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Monday, 23 December 2013

It's two days before Christmas but I bet some of you are still stressing over some last minute presents - I know I usually am! For once I'm somehow organized this year, but that's only because I found this fab idea when browsing Pinterest. Me and my friends went out for a lovely Christmas meal on Friday evening and I put together some homemade gifts for a few of the girls. I thought these might give any of you some ideas as they took barely anytime to make at all and I used ingredients that I already had at home.

Inspire Magazine Online - UK Fashion, Beauty and Lifestyle Blog: Inspire Magazine; Cinnamon and Coca body scrub; home made; gifts; Christmas

This homemade cinnamon and cocoa body scrub took less than an hour to make and not only does it smell delicious, I think it will last ages too. I tried a little bit out on my hands and it left my skin feeling super soft and smooth, so I know it works too! To make this scrub, all you need per scrub is ;  
  • 2 tbsp of olive oil
  • 1/2 tbsp of cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tbsp of cinnamon
  • 1 cup of brown sugar
  • 1/2 of white sugar

And that's it! We used proper measuring utensils as opposed to measuring things out in actual 'cups' and everything on the list you should have stored away in your cupboards anyway. Cocoa powder is just similar to what you put in hot chocolate. Because we had slightly large jars, we doubled all the ingredients per jar/mix, and then just added a little more olive oil because the mix seemed a little dry. Really, we just used our initiative. All you have to do is shove all the ingredients in one bowl and mix it altogether, taking time to break up any lumps.
Afterwards I filled up the jars and made a shoddy attempt at decorating them. A lovely red vintage and white ribbon would look lovely around these but really any colour would do.
The jars themselves were quite easy to find too and no doubt you'll have some lying around the house. You could even use small candle or mason jars and fill up a couple for each person, or try having a look online at creating a few different scrubs then maybe giving a set of three to each person. Most of which I found online were really easy to make, it was just about seeing what we had in the cupboard!
My friends absolutely adored these gifts and I think the fact that they were homemade made them that extra bit special. Have you made any homemade gifts this year? Let me know with a comment, I'd love to hear your experiences!
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Monday, 16 December 2013

The Tuesday before last I was lucky enough to attend ASOS's Christmas party, which was another amazing opportunity with #AccessAllAsos. I was extremely excited because a) it was my first Christmas party of the year and b) it was my first ever blogger/industry Christmas party! I couldn't wait to go and get my Christmas spirit on, but first up was deciding what to wear.

I definitely decided to go with a dress since it was a Christmas party after all, but this was going to be tough since I'd be getting the train into London and it's the middle of winter. I decided to wear my green H&M dress paired with tights and my flats for the journey (I changed into my heels once I was there). I was very tempted to wear a corny Christmas jumper and kind of wished I had once I arrived and saw a few people rocking some awesome cliche ones, but I don't yet own one. I know, there's no excuses.

Luckily ASOS have a fab range in at the moment which we got to have a mooch through when we arrived. They were displaying their Christmas collection which included lots of corny cliche Christmas jumpers, lots of sequins and studs and also some really cool individual pieces from sellers that use the ASOS Marketplace. We definitely loved having a mooch through all the party wear.

Inspire Magazine Online - UK Fashion, Beauty and Lifestyle Blog; AccessAllAsos; Access All Asos; Blogger Event
Upon our arrival we were also greeted with some yummy Christmas drinks - there was the yummiest mulled wine ever and I pretty much stuck to this the whole night. I think this year I've really discovered my love for the stuff.

There was lots of going on with ladies offering to do our nails really cute Christmas style and a free beauty pick & mix where we could stock up on some essentials. There was even Santa! I wasn't sure whether to expect a young hot half naked model or an old man for this, but we got the real thing! He determined whether we were naughty or nice before giving us a gift based on his decision (apparently I'm nice but have the potential to be naughty as I have that naughty glint in my eye, haha! Thanks Santa!).
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Meeting Santa with some of the lovely ladies I met
The best part was just mingling and meeting everyone though. Everyone was so friendly and what I really enjoy about events like this is whether you're a blogger or you work on PR, you always have something in common. I suppose it's kind of just the whole online networking thing - a lot of us had already spoken via Twitter and it was no surprise that when you come from this industry that you no doubt all have similar interests. It was great that it wasn't just bloggers too so I got to meet a variety of different people and may I say that the staff at ASOS are also really, really friendly. They didn't just greet us and ask if everything was okay, they repeatedly came up to us to have a chat or asked us what we thought of the collection, whether we blogged or not and if so what we blogged about etc.

