Category Archives: holiday

The Reason Why I started Social Circle.

 

Recently I questioned the reason why I started Social Circle

Recently I questioned the reason why I started Social Circle

I recently listened to a Tedx Talk on Finding your Why.  It really got me thinking. It reminded me of why I started Social Circle in the first place – and my vision for the future.  Believe me I needed the reminder. When Taxes are due and I am having to explain myself three times to get stuff done, you can easily lose sight of your passion.   So I sat down and thought carefully about the  reason why Social Circle exists, and why it will always be my passion.

#1 I was just like you.

I was in my thirties when my marriage broke down, and I made a life-changing decision to move to Manchester with my job.  I had no one. My colleagues were nice enough but going out for ‘ a swift one’ after work wore thin. I decided I needed to take action to go out and meet new people. Back then, there was little to cater for my age group and interests.  So I put an advert out inviting people to meet me in my local pub and the rest – as they say – is history.

#2 Being Sociable is a Life saver.

As much as you can enjoy the single life, loneliness in a big city can pave the way to depression and other mental health issues.  Having people around you that share your humour and interests can be lifesaving at times, and the key to a long happy life. My friends from the early days of Social Circle are still by my side – and kicking my ass.  It gives me great pleasure in seeing Social Circle members form deep and meaningful friendships with each other. #Notallheroeswearcapes

#3 Life does not revolve around a single interest.

There are plenty of social groups catering for a single hobby, such as hiking or photography.  I joined a few walking groups myself. However, I was quickly discouraged by the fact that when it came to exploring life outside the ramblers group that people were not so keen.  I wanted to meet people like me, who had a thirst for life and all it offers. As it happens, my Friday night drinking buddies were also up for exploring life outside the Slug & Lettuce. Soon, I was arranging walks, nights at comedy clubs and meals out.  Today we offer 100+ events every month.

#4 It takes f**king courage to introduce yourself to others.

So you want to meet people. Great. Then the fears kick in and before long you have talked yourself out of going. You find your excuses and then Boom! Another year has flown by without you meeting anyone new. I get it.  Truth is that it takes a lot of courage to introduce yourself to anyone, never mind walk into room full of strangers. It’s the reason why –  when I could not be in 100 places at once –  I enlisted the help of our expert hosts. Our hosts will run out into the rain to rescue you when you are frozen with nerves at the doors of a restaurant. I make sure they send everyone a text, or call nervous newbies, because I know exactly what it takes to turn up to that first event.

#5 I wanted to explore the world with others.

I love travelling.  It feeds my soul. I am happy to travel alone, but some experiences are so much better shared with others.  I found that travel for single professionals can be a little pot luck at times – you can be changed through the nose, or have an amazing time.  So when my Social Circle members suggested we organised weekends away, I jumped at the chance. It is through these budget friendly weekends away that I have managed to travel extensively, tick off a few of my bucket list activities and meet the love of my life.  This year, we are going to so many exciting new places I can hardly contain myself. I am even gatecrashing the Galway trip as a co-host as I have always wanted to see the Cliffs of Moher.

#6 I got sick of small print and hidden costs.

I am a man who likes to keep things simple and straightforward.  No – I don’t want to read 100 clauses of legal mumbo jumbo. I certainly don’t want to turn up to your free event and find I am being charged for the privilege.  And if I am paying something, I expect to get what I paid for. I found a lot of places short-changed me, so I was determined to be open and honest with my own members.  That the reason why you get unlimited free events with your membership, and anything that does cost that little bit extra is clearly marked on the calendar.

#7 Because I just love bringing people together.

When it come down to it, I am a big ol’ softy at heart.  I love bringing friends and family together, and still regularly rally them round to mine for pancakes or a movie.  Over the years I have run Social Circle, I have seen shy wallflowers bloom into confident socialites. People stepping out of their comfort zone and finding their passion and purpose through trying new activities.  I have introduced many husbands and wives to each other. Everyday, I hear what a difference being a part of Social Circle is making to our members.

Its that, when it comes down to it, that is why I battle through the hard times.

I just love seeing people find happiness.

So tell me, what is your Why?

