gym, you’ll find that many treadmills feature an incline setting. For most people, these are simply a way of increasing intensity and adding “variety” to otherwise boring cardio workouts. For others, this setting offers a great tool to prepare for real-world hiking adventures.

Most treadmills max out at around 15% incline. This is pretty good, but if you’re looking to hike up demanding hills and mountains, you’ll likely want to try out a dedicated incline trainer.

An incline trainer is the same as a treadmill, however, is designed with a much steeper running deck. With incline percentages up to 40%, these are perfect for increasing the stamina needed for steep treks and mountain climbing. 

Although not cheap, you can easily save yourself some money by comparing gym equipment prices before you buy an incline trainer.

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3. Little further up… Glacier summit shot @ Gornergrat, Switzerland – Feeling on top of the world!

Keep hydrated on your hike

With so many variables to consider, it’s impossible to produce a definitive list of things to do while on your vigorous walk. That said, water and food are things we can accurately estimate.

Before setting off, you’ll no doubt have map of the route you’re taking. You should work out how many miles you’ll walk and calculate how long this will take.

Regarding hydration, a good rule of thumb is to drink a litre of water for every two hours walking. If it’s a hot day, with lots of uphill climbing, this should be the minimum you shoot for.

Remember, the more water you carry, the heavier your bag will be. For this reason, it’s important to accurately estimate how much water to take, to ensure an optimal fitness level.

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4. Views of Matterhorn from Riffelsee, Switzerland (Yes, that’s the Toblerone mountain!!) 🐻

Re-assess your fitness level after the hike

No matter how well you initially assessed your fitness level, or how much you physically prepared your body, you will now know the reality of how fit you are. Did you smash it? Was it a walk in the park (excuse the pun) or maybe it was more physically demanding than you imagined?

Those who found their most recent hiking trip difficult might add weight training to their preparation for next time. If you found it less demanding, you can aim for something a little tougher while having a “feel” for what areas you might need to address to ensure you’re at the right fitness level to tackle it.

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5. One of the most jaw-dropping hikes I’ve ever done, the Pragser Wildsee loop in the Italian Alps

Last but not least…

Physical preparation is an important part of hiking. When booking or planning a hike, ask experienced hikers and tour company advisors about the required fitness level.

Once you’ve shortlisted suitable trails, pick exercises to help you reach the right level: walk to the local shops if you’re a beginner; train on an incline trainer if you’re more experienced; and lift weights if you feel your strength needs improvement.

In addition to preparing you for the hike, these exercises and training methods will also keep your body in great shape for everyday life, too.

December 15, 2018|Travel|

Tips for Lighting Up the Living Room: Shine Baby, Shine!

Lighting is one of the most important and often under appreciated aspects of internal décor which can make or break all the other elements. It is also extremely important to match the lighting with the mood and the theme of a particular room, which is where we often go wrong. Take a look at the following tips to know how you can avoid common lighting mistakes and make your living room shine.

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Three Different Types of Lights

The general rule is that a room as large as the living room requires three different types of lighting, which are categorised as ambient lighting, task lighting and accent lighting. While you can get away with skipping the accent lights (especially when the space is quite small), ambient and task lighting are essential.

Ambient lighting 

This refers to the general lighting in any living room that acts as the primary source of illumination. There are many ways to go about it, but pendant lighting works particularly well for ambient lighting, given how many widely varying options you get with the ceiling fixtures here. There are tube LED lights, pyramids, cubes, birdcages, disco balls, chandeliers, cluster lights, classic round bulbs and so many other options that it is easy to get spoiled for choice, irrespective of the décor you have going on in your living room.

The ambient lights in a living room are responsible for creating the primary atmosphere, so choose carefully and in the right numbers. What this implies is that a particularly large living room may benefit more from multiple smaller pendant lights, than just one big chandelier, while one small chandelier with a mirror on one wall could actually make a small room look bigger than it is.

Task Lighting 

Just as the name suggests, task lighting refers to specialised light sources that serve to aid in a particular function. For example, a reading lamp or a recessed cabinet light meant for lighting up the kitchen counter is known as a task light because it helps the inhabitants of the home in performing certain specific tasks better.