It was great because it felt like a big meet up/casual networking opportunity all rolled into one Christmas party, complete with a never ending supply of mulled wine and a slightly pervy Santa - which I guess is exactly what a Christmas party should be!

I had a really lovely time so thanks for the invite #AccessAllAsos!
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Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Christmas is a great time of the year and I personally can't see how anyone can dislike it. You get to spend time with family, give and receive lots of awesome presents and just eat as much as you can without worrying because, after all, it is Christmas and that's your excuse. But it's always important to remember that Christmas is also about showing people how much you care and remembering how grateful you are. Not everyone is lucky enough to have a family this Christmas, or even somewhere to live. Sadly, there are people homeless and cold on the streets this Christmas, and people in other countries that are too poor or too sick to even think about this time of year.

It is a sad subject, but sometimes Christmas is a great time of year to get involved with making a change. Christmas is often when people need your help more than ever and I think it's always nice to at least do a little something for someone else this Christmas.

There are some great ways to get involved that don't take too much effort on your part and can also be something you can do as part of a family. Some of these are a great way to teach your children how important it is to give to charity or try and help others. Even if you're super busy this Christmas, some of these ideas barely take any time at all. And if you're wary about where your money goes when you give to charity and whether or not it actually helps someone directly, there are even some ideas that will make sure that people get the help they specifically need so you know your good intentions are going to the right place.

I think this is especially important with the recent allegations regarding donations to Comic Relief apparently being spent on tobacco, alcohol and arms firms. Too many people are wary about where their money will go when they donate so they do not donate at all, when little do they know there are other ways to get involved.

Inspire Magazine Online - UK Fashion, Beauty and Lifestyle Blog: Get Involved this Christmas; Operation Christmas Child; World Vision; Must have gifts; Must have gifts world vision; charity

Operation Christmas Child is something I was introduced to in college and still take part in now and again. Although their drop off points are now closed for this year, if you'd still like to take part you can give them a ring and see if there's any other way they can collect your shoe boxes. And you can now create a shoebox online for as little as £15! It's all very easy - you take an empty shoebox and fill it with little gifts aimed for either a boy or a girl and pick an age range too. Then you pack it with things like hygiene items, education items, toys, sweets etc. You then make a donation of at least £3, which will cover the shipping cost, then you can decorate your shoebox and drop it off at a drop off point. The shoe boxes all get sent to various different countries such as Kenya, Zimbabwe, Serbia and Bosnia so you can rest assure that your shoebox will definitely reach someone who appreciates it. You can even print out a unique bar code for your shoebox and at a later date find out where exactly yours has been delivered to!

It's a lovely idea and doesn't take much time up at all. If you're eager to get involved further, you can even apply to set up your own drop off point and get all the community involved. It's a great way to create it into a social event and many schools, colleges and churches often hold events to get everyone involved.

Inspire Magazine Online - UK Fashion, Beauty and Lifestyle Blog: Get Involved this Christmas; Operation Christmas Child; World Vision; Must have gifts; Must have gifts world vision; charity

Must have gifts is another way to get involved but with minimal effort. Although you do spend money, rather then donating, you instead buy a gift which means you know exactly what your money is being spent on. You can purchase the gift yourself or on someone else's behalf which can also double up as a Christmas present for someone else. Gifts under £20 range from a TB screening for just £6, vital vitamins for £10 and a kid goat for £19 (how cute!). It's a great way to get involved with a charity directly and if you're not quite sure what you want for Christmas yourself this year, why not set up a wish list so family and friends can purchase a gift on your behalf?

Finally, another way to get really hands on is to create a care pack for a homeless person this winter. This can be done directly at anytime and you don't need the help of a charity. You can be as experimental as you like as well. If you've ever been worried about giving a homeless person money because you've heard it just gets spent on drugs or anything like that, then this is a great way to make sure that isn't the case. You can fill these care packs with anything from an old blanket, food, wipes, socks/clothes, mouthwash, gift cards to places like Starbucks so they can get a hot drink and even an address book of local services. It takes no time at all, especially if you've got lots of things hanging around your house anyway, like old gloves you don't wear anymore.

These are just three small ideas that can help you give back this Christmas and the second idea takes minimal effort on your part. I'd love to see and hear about some of you doing something similar this Christmas because trust me, even though it's not the reason for taking part, you will feel good about yourself afterwards.

