25/07/2017

#MartyTravels (& Reflects): York, England


Finally! My York travel post. As you may have seen either from my Twitter or what I've been suggesting in my hotel reviews from my trip to York, it wasn't exactly the experience I had planned. So, let's get straight to it. 

Over the Easter break, I had the pleasure of working with ILOVETOUR (if you haven't heard of them and you're at university/play sport at university - please look them up, you won't be disappointed). I spent a week in Croatia as a Hotel Rep, and it was brilliant. Whilst there, I made a lot of friends (some I'll definitely be seeing next Easter, Croatia 2k18 come at me) and majority of them were from places far, far away. Or if you're me, that just means North of England. I've been chatting to one of the guys I met there for a few weeks, after which he invited me to go visit him and go to an End of Year Ball with him - as friends only. 

About two weeks before I was supposed to be going, he started acting weird - and this ain't your gal's first fuckboy rodeo. 

So I straight up asked him what was going on. He told me he met someone and didn't know quite how to tell me. Considering I'm a walking definition of anxiety, I'm surprisingly easy going and approachable, so all he had to do was tell me. I wasn't bothered by the girlfriend, I was bothered because he lied and started acting shady. At this point, my tickets were booked (and I think everyone knows train travel in England isn't cheap) and I was honestly quite pissed off. But at the end of the day, it's just money. He told me he still really wants me to come, and the she's completely okay with it (since they met after I was asked) and because we'd be going as friends only. After a while of convincing, I agreed. Purely because before this, furthest North I've been was King's Lynn. So yeah. The week of, I double checked if it's okay for me to come, suggested maybe I should get a hotel because I started to feel bad, but was repeatedly told not to be silly. I even checked on Thursday night, the night before I was supposed to be heading there. Everything was still fine at 11:45pm. Off I went to the train station on Friday afternoon, excited for my York adventure, my rose-printed Primark midi dress that everyone and their dog owns flowing in the wind.


I was sat next to the loveliest couple, who were heading to the York races - it was their first weekend away from the kids for a while, so they were boozing it up and I lived for it. They were awesome. About 30/40 minutes into my journey, I received the text. The girlfriend was no longer okay with me coming. I was told I might as well turn back and go home. I was fuming - I asked repeatedly, offered ways out. Then, I had a panic attack. And then another one. And then another one. In that time, I received multiple texts: some telling me to turn back, some telling me to still come. A few missed phone calls. I didn't want to speak to him. In hindsight, I wish I hadn't. But I did, and I was convinced to come regardless of what the situation was. He told me he'd pay for my train journey back if that's something I'd still want after talking things out with him (I still don't know what he wanted to bloody talk about, to be honest with you, my dear reader). I was already on the train, and the aforementioned couple had starting pouring vodka into my Diet Coke, so I said to myself "Fuck it, girl just go". Which you could've guessed from the photos of York, but I have the flare for the dramatic.


When I arrived, I was exhausted. As I've said, I had three panic attacks and I've had a little bit to drink (nothing crazy, don't get any ideas, reader). We sat and we talked, he apologised over and over again. We decided to go for dinner before making any decisions (I had a £20 Turtle Bay voucher - shoutout to my favourites for being there in my time of need). We went to his house, I left my bags, off we went to enjoy some Caribbean inspired food and decide what to do. I was obviously still mad at him. I still am. It'll be a long while before this feeling goes away. In this time, the Girlfriend kept texting him and calling him - she was hanging out with her friends, and was obviously heavily influenced by them.
I strongly believe in male/female friendships, most of my close friends are male. Sadly, not many people do. 
He kept leaving the table to go outside and speak to her, and I was completely fine with it - at the end of the day, this was his girlfriend and I wasn't there to interfere with anyone's relationship, I was there to hear some sexy Yorkshire accent and visit the fucking Jorvik centre. However, I've never felt more uncomfortable, to the point where the waitress, Hannah (another shout out, 10/10 service) came up to me and asked if everything was okay, because the situation at our table made even her worried and uncomfortable. Every time he came back he kept saying he wants me to stay and go to the ball with him regardless. I was very confused about what to do. Originally, I was going to stay from Friday until Monday. However, after the dinner we got back to his, and I made the decision to go back home on Sunday instead (I found a ticket for £8, wtf). He insisted on paying for my hotel for those two nights to make up for it, and I just let him do it. I was exhausted. I also spoke to his girlfriend. Her mood also changed very quickly, she said she wanted me to stay and that being in a hotel was just silly. I didn't feel comfortable anymore, so regardless of what she would have said, I was leaving. She wanted to meet me after her bar-tending shift, around 3AM, and I agreed - but, after getting to the hotel and checking in, I kept falling asleep. As I've said, it was an exhausting day. I texted him and asked if we could do lunch or dinner on the Saturday instead, as I was simply too tired to do it. Everything seemed fine. I woke up to a message telling me that the Girlfriend has been through a lot and he doesn't know whether she'll feel like meeting me - I could not have cared less. Later on that day he texted me asking me to tell him how I get on with exploring York, I replied. Not heard from him since. Arrivederci, stronzo.


