Living Your Best Life Vs Living Beyond Your Means

FeaturedLiving Your Best Life Vs Living Beyond Your Means

The other day, I was picking up my morning coffee before class. It was an expensive affair, from one of those Melbourne speciality cafes that manages to produce miracles out of the simple combination of coffee and milk. As I tipped out my purse to salvage the last few coins that I had left, I got to thinking: Am I spending too much money on ‘treating myself?’. And more broadly, where is that line between ‘living your best life’ and living beyond your means.

The Bigger picture

My generation spends more money on treating themselves than any other generation has before us. This was first highlighted in the news a couple of years ago when Australian millionaire, Tim Gurner, advised Millenials that if they want to get a house, they need to stop wasting money on ‘$22 a pop toast’ and put the money towards a mortgage instead.

Now, I am in no denial as to where my money goes. I only need to log on to my Commonwealth bank account to see that my wages have been spent on numerous transactions for daily coffees, brunches out and a few too many fancy cocktails at the weekend. My bank app even puts my spending into handy categories for me, telling me that I spent $100 more dollars this month than the last on eating out. Whoops.

Living Your Best Life Vs Living Beyond Your Means

In defence of brunch

So, I’ve established where my money is going. Now, what should I do? Work more, pay the rent, say no to Friday night drinks out and save the money instead? Well I know that’s the sensible thing to do- and as an accountants daughter, maybe that should be instinctive. The thing is, what’s life without those little luxuries? What’s the point of living in Melbourne, a city famed for some of the best food and coffee in the world, if I’m making pasta pesto for dinner every night instead. Life’s a balance and if it’s a weighing game between living beyond your means and living your best life, If you’re going do it, do it while you’re young.

I say, Get Smashed, Avo good time and don’t worry about it 

So as I go into another week, I can safely assure you that I’ll be picking up another one of those fancy coffees tomorrow morning- and I’ll be meeting my friend for a bite to eat after that. Of course, life is about balance, and I don’t advise brunching out daily if you can’t afford to pay the bills. However, with that extra little bit of leftover cash, why not treat yourself?

Soon you’ll be so busy in that full-time job, fixing up that house you just bought and paying for the extras that you’ll only dream about the days you had time to eat avo toast in a grungy Melbourne laneway cafe.

What’s your favourite way to treat yourself? Share your thoughts in the comments. 

Melbourne: What it’s really like to work on an Australian Working Holiday

Melbourne: The Best Cafes For 20- Somethings

I had mixed feelings when it came to the ‘working’ part of my Australian Working Holiday. After a few months of travelling down the East Coast of Australia, I was ready to work again, both mentally and financially. However I felt overwhelmed by the prospect of actually looking for work and I knew that once I had a job, the constant daily excitement that I had gotten used to in my travels would decrease- work is work after all.

I arrived in Melbourne with less than two weeks until christmas and was pretty resigned to the fact that I would not be able to find a job until the new year. However after a couple of days of making phone calls and handing out CVs, I’d managed to get a barista job and a paid marketing internship secured. Now after a few weeks, I’m fairly settled and I thought it was a good time to write a more insightful post about what it’s like to work abroad in Australia.

australia working holiday melbourne
Brighton Beach, Melbourne

Firstly, make sure that you actually want to work

I know to a lot of people, a year abroad in Australia sounds like the dream. However you’ll be surprised at the number of people who cut their trip short. When it comes down to it, the ‘working’ part of the trip is often a bit of a reality check for some people: the fun part is over (in some senses) and the hard bit begins. You don’t really hear about the travellers that didn’t really feel at home in Australia, however I have met plenty. Trying to find work in a new country presents a struggle and it can be really stressful, particularly if english is not your first language. When it comes down to it, a lot of travellers would rather go back to their jobs at home, where they have their friends and family around which is totally understandable- just make sure you know what you want before you come here. You only get one working holiday and it costs a lot of money. If you’re in any doubt then why not get a tourist visa first? It’s valid for three months and it’s a great way to test the water out first.

