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Monday, 23 May 2016

Apart from fitness apps and actually wanting to get into a shape, another thing that gets me motivated to work out is all the pretty gear. 

Of course no one really cares what you look like at the gym, but for me personally it helps to have nice workout gear to wear.

I also think it's important to have a set kit when going to the gym. I have a bag I keep in my car at all times and keep stuff in there specifically so I never forget it. I think this is really useful because it means you never have those days where you make excuses for yourself like 'I'm really up for the gym today but I forgot my trainers/workout top/water' etc. 

Here's the general kit I take to the gym and maybe it'll give you some pointers of things you should always keep in your gym bag, too.

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So to begin with, I have this basic but cute bag from Primark. It's sweet and it does the job, but I am on the lookout for a proper gym bag, especially as over the past few months my collection of things to go into the bag has gotten bigger. When I purchased this bag, it would literally just hold my outfit and trainers. But, as you can see from the photo below, I obviously have a lot more things in my kit now.

My Sketcher trainers I actually purchased for my trek around Mexico but as that has been pushed back until next year now, I figured it can't hurt to wear them in. They're really comfortable, and I believe that it's important to get a proper pair of running shoes if you want to run, otherwise you just won't persevere with it.

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So this is my general kit. In the top left corner I have a cute water bottle purchased for something like £1.99 from H&M - it does the job and is better on the environment then continuing to purchase new bottles of water from the shop all the time.

Beside that is a very light and small towel I bought from TK Maxx recently. I don't use this a whole lot as lately all I've been doing at the gym is using the treadmill, but it's important to have one to wipe down machines you've been using and it's of course useful for when I do sweat!

Next is my zombie apocalypse top - oh I do love a good slogan tee. I'll talk about this more in a minute, though. Beside that I have a cheap armband to hold my phone in. I bought this off Amazon recently as I thought now the weather is getting nicer, I'm going to want to start running outdoors soon, once I find the confidence to. This is useful too because it'll help me track my steps and distance properly, which I can't do on a treadmill.

In the very middle I have some ankle socks to wear with my trainers, and some headphones. These were a Christmas gift from my brother a few years back and I get a lot of use out of these. I don't know if it's just me, but I just don't get on with normal small bud headphones that go in your ear. At first I thought it was because of my tragus piercing, but they just never seem to fit properly in my left ear either. And when I try to run with them in..they just constantly fall out. Maybe I just have weird shaped ears. Anyway, these headphones do the job and don't fall off when running!

I wish I knew where I got this sports bra from but I really have no idea. I have a feeling it might have been a blog freebie a few years back or maybe purchased with a voucher. It offers me basic support, but I do need to put some money towards one that offers me more support and is more designed for sport.

Finally, I also have a little spray and a hair brush, just to make sure I look somewhat decent when leaving the gym.

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Here's what I actually wear. 

The leggings are a cute pair I bought from Primark, but I usually swap between these and a similar pair from H&M.

The slogan top I bought off Etsy and the seller was super helpful. As it was out of stock by the time I got round to ordering, she was happy to make another one up for me since most of their tops are customized anyway. So sweet. It's from Abundent Heart Apparel, and I've fallen in love with all their designs since. I love anything zombie related and this ties in really well with the fact that I'm always using Zombies, Run or Zombies 5K for my gym sessions so it definitely motivates me.

I actually have a whole lot of slogan tees for work out wear (and I promise you, they're not corny!) so do let me know if you'd like a post on these specifically.

So that's whats in my gym bag on a day to day basis - is there anything you can think of that's missing? Do let me know!

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Friday, 20 May 2016

Cinema has changed greatly over the last five years, with new quirky viewing options popping up all the time.

Gone are the days where we'd go down to our local Cineworld and pay a good £20-£30 for tickets, food and drink for just two people. Although 'other' cinema experiences do tend to be around that price too, the fact of the matter is, doing something a little different offers you a lot more bang for your buck.

I can't believe I've just used that phrase.

But the thing is, people are no longer willing to pay that much when they can do exactly the same thing at home for free. We live a Netflix-and-chill era where when we're not hooking up between (and sometimes during) movies on the sofa at home, we're avid on chasing the next alternative or unusual option out there.

But, this isn't a bad thing. It means independent cinemas are doing better, because whilst there's also out there options like sitting in a hot tub on a roof to watch a movie, a lot of people are also going back to basics and enjoying the historic cinemas that show independent and more classic films.

Now that the weather is getting nicer, it's around about that time to start booking these all in. On one hand, you can choose oddball outdoor showings to soak up the warm weather or perhaps you might want to choose something more basic and indoors, which can always be followed by a slow stroll around the London sunshine.