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*Image used above taken from the organisation's official websites and are not copyright to me

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Saturday, 7 December 2013

So every road trip needs a few decent playlists and I have to admit, putting some together for our road trip was one of the best parts! The three of us all have similar music taste, so at first it seemed pretty easy. When I began to organize the songs though, it was pretty hard! For example, would a Busted song be more suitable for a cheese playlist or a pop punk anthem playlist? What exactly constitutes a pop punk anthem - a personal favourite song of mine, or a song that everyone used to love when they were 16? It was tough!

I didn't even have time to put the songs in a decent order, oh forgive me, I know, it's terrible, but I literally did not just have enough time! So the playlists may be a little shaky and random but I promise you there's still a great selection.

I even made some album covers for them because I'm weird like that...

So the three playlists I made (in no particular order) are..

Inspire Magazine Online - UK Fashion,  Beauty and Lifestyle Blog: We Are The Maine Tour playlists; The Maine; Playlist; music; roadtrip; cheese on toast;

Cheese songs and an album/playlist cover that even includes accompanying listening situations! We didn't sing along to this playlist drunk at 3am but we did listen to it a lot whilst driving, in fact it was the first playlist we put on. From Hot Chocolate to Enrique Iglesias this IS the ultimate cheese on toast playlist. Everyone knows the lyrics. Whether you can sing or not, you can't help but singing along at the top of your voice and laughing your head off.

Inspire Magazine Online - UK Fashion,  Beauty and Lifestyle Blog: We Are The Maine Tour playlists; The Maine; Playlist; music; roadtrip; songs that make us kinda cool;

I totally poked fun at us with this playlist cover because this playlist featured all the 'going out' songs, but not necessarily all the mainstream ones. Being that we're definitely bigger fans of rock music than dance, I tried to make a mix that included both. So of course I've included standard clubbing songs like Robin Thicke and Dizzee Rascal, but I've also added my own twist to the mix by including rockier songs that always get me in the mood to go out dancing, Like All Time Low's I Feel Like Dancing and Good Charlotte's Like It's Her Birthday. This playlist wasn't as successful as it could have been. Ideally it fitted our Newcastle night out perfectly, especially since we ended up in the smokey basement of a VIP club dancing to club music. I actually put this on when we stayed at the Liverpool hotel in a desperate attempt to salvage the night. We'd hoped to have a night out then but it had rained whilst we were waiting for the guys so we were freezing cold and we'd driven a long, long LONG way that day and had actually ended up late to the venue so needless to say we weren't really feeling it. by 1am we were all passed out asleep in our onesies anyway but never mind, the effort was there haha!

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This was one of my favourite playlists and just featured a bunch of songs that always inspire me to want to go on a road trip. I can listen to any of these songs and immediately think about speeding down an empty road, the windows rolled down and me and my friends singing loudly. This is exactly what we did when listening to this playlist (bar the windows rolled down bit because it was in the middle of November and freakin' freezing!) and it's nice to know that I can listen to these songs now and not just think about a road trip but actually be reminded of one, knowing that I finally got to go on one of my own.

And yes, I'm aware that this playlist has 50 songs. Oops. And even now I keep thinking of new songs to add, but that would be cheating..

So there we have it! My three playlists created for We Are The Maine Tour 2013 - our own personal sound track to our road trip around the UK :) I think each and every song featured had a place on this tour. Nothing will beat listening to Mayday Parade's Kids in Love whilst speeding through the countryside as the sun was setting slap bang in the middle of our trip. It was probably then that it hit me we were really doing it and I was finally fulfilling my dream!

What would your ultimate road trip playlists include? Let me know, I'd love to hear your suggestions!

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P.S Check out the Music tag for more gig reviews and music related posts!

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Sunday, 1 December 2013

IT'S CHRISTMAS! That's literally all I have to say in terms of an introduction for this's what I'm looking forward to this December!

