Thoughts | Anxieties Surrounding Learning To Drive*

Learning to drive is a bit of a rite of passage in modern society. One of the things that most excites sixteen year olds about blowing out the candles on their next birthday cake is the prospect of getting behind the wheel. I'm happy to admit that I was one of those kids; eager to get on the road as soon as possible and give myself the freedom that driving can bring. However, I'm now eighteen and so far the only thing I've used my provisional license for is buying drinks. Please don't judge me too much.
I'm actually taking a gap year between A Levels and university so I have a good amount of time to get my booty in gear and get on the road. And the sooner the better, mind you, as my reliance on public transport (and the taxi service of mum and dad of course) is limiting the shifts I can take on at work. Getting a bus at 6am doesn't really float my boat, I'm sure you won't be surprised to hear. I'm also eager to travel and explore more of the UK during my year of freedom, something that will be a million times easier if I have a car at my disposal.

But what's stopping me from driving?
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Truth be told, I'm terrified. I'm a victim of the fear of the unknown. Whilst the potential dangers of driving don't really faze me in the grand scheme of things, it's the actual learning side of things that makes me shiver. This may sound strange, I know. I'm scared of being bad at driving when I first start (an evitable, I'm well aware) and embarrassing myself in front of whoever's sitting in the passenger seat, be it an instructor or even a family member. I'm also scared of failing my test, even though that's so far into the future. Every aspect of the process of learning to drive makes me pee my pants a little, if truth be told. If I'm honest I put a lot of this down to my general anxiety and the hold it can have on so many aspects of my life.
One of the ways I'm trying to tackle my anxieties surrounding learning to drive is by being as prepared and reassured mentally as I possibly can, and also by doing a million and one pieces of research on every aspect of the process.

One tool I've been introduced to recently and found ever so helpful is the website Book Learn Pass. They're like a one stop shop, of sorts, for all things learning to drive. The website provides a wonderful tool for finding and booking driving lessons in your local area, tracking down intensive courses (something I've found a great help as that is one of the paths I'm considering) and booking your theory test. They also provide tips galore for all things driving, be it from driving manoeuvers to your theory test; cockpit drills to the highway code. It's all there in easy-to-understand language (no motorhead gobbledygook) and the website is super easy to navigate.

The resource on your first driving lesson is one I've found so valuable in terms of banishing the anxieties surrounding getting behind the wheel for the very first time. I'm the kind of person who likes to know every single tiny detail of what's going to happen before she tries something new, and this page on their website covers all of these details and more. I'd definitely recommend this particular site if, like me, you're a nervous newbie driver and it's definitely something I'm going to be returning to as I move through the learning to drive process.

I'm going to aim to keep this little space updated on my journey into driving so keep your eyes peeled. Also let me know if there's anything particular within the topic that you'd like to read, I'll be more than happy to comply.

Have you learnt to drive yet? Do you have any tips for my fellow newbies?

*Disclaimer: This post is a sponsored collaboration with Book, Learn, Pass. All views and opinions shared on Yours, Chloe x are always honest and unbiased regardless of whether or not the content is sponsored. For further details please refer to my full disclaimer.

Lifestyle | Clue: The Period Tracking App

Code red; monthly visitor; the blob; lady time; having the painters in; shark week; bloody mary; auntie flo. There's a hundred and one titles for the monthly visitor that greets all of us with a vagina and that is of course the topic in question for todays ramble.
There's such a stigma within society surrounding discussing all things menstruation, which completely baffles me when you consider the fact that not only is it one of the most natural processes in the world but also a good fifty percent of the worlds population greet it (reluctantly none the less) each and every month. The blogging community is a wonderful platform to explore such tabooed topics as periods yet unfortunately you don't see as much discussion surrounding them as one would like. This needs to change and I want to do my bit by increasing the amount I explore them on this little space. And today kicks it all off.

I have a little present for all of you who menstruate - a new best friend. Enter Clue, a period tracking app and a rather amazing tool for tackling your cycle head on. If you're like me, you've tried many an app of this variety over the years but I'm happy to announce that this is the one. It's ever so rare that I reference anything from the app world on Yours, Chloe so you know that when I do I've found a good one, and this is no exception.