It’s a taste of independence

I’ve spent a lot of time backpacking over the last couple of years so I’m used to being fairly independent however the working holiday is entirely different. In the UK I live at home and have my friends and family around. In Melbourne, I’m on my own. I have to sort things out myself, get myself around the city, pay my rent, cook my own food and meet new people. It’s exciting and there are always new people around to do things with, plus I’m preoccupied with a whole city to explore. Coming to Australia has given me a taste of real independence and if I can set up a life on the other side of the world, then I can do it anywhere.

You will survive off $1 Seven-Eleven coffee

Working in Australia has been some of the most physically demanding work that I have done. In order to save up some money after paying rent, it’s hard to say no to shifts and considering that I am currently doing two jobs, I’m working most days. Unlike at home where I can go home and switch off, while I’m waiting to move into my shared apartment next week, I’m still in a hostel. This means that every evening after work (and each morning before) there are new people to talk to and there’s always something going on. Going out for endless cocktails seems like a good idea at the moment but it’s not so great when you have to be up for an eight-hour shift the next day. Seven-Eleven coffee is a necessity.

australia working holiday melbourne

Not every day is exciting

I have so many moments where I am so hyped to be working in Australia. Melbourne is my dream city and every day I am proud of myself for settling in here and finding work. However not every day is exciting. Some days I’ll just wake up, go to work and go to bed. It’s not because I’m depressed or I’m bored with Melbourne (anything but) but it’s because I know I have the time, and it would be physically impossible to do something significant every day for the next few months.

Staying in hostels can be hard

Staying in a hostel while I have been settling into Melbourne has its benefits and downsides. The plus side is that hostels are sociable so they are a good place to meet people who you can do things with. The downside is that people are always coming and going so it has been so sad having to say goodbye to people who I had gotten really close with.

People love a British accent

The cafe job that I have here is one of the hardest hospitality jobs that I’ve ever had but the customers are some of the nicest. What’s best is that I can’t count the number of times that I get compliments from locals on my english accent; compliments just for talking!  Plus my accent is a great conversation starter with all of the travellers and locals who come into the cafe. There’s always an interesting story, or two to hear.

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It’s harder to save up money than I thought

The wages are fantastic in Australia, almost twice as much as at home in the UK actually, However saving up is harder than I had anticipated. At the moment I am staying in a hostel. This means that I am paying a crazy amount on rent, and because there’s always a lot going on, I’m also spending a lot of money on socializing. While soon I am moving into a shared apartment and will undoubtedly start saving some money, at the moment it’s hard to save up my wages especially compared to at home where I am living rent free and with free food. I’m not here to make a lot of money though. As long as my income meets my outgoing I’m pretty happy- it is a working holiday, after all, not either/or.

I hope that this post has given you some insight into what it’s like to work on a Working Holiday in Australia. I’m currently living my dream life in Melbourne. Yes some days are hard and sometimes I even question what I’m doing here but overwhelmingly I really love it here. I’m getting all of my creativity nurtured through my marketing and content writing internship (along with the experience of being in a modern city centre office with free food and Kombucha on tap!) Then I have the physical challenge and experience of making coffees and waitressing in a cafe, in a city known for its coffee culture.

At the moment I’m just taking advantage of having a hot January where days off can be spent at the beach, eating gelato by the river and going out in a vest top in the evenings. Even though I’m working, I’m still a traveller, I’ve just taken a little pit stop for a while.   In Melbourne, for the first time in my travels, I am in a new country and I don’t have to look for local recommendations in the area; I am compiling a great list of my very own.

You can read more about my work and travels in Australia here. 

 

How To Write A Travel Journal

Writing a travel journal wasn’t something that I’d done before this year however I got really into journalling on my last trip and now I’m completely converted to keeping one. Writing in a journal while I was away was great for so many reasons. I loved making myself take the time to gather my thoughts, write down funny stories and stick in things like train tickets and cards from places that I’d been to. What originally started out as a way to fill spare time in cafes actually got really addictive, not to mention it’s been a great to look back on my trip: It’s amazing how much you forget about what you’ve done, even in a couple of weeks.

