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Tuesday, 26 July 2016

This weekend just gone, my friend Becky and I took a road trip up north to spend some time in Sunderland, a city where we'd both lived and studied around five years ago now.

We both attended the same university and became good friends and she even lived with me for a while. For around three years, back when I was 18 up until I was 21, I lived in Sunderland and it was essentially my home away from home.

We have both been back to visit briefly since, but not properly so this trip was long overdue.

It was exhausting. We packed so much into our short time there and considering it took us so long to drive there and back (the drive is around 4/5 hours long, but obviously this varies depending on traffic and taking time to stop and stretch your legs), I am really, really tired. We were out both nights, too, so haven't had much sleep and if I'm really honest, I found the whole thing emotionally exhausting too.

Being that the little city was my whole world once and the fact that right now, down south, my own world is kind of all over the place, it did bring back a lot of emotions. Seeing where I used to do my local shop, discovering what bars we used to drink in were still open...it was definitely a surreal weekend and we most certainly used it as an excuse to pretend to be 19 again.

Here's a quick recap of what we got up to.

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FRIDAY
Friday we were running late so we didn't actually to the hotel till half 12 at night - eeek. I was working until four and had also made the silly, silly excuse of going round a friend's house the night before for a couple of drinks, so I hadn't had much sleep the night before either. Luckily, I was so hyped up to be in the north east once more that the lack of sleep throughout the whole weekend didn't really effect me (although it's hitting me now!).

So once we arrived at the hotel, we literally threw our stuff down, got changed and headed back out onto the town. A lot of the bars that were there when we were at uni have unfortunately shut down, so we struggled to think of where was good to go! We went to some of our old haunts though, including the ever so awesome Arizona bar which plays tons of corny 80s music. We spent the night sipping on cheap drinks (the north is SO much cheaper then the south) and dancing along to the likes of Steps, Busted and McFly. Good times.

This was followed by a visit to Chillinos, the popular takeaway spot after a night out that does THE BEST PIZZA IN THE WORLD. I was so happy to be reunited with my delicious pizza once more and, sadly, this was one of the highlights of the weekend because I am a complete and utter loser.

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SATURDAY
On Saturday, we headed to the seafront for the annual airshow which is a big deal in the north. I'd went just the once when I was studying, but had fond memories of the day. It was a really nice day because everyone really came together and it had a great community feel. We watched the Red Arrows, went on a few fairground rides and bought traditional fish and chips which we scoffed walking along the sea front.

I also took a quick drive to South Shields today which is kind of my happy place. I have so many fond memories of visiting there and sitting along the beach or walking around the seafront themepark. I only parked up for an hour, but sitting on the beach and watching the sea was relaxing and gave me some much needed 'me' time to think about things and how I felt about the weekend.

This was followed by an evening spent in Newcastle, something else that was long overdue! I'd had a night out in Newcastle a few years back with some other friends when we road tripped around the UK, but never actually did so when I was studying in the north.

Here, we went to Wetherspoons for pre-drinks then holed up (or down, rather, considering the bar is in the basement/underground) in Madame Koo for the night which was very fun. It's the perfect smoky but friendly bar to duck into on a night out and played a good selection of music, with even some popular rock music thrown in like songs from Blink 182 and Feeder.

It also reminded me of just how friendly everyone is up north. I lost count of how many times a man grabbed me to spin me around or just danced with us in general - not in a pulling sense - but just because everyone is so laid back and friendly and willing to talk.

I find that down here on a night out, you don't really get that. You can't really 'just' talk to a guy on a night out and if a guy tries to pull you, it's certainly a lot more forward than that - for the most part, anyway.

It was a fun night and I was pleasantly surprised at how cheap the taxi was on the way home, too.

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SUNDAY
Today we woke up with sore heads unfortunately! But there was no time to waste as we had to check out of the room. We quickly packed and then drove into Gateshead for a pit-stop visit to the Metrocentre to grab some lunch. We had a brief look round and it was here, before heading off on our journey back, that it really hit home to me just how different life is up north.

I noticed how laid back everyone was and how friendly they'd been towards us all weekend. Everything was just different from a fast-paced life in London and everyone just seemed so settled down and happy, even at a young age.

We didn't plan to, but when we realized how near we were to the famous Angel of the North on the way back, we parked up there to see it in person and take some photos for the first tim ever - even when studying there, I'd never once 'visited' the Angel of the North, which is one thing that Sunderland (well Gateshead) is best known for!

But, back to the point at hand. 

It was odd to think that had I not moved down south after I graduated, that would be my life right now. I have no doubt that I would probably be married with one or two kids and although that was the last thing I wanted at the time, being back up north this weekend has made me think that if I had stuck it out, maybe I would have actually been happy.

