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Applying for the UK Ancestry visa (personal experiences)

Applying for the UK Ancestry visa (personal experiences)

As an Aussie – and member of the Commonwealth – you may be eligible for a UK Ancestry visa. Cooper is, and he’s just received his UK Ancestry visa for a third time. This allows us to move back to the UK to pursue a work opportunity in 2023. As his partner, I can apply to go too.

In this post, we’ll share exactly how we applied and successfully secured working visas to return to the UK. We leave in Feb, and will take our dog with us!

@houseandpetsitting 📢Announcement: we’re moving abroad again + taking our dog! #dogstravel #traveltok #traveldiaries ♬ original sound – Freedom and Four Paws

 

UK Ancestry – what’s it all about?

About ten years ago, Cooper discovered that he was eligible for a UK Ancestry visa. This is because his Grand-ma was Scottish. She travelled to live in Australia during the period that now gives him the “birth right” to live and work in England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland. The visa is flexible, allowing five years at a time with the option to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain. There’s no age limit for applying, and no limit to how many times you can apply for it.

Unfortunately, the numbers of people in Commonwealth countries that this visa applies to will begin to dwindle now. This is more of a benefit for a generation of people whose grandparents travelled during the earlier part of the 1900s. British great-grandparents or parents do not allow access to this exact visa.

 

Background to our application: why we are applying for visas again

Travel Live Learn was born out of Cooper’s and my experience living and working in the UK.

We have actually lived in London twice before. The first time was between 2010-2012 when Cooper was first living and working there on an Ancestral Visa. I was under 30 then, and allowed to work under the Youth Mobility Visa scheme.

We returned in 2014, this time paying an immigration lawyer to help us secure Cooper’s second UK Ancestry visa and aligning me as his long-term (un-married) partner.

Cooper and I had completely settled in the UK by 2019. We fully intended to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) in 2020, having almost completed the five years settled status requirement. We were preparing to study for the Life in the UK test when COVID struck.

With just three months to go before we would be granted the right to come and go more freely, a difficult change was forced upon us. Not only did COVID remove our option to live, work and travel as we had previously done, but at the same time, my Dad came to the end of a battle with Prostate Cancer. It was a dreadful period of my life, where “goodbye” took on many meanings. I’m glad to be moving past it.

 



 

Applying for UK work visas post-COVID restrictions

Now that restrictions have eased in most parts of the world, we can move about relatively freely again. An opportunity presented itself that’s meant we have decided to go back to England to live and work for a little while. We’re even taking our COVID puppy, London, with us! (if you’re looking for advice and experience around travelling internationally with a pet, we will share it all on YouTube.com/travellivelearn).

Taking London dog means a serious chunk of our moving budget is gone straight away. So, we decided to take the plunge and apply for the previous visa combination we had (Ancestral + partner visa) ourselves.

“Ourselves” = “me” when it comes to gathering all the admin and paperwork for this fairly stressful task!

Discover our full experience here:

 

Steps you’ll take

  1. Apply for the Ancestry visa by following the links through the application forms on the UK Government website.
  2. You will pay for the application and your NHS surcharge. Download and keep a copy of ALL of your answers, confirmation numbers and payment details.
  3. Apply for the partner or dependent visa following the links on the website. Ensure your answers align with that of your partner’s Ancestry visa application. Pay for your visa and NHS surcharge.
  4. Book in for your biometrics, where you’ll have your fingerprints and photograph recorded, as well as your supporting paperwork and application scanned through to UK Immigration. Your passport(s) will be taken from here and sent off to UK Immigration.
  5. Wait patiently.
  6. You will receive notification that your passports are available. Check inside for your temporary entry clearance (which means your visa was granted – yay!).
  7. Upon entering the UK, you have ten days to collect your official biometric card – like a plastic ID card. You will have nominated a location for collection during your visa application. We chose a spot in London that we knew how to get to. It’s usually a post office.

