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Thursday, 23 June 2016

I struggled to think what books to take away with me on holiday.

I wanted books that were chick lit, lighthearted and romantic, but I also kept an eye out for any zombie ones too. I also didn't want to take too many or anything too heavy because there wouldn't be space in the suitcase and, in the past, I've taken loads of books away with me but never had time to read them all.

So this time around I limited myself to just three.

Here's what I chose.

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THE MINIATURIST | JESSIE BURTON
I've actually been trying to read this for a while now, but found I haven't had the time to sit down and read it properly, and so far, it's looking to be something that needs my full distraction and that can't be dipped in and out of easily. It's about an eighteen year old girl named Nella Oortman, who arrives at a grand house in Amsterdam to meet her husband Johannes Brandt. Her wedding gift is a cabinet-sized replica of their home, soon to be furnished by an elusive miniaturist. It's supposed to be mysterious with lots of twists and it will be the perfect alternative to my chick-lit reads this week.

ALWAYS WITH LOVE | GIOVANNA FLETCHER
Admittedly, I don't have high hopes for this story. I have read a couple of Giovanna's books - most notably Billy and Me, which is the prequel to this novel, but didn't find myself thoroughly impressed. She can write, that's for sure, but her stories just didn't seem like anything special or didn't particularly move me, nor her style of writing. However, I personally think she's such a lovely and inspiring person and have decided to give her writing another go. Always With Love looks at the distance between average Sophie and rockstar Billy, when he flies out to LA and extends his stay there, meaning Sophie has to come home alone. I'm intrigued, especially as I love any stories with a rockstar in them, so let's see how I feel about it.

THE ONE WE FELL IN LOVE WITH | PAIGE TOON
I absolutely adore Paige Toon's writing, although have found nothing quite lives up to my love of her Johnny Be Good series! I did consider buying the spin off books that relate to Johnny's 'long lost daughter' (for lack of a better explanation) but I read a preview and it didn't really grab me so I thought I'd try this, especially as many people have been praising it online. It tells the story of three very different girls who once fell in love with the same man (not at the same time, I don't think) and I anticipate that this will be the perfect book to get stuck into whilst lounging about by the pool this week.

So that's the three books I'm taking away with me on holiday, here's hoping I get through them all! Although I am very disappointed that Lindsey Kelk has nothing new out right now, as she is the ultimate chick-lit-beach-read writer!

Are there any other books I should have taken with me?

Let me know! 

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Monday, 20 June 2016

This months playlist mixes some good old indie - half of which is lying about in my Shazam tags, the other half I've discovered at the gym of all places - somehow just one song by Jack Garratt, who I can't stop listening to since Lost Village, and some mostly old but still awesome clubbing tunes to get me in the mood for Ibiza.

Which I won't actually need by the time this post goes live as I'll already be in Ibiza.

Haha.

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Twenty One Pilots are my ULTIMATE FAVOURITES right now, I have been listening to them non-stop (even more than Jack Garrett - sorry Jack) and I just can't stop. Someone stop me. No, don't.

Anyway, do enjoy. I've even thrown in a little bit of Calvin Harris, who is recently single..!


For some reason, at the time of writing this, it keeps saying playlist is empty! I've googled and apparently it's a temporary glitch - but if not, I'm away so cannot do anything about it :( In which case, if you cannot listen to the playlist via this post, click here to see the playlist in a new window.

Sorry it's being such a div. But enjoy, ha!

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Friday, 17 June 2016

On Wednesday, I was lucky enough to head down to the recently refurbished Brache Beefeater in Luton, to get a feel of the restaurant following a huge makeover.

I was beyond excited, first of all because it's so nice to have a blog opportunity close to home and to focus on somewhere so lovely and local - especially with all the bad rep Luton used to get.

Secondly, because everyone I've spoken to has always raved about the Brache and I'd been eager to visit for a while now, following their makeover and to see if the restaurant had improved since the last time I'd been there.

The last (and only, actually) time I'd visited the Brache in Luton had been for a work Christmas meal a few years back, and although it was enjoyable, I wasn't overly impressed. The food was nice, but I remembered the look of the restaurant being quite dark and crowded. So although I did enjoy it, my experience there wasn't really anything to write home about!

So obviously I was really glad to have the opportunity to visit the restaurant following its makeover.

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Straight away, I was impressed upon arrival with not only ample parking but such a pretty car park! I know it's not a necessity to have a pretty car park but let's face it, many places just have something basic and not nice to look at. The Brache Beefeater had lots of trees and bushes and it just generally made the building seem a bit approachable.

Inside, I found myself continually impressed. The makeover had given the building a world of good - it's now spacious and bright with a modern bar but very homely seating and deco. It was ever so welcoming and although it was the perfect basis for a family meal, I think some parts were a little romantic, too.