Reasons to take a break in Galway

Galway is a holiday haven on the West Coast of Ireland

Galway is a holiday haven on the West Coast of Ireland

We love exploring Ireland. If you are thinking of a short break from Manchester then you cannot beat the Emerald Isle.  In a few short weeks we will be in Glorious Galway on the west coast of Ireland. Galway has something for everyone’s. If you are wondering where the craic is then just take a look at the reasons to take a break in Galway.

Traditional Pubs, Music and Dancing.

Galway’s got one of the liveliest pub scenes in Ireland. Step inside the warm wooden nooks and crannies of Tigh Neachtain’s on Cross Street and you’ll happily lose hours listening to traditional irish music whilst sipping a glass of whisky or guinness. Other great spots in the city include Murphy’s and Garavan’s. We will be sniffing out the liveliest spots across the City. Truly enjoy the Craic as talented dancers use the bar as their stage as the fiddlers play a lively tune.

Glorious Galway Food.

Galway is a foodie heaven. The food scene includes incredible cafés, bistros, traditional pubs and fine-dining restaurants that are kicking the culinary ball right out of the park. The markets give us ample opportunity to sample some homemade delights and haggle for a bargain.

We are fortunate to be based within a few minutes walk of some great restaurants.  We fancy the traditional fayre and music at McSwiggans, as well as trying the Oysters and Seafood Platter in Galway Brasserie on The Corner.  Have you ever dreamed of eating at a Michelin Starred restaurant?  Now is your chance to check it off your bucket list! The award winning Loam is a stone’s throw from our hotel.

Walk along the Beach

Who would have envisaged a beach holiday in Ireland!  We can stroll along the 2km-long sandy promenade at Salthill, and watch the brave (or stupid!) dive from the harbour.   Tradition dictates that you should “kick the wall” at the end of the promenade for good luck. If you don’t fancy that, then why not just grab some fish and chips, sit on the beach and watch the light change over the Atlantic.

Explore Connemara (& Meet its Ponies)

The wild beauty of Connemara is just a short journey away, so we can stretch our legs as we discover the castles, beaches and rugged coastline of Connemara. The Connemara horizon is dominated by more than fifty magnificent mountains in four tightly packed ranges, the Twelve Bens, Maum Turks, Partry and Sheffrey. There are various walking routes for all levels of fitness that lead to some hidden gems.

A highlight of Connemara is its wild Ponies

A highlight of Connemara is its wild Ponies

Of course, no one can talk about Connemara without mentioning the free roaming ponies. Horse lovers can ride out in the moorland – even if you have never ridden before. Find out more about these beautiful animals at one of the many studs dotted around Connemara.

Breathtaking Beauty in a Day.

Fancy a day trip? Galway has some of Ireland’s most exciting attractions right on its doorstep. We’re talking the Cliffs of Moher, the Burren, the Aran Islands and the wild beauty of Connemara.  We fancy this trip to the colourful village of Doolin where you can cruise to the Aran Isles, pick up a sweater, and marvel at the Cliffs of Moher on the boat home.

The Cliffs of Moher are breathtaking

The Cliffs of Moher are breathtaking

Why not join us in Galway?

We are jetting off to Galway from Manchester on Friday 5th April 2019 . Why not come and join us?   Social Circle offers Manchester-based professionals the opportunity to meet new people, try new activities and enjoy short breaks in the UK and abroad. There are no hidden costs and our weekends away are hassle-free

 

The Pros and Cons of Travelling Alone.

Travelling Alone has its perks - but what are the downsides?

Travelling Alone has its perks – but what are the downsides?

What? You are going on holiday alone?”  I recently took myself on a beach holiday to Egypt. As usual I was travelling alone – something that still surprises my friends apparently.  When you are in your thirties – and your friends are married with families – then it can seem like you have little choice. It need not be all bad so here is my advice on the Pros and Cons of travelling alone.

Pro’s.  It is your choice entirely.

One thing I love about solo travel is that everything from where I travel to the activities I do is my choice.  When I have travelled with friends I have often got frustrated when they want to shop or spend hours getting ready for the evening when I would rather be out exploring a ruin.  When you travel alone there is no need to negotiate or consider others wishes and needs as I am an entirely free agent. For me, this means I can truly relax and build an itinerary around my interests.

Cons:  Single Supplements.