Inspire Magazine Online - UK Fashion, Beauty and Lifestyle Blog: Hello December;  Here's Looking At You; Mhairi McFarlane; The Maine; Saving Mr Banks; Anchorman; Christmas

 The Book 
This is a tough one because most books have already been released in time for Christmas! Go into any bookstore to be faced with shelf upon shelf of sparkly eye catching and seasonal covers, all already released! However one book I am looking forward to is Here's Looking At You by Mhairi McFarlane. I LOVE a Christmas romance story and could never get bored of them, but perhaps Mhairi is on the right track by releasing a non-Christmassy book at this time of year. The cover stands out against all over seasonal books and it's refreshing to find a story that isn't based around Christmas. It tells the story of 30-something Anna, who bumps into an old friend from school. Despite being a real gentlemen, Anna wonders if he's really changed from who he used to be and whether or not it would be wise to trust him.. Here's Looking At You is set to be released on the 5th December and can be pre-ordered now.

 The Film(s) 

The two big films set to be released this December are Saving Mr Banks and Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues. Saving Mr Banks - staring Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson, is set to be the heart warming family film this Christmas. It tells the tale of Walt Disney trying to obtain the film rights to P. L Travers book, Mary Poppins. It also stars some big names such as Paul Giamatti and Colin Farrell, and is the type of film suitable for everyone to see this month. On the other hand, we've also finally got the Anchorman sequel! Comedy legend Will Farrell finally returns as Ron Burgundy alongside with the cast from the previous film reprising their hilarious roles! Definitely one to see with your friends, Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues will have you laughing your heads off. It'll be released on the 18th December, whereas Saving Mr Banks is out now in the UK and will be released on 13th December in the US. Yes, I realize this means technically it's not a December release as I'm from the UK, but I've already written all of that now before realizing it's already released. Oops.

 The Album 
The Maine have already had more than enough success with their recent release of Forever Halloween earlier this year, but despite having just finished a tour around America and Europe, they've still found time to put together brand new material. For the first time ever, The Maine are set to release an acoustic EP of brand new songs, the first of which, Raining in Paris, was released on the 5th November. Imaginary Numbers is set to be released on the 10th of December and can be pre-ordered now, although at the moment it's already sold out! The boys will also be embarking on a short US tour - their first ever fully acoustic tour - amply named An Acoustic Evening with The Maine to celebrate the release of the EP. 

 Anything Else? 
I enjoyed doing a Christmas blogging challenge so much in the past that I've decided to take part in another one this Christmas! The 25 Days of Blogging Christmas Challenge will just feature 25 little prompts to keep me blogging throughout the month of December and will all be based around the subject of Christmas obviously. It's just a little bit of fun and I'll be posting my first post later this evening! I've also decided to take part in another challenge strictly for Instagram called Capturing December. You can check my progress or follow me here on Instagram if you like.

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*Image used above found via Google & not copyright to me

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Saturday, 30 November 2013

I love my post 

Welcome to the I Love My Post blog hop where we invite you to link up your favourite post of the week, to show it off and hopefully receive some love from the others partaking in the hop!

If you are yet to participate in a hop they are really simple to get the hang of all you need to do is 'hop' around, hopefully finding some new great reads!

The Rules are simple! Have Fun, click around find some new blogs to read and share the I Love My Post LOVE! And if you fancy being a co-host with us! Give Sarah an Email:

Your Host’s this week are: Sarah from Life in a Break Down Bex from Futures and our lovely co-hosts are: Vita from Pixie Vita Louise from Inspire Magazine

I would love it if you would tweet, share on facebook or place our button on your blog, the more sharing we can get happening the bigger this hop can become!

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This week's Featured Blog is: O Taste and See

If your feeling hungry or fancy trying out a new recipe this is a blog to have a look at - full of gorgeous looking recipes. ~ Sarah

If you have been featured grab our button!
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If you fancy being next week’s featured blogger make sure you follow all the rules give you hosts and co-hosts a follow and Sarah could be calling on you next week to come and feature with us.

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Friday, 29 November 2013

Still on the subject of travelling, I couldn't help but review this amazing book on my blog this week to fit in with my road trip related posts. This book's cover is what caught my eye - it's so funky and inspiring and I love that the scrapbook/doodle theme continues throughout the book with play lists, shop receipts and more. Once I finished the book, I went back and studied the cover again only to realize that pretty much everything drawn on the cover relates to a theme or important part of the book which is pretty cool.

The words 'epic detour' were enough to draw me in and as soon as these words along with the drawings added up in my mind to point to the conclusion that the book was about a road trip, I went ahead and purchased it without even reading the description. I already knew I'd love it. The story is about a girl called Amy Curry who has cut herself off from the world after the death of her father. Her mother arranges a road trip so that Amy can join her mother in their new home in the East Coast, which is a long way from their old home in California. The only problem is, after the accident, Amy can't drive. Which is where Roger comes in to join her on her journey, except they know nothing about each other. 

