Side Street Style

Side Street Style

Side Street Style

Family travel and lifestyle blog


What 2021 means for those looking for love, companionship and friendship


Collaborative/Advetorial post

Well 2020 threw the curveball none of us expected and suddenly we saw our social life dwindle and the idea of making new meaningful connections become even more challenging. We all had to get use to socially distancing ourselves from anyone outside of our family unit for nearly most of the year while getting to grips with Zoom calls and virtual hangouts with friends.

Not ideal when your on the dating scene or have moved to a new city and want to strike up new friendships but not all is lost, there is a glimmer of hope for normality in 2021 even when things feel very up in the air at the moment. The roll-out of the vaccine will have an impact, it may take months to see this impact start to work but it means we can start to look towards the future with a bit more excitement.

2020 did, however, teach us a lot of things, many of us started to prioritise our needs, friendships, our own self-care as well as our time. It's made many aware of what they really want in a partner or friend and have a clearer picture of our needs, likes and dislikes means we can be more direct and hopefully not waste time, which is helpful when you are dipping your toe into the virtual dating pool or trying to find like-minded companions. 

Right now could be the perfect time to put feelers out there with the aim to start a budding romance or friendship because while we still have to socially distance for the immediate future it means we have more time to really get to know someone virtually and if anything the pandemic has made dating slower and potential a more meaningful experience, which is key for those truly looking to make a connection with someone. 

zoom call

Slow dating may seem at times frustrating but in the longterm, it can be a real positive as it allows you get to build a fairly solid connection before deciding to meet in person. This approach is also great for the older generation who may not be as free and flexible as those with little responsibilities beyond themselves. Making friends or dating is without a doubt harder when you're older as your usually juggling work, parenthood, looking after your home as well as your own needs so finding a like-minded person who fully understands your life commitments is really helpful. 

Even if your not very online savvy 2020 has taught most how to communicate via video chat and social media and when it comes to meeting new people there is an app for everyone, no matter where you are in your life. Most of us would of hear of apps such as Tinder and Bumble but if you are older there are dating sites for over 50's for those looking for both romance and friendship and like other platforms offer it in safe and secure way. 

holding hands

In fact more and more people of all ages are joining apps and websites after 2020 which impacted many who live on their own or come into contact with very few people (which is great in a pandemic but not fantastic for your mental health). So it's not something to be embarrassed about at any age!

So now is the time to be upfront about what you want, be honest about who you are but also be open to talking, listening and making real connections and hopefully meeting up in real life being a reality really soon. Just remember to stay safe (in fact here is a post I've written about staying safe online when making friends or dating), listen to government guidelines and use reputable apps, but most of all have fun because I don't think we have had enough of that over the past year. 

dating in 2021


Why you should try Stand Up Paddle boarding in 2021


*I have been working with Bluefin on a review of their SUP boards - my words and review are 100% my own

As most of us can agree 2020 didn't exactly go to plan and learning how to adapt and hopefully thrive was key and as we move forward into 2021 we all have hope for normality but it appears to be a few months off at least. Saying that having goals and dreams are important and help to give us purpose and keep our moods up with something positive to look forward too. In fact, for a lot of us, our new found hobbies during lockdown helped to get us through the year.

Last year I joined the Bluefin SUP community and had lots of plans for very exciting content, especially the charity SUP I had planned to help raise money for those struggling in South Africa (my home country) but due to Covid this simply wasn't possible and has now been replanned later in 2021.

My BlueFin 10.8 Cruise board is a perfect all-round SUP board and suitable for most conditions as well as being very stable, versatile and portable and I've enjoyed the kayak conversation kit that comes along with it. It's also easy to pump up and I can get it in and out of my car myself as well as accommodate the kids and I on fun excursions. I am putting together an in-depth review of my board but I do just want to say if you're interested in getting a SUP, Bluefin are fantastic and one of the best on the market. 

Despite the stop-start nature of last year, I did manage to get out on the water in 2020 and it makes for the perfect socially distanced sport or pastime that can be done safely while offering up some much needed outdoor time and connection with nature and really help to give an instant boost to my mental health during 2020.

Sunset SUP

If you haven't tried standup paddleboarding then I highly recommend giving it a go in 2021 and here's why.

1. It's super easy to grasp the basics

SUP boards are very stable and buoyant and anyone with fairly good balance will grasp the basics very quickly as well as being suitable for all ages. I grew up surfing so when I first jumped on a SUP board in 2018 it felt very familiar and comfortable and my instructor said that he has taught children as young as 5 to adults in their 80's, so don't be nervous to give it a go.

2. Is a fun full body work out

While SUP is a fairly gentle hobby it can also be one of the best ways to get a full-body workout as your using every part of your body from your arms for paddling through to your legs and core which work on keeping your balanced. The best thing of all though is how fun SUP is, it's a great way to explore the waterways in a whole new way and if your nervous of the sea or more choppy conditions that a relaxing meader down a river or on a lake is a great way to enjoy the outdoors while also benefitting from a workout.