 

Top tips and advice following our DIY visa application in 2023

  • For the Ancestry visa, you need to enter the UK within three months of being approved for your visa. If you do know when you need to be there, e.g. for work, give yourself plenty of time – apply at the beginning of the three months.
  • I received an email saying I had underpaid the NHS surcharge. This seriously freaked me out, because I had been undercharged during the application process. I will never know if this was my fault or a problem with the user journey on the application pages. There was no need to panic though. I paid and it all went through fine.
  • Stay calm. There’s no real way to track the progress of your visas so you just have to wait and expect the best. If you supply plenty of evidence to show who you are, that you intend to work and that you can support yourself, you will be fine.
  • For peace of mind, if you can get to a visa processing centre that offers an expediated service, we would take that option. In Australia, VFS Global – the company that processes your paperwork and biometrics (fingerprints and photograph) – offers a priority service at their Sydney, Melbourne and Perth centres.

 

 

Applying for UK work visas from Australia: resources and links

Websites you will need or might find helpful are:

  1. UK Ancestry visa – apply from outside the UK – start your visa application here using the ‘apply online’ button.
  2. Partner visa – follow the links to apply. I selected:Join or accompany a family member, who either is already in or will be travelling to the UK, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man (and you cannot apply on any other form);Followed by: Working in the UK, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man
  3.  This blog by Kat’s Gone Global is helpful too, talking about what you need to know when applying for a UK Ancestry visa.
  4. This UK Visas and Immigration Facebook Group is a place to ask questions, but be mindful the advice you may get might be skewed depending on where someone is responding from in the world.

 

Any questions, please feel free to reach out in the comments below.



How to house sit in a foreign language destination

How to house sit in a foreign language destination

Discover important info on how to house sit in a foreign language destination: be prepared with safety tips for you and the pets in your care!

In this episode of Freedom and Four Paws, we share our experience around preparing for house and pet sitting in a foreign language destination – that is, for us, a place where English is not the first language spoken.

Watch on and discover some of our favourite resources, tips and tricks for learning the language, experiencing the culture, facing embarrassment, and importantly, surviving in an emergency or crisis situation.

How to house sit in a foreign language destination

Ultimately, our top five critical tips for house and pet sitting in a foreign language destination are:

  1. Know where you’re staying. Make sure you have the address written down and with you both on your phone and on your person. This is important in case you you lose your phone or the battery  dies.
  2. Make sure you know what the emergency services number is in the country where you’re staying, e.g. 000, 111, 999.
  3. Download key apps before you head off so they’re ready to go on the ground. For example, Google Translate, and your favourite language app.
  4. Always ask what you should do if you get locked out, and what to do if the pet gets sick. Make sure you know what the plan is! Also that there are emergency contacts who will be able to communicate with you.
  5. Just practice: give it a go, say hello, or hola, as the case may be.

 

 

We’d love to know what your tips and experience is in this space – let us know in the comments

 

 

🐕Click here to subscribe on your favourite podcast service

Freedom and Four Paws

Join us on our podcasting adventures as we hear inspiring stories from amazing people travelling the world. They’re living their best life, often with their pets in tow!

More advice from Freedom and Four Paws: How to travel with your own pet! And how to house sit as a family :)

~

👉🏻Subscribe now and never miss an episode featuring excellent tips on how to slow travel, successfully work remotely or as a digital nomad, and house + pet sit. We’re on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google podcasts or your favourite podcasting app. Search ‘Freedom and Four Paws’

Freedom and Four Paws is brought to you by Travel Live Learn.com.

As a valued audience member, enjoy 10% OFF at our affiliate partner Cloudy – relieve stress throughout the day straight to a soothing sleep at night, visit trycloudy.com and use the code FREEDOM10.

And if you’re a fellow traveller and pet lover who is keen to share your story and inspire the world, visit exhalemediagroup.com and mention FREEDOM20 for 20% OFF any purchased service including personalised storytelling coaching.

WATCH: Find out more about house sitting while you travel, view the playlist on YouTube

SIGN UP: TO TRUSTED HOUSE SITTERS HERE AND ENJOY 25% OFF! It’s on our VIP mailing list, including other freebies.

SUBSCRIBE: on YouTube for more adventures youtube.com/travellivelearn


 

Make the most of a pet sitting and digital nomad community

Make the most of a pet sitting and digital nomad community

In this episode of Freedom and Four Paws, we share some insight on how to make the most of a house and pet sitting and digital nomad community.

Your digital nomad community and house sitting friends!

