Eguisheim feels like home

The best part about travelling to see your friends is that you’re also travelling with locals. Getting to see the real face of any country instead of the version that has been accentuated with make-up is what any wanderer enjoys the most.

So when my friends mum suggested that we visit a typical village in Alsace I couldn’t say no! Cutesy villages surrounded by vineyards and rolling fields? I’m there!

On our way to Eguisheim we were all hoping to see those vineyards in their full glory (Eguisheim is part of the wine route) but the weather was being a little stubborn and we could barely even tell that their were villages on route due to the mist. Thankfully the clouds had lifted by the time we arrived so I did get a little taster of the scenery but I can only imagine what it must be like travelling through on a clear summer day.

Just like Strasbourg, Eguisheim had my heart from the moment I stood in front of the village map. This town has been so carefully protected which is something I admire so much – I’m all for progress but architecture will never be as charming as it once was and it’s only when I reached my twenties that I started to truly appreciate how important it is to protect our heritage and quite simply the character of a country.

We wandered the quiet paths, we took photos and we did of course taste some wine. Let me tell you; I’m no connoisseur but that wine was some of the best I have tasted and of course I had to buy a few bottles to take home!

I think I’ve also added another item to my bucket list: Follow the wine route in Alsace!

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Nature in Alsace

Do you prefer the sounds and scenes of nature or the bright lights of a big hustling city?

I think I’m somewhere in the middle.

I love to wander the countryside with nothing but the sounds of leaves rustling and the occasional bleating of a goat; or to get lost in a forest where you see no one except for maybe your own reflection in a puddle.

Although I didn’t get to spend a lot of time in France (a week is definitely not enough), I did get a little taster for that beautiful countryside that I had only heard of before this trip.

The saying that nature is the best antidepressent is pretty accurate, don’t you agree?

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This is affectionately known as Devils Fingers or Octopus Stinkhorn!

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So many new discoveries and memories were made on this short trip.

A whirlwind visit to Strasbourg

In November 2017 I had the amazing opportunity to visit Strasbourg while on a week long trip to see one of my best friends in France.

It was quite a spontaneous visit so we didn’t really do much research into where to go/what to see and in a lot of ways I really enjoyed travelling with no plans except to wander the beautiful cobbled streets in the cold.

The gothic Cathedral towers above the city almost cradling the small shops and restaurants sitting around it.

Strasbourg is so much more than I had expected. The medieval architecture of days gone by still remains in almost pristine condition despite a rich and turbulent history.

We discovered quiet paths, ambled along by the river Ill, explored the Cathedral both outside and inside (you must go inside if you visit), we ate amazing food and felt humbled by friendly people everywhere. We even squeezed in the Musée alsacien which I recommend if you want to dive into the history of the Alsace region.

Strasbourg, I’ll be back.

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The new “commute” to work

Today marks two weeks since we moved into our home!

Strangely it feels like a lot longer but maybe that’s because we’ve been sleeping on our sofa since we moved in – not that it hasn’t been comfortable (our sofa is bloomin’ huge) but we’re very much looking forward to our bed arriving.

By the time this post is published it will be here! Lloyd and I will both be at work but my super Dad will be coming to oversee everything so by the time we arrive home we’ll have our brand spanking new bed to dive into.

I’m really enjoy my walk to work and back. So much so that it sometimes feels as though I’m seeing my surroundings with fresh eyes again for the first time in years. Living a little further away means I leave a little earlier and if anything I’ve become less rushed than when I lived only five minutes down the road.

I’m looking forward to taking my Canon out for a spin around these new streets, but for now a few iPhone snaps will have to do.

Taken with my iPhone 6 Plus.

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Keeping Instagram Organic

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I have a bone to pick with Instagram. More specifically with the people using and abusing it to make money (not to mention those who allow it to be abused by buying into this BS). We’ve all heard about buying followers aka fake profiles right? You can even buy them from vending machines in Russia and the Czech Republic. However it came to my attention today that there’s another sneaky way of building your engagement “organically”.

