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Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Oh hello, cold weather. As much as I love summer, I have anticipated this chilly but somewhat comforting weather for a long time. Why? Because it's finally an excuse to wear chunky knitwear, oversized jumpers and genuinely overly comfy clothes without giving a damn what you look like.

In celebration, I've put together a list of five of my favourite jumpers for autumn right now.

Formidable Joy | UK Fashion, Beauty & Lifestyle Blog | Fashion | 5 of the best fluffy knitwear for autumn | Jumpers | H&M | New Look | Mango | Next | Topshop | Autumn fashion

Stripes are massive right now, so it's only natural that this nautical striped jumper must be purchased for the winter season. Oversized and cosy, the design will spruce up any outfit and would look best simply with a pair of skinny fit jeans and chunky boots: simple as.

I adore this loose knit jumper, it looks super soft and easily fashioned. The pale pink is a nice difference to the usual winter jumper colours (grey, cream etc), which means it's super versatile. It's a nice length too, meaning a pair of high waisted trousers would go perfectly, but if you really want to stand out, try tucking it into a leather skirt for evening plans or faux leather trousers for an edgy take.

If you have me on insta, you'll know that I LOVE this jumper. The story is that a lady came into my store wearing it a few weeks back and told me she'd purchased it from New Look next door that very day. So naturally I headed over to check it out and by the following payday, it was all mine. I really love the autumn colours and it looks like it consists of that scratchy material; however it's one of the softest jumpers I've ever owned. I went a size up to feel extra cosy, but on days when it's a little warmer, I roll the sleeves up. It's a great fit too.

This sweater has a nice seasonal feel to it with just the right amount of sparkle, meaning it's great for any chilly Christmas events coming up but can also be worn down for work. The model pairs it with a suede skirt which I think works well, but again, for really lazy day, a comfy pair of jeans would suit it well.

Finally, I really love this slightly preppy jumper. The simple but stand out stitch design makes it just that bit different, meaning whatever you wear it with, it'll spruce it up. Even when totally dressed down, this jumper will give any outfit a stylish twist. As Topshop suggests, a clashing checked pair of trousers would complete the look, but for something less out there, a printed pair of trousers would also suit.

I've tried to shy away from the typical winter jumper offerings this year, and it just goes to show that you don't always have to wear an ill-fitting bland jumper to keep warm this winter. What do you think? Do you have your eye on any particular knitwear for autumn? Let me know!

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Monday, 16 October 2017

Last October, one of my most successful posts was my guide to Halloween in London. Even I found it really helpful to keep check on what was going on in the capital as last year I managed to get into London for a few different spooky themed events.

Therefore, I've decided to do an updated version for 2017!

Please note, however, that this list will likely be updated throughout the month and some classics from last year will be included again with an update for their 2017 themes/attractions.

Formidable Joy - UK Fashion, Beauty & Lifestyle Blog | Halloween | Lifestyle | Halloween in London, 2017 |

Really, these attractions are something you all should have visited previously; after all, everyone likes to be a tourist in London. If you haven't get gotten around to it, make a date in your diary to visit some of these around All Hallow's Eve for some extra spooky scares.

The best thing about the London Bridge Experience & Tombs is that there's nearly always deals on Wowcher or Groupon to get cheap entry. As well as being very easy to get to (it's literally across the road from London Bridge. The experience is set into two parts (and you don't have to do both if you don't want to). The first is the actual london bridge experience where you're taken on an interactive spooky journey to learn about London bridge's history and the past of London in general. Below, if you're brave enough, you can take on the scare attractions of the tombs, where you have the opportunity to explore themed spooky set's and avoid being scared by scare actors. My boyfriend and I did this a few months ago and I can vouch for the fact that it is seriously spooky. Children are even allowed here (and the tombs offer an adorable Guardian Angel tour), but for Halloween, brave adults can visit during the attraction's annual Phobophobia event. This is an adult only evening tour where the scares are turned up to the max. I've never been, but I've heard it involves the entire first half of the experience taking part in the pitch black, whereas a venture downstairs to the tombs proves even more disturbing than normal...