Prices are often based on sharing, so be prepared to pay more for travelling alone.  The quality and service you receive can be mixed as well. Iceland Air upgraded me to first class on my trip to Reykjavik, whilst other airlines have put me in the middle seat.   I have been given suites with views, and single beds for twice the price as when I was in a couple. Some services are not even available to solo travellers. The fact is travelling with others means you can often get better deals on accommodation and flights – and splitting the bill at dinner comes in handy too

Pros:  You meet new people.

You won’t be the only person travelling alone. If you are a positive and friendly person you will get talking to people and make new friends. Certainly I have met some amazing people on my travels and am proud to say we are still in contact.  I have even enjoyed the odd holiday romance!. I have found that most people are generous and kind in spirit. Fellow travellers and locals alike will look after a solo traveller. So whether that is inviting you to join them at dinner, or striking up a conversation – be prepared to make new friends.

Cons:  Safety First.

I am blessed that I have never had anything happen to me when I am on my travels.  I have not even fallen ill. But admittedly I have to be hyper aware of my surroundings and not put myself at risk. In Amsterdam I had a hair raising experience when I was separated from a group tour to the Red Light District and a group of drunk tourists started heckling me.  Fortunately a security guard stepped in and no harm was done. These are not just considerations for female travellers. Some of my male friends who have travelled alone have been targeted and subject to robbery and assault. It can happen in any country.

Travelling Alone means you can do what YOU want.

Travelling Alone means you can do what YOU want.

Pros:  Travelling alone is good for the soul.

There is something about travelling solo that is really character building. Potentially because it forces you to step out of your comfort zone.  I am constantly being told that travelling alone is ‘brave’ and I suppose it does take courage – at least initially. You are entirely responsible for yourself.  Going on any trips or even out of the hotel requires a level of confidence. Of course, the pay off is the increased self esteem from actually going it alone and having a great time.  

Cons:  There is no one to share the memories with you.

The best thing about travel is the memories.  Photos are great but do not give you the feeling of actually being there.  I remember in Rhodes, being sat in a roof-top restaurant being given the finest seafood I have ever tasted.  The sun was setting over the deep blue sea and I experienced such a sense of peace. But then my next thought was that it would have been nice to share the experience with someone.  Certainly, memories are kept alive by the people who were with you. In April 2018 I travelled to Africa to horse ride across Botswana with other travellers. We experienced some incredible moments as a group and my heart lights up when one the group shares a photo or memory on Facebook.  

There is another way.

Given the increasing numbers of singles, a whole market has opened up aimed specifically at single travellers.  I think most people have heard of  Flashpack who organises adventure holidays for singles. There is just one problem.

Its f*cking expensive.

I am sure it is worth every penny, but my budget does not stretch that far. Now I know there are Meet Up and Facebook groups that organise cheap weekend breaks. But what worries me is that handing over my hard earn cash to these organisers does not guarantee me a better experience than travelling with friends.  I have heard horror stories of people being told they will be placed in a city centre hotel only to find that they are staying in a 2* hotel 3 miles out of town. Nope and Nope.

Fortunately, Social Circle have organised some great weekend breaks for those with an incurable case of wanderlust.  I can’t decide which to sign up to? Should I sample the wine in Porto or fulfil my dream of seeing the waterfalls in Croatia?  Hell from £195 for a weekend away- I may just do both.

Happy Travelling.

A new year. A new resolution?

A new year. New resolutions. New challenges.

A new year. New resolutions. New challenges.

It seemed 2018 gave many people, including myself, a rough ride at times.  But with the new year comes a blank page and new opportunities to live our dreams.  New year. New Resolutions. Right? Given January is typically the most depressing month of the year, it’s a good idea to set yourself a challenge so you get a sense of  well-being and achievement when you smash your goal.

Life need not be spent working the same 9-5 job then slumping down in front of the TV night after night.

That is a life in dreary monochrome.

It is depressing and not fixed by setting the same old resolutions such as joining the gym or doing Dry January. Life should be a colourful and  glorious tapestry of all senses. To have a great sense of well-being you should aim to feel fulfilled in your career, have a good strong social network, get plenty of exercise and have lots of fun.

The secret to happiness is a life is full of rich experiences and great people. 

You don’t need max out your credit card on material possessions to keep up with the Joneses.  The latest diet, the new dating app and all the self help books in the world will not bring you happiness.