I was left a comment on one of my photos today saying “You post great content! I think my services can be of great help for you in growing your Instagram influence with real organic followers. Please check out my website, direct link in bio”.

Now I do on occasion receive messages similar to these and tend to ignore them, but when it mentioned ‘organic’ I was immediately curious. My follower number on @wanderful_simmy is constantly teetering around the 350-400 mark and sure, I would love to reach more like-minded people who may enjoy what I post. So I headed on over and clicked the link in the bio to see what this company were doing differently.

So, this is probably not a new movement to some but I had no idea that it happens until now. It now also makes a lot more sense as to why I receive multiple followers only to drop them shortly afterwards.

Here’s how it works –

These people take hold of your Instagram profile and like and follow multiple accounts with similar interests. This draws interest to your own profile from those you have liked and followed and in turn a lot of the time, people will like your profile back if the content is in a similar niche. Yep, you’ve probably done this yourself when being liked by an account; I know I have.

Well the next bit is the part that really pisses me off. In order for your account not to end up following a zillion profiles, this company or person unfollows all of those accounts after twelve hours. Now having been on the receiving end of the follow-unfollow phenomena I find it really frustrating that someone is actually making money from this method. To call it organic is almost comical because it’s such a dishonest way of increasing your engagement. To the people who get unfollowed by these methods, it makes us feel like crap. It shouldn’t. I know. It’s just social media after all but at the same time everyone should be on a level playing field.

If you put in the work you’ll be rewarded with awesome people and companies approaching you. Don’t do it the easy way where it will wind up meaning nothing at all in the end.

Oh yep, and just checked my account. Lost two followers in the past hour.

Go check out my stuff @wanderful_simmy and if you like what I post, give me a follow. No pressure, but I would really love a steady 400 followers by the end of 2018! Ha.

Update

A week or less after posting this, the algorithm on Instagram went insane. My tags were no longer working and I started to see my Followers drop drastically. This kind of sent me on a downward spiral of wondering what I wanted to do with this account since I’m in a lose lose situation and cannot grow organically anymore.

Sooo, I’ve decided to keep that account private and go back to using this blogs IG profile which is @thiswanderfullifeblog.

It feels like a little breath of fresh air and even though I have little to no followers at the moment, I’m enjoying posting fresh content.

 

Sometimes I Run

…sometimes I hide.

If you got the reference there then we should definitely be friends. Got to love some Britney!

This post has absolutely nothing to do with the 90’s or pop music but everything to do with running.

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On Monday I ran my very first 10km and I’m so proud that I could shout it off the rooftop if I weren’t too lazy to run up the extra flight of stairs to the roof. There is some irony to that sentence.

To tell you about this run I have to give you some background about my journey.

Before August 2017 I couldn’t run for five minutes. I was out of breath in two. I downloaded an eight weeks to 5km app and went from there. I had quite a bit of extra time so I really committed to the three runs a week and actually stuck to the program. I rarely stick with many things I try so this was an achievement in itself.

A little bit after I had completed this program I kind of lost focus due to sickness and going abroad a couple of times. All of a sudden I hadn’t ran in two months and had felt very worried that I would struggle massively to catch up with where I previously was. So two weeks ago after a long break, I took off at a gentle speed and ran 5km with relative ease. 5km with relative ease. Relative ease. Yep, I never thought that I would say that.

Once again things got busy but I have remained active while we’ve been working on our apartment. Sanding, sweeping and painting and walking to and from our new home every day has been my cardio so I guess it has counted as training in some way.

Monday marked around two weeks since that last 5km and at around 6pm after another busy day I felt this rush of energy and a need to run. I popped on Lloyd’s Bluetooth headphones, found my awesome running playlist and headed out the door.

Once again I ran gently. Composed. I barely even thought about my breathing because everything just felt so good. The goal was to reach Tigne Point and head back but once I arrived I felt like I could continue. So I did. My next goal was to make it to The Love Sign at Spinola Bay.

