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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, Super Mario and Abe!

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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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.

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.

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...

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.

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.

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..!

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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Friday, 19 August 2016

The latest hashtag to trend Twitter this week is #Fav7Films aka Favourite Seven Films, as began by Empire Online.

I'm a huge movie buff, so I thought I'd jump on the bandwagon, although I already know how hard it is to narrow all my favourite movies down to just seven. It would be so much easier if it were by genre, such as favourite horror movies or favourite romance movies.

But we'll see how I get on and I'll attempt to share with you all my favourite seven movies of all time/movies I can generally quote word for word or never grow bored of.

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This certainly isn't an original choice as everyone loves this film and I know this is on many people's lists of favourite movies. It just has everything and so many iconic scenes - and songs! I kind of want Earth Angel to be my first dance song if I ever get married #sorrynotsorry. It's also where one of my favourite quotes of all time comes from; 

"You gotta play. See, that's where they kiss for the first time on the dance floor. And if there's no music, they can't dance. If they can't dance, they can't kiss. If they can't kiss they can't fall in love, and I'm history" 
- Marty McFly

I mean, come on, how perfect is that quote?! Music brings everyone together, half the guys I meet are through our love of music...I think it's entirely realistic that not hearing music or music not existing when you meet someone can severely result in it just not working, ha. 

I still remember when this film came out, back when I was really obsessed with Egypt mythology - I still kind of am, really. I thought it was amazing that finally a modern film was being released that took all the myths and history of Egypt and included action, humour and romance. Brendan Fraser is such a hottie in it and I also love the sequel. The third film - well, the less said about that the better. I still love this movie to this day and if it's ever on TV, I can't not watch it, despite owning it on DVD. Even watching it now, it doesn't even look dated, despite coming out in 1999. I'm not very pleased they're doing a reboot.

This is like, a favourite childhood film of mine that I always have to watch when I'm sick (as well as The Pagemaster and Look Who's Talking). It's just so heart warming and funny, but it always makes me yearn to be young again.

I love Labyrinth so much that I legit want to get a tattoo of William The Worm. I used to love fantasy films when I was younger - and still do - and this film had everything. It also had a kind of dark forbidden love that even when messed up still seemed kind of romantic. Plus David Bowie's bulge. That's all I'm saying. Also Willow deserves a mention as another childhood favourite fantasy film.

It's one of the best monster movies ever. It's just so smart too, I love the marketing campaign that led to it's release and I love how every time you watch it, you discover more. I love how you can take it as it is or read up on this whole back story it has. It's one of those movies that I can still remember every detail about the first time I saw it - my boyfriend at the time suggesting it, me agreeing for his sake because I didn't know anything about it nor that it was a monster movie (again, part of the excellent marketing campaign) so that when I DID see it it completely blew me away. I still remember walking through town afterwards and how dark and empty it was and how it genuinely felt that any given moment, the monster from the movie could go on a rampage in real life where we were. It's not often a film will do that to you.

I can't believe I almost missed this of the list! The Fifth Element is one of the coolest films ever and I adore all of the characters - Chris Tucker as Ruby Rohd is beyond hilarious and I can't help but cry with laughter everytime I see the movie and watch him let out an overdramtic feminine scream. Milla Jovovich also stars as a complete bad-ass, and it's my dream to one day dress up as her character, Leeloo, for Halloween. Also Bruce Willis is kind of hot in this, too.
This is another fantasy film that I really love and the first time I watched it, I was really surprised to find it was directed by Tim Burton. I love Tim Burton, but many of his films are so dark and this just isn't. Don't get me wrong, it still has many of his signature elements, but it's genuinely feel good heart warming story that hits me in the feels every damn time. It was also one of my mum's favourite movies and if I remember rightly, it was her who made me finally sit down and watch it. So it's nice to have that connection.  

So there you have it - seven (of many, many) of my favourite movies. This list was hard to narrow down but generally I just picked the first all time favourites that came to mind. There are so many though and I know as soon as I hit publish, I'll remember others I wish I'd included and will be kicking myself, but such is life.

I've also noticed a fair few of these films are to do with my childhood or to do with the memories surrounding the films which is nice.

What are your favourite seven films? Do let me know! 

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Wednesday, 17 August 2016

I've always been a huge fan of quirky cinema experiences and there's a special place in my heart for rooftop film showings, especially with Rooftop Film Club and Nespresso.

I love how individual and quirky each showing is, how affordable it is (usually a lot cheaper then going to a normal cinema) and just the general vibe of it all. It's so lovely to grab a drink and kick back and relax on a London rooftop during those late summer evenings that seem to stretch on forever.

When myself and some friends were invited down to try out some of the Nespresso Martini's at one of Rooptop Film Club's showings, we of course jumped at the chance.

