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Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Now that I work from home on a regular basis, I've spent some time wishing I had my own office space. 

Currently, I set my laptop up on the dining room table, although I still occasionally work from bed. It's not healthy, I know, which is why I wish I could design my own space.

I find it hard to concentrate when I don't have my own space, because things like mess, an uncomfortable chair etc makes it really hard to concentrate. I also believe that if I had a set space especially for work, just by sitting myself in that area I would feel more productive.

I thought it might be nice to share some ideal office spaces with you and share some inspiration I've taken for when I do get my own place and get around to designing my own place.

Formidable Joy | Formidable Joy Blog | Office Space | Inspiration | Career

Formidable Joy | Formidable Joy Blog | Office Space | Inspiration | Career

Formidable Joy | Formidable Joy Blog | Office Space | Inspiration | Career

A lot of these ideas share pastel colours and, where possible, minimal mess, which I think is essential for having a clear head when working.

I also use shops for inspiration, and already know where I'll be visiting when it comes to putting together my own office space. Paperchase is great for stationary, whereas TK Maxx is ideal for decorative office items, like tassel bunting (as shown above) and inspiring prints. I also really like the filing cabinets from Furniture at Work, and That Lame Company for finishing touches.

My only problem is that I struggle with the idea of minimalism as I'm such a messy person, but hopefully, if I get my own space and dedicate the time to creating and office area, I'll keep it nice and clean!

Do you have a dream office space? Let me know!


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Friday, 25 November 2016

Today I'm just going to do a quick catch up regarding what I've been up to lately and a few opportunities I'd like to talk about, too.

First and foremost, I'm excited to announce that today (as in, right this second!), I'm teaming up with SheNomads to do an exclusive Snapchat takeover on their account - how fun?! SheNomads is an uber cool company whose goal is to share the stories of those who are underrepresented in tech, travel etc = basically our whole generation, who do anything but just sit at a desk job and work a typical nine to five day.

I really love their values, and, as I'm off to attend the Vuelio Blog Awards tonight, it's a really fun opportunity to collaborate. Make sure you follow them on Snapchat (their username is shenomad) to see what I get up to and get a glimpse of the awards night!

Formidable Joy | Formidable Joy Blog | Life Lately

There's also been one or two other opportunities I've been lucky enough to achieve lately. I'll soon be blogging for Metro, which has such a huge audience reach that I actually can't even believe it. I find it hard to believe that my writing is that good, so the fact that someone considers me talented enough to blog for such a successful company has made me feel really rather happy! I'll be starting my contract ASAP, with my first posts likely to go live in December (if not earlier!) so please do keep an eye out! 

Another thing I'd like to talk about is the fact that I'm hoping to go into a new direction with my writing - in a professional sense, anyway. Although I have experience with working in travel journalism, mixing my writing with one of my other passions has been on my mind for a long, long time now and therefore I have made the decision to try and break into music journalism.

It's something I have always considered really, and I have had plenty of experience contributing to music publications in the past, but lately I've been looking at it as more of a career decision and have spent my time searching for jobs directly in the industry. It's not going to be easy, but I'm lucky that I do have a few good opportunities thrown my way by Invicta Mag, a publication that reviews new music, focuses on artists and writes about shows. 

Formidable Joy | Formidable Joy Blog | Life Lately

I have a few pieces I'm already very proud of on there and a few interviews I've really enjoyed conducting, too. I've known for a long time now how much I enjoy interviewing bands, so hopefully I can further that dream more soon.

So, anyone that knows of any roles in music journalism that you think may be suitable - hit me up ;)

In other news, I had a really fun opportunity to visit Great Yarmouth with Heart Radio at the weekend, which is one of my part time roles. Even though it was out of season, me and two other lovely ladies went down to sell some merchandise, host a quiz and promote a competition. The weekend consisted of free food and soft drinks, a fun disco every night and some awesome entertainment. It was really fun to get away for the weekend and I couldn't believe I was getting paid to do so little work that felt like so much fun!

I've also began a new teatox with Essential Teatox. So far, I'm feeling pretty good, and the full review will be up after Christmas (with a few tweets updating my progress here and there!), and, as always, you can still find me over at Debut Magazine as the online editor - although I do have features coming up in the print issue too!

And, finally, I've decided I want to start drumming lessons!

Phew! I'm feeling pretty proud about some of these opportunities, especially as just a couple of weeks ago I found myself suffering at night, wracked with thoughts about me never 'getting anywhere' or doing what I want to do. So getting my head down and putting myself forward for some of these opportunities has really helped.

What have you all been up to lately? Let me know with a comment! 

You can also find me on


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Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Everyone has their own issues.

That's a given.

Everyone has their own insecurities, their own baggage, their own demons to deal with.

I know I certainly have my own weird problems that I alone deal with.

Although I'm not an expert, I know how hard it is to feel so lost and like their is no outcome to your problems.

This is a tough post for me to write, but by all means, please be assured that I am not offering professional advice or likening my 'baggage' to that of others. 

I am simply sharing my own experiences and what has helped me through them.

Formidable Joy | Formidable Joy Blog | How To Help Yourself

A few years ago, when I graduated from university and when I was not working, I got myself in a bad way which would see me sleeping in during the day, spending my days doing nothing and then driving myself crazy at night.