Here's a quick guide to what's worth booking this summer.

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ROOFTOP FILM CLUB
Chances are, you've already heard of the offbeat Rooftop Film Club. Not only are they a super approachable team (just look at their Twitter), but it's also a wise and popular choice for summer evenings spent in London. Rooftop Film Club are probably one of the most popular alternative cinema events and even host some showings at my ultimate fave, Queen of Hoxton. 

OUTDOOR CINEMA

Okay, 'outdoor cinema' is pretty vague and is probably the most basic (but cheapest) on this list. Outdoor cinema does what it says on the tin - you, er, watch film outdoors. This is quite reliant on the weather, but what's nicer then kicking back on a blanket with the sun setting and watching a film amongst good company? You've got Pop Up Screens for the basic and affordable and take place all over London, whereas The Nomad Cinema, tends to pop up at more quirky locations, such as graveyards and stuff. And there's also the Luna Cinema, which pops up at really picturesque locations, such as the beautiful Warwick Castle this summer. Sundown Cinema is worth a mention too (and includes showings at the beautiful Luton Hoo which is ever so local to me, so is totally on my bucketlist this summer).

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HOT TUB CINEMA

If you can face getting into a hot tub with strangers, then Hot Tub Cinema is for you. And if not - you can rent a hot tub out between just your friends if there are enough of you. Hot Tub Cinema takes place on rooftops around London, Bristol, Birmingham and Manchester. Attendee's are generally encouraged to drink and dress up (or rather, dress down) and if you don't have enough friends interested, don't let this discourage you. The general audience is young quirky types (no old perverted men) so chances are you'll end up getting on with whoever's tub you may end up in.
 
DRIVE IN FILM CLUB
Drive In Film Club is by the same team behind Rooftop Film Club, and I can personally vouch for this experience being awesome. Film showings tend to be set just that little bit later when it's dark, but obvs you won't get cold as you'll be in your car! The tickets are super cheap being that they're per car, meaning you can fit as many people as possible into your motor and split the cost. There's plenty of hot dogs on hand too, and yes, you do get popcorn and drink delivered to your car window. You WILL feel like you're in America.


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PILLOW CINEMA
Pillow Cinema is dubbed the 'cosiest night in night out' and I'm not surprised considering how comfy it all looks - and isn't that what it's all about? I need to be comfy when watching a film, in fact, when I'm at home, I can't sit and watch a film unless I have my blanket with me, even if it's a hot day. Obviously dressing down and lounging about is slightly discouraged at most cinemas but Pillow Cinema encourages it! Personally, I think it's ideal for dates...

ELECTRIC CINEMA
With two locations - one in Portobello and one in the uber cool Shoreditch, Electric Cinema brings plush on a cool level - they're basically very Instagram worthy and chances are you've spotted images from the cinemas on Pinterest already. Each cinema has super comfy chairs and sofas - and one even has beds! Plus there's food and drink that can be taken back to your seats, too, and again, I'm not just talking about your standard local cinema popcorn.

EDIBLE CINEMA
This one's for the foodies. The general process is that it mixes film with food and you attend a showing to be given a tray of small numbered containers on your allocated seat. Throughout the film, a screen-side light box will light up to reveal what package should be opened when - mixing canapes and cocktails with the films. But it's not just popcorn and hot dogs at Edible Cinema - the food is meant to add to the experience of the film. It's probably one of the most unique quirky cinema events out there and worth doing at least once in your life. Plus, you'll feel really cultural afterwards, too.

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SECRET CINEMA
If you don't know what Secret Cinema is yet, then it's probably not up your street. The not-so-secret event is based around a movie and consists of an immersive experience that often encourages attendees to dress up and get in character for, followed by a showing of film in a quirky location. Over the years, they've been praised for their showings of Star Wars and Back To The Future and, most notably, 28 Days Later. You can read my personal vague review of that here. It's pricey, so unless you're willing to throw yourself into it, you're probably not going to enjoy it as much as you could. That said, I'd recommend everyone to try a Secret Cinema event at least once in their life.

BACKYARD CINEMA
Backyard cinema actually started in someone's backyard, so this company really knows what it's like to start from the very beginning and still offer that relaxed home-away-from-home feel. The showings are set in unique locations and are sometimes accompanied by actors and live music. Each event is designed to feel like a night out. Their current big event is a showing of Romeo & Juliet in a church, with a choir, too. Tickets can vary from a basic place either on a deckchair or a sofa, to date night tickets that include a bottle of fizz, ice cream, popcorn and a blanket to share. So cute. 