Everything felt amazing.

I remember getting to the last stretch just before reaching The Love Sign with There Will Be Time by Mumford and Sons and Baaba Maal playing in my ears (in fact I’m listening to it now, it’s so beautiful that it’ll bring a tear to your eye or fill you with a sense of purpose much dependent on your mood). The lyrics and composition are just perfect. Go and listen. I’ll wait.

I apologise for going off on a tangent there! So as I was saying, I was on the last stretch and still feeling mentally good. Physically my legs could comfortably carry on but my tummy was giving me some iffy signals. Time to get home. I felt good to keep on running but decided to cut the route short and take a different route home. I knew it would be tough but I decided to run up the hell hill that is the one close to The Meridien. It’s hard enough to walk up it let alone run and I had to stop three quarters of the way to take a breather. At that point I wondered whether I should call it a day or just see it through to the 10km mark. Well I guess you all know what I decided by this point! The final kilometre was tough; that hill had taken everything out of my legs and even though my lungs felt good I watched the ticker on my Pacer app reach 10km and I stopped running in triumph.

Where did that energy and stamina come from? The phase of the moon? Who knows! All I know is that it’s given me a boost to keep going.

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You can follow my running journey on Instagram @runnerbeanbaby

 

Our home journey so far

Hello lovely people!

If you’re reading this and know us personally, then you’ll know that we’ve been waiting for what feels like a lifetime to move into our own home.

In October 2015, we officially signed the papers for a home loan with Bank of Valletta after having settled on an ‘On Plan’ property.

Buying on plan takes a lot of imagination and a bit of luck and positivity that everything will turn out alright in the end! We had the approved developer plans on paper along with plenty of ideas of how we wanted our apartment to look. My Pinterest profile has been particularly busy over the past two years whilst I dreamt up every nook and cranny of our future home. It’s honestly been the most difficult project of my life and there have been plenty of times where I have just wanted to throw away the towel so that we could follow our other dreams.

If you’ve ever wanted to test your relationship with another human being then buying an on plan home is the way to do it. We’ve argued about what seems like the most trivial of things such as plug sockets to slightly more aesthetic issues like tiles (I’m pretty sure I remember a moment of standing outside the bathroom store in tears.)

Alas! It’s now 2018 and we’re on the verge of feeling comfortable enough to call ourselves home owners. Finally. My estimate is that by the end of February we’ll be moving in and we can’t wait!

Over the years, I’ve been collecting photos showing our home owner journey so without further ado I bring you our home from it’s very humble beginnings!

2015

On plan property development

The start of something new.

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2016

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The left side is up! Our apartment is on the right which naturally means it will be the last to be built.

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My niece sneaking a peak.

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2017

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What will be our open plan kitchen/living area.

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Master bedroom with ensuite in the works.

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This looks a heck of a lot less scary when there are railings. Funnily it also appears wide now.

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Lloyd being Lloyd.

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One of our many Sunday trips to check the progress.

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The builders left a mess wherever they went (and didn’t tidy up any of it).

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Our front door!

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Although the pole wasn’t obstructing our view, I’m happy to say that it was finally removed last week.

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Applying for our electricity and water at ARMS. We needed SO many documents, it was a stressful time but luckily I had everything in order first time round.

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2018

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First delivery! Also an added stress was that our items were in storage for nearly six months with a deposit placed. I was so worried that they wouldn’t hold them for longer and that we’d lose the products. Top Choice have been amazing!

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Shopping for supplies!

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My super Dad deliberating over scrapers.

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The (what seemed like) infinite process of removing the paint and plaster from the tiles. Still an ongoing job at the point of writing this.

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I have never looked better.

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Kitchen day!

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Our beautiful kitchen. Not finished yet but we’re on our way.

Phew! That was a long post but it’s so amazing to look back on how far we’ve come. I haven’t shared some of the awful work that was done on our place but I may do that on another post because I think it’s important to make informed decisions before choosing a developer and all that comes with it.