Initially, I wasn't thrilled about spending a day alone in a strange city. It was scary. I've never really been alone whilst away, and the last time that I was my anxiety was nowhere near as bad as it is nowadays (more on that another time). I spent the day just strolling, and whilst sat outside of the Minster, I started chatting to a lovely girl and her mum. They were bird watching, and the Perigrone Falcon was sat on the church, so they asked me whether I wanted to see. They explained that it's the fastest bird/animal, and they're not very easy to spot. So of course I did, once in a lifetime opportunity. We talked for about an hour, and when we were saying our goodbyes, Sarah and I decided to add each other on Facebook, so we can follow each other's travels (hope you're still planning on visiting Poland, Sarah!) - turns out I was on a society committee with her best friend, Phoebe. What are the chances! Small, small world indeed. She recommended that I go and have breakfast at Brew & Brownie, but my train was at 8 in the morning the following day, so it was something I filed in my mind under 'next time you're in York'. I went back to my hotel, ordered some room service and checked out Tinder, as you do when you're bored. I was watching TV, texting my friends and realised there was still so much more of York that I haven't seen and that I wanted to see. On a whim, I booked myself onto another hotel for Sunday night - you can read about that here - and was very happy with my decision.


Once I checked into StayCity, the lovely receptionists told me all the places to check out, and recommended the bus tour. I took them up on it - it was £10, valid for 24 hours and I got to see the major sights. I half went up the Clifford's Tower - once outside of it's gate I decided I didn't actually want to go inside, lol. I also didn't go on a tour of the Minster, but that's something for another time for sure.  I did, however, go to the Jorvik Viking Centre - 100% recommend, great fun. I also decided to go on a Ghost Tour, and at £3, you can't really go wrong. The reason I liked it is because my tour guide wasn't overly theatrical and wasn't trying very hard to scare you. The stories he told were real, and whether you believe the haunting part of it was up to you. I headed back to my hotel for dinner, and that was also a mini disaster, as you'll know from my oven fiasco. In that time, I started talking to a guy on Tinder, and he offered to show me around York after I told him my situation. I had to cancel on him because of the bloody oven, but asked if he wanted to reschedule for brunch the next day - I really wanted to go to Brew & Brownie, can you tell? We met up, had a great brunch (14/10 I recommend, neither of us finished our pancakes because there was just so much food) and cocktails, and I made a friend out of it. A win, really.

What I can tell you is that this was a heartbreaking experience. I learned a lot about myself, mainly that I can spend time alone in a strange city and for it to not be complete tragedy. I also learned that people are dicks, and you can't help that. You need to move on, and you can't let other people dictate your life. Negative people aren't necessary in anyone's life. Cut them out. Get rid of them. Delete them on Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter. Block their number.

Do whatever is necessary for you to be happy, because you're worth so much more than constant apologies and always being asked for forgiveness. You deserve someone who will go above and beyond to care for you and who takes your feelings into consideration.

I really want to go back to York, sadly I don't think I'll have a chance anytime - although Em Sheldon is planning an event there soon, so I might be tempted. I'm definitely planning another one-gal trip at some point this year. Remember to love yourself.

