Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Crete Photo Diary | September 2017

KOUTOULOUFARI, CRETE

September took a long time to roll around this year, but once it did, I was grateful to be off on my way to a week spent in Crete with my family. It was a relaxed holiday, with a few trips out and about and many hours spent absorbing the last of the summer heat (and desperately trying to tan). 

There's something about the Greek islands that always leaves me wanting to come back. Beautiful landscapes, the food, some serious sun, nice people, and... did I mention the food? Who doesn't love feta and olives on tap?

I took my Olympus Pen along for the ride of course, and going through the photos I felt like they looked somehow nicer in black and white. They just seem more calming that way. The sense of tranquility that I had finally found by the time we were leaving Koutouloufari village took me almost the entirety of this year to find - I kind of want to hold onto it when I look back at these images.



One of the best things we did on the holiday was go out on a day-long jeep safari across the middle of the island. Crete has some seriously impressive landscapes and, away from the more built-up touristy areas, some beautiful bays. We were treated to hours of stunning vistas during the safari, but this is my favourite. We were pretty high up in the hills when I snapped this, and I was instantly smitten with how it turned out. Ansel Adams eat your heart out? (Maybe not...)


Oh, and did I mention that I actually drove the jeep on this safari? I was going to shy away from taking the wheel since I was a little nervous about getting in the drivers seat of our dusty little 4x4 on what can only be described as the top of a mountain, but I ended up really enjoying it. My first task was to get us over this narrow old stone bridge (one car at a time as it couldn't take the weight, which wasn't disconcerting at all). Needless to say, I smashed it and felt like a total badass. Until I then took a wrong turn and a convoy of 6 cars had to stop and wait for me. Oops.


We also stopped at a village with a population of about 12 people and an average age of 70-odd! They grow so much of their own produce, with grape vines and olive trees everywhere. At one point, when someone's car broke down, we even ended up in someone's back yard. He offered us grapes and let us play with his dog while we all waited for the mechanic! The Greeks are an incredibly hospitable bunch.


No visit to Crete is complete without a visit to Knossos. It's a huge site that was inhabited as far back as 7000 BC, but the vast palace that is the main attraction dates back to around 1900 BC. I love a bit of history and mythology, so we braved midday heat and a small crowd to wander in and out of the many rooms and columns that still stand today. It's a must-see if you've ever heard the legend of Theseus and the Minotaur, since the story originated here with Minos, the son of Zeus and the 'first king of Crete'.


The village of Koutouloufari was quite and traditional, with tavernas aplenty and a sense of slowness that you just don't find in an everyday British town. It's a stones throw away from a larger town, but up in the hills this place had a chilled vibe of its very own.


I took a lot of photos of the beautiful buildings in Crete as well as the landscapes. The white walls and heat-cracked exteriors make for an interesting texture. The strategically parked scooters and bicycles seemed cute and quaint, but were mostly there because the winding streets were too narrow for big cars. I lost count of the amount of times mum told me to "mind out!" and hug the side of the pavement as a taxi came flying past!


I don't know if Greek buildings seem so much prettier to me because we just don't have this style back at home, or because I associate them with holiday vibes. Either way, coming back to my boring brown brick block of flats the week after seemed depressing.


It was sort of fitting that we spent our final full evening on the island on a beautiful sunset cruise. The boat owner barbecued up some of the best pork and chicken I've ever tasted while we went for a dip in the sea, and we set sail again just in time to watch the sun disappear over yet more Cretan hills. I'd recommend a sunset cruise to anyone on holiday in this part of the world. We also took one in Turkey last year and there's something about them that brings me a nice injection of inner peace.

Congratulations if you made it to the end of this post. It was a little long, and probably a bit different to what you guys are used to, but I wanted to share! I hope you enjoyed a little peak into my snaps of Crete, and are maybe even thinking of going there yourself!
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Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Changes

The Beginning

I've been thinking about when I started my very first blog around the time I finished uni. I used to post creative poetry and prose out into the ether on a rubbish Wordpress site with an awful header and a hard to read font. I started with zero followers, zero pageviews per day and tonnes of motivation to express who I really was. 

Not all my content was good, but some of it was pretty OK. Eventually people started to engage with my posts - the likes and comment built up and it gave me the boost to keep up the hobby. I would read tonnes and tonnes of blog posts on my lunch breaks and commutes, jot down new ideas for new posts in a little notepad. Some of them made the cut.

