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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Working in the health care field can very stressful. Caring for patients and engaging in biological research is often mentally and physically tiring. Nurses, doctors and all those involved in patient care often spend their days responding to the needs of others. In the process, they may neglect their own health.

All health care workers need to find ways to stay alert and remain energized to avoid their own health problems. This is the best way they can help their patients get the care they need and get better. As health care workers start their day and go through shifts that can stretch for hours it is imperative for them to find the energy they need to do their job and do it well. 

Get a Good Night’s Sleep 

One of the best ways to stay energized is to put enough time in the sack. Lack of sleep can cause all kinds of health problems including weight gain, high blood pressure and an inability to concentrate. If possible, stick to the same bedtime each night. Avoid eating and drinking within three hours of your planned bedtime as this can make it hard to get to bed.

Sleep in a darkened room that is as quiet as possible. Put inviting pillows and quilts that make the bed an inviting place. Do not watch television or eat in bed. Reserve it for sleep. You’ll wake up feeling refreshed and happy if you get at least seven or eight hours in bed a night. 

Start with a Good Breakfast 

Breakfast is the meal that fuels the rest of the day. All those in the health care sector should make sure they have a great breakfast that helps them feel confident and prepared after running to the hospital to begin their day. Starting the day with a well-balanced breakfast plate containing protein, carbs and fiber is essential. Scrambled eggs with toast and a side helping of fresh fruit provide the best possible calories to power through a shift. 

Stay Hydrated 

Lack of water can lead to feelings of fatigue. All health care workers need to have enough water on hand no matter what they’re doing. Bring water in a water bottle or make sure you know where the water fountains are at work. You’ll feel better and your skin will show it. Look for flavored waters if you find plain water unappealing. 

Proper Support 

Many health care professionals are on their feet all day long. They need to have proper support to avoid tired feet. A comfortable and practical nursing shoe will be one with enough padding, as well as a heel that stretches across the entire shoe to help them reach items from high cabinets. Good shoes should be easy to clean and durable. The right shoes will also be shoes that are comfortable and fully move with the wearer as they go about their day. Look for shoes made from natural materials like rubber and leather. Rubber soles can help you keep your balance even in the event something spills. 

Get Some Exercise 

Staying fit is vitally important for health sector workers. Many health sector workers must do physically demanding work all day long including lifting patients, carrying items and handing things to others in the operating room. You need to be fit when you’re working in this industry. Even if you get plenty of exercise during the day, you may be neglecting other key muscles. Take the time during the day to work out. Lifting light weights can be highly beneficial, especially for women. If your facility has an onsite gym, take advantage of this benefit. Ten minutes on an exercise bike will help the rest of the shift flow more smoothly. 

Snack Intelligently 

A fast snack can give you the calories you need to ward off that afternoon slump. You need to find a snack that won’t make you feel bloated or add to your sense of fatigue. Look for snacks in the cafeteria that have a great bang for the caloric buck. A handful of almonds and a bit of dark chocolate can be the sweetness and fiber you need. If you don’t see what you like in the cafeteria, consider bringing your own from home. You can put small snacks like carrot sticks and hummus with crackers in a bag and bring them to work to eat on your break. 

Nap with a Purpose 

Many hospitals and other health care facilities allow workers access to a bed where they can rest for a few minutes or even longer during a shift. A nap can be the perfect way to emerge ready to tackle the rest of your time at work. Science has shown that a quick nap can help increase your alertness at work and help you be more productive. Twenty minute naps are a perfect way to get more energy. Longer naps can also help with sleepiness, particularly when you’re in the middle of a long shift. 

By taking some of the above tips on board next time you enter a long shift, you’ll find yourself with a lot more energy and motivation to get through the day.

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