Love, Marty xx

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07/07/2017

#FoodieFriday: Pan-Roasted Chicken with Dijon Mushroom Sauce and Brown Rice*


I love cooking, especially trying out new recipes, so when I was recently contacted by Trisha from HelloFresh asking if I was interested in collaborating with them, I jumped straight at the opportunity. They've recently released a new tool, called the Flavour Generator. So, what is it? It's pretty cool, actually! You choose the cuisine you prefer (Indian, British, Mexican, Italian or Middle Eastern) and then you pick the flavour - spicy, sweet, tangy, herby, or something you've never tried before. The generator then chooses one or two dishes that fit into this category, and off you go! My only criticism is that there aren't enough options meal wise, but perhaps that's because I have a very picky Mum (I'm currently back to living with my parents, explanation in the next blog post) who doesn't eat a lot of things. If I was cooking for myself or friends it probably would have been slightly easier. 

Anyway! We decided to go for British food with a spicy flavour (which again, quite daring for Mum, she's not a fan of too much spice). The generator gave us thyme and mustard as the undertones of the dish, and the two dishes were Pimped Up Pan Haggerty and this beauty you'll read about here. We agreed on this because, well, you can't go wrong with chicken & mushroom. 

The recipe has a level of difficulty (ours was 1, how adventurous of us), a nutritional values list and the breakdown of ingredients. I wish the ingredients weren't in ounces, but nothing a quick Google search can't fix. 

WHAT YOU'LL NEED (2 servings) :

340g of chicken breast

56g of sour cream
1 cube of chicken stock 
7g of thyme
255g of brown rice
2 cloves of garlic
115g of button mushroom
1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard
salt, pepper, olive oil


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Remove the chicken from the refrigerator and bring to room temperature. Bring a medium pot of water with a large pinch of salt to a boil. Thinly slice the mushrooms. Mince or grate the garlic. Strip the thyme leaves off the sprig and roughly chop.
  2. Cook the rice: Add the rice to the boiling water and boil for about 30 minutes, until tender. Drain.
  3. Meanwhile, heat a drizzle of oil in a large pan over medium heat. Pat dry the chicken with a paper towel, then season on all sides with salt and pepper. Add the chicken to the pan and cook for 2-3 minutes per side, until browned, but not yet cooked through. Place the chicken on a baking sheet and transfer to the oven for about 10 minutes, until just cooked through.
  4. Heat another drizzle of oil in the same pan over medium heat. Add the thyme and garlic to the pan and cook for 30 seconds, until fragrant. Add the mushrooms to the pan and cook, tossing for 5-6 minutes, until browned. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Add ½ cup water and the stock concentrate to the pan. Scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Nestle the chicken in the sauce while it reduces. Bring to a simmer for 2-3 minutes, or until reduced by half. Remove the pan from heat and stir in the sour cream and 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard. Season to taste with salt and pepper. At this point, Mum and I thought it'd be best to use more sour cream next time - just a tip! We all agreed it needs to be a little creamier.

  6. Finish and plate: Thinly slice the chicken and serve on a bed of brown rice (although as you can see we decided to do that before we added it to the pan). Drizzle with the Dijon mushroom sauce and enjoy!

We all loved this recipe and we'll definitely be making it again. Next time though, we'll make sure it's more creamy and we'll add a little bit more chicken. Do you think you'll be trying Hello Fresh's new Flavour Generator? Have a look at the tool and let me know what you'd choose to make! 

Love, 


*This post was in collaboration with Hello Fresh in exchange for an honest review and a Hello Fresh box of my choice.

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05/07/2017

#MartyTravels: StayCity Aparthotels York Review


Hello hello! As you saw in my previous post, whilst I was in York I had the pleasure (debatable, I guess - blog post as to why shall soon follow) of staying in two hotels. One of them was Hotel Indigo, and you can read about my stay here. The other one was StayCity Aparthotels. I booked last minute (literally the night before) via Booking.com and made my way there on Sunday morning. My check in wasn't until 3pm, but I thought I could at least leave my bags and then go off on a wonder around York. The staff however was super lovely and since my room wasn't ready yet, they just put me up in a different one, #winner. I left my bags and off I went. I came back after my Ghost Trail (yes, I did that, no, it wasn't weird) and because I was super hungry I decided to cook myself some food. What a bad idea that was. Somehow I managed to blow a fuse in the room! Of course that's something that would happen to me. The receptionist came up, we fixed the fuse, everything seemed to be working. Apart from the oven. And I needed the oven. So we tried to fix it, tried a few different options, but they've decided to move me to another room and give me an upgrade, just for the hassle. Again, #winner. 