Life - it's a weird one, eh?!

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Sunday, 24 July 2016

I’ve always been told – and believed – that one conversation starter, or one question to ask to make things interesting, is ‘If you could throw a dinner party and invite five people – alive or dead, fictional or real – who would you choose?’ 

I’ve always thought it was such an interesting question and so for no reason whatsoever other than that, I’m going to answer it! Some guests have been on my list for years, never changing, and others change all the time. But right now, here is my list of five people I would invite to my dream dinner party. 

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ED AND/OR LORRAINE WARREN 
The two famous paranormal investigators absolutely fascinate me and I assume they must have some amazing stories to tell. Most notably, I’d love to hear their experiences in regards to the Amityville House and The Enfield Haunting, but there’s so many paranormal occurrences they have been linked to investigating. Out of the two though, I’d probably most like to speak to Ed, as he sadly passed away in 2006 and so I’d also love to hear about whether his experiences on the other side – if any! – are what he expected. 

JOHN O’CALLAGHAN 
aka the lead singer of one of my favourite bands. Even though I’ve met him countless times and hang out with him nearly every time he’s in the UK, I can’t deny that I’d love to sit down and talk to him properly sober (well with a bit of dutch courage) at a dinner party and hear all his stories from on the road. Plus he's super hot so = eye candy.

Failing that, the only other rock star I'd consider is Freddie Mercury, the absolute legend from Queen.

DAVID KELLY 
If you don’t know who David Kelly is – get comfortable because this might take a while and you’ll no doubt want to research more into this. David is someone that has always been on this list, and let me tell you why. David Kelly was once a weapons expert, who made some comments about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, following a document analysing his recent visit there. The journalist who interviewed him – and David himself – ended up under extreme pressure in regards to the controversy that the interview caused, and this was followed by David being questioned aggressively about his actions. He was found dead, two days later, presumably by suicide. 

There has been a whole ton of mystery and questions surrounding the whole thing – most especially his death and how it was near impossible for him to have died the way that he did. Basically, there’s a huge conspiracy theory surrounding it and if you read enough into it like I did (there’s far too much to go into on here) then you’ll understand why many people believe he was actually killed, especially in regards to the findings he reported on the weapons in Iraq. 

The research gone into his subject touches upon politics and, admittedly, a lot of stuff I don’t understand, but I am a firm believer that there was something odd and suspicious about his supposed cause of death – and I’m not the only one. I’d love to hear his side of the story and discover the truth. 

LINDSEY KELK
She's been one of my favourite authors for a long time now and I adore her style of writing. I especially feel it's quite similar to mine so I would love to sit down with her and receive some advice in terms of getting a book published. On top of that, she seems like such a nice person, too. She's so down to earth with a witty sense of humour and she's beyond inspiring.

MY MUM 
And, of course, my mum. For obvious reasons. I miss her terribly and would do anything to just see her again, talk to her again or have a catch up, or even just hug her again.

So, there you have it. My five dream dinner party guests. Who would you choose?

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Friday, 22 July 2016

I still can't believe that just a month ago, Anton Yelchin died, aged 27.

He was a wonderful actor and clearly had lots of talent, as well as charisma. It makes me so sad that he died so young and it's the first time a 'celebrity' I genuinely really, really liked has died - it's a weird feeling.

So in honour of the fact that one of his latest movies, Star Trek Beyond, is released today in the UK, I've decided to do a blog post about Anton Yelchin's best films (in my opinion, anyway).

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FRIGHT NIGHT
I've never seen the original of Fright Night, but I love this remake starring Anton, Toni Collette, Colin Farrell, David Tennant, Imogen Poots and even Christopher Mintz-Plasse and Dave Franco. Considering it has such a star-studded cast, I'm surprised it didn't do better commercially. It's a lot different from your average teen horror movie and is really edgy with dark humour. David Tennant's gothic magician character is worth watching alone, but Anton is really great in this film.

LIKE CRAZY
Like Crazy
is an independent movie that tells the story of Jacob (Anton) and Anna (Felicity Jones), who fall in love when Anna is studying in America. The film tells the story of their long distance love when she has to move back home, and the struggles that come along with being in a long-distance relationship. I've been in long distance relationships before, so I really reasoned with this film and felt it had some great moments that really showed Anton's diverse acting. It's the only 'emotional' role I've ever seen him in, and he plays the part well.