Rooftop Film Club operates over various cool and quirky locations in London, New York and LA, and a number of the events serve yummy Nespresso Martinti's on the night, also.

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We chose to visit Roof East in Stratford and as soon as we stepped out onto the rooftop, we were blown away. The whole rooftop had a laid back and offbeat summer vibe to it, with greenery and moss growing out of convertible cars, fairy lights dotted throughout and lots of deckchairs to settle down in - and this was just the bar area!

There was also Birdies Crazy Golf (which I've wanted to try for a while now) and that led onto a pretty hilarious game of crazy golf where, despite my terrible smack talk about how good I am at crazy golf, I lost entirely.

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Food on hand came from another favourite of mine, RockaDollar hot dogs, which were bloody delicious, and tasty cocktails served from the talented mixologists who were almost hypnotising to watch as they spun, threw and caught bottles between them whilst serving up drinks.

We enjoyed relaxing into the deckchairs with chilled music pumping out of the speakers and friendly chatter taking place around us whilst we caught up on what we had been up to since we last saw each other and sipped at the yummy cocktails.

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It was such a nice vibe and the ideal way to spend a lazy late Saturday afternoon in London - and did I mention how amazing the view were?!

We got to try the Nespresso Martini's during our visit, too, and despite being a warm summers day, they went down a treat. They were full of flavour and, oddly enough, were the perfect drinks to sip as the sun slowly went down. Despite being Martini's, they helped the transition from day into night, when fruity cocktails usually tend to turn into something a little more warm, or at least less strong once the sun goes down.

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After this, it was time for the movie to start so we headed through to where it was showing on the opposite end of the roof, settled down into more comfortable deckchairs and prepared ourselves for the emotional experience of watching The Notebook.

It turns out Sophie hadn't seen it before, so we all had a giggle when of course it all made us shed a tear or two by the end.

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Afterwards, we touched up our makeup and headed into the Nespresso photo booth to take some photos. Having a photo booth was such a nice touch and it was lovely that we could walk away with some print outs from our photos and to remind us of the lovely night.

If you've got an evening free anytime between now and the end of this summer, I would entirely recommend a visit to Rooftop Film Club, especially their Roof East in Stratford venue. We had a lovely girly evening which we won't forget in a hurry, but I think it would be ideal for dates, too.

And if you head down early and plan to stay there a while, grab yourself a couple of drinks and when it comes time to the movie, I can tell you from personal experience that a Nespresso Cocktail really hits the spot.

I would of course like to thank Rooftop Film Club for such a lovely evening which we can't wait to recreate with another visit soon.

My friends had never experienced Rooftop Film Club before so they were especially excited to be introduced to something new.

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Have you ever visited Rooftop Film Club before? What did you think? Let me know with a comment!

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Monday, 15 August 2016

Last week, I finally decided I was sick of the state of my skin and how I looked at the end of a long day at work thanks to my foundation that just wasn't up to par.

It had gotten to the point where I couldn't ignore my lack of decent makeup and too many of my favourite products had run out at home so it was time for another stock up.

I also hadn't been looking after my skin very well lately, so needed to invest in some decent skincare products.

So I headed into the centre of Milton Keynes after work on Thursday to pick up some must haves. Here's what I bought.

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 I've only just managed to get around to taking my photos, hence why the products look used!

I've been a huge fan of Eau Thermale Avene for a long time now and found ever since I started using it a good few years ago, it made a huge difference to my skin. My skin feels so much clearer and softer with it and although the specific products tend to change now and then, I always get myself a cleanser, toner and moisturizer from them. This time around, I chose to get a special edition kit for sensitive skin because although my skin isn't sensitive, it had all the products I needed for cheaper. It's only been a few days but already I can see a huge difference in my skin, being that recently I've just been using face wipes on a day-to-day basis as I didn't get around to stocking up.

I've been after a new mascara for ages now and have yet to find 'my go-to' mascara. The closest I've ever gotten to a long-lasting favourite product is Benefit's BADgal lash mascara which I have been thinking about going back to. I saw this mascara advertised in Cosmo and thought I'd try it out and, so far, I'm very pleased with it. It gives my lashes a lot of volume and, more importantly, is long lasting. 

Someone in Boots actually recommended this highlighter to me as I said I'd never really used one before and wanted to try it. They said it was perfect for beginners, but so far I'm not very impressed. Maybe I'm not using it right, but I think I'd be better using a powder one. Still, we'll see. At least it was half price alongside the mascara.

I don't worry too much about the brand of eyeliner as I find they all do the job really and this one does just fine. I can't really live without eyeliner. The only thing I don't like about this one is that it doesn't have a smudger bit on the end, but my last eyeliner that has ran out does, so I just use that one with it if I need to, or any makeup brushes I have to hand. I didn't realize when picking this up that it was waterproof either, but I don't mind.