The first step  is to be totally honest with yourself about what you really love.

Now, I do understand that stepping into your dreams can be really scary at times.

I have been there.  

I moved to Manchester with nothing and no-one and then started a business from scratch.  But trust me when I say it can lead to amazing things.

If you have built a career in the office, it can seem too big a risk jacking it all in to chase your dreams. 

However, just taking small steps can reap big rewards.

Maybe a few dance lessons will light up your life.

Maybe a few dance lessons will light up your life.

Why not start that photography course? Take photos of friends, or when you are out walking in nature.  This will light up your life and all the wonderful windows of opportunity waiting for you.

Have you always poured over Strictly Come Dancing, and secretly wished you could dance?  Maybe you have always wanted to paint or learn more about art. Trying to pluck up the courage to get out and meet new people so you can find your soulmate?  

Well then I guess we are going to have to find a way of making sure you can do all those wonderful things and more 🙂

As for me, I focused too much on work and not enough play!  So this year I am combining my love of travel and adventure by taking myself and my fellow social circlers to the West Coast of Scotland to climb the mighty Ben Nevis.  It is definitely on my bucket list of things to do before I hit the big 5-0 in 2020.

Whatever your dream, it is important to take inspired action. That way 2019 can the best year of your life so far. 

So the big question is – what your your new year resolutions?

How a Digital Detox let me connect with Loved Ones.

We rely on our phones for so much. But is it time you took a digital detox?

We rely on our phones for so much. But is it time you took a digital detox?

Have you ever felt so tired and cranky that you are just completely joyless?  I used to think it was the time of year or that business was getting on top of me. It was only when I read more about the effects of being glued to my phone did I realise that I really needed to switch off from the world and take a digital detox.   I found it was the best way to reconnect with my loved ones, and myself.

Believe me it was a tough call.

After all I run a business and need to be able to answer emails and calls from members.  My business is based on connecting people after all.

But I found myself scrolling through my emails instead of watching my favourite TV programme.

I found myself checking my phone, even briefly, whilst at dinner with friends and family which annoyed them intensely.

That all too familiar feeling of guilt and annoyance when the messenger bubble pops up.  ‘Can’t you all just leave me alone’ I wonder.

A quick scroll through social media late at night when I couldn’t sleep doesn’t seem too bad, yet I kept waking up cranky and not looking forward to my day.

Sound familiar?

I was shocked to find that smartphone addiction is a thing. We rely on our smartphones for everything, from paying bills to connecting with family and even booking social circle events.  I know people who liken misplacing their phone to losing a limb.

Yet, if we are not careful we can find ourselves hunched over our screens, taking in all the drama of other people’s lives and disconnecting from our own. It is damaging to our relationships and our emotional and physical health.

So I took action.

I vowed to take a digital detox.

Ironically, I used my phone to book a holiday for me and Louise to Malaga. 

Me and Louise relaxing away from our phones!

Me and Louise relaxing away from our phones!

I delegated any Social Circle stuff to Cathy and my team of amazing hosts.  I confess at times I did cave in and I did send a few emails only to get told forcibly ‘ thought you were on holiday’.

Whilst it was hard not reaching for my phone, after 24 hours I felt less stressed and got the best nights sleep in a long time.  I found myself looking up as I explored the old towns with my wife, hand in hand. We got some good quality time together and found ourselves laughing and talking over our evening meals rather than looking at our phones. 

It is the best thing I have done in a long time.

If you needed convincing as to why a digital detox may be good for you, then read this article for inspiration.

In the meantime, I have had some ideas of my own as to how I can maintain this sense of calm and not let my phone rule my life.

Switch off notifications.

Your phone constantly pinging causes you to reach for it constantly.  We touch our phones a minimum of 80 times per day. Half of the notifications are not even important and cause you to lose focus.  Change your phone settings so you only get notifications from certain apps.

Switch off an hour before bed.

The blue light in phones and laptops can have a disruptive effect on our brains, interfering with our sleep patterns.  Further, energy and happiness can be quickly zapped by getting yourself embroiled in social media drama meaning the last thing we think about before we hit the sack is Julies latest brawl with the in-laws or Pete’s political standpoints.  

Use your phones flight or do not disturb mode so no one calls. Leave it in another room and buy an old fashioned alarm clock.  If you must have your phone near you at least use ‘night mode’.