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My Nan immediately mentioned how nice it was that the waiter asked her if she was okay with us sitting upstairs. Although this isn't something that applies to me personally, I do know the plight of there being many stairs/not enough seats for the elderly when out and about. She was over the moon that he bothered to check her ability, even though she was absolutely fine with seating upstairs. It was the small gesture that counted.

Upstairs was perhaps more spacious then downstairs and had beautiful large bay-like windows overlooking the many trees in the car park.

The decor upstairs was lovely too - enough to peak your interest - for example there was a lovely wall piece explaining the different types of chopping knives - but not enough to be over the top.

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The food itself was absolutely delicious. I went for the grilled chicken, bacon, cheese and avocado burger which came with fries and coleslaw and, as I love my mushrooms, I ordered the crispy flat cap mushrooms as a side for the table. It was all so, so good. I had no idea bacon and avocado could work together so well!

I'm also not generally a fan of grilled chicken but I was pleasantly surprised. Even on its own, the chicken had tons of flavour and even a bit of a kick to it.

My brother had the smothered chicken melt and my Nan fish and chips - and both were thoroughly impressed. The portions were very generous too and unfortunately I could not finish all of mine.

I'd definitely say the food was a ten out of ten!

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Although we didn't go for a steak personally, we found there was tons of choice on the menu. The steak menu was varied which is good, but we also found there wasn't 'just' steak, obviously, and we had a lot to choose from.

The service from the staff was also what made our visit. From checking my Nan was okay to be seated upstairs to serving us promptly, I couldn't fault them. I also found that they genuinely seemed happy to welcome us - as I know often when being served in a restaurant it can feel like a member of staff is serving you but just going through the motions - but not here. The staff were lovely.

I also have to say there were lots of toilets too! Yes, the restaurant is large but many times I've been to a large restaurant and found not many facilities so this was a bonus. Plus they were kept clean and tidy.

Overall I found my visit to The Brache Beefeater spot on. Often I go to a restaurant and have a great time but tend to have just one or two niggles like having to wait too long for food or the staff seeming a bit off, but I honestly couldn't fault The Beefeater in the slightest.

I'll definitely be going back.

PLUS
For those of you who might want to take my word for it and visit yourselves, I have very kindly been offered an exclusive code for 25% off! That's as good a reason to visit!

If you'd like to take advantage of this generous offer, please note down the code 588114033 and present it upon arrival.

I'd also like to thank the team at The Beefeater for letting me pop down and visit - I'm already looking at the menu online and deciding what I want for my next visit soon!

*Please note, although we were kindly invited along to The Brache and offered a voucher to cover our food bill in exchanged for an honest review, all views are entirely my own and have not been swayed.

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Wednesday, 15 June 2016

I quite enjoy doing diddy little posts like this.

Although I am conscious not to share my whole life on my blog, as I do feel there is a line, sometimes it's really useful to do a little catch up post especially if I want to recommended a place or  share my thoughts on something and when a full post about each simply isn't possible.

And, of course, we all love a good nosey at a lifestyle post ;)

Here's what I've been up to sort of lately or at least what I've been sharing on Instagram and Snapchat.

Oh, and by the way, you can find me on Instagram at Louise_Joy_!

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Around a month or so ago, I spent the weekend catching up with the girls from H&M. It's rare that we do get together as we're all so busy now (and out of 'the girls' there's only actually two out of around seven of us who are actually still working at H&M) but when we do it's ever so lovely and I find we often have really nice chilled, chic evenings out. The first two pictures are of our food and drink after our evening out in St Albans. The first photo shows a portabello mushroom, halloumi, red pepper hummus burger with a side order of halloumi fries at The Beech House, and it was all ever so yummy (and healthy, too). The delicious looking cocktails in the second photo were taken at The Brickyard, which actually turns out to be that famous bar that went viral for having the 'bad Tinder date' sign in the bathroom.

I really, really loved this bar and found it was right up my street. Not only did it have an extensive list of yummy tasting and sophisticated cocktails, but the bar itself was just lovely with fairy lights, tall wobbly wooden stalls, little curtains you could pull across if you want to drink in peace and a really down to earth team of staff. 

Me and the girls can't wait to go back.

The second two photos were taken on a day out in London with my brother and sister. The first was a cocktail and cake from The House of Time and Wonder, which saw this old townhouse in Spitalfields transformed in a topsy-turvy house to help promote the new Alice in Wonderland film. It was really quirky and fun!

And, the next photo is just of my delicious bacon, pancakes and syrup food at The Breakfast Club. SO GOOD.

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These photos speak for themselves, really. A visually pleasing (and visually tasty) lunch at work the other week, my gym kit, as blogged about, a pair of really cute unicorn shoes I just HAD to get from ASOS, and me posing like a loser after I got my hair cut/went a bit blonder. I needed it short for holiday as I can't stand it being long.