I took inspiration from everyday life and personal experiences but I never divulged the deep workings of my mind. Instead I took these thoughts and feelings and turned them into sweeping metaphors, sometimes corny, sometimes striking. The emotions still came through. I knew it resonated because people would engage with the content and respond to it. They appreciated what I had taken the time to do.

While I was busy blogging and dreaming about making it big as a writer (spoiler - I fell into a marketing career instead because this girl needs to eat/clothe herself), I began to notice another kind of blog emerging. A whole other world of beauty reviews and outfits of the day was gaining popularity across the internet. And what's more, a small group of people were even being paid to do it. 

I tried my hand at a few reviews and the response was OK, but my following on that blog was largely a creative writing and literature one and the strange new mix of content was a little jarring to them. Those first few posts died a death, but I began to care less about being creative and more about doing what was popular. And that's where kellyannerist.com was born. 

The Middle

I kept the content up for a few years, blogging mostly about makeup, occasionally about books or travel or everyday life. I got a few unpaid opportunities from brands, shops and restaurants but that was about it. I kept going regardless. I attended events, networked, posted three times a week without fail. I was waiting for that big break to come. It didn't.

Why? Nothing I created during that time was any different to what anyone else was doing. The quality was OK since I'm a decent writer and I'm not too bad with a camera, but there was no real passion in my words. I didn't love it, so most of my readers didn't either. I left myself behind on a now defunct Wordpress blog and sold out to the masses. 

I didn't like my content, I didn't like the space between the real me (a turbulent and sensitive twenty-something going through the motions) and the perfect image I felt I had to project. Over the last six months or so things have been going on behind the scenes that pulled me away from online life and have pushed me to admit that the standards I set for myself were outlandish. 

The last few months forced me to reflect on my blog as I watch pageviews dwindle and try to find the time and motivation to pick the pieces up and get it going again. I asked my self why it wasn't fun anymore. I realise that at one point I was so caught up in trying to curate the ideal online profile for myself that I forgot how much I used to enjoy consuming the content of others - how much it inspired me. And how much I miss getting creative with words. 

We're obsessed with being the biggest, working with this brand, and that brand, posting PR requests, emailing marketing departments. We also seem to spend more time blogging about blogging than we do creating content that carries any great meaning to ourselves or our readers. This post is no exception. We keep our websites and profiles updated regularly out of habit rather than passion, scared to see that follower number sink back below a certain arbitrary number. We're churning out shallow content by the bucketload for more likes, more comments, more validation. 

The End?

I feel like many of us have stopped consuming blogs ourselves. I used to scroll my Bloglovin app for hours but these days I maybe at most read a blog post a day, and that's if I get to the end of it. Instagram and Twitter give us such hard and fast access to the here and now that a blog post written two weeks ago and scheduled to go out at the same time on a Sunday evening as everyone else's just doesn't cut the mustard anymore. Most of the comments I receive on my blog these days are from people who just want an excuse to leave their own links there. 

Have you ever tried to have a conversation with someone who is both desperate to be heard, but doesn't want to listen? It doesn't go anywhere.

There have been a spate of posts recently, on blogs and across social media, from some of my favourite bloggers/Youtubers/content creators (whatever you're supposed call them) that carry a theme of change. This online world isn't what it used to be and anyone who's been here for three years or more can feel it. It's faster moving, more competitive, and a pure numbers game no matter how you spin it. If you can't keep up, you'll drown in a sea of scheduled Tweets, click-bait titles and Instagram hashtags.

It's no surprise that after trying to keep up the act for so long many of us are now in a crisis. How do we stand out? How do we inject life back into our content? How do we reach the right audience? How do we turn this back into something we love?

After all this rambling I think the answer is simple - don't feel pressured to follow the crowd. If you're going to put a huge amount of effort into something, make sure it's something you would find interesting yourself. Make content you're passionate about and forget about conforming to what's hot in that moment. 

Life isn't a squeaky clean set of flatlays. It's messy and it's hard and it's OK to show that.

Whatever you blog about, be yourself. Not somebody else.

The Future

When it comes to my own blog, I'm focusing less on trying to cut through the noise and make it big. I'm focusing more on the quality of the content and the topics I discuss. 