It covers every single aspect of the cycle you can think of - bleeding, fluids, collection method, pain, emotions, cravings, sex drive, sleep, sexual activity and a whole range of other bits and pieces. Most importantly it gets you to pop in the dates of each period which lets the app work its magic and calculate key things like when your next one will be heading your way and when you're most fertile. Such an app makes you an expert on your own body which is super duper important as, when it all comes down to it, your health should be your number one priority.

Clue makes sure there are no more unexpected intruders, you always know when to expect your little red friend. This gives you chance to stock up in time and to *fingers crossed* prevent the awful moments we've all faced where you find yourself suddenly 'on' when you're out and about living your busy little lives.
You can even set it up to send you a little reminder for all sorts of bits and pieces connected to your time of the month: when your period is about to begin, if it's late, when your fertile window is coming up etc. It can also remind you about other key things such as taking your contraceptive pill (or putting on a new patch, getting your injection, popping in a new ring and so on) and doing a breast check. What more can we ask for?

It's power of tracking your fertility is also hugely valuable. It particularly makes it a good tool for all of you who are trying to start a family, as it alerts you of the best time to try some serious baby-making activities. Not only that but if you're having sex minus a method of contraception (or equally practicing the rhythm method) it lets you know when's safest to have your sexy time. Although I would note that of course it is better to always practice safe sex as these dates are never one hundred percent accurate so you always run the risk of pregnancy and you'll also be at risk of the world of STDs if no barrier-method is involved. Lecture over.
Clue also strikes me as a wonderful tool for educating young women on what's going on 'down there' as education on the topic of puberty, periods and sexual health is so vital yet not emphasized half as much as it should be. I'd definitely recommend mums with daughters who are nearing the start of their periods to use the app to explain the ins and outs of the world of menstruation, although of course the tracking element of it may not be as useful for girls that early on in their womenhood as early periods can be turbulent and unpredictable, to put it lightly.

I would also note that the app takes a wonderfully gender-neutral approach to period tracking (more so than any other period-tracking app I've come across). It's amazing to see such an app being so inclusive of all those who menstruate, regardless of gender identity. It's also super discreet - nowhere does it state its status as a period tracking app - which can be a great factor for those who are shy around the topic.
(note: Clue does display your height, weight and chosen birth control method on this page in a similar way to how it displays your date of birth but of course I did hide those away for privacy reasons).

The true beauty of Clue hit me about a month ago when I found myself being shipped off to good ol' A&E by my doctors. Every single medical professional I saw asked a million questions about my cycle and what not, and I don't know about you but I'm not the best at remembering all of the little details of each period. And lets be honest, even if I was a walking encyclopedia on the topic you rarely find yourself in much of a fit state to pass it all on in depth when you're in such a place as A&E. Having Clue meant that I could just whip out my phone and there lay all of my data from over a year. From the heaviness of the bleeding to the collection method used, from the pain to the mood swings, and even down to sex and sleep; everything was there, which contributed greatly to speeding up the diagnosis process. I actually think one of the male gynecologists may have fallen in love with the app there and then as it made his job so much easier. So the moral of the story is, it's always handy to have such data at the push of a button; you're never know when you're going to need it.
Clue is completely free and available to download both on Apple and Android.
Happy period tracking!