Although I didn't bother reading the description until AFTER I'd purchased it, here's the blurb (which is designed like a postcard!) for you all anyway;

Amy Curry's year sucks. And it's not getting any better. Her mother has decided to move, so somehow Amy has to get their car from California to the East Coast. There's just one problem: since her father's death, Amy hasn't been able to get behind the wheel of a car. Enter Roger, the son of a family friend, who turns out to be funny, nice...and unexpectedly cute.

But Roger's plans involve a more "scenic" route than just driving from A to B, so suddenly Amy finds herself on the road trip of a lifetime. And, as she grows closer to Roger, Amy starts to realize that sometimes you have to get lost to find your way home...

This story is a little different from your typical boy-meets-girl story because it focuses more on Amy's emotional journey in moving on from all the regrets she has from her fathers accident. She blames herself for it and has shut herself off from the world, won't get behind a wheel again and has basically become a shell of herself. Amy and Roger take a detour which involves visiting places she used to go with her family and even some detours for Roger. Roger has is own issues and eventually visiting the past with a new perspective and being forced to spend time together helps them overcome their demons.

Despite the majority of the book being all about these two teenagers moving on from their issues, it's actually a really lighthearted story. It has it's funny moments too and by the end of the story I was left feeling inspired. I absolutely adored the scrapbook element to the story and the whole idea behind it - I really loved that it was about two teenagers who hardly knew each other just kind of breaking free and going on their own little road trip, creating memories, meeting new people and getting to know each other better. I've been obsessed with the idea of road trips for a long, long time now so this book was perfect.

My favourite thing about the book was definitely the playlists - there are some good choices in there, including a song or two by one of my favourite bands! This was pretty funny in it's own right as I read through the book I kind of knew sooner or later that Bowling For Soup would be featured and as soon as I saw the chapter Colardo Springs Eternal I knew the accompanying playlist would feature their song Colardo. It's such a great idea and I love that you can go onto YouTube and listen to the songs as you read each chapter. I'd definitely recommend doing this.

The characters were likeable, even though Amy seemed quite lost at first, and again it was another example of how just because they were quite young characters, it didn't mean they only cared about the superficial stuff. They still had real issues and I quite liked the fact that Roger was dealing with trying to get over an ex girlfriend which is quite refreshing to me to read about a guy going through that and hands up admitting that he's finding it hard.

If you're expecting a love story - this isn't it. Without wanting to give too much away, it does feature a little romance, but it's more based around the characters inner journey to move on whilst they go on their phyisical journey. I do wish there was a little more romance in the book but overall I think the author balanced it out just right.

This story is about everything a road trip should be and no matter how old you are, you'll probably find something to like in this book because it touches upon so many different things from music and insecurities to creating new friendships and dealing with your own demons. And it's also really funny too and has some pretty hilarious parts.

Inspire Magazine Online - UK Fashion, Beauty and Lifestyle Blog: Amy and Roger's epic detour; Morgan Matson; Book review; review; goodreads

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P.S Check out the Book Reviews tag for more book reviews! Also, please do visit Hanging On Every Word - another blog I'm part of. It's a collaborative book review blog between myself and some other bloggers and there are some great reviews on there! Please do check it out!

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Monday, 25 November 2013

On Wednesday I posted about the first half of the recent tour me and my friends went on. We went to see our favourite band on their UK tour so saw them at all of their UK tour dates. This included Edinburgh, Liverpool, Leeds, Wolverhampton and London (Warped Tour), including a brief stop in Newcastle. Here's the second half of what happened that week!

Next up, on Thursday, was Leeds, which again, if I remember rightly, there isn't much to write home about! It was awesome, the venue was directly beneath a train track which was pretty cool. It was a really nice night for my friend Harriet because she gave John a rare Tom Petty shirt as a gift and he loved it so much that he actually wore it for the rest of the tour! He really appreciated it and I have to admit it was lovely watching his face light up when she gave him it.