I was a fan of the hotel from the start. The reception is cool, I like its vibe. The staff were probably one of the nicest people I ever met. I chatted to them as to why I was in York and why I was staying in a hotel, and they gave me many a tip as to where to go, what to see, and what to do considering my situation. 5/5 on the staff there, StayCity York! Give them a pay rise! 


I didn't take photos of my original room, as I was in a rush and just wanted to get out of there and sight-see. It was essentially the same, minus the lounge area situation. So you get the idea. 


As soon as you walk into the room, you're welcomed by the lounge and the kitchen (please excuse the quality of the photos, they're taken on my phone and my camera is broken because I dropped my phone lol of course). It's the perfect size of a flat - and to be honest, I'd happily live in a place like that, but then again, I like small apartments. But that's the whole point of it, it's supposed to feel like home, and I loved that. I won't lie, I didn't sit at the kitchen table. I chose the sofas instead (which I believe are actually sofa beds? I don't know, I had no need to check that out), in front of the TV - which also has Netflix on, another #winner. One 'complaint' I could possibly have is that I'd rather have a TV in the bedroom rather than in the lounge, I like watching TV in bed. But honestly, who really cares. It's not of great importance. 

I really liked the simplicty of the apartment, especially the kitchen. You're provided with a microwave, a dishwasher, a fridge freezer and an oven, and all the utensils you can potentially need on a short stay in a hotel - I asked for a baking tray and I got one, so even if there's something missing you can always give reception a shout. The bathroom was also super nice, I loved the overhead shower! Again, it was a short stay, so I can really say is - the shower worked, it was great, I felt clean afterwards. 10/10.


The bedroom was very simple, but again, I like that. I love the contrast wall and the wall art, which also featured in the lounge. Just a cute touch. The bed is huuuuuge, so I star-fished for days (well, hours). There's also a wardrobe (where the fuse box is, in case you were wondering!) and a mirror. And bedside table, of course. The standards. 

Here's a cute lil pic of me being super happy in my new hotel room, feat. my newest obsession aka these New Look shorts

I will 100% be staying at StayCity again, whether that is in York or in one of their many other locations. The staff was outstanding, despite problems, and the room was great. And the price isn't too high, either. I was very impressed with it, considering I was booking last minute I was worried I wouldn't be happy with my choice, but I kind of wish I stayed there the whole time, I think it would have made my stay even better. Have you ever stayed at StayCity before? 

Love,

Marty xx

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20/06/2017

#MartyTravels: Hotel Indigo York Review


Over the past weekend, I had the pleasure of staying at Hotel Indigo in York, England. It is a beautiful, four-star boutique hotel, situated about 10 minutes away from the Minster. It has its own bar & restaurant, No.88 Walmgate and the prices are fairly reasonable. I stayed there on Friday and Saturday night, after which I relocated to StayCity Apartments (reasons as to why will follow in my last post this week). However, Hotel Indigo is definitely one of my favourite hotels I've ever stayed at. The staff were super lovely and helpful, and the service was immaculate. 

I was staying in the Standard Bedroom, which boasts a King Size bed, a 40 inch TV and an amazing bathroom with a rainfall shower. There's also a station for you to make your own tea or coffee, although I opted for the hot chocolate. My favourite part was definitely the bathroom though, I loved the white tiles and the contrasting pattern tiles in the shower were amazing. 


Please excuse the quality of the photos - they were taken on my iPhone, as I didn't bring my camera with me. As you'll see from my York roundup, I wasn't planning on staying in a hotel at all. I am, however, very glad that I got to experience Hotel Indigo, and I'm already planning on staying with them again, perhaps in Barcelona, if I  do end up going in September. They have several locations and all the hotels embrace the local culture, which is why I liked the decor of it so much. It actually somehow felt very Yorkshire. I don't know why; maybe because this was my first time up North (yes, really). You'll be able to read all about my (somewhat disastrous) weekend trip to York at the end of the week. 

On Saturday morning I also ordered breakfast, which was ah-mazing, as you can see. I believe it was £9.95 (+ service). I also ordered a BBQ Pulled Pork & Red Onion Pizza for dinner that night (similar price), but the lighting was bad so I didn't bother taking a photo - but it also tasted wonderful.


Overall, I'd definitely recommend staying at Hotel Indigo - whether that's in York, or anywhere else out of the dozens of their locations. I'll be coming back whenever I get the chance. Have you ever stayed at Indigo, or been to York for that matter? Let me know in the comments below! 

Love, Marty x

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