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Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Last week, I was lucky enough to be invited to a special comedy event, presented by Chris Ramsey and in collaboration with Swiftcover.

The idea and campaign behind the #Swiftgigs - that took place at different comedy hotspots around the UK - was to get people enjoying comedy and exploring the UK's comedy hotspots. It was revealed that over half the nation (54%) have not been to see a live stand up show in the past year, and 68% could not name a favourite UK comedy club when asked.

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I was certainly part of this percentage. I've always liked comedy, but have never been a massive fan because I feel I don't know anywhere decent to watch live comedy, nor am I clued up on comedians in general!

I also have a very specific/oddball sense of humour - I'm a huge fan of The Mighty Boosh which, although has a cult following, is kind of like marmite - you either love it or hate it. So with my strange sense of humour, the only comedians I've really liked a lot have been those like Noel Fielding (obviously), Russell Brand, Russel Howard and, of course, Chris Ramsey.

I love Chris Ramsey in particular because he's from South Shields which is my happy place!

So of course by the time Wednesday rolled around, I was very much looking forward to it. I met up with my two friends, Briony and Becky, in London and together we headed to the Hippodrome Casino.

I'd never been to the Hippodrome Casino before but was blown away when I stepped inside - it's so glam, with floors made out of coins and luxurious lighting.

Upon arrival, we were sent upstairs for a brief pre-party, where we could mingle with other guests, gorge on free sweets, take selfies with a Chris Ramsey cardboard cutout, and sip free cocktails - including the specially made delicious Swiftini.

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This part was nice because it gave us 45 minutes or so to mingle and chat with other guests, as well as get in the mood. I'd spent the afternoon rushing into and around London as my first two trains were delayed, so it was nice to sit down and kick back with a drink, chat to new people and catch up with my friends after my stressful journey.

Soon we were ushered into the small theatre which I loved. It was so intimate, with tables and chairs clustered around a stage. With there only being 180 seats, it was actually really nice. We were sat right at the front and I know with comedy it's not the same as a play for example, where being at the front helps to see the action, but it was actually really nice.

Steve Hall acted as the MC for the night, introducing each comedian on stage and he was really funny. Although his 'peformances' were shorter, he made us laugh and I loved the props/photos he used.

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We weren't actually supposed to take photos of the acts but I took this photo of Steve Hall before I realized this!

The first act was Ahir Shar, who was funny but not necessarily my type of humour. I found him funny and very talented, and I liked how his comedy actually touched on more real subjects but in a humorous way.

Chris Ramsey himself was absolutely hilarious and had me in stitches the whole time. I just adore him. He's so funny (and good looking too, if I do say so myself), and I was quite intrigued at how drawing from his own life - where he is now married with a baby - actually made me laugh so much. I mean, it's not something I can relate to personally, but somehow he still managed to make me laugh my ass off, which I suppose is a sign of a really good comedian!

By the time the night ended, we had all drunk the free bar dry (oops), and me and my friends left the venue on a high. I really wish we'd had the time to stay and play in the casino as I was so impressed with the venue. It was really glam and just seemed like such a fun night out, going to see a show and then betting some money.

I'd definitely love to return for a night out there, and, in all honesty, it has got me more interested in theatre again. I watch stand up on TV from time to time, but I think I'll now be keeping an eye out for any acts at the Hippodrome because I'd love another night out there soon.

Thanks so much for the invite and the fab night Swiftcover!

Are you a fan of comedy? Let me know!

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Saturday, 27 August 2016

I first heard about this book when I read it was one of the most anticipated book-to-movie adaptations of 2016 and promptly ordered a copy.

Not because it was being made into a film - even though this was the reason the book came to my attention - but because it was to do with zombies, of course.

Better yet, reading up about it, it soon transpired that it was a unique take on the zombie apocalypse in that it wasn't necessarily about a bunch of citizens trying to survive the apocalypse - instead, it mostly focused around a young 'zombie' girl who is also a somewhat functioning human, set a good 20 or so years after the world has gone to sh*t.
 