The Tower of London has it's own gruesome history and is a total classic. It's rumoured to be one of the most haunted buildings in London and has numerous ghost stories surrounding it's old walls. There's lots of non-scary history surrounding the Tower of London too, and this Halloween you can take a Tower Twilight tour. Led by a Yeoman Warder (aka a royal bodyguard), these exclusive tours take place after dark to take in both the spooky sights and stories which make the tower so famous.

Also worth visiting: Hampton Court Palace which is well known for that spooky ghost footage, The Ten Bells pub which was Jack The Ripper's local and has been a hub of paranormal activity ever since and the Old Operating Theatre, a small museum filled to the brim with old utensils and artifacts used in medicine and surgery (often without anesthetic back then!). It's also one of the oldest surviving operating theatres. 

It may not be a scare attraction as such - but it sure is a classic. The Tower of London is steeped in history, and there's numerous ghostly stories that surround the old walls, meaning it's likely to be one of the most haunted buildings in London. It's said that Arbella Stuart - cousin of James I - haunts The Queen's House, and there's also rumours of a phantom bear. Plus, it's one of those historic buildings everyone should visit at least once during a visit to London.

Want to go all out for Halloween and try something just that bit different? Read on...

This quirky 90's brunch has a lot more on offer then just bottomless cocktails; you can also expect a three course 90's inspired meal, entertainment, lip syncing and dance battles such as Powerpuff Girls vs MoJo Jojo! Best dressed wins a prize and those attending can also expect a bunch of spooky games and surprises on the day.
The 90's Brunch takes place on Saturday 28th October.

I have always wanted to attend a murder mystery evening so this seems like the perfect opportunity! Murder In Mayfair consists of a three course dinner supper club style at a haunted townhouse in Mayfair before disaster strikes. I can't reveal anymore, obviously, but the evening will be filled with twists and turns about what really happens in Mayfair. Oh, and a welcome cocktail is included.
Murder In Mayfair takes place on 28th October.

Formidable Joy | UK Fashion, Beauty & Lifestyle Blog | Halloween | Lifestyle | Halloween in London, 2017 | Scary | Spooky | Stranger Things | Justice For Barb

Love Stranger Things?! Who doesn't! Electric Brixton are offering a full orchestral rendition of the show's soundtrack: expect renditions of classics of The Clash, Joy Division and Stranger Thing's theme tune too, of course. The event will also include Upside Down production, 80s fancy dress and a retro light show. It takes place on the same night the second series launches so it's the perfect way to get you into the mood for a binge watch.
Stranger Things: An Orchestral Rendition of Stranger Things takes place on the 27th October.

Broadcasting one of the best acclaimed horror movies of 2017, Block Party Cinema are offering one of the best movie nights of Halloween. The event takes place in the industrial warehouse space of Black Swan Studios and is hosted by Remel London. Other treats on the night include pre-film entertainment, prizes and giveaways and so much popcorn - yummy.
The Block Party Cinema Halloween special takes place on the 31st October.

Escape rooms have become huge in popularity over the past few years so it's only fitting that a zombie-themed one has been launched for Halloween. The hour long event will require you to locate clues and solve riddles to escape a room as the chain keeping the zombie at bay is released another foot every five minutes. Tickets are limited for this scary escape room in Whitechapel though, so book them pronto.
Zombie Escape takes place on the 26th October.

Disco Yoga always sounds like a good idea, especially when it's held at my fave, The Hoxton Hotel. So as well as yoga (obviously) to a spooky soundtrack, you can turn up early to visit their DIY glitter and UV station. This will be followed by a spooky cocktail (or mocktail) and then a three course disco themed brunch. And yes, the brunch includes vegan options. Yummy.
Disco Yoga takes place on the 28th October.

I was never actually a huge fan of Hocus Pocus but learning the dance from the film sounds super fun, especially as it's held at Drink Shop Do. It is literally an hour and a half dance class but hey, it's still edgy. Drink Shop Do are also hosting Thriller and Time Warp dance classes and sparking pumpkin carving throughout October.
Put A Spell On You is held on various dates throughout October.

Wrap up warm and explore the spookier side of London by foot (or on bus!).