I love Mac foundation and finds it always leaves my skin looking great without being too heavy. This is the first time I've used this one as it turns out the smaller one I used before was actually just a liquid concealer as opposed to a foundation, so I'm glad I upgraded to this bigger bottle. It'll last longer and is better for price, and I find it's just that bit more lighter then the concealer which is good because it still covers up and evens out my skin well, but makes it look super natural, also. 

So that's it, really, I also picked up a new deodorant and some face wipes for those odd few nights where I can't be bothered with a proper routine but still make sure to take off my make up. It's not a pricey haul - except for perhaps the Mac - but it's everything I really needed and I'm thoroughly impressed with most of the new products so far.

Are you a fan of any of the brands I've used or can recommend anything better? Let me know with a comment below!

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Saturday, 13 August 2016

I like being single.

I like being able to go out on dates and meet new people. I like the nerves and butterflies beforehand, and I like the worries of trying to work out if that accidental touch was really an accident, or if someone's fleeting touches on my arm or leg means they like me.

Of course, it would be lovely to meet someone who went on to become my boyfriend, but in the mean time, dating is fun. 

I suppose I'm quite lucky in that I've not really had tons of full on terrible dates. For the most part, my dates have been really fun, although there have been an odd few that have just been quite standard and nothing to write home about.

But there have been a few really bad dates that have led onto good stories, as well as some really amazing ones that, although may not have led onto anything, I'll always remember fondly.

So here's my dates from hell VS my best dates.

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When I was 17 or so, I'd been chatting to this cute local guy on Myspace (oh the days of Myspace!). I knew he was legit, because we had lots of friends in common, and he was an emo/scene guy, which was totally my thing back then (and still now, sometimes). However, it didn't really occur to me that in every one of his photos, his long emo hair completely covered his face. When we met in person, it was obvious there was no attraction between us (I'm not shallow, but you can't force attraction and we also had little in common too) and it quickly became awkward. We mooched around town for a bit then went back to watch a movie at his (well his parents house). He made me watch Harold and Kumar Get the Munchies which wasn't my type of movie at all, nor my type of humour, then spent a long half an hour telling me all about the dandruff in his hair. When it came to leaving, he made his mum give me a lift home (cue a long, awkward car ride with him and his mum) and didn't even kiss me goodbye.

When I broke up with my last boyfriend, I was sure I wanted to be single and couldn't wait to start going on loads of amazing dates again. The first date I went on was to the local fair (I imagined it to be very romantic like the fairs in America, with lots of fairy lights against the night sky etc) but instead got a tiny half-assed fair with loads of chavs with big, barking dogs. Although I should have known, having been to my local fair many times before. With little chemistry, we persevered and went on the walzters where I hurt my neck really bad by almost falling out the car, then tried to walk through the haunted house where I got so scared I screamed right in his ear.

Most recently, I went for a movie with a guy I'd been talking to from Tinder, but when he picked me up, it was strikingly obvious he looked nothing like he did in his photos. Still, personality wins over looks any day and as we'd got on very well beforehand, I decided not to let it bother me. The chemistry just wasn't there in person though and I stupidly texted my friend asking for advice, saying he looked nothing like he did in his photos and we weren't getting on very well. When I went to the loo, he checked my phone and read the messages, then acted very off for the rest of the date but didn't own up to what he did. When the movie was over he was short with me asking abruptly if I was ready to go because he had things to do. When I texted him later asking if everything was okay, he admitted to going through my phone which is immediately a deal breaker for me!

When I was a teenager, again, 17 or so, this really hot guy asked me out on a date, though our mutual friend was there and all we ended up doing was going to another friends house to watch movies and get a takeaway and stuff. Our mutual friend left to go to the shop at one point so me and the guy I was on a date with ended up making out on the sofa...until his best friend who he was actually in love with turned up and walked in on us kissing then left the room in tears. He asked if he could speak to her alone, so I went and sat in the kitchen with our other friend who had returned from the shop, and, about two hours later (why didn't I just leave?!) the girl left the house crying once more. Needless to say, this should have been my clue that things were just too complicated to get involved...

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There was one guy I met from Southend and I traveled down there to spend the day with him. We spent the day in the mini theme park along the front of the coast, him coaxing me onto rides I was slightly too scared for and holding my hand. It was a real surreal kind of date, spent at the seaside, playing crazy golf, visiting the aquarium etc. Afterwards, we met his friends for a couple of games of pool then finished the evening by eating chips on the beach. It was perfect and we ended up seeing each other for six months or so!