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The blurb reads -
 
Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class. When they come for her, Sergeant Parks keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair. She thinks they don't like her. She jokes that she won't bite. But they don't laugh.
 
The first thing I liked about this book was the character's chance of survival - seemingly. Being that the small group is made up of two soldiers and a scientist - and, of course, Melanie - you feel like they've got a good chance. It's realistic too - this isn't just a civilisation who just happens to stumble across someone with guns that can protect them, so the setting of being in a research base is both realistic but refreshing.

Obviously the most refreshing part is the fact that the story is about Melanie and mostly told from her point of view. The zombie genre is still as popular as ever, so people are currently looking at new ways to tell its story.

Although a story from a zombie's point of view isn't entirely new, this one in particular is different and enticing.

The characters were intriguing, also.

I liked how some of the main characters weren't so likeable, though we still got the chance to hear things from their point of view and I found myself not agreeing with them but, at the very least, understanding them and why they are the way they are.
 
Even though I knew from the offset that Melanie was not normal, she was the character I emphasized the most, which means this novel is pretty powerful to get people to feel that way about a zombie.
 
I also, naturally, really liked the character of Miss Justineau. Even though she was there to do a job, she was one of the most human characters of the book and I liked that she was more about emotion than facts.
 
I can imagine that should the zombie apocalypse ever happen, it would be a rarity to find someone with that quality.
 
“And then like Pandora, opening the great big box of the world and not being afraid, not even caring whether what’s inside is good or bad. Because it’s both. Everything is always both. But you have to open it to find that out.”

It's a heavy read. I certainly had to put it down and come back to it a few times and although it draws you in quickly, the first quarter of the book is a slow burner.

But the story quickly gains its pace and it wasn't long before it turned into a real page turner.

The end I won't say too much about - but it's believable and realistic, without being a total down pour. It's one of those books which you read, entirely expecting to not be entirely satisfied by the ending because you know whatever happens, it's not going to be good and you're not going to get your happy ending.

But The Girl with All the gifts is satisfying in its own unique way.

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Thursday, 25 August 2016

Something I don't really talk a lot about on this blog is gaming and it might surprise some of you to learn that I am, at least in some sense of the word, a gamer.

I'm not a full on gamer-gamer - if you can define the word - who often plays online and has teams and stuff on games like Call of Duty (I am really bad at that game) but I do have a particular soft spot for horror games and have often pulled all nighters to try and complete them.

I think my love for gaming has always been there though. When I was little, my brother bought me my first ever Gameboy and bought me games like Pokemon, 

Later, when I grew up and progressed onto the Playstation it was games like Tomb Raider, Toy Story and sometimes GTO.

I kinda lost my love for gaming when I hit college and university, but one day when I was out on a night out, studying up north as a student, I stepped on a piece of broken glass and cut my foot open. I could barely walk so my boyfriend at the time used an ironing board as a makeshift table beside his bed (such a good idea as it got to the perfect height) and set me up on his Xbox...where I found my love for Xbox, too!

So I thought I'd put together a post mentioning some of my all time favourite video games!

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KINGDOM HEARTS
This was one of the first games my brother ever got me for my PlayStation and even though I never managed to complete it (one day I will!) it's still an all time favourite of mine. It mixes action with Disney! And it actually isn't just for kids. You get to visit so many of the Disney worlds - including the one from Nightmare Before Christmas! It's such a fun feel good game.

RESIDENT EVIL
I have always loved the Resident Evil series which is no surprise really since I'm so obsessed with zombies. It's such a badass game! One of my favourite's is Resident Evil 5 which you can play on co-op - I have many memories of doing all nighter's trying to play that game on co-op. Even though there have been so many Resident Evil games and they're all essentially about fighting zombies, it never really gets old.