I'll always recommend The Ghost Bus Tour as a really alternative and edgy way to explore London. You board a funky black bus which is themed inside with little lamps and red seating then you're taken on a trip around London with some oddball characters. There's also a few scares along the way...
The Ghost Bus Tour runs on Thursday to Sunday evenings.

Though pricey, a ghost hunt is the ultimate way to celebrate Halloween. Haunted Happening's offer a variety of ghost hunts around London with locations including the London Tombs, Charlton House and Drakelow tunnels. All I can say is good luck!
London Ghost Hunts take place on various dates at various locations; check the Haunted Happenings website for more information.

Formidable Joy | UK Fashion, Beauty & Lifestyle Blog | Halloween | Lifestyle | Halloween in London, 2017 | Scary | Spooky | Jack The Ripper Walk | Discovery Events

I've been on this walk before and let me tell you: it is spooky, as well as fascinating. It's a long walking tour at two hours long but along the way you learn so much about Jack The Ripper, as well as visiting many of the locations associated with the murders. You'll also learn about who Jack was actually rumoured to be and will be well informed to make your own guesses. 
Jack The Ripper tours with Discovery Events run seven nights a week throughout the year.

London is filled with beautiful cemeteries and Brompton Cemetery is one ofthe most beautiful. In fact, this Victorian cemetery is worth a visit any time of year. Though not necessarily Halloween themed, for something more tame, why not book onto a tour of the cemetery this October? The Friends Of Brompton Cemetery offer guided tours throughout the year.
The last guided tour of October take place on the 22nd.

These are just my top picks for Halloween; of course there's so many, from themed club nights and discos to dark cabaret and circus's - the list really is endless. I'll hopefully continue to update this post as more things come on my radar but in the meantime, what events are you recommending this October? Let me know!

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Saturday, 14 October 2017

Last weekend, my family got together for a trip to Shropshire to celebrate my sister's 40th birthday. Between the eight of us, we rented two 'tents' at Love2Stay, arriving on the Friday and heading back Sunday afternoon (though some of my family stayed on until Monday morning check out time).

I'd never been glamping before; only camping and staying in hotels so I was excited to try a mix of the two. I wasn't sure what to expect from the site however. It looked stunning in the photos and was right up my sister's street, but a rural weekend away wouldn't have been my first choice for birthday plans, so I was open minded and eager to see how it would turn out.

The site is only a ten minute drive from central Shropshire, a charming little town with cute gardens, quirky shops and lots of yummy cafes (and vegan choices too!) and it only took us a couple of hours to drive up from Luton.

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We were greeted with a lovely sight when we arrived. We faced beautiful countryside surrounding a real glam and welcoming glamping village. When we headed inside our tent, we were gobsmacked to find it was more like a rural hotel apartment. It was fully kitted out with heating and electric (as well as a wooden fire pit outside!), a huge bathroom with a stand-alone bath and large shower and one double bed, two bunkbeds and a sweet den-like bed hidden away up a ladder. This is where my boyfriend and I slept, naturally!

The whole 'tent' was decorated tastefully too with a breakfast bar and a mustard yellow and duck egg blue theme throughout.

Oh, and did I mention the amazing hot tub outside each tent?!

We loved the hot tub. Each hot tub was large enough to fit four to six people and it was a real hot tub if you get what I mean. It had strong jets, mood lighting and it was actually hot, meaning that even though it was in October, we were at the perfect temperature once in the water.

On our first evening, we lit the fire and had a few drinks surrounding the firepit before retiring to the hot tub. It was really nice and a lovely experience overall.

Although there was lots to do on site, I had mixed feelings about the activities. It was the perfect option for families; my niece enjoyed it, as did the adults and even though I am an adult, for those like me in their twenties I would say there wasn't a whole lot except for the hot tubs and natural swimming pool (which was of course way too cold to go in!). 

Some of the activities I wanted to try were not possible either. The army style assault course had to be booked out as a PT session early on the Sunday morning, which meant you couldn't just do this of your own accord. The forest walk was actually just a short walk leading to the main road with half grown trees either side, and the barefoot sensory walk was not yet ready at all as they'd decided to move it from where it was supposed to be and build it elsewhere. This did make me giggle because it was still on the map when a) it wasn't built yet and b) was going to be built somewhere else entirely.