THE STAR TREK SERIES
It's tough to point Anton out in the Star Trek series, as all of the films have such a star-studded cast and it's easy for his acting to be overshadowed. His parts were only small, but they were enjoyable, and the films are overall really great. I can't lie, his character mostly provided eye-candy in these films, and I loved hearing his adorable accent.

ODD THOMAS
I finally got around to watching this last night and have a few different reactions to it. Overall, I think it's a great film with a really edgy storyline about a guy (Anton) who can contact the dead - but it's a lot darker and different from your average film involving people that can communicate with the dead. Anton is great in it, but I felt some parts were corny and his girlfriend just seemed much odder then him with the stuff she came out with and the way she acted. Overall I did like it though and thought it was interesting to see Anton in more of an action role. It's actually based on a book series, which I'm planning to read now.

CHARLIE BARTLETT 
I haven't actually seen this one yet, but it's on my 'to-watch' list as I've heard good things about it, despite the fact that it received mixed reviews from critics. It's said to be a comedy coming of age film with Anton in the lead role, and I think this was his first lead role. He looks super young on the DVD cover, though! Although I haven't seen this yet, like I said, I've heard good things about this film and it's also one of his most popular ones, so it's likely to be one of his best ones, too. 

These five movies easily show Anton's diverse range of acting abilities, including drama, comedy, romance and action roles.

I'll be watching Charlie Bartlett in memory of Anton Yelchin this weekend and I hope one of you will watch one of his movies too, if even just to be reminded of what a great actor he was. 

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Tuesday, 19 July 2016

So obviously I've only been to Ibiza once so I in no way consider myself an expert, but I'd like to think that during my short time there recently, I did more then just party.

Although I did write a blog post summing up my week, I thought I'd share some of my recommendations for things to do because although it is known as the party capital, there is a lot more to it then that.

So here's my little take on Ibiza!

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WHERE TO STAY

As you all know, we stayed at the Ibiza Rocks hotel and this had its ups and downs. The hotel wasn't amazing in terms of quality, but we knew before we went there that it was only a three star hotel so we didn't expect much. It was nice and clean and for a party hotel, we pretty much got what we expected. Some of the staff were very helpful and others, not so much. The food was about the same too. So in terms of places to stay, if you want a party hotel, I would 100% recommend Ibiza Rocks because it is, of course, where all the events happen and I do believe it was a really special feeling being able to just stand on our balcony and watch an actual gig. The party atmosphere was great too. 

If you go to Ibiza for anything other than partying, I would suggest elsewhere. Not because the hotel was bad, just because if you want peace and quiet or something more chilled, this isn't the place to do it (although they did have a more chilled pool which was nice). The budget Ibiza Rocks hotel not too far away sounds like a good place too, that offers the right balance of a party place but with necessary peace and quiet also - at a budget price.

WHERE TO EAT
Luckily, Ibiza is a really good place for places to eat, whether you want to try something new or stick to classic English food, like we did for the most part. We spotted lots of Italian places and restaurants serving different cuisines, so whatever you're after, you won't have to look far. In terms of English food, we found tons of nice places on the harbour and even just around the corner from our hotel but one place I must recommend is Leopard, along the harbour. It does the best full English fry-ups (and other stuff, too, the menu is quite extensive) and nine times out of ten, the staff will offer you free margarita also. So, win win, really.


For somewhere a bit more classy, I'd recommend Mint Lounge Ibiza, a real chic sort of place along sunset strip that overlooks the beach. It's a bit more pricey then your average cafe or so, but I wouldn't say it's expensive and we went there on our final night. It's the perfect place to go for just a really nice dinner, to celebrate or to end the holiday. We scoffed on Italian food and had some delicious cocktails, too. It was busy though, so get there early, and be aware that the later you go, the more busy the strip gets as other places turn from lounge bars into party bars. So, if you go in the evening, there will be lots of action, fire throwers on the beach and stuff, but also loud music and crowds of people constantly walking past. Early evening or late afternoon however is the perfect time, especially if you can catch the sunset.

WHERE TO DRINK
Ah, the fun part! Obviously Ibiza is filled with its big clubs and stuff so that's another section altogether, but there are lots of other places in Ibiza great for chilled pre-drinks. One place I absolutely loved was Tulip Bar, along the harbour way down by Ocean Beach. This extremely quirky/chic bar was so cute with mismatched decor, the most amazing cocktail list and even hammocks. HAMMOCKS.


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I was perfectly content here just kicking my shoes off, sitting in the corner and making my way through the cocktail menu one afternoon. As it goes, we only actually had time for one drink, but if you're in Ibiza for a chilled girly holiday, you must make a stop here. It's not too pricey either, which is a welcome change in Ibiza.