We cover three key aspects:

  • the people you meet along the way;
  • networking in like-minded online spaces;
  • and getting involved at niche in-person gatherings for travellers or digital nomads.

As house and sitters ourselves, and the group admins of a popular Facebook Group on the topic, we’ve experienced the very best of what this exceptional travel niche has to offer.

Our eyes were originally opened to this wonderful house and pet sitting community when we first took to the road for about eight months travelling, house and pet sitting throughout the UK and Europe.

Each sit saw us meet fun, interesting, smart and creative people and we’re actually friends with all the homeowners that we’ve sat for. Some of those people we are actively in touch with on WhatsApp and Messenger, even nearly three years later!

We went into this for the pets, as you’ll see in some of our other videos. But what we didn’t expect was to come out with so many friends – all with a wonderful story of their own. Take Teresa and Geoff in Malta, or Andy and Helen in Sharnbrook for example.

Getting your doggie fix

When we were living in London, we desperately missed having a dog. We did sign up to a new service called Borrow My Doggy, which offered animal lovers like us the chance to connect with people who wanted to share their pups for a play in the park or walk. The service was so popular that the ratio of borrowers to doggies available was out of proportion – lots of people want a furry friend, it seems.

Later on, we came across TrustedHousesitters, and the rest is history!  

 

We started out doing short local sits in the city to get our pet fix and build our reviews, then we took the show on the road.

Building the community – pet sitters, nomads and wanderlust

We got so into the house sitting scene that – just for fun – we started a Facebook Group to attract like-minded souls. Our intention was to connect with people who saw the world the way we did: through dogs, travel and a search for freedom that sees us living and working wherever we want, whenever we want.

COVID obviously put a cold hard halt on our dreams for a couple of years, especially as we ended up in Australia which was one of the last countries to open up a good two years after the pandemic began.

Our Facebook Group continued to thrive though, and at time of writing is very near to 15,000 members! The Facebook community has offered great conversation, and it’s so heartening to see how many people swap services on there, find their next sit/sitter and help each other with advice.

Travel communities and learning more

Another of our favourite ways to build community in the travel space is by attending conferences.

One of our very favourites is TBEX where you can meet like minded people and learn how to better your craft. 

 

It’s well worth the investment attending something like TBEX. The learning is inspiring and motivating. The travel is extraordinary. But the unexpected benefit is the international friends you walk away with!

Of course, the next one we shall attend is in Greece in 2023… can’t deny we are really pumped about that!

 

 

🐕Click here to subscribe on your favourite podcast service

Freedom and Four Paws

Join us on our podcasting adventures as we hear inspiring stories from amazing people travelling the world. They’re living their best life, often with their pets in tow!

In this episode of Freedom and Four Paws, find out about how valuable a global travel community can be for your work and wellbeing. 

Have you found a community through house and pet sitting? Let us know about your experiences in the comments and tag those who you have met along the way

 

More advice from Freedom and Four Paws: How to travel with your own pet! And how to house sit as a family :)

~

👉🏻Subscribe now and never miss an episode featuring excellent tips on how to slow travel, successfully work remotely or as a digital nomad, and house + pet sit. We’re on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google podcasts or your favourite podcasting app. Search ‘Freedom and Four Paws’

Freedom and Four Paws is brought to you by Travel Live Learn.com.

As a valued audience member, enjoy 10% OFF at our affiliate partner Cloudy – relieve stress throughout the day straight to a soothing sleep at night, visit trycloudy.com and use the code FREEDOM10.

And if you’re a fellow traveller and pet lover who is keen to share your story and inspire the world, visit exhalemediagroup.com and mention FREEDOM20 for 20% OFF any purchased service including personalised storytelling coaching.

WATCH: Find out more about house sitting while you travel, view the playlist on YouTube

SIGN UP: TO TRUSTED HOUSE SITTERS HERE AND ENJOY 25% OFF! It’s on our VIP mailing list, including other freebies.

SUBSCRIBE: on YouTube for more adventures youtube.com/travellivelearn


 

House sitting and retirement – 9 years of freedom

House sitting and retirement – 9 years of freedom

Kate and Dave share an inspired story with us about house sitting and retirement. They actually retired early and for 9 years have been living a travelling life. They discovered house and pet sitting a year into their travels, and since that time they’ve done more than 40 house sits! Their house sitting and early retirement travel story is filled with inspiration and colour: so much so, Kate is now penning her second book on the experience!