Unable to sleep, my mind would wander until I would feel almost suffocated by my thoughts and my life, nearly unable to breathe.

I'd think about my life and how I did not know where it was going. I'd think about how I wanted something more from this life - only I didn't know what. I thought about how I wanted to travel but couldn't do this without money, and I found myself feeling terrified of wasting my life away.

I still often find myself scared that one day I'm going to wake up and realize I never took the chance to do all the things I wanted to do. One of my biggest fears in life is wasting my life like that.

I'd feel suffocated thinking about these feelings. I'd feel like the walls were caving in on me and that all I wanted to do was to scream or to get out and just go anywhere. But as this almost entirely hit me in the middle of the night, there was nothing I could do except get in a state.

At times, it panicked me, and there was only two things that could really calm me down at the time - and that was to write, or to listen to music.

Eventually things got better when I did find a job and found myself busy in the day, allowing myself to sleep at night.

But even I know deep down that it never really fixed the solution as I never actually went on to do any of those things I wanted. I just, y'know, got a job which helped me sleep at night and didn't give me much opportunity to entertain those thoughts again.

Except it seems like those thoughts are coming back again fast and heavy, and I'm starting to revisit those options to help calm me down in moments where I can't leave.

I don't know what these feelings are exactly. On paper, they sound like panic attacks or anxiety attacks, but I know they're not because I don't suffer from anxiety - so, who knows.

Regardless, here's what helps me - at least in the moment, anyway - and may hopefully help you too, if you suffer from anything similar.

Formidable Joy | Formidable Joy Blog | How To Help Yourself

WRITE
Writing helps me a lot. Usually I'll try and write about what I feel, and then, when that's all out on paper or on screen, write about something else - anything else. A blog post. Fiction. A diary entry - anything. It forces me to concentrate on the words on the page and the message I want to get across. Even writing this post has helped me, as it's helped me be more vocal about these feelings I've been having.

LISTEN TO MUSIC
Music is another one that helps me a lot, although sometimes, depending on what I listen to, it helps me give in and accept what I'm feeling and have a little cry first, instead of just denying it. I let my mind wander with the music, making up music videos in my head or trying to decipher the lyrics.

WATCH SOME COMEDY
Anything that will crack a smile. Scrubs or The Office US tends to help me, and before I know it my move has improved massively as I'm engrossed instead in the characters on the screen.

GO FOR A RUN/GET SOME FRESH AIR
My 'moments' seem to only happen at night, so often going out for a run or a walk isn't an option for me, but on the rare occasion that I do feel like this in the day, getting outside helps a lot. I usually stick my headphones on and listen to my music loud during a run, or just take the dog out for a walk.

MAKE A PLAN
I tend to be more productive in the evening anyway, but there's only so much I can do at 3am. Writing and job hunting helps, but 'making a plan' is a new method for me which has helped greatly. During one of those evenings, I simply told myself enough was enough and made a note of the date in my phone. I then told myself I had a deadline of three years to get to where I wanted to be. I thought about where I wanted to be in three years - no matter how silly and fanatical - then worked out backwards, step by step, what I had to do to get there.

It sounds like an incredibly obvious choice, but not one I had considered before. Normally I'll job hunt in the day and that's it - I've never really entertained the thought of 'oh, okay, I could be doing this dream job at this point in however many years time, if I just work hard enough.'

Since then, every single day I've taken one small step in the right direction, whether that's getting a band interview, applying for a job in the industry or even just putting myself out there. For example, this past weekend I was away with work, and much of the role required me to approach the public and talk to them. That was a scary thought for me but, hey, I did it, and I know that even just taking that tiny step, it had given me a bit of confidence that I can later use when it comes to approaching people for interviews, for example.

BREATHE
Finally, just breathe. Sometimes I feel like my breaths are coming in too quick, like my heart is beating too fast and that I'm getting myself into more of a state with each passing second. I try to take some deep, slow breathes in this case, and usually, within a few minutes, my breathing and heart rate will return to normal.

Although these may not work for everyone, these are just some methods that have personally calmed me down in the moment when suffering from these kind if feelings/demons.

Of course I am no medical expert, but if anyone is going through something similar and reads this post to discover that a) they're not alone and b) sometimes natural methods can help, then posting this would have been worth it!

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Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Has the cold winter weather given you a craving for a trip to somewhere wonderfully warm and sunny? There’s something about the cold weather that makes us more prone to feeling blue. So, if you’ve got the time, and can afford to jet off abroad, getting away could be a great idea. Whether it’s for a few days or a few weeks, it doesn’t matter - all that matters is that you’re getting a much-needed break from the grind of daily life. 

To ensure that you make the most of your time away, below are a few tips, that should help you to plan the most incredible trip. (These are all things that I like to do before jetting off abroad.)


START WITH YOUR BUDGET
The first step when planning a trip to anywhere should always be working out how much you have to spend. Even if you’ve got thousands saved in the bank, that doesn’t matter. You don’t want to overspend on your trip, so it’s important to establish a budget before you go. Sit down and work out how much you want to/can spend on your trip. Then, once you’ve got a figure to work with, you can start planning. 

