JC Writes: The Little Things #1

JC Blogs (3)The little things.

Getting in the car for the first time in weeks. Driving through windy countryside roads, fields of wild flowers to the left and right. Taylor Swift back catalogue blasting through the speakers. Singing your heart out with odd onlooking stares from cars surrounding you. Coming over a verge and feeling your stomach drop. Watching the sun drop behind the hills. Finally getting the wind screen visor in the right place to shade your eyes.

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Seeing old friends. Catching up on the years and knowing your friendship has stayed the same. Reminiscing on old places and valleys. Fully understanding the same quirks. Sitting in the garden watching the bees. The smell of sunscreen.

Cooking cheese on toast. Eating cheese on toast. Eating all the cheese.

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Long walks in the countryside. Seas of green. Seeing friendly horses wearing funny horse coats. Walking on crunchy ground. Hiking to the top of a hill. The view behind you when you get the top. Taking ridiculous selfies with a gorgeous background. Wearing sunglasses. Looking at farm animals grazing in the valleys. The perfect temperature to not burn but not have to wear any layers.

Eating delicious cake as a reward for the walk. Watching horses trot down the tiny side streets in a tiny village in the middle of the country. Lounging on a comfy couch. Sheltering from the heat in a cool lounge. Drinking large cups of cold water.

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Getting in the car to the big city. Getting clear roads for the first time. Listening to podcasts. Chuckling along with Answer Me This. Learning something new with Thinking Sideways. Buying an ice cold diet coke. The smell of the petrol station. Successfully backing the car into a tight space.

Coming home after a long day. Seeing your lovely boyfriends face. Relaxing on the couch and catching up on the day. Catching up on the tweets of the day.

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Crawling into a comfy bed. Listening to the sounds out of the window. Having no alarm on for the morning. Drifting easily off to sleep.

It’s all about the little things.

JC xx

JC Travel: My Top 10 London Adventures

LondonI’ve been in London over two years now. How crazy is that?! Feels like I only left New Zealand yesterday but the capital has soon become my home. And over those two years, I have managed to do a plethora of activites. So I have attempted to narrow down all of my London adventures to my top 10. These ten are things I really recommend you do whether you are visiting for a weekend or counting up your years like me.

1. The Globe

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I’ve written a whole post confessing my love for the Globe but seriously, I do adore it! It’s how theatre was meant to be, the fact that the plays here are still so entertaining as they were when they were written hundreds of years ago always astonishes me. It’s gorgeous to sit out in the sunshine and watch some fabulous acting. I recommend getting a seat to rest the weary legs but you can get standing tickets for an absolute bargain if you want some theatre on a budget!

2. Aldwych Tube Station + London Transport Museum

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Despite spending more than enough hours on it, I do still have a love of the tube and its ability to carry millions of people all over London everyday. We went on a tour of the Aldwych tube station which was awesome and gave us a history of the tube and let us wander round old tunnels. The London Transport Museum itself was fabulous too, it is one of the only museums you have to pay for in London but I think it’s worth it to see a huge amount of different transport throughout the ages. Plus the ticket lasts you for a whole year so you can go back for the special exhibits. If you do the tube station tour then you get discounted entry to the museum too.

3. Night at the Museums

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And the museums in general! I love the natural history, science and V+A plus they are all free! Each of them has a late night each month where you can have a wine and wander round the exhibits. It is really enjoyable and nice to see the exhibits in a different setting.

4. Chocolate Tasting on The Eye

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This was one of the first things I did when I moved to London and it was epic! The eye itself can be pretty pricey but it isn’t much more to have a chocolate tasting whilst on it which totally made the experience. It is run by Hotel Chocolat and you learn all about the different types of chocolate and taste them, you have a little break at the top so you still get to take all your pictures and you can wash it all down with some prosecco! Highly recommend doing this instead of just a normal Eye experience.

5. Horse Guards Parade – Trooping the Colours

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I went to the Trooping the Colours last year on a bit of a whim and really enjoyed it. It’s where the traditional english guards march accompanied by horses, singing and performances. It is such a unique thing to England and to London so I recommend getting down there at least once to experience it! We bought tickets the day before and still managed to get some good seats.