When it comes to journalling, social media sites like Instagram, Tumblr and Pinterest are packed full of travel and art journal ideas and inspiration however it’s important to not get too precious with it. There’s no one way to keep a travel journal and everyone’s own one will reflect their personality, their passions and interests. So, whether you fancy starting an art journal, a line a day book, more or a diary or even a little bit of everything, just remember that your travel journal should be something that you do just for you;  no one else has to look in it if you don’t want them to.

If you’ve never given travel journalling a go, it can be daunting to know where to start and what to write in it so I thought I’d write a quick post with a few tips to get you started.

Here’s how to write a travel journal:

how to write a travel journal

Don’t get hung up on making it perfect

It can be so hard to get over the pressure of perfectionism when it comes to travel journalling but try to avoid the urge to start over if you feel like it doesn’t look quite how you wanted it to.  Tumblr might be full of aesthetically beautiful journals but don’t get hung up on making your journal perfect: Travelling will never allow for it. A real life travel journal will get battered in your backpack, it might have scruffy writing from when you wrote by torch-light in a dark hostel dorm room, it might have phone numbers and addresses scrawled at the bottom of one of the pages because it was the only bit of paper you could find: A real travel journal is an honest representation of your trip, not an application for art school.

Don’t force yourself to write in it everyday

One of the main reasons I’d never taken up travel journalling before was because I thought I’d have to write in it everyday and this really put me off. In reality, you’ll be way too busy having fun, travelling from one place to another or just out there making memories that you won’t give your journal a second thought and that’s totally fine. Instead just write in it when you have the chance, you can always reflect over the last few days. If you force yourself to write daily when you don’t feel like it you’ll just resent the whole thing.  A good tip is to try to include the date and location at the top of the page each time you write, this way it doesn’t matter when you write in it.

Remember that you don’t have to write pages and pages

Don’t feel like you have to write a full account of your day when you sit down to write,  even a couple of sentences about what you’ve done, a small sketch or a quick note about how you’re feeling is enough.

Write about your feelings as well as what you’ve done

Writing all about what you’ve done on your trip and what you’re going to is a great way to remember your travels but try to write about how you’re feeling too. This is something that I didn’t really do much when I first started writing in my journal but looking back, it’s those personal entires that are the most interesting to me now. Remember that no one else needs to read this journal but you and it’s a great way to reflect when you’re away and after you get home.

Get creative with it 

A travel journal is meant to be fun so get crazy with it. Try doing a few drawings, write in multi coloured pens, stick in photos or tickets or decorate the pages with a whole load of washi tape (my personal favourite). Remember that you can always decorate your journal when you get home if you don’t want to carry everything around with you. Your travel journal should reflect your own crazy personality and yours alone.

Make note of useful information

On a practical level journalling has been a great way for me to keep note important information about my trip that I might want to remember at a later date. This can be things like the name of a cafe that I liked, the prices of a hostel that I stayed in, how I got from one place to another or even just the names of travellers I’ve met. This way if you’re trying to remember something from your trip, chances are you might have it written in your journal which saves you having to trawl the web for answers.

Write for your future self

One of the reasons journalling is so fascinating is because moments are frozen in time. Writing down your aspirations, your thoughts and feelings is a fantastic way to set goals for the future and looking back over what you’ve written can remind yourself of what those goals are if you ever feel a little lost.

My travel journal has proved a fantastic way for me to remember all of the adventures that I’ve had while I’ve been away,  Looking back over my own journal transports me back to where I was when I wrote it. It’s crazy how many of the little things from our travels that we forget and I love reading back over the things I’ve done,  reading about how I feeling and remembering the people I’ve met. Travelling changes us and sometimes coming home after doing so much and feeling so different, it can be surprising that everything back home is still the same. While photos and souvenirs are great ways to commemorate your trip, a travel journal is so much better because every amazing thing that happened to you was real and it’s all down there on paper.

how to write a travel journal

A quick guide on Picking your travel journal

Your travel journal is something that’s intensely personal to you so it’s important that you pick a notebook that you love the look of. It may sound trivial but picking a journal that you just love will make you so much keener to write in it.