It's going to be less materialistic, out of personal choice - I still love fashion and beauty content and enjoy makeup and clothes, I just don't want to write about it all the time. There are so many good #fbloggers and #bbloggers out there that do it wonderfully, you don't need me chiming in!

It's going to be less personal - I'm a professional working adult with my own shit to deal with, and that doesn't have to be done online. I will absolutely share a part of myself with you, my readers, but the form that this takes is going to be less about the nitty gritty details and more about how these life experiences make me feel and how I'm navigating them.

It's going to be more creative - Since changing my blog I've been hesitant to write in creative styles. God forbid I ever post a short poem or train of thought! I want to change this though and am going to start working harder on the actual quality of my writing.

So, if you made it to the end of this higgledy piggledy post and you're still interested in seeing where this takes me, stay tuned...
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Sunday, 13 August 2017

Dealing with a crisis of confidence



Confidence. Seems like you either have it, or you don't, right? We all have those friends who ooze the stuff. They're totally self-assured, would take on any challenge in a heartbeat and would never be heard putting themselves down. 

But what if you're not the confident one? Or maybe you used to be, but somewhere along the way, you lost it? 


I've been spending some time recently trying to connect with my younger, more confident self after a series of events found my self-belief and sense of worth sitting at rock bottom. For almost the whole year I've been on a downward spiral when it comes to confidence.

The voice in my head has steadily eaten away at my sense of self, uttering constant criticisms ranging from "You look 10 feet wide in these jeans, you've really let yourself go," to "It's not even worth handing this piece of work in. It's so bad it'll get shot down immediately," and "Don't arrange that get together - nobody wants to hang out with you anyway."

Hearing that 50 times a day is enough to bring anyone down, right? To make you feel even worse. Eventually you retreat into yourself because it's easier. You let those voices win. I know I'm not the only one.


But you can't go on like that forever. There comes a point where the only way is up. For me, that moment of epiphany was when, within the space of a couple of days, three of the people closest to me pointed out that I had lost that ballsy spark they used to associate with me. That they could here in my voice and tell by my body language that I was in a bad place.

I was going through a hard time, and in many ways I still am, but how can you tackle what comes your way if you're already telling yourself you're not good enough to tackle it?


Talk to anyone in your life who you'd describe as 'confident' and the first thing they'll tell you is that they don't have it together all the time. They don't always feel great about themselves and they definitely have worries and hang ups just like everybody else.

So what makes them different? They don't give those negative voices the time of day. They focus more on their past achievements and future goals than they do their failures and faults, and that shines through in their mannerisms and behaviour.


At the risk of sounding like a dodgy Nike advert, sometimes you just have to do the things that scare you, ignore that voice that tells you "you can't do this" and fight back with "hell yes I can!"

Look in the mirror and focus on something you like about yourself instead of stressing about your frizzy hair or puffy eyes.

Take action and plough on with a task instead of letting procrastination take hold just because it feels safer. Worry about what might go wrong after you've done it.

Focus on the things that make you who you are, not on the things someone else can do better than you.

Hell, I've even created a sickeningly upbeat girl power playlist for mornings when I feel like I just can't take on the day. And it works. Because confidence is infectious.


It takes a lot to pull yourself out of a hole and put this stuff into practice, but distracting myself from my own negativity by moving swiftly onto doing or thinking something else is slowly starting to have an effect on me.

I have good days and bad, but I can feel a little bit of the old, confident me returning. I can feel a hint of a zest for life, a hunger for a bit more than just plodding along, coming back to me. And I've really missed it.

Have you ever felt like you're lacking confidence? How did you build yours back up? Let me know in the comments below.

Outfit details

Top: River Island | Jeans: F and F Clothing | Bag | & Other Stories (Old) | Watch: Olivia Burton | Ring: Regal Rose | Bracelet: Primark

Thanks to the lovely Pippa from Clashing Time for the photos
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Wednesday, 2 August 2017

When will the blogosphere implode?


I've had a blog for over four years now, and for me it's always been a place of self expression. I feel like it's that way for a lot of people! Until recently I'd always found the blogging community a pleasant one. I never seemed to follow or associate with bloggers or YouTubers that caused 'Twitter drama' or engaged in cyber-bullying or subtweeting (whatever that even is). But that seems to have changed now, and to be frank it's bloody spoiling it for everyone.

I'm not dumb enough to think that what's grown to be a huge online space full of bloggers with aspirations to grow and possibly even make a career out of what they're doing is always going to be a nice, fluffy lovely place to be. Putting half our damn lives on the internet there's always going to be realness, negativity and disagreements.