Have a phone free day a week.

Easier said than done but if you have a day off from your laptop and phone then you will really feel that you are getting a break. You will boost memory, creativity and concentration for switching off so put your emails on auto respond and peel yourself away from facebook.

Imagine what you can do with all that free time?  Perhaps read a book, have a lie in or connect with nature by going walking or cycling.  

Put your phone on flight mode when you are with friends.

The saddest thing I saw recently was a family at a restaurant all glued to their phones. There is no excuse really. You only need one photo (if any) of your food and when everyone has arrived then put your phone onto flight mode and put it away.

 If you are attending one of our events, then vow to put your phone onto flight mode and put it away so you can connect with like-minded people through good old fashioned conversation.

So no excuses. Switch off when you can so you can connect with those around you.

‘My Bff is a serial killer.’ The Dark Side of Social Apps

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The last few years has seen a rise in social apps, where you can meet new people at the click of a button. It seems a great idea to make socialising easy. But are they really the best way to make new friends?  Will swiping right lead you to meeting your soul sister or will your new BFF be a serial killer or crazy stalker. We give you the good, the bad and the ugly so you can reach your own conclusions. Our research makes one thing clear:Using Social Apps has a dark side.

The need for friendship.

Research suggests quality relationships with friends are correlated to increased wellbeing. Friendship is a major predictor of happiness, says Meliksah Demir, a psychology professor at Northern Arizona University who edited Friendship and Happiness, Across the Life-Span and Cultures. “In every age group, friendship quality, friendship satisfaction, intimacy and support are all positively correlated with individual happiness,”

Lets face it, whilst our cry-for-help facebook status may get a number of sympathetic likes, it can be increasingly difficult to find new friends as we get older.

 Changing jobs, locations and breakdowns in relationships can all cost us friendships.

In a digital age, it is not a surprise that we would reach for our phones and Ipads when we want to connect with people.  Apps like Bumble BFF and MeetUp.com have become go-to sources to people seeking friendship.

The Good: I met my Best Friend Through an App.

Bumble t launched Bumble BFF where people can connect for platonic friendship. One success story is  tells of how several women connected and now do everything from 5k’s to champagne tasting together. #SquadGoals indeed.  Now other apps are following suit, using algorithms and location to bring potential buddies together.

One thing that became apparent on many of these apps is you can only create platonic friendships with members of the same sex.

We get that this is a safety feature.

It seems such as shame that these apps perpetuate the view that the opposite sex is just for that…sex.  It rules out any meaningful friendships you could have had, that started out by meeting in person

Plus, how can you know who makes a good friend from a picture?

We find our friends in unlikely places and people. Only looking for people of the same gender, same age with similar interests would rule out the friendships we have.  That would seem a shame. Judging people on a short bio and a photo seems somewhat fickle and has an air of Mean Girls about it.

Swiping on potential friends makes us feel like Regina George

Swiping on potential friends makes us feel like Regina George

The Bad.  When Its Not just Friendship they Want 

Where there are people, there are also the creeps.

You only need to turn to Reddit, Trustpilot and SiteJabber to see the horror stories for yourselves.

One user on Trust Pilot tells of a MeetUp group that was advertised as a language group for expats. Instead of focusing on language, the organisor would creep on the girls.  Henri describes the organisor as offering free drinks to girls who would dance with him.

Of course it is not just women who are falling prey to unwanted advances.

 

Some of the Reviews of MeetUp tell a cautionary tale...

Some of the Reviews of MeetUp tell a cautionary tale…

A Reddit user tells of going to a writers group. He found himself  stalked on facebook by a group member who would constantly message him.  Whilst this may not be the worst tale of woe, it is disturbing behaviour and not what you would expect of someone seeking friendship.

How did this creep get their contact details?

Easy, when you connect via these platforms your social media is fair game to everyone in the group, including the organisors.

These groups, on MeetUp.com and similar, can be run by Anyone.

Let us repeat.

Anyone.

 

The Ugly.  The Best things in life are (Not) Free.

MeetUp advertises itself as free to join and to socialise.  Just download the Social App and get started.  Disturbingly, there are a surprising number of horror stories from people have been fleeced of their hard-earned cash.

Let us explain how this happens.