Kate’s first book on house sitting as a way to travel in retirement, Call it Wonder, documents their decision to embrace a life on the road all those years ago. Her upcoming book, Other People’s Houses will share their experiences and tips for anyone else who wants to follow in their freedom-filled footsteps.

In our exciting pilot episode of Freedom and Four Paws, discover what Kate and Dave advise is the best approach for securing your dream house sits, how to make the most of house sitting and early retirement and how to stand out as a pet sitter.

 

🐕Click here to subscribe on your favourite podcast service

 

Top house sitting and retirement tips from Kate and Dave:

On their very first house sit they cared for 40 animals! They laughed and told Cooper and I that it was a great experience, but one they wouldn’t repeat. The lesson they learnt (and we’ve had the same experience), is that as a pet sitter, you can be discerning about the situation you end up in. If 40 animals is too much for you, that’s ok.

Similarly, if you don’t like dogs sleeping in the bed with you and that’s a requirement of the house sit, you should feel free to say, ‘No thank you, this sit isn’t for me’, and choose another assignment. On a side note – make sure you do that before you accept – never commit and back away unless you really need to.

Discovering house and pet sits

Kate and Dave, nine years in, now use a few methods to find their next house and pet sit:

 

House sitting 101: safety, communication and when to take a break

During our conversation with Kate and Dave, we touched on the difference between finding your house and pet sits on a paid site that includes reviews, vs free services like on social media. Like our podcast guests, we’re very discerning when it comes to reviews, and find those helpful in determining what kind of sit it is. If there are no reviews however, and it’s direct contact on Facebook, for example, they advised that connection is important. Find a trail of evidence to support the homeowners are who they say they are, and that their premises is legitimate.  

They also advise to “think about what kind of experience you want to have”

  •       how many and what type of animals works for you?
  •       how much of your time should be involved during a sit?
  •       ask the right questions, for example, we’ve learnt to ask both ‘has you dog bitten anyone?’ as well as, ‘has your dog ever nipped anyone?’
  •       does the pet(s) require special medication, how is that administered?
  •       and where do the pets sleep?”

It’s competitive out there, so start house and pet sitting in your own area to build experience and reviews before launching into international stays.

And finally, when you’re on the road, avoid booking back-to-back house sits: ultimately, you are still working to an extent, so take breaks between sits. It makes it easier to travel to your next one without worrying about delays or setbacks too.

“Living a travelling life means we’re so much more adaptable and flexible than we used to be, and I really like that feeling… We’ve learnt to travel light and live a downsized life – it’s so freeing!

Ultimately, this lovely pair reminded us that on your house-sitting adventure, everything is about learning – there are no bad decisions: it’s just part of the journey. You should absolutely set off as soon as you can.

Find our guests, Kate and Dave online: kateevanswriter.com, Instagram @katenomadicwriter and Facebook page Kate Evans Writer.

 

 

Freedom and Four Paws

Join us on our podcasting adventures as we hear inspiring stories from amazing people travelling the world and living their best life, often with their pets in tow.

👉🏻Subscribe now and never miss an episode featuring excellent tips on how to slow travel, successfully work remotely or as a digital nomad, and house + pet sit. We’re on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google podcasts or your favourite podcasting app. Search ‘Freedom and Four Paws’

As a valued audience member, enjoy 10% OFF at our affiliate partner Cloudy – relieve stress throughout the day straight to a soothing sleep at night, visit trycloudy.com and use the code FREEDOM10.

And if you’re a fellow traveller and pet lover who is keen to share your story and inspire the world, visit exhalemediagroup.com and mention FREEDOM20 for 20% OFF any purchased service including personalised storytelling coaching.

WATCH: Find out more about house sitting while you travel, view the playlist on YouTube

SIGN UP: TO TRUSTED HOUSE SITTERS HERE AND ENJOY 25% OFF! It’s on our VIP mailing list, including other freebies.