PICK A DESTINATION
Once you know the size of your budget, the next step is to select the perfect travel destination. Is there somewhere that you’ve been dreaming of visiting or are you open to anywhere? Have a look online to get some ideas of different places, and then take the time to do some research into your favourite ones. Say, for instance, you’ve decided that you’d like to visit Spain but are stuck between Barcelona and Madrid. Read up on both destinations to get an idea of what each place offers. There are lots of travel sites offering information and advice, for instance, you can read about Madrid on The Crazy Tourist website.

BOOK YOUR PLANE TICKETS AND TRANSFERS
After you’ve settled on a destination for your trip, the next step is to book your plane tickets and transfers. To get the best price on your plane tickets, take the time to compare prices online. When it comes to booking your transfers, take the time to decide whether you want to book private or shared transfers. If you want to make the most of your trip, private transfers are probably a better option, as you’ll get to your accommodation more quickly.


PLAN YOUR TRIP ITINERARY
Last but not least, take the time to plan out your trip itinerary. Once you’ve booked your flights and accommodation, you can then start planning out what you want to do while you’re there. From the sights that you’re desperate to see to the places that you would like to eat at, take the time to plan out as much of your trip as possible. This will allow you to make the most of your time while you’re there, as everything will already be planned out. If the winter weather is getting your down, now is the perfect time to plan a trip away. Take note of tips above, and you can organise the most incredible trip.

*Please note this post has been contributed.


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Monday, 21 November 2016

Now that Halloween and Bonfire night is now out of the way, I think it's finally just about acceptable to start looking forward to Christmas and doing seasonal related things.

Although we don't really celebrate Christmas as such in a traditional sense in our house anymore, I do really enjoy the run up to the season. I love the Christmas songs (at least when they're not overplayed), the many, many Christmas parties and of course, London during the season. 

It always looks so pretty.

Formidable Joy | Formidable Joy Blog | Taste Of London: The Festive Edition | Taste of London

Myself and Briony headed down to Taste of London's Festive Edition last week to enjoy some seasonal food and drink and get us in the mood for the season. I'd not been to any of Taste of London's events before, so I was really excited.

I was super sad my sister couldn't come in the end though as she is such a foodie and would have loved it.

The four day event at Tobacco Docks included artisan food and drink brands, a number of different restaurants, top chefs, cooking masterclasses and entertainment.

The event was set out beautifully. Although we got lost many times, everywhere we looked there was a pop up offering delicious hot drinks or a restaurant serving yummy food and there were beyond beautiful photo opportunities.

Formidable Joy | Formidable Joy Blog | Taste Of London: The Festive Edition | Taste of London
 Formidable Joy | Formidable Joy Blog | Taste Of London: The Festive Edition | Taste of London

It was almost like we'd walked out of autumn and straight into Christmas because the change was that drastic. It wasn't subtle at all, but I loved it. Everywhere we looked there were twinkling fairy lights, colourful Christmas trees, beautiful garlands and more. I loved it.

There was so much to see and do but our first point of business was a seasonal drink. I opted for Mulled wine, having been craving it for a couple of weeks now, whilst Briony grabbed herself some eggnog. We then took a slow stroll around, chatting to different brands, picking up a couple of gifts etc.

We particularly enjoyed the entertainment and found the pianist at the Piano Bar by Deco Noir particularly fun. He had a lovely voice (my friend is actually in love), and played laid back versions of top hits throughout the evening. 

Before we left, we grabbed a final drink and sat down to admire his singing voice and felt ever so Christmassy, drinking our seasonal drinks and enjoying the atmosphere. Plus, with a beyond beautiful light fixture hanging from the ceiling and lots of decorations in this area, it was really, really lovely.

We may have requested a few songs. He may have performed some Twenty One Pilots and Panic! At The Disco for us.

What a dude!

Food wise, we had a few nibbles but opted for some hot dogs by my favourites, Bubbledogs. We each opted for Santa's Sausage which included Christmas stuffing, cranberry chutney and crispy parsnips. Although we were disappointed at the size of Santa's Sausage (hehe) - it does make sense, as y'know, a lot of restaurants were doing a bunch of mini sizes of their usual menu - it was delicious.

We also booked ourselves in for an AEG Take Taste Further cooking masterclass with Steve Brown: The Cookery School at Daylesford.

Formidable Joy | Formidable Joy Blog | Taste Of London: The Festive Edition | Taste of London

Formidable Joy | Formidable Joy Blog | Taste Of London: The Festive Edition | Taste of London

Formidable Joy | Formidable Joy Blog | Taste Of London: The Festive Edition | Taste of London

Here, we learned how to make a Christmas dinner in 30 minutes and I was surprised at how well it turned out, despite us being very bad cooks! It was interesting though, and very hilarious. At one point, I went mad blending the brussel sprouts and the teacher told us off and took our blend to the front of the class to embarrass us, oh dear.

Still, the end result was delicious and I was very proud of us!

Overall, it was a really lovely visit and if you have the chance to attend next year or any of Taste of London's other events:

You can also find me on

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Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Recently, my nan and I headed over to Ashridge Estate to spend a couple of hours enjoying the autumn weather and admiring the beautiful colours of the leafs.