6. The Drowned Man (or any kind of immersive theatre)

The drowned man was probably one of the weirdest but best things I’ve ever done. It involved a giant 4 story warehouse which has been transformed into about 50 different sets full of actors, spectators wearing masks and twists and turns at every corner. You get let into the warehouse and are encouraged to go off on separate ways and explore the world and watch the play. It probably took me about 2 hours to just get around all of the sets and it was just epic. Sadly it has finished now but I am keeping a close eye on Punchdrunk for their next show. I think immersive theatre is so so cool and I can’t wait to go to more!

7. Food!!

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By far the best bit about London is all the restaurants and pop ups around town. I’ve eaten amazing degustations at Gordon Ramsays Maze and Hestons the Hinds Head and had delicious street food at urban street markets. There really is something for everyone and even in 2 years I don’t think I’ve chipped into all the amazing food in the city!

8. Hampton Court

I am obsessed with English history so of course London is ideal for this! Hampton Court is the ideal place to visit to learn all about the Tudors and revel in Henry the Eighth. I loved the Tower of London too. I think if you read a lot of historical fiction then it is awesome to be able to go to the actual locations where the story was set in!

9. Afternoon Teas

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If you didn’t get that impression from my blog already, I do need to point it out that I love afternoon tea here in the city. There are so many amazing places to visit and delicious food to be eaten. I’ve written a whole series about it if you’re interested.

10. Tour of Parliament

I love staring at Big Ben so it was only natural to want to get in and have a tour! You can get a free tour through contacting your local MP but you can also pay and go for a tour on a Sunday which is what we did. It wasn’t pricey, about a tenner? But it was awesome to go through the houses of parliament and see so much history in person. The first huge hall has been standing since about 1000BC which was just epic, it was mindblowing to think about how much has taken place within those walls!

What is your must do thing in London?

JC xx

JC Updates: 10 Happy Things #14

And summer has begun! The sun is finally bringing its face out, and the past two weeks have involved a whole lot of sitting in the sunshine and sipping some Pimms. I’m in Manchester this week, then off to Silverstone for the F1 this weekend which is super exciting! The forecast at the moment looks stunning so can’t wait to see what it’s like. I’m also off to Portugal next Tuesday so there may be a little lag in terms of posting, but don’t worry, lots of exciting posts coming up! Now, onto the happy things…

1. Whose Line Is It Anyway – I’ve loved Whose Line ever since I was young. I used to watch it whenever I felt a bit down and my parents would always find it so entertaining as I laughed my head off. So when I heard they were coming to London, I was so excited. And it was SO GOOD. Honestly, I pretty much cried with laughter the whole time, totally lived up to my expectations.

2. A day off during the week – Paul and I had Thursday off work as a bit of a mid week treat! It was awesome to be able to wander round central London when it isn’t absolutely heaving with people after work or tourists on the weekend. I have a few days off during the week in July and I am looking forward to them already.

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3. Covent Garden Food Tour – On our day off, we also went on a food tour in London. I love a good food tour (we did an awesome one in Prague), and my parents were lovely enough to buy us one for Pauls birthday earlier in the year. We wandered around Covent Garden tasting chocolate, cheese, tapas and a range of goodies. I discovered a few new places in the city where I hadn’t been before, can’t wait to do some more exploring.

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4. A country pub in London – I’ve been doing a lot of cycling and Paul and I discovered an awesome pub called The Telegraph up near Richmond/Wimbledon which feels as though it is in the middle of the countryside. We have been a couple of times to sit in the giant pub garden in the sunshine. Feel as though this will be a summer staple.

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5. Rebounce London – I went to a Rebounce class in Clapham Junction on Wednesday, they have a deal where you get your first visit free. I was a bit wary as I’m quite unfit but I had such a good time! It pretty much involves doing a dance routine on a tiny trampoline. The lights are low, the music loud, and there is no pressure to get it right or be in time, just have fun and get an awesome workout. I was so focussed on trying to get the moves down that I didn’t realise how much of an epic workout I was getting (but when I stopped for a break I most definitely did!). I will definitely be back after my busy couple of weeks. Highly recommend if you want a good workout down in South West London.

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6. Dying my hair! – I had been thinking of dying my hair for ages, but finally got around to doing it last week. I had a blonde dye, I kind of always knew it wouldn’t actually go blonde but I really like the colour it turned out, like a soft light brown. I may dye it a bit blonder next week…

7. New bathroom – We got our new bathroom installed! I’ll be blogging all about it soon, we just need to get it painted and a few accessories first.