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Another selfie from me here, but a personal favourite of mine, looking festivally with my pink-tipped hair, glitter under my eyes (style tip - if you're tired at a festival and have bags under your eyes, glitter covers them up excellently), and bubbles at Lost Village Festival.

Followed by a new bed set from Primark which is so cute, a quick lunch when shopping this weekend just gone and a new playsuit I tried on and promptly purchased from Topshop.

I spent way too much money holiday shopping.

Well, that's it and that's what I've been up to lately. I'm off on holiday this Sunday and I'm currently busy scheduling blogposts for while I'm away. In between temporarily moving into my nans, working full time and trying to get everything ready for holiday, this week has flown by so far and I've got my fingers crossed that I managed to get everything sorted blogwise..

Wish me luck and do let me know what you've been up to lately!
 

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Monday, 13 June 2016


Recently, I blogged about how me and my bestie prepared for Lost Village, our first ever camping music festival.

I spoke about how I didn't know what to expect, what tent we purchased and what we thought were the necessities for the weekend. Now that the festival has been and gone, however, there are definitely some things I'd like to add.

So, just the same as before, I'd still suggest things like a spacious tent, comfortable sleeping bags and an inflatable mattress. 

But here's some things that we didn't bring and really wished we had.

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A SPARE QUILT
Despite the warm days, it was so, SO bloody cold at night. My first night was horrible and I can still remember shivering, trying to get warm in my sleeping bag whilst my toes were ice cold. We were silly to think that the warm weather would lead to a warm night, and a tent, air mattress and sleeping bags simply didn't cut it.

The second day, we discovered we could leave the site so we made an emergency run to ASDA to purchase spare quilts and some thermal socks, plus some thicker jogging bottoms. This made a world of good by our second night and, up until 4am, I slept through soundly. 

Then I joined my best friend to sleep in the car, as people were being loud and woke me up.

The final night, we both slept in the car also because we're total losers and although the quilts made a big difference, I honestly cannot stand the cold. So therefore in future, I'd without a doubt recommend bringing a thick (the ones we bought were just basic and not so thick) quilt or blanket, even if its in the middle of summer.

As it goes, the festival next year has been pushed back so it will be warmer at the time, but even so, it doesn't hurt to bring something spare just in case. I know camping is all about giving up luxuries and you don't expect to get much sleep at a music festival, but when I could barely feel my toes on the first night, I honestly did worry for my safety (I'm a drama queen, I know).

Plus, we did have barely any sleep thanks to the partying, but when it was time to catch up on those zzz's before more partying the next day, warmth was more than necessary.

NOT SO MANY ACCESSORIES
I packed so many accessories. I barely wore any of them. I do think accessories are important at a festival but I also think there's a line. I packed tons of jewellery and only really wore a bright set of bracelets throughout. Waking up to boiling hot sunshine and being hungover did not put me in the mood for spending ages on my outfit and what accessories to go with it. Hence why I suggest more subtle or long lasting accessories like glitter roots, temporary tattoos etc.

LESS CLOTHES
And on that note...less clothes, too. In my earlier post, I did say about choosing one outfit per day and throwing in a couple of spares but I'm an idiot who doesn't listen to myself let alone anyone else, so I just threw anything festival-like into my suitcase. This was fine - everything 'went' so to speak, and I didn't feel at a loss of what to wear, but I did pack way, way too much. In future, I will definitely stick to my earlier plan of one outfit per day and some spare things just in case like denim shorts, a playsuit and a jumper. So yeah, as many people suggest, before you go, lay out what you're planning to take and then half it all. And check the weather beforehand.

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LOCK UP YOUR STUFF
We were wise enough to keep our valuables locked in the car, but we did hear of some people who had things stolen from their tent. It's not something you expect to happen at a music festival but, likewise, just because you're 'on holiday' or celebrating, you should still have your wits about you.

DON'T WORRY TOO MUCH
Finally, don't worry too much. Anything you forget to pack, you can get there, or borrow from other campers. We camped next to a generous couple of guys who had stuff for a BBQ, so cooked us breakfast one morning, sold us a spare bottle of vodka and generally looked after us. It's easy to get frazzled when you forget something, but your life isn't going to end just because you don't have your favourite tasty pink lemonade or your pair of sandals that go with everything.

Oh, and don't bring anything too dressy either. I brought a gorgeous dress and a matching pair of chunky heeled sandals which I'd bought specifically for the festival from ASOS and did not wear them once. Heels have NO place at a festival (I know, I should know that) and my dress actually ended up being worn by some drunken guy who thought it would be funny to try it on, seeing it hanging up in the back of the car.

So, yeah.

Festivals are all about relaxing. So, my advice, from my first ever music festival, would be to do just that. Don't overpack, stay safe, keep warm (!) and relax. No one cares about what you look like and you shouldn't either.

Have I missed off any other advice? Let me know!

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