I always forget I'm lucky enough to have Ashridge practically right on my doorstep and it's such a gorgeous place. I have fond memories of visiting in the summer as a child, running through the wood, or, as I got older, parking up and enjoying a picnic with my parents.

As it goes, it p*ssed down with rain as soon as my nan and I arrived, so we ducked beneath some shelter and watched the rain with a couple of hot chocolates. 

Once it dried off, it seemed to brighten up really quickly so we headed out for a brief walk (whilst it had stopped raining) and I took some photos.

I thought it would be nice to share them all here, so, enjoy!

Formidable Joy | Formidable Joy Blog | Ashridge | Ashridge Estate
 Formidable Joy | Formidable Joy Blog | Ashridge | Ashridge Estate
 Formidable Joy | Formidable Joy Blog | Ashridge | Ashridge Estate
 Formidable Joy | Formidable Joy Blog | Ashridge | Ashridge Estate
 Formidable Joy | Formidable Joy Blog | Ashridge | Ashridge Estate
 Formidable Joy | Formidable Joy Blog | Ashridge | Ashridge Estate
 Formidable Joy | Formidable Joy Blog | Ashridge | Ashridge Estate
 Formidable Joy | Formidable Joy Blog | Ashridge | Ashridge Estate
 Formidable Joy | Formidable Joy Blog | Ashridge | Ashridge Estate

I just absolutely adore the autumn colours and hope I have time to get out there again before they all disappear for winter!

You can also find me on

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Sunday, 13 November 2016

It's not often that I'll post this late in the evening (anymore, anyway) but this is the first chance I've had to write this weekend and I want to get it all down and savour what I can remember whilst I still feel like this; whilst I'm still on a high from Friday night.

Friday night, myself and my friend Briony headed into London to see Twenty One Pilots.

This was a BIG deal for me and I'll tell you why.

I've been a fan of Twenty One Pilots for around two years now, but most recently in the last year or so, they've become a band that are rather special to me. They're up there with The Maine and Bowling For Soup.

I like a lot of music and I love a lot of bands. But every now and then comes along a band that is just that bit more special to you, even if you cannot explain why. Their songs just resonate with you; you could listen to them over and over again without getting bored. There's not one song you don't like and you find that with some songs, they hit you on such an emotional level that sometimes you can physically feel the effect the chords and lyrics have on you.

So, yes. Twenty One Pilots are one of those bands to me. We saw their set back at Reading and I loved it, and still remember telling Briony how excited I was to see them.

Formidable Joy | Formidable Joy Blog | Lifestyle | Music | 21 Pilots | Twenty One Pilots

Because I go to gigs so often these days, it's quite rare that I still get that feeling in the pit of my stomach; the anticipation for something special. I had that before their set at Reading, perhaps because I'd never seen them live before then, but that special feeling returned on Friday and I knew it was nothing to do with whether or not I'd caught them live before: it was the band through and through.

But first, Briony took the afternoon off work and we headed into London early to have a mooch around Spitalfields market and to grab some food. We chose Androuet, because she loves cheese and the thought of fondue (dipping things into cheese) was enough of a quirk factor for me and something I've always wanted to try.

So we took a seat outside in the cosy setting of the restaurant, red blankets strewn across seats and low but warm lighting adding to the festive feel of the surrounding market. It was lovely and the food was delicious. 

I had classic fondue which included a platter of different meat and pickles and a basket of bread to dip into the melted cheese. SO good.

Formidable Joy | Formidable Joy Blog | Lifestyle | Music | 21 Pilots | Twenty One Pilots

Afterwards we headed off to the gig which was at Alexandra Palace. We arrived at Wood Green station to find it taken over by the band; all previous advertisements were gone to make way for the band's posters and fan's art which I thought was a lovely idea.

I could already feel how excited everyone was upon arrival and I wasn't even at the venue yet. It also hit me perhaps how big these gigs were. They went on to add another date (tonight), and both dates sold out. The capacity of Alexandra Palace is just over 10,000, which is impressive. This meant over 10,000 people/fans were attending Friday night.

Now I can't remember the exact details but if I remember rightly, the first time the band came to the UK, they played to a really tiny crowd in a pub before they were big or even recognised over here and I think this was back in like, 2012 or something.

They're not in the UK often, so to go from that to two sold out dates of over 10,000 each night is just incredible.

Formidable Joy | Formidable Joy Blog | Lifestyle | Music | 21 Pilots | Twenty One Pilots

We finally got to the venue around half an hour after doors had opened and there was still a massive line. But eventually we got inside, warmed up, grabbed some beers and headed into the main room to watch the band. 

I feel like there's no way I'm going to do this justice, but the gig was truly incredible. They opened with the incredible atmospheric Fairly Local, before delving into a string of hits such as HeavyDirtySoul, Message Man and Ride from their 2015 album, Blurryface and Migraine, Holding Onto You (a personal huge favourite of mine!) and Car Radio (another big favourite of mine and a very emotional performance) from 2013's Vessel.

They also performed recent UK hits Heathens and Lane Boy, and a couple of oldies too.

I think, other than Car Radio, two of the most moving and emotional performances from the night were those of Guns For Hands and Trees. 