Inspire Magazine Online - UK Fashion, Beauty and Lifestyle Blog:  What happened on my week long road trip to see The Maine on their UK tour; The Maine; Tour; John O'Callaghan; John Ohh
At the very front for their set in Wolverhampton
Wolverhampton was definitely one of the best nights of the tour, even if we did end up staying in a hotel that looked like it was made for old people. To start with, as if by perfect timing, we ended up bumping into John again on our way back to the car. By now it was the point where he actually recognized us, so he stopped and talked to us for a good ten minutes. It was lovely to talk to him properly without being rushed along or being in a group of fans. Then we met up with Emily who didn't know anyone else going to the gig and she's gone on to become a really good friend. I mean, after the gig, we stayed up talking for a good 2/3 hours about how awesome the band are, ha. The gig was full on awesome too, we were right at the very front this time and yet again met the band afterwards even though we were a little tipsy ha. The venue was tiny, so it was a really great intimate performance which I loved. I think I appreciated it more too because although I knew I'd still be seeing them at Warped, this was the last night I was seeing them on their own actual tour if that makes sense.

We didn't get to speak to John for long that night because he was a little rushed, so we just gave him a quick hug and had a little chat about Warped Tour.

If Friday was the best day for timing, then Saturday was the worst. We ended up super late for Warped Tour, which I'm still gutted about really because one of the main reason we bought tickets was to see The Maine's acoustic set, which we missed in the end. It was on from 2:30 until 3.15 and we arrived at the venue at 3. We raced through, finally reaching their set...only to trip over and fall flat on our arses! It was actually the most embarrassing thing ever because the guys were in the middle of one of their slower songs and everyone turned around and laughed at us. I even ripped a hole in my favourite pair of jeans and have two huge bruises on my knees. However, John seemed pretty concerned but insisted the jeans looked badass, whereas Pat, the drummer, just laughed his head off when we told him.

Inspire Magazine Online - UK Fashion, Beauty and Lifestyle Blog:  What happened on my week long road trip to see The Maine on their UK tour; The Maine; Tour;
Bad times. I took this on the bus yesterday, back to real life again *sob*
The Saturday day of Warped was fun but I wasn't really completely into it, I was still really tired and a little sad that I'd missed their acoustic set. Once I saw their live set in the afternoon, I was ready to go home. We lost our ride home but bar another quick meeting with the boys, we gave up and headed off early.

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We drove 1006 miles altogether - no wonder I was so exhausted!
The next day we returned all energised but so sad that it was the last day of tour! We kept saying we'd have to find the guys and give them a big hug goodbye. We actually had free guest entry this day so we had to go and sign in. Imagine our surprise when we're given wristbands that gave us access to not only the VIP bar but the VIP after party! By then we were pretty much freaking out and spend the rest of the day on a high. I enjoyed Warped a lot more on Sunday because I was more awake and got to appreciate the different bands more. We got chatting to some other fans and just sat by the merch table for an hour or so making friends, before watching other bands. Enter Shikari were pretty great, there was just this amazing atmosphere being stuck in the dark crowd with everyone jumping around and going wild. Then, I headed off to see Flogging Molly who were different in so many different ways but also had a great atmosphere! Everyone was dancing along, it was great!

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Can you believe these are the only group pictures we got the entire week?!
Above - Tom, Harriet and myself on our way to Scotland!
Below - Me, Harriet and Emily looking so, so drunk. Well, we HAD just found out we'd be spending the evening drinking with The Maine (and maybe we were a tad tipsy too) so can you blame us?

Then it was time for the doors to close and for myself and Harriet to go to the after party. Earlier, John had promised us shots, but if I'm honest I thought the chances of The Maine coming to the party or even spending any time with us were slim to none. So it was pretty surreal to be with John at the bar half an hour later, watching him attempt to rap along and dance to teach me how to dougie! I figured after a bit he'd make his excuses and leave...but nope. We pretty much spent the whole night with him, drinking and talking about all sorts from accents and romance to weather and Paris. Very, very cool. He kept topping up my beer and if I'm honest I'm still in awe about the whole thing. I spent the whole night drinking with my idol! It's so weird to think that just over a year ago I'd first gotten into this band and I was writing on this blog about seeing them live in London and wishing I'd had the chance to ask them to come out for a drink with us.

Turns out I just had to be patient :)

Inspire Magazine Online - UK Fashion, Beauty and Lifestyle Blog:  What happened on my week long road trip to see The Maine on their UK tour; The Maine; Tour; John O'Callaghan; John Ohh
Selfies with my main man John Ohh
I find myself constantly humbled by this band which is why I love them so much and spending so much time with them one-on-one last week has only added to that feeling. They are the kindest people you'll ever meet and I love the fact that John was willing to spend the whole night chatting with us on Sunday. We didn't feel like fans. He didn't just come and say hello then spend time with other people instead. He talked to us like we were friends, asking us questions and genuinely wanting to hang out with us which I love.