Adventures | Nottingham

Last week saw my boyfriends birthday and, in light of the celebrations, we travelled up to Nottingham for a little break. It was a surprise trip, as my treat for the birthday chap, and it was a rather splendid - and well-received - adventure. Nottingham is not a million miles away from our neck of the woods, if you hop on the train it'll only take a tad over an hour, but its a location that neither of us had done too much exploring of which made the time even better. This little adventure is one I'd been looking forward to ever since I clicked 'book' a month or so ago. It was only a quick break, just a single night away with a full (ish) day either side, but it was simply amazing.
On a quest for brunch as soon as we arrived, we found ourselves in Bagel Nash. Bagel Nash is - you've guessed it - a caff producing mouth-watering bagels that are prepared right in front of your very eyes. Personally, I chose the 'Ham and Swiss Cheese' filling on a simple plain bagel (they feature a vast array of bagel choices for you to pick and choose from) whilst Johnny chose a 'Chicken Club' filling on a poppy bagel. Nom.
Now with full bellies, our first port of call was The Treat Kitchen; the sweetshop of dreams and somewhere I'd been eyeing up on twitter for a little while. Stepping into the store you find yourself surrounded by hundreds of types of sweets, all packaged up in milk bottles and jam jars. Pinterest worthy or what? My personal favourite treat on offer was their fudge - all handmade in store might I add - as oh my it was truly something. A couple of slabs may have accidentally been purchased and whilst it definitely can't be placed under the 'healthy' category, this kind of thing is the reason the phrase "treat day" exists, isn't it? Whilst I didn't manage to snap any pictures of their gorgeous shop (I was too distracted by the potential sugar rush), I just see that as an excuse to return to one of their stores for more delights.
Following all of the sweetie buying it was check in-o'clock so we hopped on over to our chosen hotel. Of course it was real tiring partaking in two days of doing absolutely nothing but chatting, eating and drinking so a wonderful place to lay our heads was needed. Craving a budget-friendly yet fairly luxury abode for the evening I had picked Roomzzz, an 'aparthotel' conveniently placed only a skip away from the hustle and bustle of the heart of Nottingham's shopping scene. Our room - one of the 'Grande Studios' - featured a deluxe double bed, separate soft seating area, gorgeous en-suite (featuring one of the best showers I've ever experienced - bonus points), mahoosive TV and a spacious modern kitchen, featuring all the mod-cons you have at home. One of the things I adore about Roomzzz is the fact that they offer a 'Grab & Go' complimentary breakfast of a morning. Truth be told, we didn't quite make it up in time to grab any of those treats (it's all shut up at 10am you see). I blame the comfy bed. In all honestly, I can't fault Roomzzz. It made a rather excellent change from hotel life and provided a home away from home that suited us perfectly. The size of the room was rather incredible and it was immaculately laid-out with great features that screamed luxury. It would be a true delight to stay there again and I know they're going to be top of my list for booking rooms when on future travels.
After a little bit of chill-time, we headed on out again to mooch around the shops for a little while and explore what Nottingham has on offer. A particular highlight was stopping by Shakeaway for my one true milkshake love: a crème egg milkshake. Oh boy do I wish they would open up a branch in my home town. We also spotted a group at least 20 adults on a pokemon go walk, equipped with speakers blaring out the theme song. It definitely made for a rather interesting sighting, particularly for someone who (I'm sorry) has never had the slightest bit of interest in it all.
As the afternoon began to evolve into the evening we headed back 'home' for an outfit change (a girls got to take up any opportunity to dress up hasn't she) and then off we popped to our dining location for the evening - Rub Smokehouse aka "The Home of Real American BBQ Food". The restaurant, although a tad on the quiet side with it being mid-week, was rather large with urban and contemporary décor. The menu was extensive, offering both your normal size portions and the correctly named #EPICFOOD portions if you're one with a slightly larger appetite. The cocktail menu was diverse and I selected a delicious raspberry mojito which was rather amazing if truth be told. We were also eyeing up the skittles vodka shots however decided that they were perhaps more of a weekend venture. For starters Johnny enjoyed the 'Pulled Pork Garlic Bread' and I munched on the 'Rub Nachos'. I'll be honest, I'm not really a lover of spicy food and was a tad concerned that the nachos were going to blow my head off but luckily you have the choice of having the dish prepared mild, hot or insane. I, of course, went for the mild option but even that had a bit of a kick to it so I dread to think that the insane spice level would taste like. In regards to mains, I went for one of my favourite meals: a 'Rump Steak' (served rare) with the sides of fries and onion rings. Although this also had a surprising kick to it, it was rather nice none the less. He ordered the 'Full Rack of Slow Smoked Rubbed Ribs' with fries and 'dirty rice'. Although it's clear than in this instance his eyes were bigger than his belly as he was unable to finish it all (despite a tremendous effort), it received mostly great reviews.
Although we had planned to spend the rest of the evening out, exploring some of the Nottingham pubs, it was decided that we both felt more like a night in. Cue a stop off at a supermarket to pick up a couple of bottles of good stuff and then a night in watching late night telly.
When the sun rose on our second day in Nottingham and we were all checked out, we took ourselves off for a little wander into the city centre for a touch of breakfast. Booking a table for breakfast was another item that had been on my to-do list ahead of the trip and I had chosen 'Pitcher and Piano' a restaurant and bar "housed inside a striking Grade II listed church" in the heart of Nottingham's Lace Market. Of course, we couldn't resist the sound of a full English with Johnny choosing the (accurately named) 'Big Breakfast' and myself the (slightly smaller) 'P&P Breakfast'. Each came with Bacon, Cumberland sausage, fried egg, hash brown,  grilled flat mushroom, baked beans, grilled tomato and toast. Exactly what you need to start the day. To wash things down I chose a delicious 'Passion Fruit Cooler' whilst he went with a coffee. The décor and feel of Pitcher and Piano couldn't have been more to my taste, full of character and charm in such a beautiful building. The experience and food were extraordinary and I'm definitely eager to try out more of the branches of this special chain.