If you cannot find a group that caters to your needs it is very easy to start your own group.  Just name your group, write a description of who you want to meet and then…

What?  You have to pay $9.99 and $14.99 per month to run a group?!

A trend we see in reviews is that there is little support for organisers and delays in events appearing on the website have resulted in people feeling fleeced of their cash.   This is a real shame, as there are plenty of opportunities for people who love socialising and are great at organising events that sees them rewarded for their efforts.

Reddit is littered with stories from attendees who think they are going to a free event but then find themselves having to pay hidden costs or subjected to marketing spiel from those who are using MeetUp as a low cost way to network. .

Whilst there are good people running quality groups.

There will also be people who just want to take your money and run.

It can be difficult to tell which is which.

Hillary Buck  left a 1 star review for a MeetUp group called Travel Buddies which organises short and long haul trips abroad. Her review says it all.

Buyer beware. It sounds as if these peeps didn't get what they paid for.

Buyer beware. It sounds as if these peeps didn’t get what they paid for.

These people paid to stay in Krakow.  The organiser did not deliver. They had to pay extra. Yet they  have absolutely no recourse?!  Disgraceful. Especially considering there are there are professional companies like Flashpack offering fully-insured singles holidays abroad.   

This is not an isolated incident either, we have first hand experience of a Social Circle member joining us after his MeetUP walking group left him stranded on Ben Nevis.  It was an unfortunate time to find that the leader had no first aid training, no insurance and little experience in leading these types of walks.

If you want to use social apps to meet new people who share similar interests; stay safe. Make sure you meet in public places. Let people where you are going and follow your instincts.  

Likewise, make sure any group activities are organised by a reputable organiser or company  If you are going on holidays or taking part in activities that involve risk – ask to see their insurance, their qualifications and check out other members testimonials before a cheap holiday costs you more than you bargained for.

What are your experiences of meeting friends on social media?

 

Is Laughter the best medicine? Yes, but watch out for side effects!

Is laughter the best medicine. Turns out laughing has some surprising effects.

Is laughter the best medicine. Turns out laughing has some surprising effects.

It is a saying that is as old as time itself.  Laughter is the best medicine. Even Lord Byron was quoted as saying you should laugh as often as possible, as it is a cheap medicine.  Most of us enjoy a good chuckle, but is it really a miracle cure-all? Well turns out the men (and women) in white coats conclude that laughter really is one of the best medicines available. 

There is a wealth of scientific research available on the internet, from research stating that laughter is essential part of preventing heart disease, increasing resilience to serious illnesses such as cancer,  to its well known positive effects on mental health and seems to be the secret to leading a long and happy life.

Phew!

All this from something you have been doing since you were about 3 months old. If only we knew this wealth of research when we found ourselves in detention for being the class clown.  

Did you hear about the introvert that held a party? Nobody was invited.

Whilst for some, the thought of a group outing can be more uncomfortable than having your prostate prodded, it seems that scrolling through memes or watching re-runs of classic comedy alone does not cut the mustard. If you want to get the full benefit of all those feel-good hormones when you are feeling blue then you are best heading out to a group setting. Psychology Today says that Laughter is essential for social bonding and maintaining good relationships, and is so essential that it is actually a reflex.  This would explain why laughter in a group setting or audience is so contagious.

Well if laughter is the best medicine, what are the possible side effects?

In a  particularly Scrooge-like Christmas edition of the British Medical Journal, authors Robin Ferner and Jeffrey Aronson came up with 15 unfortunate side effects from laughing.

“It turns out that what is called ‘the best medicine’ occasionally causes harm,” Ferner, a clinical pharmacologist, told TIME.  “Most of the time it makes people happy, but every now and again it kills them.”  

Oh Ferner, you are literally killing me.

Personally, if I am going to pop my clogs,  I would much rather go out laughing than any other way.  

Plus all medicine has side effects, how bad can laughing really be?

Apart from the occasional death from humour-induced heart attacks,  the more common risks of laughing include inhalation of foreign objects like gum and popcorn, actually peeing your pants, and ‘weakened resolve.’  We are unsure as to why this last effect may be a bad thing,especially if it increases your chances of scoring a date.

Like all medicine, turns out there are risks.  However, we feel the benefits of a longer life, better emotional resilience, stronger relationships and healthier heart outweigh tte small risk of death.  Take that Ferner! *blows raspberry*.  