Depending on what kind of person you are, you’ll have different needs for your journal. If you’re more of a writer then you’ll probably want to get a lined one however if you’d prefer to keep an art journal with only a small bit of writing then you might want to look at sketchbooks or a book with blank pages instead. My own one is from the Rifle Paper Company because I love all of their designs.  My book has a mixture of both lined pages to write on and blank pages for drawings and scrapbooking.

Decorating your journal

It’s worth investing in some nice pens to write with and anything else you might want to decorate the pages with. I have an obsession with buying washi tape to stick in my journal whenever I see one I like and I usually bring my pocket watercolour set with me when I travel so I can do a few sketches in my book too. If you have a Polaroid camera then why not stick a few of those photos in or cut out some clippings from magazines. Remember when it comes to journalling, anything goes.

The Trials And Tribulations Of Being Professionally ‘Ghosted’

The trials and tribulations of being professionally ghosted

How to deal with being professionally ghosted when applying for jobs

It has been one long week since you met up and it’s all you can think about. You thought it had gone really well; you seemed to have made a connection, you’d made a big effort with your appearance, you were approachable, charismatic, transparent and you’d even cracked a few jokes. So why had you not received a call yet or even a message just to let you know how they were feeling?

A couple more days pass so you decide to type out a quick email. You make it short, sweet and to the point, you don’t want to come across as desperate. There is probably an explanation. Maybe you’re being too eager or they’ve probably got your contact information wrong- of course! They’ve been frantically trying to get in touch with you for days but they’re calling the wrong person: That must be it.

However ten emails and multiple unanswered calls later and reality hits: You’ve been ghosted. Only this time it’s not by a guy, no, this is the reality of what it’s like to be ‘professionally ghosted’.

What is professional ghosting?

Ghosting or in other words, unexplained silence, is a concept that most of us are used to experiencing in our personal lives however now the phenomena has crept into our professional ones too. With technology being the primary way that we communicate and with so much competition for jobs, companies no longer feel the need to respond to job applications, enquiries or follow ups after interviews.

Nowadays it’s more a case of, if you get a call you’ve got the job and if you hear nothing, well you get the picture. Maybe ignoring applicants calls or emails is a little easier than just dropping a line saying ‘ we’re sorry but you haven’t been successful at the this time’ but this approach can leave us job hunters feeling pretty crappy.

As with all cases of ghosting the worst part of it is that it gives you false hope. You convince yourself that you’re being impatient ‘the interview was only a year ago’, you envision yourself in your new role, telling all your friends and family, you think about the cactus that you’ll put on your desk and the clothes that you’ll buy with your first paycheck.

Eventually, a few weeks of false hope later and you get the picture ‘they’re just not that into you.’ If only they could have let you know all those weeks ago so you could have already gone through the ice cream eating phase and started the whole sorry job hunting cycle again.

Why do employers professionally ghost?

The rational behind this concept is that employers don’t want to be thought of as ‘the bad guy’. Nobody likes to be the bearer of bad news so many employers find it easier to say nothing rather than having to deliver rejection news to candidates.

Another answer is that companies are overwhelmed with job applications. You’ve probably seen those emails that say ‘ Due to a high volume of applicants we can only reply to successful applicants’.  However when it comes to finding a job, no hope is better than false hope in my opinion and really, how long can it possibly take to cut and past a pre typed rejection email to unsuccessful candidates?

What should you do if you’ve been professionally ghosted?

Be persistent: 

Obviously you don’t want to harass employers but a little bit of chasing up just shows that you’re keen. Don’t just send one email and then give up, sometimes things genuinely do come up so there might be a reason they havent replied or maybe seeing which candidates really mean business might just be part of the application process.

Keep job hunting: 

It’s tempting to be a bit lax with the job hunt when you’re waiting to hear back from a couple of places but be sure to keep searching until you’ve got a job secured. That way if it doesn’t work out then you still have other avenues open.

Ask for feedback: 

A good way to keep communications up following an interview is by asking for feedback. Ask what went well with your application, what you could do better and if you didn’t get the job, ask why? If anything at least you can learn what you need to improve on next time.