I would also recommend the Ibiza Rocks bar (along the harbour, not one of the bars in the hotel) as this too had a very fun vibe to it. Although it seemed like more of a club in the evening and was where a lot of the after parties were held, the cocktails are worth visiting this place for alone. I loved that some of them were themed and named after famous artists, such as Fizzee Rascal (I'm still giggling at this one) - which is tanqueray gin, cointreau, lemon and sugar topped with soda and Arctic Monkey, which is fresh bananas, captain morgans spiced rum and banana liquor. This place is great for pre-drinks and more often then not, someone (well, a member of staff) will be hanging around to offer you some drinks deals like free shots or half price beers. Do talk to them because it's worth saving money where you can, and do flirt a little (like I did. But only with the hotties, of course - of which there are many) to get some extra discount/shots etc thrown in.

WHERE TO PARTY
One thing I would say about the clubs in Ibiza is they are all so far away. I would not recommend getting a taxi and instead look into getting a bus - most of which are party buses, anyway.

So, Ibiza Rocks is again good for it's pool parties and events, plus if you're gonna go to Ibiza, you need to go to Ibiza Rocks at least once.

Ocean Beach is really cool for pool parties and chilled day-time partying. It has a very VIP feel to it and drinks are expensive, as are things like tables, beds etc. But again I'd suggest going at least once - if even just for a day pool party - as it just oozes sophistication. It's very modern with a great vibe and you feel effortlessly cool once there, almost like you're surrounded by celebrities.

On the other hand, The Zoo Project is definitely quite raw and stripped back as opposed to Ocean Beach. It's set at an abandoned zoo with different themed areas and this is the place to go for something a bit different and, again, outdoor partying. We had a lot of fun here and it's also a great excuse to dress up and get artsy. There are plenty of places along the strip that offer glitter painting or animal painting to help you get in the mood, and I would suggest doing so!

Amnesia is one of those big 'wow' clubs that kind of takes your breath away. Even though it really only has two rooms (that we could see, anyway) the venue itself is massive and beyond impressive with the way it's themed and it's party attitude. It's hard to explain a club, but out of Ibiza's big clubs, this was definitely the one that had the wow factor for me. For a proper Ibiza club night, this is the place to be.

We didn't go to Es Paradis, but really wanted to after my friend recommended it. I really, really regret not going because it looks amazing. Apparently they throw epic water parties there, so much so that in one room the floor kinda half sinks down to turn into a fountain or something. I'm not sure, I just know I watched her snapchat and it looked AMAZING. Plus, it's situated right in the centre of San Antonio, right along the harbour, so if you're staying at a central hotel like Ibiza Rocks, you can just walk there without wasting money on a bus or anything.

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WHAT TO DO
Watching the sunset on sunset strip is an absolute MUST and is the perfect end to your holiday if you choose to do that last. You can sit in one of the many cafes and bars overlooking the beach, but I'd recommend grabbing a couple of cheap drinks from the shop and just settling down on the actual sand/rocks. The moment the sun sets, everyone claps and cheers and it's a really lovely moment. Many people refer to Cafe Mambo as the place to go for this, but really, Cafe Mambo is just one of many places along the strip so if someone invites you to watch the sunset at Cafe Mambo - say yes!

On the Saturday, we took a boat trip with Chili Pepper Charters - who are based along the harbour but can also be found on Facebook. We knew we liked the idea of a boat trip but walking around the harbour, we found there was so much choice. In the end we settled for these guys, because their trip stood out for us and I loved that they were made up of a daughter and dad team, with another friendly lady. They offer two trips - an afternoon one and a sunset one, the latter of which was unfortunately booked up. They limit their trips to around 12 people per trip which is really nice because it means it's very laid back and intimate. The trip tends to generally be just a trip around the island with plenty of opportunities to stop - it varies really on what the sailor thinks is best for that day.

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On our trip, we ambled on and set sail to the sound of laid-back music and sipping at our (free!) drinks. We stopped at the cave of love, and at other points in clear blue waters where we were encouraged to jump off the boat and try our hand at basic snorkeling. This was a lovely experience and something I really enjoyed, being able to swim in the warm and crystal clear Spanish waters whilst spotting beautiful fish swimming by.

This was by far one of my favourite parts of the holiday, and the team were so friendly and laid back too! I'd 100% recommend these guys if you're looking for a boat trip that's intimate, laid back and a tad off the beaten track. There was nothing commercial about it and I loved how the tour and activities varied - depending on where you go you can try cliff jumping, too.

Oh, and I suppose I'd also recommend the giant total wipeout style inflatable assault course in the sea. I know nothing about it, only that it's near Ocean Beach, it is a complete challenge but it's also a laugh and worth attempting.