Like many of their songs, these are a little deceiving, because they're not slow or ballads as you'd expect the more moving songs to be. A lot of their music can't quite be categorised into one genre, but when you listen to the lyrics and take note of the way the music makes you feel, you can understand why so many fans hail songs such as these as pretty much life saving.

Trees was the last song of the evening, and ended with smoke bellowing from the stage and red confetti falling from the ceiling, making it a really nice moment. The gig itself was impressive with stunning lighting and really edgy video effects too, which I loved.

The band didn't interact much with the crowd, but surprisingly, this didn't bother me. Normally I like it when bands are talkative with crowds at concerts, but there were just so many damn amazing songs to get through that I could understand. Everyone just wanted to lose themselves to the music.

I will note though, at one point the lead singer Tyler spent some time explaining how important it is to look after others at concerts and help one another if someone is feeling faint (which is to be expected at that capacity) and pointed out one fan who needed help, to ensure that security reached her.

That was nice.

Formidable Joy | Formidable Joy Blog | Lifestyle | Music | 21 Pilots | Twenty One Pilots

The band played a set that was almost close to two hours in the end which was just amazing. I can now understand why the tour is called Emotional Roadshow, because their set was like an emotional roller coaster! 

From the popular songs that we sang along to at the top of our voices to the songs that just made us want to jump around (literally. They even covered Jump Around by House of Pain) - with a fair few emotional songs thrown in that mean a lot to me and tugged on my heart strings - it wasn't just a gig, watching my favourite band perform my favourite songs.

It was fun and moving and took me on a ride of emotions!

It was just so amazing, I can't really describe it. I actually really wish I'd grabbed tickets to see them again tonight (yes, on the same tour) because I feel like I was too overwhelmed on Friday to take it in properly!

Apart from the We Are The Maine tour/road trip back in 2013, I've never wanted to do this before. Sure, I'll happily see a band again on their next tour, but I've never been so desperate to re-live one single concert or want to watch the same concert with the same band and the same set list again so soon.

If you ever get the opportunity to see Twenty One Pilots live - just do it. Even if you're not a fan, you won't be disappointed. 

And, afterwards, myself and Briony just sat on the grass listening to some of their songs again and looking over the skyline of London and that was really lovely too. We had a bit of a moment, talking about how lucky we were to see our favourite bands in concerts, to feel these things, to even have the chance to visit London or live near such a vibrant city.

With so much sh*t going on in the world right now, an evening spent with my best friend and experiencing an out of world performance from my favourite band was very much needed.

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Friday, 11 November 2016

Earlier this week in my post about the UMA's, I mentioned how much I support local artists and the local music scene, so I thought it would be fun to mention some of my favourite local gig venues, too.

I think in a time where so many music venues are closing, it's also important to support independent and smaller venues. They may not be the same as huge-sell out venues such as Wembley or any o2 Academy, but in my eyes, venues closer to home have a certain charm about them.

They have so much more atmosphere, friendly staff and, of course, I love the fact that they're just down the road. 

I'm also aware that I do have a few bloggers from Herts, Beds & Bucks that follow me, so hopefully this post is still slightly relevant!

Formidable Joy | Formidable Joy Blog | Music | Gig Venues | Music Venues | Bedfordshire | The Horn | Kiln Farm | The Craufurd Arms | The Hat Factory | Esquires

THE CRAUFURD ARMS, WOLVERTON
I've only really been here on occasions where I've been terribly drunk, but it's a venue I still adore with really edgy deco and affordable drink prices. The first time I went here was interviewing Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, and this night made some changes to my life - I made some friends for life that evening, realized my calling for wanting to interview bands, met an awesome band and also discovered this venue. Since then, I've noticed The Craufurd Arms also plays host to lots of different themed events like record fairs and quirky art classes, so it's not just about the music.

KILN FARM, MILTON KEYNES
Kiln Farm is another venue I've only been to a handful of times but have seen some pretty big names there such as Kids In Glass Houses (it was their warm up gig for Slamdunk and it was one of my favourite gig's of all time) and Taking Back Sunday (where I got horribly, horribly drunk and tried to proposition the lead singer before remembering that he's actually married. Sorry Adam Lazzara!). It's a large venue (by terms of local venues) but really cute too, and plays host to a lot of laidback open mic evenings.

THE HAT FACTORY, LUTON
The Hat Factory doesn't hold a lot of music events anymore - at least not as much as it used to - but this hidden gem is still worth a visit when it does. The tiny venue is perfect for checking out local music that you may not have heard of otherwise and it really supports artists from surrounding venues. You're bound to discover some great new music here. I used to spend so much of my time here as a 17 year old wannabe emo and I'm sure the staff has seen me in some states over the years, but it'll always have a special place in my heart. It may be small, but you're bound to have a good night out here. Plus, unlike the first four venues, it's situated right in the heart of the town meaning it offers the perfect opportunity for further drinking/partying.