Don’t take it personally:

There is so much competition these days when it comes to job hunting and companies are overwhelmed with overly qualified applicants, with hundreds often competing for one role. If you’re having trouble finding work don’t take it personally. It’s not a reflection on you; you don’t know how good and how much experience the people you are up against have. We can’t all get every single job that we apply for so don’t let it get you down too much.

Jobs like relationships come when you least expect them. If a company can’t spare the five minutes that it takes to write you a rejection email, do you really want to work there in the first place? Undoubtedly professional ghosting is frustrating because it’s completely out of your hands: you can’t make someone reply to your emails as much as you can’t make them give you a job.

In the meantime keep applying for work no matter how tedious and soul-destroying it may be. Keep asking questions and keep being your productive and fantastic self. Eventually you’ll find somewhere that has the courtesy to give you a call back and give you a job so, if somewhere hasn’t replied to you then learn to let it go because even if you’ve been ghosted, you’ve got to keep your spirits high.

Should You Do A Journalism Degree? Why I Did An NCTJ Instead

London like a Londoner

An NCTJ level 3 diploma is an accredited journalism course ran by the National College for the Training of Journalists. The course is designed to give you the knowledge and skills to begin a career as a professional journalist and it can be taken before, after or instead of university. In many cases an NCTJ is something that is requested by editors in an application process regardless of whether you have a degree in Journalism or any other subject.

So, should you do an NCTJ instead of a journalism degree?

If like me you’re considering taking a NCTJ then you’re probably a pretty impatient person too so I’ve put this post into subheadings so feel free to skim through until you reach the topic that you’re interested in.

Why I dropped out of University

When it came to deciding what to do after Sixth Form, we were really pushed towards going to university in my College and I think that’s the case for most places in the UK.

Writing is something I really enjoy and I was drawn to Journalism because it’s one of the most adaptable careers as you can apply it to almost any area e.g food, travel or science. So when I finished Sixth Form and it was time to consider Higher Education options, applying for a Journalism degree in a London university seemed like the right choice.

It may have just been my own personal experience but I was massively disappointed with my degree.  It had taken a lot of mental energy and a lot of money both from my parents, from the full-time job I had taken in a supermarket in London to support myself and from the heavy debt I was ranking up every day I was there yet for all of this, I felt that I was getting very little out of my degree or my university experience in general

Crappy flatmates aside (that’s a whole other post) for £9000 a year plus rent and all my other London living expenses I was getting just three hours tutored lessons a week, many of which involved sitting in a lecture hall while our lecturer put on a film he’d found off YouTube. My degree also wasn’t exam based, didn’t teach us shorthand, didn’t give us any help getting work experience and spent a lot of time getting us to write essays rather than articles.

Every day I couldn’t get over the feeling that I was hanging around, working myself into the ground at late night shifts at the supermarket and spending a lot of evenings scouring for bargains in the reduced section of Tesco just so I could make it to these three-hour tutored lessons. Being in London I thought I’d be having the time of my life. in truth I didn’t have the money or the mental enthusiasm to have fun and my weekly highlight used to be buying lunch once a week from Pret.

I knew something had to change and I thought, surely I could learn everything from this degree in a lot less time than three years and for a lot less money? This is why when I came home for christmas I decided to drop out of university, move back home and start my full-time NCTJ diploma in Brighton instead.

What is an NCTJ? 

In the UK an NCTJ (The National Council for the Training of Journalists Diploma) is an official journalism qualification that give you the specific skills required for the industry (A little like doing your accountancy exams if you’re training to be an accountant). It provides vocational lessons and exams in media law, court reporting, public affairs, shorthand, production journalism and essential journalism.

What are the entry requirements?

An NCTJ can be taken after a degree, before or instead of (the only entrance requirement is usually 5 GCSEs at grades A-C, one of which must be English and 2 A Levels or equivalent).

Where can you do an NCTJ?