It was the perfect end to an amazing week and I'm ever so grateful for the opportunity. It's something I'll always remember. So many people I've spoken to, old and young, have said 'wow I wish I could do that' or 'I wish I'd done that at your age' and that's exactly why we did it! So some people may think it's a bit much that we spent that much money to see our favourite band live, but we went on a freakin' awesome week long road trip and made all these amazing memories that I'll never forget. It was more than worth it and I know that when I'm old I'll always remember it.

It was a trip filled with making new friends, creating memories and just appreciating one of my biggest passions in life - music. If you're ever going to do anything crazy and completely random in your life, then it HAS to be this. Trust me, you won't regret it.

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So that's my little account of the week. I could go into more detail about how it felt to see my favourite band perform in such close proximity every night or all the conversations I shared with my idol but some things are just better kept personal where they can't be tainted or judged online for everyone to see. Instead, keep an eye out for a variety different of posts related to my trip. I'll be reviewing two of our favourite hotels that we stayed in, posting about what I wore each night and I'll also be doing a little feature about some of the playlists I created.

I hope you enjoyed reading what we got up to so let me know what you thought with a comment below!

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Friday, 22 November 2013

So on our mini tour of the UK, one of our first stops was Edinburgh. We only managed to spend one evening here and half a day and I really wish we'd been able to spend more time in this beautiful city because it really was stunning. Edinburgh is somewhere I'd always wanted to visit, so I do feel blessed that I got to at least experience some of it. I've already planned to return, hopefully one day for NYE.

Edinburgh is one of those places where you don't have to do anything to enjoy yourself. Just walking around it's quirky cobbled streets is enough of an attraction; I could have spent hours wandering around the city's walls, glancing in awe at it's beautiful scenery. Edinburgh had a really nice feel to it; everyone was so friendly and it felt like a traditional party town to me. To me, it seemed like the perfect place to celebrate old school ; forget about alcohol and clubbing, Edinburgh was all about grabbing a pint and sitting in a local pub catching up with your old friends. Unfortunately we only had time to visit one little pub in our short time there, but I can tell you now that the beer was yummy and the staff were very friendly! It also offered a bit of everything and it was so lovely to see such a diverse range of shops. Where we live, it's very much considered a 'dying town' with new businesses failing or shops closing everyday. But Edinburgh was booming and also had a lot to offer with shops with quirky names and even awesome costume shops.

Edinburgh is rich in history and had we not been attending a gig in the evening, there's no doubt we would have joined on to one of it's many ghost walks. The castle itself drew us in too, but unfortunately we just didn't have enough time for a visit here either. However, on the way to the attraction we were actually going to, we ended up taking a slow stroll around Princes Street Gardens which were overlooked by the castle.

Inspire Magazine Online - UK Fashion, Beauty and Lifestyle Blog:  Edinburgh at a glance; Edinburgh; travel; Princes Street Gardens; weekend away; budget traveling;
Inspire Magazine Online - UK Fashion, Beauty and Lifestyle Blog:  Edinburgh at a glance; Edinburgh; travel; Princes Street Gardens; weekend away; budget traveling;Inspire Magazine Online - UK Fashion, Beauty and Lifestyle Blog:  Edinburgh at a glance; Edinburgh; travel; Princes Street Gardens; weekend away; budget traveling;

This was the perfect way to enjoy Edinburgh in all it's glory for free, even though we were right in the center of the city. The gardens were beautiful and everything looked stunning with all the red and orange leaves. We actually couldn't have picked a better time of year to go, although I think it would look beautiful in the snow too! It was the perfect way to view the castle in an alternative view.

Although we didn't have enough time to visit the castle properly, Harriet's sister did suggest Camera Obscura and World of Illusions which was, you guessed it, an attraction/museum filled with optical illusions. I actually love stuff like this so be able to explore five floors was really fun for me! They had all sorts of things you could do, such as cameras that would show you what you'd look like older and younger or as a chimp, a mirror maze, a rooftop viewing platform which gave a fantastic view of Edinburgh and more. The most hilarious thing was the giant vortex tunnel which was basically a little bridge that went through a moving/spinning tunnel. Despite the fact that the bridge did not move at all, we walked through and it took us a good five minutes to get out again because it was that trippy. We could FEEL the bridge moving, so much so that we even fell over, even though it was all in our minds. It was hilarious and I can't imagine what it would have looked like to anyone watching.