THE SIMS
I know this is actually predominantly a PC game but everyone loved this game. I used to love creating sim's and trying to get Mortimer to cheat on Bella with my sim so I could move into the mansion and, in later years, I loved the explorer pack where you could go underground to discover tombs and Egyptian artefacts. It was so much fun building dream houses too - all of mine had a party room! I also remember how hilarious the game was when something went wrong. I still remember the time I made sims of me and my boyfriend at the time but of course it had to be done properly, so he had his own house and she tried to court him slowly. Anyway, he started getting really distant so my sim went over to his house and peered in his window to find him cheating on her - not with just anyone, but with HIMSELF! Somehow the game had glitched and made an identical sim to him and my sim was heart broken to see them kissing. My real life boyfriend at the time DID love himself a bit too much though so perhaps the game was spot on...

TOMB RAIDER
Who doesn't love Tomb Raider? She's just so badass and although the games have come a long way from the ones with the mansion (oh how I miss trying to complete the maze and locking the butler in the freezer), the elements have always stayed the same. Plus, some of the films are genuinely really challenging which means it actually takes a while to complete them.

LEFT 4 DEAD 2
I haven't played the first game yet but I love the sequel! It was this game that pushed me to buy my own Xbox last year and boy have I missed it. It's quite simple and it's a bit annoying how it's not really a game to complete so to speak, you just play different scenes which makes it great for playing online. But it's really fun, especially to play with friends.

KIRBY'S DREAMLAND
Oh how I loved this Gameboy game! It was just so pretty and sweet and simple. Don't get me wrong, I've come to love violent games killing zombies and such but I played Kirby's Dreamland at a young age and loved the simplicity of it all and just how sweet it was. You basically play this floating cloud thing and have to travel through this land, fighting hilarious enemies like trees and such. There's one really pretty bit at the end, where, if I remember rightly, you fall through the sky and collect power ups on the way down, but you just float through the night sky surrounded by stars and such. So cute.

Do any of you play video games? If so, which are your favourites? Let me know!

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Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Dreams are funny, aren't they?

I once read somewhere how weird it is that we basically lay down and regenerate in a comatose state for eight or so hours, all whilst being completely vulnerable to what's going on around us and whilst hallucinating vividly.

My dreams are definitely vivid and weird as I have such an overactive imagination.

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In the past I have had reoccurring dreams about places that don't exist and dreams that make no sense whatsoever.

And did I mention how freaky it is that a dream can seemingly last for days yet you can wake up after half an hour?!

I also have really messed up dreams, especially when it comes to horror. There's an ace but very messed up scene in my zombie novel that has come direct from my dreams!

I find the reasoning behind dreams very weird, too. Have you ever looked up what your dreams mean?

Adjustamatic have teamed up with dream expert Ian Wallace to help understand dreams and what's on our minds when we dream, so I thought I'd share the reasoning behind one of my own.

It's rare that I have a common dream like teeth falling out or anything like that but, years ago when I was getting ready to graduate from university, I used to have one reoccurring dream so often that at one point, I was having the dream up to two times a week for a couple of months or so.

The dream would see me living down south once I had graduated (if you remember rightly, I studied at a university up north, living with my boyfriend at the time).

The dream would start out like most others, me doing mundane things and just getting on with my life..except, I'd forget I had a boyfriend. He wouldn't even cross my mind and it was like he didn't even exist.

I'd then become aware of this in my dream and like a bolt would be like a 'oh shit, my boyfriend. I haven't called him yet today' kind of thing. Then all of a sudden, I'd be in a rush to contact him - but couldn't. I'd try to ring him on my phone, but I'd forget his number or my thumbs would be too big for the keys. I'd try and write him a letter but be unable to find a pen. I'd try to book the train to travel back up north to see him, but the website wouldn't work.

There would be all manners of things stopping me contacting him and the few times that I did manage to call him, he wouldn't answer.

We broke up a few weeks later and, almost instantly, the dreams stopped.

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And as soon as I did, I knew what they meant. The dreams were representing my fear of us not working out once I moved down south and us not working out in a long distance relationship. I think deep down, I knew once I graduated that that would be the end for us, and perhaps I just didn't want to face it at the time.