NCTJ courses can be run by specialist journalism schools, in sixth forms, universities or by distance learning. There are a couple of university journalism degrees in the UK that are NCTJ certified however the latter are not and a lot of professional journalism jobs require that you take the NCTJ regardless of whether you have a degree or not.

You can view the full list of accredited courses here:

http://www.nctj.com/journalism-qualifications/diploma-in-journalism/Accreditedcourses/course-search

My NCTJ with Brighton Journalist Works 

I found out about the option to take an NCTJ after searching out alternatives to university for Journalism in Brighton. I studied for mine at Brighton Journalist Works, an independent journalism school in the centre of the city and took a news based course. I took the fast track course that cost £4,200 which although I had to pay upfront, worked out so much cheaper than university in the long-term.  There was also an option to get a loan or pay in installments. My course was five days a week, nine to five and could be completed in 16 weeks from March to July. There was also another fast track course that run from September to January and a part-time course that starts in September.

Our course was assessed at the end of the 16 weeks with seven exams along with an assessment of our portfolio which had to contain a mixture of news, feature and media pieces. On  the course we worked closely with our local paper where many of us, myself included got the chance to be published, including partnerships with other events in Brighton like the Fringe festival.

There were 16 of us in the class, the majority who’d just finished their degrees with three of us who hadn’t gone to university and a couple of people looking for a career change.

Brighton Journalist Works: http://www.journalistworks.co.uk

Why an NCTJ worked for me

An NCTJ really felt like the right option for me personally. Here’s why.

  • It gave me practical skills as a journalist
  • It helped to improve my writing
  • It had exams and I work well with an end goal
  • We had the chance to be published and received feedback and help with building our portfolio
  • We had inspiring mentors who were real journalists
  • It was great for contact building
  • It was full-time and gave me structure and really challenged me
  • It was a much cheaper alternative to university as I didn’t like the idea of being in debt
  • I could move back home which saved money and helped after my bad experience at university
  • It was short and I was desperate to stop studying and start working and travelling
  • It was interesting. Journalism schools have a strict criteria in regards to what they teach on the course so you really do learn a remarkable amount in a short period of time

Other reasons an NCTJ might be good

  • If you’re not sure if you want to be a journalist then it’s better to find out by doing an NCTJ than a full degree
  • Transferable skills for other areas like digital marketing, PR , sub-editing or copy-writing.
  • On a gap year
  • After university if you’ve done a degree unrelated to journalism but want to get into the industry
  • To improve your chances of getting a graduate job after doing a journalism or english degree
  • If you want to continue to study after higher education or fancy a career change

Finishing studying: A year on 

Since graduating I’ve not been very prolific on the job hunt because in all honesty I’ve just been travelling for the whole year. However the great thing about doing my NCTJ instead of university is that it’s given me a lot more time to play around with. Travelling  and this blog are my passions and at 21 I’m in no hurry to get a full-time job yet.

One thing I can say is that when I have applied for jobs I haven’t knowingly received any rejection because I don’t have a degree. In so many respects the NCTJ has given me more than a degree ever would have: Shorthand, a portfolio of published work, law and court reporting practice.

It’s also given me a lot of confidence, saved me a lot of money and has given me a lot of time. In a year since graduating I’ve started this blog, spent months travelling, I’ve done copy-writing, an internship for one of my favourite news and current affairs programs and I’ve earnt enough money with all this and working at a cafe, to travel the world.

I’m sure next year when a lot of my friends graduate, lots of them will walk into graduate jobs straight away, but some won’t and some won’t want to. I’m not sure where I’ll be this time next year, be it working or travelling but my plan is to keep saying yes to experiences and keep writing because even though I’m not studying anymore, I’m still learning every day.

Forget Hygee: How we’re already living Danishly

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I am a massive fan of lifestyle guides. Any book promising to make me seem anything other than British is right up my street, and a few weeks ago I found myself strangely drawn to a little Danish lifestyle guide on Hygge.

For those of you that don’t know, Hygge is a Danish well-being concept that loosely translates as cosiness. Its claimed to be the reason behind the Danes dizzying high levels of happiness, so I thought that it was something I could really on board with.