However, it is also Love2Stay's first season so understandably there are teething problems. Obviously the trees were not fully grown for the forest walk, and we often had long waits for food in the cafe (we waited half an hour for two coffees and two cans of pepsi on one day). The cafe also did not offer vegan choices as previously stated (my sister had rung up in advance to check), apart from a vegetable pizza but without cheese.

Despite this, our stay was a lot of fun and I would still recommend a visit to Love2Stay for families or anyone after a rural weekend escape that's a bit different. I would say it's very similar to Centreparcs, only cheaper and with a little less to do. 

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The best part about the weekend though was that it brought family together; I don't often see my dad anymore and see my brother, sister and niece even less. So it was really nice to head into each tent for a big breakfast together or home cooked chilli (vegan option included) courtesy of my sister. It was also nice to get out in the countryside and do some walking. We spent some time exploring Shropshire where we walked along the river and visited some beautiful gardens.

I wish I'd had time to take one of the fitness classes or visit the spa, as I feel the spa in particular would have really redeemed the small issues we did have and would have outweighed the few negatives - but maybe next time!

Overall it was a lovely weekend and although it wasn't my first choice for birthday plans, I enjoyed spending time with family and could see why someone like my sister who is a huge fan of the outdoors enjoyed it so much. Other than a few of the teething problems, it was a fun experience to go glamping and I would recommend it.

Have you ever been glamping? Let me know!

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Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Starting a blog could be one of the greatest things you’ll ever do. It offers a chance to share your experiences, opinions, and passions in a productive manner. If it goes well, there could also be a fantastic opportunity to earn some serious money in the process.

The biggest challenges almost certainly come during the blog’s infancy. However, this simple checklist should enable the platform to become established and successful in no time. Here are the key factors that your blog needs.

A VOICENobody is going to listen to a blogger that has nothing to say. It can be tempting to follow the money, but writing about your passions is vital. Not only will this enable you to find your voice and speak with authority. But it will also make the tasks far more enjoyable.

Visitors will judge your blog from the second that they open the page. This is why it must boast a crisp, clear design with great navigation on desktop and mobile. If reading posts feels like a chore rather than a leisurely activity, they’ll soon take their interest elsewhere. 

Launching a blog doesn’t require vast sums of cash. However, you will need to invest in equipment and marketing. You may need to borrow money while the venture is still growing too. Find out more at Failing because of funds would be nothing short of a disaster.

The success of the business is largely determined by the ability to gain traffic. Viral content and sponsored posts can win new audiences. The best trick, though, is to let people find you. With this in mind, getting your site on the first page of Google results is crucial.

As a commercial venture, the blog doesn’t simply need visitors. It also needs money making resources. Many bloggers start by utilising Google Ads. You can also use services like to sell products. Alternatively, guest posts and sponsored content can earn cash too.

Blogging offers several advantages over traditional print media. Being able to use videos, audio, and images to greater effect is certainly up there. They help keep the blog fresh for the reader and exciting for you. Besides, that content is often easier for readers to digest.

Readers will soon get bored if the blog isn’t updated frequently. You need to treat it as a small business, which is why creating a great workspace is key. Get yourself into the routine of writing and creating content on a schedule. And if you have to take a break, plan ahead.

Unlike many businesses, your competitors aren’t a major threat. Readers can stay loyal to more than one blog. This is why collaborations can work wonders. Most importantly, you want to utilise your audience with viral content and regular interaction. This should bring audience growth.

Get those eight factors right, and your blog will find the road to success in no time.

*Please note this post has been contributed.

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Monday, 9 October 2017

Last year on Formidable Joy, I talked about some of America's best scare attractions. This year, I'm going to focus more on the UK! 

I'll still do a round up post about what's going on in London, but this post is to focus on everywhere else. Theme parks are especially popular at Halloween as they host a variety of fright nights (a general name, although also the official name of Thorpe Park's themed scare evenings), and in recent years, farms have gotten in on the action too.

So, here's what's going on around the UK at farm's, theme parks and anything else outside of London...

Please note, unless otherwise stated, each fright night runs on selected nights throughout October, but I'd advise checking for exact dates and prices.