Formidable Joy | Formidable Joy Blog | Music | Gig Venues | Music Venues | Bedfordshire | The Horn | Kiln Farm | The Craufurd Arms | The Hat Factory | Esquires

THE HORN, ST ALBANS
The Horn is probably my favourite music venue from this whole list and it has been for a long time now - and not just because it's literally across the road from St Albans' train station, meaning that when me and my friends forgo driving to get drunk, it's maybe a five minute journey at most. It's a cute and quaint little venue with a beyond welcoming atmosphere, although, I note, the small back room where bands perform always seems to be chilly to begin with! It soon fills up though and any performance here is always really up close and personal. The pub end of the venue offers quite a laid back vibe and usually when I see a band here, me and my friends stick around afterwards to play pool and chat to the locals.

ESQUIRES, BEDFORD
I've never actually been to Esquires, which is terrible I know, so there's not much I can say about this venue personally. But I have heard nothing but great things about it, and I do know that local rockers Don Broco are regulars here. One day I will go but in the meantime, I can still recommend it regardless!

Do you have any favourite local music venues? Let me know!

You can also find me on


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Wednesday, 9 November 2016

It's always tough trying to share your amazing experiences of something when the event/experience itself is kept under wraps.

This is one of those times, but I'm going to try my hardest to share my experiences of 139 Copeland Road - without any spoilers - in a way which will hopefully make you all want to book a ticket and go because trust me, it's worth it.

Formidable Joy | Formidable Joy Blog | Horror | Horror Experiences | Immersive Horror

139 Copeland Road is an immersive horror experience held in two derelict houses - most notably number 139 - in Peckham. 139 Copeland Road was where a horrific fire took place in 1974, when a lady called Mary Collins and her two sons burned to death without a trace.

Mary was a well liked woman and no one knows how the fire started or what happened to the bodies afterwards.

Charli and I headed down on Monday night, slightly afraid of what the evening had in store for us. I did not know what was or wasn't real, but I knew it was going to be an interesting evening.

When we arrived and entered into number 137, my suspicions were confirmed. We had the chance to read up on more details about the family that had lost their lives there and had the opportunity to see what the houses were like on the inside - derelict and falling apart.

It was honestly like something from the Blair Witch Project! And if there's anything to get you in the mood for a creepy evening, then it's definitely going to be standing in a house that represents the Blair Witch Project...

Our guide Michael (who suspiciously sounded like Derren Brown - I would not be surprised if it was him in disguise) soon joined us and explained what the evening would involve. We would be going next door (into the house where the fire took place) to take place in a seance (don't worry - all entirely safe) so that we could contact Mary and get some answers about what really happened that day and what happened to the bodies.

We were also warned that over the last few nights, there had been a LOT of activity.

I won't say anymore because I don't want to spoil it for anyone and, of course, no night is ever the same, the activity is always going to be different ;)

But what I WILL say was that it was an amazing evening. Terrifying - sure - but also amazing and eye opening.


I've done a lot of scary stuff in London. I've done the London Dungeons. I've done the Ghost Bus Tour. Most of these have been scary with a bit of humour thrown in.

But let me tell you now - 129 Copeland Road was entirely dark, intriguing and terrifying.

139 Copeland Road is running until the end of November and you can grab your tickets here now.

I would definitely recommend grabbing tickets for it's limited run whilst you still can. I will note though that the event is not for the faint hearted - however true lovers of horror will enjoy this experience.

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Monday, 7 November 2016

Now that my dating ban is over, it means that soon (maybe) that question of 'oh my god what shall I wear?!' will return when I do eventually start going on dates again.

Not that I go on a lot of dates.

But you get my drift.

And so I thought it would be nice to share my go-to date night outfit.


Formidable Joy | Formidable Joy Blog | Date Night | Fashion

A simple black dress will always do it for me - usually regardless of what we're doing. A black dress can very easily be dressed up or dressed down with the right shoes and accessories. For example, a pair of heels and some nice accessories can make the look ever so classy.

Whereas on the other hand, a pair of tights and flats could quickly give the whole look a more casual feel for something like the cinema or crazy golf.

I chose this dress in particular because it's quite classy and simple but the zips give it a bit of an edge, too - and, would you believe it's from ASDA?!

And the sexy lingerie is always a must have. Even if it's a first date and I have no intentions whatsoever of letting the guy getting that far, classy lingerie is still a must have. It just gives that outfit an extra push and makes me feel a tad more confident.

A simple pair of black heels is something every girl should have in her wardrobe, and I like these plain ones as they can go with almost anything and are timeless.

Finally, the deep plum lipstick, which I'd wear no matter what I was doing on the said date. Although most people would choose such an alluring lipstick for more formal events, I'd happily rock this shade even doing something a bit more simple and would instead just choose to tone down my eye makeup.

Plus, with the rest of the outfit being all black, there needs to be some colour!

Do you have a go-to date night outfit? Let me know!

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Saturday, 5 November 2016

Last week, I was lucky enough to attend the Unsigned Music Awards at The Troxy, London.

The event - presented by Laura Whitmore & Chris Stark - was all about celebrating the talent of unsigned artists and musicians. On the night, 16 awards were presented to unsigned artists, with all shortlisters for each category chosen by a judging panel made up of over 80 experts from the music industry.

I'm very passionate about supporting local and unsigned music, I'll happily spend most weekends at a local venue checking out new music and showing my support, so I was so glad to attend the UMA's on behalf of Invicta Mag

My professional review will be up on the website soon - and once it is, I'll link to it here, but I thought it would be nice to write a sum up of what the evening involved here too.  