3. Easy to socially distance

As I mentioned at the start of this post it's a great activity for this year moving forward as you naturally keep at least 2m away from others, in fact, rivers and the ocean are far less crowded than your local park or cycle trail making its safe way to benefit from being outdoors in the fresh air. Also if you have your own board which I would recommend, your not sharing with others. 


4. A boost for your mental health

Did you know it's scientifically proven that being out on the water, in nature, helps you relax and after the year we have just had I think we all need to relax more? Along with the positive elements of it being a gentle way to work out, the happy endorphins released will also help with reducing things like stress and help you unwind. It also allows for moments to get away from others and have a break from the world and reality for a moment. 

5. A new way to explore

For anyone with a sense of adventure and wanderlust, the past year has been hard, many of us have been restricted to lockdowns and limited to where we can go but the one positive is that we have been exploring more of our local area and SUP gives an extra element to that as you can tap into that sense of adventure by getting on the water and discovering a new perspective to where you live. 

6. Great for the whole family

As I mentioned earlier, SUP is perfect for all ages and is generally enjoyed by all, my two son's, 5 & 10, love getting on my board with me. My eldest first tried his hand at independent sup'in on a lake when he was 8 and took to it like duck to water and I am looking at getting him his own board this year, in fact, Bluefin does a fantastic junior pack with everything you need to get started, while my youngest loves to hitch a ride on mine. As always I highly recommend everyone wears a life jacket or suitable buoyancy aid so you can enjoy your time on the water safely. 

SUP family

So if you're looking to try SUP out then this could be the year to do it, or if you're looking to improve your skills and get out on the water more then this could be the safe and fun way to do it. We all know of the positive effects on both our body and mind when we spend time in nature, being active and outdoors and this ticks all those boxes, so why not give it a go?

Bluefin SUP Blog and community pages offer some great tips and inspiration, as well as advice for those looking to buy their first board, or tips on taking your kids or dog out on the water with you, along with do's and don't and general safety advice, so it's worth checking it out. 



Moments of Joy from 2020

I know 2020 was one of the most difficult years globally we have had to face in a very long time. No one could foresee it and very few were fully prepared, especially in the UK. We have learnt how to adapt and change our lives to hopefully keep others safe until the pandemic is fully resolved and while there were plenty of lows in 2020 there were also some amazing highs as well as a new appreciation for what we have on our doorstep.

While 2020 was also hard for many not only health-wise but also financially, mentally, socially and affecting everyone in some way I also don't want to forget the moments of joy we had despite all of this because there really were some great times and I think it's easy to overlook these when we think back to 2020.

So here are a few of our personal moments of happiness within the chaos of what was 2020 and I hope you had similar moments too. 

Before Covid Hit

There was a short period at the start of 2020 when we still (unknowingly) had it really good and luckily we managed to squeeze a few fun mini road trips in before the lockdowns hit in the March. Including our annual trip to West Wales and exploring the National Botanical Gardens and a History inspired trip to Chester to check out all the Roman Ruins. We also started the year with a lovely walk up Sugar Loaf Mountain in the Brecon Beacons and watched the sunset, as well as our usual Castle adventures (slowly ticking off all the Welsh Castles).

During the first lockdown

The first lockdown definitely felt like the most monumental one (although the Welsh National Lockdown we are currently in right now over Christmas also has that feeling) and we very quickly had to learn to live with restrictions such as only being able to go for walks once a day initially and stay within a 5 mile radius. But this meant we quickly discovered what amazing places walks we had on our doorstep, including a fantastic mountain summit hike and like everyone else we felt forever grateful for having a garden and outdoor space. We also spent Easter under lockdown which was rather interesting but also very family-focused and on the topic of family, I have to say my boys where incredibly understanding of not seeing their grandparents in order to keep them safe. 

Rhondda Cynon Taff

A strange summer

Summer was a weird and wonderful time, we had really good weather for one and while there was to some degree a sense of normality we were also very aware things were not normal. Masks, social distancing, still not seeing family, limited social time, zoom calls, all of these had no entered our lives. So we focused on being outdoors as much as possible. We went wild swimming together and explored parts of the Wye Valley on my SUP board, as well as some canoeing, sunny days skateboarding together and my eldest also tried his hand at surfing. The one big "outing" for me was also an early birthday session at The Wave in Bristol which is an artificial surfing wave and it was amazing. 

surfer mum

Summer 2020

Back in Lockdown

The regained freedom we had in Summer didn't last long in Wales, especially as my area of Wales went into local lockdown in the middle fo September and we have been under some sort of restrictions since then. But we are learning to live and thrive regardless while still taking all the precautions we need to keep others safe. Even though we spent lots of time outdoors this year we never ate in a cafe, pub or restaurant since the pandemic started, we have socially distanced all year, the kids have been home since March and we always wear our masks, wash hands and use common sense. 

Here's to hopefully a more positive 2021 all round but the one thing 2020 has taught me is how adaptable we can be and that joy can be found in nearly all situations.


Last Minute Small Business Christmas Gift Guide

 Christmas shopping this year hasn't been the same as before, we are heavily relying on online shopping but also want to support local independent makers and find a thoughtful, sustainable gift.  Many of us have not been as organised as normal so ff your still looking for something special here is a list of places still shipping this week for every member of the family then check out my last minute Christmas gift guide for the whole family. 