SUBSCRIBE: on YouTube for more adventures youtube.com/travellivelearn


 

7 digital nomad tips for balance and routine

7 digital nomad tips for balance and routine

A remote work lifestyle for many of us means travelling and working, and we’ve gathered digital nomad tips along the way in our own experience. It all sounds fun, and yeah the lifestyle it is. But it’s easy to fall into ‘holiday mode’, which means no (or less) income! Which led us to thinking about how exactly, we would develop a routine to achieve optimum work/life balance, while still enjoying travelling, developing our creative endeavours, and often, house and pet sitting.

Cooper and I have discovered that routine is critical when trying to maintain a healthy nomad lifestyle. Falling out of a routine means you can quite easily become demotivated. Hence, ‘holiday mode’, which doesn’t pay for this way of life consistently.

While on our travels, we realised our routine (or lack thereof) was letting us down. So, we refined and redefined it, and began again.

Find out what we learnt and did, in this episode of Freedom and Four Paws. 

🐕Click here to subscribe on your favourite podcast service

 

 

Freedom and Four Paws

Join us on our podcasting adventures as we hear inspiring stories from amazing people travelling the world and living their best life, often with their pets in tow.

👉🏻Subscribe now and never miss an episode featuring excellent tips on how to slow travel, successfully work remotely or as a digital nomad, and house + pet sit. We’re on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google podcasts or your favourite podcasting app. Search ‘Freedom and Four Paws’

As a valued audience member, enjoy 10% OFF at our affiliate partner Cloudy – relieve stress throughout the day straight to a soothing sleep at night, visit trycloudy.com and use the code FREEDOM10.

And if you’re a fellow traveller and pet lover who is keen to share your story and inspire the world, visit exhalemediagroup.com and mention FREEDOM20 for 20% OFF any purchased service including personalised storytelling coaching.

WATCH: Find out more about house sitting while you travel, view the playlist on YouTube

SIGN UP: TO TRUSTED HOUSE SITTERS HERE AND ENJOY 25% OFF! It’s on our VIP mailing list, including other freebies.

SUBSCRIBE: on YouTube for more adventures youtube.com/travellivelearn


 

 

8 vlogs & blogs about lifestyle that inspire us in 2021

8 vlogs & blogs about lifestyle that inspire us in 2021

We’re asked frequently who we love to watch/read online, so we had a think about our faves in 2021 and have compiled our top 8 vlogs and blogs about lifestyle for you right here!

If you were following us back in 2020, you’ll know we had started to make positive strides on our video work. We documented the ins and outs of house and pet sitting around the world and showcased many beautiful destinations.

It was a pleasure and a privilege.

Sadly, it all came to an end. But we know that many of you reading this have also been impacted by all that the COVID pandemic has shut down. Not a great time to be a content creator in the travel business.

All of the time and learning we put into our content hasn’t gone astray though, and it’s for this reason we love to find vlogs and blogs about lifestyle that keep us coming back for more. There’s been a few standouts for us in 2021.

Here are our favourites in case you’re in need of a little fresh inspiration too.

8 vlogs and blogs about lifestyle that keep us inspired in 2021 :)

 

For travel inspo:

📽 LeAw Leave Everything and Wander: Luca & Sara

We stumbled across this travel blogging couple by accident, but we just love their content. Sara and Luca are Italian, and they are so so cute. Their channel features an enviable line-up of destinations and experiences, and we have been making our way through their travel playlist.

Most recently, the pair were showcasing the delights on offer in their home country, Italy, where they ended up laying low during the worst of COVID.

Sara and Luca are authentic and likeable. Their video production is terrific too, and includes stunning drone shots, great editing, and soundtrack. The pair also publish a beautiful blog and are all over social media.

If you, like us, are wanderlusting like crazy to set foot back into a dazzling Italian landscape, take a ride with these two in their travel van, Luigi, and get inspired about where to go to next.

 

Island life (our fave island)

📽 Dwayne Muffin in Ibiza

We make no secret of the fact we are huge fans of the island of Ibiza in Spain. In fact, it maddens us that people who have never been to Ibiza have a preconception of what the island is.

Sure, there’s partying (hell yeah); but there’s a magical and mysterious side to this place too.

Dwayne is an English lad living the dream and actually residing and working in Ibiza full time. While the pandemic has hit his business hard – along with many in tourist destinations like Ibiza and its neighbouring Balearic Islands – Dwayne has taken the opportunity to give regular vlogging a go. And hey, are we grateful! If we can’t be there, we’ll wander around the bars and the beaches and boats here on YouTube, living vicariously through Dwayne.