But all I'll always remember those dreams and they're the only reoccurring dreams I've had that have actually meant something.

It was so weird.

These days my reoccurring dreams are far and few between (the only one I tend to have these days are dreams about a haunted house attraction in the woods - so typical of me), but I also like to believe it's because my life is more settled, too.

I find it so much easier to sleep at night when I've been working all day - I struggled really badly with sleeping patterns back when I first graduated from university and didn't have a job. Sometimes, I'd find myself wide awake at 3am, almost struggling to breath in a panic as I thought about all the things I wanted to do with my life but with the fear that I wouldn't get to do.

These days when I go to bed, my dreams are still sometimes vivid, but it's a far cry of how my sleeping patterns used to be. I've come to believe that being settled in life or at least on the right track leads to a better sleeping pattern - and sometimes better dreams, too.

Sometimes I dream of marrying rock stars! I find my weirdest dreams will come on a weekend sometimes, when I've been up late the night before or am having a restless night.

My weirdest dreams come from when I nap, though, or if I've fallen asleep somewhere uncomfortable. I love naps, but I hate waking up on the sofa, my neck achy and feeling like I have no idea what day it is or even what planet I'm on!

I do find the idea of dreaming absolutely fascinating and in some ways, I'm glad I realized what that one reoccurring dream meant, because it taught me to listen to my gut and, sometimes, listen to my dreams too.

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*This post was created in collaboration with Adjustamatic.
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Sunday, 21 August 2016

It's been a while since I've popped up a playlist post, so I thought this would be the perfect example!

I've created a girls night out playlist inspired by Airtime, an innovative new app that allows you to share music and video chat with up to five friends too, which I think is a great idea for when you're getting ready for a night out.

The fact of a matter is that these days, pre-drinks with your friends and getting ready to go out on a night out is half the fun and sometimes even more fun than the rest of the night. It's the perfect opportunity to gossip, swap makeup tips, catch up with friends, listen to your own music and have a few pre-drinks, too.

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It's often my favourite part of the night - although I love a night out, this is really the time when I get to sit down and chat to my friends one to one before we're too drunk and the music is too loud, haha.

This app is super useful too because I get SO stressed out pre-arranging things before a night out. When there's a big group of you, not everyone arrives on time. There's always someone running late, someone leaving straight from work or someone that just can't decide what to wear.

Having the opportunity to talk to everyone in one go in one singular app makes it so much easier, there's no trying to gossip to a friend whilst trying to fiend off endless whatsapp messages or phonecalls about what drink someone should bring or how much time do they have before we order the taxi.

It makes things simpler and involves everyone in the whole getting ready process too, which I like.

I've also found it super helpful for events in the future, too. Like a friend and I are going to Reading next week, and we're sharing videos from Youtube and songs from Spotify from bands we'd like to check out and watch while we're there.

These days, my pre-drinks and gettogethers tend to happen more before big gigs than actual clubbing - although sometimes its a gig followed by some partying! I have to admit, I enjoy rooting through my wardrobe looking for an edgy outfit that will also keep me cool in the mosh pit, donning  jewellery that fits in with my look and creating the perfect smokey eye for a gig.

Of course I also love getting ready to go clubbing, but somehow I enjoy it more before a gig/rock night out because I feel I can be creative.

So I'm sharing with you my getting ready playlist - 'rock' songs, or songs by rock artists that are also slightly dancey too in a way with the lyrics or theme behind the song. I've thrown a few genuine dance tunes in there too though ;)

Also, how old is that Bodyrockers song?! I discovered this gem on an old burned CD I found the other day, since my new car has an ace CD player, and the songs are so old on there that I must have made the mix when I was 16 or so! One of the songs was a Snow Patrol song and was so old that it was recorded directly from the radio, complete with the DJ introducing the track!

Oh the days of LimeWire..!

Enjoy!
What do you think? Will you be downloading the app? What songs would be on your getting ready to go out playlist? Let me know with a comment!
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