For Travel Lovers & Adventure Seekers

Mini Soap Bar Travel Tin from Six Feet and Clean £12 - if your looking to reduce plastic and support a small UK business this is a great choice, Their shampoo bars are fantastic and this Travel Tin comes with 4 travel sized handmade soap bars using 100% natural ingredients. 

An illustrated guide to wild swimming by Flora Jamieson £8 - a gorgeous little 24 page illustrated introduction to swimming outdoors in rivers, lakes, pools, waterfalls and sea but UK creative Flora. This is a great little gift for anyone who loves getting outdoors or wants to take up wild swimming and is in need of some inspiration and advice. 

5Tribe Re-Wild the world water bottle £12 - helping to keep big and small explorers hydrated and of course is reusable and sustainable and is made by a small UK family outdoor-inspired business. The bottle has a 600ml capacity and perfect for days out. 

Lodestars Anthology Wales £14 - Lodestars puts together fantastic coffee table magazines that focus on one destination - their current one is all about Wales - an ode to Wales and it's beautiful wildnerss and lore. 2020 has been the year of staycations and this anthology will only fuel your fire to visit the small but action-packed country even more. 

Women and Waves drop t-shirt £22.99 - Women and Waves are fantastic UK based collective that inspired women to try surfing, wild swimming and grow a connection to our coastline and the benefits of water. They run courses throughout the year and have some really cool merch including this surf tee. 

Grey Unisex Pullover from EatSalt Surf Wear £35 - EatSalt is a small Surf company from South Wales, UK, who share their love for the surfing lifestyle and have created some beautiful clothes and accessories including this gorgeous pullover jumper which is my favourite thing to wear this Autumn as it's so nice and cosy.

Gifts that give back - Feminism, LGBTQ & Black Minds Matter

Feminist Enamel Mug - F by Olivia £15 - this beautiful enamel mug has been designed by Olivia, teenage artists and brought to life by The Feminist shop which makes a donation from all sales to The Young Women's Trust, a feminist organisation working to achieve economic justice for young women. 

Maykher Scent Two Candle £22 - Maykher is a Cardiff based lifestyle brand that invests at least 10% of their yearly profits into the education of young girls and women in areas of the world that need it most. They also make these beautiful candles (I have one myself and can personally vouch for how nice they are) and they make great gifts.

The Queer Coffee Co - Espresso Yourself £7.50 - I am loving this UK roasted Coffee, 100% arabica speciality blend and whats even better is with every purchase 20% of the profits are donated back to LGBTQ+ community charities to help make a brighter future for all. Perfect present for any coffee lover. 

Kelzo Kitten Studs Pride Collection £8 - Kelzo are a small Cardiff based handmade jewellery business who donate 20% of their profits from their Pride collection to LGBTQ+ charities, as well as supporting a small business. How cute are these Kitten Studs?

Black Minds Matter Charity Candle - The Second Life Candle Co £10 - this natural soy wax candle is hand-poured in small batches, in recycled glass and are plastic-free, vegan and cruelty-free as well as donating 100% of the profits to Black Minds Matter charity - the perfect gift back gift.

For Kids

The portable potion kit by The Den Kit Company £19.50 - My kids love their Den from the Den Kit Company and now they are making mini activity kits including this portable potion kit which encourage kids to get out into nature to collect leaves, soil and petals to make some marvellous mixtures. They also do a plant a tree kits and fire starter kit. 

Make your own dream catcher craft kit from Cotton Twist £13.95 - I love Cotton Twist, they have some fantastic plastic-free craft kits including this lovely dream catcher one which is perfect for any age. The kit includes watercolour pencils which is perfect for painting the base and feathers. Cotton Twists products are lovingly made by hand and are plastic-free. 

Kids Dinosaur Terrarium by The Urban Botanist £39.95 - this Terrarium kit is a great way to get kids into indoor gardening and sparking an interest in the natural world. The kit houses three succulent plants, which children can plant by themselves along with some vibrant yellow and blue gravel plus some dinosaurs to add to the mix

For Foodies

The Naked Marshmallow Co Toasting Kit - Prezzybox £22.95 - This is a super cute gift and great for those who also enjoy the outdoors indoor as you can create the perfect campfire experience without having to start a fire. The kit includes two flavours (Salted Caramel and Strawberry) gourmet marshmallows which are handmade in the UK as well 8 bamboo skewers and a non-toxic gel burner. 

Welsh Foodie treats and drinks from Discover Delicious - Discover Delicious is an online market place for all of the best artisan and small local Welsh producers to share the best in what Wales has to offer in terms of food and drink. I've tried the Crawshays Gin as well as Welsh Lady Conserves and Cheese platter and all were delicious and a real treat. 

Welsh Craft Beer Box from Handcrafted Tipples £24 - if you like Beer, especially Welsh Craft beer then this is a great hamper containing the best local brews from Tiny Rebel and Glamorgan Brewery - a great way to support local and the perfect gift too. 

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