Formidable Joy | Formidable Joy Blog | The Unsigned Music Awards | UMAs

Upon arrival, I met up with Nici - who also contributes to Invicta Magazine - and her friend and fellow blogger, Mel. They're both very talented ladies by the way, so do check out their work!

We immediately bonded over our love of music, our excitement for the night and, er, how hungry we were seeing all the nominees enjoying their meal!

The evening kicked off with an amazing performance by Skies, before Laura Whitmore & Chris Stark. I've become a fan of Laura since watching her on Strictly Come Dancing, so I was pleased to learn she was just as charismatic in real life.

The award process was exciting. Even though I had a numb bum by the end of it all, the announcements were broken up with fun performances by different artists, more information about each award and a speech or two by professionals from the music industry.

What I loved was that there was a wide variety of awards and they didn't just stick to rock music - there were awards for artists who create folk, electronic/dance and urban music too.

Overall, though, my favourite part of the evening was just celebrating so much unsigned talent. Of course I don't know first hand how bands have it, but I do imagine it must be hard to get yourself recognised out there with social media overtaking word-of-mouth and new campaigns popping up all the time.

It's not easy, and what I do know is how hard it is for consumers and music fans to get into new music and hear about these unsigned bands. Of course, once you're on the scene of going to gigs regularly it can be easier, but there's still times now when I'll be wanting to go to a local gig but don't know of anyone playing, or wanting to discover new music but not knowing where to start.

So from that side of things, I can entirely understand just how important it is to recognise unsigned talent and how beneficial events like the UMAs can be.

I discovered so much great new music during the evening and left with a long list of artists I want to listen to more. I also loved the performances, my favourites were those by Elle Exxe, Chasing Cadence and Broken Witt Rebels.

The evening concluded with an after party, which was really just a chance to mingle more and mingle we did. I couldn't stay too long as I had to catch my last train, but I met a few people, gratefully accepted some free win nearly forced upon me by one third of Tiny Folds (very kind of him!) and enjoyed the atmosphere before I had to go.

You can see the full list of winners here.

Overall, it was an amazing evening. Do you support local or unsigned music? Let me know with a comment below! 

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Thursday, 3 November 2016

So Monday officially marked the end to my dating ban where I took a break from dating - for an entire month - for personal reasons.

To sum up briefly, the reasons were:

- I was feeling a little overwhelmed with Tinder and, admittedly, social media. It seemed I'd got to the point where if I wasn't swiping right on Tinder, I was trying to arrange a date on What'sapp, flirting on Facebook or generally just chatting with boys. I couldn't remember the last time I was genuinely 100% single and not interested in or flirting with someone.
- I was also feeling a bit fed up of not just the dating scene, but dating in general as a generation. I wrote about this in more detail in the original blog post, but let's just say it was doing my head in a bit.
- And, finally, I wanted to take some time to myself to work out what I wanted. At the end of the day, taking a step back and a brief break from things can always be refreshing and eye opening.


HOW I GOT ON
My dating ban got off to a good start, partly because I was a few hundred miles away from home on the first day of my ban, enjoying the sights and wonders of Blackpool and far too busy to think about dating or lack thereof.

It's Sunday that I started to feel it - and yes, I am aware that that was only the second day.

A guy I'd been chatting to for a long time popped up, and when he sent me a kiss emoji, I had to send a laughing one back. Oh the wonders of modern dating. It's picky, but I wanted to do it right! I explained my ban to him, and we continued to talk, but as normal. It wasn't so bad - we'd been talking for a good few months at this point with no intentions of things going further, so although the conversation often turned flirty, there were also many times where we just catch up like normal.

So far, no massive change there.

Sunday is the day that I actually properly deleted Tinder, though. I'd deleted it previously, but not my profile, and this is a scary thought - but it had to be done properly. Deleting my profile meant deleting all my matches and conversations, and I almost don't want to. I'm one of those 'what if' people.

- What if that fit guy I matched with last month just deleted Tinder for a bit, too?
- What if that guy I was dating deleted my number and the only way he can get back into contact with me again is through Tinder, where we first started messaging?
- What if I'm just days away from swiping right on the future love of my life?!

These thoughts hindered in my mind for a moment, before I tell myself my nan's famous motto 'if it's meant to be, it will be'. I hit delete, and told myself that if a boy has missed his chance in not initiating conversation with me already, then, well, it's his own fault.

I felt a slight flush of satisfaction, knowing that deleting my Tinder profile - not just deleting the app or hiding my profile - was one of the biggest steps in taking a more permanent break.

I also started to feel a bit down on Sunday, mostly out of boredom. Sunday is such a couples night, isn't it? No one wants to go out and see friends till late at night on a Sunday when they have work in the morning, so not having anyone to talk to constantly had me reaching for my phone, wanting to find someone hot to talk to on Tinder or wanting any sort of male attention.

On the Monday night, I had a very concerning dream about a guy I used to date. Before I went to bed, his name popped up on 'people you may know' on a social networking site, and I haven't seen or heard from him in almost two years now. Once he got a new girlfriend, he dropped off the face of the earth - which was fine by me. We got on well enough, but never ever saw each other as relationship material. It was just a bit of on/off fun for three or so years when our situations allowed, although it did get to a point where I found myself wondering why we always ended up migrating back to each other.