THE REX CINEMA
The Rex Cinema, Berkhamsted is a resorted art deco cinema which is perfect for you vintage types. Showings include classic and independent films, as well as more modern ones, also. But the venue itself is beyond beautiful, with plush red seats surrounding candlelit tables which, yes, you can get food brought over to. My sister took me once here for my birthday and I loved the whole experience. If I remember rightly, someone even comes on stage to introduce the film!

From hot tubs on a rooftop on a hot summer's day, to snuggling up on plush beds or sofas when the weather is just too cold outside - there's plenty of choice this summer and autumn when the local cinema just doesn't do it for you.

These are all I can think of off the top of my head but there are PLENTY more. Are there any I have missed that should be added to this list? Are there any you'd like to try? Let me know!

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Wednesday, 18 May 2016

One of my favourite perks of having a car is being able to listen to whatever I want on my little car journeys. 

This means Spotify is a must have, as is a million playlists. I've got a playlist I listen to which has a bit of everything for when I'm not quite sure what mood I'm in, and this has well over 100 songs.

But I do find myself migrating back to some albums time and time again.

Here are the albums I've been really digging lately though and have been listening to on repeat.

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HALSEY - BADLANDS
Who the eff is Halsey and why hadn't I heard of her sooner? Basically someone shared some super cute lyrics (belonging to Ghost) on Tumblr so I tracked down the song, fell in love with it, then subsequently fell in love with the album. A few months later I realized she's also super popular and, well, everyone is in love with the album - not just me. I have no idea why I hadn't heard of her before now/then but I can be quite slow when it comes to new music, hence why I spend too much time loving old albums instead of checking out new ones. Anyway. If you haven't yet, have a listen.
 
21 PILOTS - VESSEL
Ahhhh 21 Pilots. This band man. Everyone loves them. And if you don't, it's probably just because you haven't heard their stuff yet. This two-piece band cant really be described genre wise as I guess it's a mixture of rap, rock, pop and punk, but they're impossible not to love. I'll be seeing them at Reading Festival later this year and I'm so effing excited. If you're only going to listen to one song off this album, make it Holding On To You or Guns For Hands. You can thank me later.
 
BUSTED - BUSTED
I know. I know, ok? But I will not be judged! Busted are awesome and everyone loves them now and I'm so glad they're back. I really love popping on this album and singing along to it at the top of my voice on a hot day. I still remember every word and it brings back so many feels. Right now, my absolute favourite off the album is Everything I knew. But who am I kidding?! All the songs are my favourite...
 
COBRA STARSHIP - NIGHT SHADES
This one is another oldie, sort of, and I remember listening to it most when I had this god awful boring job when I first graduated from university. I mean it wasn't that boring, but it was pretty much document processing so consisted of mundane jobs like removing staples from pages, typing up info etc. I needed something upbeat to listen to at the time and, songs like Fool Like Me, F*cked In Love and Disaster Boy were kind of my anthems at the time as I was also going through a break up, too.
 
ALL TIME LOW - DIRTY WORK
I love All Time Low but I have to admit, this album is just purely for singing along to. I love it. On a hot day with the windows down in my car. When I'm cooking. When I'm sitting in the garden reading. I can't say I have any memories about this album as I never really got into All Time Low until recent years, but this album is filled with your standard pop-punk catchy anthems - which isn't a bad thing.

So there you have it. Five albums worth listening to right now. You'll love them. You're welcome.

Do let me know your thoughts and if there's any other albums missing from this list!

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Sunday, 15 May 2016

Keeping your body fit is key to leading an active and happy life. But we shouldn’t just stop at trying to increase our physical fitness. We also need to take good care of our mental fitness as well. If we don’t, then we could be putting ourselves at risk from mental health diseases as well as illnesses such as Alzheimer's and dementia. There are a few different things you can do to look after your brain. Here are some of the easiest. 

[Source]
CHALLENGE YOURSELF
The brain loves getting stuck into puzzles. The kinds that you find in the back of newspapers are ideal! Things like crosswords and sudokus can keep our mind stimulated, preventing it from aging prematurely. There are many other ways you can challenge your brain. Learning languages is another good one. And the best thing about a new language is that it will open up an exciting new culture to you!
HEALTHY EATING
Some foods can boost your brainpower! Sticking to a vegetarian or vegan diet can be very beneficial to your brain. Fruits, vegetables, and cereals are where all the healthy goodness that your brain loves can be found! If you are still eating meat, make sure to eat lots of oily fish. They contain high levels of Omega 3 fatty acids, which can help your brain to function properly.
TAKE SUPPLEMENTS
If you are a strict vegetarian or vegan, you can still enjoy the benefits of oily fish by taking Omega 3 supplements. Your local supermarket should sell them in capsule form. There are some other supplements that can help your brain as well, such as Citicoline. There are certain Citicoline indications that are warning signs. If you notice them, your brain isn’t producing enough naturally. If you are having problems with your memory or thinking logically, it could be worth taking this supplement to help your brain out.