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Accent Lighting 

The job of accent lights is to highlight points of interest in the room. If you have ever seen cove lighting or tray ceilings, you know what accent lighting is. Alternatively, you can use sconces to accentuate a photo wall or a piece of art that you proudly own and would like to show off to your guests.

Dimmer Switches are EVERYTHING!

The brightness control which dimmer switches allow are a game changer and until the days come when we can use smart lights everywhere, they are a must for any living room. Not only do dimmer switches allow for perfect ambience control by enabling people to adjust the brightness in accordance with the available natural light, as well as the occasion at hand, they also help in bringing down the power consumption quite a bit over time.

Consider Colour Temperature

It may not look like it at the time of the purchase, but rest assured that unless every lightbulb that you are buying is of the same kelvin colour temperature, the whites and the yellows will differ from each other once you fit them into the fixtures and turn them on. Since a mixture could look quite clumsy, make sure that every bulb you buy has the same rating as the others, especially when dealing with pendant lights.

Making a living room shine isn’t about making it as bright as possible, but more about filling the entire room with just the perfect amount of light which it needs to look bright, inviting and cosy at the same time.

December 14, 2018|Home Decor|

10 reasons to go travelling in a campervan

Traveling is the BEST, and we dedicate our energy to seeing new places as much as we possibly can. You’ve probably already read (because I keep writing about it…) but I recently bought a van conversion. We’ve got some big plans which we’re publishing on the blog pretty soon.

So far we’ve only done smaller trips but we’re completely in love with our van and cannot wait to do more. There’s something really special about traveling in a van. Here’s why we love it and we’re so excited…

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1. Work from anywhere in the world

We are so lucky that we run our own company, and we can make money from wherever we are, as long as we have our laptops. This makes life so much easier for us because it means we’re not restricted when we travel or for how long. One of us can be driving, whilst the other is in the back working on our clients websites using our personal hotspots or portable wifi

People often think we’re an exceptions and that nobody else can do this but that couldn’t be further from the truth. In this modern era, there are so many different jobs you can do remotely from a computer, from being a virtual assistant to being a designer. There’s a wealth of information online about how to get started… If you want to read more essays about travel go to this site.

2. Unbounded freedom

During every trip, one of the most important aspects is accommodation. Hotels and hostels always bound you to the place where you are staying, and it becomes impossible to move far away for some sightseeing as you have to return for the night. We all know how much this sucks…

While traveling in a campervan, you can stay for a sleep anywhere and stop off at spot along the way to your destination. You can even park up in front of the sea or overlooking mountains (if parking permits!). The type of views you can get from a van blow hotels out the park. 

3. Value of space

Every vacation requires preparation of things that you are going to take with you. Usually, people bring with them a bunch of unnecessary stuff, and some of them are not even used once! When you’re traveling in a campevan, you’ll soon find out what’s really important to you.

Whether you’re going on a long trip or a short trip in your campervan, you should think twice. Only take only the most important and needed items as space is limited. That helps to reconsider the essential things for you. It really changes your perspective and there’s something liberating about minimal living. 

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4. Revaluation of values

In the campervan, all resources such as food and water are limited, and you have to refill them from time to time. However, when the trip goes far from the civilisation, you start to think about different ways of shortening the consumption. What is the real value of the water and possibility to take a shower several times a day? 

We’ve had to consider this for when we’re traveling in the colder months because an outside shower isn’t so appealing. We’ve read so many inspiring posts, and the verdict is, at the end of such a trip you will look at the world differently. That’s a pretty exciting prospect. 

5. New people, new friends

While traveling in a van, you will ride through big cities to small villages, and you will definitely meet new people that will be very curious, where you are from. There is a chance that you will be invited for dinner.

This is something we’re really excited about, and it was one of my favourite things about traveling in Australia.

6. Nature around us

The magnificence of the Earth cannot be compared to anything else and you can come closer to nature. It is really wonderful to wake up in the morning with leaves rustling and birds singing. Here you will remain far away from the city noises 🍃 What could be better?