Careful lads! all that laughing could kill you.

Careful lads! all that laughing could kill you.

But how do I get my fix? 

Oh let us count the ways…. 4 ways in fact, that you can get your funny fix.

  1. Laughter Yoga.

Yes, you heard that right.  Laughter Yoga is actually a thing.  Apparently forced laughter has just as many benefits as spontaneous laughter.  From the Youtube videos, laughter yoga looks like my idea of personal hell. Chasing balloons, leaping around, pulling faces and speaking gibberish to strangers is not my idea of fun. Nope.  However, I also note that Isabelle Gerretson had the same fears when she had to carry out some practical research on Laughter Yoga for the Independant.  Turns out she had a ridiculous amount of fun, and left feeling relaxed and energised.

 

2. Watch a funny movie or play.

It may sound obvious, but maybe you just need reminding that taking time out to laugh uis just what you need.  Why not invite a good friend round, choose your poison from one of the many brilliant movies and series on Netflix and get chortling. Given the obvious health risks of laughing, you may want to skip the popcorn. 

Social Circle loved The Play that goes Wrong.

Social Circle loved The Play that goes Wrong.

Social Circle recently went to see the Play that Goes Wrong by  Mischief Theatre at the Opera House. Tears were shed, ribs ended up sore from laughing, and a good time was had by all.  You will be glad to know that the same theatre company are performing ‘A Comedy about a Bank Robbery’ at the Lowry theatre from 11- 15 September 2018.

3. Go to a comedy club.

If your funny bone is in need of a serious tickle, then you will be glad to know that Manchester has a number of comedy venues that can provide you with some much needed humour.

Early in the week, Xs Malarky run cheap nights showcasing up and coming acts on the comedy circuit. Mid-week, take yourself to the Frog and Bucket where you can order a curry and beer as a side to five acts of comedy or one of the comedy nights at your local pub.  If that isn’t enough then head out to the Comedy Store at the weekends to catch the big name acts.

Psst!! – Want to go to a comedy club and meet new people with your kind of humour? How about if we told you it was free?  Click here to find out more.

4.Turn Humour into a Holiday.

Sometimes you just need to get away from the grind and enjoy a weekend away from your troubles.  We can’t think of a better way to relax than to explore a new city and catch a comedy festival. In fact, it has become a  Social Circle tradition to spend the August bank holiday at the Fringe festival in Edinburgh. Steve organises it all, from the 4* accommodation to the fine dining.   This year we danced in the street to silent discos, used our mobile apps to generate laughs in Foxdog’s Studio’s  Robot Chef and had the privilege of seeing award winning comedians such as Harriet Kemsley and Mat Ewins. Of course, we also got to scratch our culture itch, by seeing the Tattoo, meeting emerging and established authors at the Edinburgh Book Festival.  

Social Circle @ Edinburgh Festival 2018.

Social Circle @ Edinburgh Festival 2018.

So what tickles your funny bone? Tell us your best anecdote, joke or even just share a meme in the comments.

Road Trip Along the North Coast 500 (Part 2)

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There’s nothing quite like the freedom of the open road, and this summer Social Circle took off on a unforgettable road trip along the North Coast 500. In Part 2  of our adventure journal, we took in the rugged coastline as we travelled the final few hundred miles down from Lochinver to the Isle of Skye

Need to catch up? – you can read Part 1 of our road trip here.

Day Five: Lochinver – Gairloch  91.5 Miles

Scotland would not be the same without its castles, and our early morning drive north took us to the scenic Ardvreck Castle, a ruined 16th century fortification, and the remains of Calda House.

We stopped at Inchnadamph, to follow the beautiful and popular walk up through a limestone valley to the dramatic bone cave. We also paused at Achiltibuie, a picturesque and often-overlooked part of the route where calm waters meet the mountains in the horizon.

There is nothing ugly about Corrieshalloch Gorge

There is nothing ugly about Corrieshalloch Gorge

Our afternoon was spent exploring Corrieshalloch Gorge.  Corrieshalloch may mean ‘Ugly Hollow’ in Gaelic, but there is nothing ugly about this beautiful Nature Reserve. We found a deep tree-shrouded chasm, rich in flora and fauna, with tumbling waterfalls and fern-lined trails.  A beauty spot that was a welcome contrast to the rugged Highland wilderness that surrounds it.

