1. The smell of success
Excuse me while I geek out a minute, eucalyptus trees are pretty cool. Not only can they literally rise from the ashes, but they can also grow a bazillion feet tall (only the redwoods grow taller). Oil distilled from the Australian native Eucalyptus globulus tree has a whole host of well-known uses – it can relieve sinus congestion, help control a cough, soothe sore joints and muscles and acts as a natural disinfectant. But did you know it might also make you sharper? It's thought to act as a vasodilator, helping to increase blood flow around the body. Basically, more blood to the brain means more brain power, and eucalyptus essential oil is often used to treat people suffering from mental exhaustion and stress, as well as in classrooms as a form of causal aromatherapy to increase student performance. The stems are also beautifully fragrant and my current favourite thing to dot about the house. If the bush isn't close to you, you can pick some up from any good florist.
2. Instagram, a love letter
Like for so many others, Instagram has become my social platform of choice. A source of inspiration, a place to reflect, an outlet for creativity, it has been one of my most favourite things for quite some time, and I don't think that's about to change any time soon. I've always taken a lot of pictures – forever the family member/friend/sidekick lagging behind snapping away – and treated my Instagram as my visual diary, but more recently I've become so much more aware, and appreciative of its incredibly talented, and supportive community.
There's a particular group of lovely ladies I'd like to mention, all from our little part of the world – Emma, Aly, Anna, Mel and Judy. Everyday their little squares and stories inspire me and remind me to take pleasure in the everyday. They're wise, honest and totally bossing it in their careers, motherhood and style stakes. You need to follow them. Do it now.
However, recently I've seen some of my favourite accounts forced to justify and explain their seemingly 'perfect lives' – the neatly made beds and clutter free rooms, happy smiley children, perfectly blow-dried hair and fresh gel nails… even the absence of a TV. But even more seriously – the disclosure of sponsored content. In a world where we all spend hours on social media, I think there are a few home truths to be remembered - we only have to share what we want to, if you don't like something you don't have to look at it and any blogger, Instagrammer, YouTuber worth their salt will know they have a responsibility to disclose whether content is sponsored – but we also have to know that we're going to be advertised to if we're on these platforms. It's just the world we live in. I highly recommend two comments on the subject – one very honest chat by Emma, and a reminder to not hate the influencer by Chapter Three founder Louise Rumball.
BST is here, and that means it's time to get outside. No weekend is complete without an outdoor adventure, and my favourite one that's close to home is the climb up Cavehill.
I was fascinated by the hill as a child. My Granda's stories about trekking up from the Antrim Road to battle a giant rat that lived in the caves with his trusty, rusty sword were better than Swift, and on visits to the Castle and Zoo we'd talk about the dances my Grandparents went to in the Floral Hall and weddings they attended. It all seemed so glamorous, and a little mysterious – away from the hustle and bustle of the city centre.
On a clear day you can see right up the coast to Carrickfergus and all the way over to the Holywood and Bangor. The Mournes stand in a purple haze behind you, and you can while away time picking out landmarks and watching ships glide through Belfast Lough. I don't think you could get a better view of Belfast (or a better workout for your calves) than from trekking up to McArts Fort.
I love a good costume drama; they're a Sunday night entertainment failsafe in my house. However, since Tom Hardy and Peaky Blinders creator Steven Knight teamed up and swooped in with their deeply dark alternative I'm not sure genteel ladies in pretty pastels, or even Maggie Smith's biting remarks are going to cut it anymore. The BBC has just upped the game.
Set in 1814 London Taboo follows James Keziah Delaney (Hardy), a man everyone believed to be dead. He's returned from 10 years in Africa to find his father has died, and what's left of the family's shipping empire is riddled with mystery and danger. He's trying to rebuild his life, but ends up in a face-off against the East India Company and the ever sassy Jonathan Pryce, whilst playing a dangerous game between two warring nations, Britain and America.
If you did see it and couldn't get enough of Tom Hardy and his guttural grunts, the BBC have kindly saved us all from the monotony of upstairs downstairs tales of old and commissioned a second season. And if you need brought up to speed some hero of the internet has created this intensely manly supercut of everything you need to know from Season 1 - caution, NSFW.
5. Divide and conquer
Not my usual jam by any stretch, but how could I not mention Mr Sheeran? There are several mind boggling facts out there about his latest chart topping album, but the one that stands out for me is that 9 of the UK's current top 10 singles are his. That is INSANE. Hats off to Coldplay though for making it in there.
Whether you liked it or not we were all dancing to the (new) Galway Girl on St Patrick's Day… and likely will be for many more Friday nights to come. It's challenging Shape of You for the top spot in the charts, but the original release from the album (and the original Galway Girl) remain my favourites. He had me from the Snapchat filter teaser.
Another new accolade for Divide - number 5 on my Five Things I Liked This Month. Well done Ed.
Emma is an account manager here at AV Browne. If you would like to get in touch, you can find her at Emma.Weir@avbrowne.com