I love rolling the van door open in the morning, letting the dog out and feeling the sun rays on my face. Even just one night away in the van and in nature makes me feel so much better. Even if we’re on a slanted field and we’re not in a king size bed, somehow, I sleep better. Would you believe?!

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7. Living is cheap

Traveling is not cheap and there is list of reasons why. When you’re traveling in a campervan, cost is significantly decreased! Everything you need is inside your moving home, and you do not have to book a hotel room, pay for meals out in restaurants, and you won’t need to worry about getting taxis or buses.

When you’re traveling, you’ll find that fuel is the most expensive thing, which is pretty unavoidable. That said, if you’re having a slow month making money, you can always park up and just enjoy whatever country you’re in. The second biggest expenses is food. 

When you go traveling in a van (especially if it’s as old as ours is!), then make sure you have a rainy-day fund for if you breakdown. Our van didn’t meet the requirements for roadside assistance cover, but if yours does, it’s worth every penny for the piece of mind. Take a couple of parts with you for when you’re traveling on the road, like spare bulbs etc that can be picked up cheaply online from websites like www.buycarparts.co.uk, to save you having a huge bill at a garage for something that could have easily been replaced.

8. The project aspect is fun

When I bought the van, the aim was so go traveling and take our dog with us. I didn’t give too much thought about the build of the van, and it kind of stressed me out. We bought a van that (luckily) had most the stuff done, such as electrics, plumbing and gas installation. This meant we didn’t have to fork out for expensive essentials.

BUT we’ve spent every hour of our weekends on making the van our own, you can see our pics on Instagram 📸 From painting the cupboards, through to hooking up fairy lights and putting in new curtains. These little changes make a huge difference, and it feels so good knowing that we did it ourselves (with some help from our family) and it’s all come together.

9. Rest whenever you want

When you’re traveling in a van, there’s no limitations on when you have to leave. This is perfect if you enjoy slow-living because you can take the time out to have a bit more relaxation, without missing out on your trip. I know this is going to work well with our busy schedules, and it’ll take the pressure off us, allowing us to truly enjoy our trip.

These are the main reasons why to go traveling in a campervan is really worth trying. There are always advantages and disadvantages in any kind of trips, and only you can choose the option, which suits you the most.

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In case you haven’t noticed, I’m a BIG fan of traveling in a van but I must stress, it isn’t for everybody. It can be really stressful if and when you breakdown, and you’ll miss having access to a clean toilet everyday.

If you want a unique adventure but washing with wet wipes isn’t your thing, then fear not! I’ve recently been swooning over this article: unique places you can rent for your next holiday. From tree-houses in Sweden to underground caves in Turkey, it’s 100% unique but a little bit more luxurious than a home on wheels.

December 13, 2018|Van Life|
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**WINNER** Best European Lifestyle Blog 2018 🌺🥥

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Strawberry Squeeze is a UK lifestyle blog written by me, Sam Charles! Ranked as Up and Coming on Bloglovin’, Strawberry Squeeze publishes content from health and beauty to travel and adventure.

I aim to updated the blog at least once a week (usually much more often!) with guides, inspiration and reviews. Don’t forget to follow me on Facebook to keep up to date with all my posts 💕

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Strawberry Squeeze is a UK lifestyle blog but what exactly does that mean? Mediakix defines a lifestyle blog as “digital content representation of its author’s everyday life and interests”. This is perfect for fickle little me, that changes what they’re doing every 5 minutes.

Whilst my career, my fiancée and my home is consistent, my hobbies and interest are all over the place. Life is too short and I want to experience EVERYTHING. One weekend I’ll be climbing a mountain, another I’ll be surfing, then the next week I’ll be watching learning how to create macrame wall hangings.

I always wonder how successful I could make the blog if it was in a niche with a focus but alas, it just wouldn’t be me.

Do you run a UK lifestyle or fitness blog, and want to contribute to my Strawberry Squeeze? If so, I want to hear from you!🍓hello@strawberrysqueeze.co.uk

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