As we continued our journey, the views include the distinctive profile of Suilven,  the mountains of Coigach, including – we think – a glimpse of the top of Stac Pollaidh. We passed more sandy beaches and waterfalls before stopping at the Isle of Ewe, with its pretty houses scattered like sugar lumps around the Loch.  It is well worth visiting the Isle of Ewe smokehouse, we picked up some beautifully smoked salmon as well as other smoked yumminess to enjoy as we explored the area.

Day Six. Gairloch – Applecross. 62 Miles

We spent a lot of time on our feet yesterday, so we were grateful for lie-in and an easier day on this part of the route.

Our morning was spent at  the Beinn Eighe Visitor Centre and Nature Reserve in Kinlochewe. With a cluster of mountain peaks, ancient pinewoods and soaring golden eagles it is no wonder that Beinn Eighe was chosen as Britain’s first National nature reserve.  We took our time on the trails, and saw a few deer grazing by the loch.  

Applecross is a delight for those who like gardens and home-grown food. This victorian walled-garden was teaming with flowers and dragonflies.   We enjoyed tea and home-baked scones at the Potting Shed Cafe – which is literally a potting shed – before moving onto the local croft brewery to sample some craft ales.

Day Seven: Applecross to The Isle of Skye

If there’s one thing about Skye that’ll leave a lasting impression on you, it’s got to be the scenery. Just driving around, you can see many of Skye’s most majestic geological features, such as the Old Man of Storr, the Quiraing and the Cuillin.  Make sure you have sturdy boots and your camera is fully charged, as the views are truly breathtaking.

 

Day Eight: The Journey Home.  After leaving the Isle of Skye we started out-reluctantly – on the journey home.  It was a useful time to catch up with Steve and the others about what they thought about the trip. 

Our host for the trip, Stephen Sutherland, had this to say.

“I think this has been the best trip Social Circle has offered in the ten years I have been hosting holidays.  It was absolutely epic. I got to tick off a few things from my bucket list. I am really happy to share this amazing experience with Social Circle members.

 

Steve also recorded a video on Day 5 which you can view  here

Well it looks like Steve had fun, but what did our Guests say?

Angela says

“I enjoyed an amazing holiday with Social Circle on the  great North Coast 500 Scottish Road Trip. The road coastal scenery was breathtaking  and panoramic views spectacular, especially enjoyable when Steve was doing all the driving. It exceeded all expectations! The holiday was a great mix of walks along white sandy beaches,  beautiful mountain ranges, exploring castles, visiting the smoo caves and drinking the most gorgeous hot chocolate at Cocoa Mountain. Steve was an amazing host, ensuring we enjoyed the most of each day with fine eateries , drink and fun in the evenings! We stayed in lovely accommodation, my favourite being Ackergill Tower where we enjoyed evening drinks overlooking the sea.   I was asked what was my favourite thing on the holiday ? Was it visiting Culloden Battlefield?  Dunrobin Castle? Duncansby Stacks – a geological marvel?  Clashnessie Falls?  The Isle of Skye? the I still haven’t made my mind up!  This was a holiday of a lifetime and I can’t recommend it enough!

Steve W  says

The Scotland trip was a once in a lifetime opportunity to see so many lovely sights, from postcard villages, amazing stately home/castles to the outstanding scenic views which for me made the trip and to which my photos cannot do justice to, also John O’Groats was a real treat.

SM says.

“An extraordinary adventure of extraordinary scenery and sights. You often find it hard to believe this is on the same island as Manchester. The north of Scotland has a mystery about it. Time slows. The views change every few minutes. Highlights for me included the beautiful remote beaches, castles by Loch and shore, good food and drink … And the company was great too!”

Our fellow travellers loved North Coast 500.

Our fellow travellers loved North Coast 500.

Do you love the idea of getting away for a few days on a road trip of your own?

Finding it difficult to organise?

Are your friends busy or not interested in your type of holiday?

We offer the perfect solution.  We organise numerous holidays for like-minded people each year, to such destinations throughout Europe. Find out more  here

Many thanks to North Coast 500 for the suggested itinerary, and of course to all those lovely people who looked after our little group on the way.