So these are just a few suggestions from my personal experience (except for Es Paradis), on what was kind of a half party but half chilled holiday. So if you're looking to go to Ibiza but want a mixture of both, you'll likely find something mentioned above. Of course, there is so much to see and do, but it's also nice to know that Ibiza isn't just a party place and there's plenty to do that doesn't involve partying.

Have you ever been to Ibiza? Do you have any recommendations? Let me know!

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Sunday, 17 July 2016

I’m staying at my nan’s house right now, and as my nan doesn’t believe in the internet, I’ve had to turn to DVD box sets to keep me sane.

One of these is the Scrubs boxset that I’ve owned for many years and watched many times. It has been a good few years since I’ve last had a Scrubs binge though, so I decided it was time for another.

One episode in and I was quickly reminded of why this show is still one of my favourite shows of all time. (And why it should be yours, too!)

Here's ten reasons why I still love Scrubs and believe that it will never grow old.

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ONE
This show has everything. Essentially it’s a comedy – based in a hospital – so you already know the humour is going to be a bit different being that death is a subject that comes up quite often. Scrubs deals with the idea of death in a really approachable way and the show has so many different elements to it including comedy, romance, friendship and drama. You also sort of feel like you learn a bit with the characters as you learn more about what it’s like to work in a hospital, and the show has its fair share of serious moments too – and an awesome soundtrack. 

TWO
JD is kind of a hottie. He's a geek, but also a hottie. That is all.

THREE
The characters are so different, yet lovable too. Even though to begin with, Dr Kelso is a total dick, as the seasons go on, he ends up becoming funnier and funnier. Yet what I loved the most is that there are still some scenes in the later episodes where, even though we’ve come to love-to-hate him with many of his actions still kinda bad but laughable too, the show doesn’t lose sight of who he is. He still does make some dick moves, rather then turning into a complete good character, which is nice.

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FOUR
JD and Elliot. Relationship goals or what?! I love these two and I think these were perhaps my first ever ship. They have a will-they-wont-they relationship over the years – enough to rival Ross and Rachel – but of course we all know they’re going to end up together, right?! Well I won’t spoil it for you in case you haven’t seen the show but it does keep you guessing until the very end. 

FIVE
JD and Turk. I don’t really have to explain this one. I’m pretty sure that they were the first example of a bromance on TV and I love the fact that they are still best friends in real life.

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SIX
Elliot. Elliot is my favourite character by far (well apart from JD) and I absolutely love watching her evolve over the seasons from a timid girl with low self-esteem who wants to please everyone, to someone who ends up so confident in herself and really comes into her own. She grows so much as a person, and I love her little crazy side too. Plus she has the coolest makeover scene in season thrnd as soon as I saw this episode, I went out and got my hair cut exactly like hers.

DR COX. AND TURK.
They're both so hilarious and I love Dr Cox's speeches. I fact, I don't know why I'm bothering to list characters because I just love them all. Carla is so lovely too, and even the Janitor makes me laugh my head off. But JD is my favourite. And Elliot. And Turk. And..okay, they're all my favourite and I'll shut up now...

SEVEN
There’s also tons of guest stars over the years, including Tara Reid, Ryan Reynolds, Matthew Perry, Aziz Ansari, Colin Farrell, Tara Reid, Courtney Cox, Elizabeth Banks, and my personal favourites, Heather Grahem, Micheal J Fox(!!!) and Brendan Fraser.

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EIGHT
The sadder moments really get me, but they’re really necessary to the show. You can’t set a show in a hospital and base it around junior doctors without people dying, although not all the sad moments are to do with this. It’s handled so well and I whole wholeheartedly believe each sad moment in the show has an important lesson behind it.

NINE
In fact, I’m pretty sure nearly every single episode has some sort of important message to it, or that you can at least take something away from each episode. Even if it's just something small, like in one of the early episodes JD chases after Elliot (in one of my favourite scenes of all time) only to realize it's better for them to be friends for the meantime when she knocks him back. It just goes to show that sometimes all you need is a friend, and it doesn't mean it won't turn into more in future. JD played the long game and it paid off. Sometimes nice guys do finish last!

TEN
It ran for eight (okay, nine, but we do not speak of that ninth season with the lack of original cast) seasons and never got old. The characters grew throughout the series and the themes steadily became more serious (but there was still humour too) and it worked. Scrubs had the capacity to show for all these seasons without people getting bored or without over staying it's welcome, and that's just further proof of why it was such a great show.

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Do any of you love Scrubs and can share some reasons why? Let me know!

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