With our tummies ready for the days adventures we headed over to 'City of Caves', something we were both eager to explore. The entrance is situated on the upper mall level of the Broadmarsh Shopping Centre and - equipped with audio equipment and a hardhat - you can venture down and investigate part of the maze of caves that lies under the city. As a bit of a history geek, I really enjoyed taking the journey back in time and exploring the varying uses of the caves according to the time period in question. The audio tour was extremely informative (although some of the voices featured were a little on the annoying side after a while) and it was a super cool sight to see that I'd definitely recommend if history is your cup of tea.

Eager to spend the rest of our day doing more exploring we worked our way up in the direction of Nottingham castle, with the plan of having a look around and absorbing more of the cities culture. However if truth be told we did end up getting a tad distracted by a pub. But what do you expect from two eighteen year olds eh? The Ye Olde Trip To Jerusalem pub came highly recommended from a vast array of sources so, of course, we had to take the opportunity to head over in that direction and see what the fuss is all about. If you're unaware of its history, the pub is actually built into the rocks that Nottingham Castle are built on and holds the status as the oldest inn in England (being born in 1189AD). As our breakfast had been wearing off and our tummies were beginning to rumble we chose to order a bite of eat to enjoy alongside our drink and I picked a 'Fish Finger Brioche' alongside some rather delicious fries with a good ol' bacardi and coke (my personal favourite tipple). It was truly delicious and the pub had such a wonderful atmosphere.

To close the trip we had another mooch around the shops (including a return to The Treat Kitchen for a bit of present buying) and a coffee or two before heading on home back to Peterborough. It was a rather amazing couple of days - a short but sweet trip - and has provided me with a real love of the city of Nottingham.

A good little break, however short, is always welcomed. It was so nice to be able to eat, drink and relax in completely different surroundings but with your favourite company. I'd definitely recommend Nottingham if you're after somewhere where there's plenty to see and do without spending a fortune. If I'm honest, this little trip has made me eager to explore more of the places the UK has on offer, so any recommendations on where to go for my next adventure would be greatly received.

'See more of the UK' is part of my 101 in 1001. You can see what else I'm hoping to achieve here.

Beauty | Good Things Deep Clean Blackhead Exfoliator

Good Things is a brand that my skin has become well-acquainted with over the years. It launched when I was twelve meaning that its promise of "simple, effective and affordable skincare, with natural ingredients" designed with "young problem skin" in mind was right up my alley. Even now as I've reached adulthood and my interest in the world of beauty has grown and evolved, Good Things is a brand I keep finding myself returning to whenever I'm in need of a good purse-friendly product that will work wonders on my still-problematic skin.

As of late, their Deep Clean Blackhead Exfoliator is something I constantly find myself reaching for. The kind people at Good Things have of course created this little beauty with those of us with spot-prone skin in mind and have packed it full of the "superfruit beauty boosters" licorice and papaya. The licorice works to soothe the skin and helps to keep down the bacteria levels whilst the papaya works to boost skins radiance; perfect for the summer months we now find ourselves in.