However as I read all about it, I started to get really confused. Surely there was more to Hygge than just turning the lights down?

I decided the only sensible thing was to plan a visit to Copenhagen and search for Hygge myself.


 

As soon as I landed in the city I was on full on Hygge hunting mode. Danish lifestyle guides will tell you that Hygge comprises of Cosiness, togetherness, food and the simple things, but I thought surely there had to be more to it than that. I headed to a little cafe in the city centre because the cold weather had made me absolutely starving and I ordered  a bowl of tomato soup.

The food was warming and on each table were little tea lights, giving the place a cozy ambience. I looked around the restaurant at everyone socializing and it seemed very Hygge, but it was also no different from what I do at home with my friends, and the large bill definitely didn’t make me feel very happy.

Copenhagen’s streets are beautiful. They’re romantic and colourful and even a little spooky, maybe even a little Hygge, but I wasn’t quite sure what I was getting at. I went to the Design Museum and admired the brilliant simplicity of Danish design. If celebrating the simple things is integral to Hygge than this is no clearer than its decor, but there’s a trend for minimalistic furnishings at home so I was a little confused on where we were going wrong.

As the day came to an end I’d completely knackered myself out searching for evidence of Hygge. Then it came to me: if Hygge is a Danish mindfulness concept, then how can it be photographed? In fact by searching for Hygge I’d missed the very point itself, because Hygee has less to with what’s around you and more to do with yourself.

So maybe sometimes we don’t live Danishly. Sometimes we rush, we consume and we argue, but we don’t need a book on Hygge to tell us that we need to slow down. I know that anyway. I don’t think that I’d get through the winter months if I didn’t get exercise a little mindfulness, I don’t think any of us would.

So it seems that you don’t need to go and buy a whole load of candles and a whole load of lifestyle guides to live Danishly. Just slow down, make a cup of tea and see your friends because your life’s already Hygge, you just didn’t have a word for it.

 

The chocolate Tartufo: Romes’ greatest indulgence

On Blue Monday, I thought everyone, myself included, could do with a little escapism. So here’s a little flashback back to a foodie moment on a trip to Rome. Cheers to sunnier days.

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The deep, rich taste of the chocolate grounds me to the spot. On the outside it’s adorned with a casing of jagged chocolate fragments. The bitterness exacerbated from the coldness of it. On top it is decorated with the ornateness of Rome’s buildings,  a swirl of cream, a pirouline perched delicately on top.  The whole thing presented in a paper dress. Beneath this facade is something  even more wondrous. Denser than ice-cream, colder than a mousse, each tiny spoonful is a wonderful culmination of the 13 different varieties of chocolate that are paired together,  in a secret recipe,  to make Ristorante Tre Scalini’s famous Tartufo,  in Rome.

I’ve got to be honest, this trip to Italy’s capital city was a little bit of a food pilgrimage for me. Italy, the country where the pasta is fresher and the gelato is creamier than anywhere else and Rome itself, the city that the Tartufo was invented.

If you look for this chocolate ice-cream truffle outside of the city, you’ll be disappointed. But in Ristorante Tre Scalini, who still use the original recipe from 1946, the foundations of this Tartufo run as deep as that of the buildings that make up this ancient city.

Located in the heart of Rome’s main square, Piazza Navona, the restaurant is one indifferent to any of the other plush restaurants that frequent the rim of the piazza. However look a little closer and you see it’s not risotto that the tourists are clutching their silverware in anticipation for, it’s the tartufo. It’s famous in the city, and it’s this that the waiters are bringing over on silver trays.

The recipe, said to have been invented by the Ciampini family, is still shrouded in secrecy. There have been numerous attempts to replicate it across the country, but the undisputed winner is still the original. Like most good Italian gelato, the dessert is closer to black in colour than a brown. It’s dense enough to savour for while and get your money’s worth: the 10 euro, eat in price tag is a heavy one, but sweet enough to have you going back for more.

There’s plenty to devour in Rome;  The Colosseum, The Pantheon and Vatican City, but Sampling Tre Scalinis’ Tartufo, is what Rome is really about.