[Source]
TAKE A TRIP
Your brain thrives when it has a change of scenery. When there are new things for it to focus on, it will reignite neurons that could have been dormant for some time. Don’t worry if you can’t afford a holiday, though. You can help your brain even just by walking a different route to university or work. And I’m sure you’ll be able to find loads of exciting new places you’ve yet to explore in your local area!
WORK OUT
Keeping your body fit also keeps your mind fit. So you are killing two birds with one stone! By being active, we are promoting blood flow up to our head, and it also encourages the development of new brain cells and neurons. This then prevents it from aging before its time. Not only that but exercise reduces stress, which can have a very negative effect on your brain and mental health. You don’t have to start running marathons to feel the benefits. Just walk more instead of driving everywhere!
By keeping your brain and body healthy, you are giving yourself the best chance to live a happy and healthy life!
 *Please note this post has been contributed.

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Friday, 13 May 2016

Last weekend, my sister and I headed into St Albans to have a girly evening out. We hadn't really had the chance to catch up recently before then and what with her due date fast approaching, we knew Saturday nights spent going out for food and drinks (non-alcoholic for her, of course) would not come around so often anymore.

I actually really like St Albans and it's known to have a really nice vibe to it with plenty of laid-back chic bars. I've been there often shopping with my nan and, at the other end, to The Horn which is a great gig venue, but I've never really gone there for evening drinks or food.

So we made ourselves look pretty, made a pit stop at a nice laid back bar called The Peahen then carried on round to Jamie's Italian. I've always wanted to try Jamie's Italian because, well, I love Italian food and I find that unfortunately I'm not very good at making it myself.

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For me, pasta sauces are always a big no-no.

So anyway, I'm no good at describing the deco of a place but it was much like the style of his other restaurants - dark, but with plenty of soft lighting and a very rustic feel to it all.

To begin, we had a giant (and I mean giant) sharing platter between us, which was the antiplank. This included:artisan fennel salami, mortadella, prosciutto, spiced chicken-liver pâté, Cobble Lane bresaola & pork scratchings with grissini & music bread Italian nachos, mini buffalo mozzarella, aged pecorino & chilli jam, olives & pickles, grilled marinated peppers & rainbow slaw - phew!

It arrived on a giant plank (so long we had to actually adjoin another table to ours to fit) and I thought it was the perfect starter. It was finger food and I always find nibbles and such to be a very social food.

I love starters too and much prefer them to desert so the giant platter was more than worth it. The only qualm I had was the price - at £10.50 per person, it just seemed that it was priced odd. Why not just add a set price as it's obvious that it's to share, anyway?

Nonetheless, it was worth what we paid.

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For the main course, I had the veggie burger which was a toasted brioche bun with a herby chickpea, soya bean & six-seed patty, cottage cheese, balsamic onions, gem lettuce & tomato, served with a chopped salad.

It was LUSH but unfortunately, I did not have the chance to finish it. My eyes are bigger then my belly. What I loved was that the 'burger' aka the patty was just as big as the bun - if not, bigger, which is value for money.

I've never tried a chickpea, soya bean & six-seed patty before but the flavours worked together really well and there was a lot of flavour - basically, I didn't miss a 'proper' burger in it's place one bit. The texture reminded me a lot of a falafal too - slightly crumbly but oh-so-delicious.

I cannot for the life of me remember what my sister had but it was lush, also.

whereas for the main I went for a Veggie burger.

Right now my diet is mostly vegan/veggie, allowing myself one night a week to cheat if I want to or if, like this meal, I was going out and didn't fancy the vegan option on the menu.

Basically, there was no way I wasn't going to try the meat platter that I'd heard so many good things about.

As a whole, the meal cost us around £25 each, including two courses and some drinks - and off course, in general, a nice evening out.

I suppose some people would say that's pricey compared to other places which, I guess compared to perhaps local pubs or something a bit more causal, it is. But it's the going price for a more 'classy' I guess evening out, in fact it was cheaper then I thought it would be and it was well worth the money.

I'd definitely recommend Jamie's Italian if you're ever in St Albans!


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