Inspire Magazine Online - UK Fashion, Beauty and Lifestyle Blog:  Edinburgh at a glance; Edinburgh; travel; Camera Obscura and World of Illusions; weekend away; budget traveling; attraction; optical illusions'
In the light tunnel
Camera Obscura and World of Illusions was the ideal attraction for a rainy day and even offered a few pretty views of the castle too. It was something a bit different and really fascinating so something I'd really recommend.

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View from the top of Camera Obscura and World of Illusions

I think we must have stayed in the coolest boutique hotel in the city. The Grassmarket Hotel is without a doubt THE place to stay in Edinburgh. It's sat slap bang in the middle of the city and is just so quirky and different. From the chalkboard walls (which we may or may not have defaced with, um, rude drawings - oops...) which the cleaners add a brand new Sodoku to daily, to the secret bookcase door that we noticed in reception - this hotel just screamed awesomeness. We absolutely loved it. The rooms were quirky but so warm and comfy too and the staff were so welcoming. We stayed for a few chats with them and they were genuinely interested in our story, why we were travelling etc. The vibrant part of Edinburgh was right on our doorstep too, just next door was a lovely Irish pub and the hotel was actually just around the corner from the venue as well. 

Inspire Magazine Online - UK Fashion, Beauty and Lifestyle Blog:  Edinburgh at a glance; Edinburgh; travel; The Grassmarket hotel; grassmarket hotel; weekend away; budget traveling; attraction; optical illusions'
Inspire Magazine Online - UK Fashion, Beauty and Lifestyle Blog:  Edinburgh at a glance; Edinburgh; travel; The Grassmarket hotel; grassmarket hotel; weekend away; budget traveling; attraction; optical illusions' Inspire Magazine Online - UK Fashion, Beauty and Lifestyle Blog:  Edinburgh at a glance; Edinburgh; travel; The Grassmarket hotel; grassmarket hotel; weekend away; budget traveling; attraction; optical illusions'
Inspire Magazine Online - UK Fashion, Beauty and Lifestyle Blog:  Edinburgh at a glance; Edinburgh; travel; The Grassmarket hotel; grassmarket hotel; weekend away; budget traveling; attraction; optical illusions'

This hotel really had the personal touch. There was loads of tea to choose from and when I couldn't find any chalk in the room (which I later found when I bothered to look properly), the staff offered to go down to the shop and buy some more! The reception was inviting too with little window seats if you wanted to sit down and have a chat and the rooms had all the basics and more (hairdryer, iPod dock - with speakers in the bathroom too, man I had a lot of fun singing along to music in the awesome waterfall shower).

They also offer super cheap rooms at mates rates sometimes if you sign up to their mailing list, and I'm going to really regret telling you all about this now because I bet you'll all snap them up before I have the chance to!

The Grassmarket hotel is the perfect boutique hotel for a girly weekend away or a little break with your friends and there's no doubt that I'll be returning one day.

Finally, as stated before, Edinburgh is ideal for long evenings spent with friends in cosy inviting pubs, drinking the local beer! We spent a good few hours drinking with one of the support bands in an Irish club right next door to the venue which also held open mic nights and the drinks were affordable too. However, even though we didn't have a lot of time to go out 'clubbing', so many people recommended a local rock club to us which we checked out. The Hive is like a gigantic underground club, we thought there was just one room - we were wrong. If I remember rightly there were 2 or 3 different bars all connected by these random tunnels and again, the drinks were really cheap here. They played the best rock anthems too from Blink 182 to The Offspring and we were right at home here because it reminded us of a local rock club at home. It was PACKED too, so clearly it's the place to go on a night out!

We really wish we had longer in Edinburgh but we seemed to pack in a lot in such a short time. I hope you enjoyed my 'Edinburgh at a glance' feature and if you're ever in the area, I'd recommend the Grassmarket hotel, The Hive and everywhere else mentioned. This guide is based on the fact that we went out on the cheap so if you're just looking for a really cheap weekend away that still gives you a real feel of the city well here's how.

Let me know what you think with a comment below or if you have any other recommendations.

Castle Hill
The Royal Mile

94-96 Grassmarket

15-17 Niddry Street

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P.S Feel free to check out the travel tag for some more travel related posts!

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