But lately it seems like some bloggers can't move without being criticised. Can't try to make a living without enormous backlash. Considering that many of us dream of being paid to collaborate on our blogs, Instagrams and YouTube channels, would we want to be treated that way by our followers? This 'industry' - and I'm not even sure I could call it that anymore - is propped up by people aspiring to do the very things they berate others for.

Everything anyone says is wrong - it's not inclusive enough or doesn't present every viewpoint or isn't 'relatable' (whatever that really means). How can anyone win? The more I see of it, the more I want to log off and disengage. The more I see of it, the more I want to ditch my Twitter account and go back to the real world.

Sooner or later something has to give. The backlash against the backlash is just as strong. I see people taking long breaks from blogging and social media for the sake of their own sanity. I see people picking fights on my timeline just for a bit of validation. It's not OK. Having an opinion is fine. Forcing it upon others is not. And for me it's all getting a bit boring.

I've seen multiple posts this week on Twitter/blogger hate and why it's OK to unfollow people. Of course it flipping is. You should unfollow people. I unfollow people daily at the moment because for some reason there's some kind of poisonous virus spreading where everyone forgets their manners and just leaps right whatever 'drama' of the moment is without really thinking about it.

You don't have to support someone who doesn't echo your values or produce content that you love, but you don't have to lurk around ripping them to shreds either. This whole thing is INSANELY draining.

I have NO idea where this post is going, but I had to get it off my chest. Maybe that's part of the problem. I don't know. We're all aching to be heard and feel validated in a sphere that's so overcrowded that recognition is hard to come by. But we will never achieve anything by going at each other's throats day in day out.

You didn't ask for my advice, but God damnit I'm gonna give it to ya cos recently I seem to have grown a pair. Step away from the laptop, put your damn phone down and go get some fresh air. We all need a nice, healthy dose of perspective. Blogging in its current capacity won't be here forever if we carry on like this.

I'm exhausted after trying to formulate this rant into something that makes any sense at all, so I'm off to make myself a cuppa. Night guys.
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Sunday, 30 July 2017

A holiday essentials haul


I'm not sure if I'm alone on this one, but I quite enjoy a bit of pre-holiday planning. It usually involves a spot of shopping, putting a few outfits together and thinking about itineraries. I recently hit the shops for a little splurge after realising I was missing a few essential getaway bits and bobs for our trip to Crete , so I thought I'd share them with you!

First on my list was storage. I picked up a set of travel bottles from Tiger for a couple of pounds so I can save on weight and ditch massive bottles of shampoo and shower gel. Then I spotted a triple set of toiletry bags in Primark in shiny copper and couldn't resist. Who doesn't love to be matching? Plus they were just £8!


When it comes to summer holidays, it doesn't get more essential than SPF! This year I've gone for Nivea's Protect & Sensitive range, to help prevent the prickly heat rash that seems to plague me when faced with a week of sunshine and swimming pools.

I picked up some nail polish remover pads too - they do the job without weighing down your suitcase like a bottle would. And of course, no sight-seeing trip is complete without aching feet, so some heel cushions are also coming along for the ride.


Makeup-wise I've also purchased my first ever CC Cream from Bourjois. I've been meaning to try one for a while and although it's a little heavier on the skin than I was expecting it's still lighter than foundation and I love the way it looks. There's an SPF of 15 in there alongside three different colour correcting pigments so I'll definitely be taking it with me! I picked up a mini palette from Collection too, that contains a highlight, blush and bronze in one. There's just no way I would take my gigantic Kat Von D one all the way to Greece with me.

Last year I picked up a mini argan oil from Schwarzkopf at the airport on the way to Turkey and despite using it ever since there's still half left. It tames my hair despite the humidity, meaning I can leave other styling products and fancy masks at home for the week and let my mane drip dry instead.


Now, I know that facewipes are something of a taboo in the beauty world, but when I'm away I just find them so convenient. No annoying bottles of cleanser or muslin cloths required, just wipe makeup away and hit the hay! These oil balancing wipes from Simple really agree with my skin, helping to refresh it after hot and humid evenings.

And lastly, I always pick up a pack of anti-bac wipes - great on the go (again, no pesky liquids) for messy hands and yucky seat-back trays on the plane.


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