That’s a good question for a Monday morning isn’t it? How exactly do you know if you’ve made the right decision about something?

Well, maybe you don’t.

But maybe that’s okay.

I went and spent the night at the seaside last week, because I fancied a paddle. I did actually paddle too, even though it was really bloody freezing. I did a ten minute Twitter poll and surprise surprise, 95% of people were in favour of the February paddle. I feel a bit sad really for the 5% who said no because seriously, how can you go to the beach and not want to take your tights off and get your feet wet?

Making a decision isn’t always as easy though as conducting a Twitter poll, although we can take the paddling as a simple example of how you don’t always need to worry about whether you’ve made the right decision.

Twitter decided I should go for a paddle, so I did. It was fun – I felt like I was doing something exciting and exhilarating. I felt like I’d made the most of going to the beach. Let’s say though that I had decided not to paddle – I would have avoided having freezing cold feet and tiny bits of sand and stones in my boots for the rest of the day, which would have also been nice.

So this is my first point – it doesn’t normally matter what you decide, because in most cases there is no right or wrong answer.

I took this photo while I was at the beach to illustrate my point:

have I made the right decision? View Post

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I’m a big fan of a window. (And a door obviously.)

I mean sure, everyone is, I know, you need them for light etc. But I really do love them. If you don’t believe me then check me out on Pinterest – I have not one but two boards dedicated entirely to windows. One is generally beautiful windows, the other is coloured windows.

As an example of my window love…

There is this row of houses that I always look forward to seeing when I drive into London. (This doesn’t happen often, so it really is a treat.) I’ve done some research and they were built as artists’ houses with huge, north facing windows to provide consistent good light throughout the day. They are huge and arched, with metal frames, and make the houses look like grand Victorian conservatories.

I really love VELUX windows too – like these – and lived in a house in Bristol where my bedroom and study were both in the attic and had VELUX windows. I used to love lying in bed at night and listening to the noise of the rain on the window, imagining I was camping somewhere exotic, or on a houseboat, or something fun like that.

I saw a picture in one of my (many) interiors books the other day (old school), which I took downstairs to show Belle. It was a big wooden kitchen window that had been painted green. Narrow shelves had been built into the window frame and painted the same colour. They were full of coloured glassware and plants, so that the light came through them and cast pretty colours around the room.

It was rather beautiful.

In a bid to get you to love windows as much as I do, I’ve picked out five of my favourites from my two (count them!) Pinterest boards.

Enjoy!

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How is 2017 going for you so far? International politics getting you down?

Thought so.

What you need is a holiday. Something like this:

travel secret of happiness

Because who could fail to be cheered by having a casual bit of watermelon on a lilo? I’m not sure of the practicalities of trying to eat such a large piece of fruit on water like that but hey, no one said living the dream was meant to be easy did they?

According to new research from Booking.com, over three quarters of people (77%) book a holiday when they need cheering up and 70% of us believe that travel brings more lasting happiness than material possessions. In fact, according to the results of the research, holidays top most things when it comes to happiness – 49% of the people surveyed even said they get more pleasure from a holiday than from their own wedding day!

The good news is that you don’t need to spend a lot of money to get the buzz. There’s almost as much happiness to be found in researching and planning a holiday as there is actually being on it – it isn’t just about lying on the beach, gazing into the sunset. (Although that bit is probably pretty nice too.)

travel secret of happiness

If you want to get the most from your holiday in terms of happiness, then planning is everything. Even just writing this, looking at these pictures and imagining where I might go has given me a little boost, and I’m not alone – nearly three quarters of people (72%) say they get a kick of excitement just from researching where to go on holiday.

If you’re thinking about booking a holiday, why not try these tips to get you in the mood and maximise happiness:

  • Make a bucket list of places you’d like to visit or create some holiday Pinterest boards full of pictures of dream destinations. Like this one.
  • Have a look at Booking.com’s destination finder. It allows you to browse holidays by interest rather than destination, so you can find places to go based on the fact that you like photography, local history, or whatever it might be.
  • Don’t be afraid to daydream. Holidays are meant to be the chance to experience something new so let your imagination run wild should you feel so inclined. I quite fancy watching the Northern lights from a glass igloo in Finland.
  • Share your holidays plans and dreams with friends and family. Dreams are more likely to come true when you say them out loud and talking about plans as a family will help to get you all excited. (75% of people surveyed by Booking.com said travelling with family makes them happier than travelling on their own.)