Anyway, in this dream, not only were we 'on' again, but we were a couple! It was weird as I'd never seen him as boyfriend material, yet in my dream I was genuinely really happy.

How odd. I think this is mostly to do with seeing his name pop up so me thinking about him properly for the first time in years, but I also wondered if deep down it's because I really am over the whole idea of casual dating and am perhaps ready for something a bit more serious.

Who knows, but it certainly was a blast from the past that made me feel quite weird when I woke up!

On Friday, I went out to dinner with some friends and mentioned how I had deleted my Tinder profile. On the way home, one friend asked me if I'd deleted it completely and was I talking to anyone. I paused and then admitted 'no, not really'.

I can't remember the last time my answer to that question hadn't been something like 'well yes, there's this one guy' or 'this guy I used to date popped up'. It was just a simple answer of no and for once, I felt really happy about that.

The rest of the month went by without much to write home about, although I did end up kissing a friend, oops.

I also ended up having so many dreams about past flings and interests! Nothing really notable happened in them, usually just us reuniting, and it didn't make me feel any different, but I just found it interesting. To me, it also seems like I must have been dating the ban really seriously if my subconscious picked up on it and decided to throw in a bunch of dreams about blasts from the past!

In the end, I was actually a little naughty, and gave in and re-installed Tinder two days early - oops. I'd been feeling glum over the past few days and I guess that's just another example of what our generation is like - giving in and hoping to find some sort of comfort or at least being cheered up a bit with a little flirt with someone cute or some attention.



DID I STICK TO MY BAN?
For the most part, yes. I completely deleted Tinder (well for 29 days, anyway), and I definitely didn't sleep with anyone or go on dates. However, is this just because the opportunities never arose? I can't say I was actually invited on a date during my ban, but there were chances I could have got laid, so to speak.

I did kiss someone, but this said someone promptly noted afterwards that they were just after something casual and I promptly mentioned I definitely was not. So that was entirely short lived, but I'm kind of glad it happened because it gave me a chance to not give in.

I didn't last very long with the flirting or using no flirty emojis though - so sue me! Do you know how hard it is to actively avoid using a kiss or wink emoji? It's impossible! Maybe I was a bit harsh on myself there with that rule. But I will say, for the most part, I didn't initiate any flirting. So that's something.

WHAT IT TAUGHT ME
This month break has taught me what I want and how I should always stick to my guns. Many times in the past I've often 'gone with the flow' with guys who I knew deep down didn't want relationships when deep down I wanted more.

But when presented with the idea this month, I knew as much as it would have been fun to see someone casually, it would only be a quick fix and that it wasn't really what I wanted. I stuck to my guns because I knew deep down in the long run it wouldn't work or would be harder on me, and I'm glad I did.

So I've definitely learned to turn around and stick to my guns about what I want, and to not feel so ashamed for being the one who wants more.

That's not to say the next person I see is going to go on to become my future boyfriend, because despite what I've said above, I do still believe that you can meet some people who you simply don't see as boyfriend material and can still feel content taking it casual and slow with. But if there is someone I meet (there may have been...) that I do see myself wanting a relationship with, I'm not going to forgo my own feelings to keep things casual because it's what he wants.

I'm getting too old for those games!

I've also learned to be a bit more picky on Tinder and to not waste anyone's time. When I used to use Tinder before, I used to someones swipe on guys who I didn't find that attractive but liked their bios, but most of the time I'd find our conversations boring and never going anywhere. Now, I'm only going to swipe right on people I genuinely 100% believe I would go on a date with if they asked. This is tough because, of course, there's only so much you can tell from a photo and a small bio, but I suppose that's the whole point of Tinder really.

Finally, I also learned that I've definitely been neglecting my friends lately. My life is all over the place right now and I always seem to be skint, but I know in the past the reasons why I've enjoyed being single is because I've always been out and about doing things with friends. This I haven't done so much lately, hence why some evenings I've just been sat at home feeling pretty, well, lonely if I'm honest.

I know first hand that you should never get in a relationship just because you're lonely and that is not the answer to fixing that, so I know for sure it's a case of me making a bit more effort with my friends again. Sometimes it is just life through, for example with the H&M girls, it's always really hard to find a time where we're all free and can all afford going out to dinner or for a few drinks and such.


WHAT NOW
I don't think much will change. I've re-installed Tinder but I'm not bothering with any other dating apps. I just feel although it's a bad thing for our generation, everyone is on it, so if you can't beat them = join them. It is just a bit of fun at the end of the day though, however I won't be expecting much from it.

I'm still taking a step back of sorts, and not actively looking (not that I did anyway) but I suppose with guys I'd been speaking to for a while before my ban - I'll talk to them, if they pop up, but I likely won't initiate things.

And I'm going to try and see my friends a bit more.

That's about it, really. I am proud I managed the full month and even if there were a few slip ups here and there, I do genuinely feel it's had a positive effect on me and given me some food for thought - which is the outcome I wanted.

Have you ever been on a dating ban? Do you think it can be refreshing to take a step back sometimes and take a break? Let me know!

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