"This gentle, everyday polish contains smooth micro-beads that will whisk away dead skin cells that threaten to block pores and create blackheads".

As this product targets it efforts to pesky blackheads I concentrated my usage onto my nose and chin, two of the areas I find sadly to be the most welcoming to congestion. As with all products of this variety you simply massage it onto wet skin in the areas of your choosing and rinse well with warm water before letting its magic get to work. Easy peasy.

I'm passionate about only using products that completely pamper my skin and it can be a tricky task to get your hands on an exfoliator that doesn't have 'scratchy' properties (please excuse the lack of a more technical term). Good Things, however, have designed this product to feature the teeniest of particles, meaning that your face gets a bit of T.L.C even whilst it's being exfoliated to perfection. The gentle-touch of the exfoliant also means that it works wonderfully as an everyday scrub, slotting just perfectly into your daily skincare routine.

It's time for the results. Whilst this isn't one of those 'wake up the following morning and you'll see a world of difference' kind of products, I've found that if you use it regularly you will start to see an overall hugely-positive change in your skin. I found my pores to end up smaller and less noticeable and those pesky problematic areas to be less oily overall. And ultimately, my skin feels great so what more can you ask for?

It's also worth noting that Good Things products contain no animal products, making them a-ok for vegans and vegetarians. Their products are also free from your typical nasties such as parabens, mineral oil and the like. So really, Good Things does indeed do 'good things' with their products.

The Good Things Deep Clean Blackhead Exfoliator retails at £4.99 and you can purchase it online from boots here. Alternatively, Good Things is one of those brands you often see popping up down the beauty aisle of good ol' T K Maxx so if you fancy a bargain I'd recommend having a little scout around there.

Lifestyle | Leavers Ball 2016

As I rambled on about in my last post, last Friday brought the day on my leavers ball. Prom; Ball; Dance; whatever you want to call it. To me, the term 'prom' creates ideas of your typical American event in the school sports hall when the punch is spiked and heaven forbid a young lady attend without a man to escort her. It also makes me think of your average UK year 11 end of year event when the fake tan is plentiful and (in some cases) dresses big enough to clothe a small family. Neither of which conjure up the idea of a classy event that acts as last goodbye to your classmates of the past seven years so for the purpose of this post lets call it a ball shall we? How very Disney-like.

The week leading up to the big day was full of pampering. Nails, hair, makeup; the whole shebang. I won't delve too much into the details of these things, having explored them in my last post, but having such an event penciled in on my calendar provided such a wonderful excuse for a bit of me time, post exam period.
On the day itself, just before the clock struck six I was greeted by my nearest and dearest for a bit of a pre-event celebration; cue a bit of bubbly and a photoshoot. It was amazing to have my loved ones there to enjoy the occasion with me and to see me off as I headed on over to the last big do of my school career.

I simply adore all of the photos taken pre-ball. So many beautiful snaps of me and some of the most important people in my life, with a couple of candid 'please help my heels are sinking into the grass' shots here and there. I'll be honest, I took great enjoyment looking through them at 3am the following morning when my slightly tipsy self arrived home.

In regards to the event itself, I sort of think that with this kind of thing, pictures speak louder than any words could. Therefore, I'm going to hush and leave you to explore the night through the means of photos. Before I provide you with a bit of peace I would like to reference the quality of the photos from the night. Whilst the initial photos were of course taken with my trusty DSLR (by someone who is less familiar with how to use it than myself, but beggers can't be choosers), the rest of the night was snapped via my iPhone camera. I do however believe that this adds to the feel of the post. What would a post on such an event be without tipsy selfies and what not?

All in all, I had a wonderful night closing this chapter of my life. It felt rather strange knowing this was the last time we'd all be in a room together but every last minute of it was definitely enjoyed. As dreadfully soppy as it sounds I've made friends for life over the past seven years and I sure am going to miss seeing them all on a daily basis. But these are the kinds of people I can see making a further impression on my life as it progresses so it's not goodbye just yet.