One of my other favourite dates was kind of like a Netflix and chill but was more like a date. I'd liked this guy for a long time now and eventually he invited me round for a movie (not a Netflix and chill, I mean we were attracted to each other and I think we both wanted that to happen at the back of our minds, but we didn't plan that as a date specifically). We got a takeaway and lounged out in front of the TV for most of the night, watching classic comedy films that I somehow hadn't seen until then. I think what was so nice about it was that it was so simple and laid back and although we were attracted to each other, we'd never really hit it off too well over text or anything beforehand. So it was a really nice surprise to find we got on really, really well in person. We didn't see each other after that, but for a one off it was perfect.

When I was 17 or so, there was this cute guy I vaguely knew from Myspace and local gigs. Me and my bestie at the time had gone to a local gig, and this guy walked past me and we kind of looked at each other, semi-recognizing each other, before moving on. Anyway, when we chatted on Myspace a few days later, he admitted him and his friend had been standing behind me and my friend at the gig and checking us out! I was over the moon because this guy was so hot and totally out of my league. We all went on a double date up to Dunstable Downs (basically these hills overlooking the city) and after a while we split off into couples and then he kissed me under the stars. N'awww. Haha.

And finally, one of my most recent dates was an evening spent in London which, oddly enough, I've rarely done before. He booked us a table for a late lunch (I think this is genuinely the first time I've had someone book a table for dinner, dinner to me seems like a lot of pressure for a first date - this one was at a laid back but classy pub so it was a bit different - but it's still surprising how rare it is for a guy to offer to take you out for dinner for a date) before we bar-hopped around a few favourite quirky bars in London - he showed me some of his favourite spots and I showed him mine. It was really nice and one of my favourite recent dates.

And then there has been the dates that haven't been anything to write home about. But if dating has taught me anything is that sometimes the dates that you think are going to be average usually end up being some of the best. I've had dates that I've been so nervous for and others that I'm not necessarily looking forward to because me and said guy get on well, but until the date, that's as far as it goes. I've often found that taking that chance and avoiding saying no just because someone doesn't blow me away during a first conversation, I actually end up meeting some really great people.

What about you guys? Have you had any dates from hell? Let me know!

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Thursday, 11 August 2016

Did you know that this week is Afternoon Tea Week?

Afternoon tea is one of the nations best loved traditions - its effortlessly classy, completely British and is often the perfect way to treat yourself to something quite glamorous without having to splurge too much.

For a long time, I associated afternoon tea with places like garden centres or just gardens in general - because they were the only places I'd ever tried afternoon tea! And I love afternoon tea - especially any sandwiches with salmon and delicious scones.

It turns out, however, afternoon tea can be enjoyed in a number of different unique places - from the top of the Gherkin in London to on and during a vintage bus tour - and let's not forget all the different themes, too. 

Afternoon tea isn't always traditional...

Here's my pick of ways in which you can enjoy Afternoon Tea Week, whether its this weekend or in the future.

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If you love chocolate - this afternoon tea (as shown above) is for you. The offering includes homemade candyfloss, lime, coconut and white pops and a golden chocolate egg filled with vanilla cheesecake and mango, and drinks include chocolate caramel milk and an optional extra - Cocktail Charlie, with whisky, Grand Marnier Cherry and chocolate bitters topped with champagne. Oh, and there's also the classic tea and afternoon tea nibbles, too. 

Naturally, I love this. For an alternative afternoon tea, the Baltic Social instead offers a punk twist to the tradition - which makes sense as Liverpool is well known for its music!. The menu includes mini burgers, pigs in blanket, sage and shallot rings, red velvet cake, oreo sponge cake, bubblegum cake and a boozy teapot - and more. Plus there's a veggie menu and, because this menu is so bad ass, I bet there would be no complaints if you tried to drag your boyfriend along to this... I would totally travel all the way to Liverpool for this...

It's bascially afternoon tea but with booze and cocktails instead of tea. Definitely one for the grown ups or perhaps one to do with the girls whilst enjoying views of London. The cocktails sound amazing though, and some of the food selections are a bit different, too. For example, beside the seaside is made up of an apricot sandcastle, strawberry ice cream cone, fennel and raspberry stick of rock, cinnamon life rings and a shark bite cocktail.

Enjoy afternoon tea the Cantonese way with homemade dim sum delights such as paper wrapped prawns with water chestnuts and shredded coriander, pan fried sticky water chestnut cake and, er, cuttlefish bumblebee, since apparently the bumblebee is the mascot of Manchester. I'd say this afternoon tea is definitely for the brave, but why not try something new anyway?!


Finally, if you really want to stick to tradition, why not try this afternoon tea which is served on a vintage double decker bus? Take in the sights of central London from the warmth of the bus and whilst nibbling on goodies such as cucumber finger sandwiches with cream cheese and fresh mint, winter savoury cake and traditional homemade plain scone with clotted cream and marmalade - you simply can't go wrong. Very chic indeed.

How will you be celebrating Afternoon Tea Week? Will you be trying any of the above? Or can you recommend somewhere else fun and quirky? Let me know with a comment!

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