Thanks to his time on the island living and working with the locals, he also gets some cool behind the scenes glimpses into venues and events that most of us wouldn’t.

A great channel if you’re a fan of Ibiza (or think you might be one day).

 

Expat entrepreneur life

Mike Thurston

We first stumbled across Mike’s channel when he filmed his 2020 summer in Ibiza. Man, were we jealous. All the pretty shots and the pretty people and pretty places. Jealous.

But we moved past that to see that actually, we wanted in on more of this vicarious adventuring.

Mike has an enviable life brimming with travel, a successful business, a new fitness app, and plenty of time at the gym. To be fair, he does work hard (on his business and abs) but he seems like a nice guy with fun friends… who wouldn’t get motivated through watching?

He’s just spent another highly enviable summer in Ibiza and has returned to his adopted home of Dubai to get to work again. It’s glossy and fun – count us in.

 

Manifesting and LOA

📽 Mary Kate

Want to shift your mindset to improve your circumstances?

Believe you can manifest the best things in life?

Me too!

While there are hundreds of manifesting and Law of Attraction content creators and mentors out there, for some reason this year I’ve really been drawn to Mary Kate’s channel.

She’s passionate and interesting, yet humble and not over the top like some other names in this space are. I just like her vibe and I think she’s doing a great job at influencing in this space.

Her training and meditations are helpful too. I’d say her work would resonate mostly with women under the age of 45, but if you’re into the topics she covers, take a look and see for yourself.

 

Fashion and beauty

📽 Busbee Style

I’ve got to say, I’m super behind the times following YouTubers for fashion and beauty content. I’m a ‘magazines’ girl of old. But, I somehow stumbled across Erin Busbee’s channel and have been hooked ever since.

A former TV news reporter turned stylist and fashion content creator, Erin’s approach is engaging and honest, not to mention really informative. I had to leave my entire wardrobe of clothes, accessories and shoes behind in England, and my enthusiasm to start again in a hot climate that I do not enjoy as much as I do one with four seasons was seriously lacking.

But, Erin’s helped make shopping fun again!

She’s got a great blog and Instagram you can follow too.

Currently she and her family are taking time out from life and work at home in the USA to live in Spain. Another reason why I think Erin is just too cool.

 

Puppy love (and training!)

📽 Zac George

Call it a midlife crisis, or more like a COVID crisis, but we went and got a puppy!

What?

Yep, we decided that after years of being without a dog – stalking dogs in the street and on the Tube in London, saying hello to everyone else’s dog and generally wanting nothing more than a dog – this little man arrived 👇

 

Now, he had a lot to live up to. Our last dog, Harry, a blue cattle dog, was a prince among dogs. He was beloved by all – even non-dog people. The best dog ever.

London – named after our much-loved adopted home in England, is a West Highland Terrier. When he was a puppy, we’d frequently change the ‘terrier’ to terror. Wow. Puppies might be cute but there’s an evil streak in there 😉

Which brings us to Zak’s channel. We got obsessed with this personable dog trainer’s channel before the puppy ‘arrived’ and during his first few months. Everything on routine and crate training and all in between was spot on.

This channel is a great one if you’re looking for actionable advice on all sorts of dog behavioural challenges and training. It’s also great if you’re quite simply, a dog person. We do owe Zak a debt of gratitude for getting this far with the cheeky Westie though. 

 

Travel and content creation

Two of our favourite channels for content creation and travel follow:

📽 Lost LeBlanc

Stunning filming, editing, locations and great advice on content creation: we love this channel.

Christian (Lost LeBlanc) is literally living the dream. His ‘about’ profile says:

“QUIT my job to travel the world. This is my story of unconditionally pursuing my passion for filmmaking and travel.”

You see why we’re in, right?

 

📽 TopJaw

These guys create awesome productions from locations we love in the UK and Europe. More enviably, they focus on food and drink!

Each location is brimming with dozens of great places to eat through all day long. We started keeping a bucket list based on their recommendations but gave up – there’s too many.

We’ll come back to it when we hit the northern hemisphere once again.

A great, lively and channel – easy to binge.

 

Who are your favourite content creators? Let us know in the comments!