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8. Delicious candles –  I wandered past the Vanilla Cupcake Yankee candle in Boots and decided on a whim to pick it up. The flat has been smelling very sweet recently!

9. Driving and podcasts – I’ve been doing a whole lot of driving recently which has been awesome as I love a good road trip. I’ve been putting some podcasts on, been loving Sword and Scale and Thinking Sideways if you need some good suggestions.

10. I love Strange Made Mes post on how your current situation is not your final destination, which I think is such an important thing to realise if you are feeling a bit stagnant. Day Dreaming Foodie also posted an awesome recipe for Rhubarb and Strawberry Vodka

What has made you happy this month?

JC xx

 

JC Tech: Bloggers Guide to SEO #5: Best Plug Ins and Tools for SEO

Best plug ins and tools for SEO

And we are back! If this is your first post on the Bloggers Guide to SEO, then I suggest you start with numbers 1-4:

#1 – What even is SEO?!

#2 – 8 Easy Ways to Increase your SEO on every Post

#3 – What is a No Follow Link?

#4 – What is Domain Authority + how do I Increase it?

Today, I wanted to talk about all the handy plugins and tools you can use to help manage SEO on your blog. I wholly think the WordPress SEO plug ins are one of the best things about going self hosted!

Plugins:

Plugins are only available for those on self hosted wordpress. I hugely think you should go self hosted, not only does it help your SEO but you have so much more power over your blog and its settings. These SEO Plugins have been instrumental in increasing my SEO here on Jasmin Charlotte.

WP SEO by Yoast

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This is my number one recommendations. This was originally called SEO by Yoast but has been renamed WP SEO and it does everything you need! It inserts a checklist at the bottom of every post as you can see below. You enter your keyword or phrase that you want to highlight in the blog post and it does a check to see where it is. This is a really handy reminder to make sure you are using consistent wording throughout the title, meta tags, URL etc.

It further has a details page which breaks down the good (green), medium (orange) and bad (red) things on your page so you have an opportunity to fix them. It gives you an overall rating for your page which is shown at the top and on your posts list. Lots of green lights is ideal!

The plug in is so easy to use and helps you think of SEO on every post without being intrusive. If you haven’t got this yet then get downloading! This is a good overview of the tool, but it also has a lot of other awesome features which you can read more about here.

SEO Ultimate

I want to give an alternative to Yoast, and SEO Ultimate is another really good option. It has the same features as WP by Yoast but also includes some more high tech features such as being able to edit your theme code without having to create a child theme. This is handy if you want to SEO optimize your blog code. I don’t think it is as intuitive as Yoast but is a good option especially if you have compatibility issues using Yoast.

Tools for SEO:

Tools are handy to give you an overview of your blog, but also if you are not self hosted. If you use blogger, squarespace or wordpress.com then I recommend using these tools and then getting yourself a good checklist so you can check things on every post (I have one on my 8 ways to increase SEO post!).

SEO Site Check Up

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I did mention this is a previous post, but it is a good option to have a look at how your website is currently functioning. It gives you a score out of 100 and gives your website several ‘tests’ and shows you how to fix any problems your website may be having problems with. It searches for things such as titles, keywords, meta tags, broken links, speed, mobile and compression. It also gives you a handy report to tell you how to fix the problems.

This is a good way of getting an overall feel for how your SEO is going and how to get your blog up to speed. If SEO Site Check Up doesn’t work for you then Nibblr is a good option too but doesn’t focus on SEO as much.

Keyword Tool

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This is a handy tool for when you need to find the right keywords for a post. It tells you what people have been googling for a specific phrase. If you want to get serious about keywords then this is helpful as it should match your post with what people are searching for. Handy.

Broken Link Checker

If you don’t want to use a whole app like the SEO tool, then the broken link checker is ideal. It goes through and highlights any broken links which may appear on your site. These decrease your SEO in the eyes of google so it’s good to get them fixed whilst you can. There is a good plug in for that too!

If you’re interested in blogging tools, I do have a little series where I have blogged about a whole heap!

Do you use an SEO tool or plug in?

JC xx