I’m sure if anyof us knew how 2020 would pan out we’d have planned things differently, done things differently, moved to South Korea/Vietnam/New Zealand/ Any other suitable country where they *actually* take care of their citizens.
I for one; would have taken a last minute trip somewhere warm, sunny and with an endless flow of fruity cocktails.
Whilst I know I’m blessed to be able to spend my time in lockdown in the comfort of my own home, surrounded by my family (and my dog), with my things, more films and tv shows on Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney + than you can shake a stick at.
I’m healthy and so are my friends, family and all my loved ones.
But I’m still going stir crazy.
I live in a small village and cabin fever set in early on. I miss people, civilisation, small talk, hairdresser appointments , going out to eat, going out for drinks, coffee dates, brunch with the gang, going to the library, browsing the shops, charity shop shopping, takeaways, cinema trips, ordering online and not feeling guilty for thepickers, packers and delivery staff.
Most of all I really miss the ability of being able to travel somewhere new. It’s got me thinking recently, whether that’s something I took for granted for far too long, being able to drive somewhere for a day trip, a long weekend on a whim and cheap flights that beg to be taken advantage of.
Suddenly as we’re in a position where the furthest place we can travel to is the supermarket; naturally all I have is mounting feelings of wanderlust and want to plan an epic adventure. To fill this void, I’ve compiled a list of films to sink your teeth into to cover that travel bug feeling (for now!).
You are thedancing queen, young and sweet stuck in quarantine. If you watch these films and don’t find yourself wanting to move to a Greek Island, wear floaty dresses or dungarees and live your best life theeeeeen rewatch ’til you get what I mean.
I love this film. It’s an old classic about a Liverpudlian housewife, bored of being a Liverpudlian housewife so goes on a gorgeous Greek holiday with her pal . It’s cheesy but gives me holiday blues.
Letters to Juliet
Letters to Juliet is about a writer, Sophie, who travels to Verona and works alongside the secretaries of Juliet in replying to love letters stuffed in Verona’s ancient walls. WhilstI don’t personally find the plot of this film particularly enthralling it does make me want to travel to Italy, hirean old car and make my way from north to south of the country whilst sampling every bit of pasta, pizza and gelato on my way.
A Bigger Splash
The fabulous Sicilian vacation of a famous rockstar and her boyfriend is interrupted by the unexpected arrival of an old friend and his daughter. This film features a banging soundtrack and paired with wonderful imagery of this holiday to remember.
Boy On A Dolphin
Phaedra (Sophia Loren) is a poor, Greek sponge diver on the island of Hydra. One on of her dives she spots an ancient statue of a boy riding a dolphin on the bottom of the Aegean Sea. She sets out to sell it to the highest bidder and is torn between Dr James Calder, a dashing, kind archeologist, and Victor Parmalee an unscrupulous, dodgy dealer.
The Talented Mr Ripley
The 1999 adaptationstars Jude Law; need I say more?
Eat, Pray, Love
The cinematic version of Elizabeth Gilbert’s travel memoirs across Italy, India and Indonesia.
The Hustle, starring Anne Hathaway and Rebel Wilson, is a female centred remake of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. Set in the South of France with its idyllic scenery and Anne Hathaway’s killer wardrobe this makes me want to be sat in a hotel bar overlooking the sunset going down over the harbour, eating fancy small plates and swilling expensive cocktails.
This old, classic filmstarring Katharine Hepburn is truly lovely. Middle aged, plain Jane (our Kath) is working as a secretary in Ohio and has never found love. Before she resigns herself to spending the rest of her days a l o n e she decidesto spend her savings on a trip to Venice. Once there she meets the manof her dreamsbut soon learns that Mr fancyman is leading a double life.
Watch this film if you want to live your dreams of being part of British aristocracyholidaying in Paris and the South of France. Leighton Meester aka Blair Waldorf aka Queen B stars in this and has a fabulous wardrobe. Major envyacross the board!
Call Me By Your Name
During the summer of 1983, 17 year old Elio Perlman spends the days with his family at theirvilla in Lombardy, Italy. He soon meets Oliver, a handsome doctoral student who’s interning for Elio’s dad. A beautiful summer romance film.
a single woman in her thirties lets loose on a business trip to Barcelona leading to a fun, flirty encounter with a world famous DJ.
Also stars Richard Madden. 👀
Lost In Translation
I’ve only watched this film relatively recently. It follows the stories of two Americansstaying in the same hotel in Tokyo. They strike up a friendship and share intimate details about their lives with one another and grow closein the few days they share together. The stunning urban backdrop of Tokyo makes me want to book a flight ASAP.
I wonder how many travel/gap year adventures this film made people go on. Starring Leo Dicaprioas a young American seeking fun and adventure in Bangkok. He comes into possessionof a map leading him to a beautiful, uninhabited private beach and lagoon so sets off on his journey to find it.
The Lizzie McGuire Movie
Hey now, hey now this is what high school tripdreams are made of! Such a feel good teen movie even if it did give me unrealistic expectations of school trips to Rome as a teenager.