Formidable Joy | UK Fashion, Beauty & Lifestyle Blog | Halloween | UK Fright Nights | Thorpe Park | Fright Nights | Mead Open Farm | The Howl Scream Park | Alton Towers | Scarefest | Dr Frights Halloween Nights | Chessington | Howloween | Screamland Margate | Zed Events

Beginning with the actual 'fright night', Thorpe Park are this year theming their Fright Night's around The Walking Dead. And we all know how scary/awesome zombies are...For 2017, two new mazes have been announced (Living Nightmare & Sanctum) and returning frights include Platform 15, Saw: Alive (I braves this once in the middle of summer and this scared the crap outta me, so it'll probably be terrifying this October), The Big Top and Containment. Containment sounds particularly scary as those brave enough will be put into groups of ten and locked inside FOUR haunt rooms. Creepy.

This is one attraction I'm especially looking forward to, having visited Mead Open Farm on various occasions when growing up. A visit to the farm will find you experiencing both street theatre and scary haunts such as Hotel de Basquervilles, Topper's Twister, House of Hounds, The Shed and Squealers Yard. Looking at the website, The Shed sounds most scary (with a scare factor of 9!), but I can't help but think that Topper's Twister will be particularly scary too, especially with the inclusion of clowns..

Alton Towers' Scarefest is a tad more family friendly in that it offers both thrilling frights and family fun. Families can enjoy four spooky live shows with song, dance and stories and a flashmob of dancing ancestors. There's also the Freak Show Scare Zone and the House of Monsters, which is dubbed perfect for those who just like a light fright. Those a little braver can visit in the evening for after dark rides and four scare mazes - Terror of the Towers, Sub Species - The End Games, Altonville Mine Tours, and, new for 2017, The Welcoming: Be Chosen. But, as anyone who has visited Alton Towers before will know, even if you visit just for the rides, a visit will be filled with visually stunning and thrilling fun.

I can personally vouch for the fact that this attraction is petrifying, having attended myself a few years ago. But despite being scary, it's also visually stunning with amazing sets and even better attention to detail. This year's event, Legends of Horror, will include four mazes/sets which customers must brave and complete to tick off and relax in the Horror bar afterwards. This years mazes are: Redneck Wedding, Dead Inside, Hollywood Horror 2 and Killer Clowns in a Supermarket. When I went, one maze took place in a makeshift swamp, which involved us running beneath makeshift stars, across bridges over water and crawling through a caravan. This was my favourite because it was great to see how much thought had gone into it. 

Formidable Joy | UK Fashion, Beauty & Lifestyle Blog | Halloween | UK Fright Nights | Thorpe Park | Fright Nights | Mead Open Farm | The Howl Scream Park | Alton Towers | Scarefest | Dr Frights Halloween Nights | Chessington | Howloween | Screamland Margate | Zed Events

I've heard good things about Dreamland, and even better things about Screamland, the spooky Halloween version of Margate's traditional seaside funfair/amusement park. There's something real nostalgic about the park, so any after dark visits are sure to be interesting. The event runs for only six nights, and those attending will be able to brave six varied scare mazes, as well as unlimited use of all the rides and attractions.

Chessington is another theme park that's perfect for some spooky family fun this Halloween. If you log onto their website you can even find a spook rating guide which rates rides and attractions ranging from 'perfect to little spooks' (0+ years), to 'For the fearless' (10+ years). Attractions include Creepy Caves Unearthed, Spooky Story Time, Curse of the Lost Tomb, Trick or Treat Wood and rides in the dark of course. There's also a fancy dress competition, which is always fun!

Finally, for something more hands on, Zed Events has the answer. If you're a fan of zombies like me, then what could be better than a two and a half hour experience trying to escape them/defeat them? Unlike what is now traditional jump scares, this immersive event instead requires you to attend a briefing and basic training with the use of a special ZED-exclusive (and entirely safe!) firearm, before you are let lose in an abandoned mall where you must escape zombies and survive your experience. It's had amazing reviews and is something I've wanted to try for years..

Off course this is just a round up of some theme parks and other attractions I think are worth checking out; we'd be here forever if I was to list everything going on in the UK this October!

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