Once you’ve booked your holiday, then you can really get excited. You get to plan your wardrobe, look at maps, research trips – the works. Reading reviews of where you’re going and looking at other people’s pictures is a favourite way to give holiday happiness a boost and if you were going somewhere like this then you can see why:

travel secret of happiness

Once I have a holiday booked, these are my favourite things to do:

  • If I’m going by train or plane, I like to plan what I’m going to do on the way – I might download a film or maybe buy a new notebook. The travelling should be fun too.
  • Look up local restaurant reviews and think about all the yummy food I’m going to eat.
  • Pack about four different books, imagining I will read them all. (I never do – I am too busy posting pictures of my holiday on Instagram.)
  • Imagine that I will have some kind of Reese Witherspoon/Julia Roberts style ‘moment’ abroad where I suddenly find myself and the meaning of life becomes clear. (Never happens.)
travel secret of happiness

I wish this was from my Instagram feed

Belle’s favourite bits are:

  • Deciding what make-up look she is going to do for going away day.
  • Organising her toiletries into an airport friendly bag.
  • Being the first one into the accommodation – heaven forbid she doesn’t get first dibs on the key. (83% of people in the survey said that the first day of a holiday and seeing their accommodation for the first time are the happiest holiday moments, so she’s not alone there.)
  • Discovering the wifi password.

Do you enjoy planning and researching holidays? Which is your favourite bit about travelling?

Visit Booking.com for more inspiration and holiday your way to happiness!

travel secret of happiness

Sponsored post. Images – Alena OzerovaBalate DorinChantal de Bruijnestockphoto-graf and haveseen – all from shutterstock.

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When I was younger I was never really a coffee drinker. I thought that whole ‘first coffee of the day’ thing was totally blown out of proportion and, if I’m honest, I probably looked down a little bit on the kind of people who were all like ‘Oooh, let me just get a coffee and then I can think about it!’ Jeez, can you not just think on your own without some kind of stimulant?

(I do still hate this approach from a PR mentioning flat whites mind.)

In the last few years though I have become something of a convert. Perhaps it’s age. Perhaps I can’t just leap out of bed in the morning now and feel instantly excited about life. Most mornings I wake up feeling a teeny bit bleurgh about the world, and have to remind myself that it’s really okay, and that once I get out of bed, get moving, and have a coffee, I’ll be fine.

God, I’ve become one of those people.

Ah well, best embrace it I figure, so I’ve got a month’s supply of coffee to give away!

Cold brew from Minor Figures

The coffee I have for you is rather special. It’s a cold brew coffee from a small company called Minor Figures and having tried it, I can confirm that it’s amazing. The chocolate is especially ace, but I think my favourite is the milk. It has this wonderful smoothness to it that doesn’t give you any of that shuddery feeling that bad coffee can. It packs just the right punch to get me going without making my face twitchy.

Basically I love it, and I want you to share the coffee joy.

Oh and they look great too. Very Instagrammable, if that affects your coffee choices. (And why would it not?)

free cold brew coffee competition View Post

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I was finding it hard to concentrate this morning, so instead I thought I would have a brief daydream about built in furniture.

It might not seem like the sexiest of things to spend your time fantasising about, but there is something about the idea of built in furniture that seems so glamorous and grown up, that sometimes I just like to take a moment. Because I’ve never owned my own house it’s one of those things that other people do. My step-sister for example has these amazing built in drawers in her stairs. Each steps pulls out to reveal a huge drawer where they can keep things like shoes, hats and scarves – it’s amazing.

For me, built in bookcases have always been a bit of a dream. I like ones that fit into funny spaces and my absolute goal is bookcases built in around a door like this:

*swoons*

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