As if I could do this list without mentioning this BRILLIANT film. It’s set during WWII, focusing on an American expat, Rick Blaine, who owns an upscale nightclub. His club has become a haven for refugees searching for help to escape to America. Unbeknownst to Rick, he is approached by the infamous rebel Victor and his wife Ilsa; who was Rick’s true love but deserted him when the Nazi’s invaded Paris. Upon seeing Rick again her feelings come flooding back.
The Grand Budapest Hotel
This comedy drama film focuses on the Grand Budapest Hotel, in 1932, where the hotel concierge is wrongfully accused and arrested of the murder of a hotel guest. Beautifully shot and gorgeous imagery.
Unless you’ve been in the desert with Jared Leto and you also didn’t have any idea about Coronavirus/Covid-19 sweeping it’s way across the globe.
People all around the world are being told to engage in social distancing not only for their own health and wellbeing but also to help stop the spread of this deadly virus reaching those with underlying health conditions, those with weakened immunity, the young and the elderly.
Beforehand, social distancing sounds like a term that Gwyneth Paltrow would use to excuse herself from an event she just didn’t fancy going to.
Social distancing is supposed to work by helping to stop the spread of this virus is by keeping more people out of social environments, public areas and anywhere that isn’t essential really, thus decreasing the amount of people that could potentially come into contact with someone who’s already got covid-19 and stop it spreading further. Oh and it’ll also help lessen the strain on the health services. Win win really!
As an introvert, you didn’t need to ask me twice to stay away from busy areas, stay indoors and read as many books as I possibly could. It hasn’t quite sunk in for me how long social distancing may continue and what I’ll do once I’ve reached peak levels of cabin fever and how I’ll cope being mentally and emotionally. But I do feel quite lucky that I live in a little village, I have a garden so I could go and exercise or get some fresh air on my own.
For those of you out there that are struggling with knowing what you can to do with your time I’ve compiled a list of things you could consider to do with all your extra free time.
Now is the perfect time to finally start making a way through your ever growing To Be Read pile that is sitting pretty on your bookshelf. Download audiobooks, E-books and start ticking off some of those classics you’ve always wanted to read but never got round to, or read some non fiction greats and educate yourselves on a brand new topic.
Hive is a brilliant place to look for new reads as they support family, community and independent book sellers.
Similarly, most libraries have either an online service or an App you can borrow an e-book from.
If I hear one more time that William Shakespeare wrote King Lear whilst he was in quarantine from the plague I swear I’ll be splitting my possessions between the loved ones that profess the most amount of love to me and running onto the moors screaming and wailing like a banshee.
There’s a weird, little undercurrent of pressure now you’ve got all this spare time to be doing something useful and productive with your time rather than just eating malteasers and watching telly. If you’re a creative and have always dreamed of following this path then why not sit down and spend a couple hours jotting down any ideas you’ve got and seeing where you could take them.
I swear you can’t be a struggling artist/writer without a struggle and tbh I think being quarantined in your own home not really sure what’s going to happen next or whether you’re going to have to eat toilet roll sandwiches for tea is a pretty solid one.
(On a real side note though…What are all these people doing with all their panic bought loo rolls?)
Take up a hobby.
I for one have always wanted to be better at making my own things. I’d love to be able to knit or cross stitch, because, not only will I be able to make my own cosy knitwear (hypothetically speaking of course…as of right now I can barely even thread a needle) but also it looks so therapeutic. I’d love to be able to gift my wares to friends and family and they can wear my crafted, scraggly scarves with joy knowing I made it just for them.
Depending where you live and what the rules are at the moment, I know that a lot of places say that you should only leave the house for work, to buy food, go to the pharmacy or an emergency. But if you have access to charity shops, they sell so much wool, knitting needles and patterns. Not only that but a lot of charity shops could do with more support than ever right now even better if you can access them online.
Similarly, I’ve always wanted to be able to properly play a musical instrument or learn to cook and bake better. Now with all this extra time on my hands I’d love to be able to browse the interweb for recipe ideas that might take a bit longer than normal and spend a little extra time and effort curating a lovely evening meal for my whole family to enjoy (hopefully).
Use sites like Pinterest to get ideas or Etsy to buy arts and crafts from independent sellers.
There’s so many fun games you can whittle away the hours with. Whether it’s online games like The Sims (they are currently heavily discounted on Origin if you wanna be tempted even further to buy a game when it’s cheap) Xbox, Playstation or even board games are a great way from switching off from the ‘real world’ and immersing yourself in another for a couple hours.
Whether you want to stick to the classics like Monopoly, Cluedo or a humble pack of cards or trying something a little different and fun I’d definitely recommend having a look online or through Big Potato Games. I know I’ve mentioned them a few times but I love the creativity and imagination they’ve put into all of their games. You’d never be bored if you’re in isolation with your family or roommates with one of their products to hand!
Jigsaw puzzles are a great way to relax and switch off too.
Do you remember when Kylie Jenner said that 2016 was the year of learning stuff? WELL turns out she had no blimmin’ clue what was coming up in 2020 did she? How is it that these past three months have felt longer and more problematic than so many previous years combined! We’ve had the threat of war between the US and Iran, the Australian wildfires were still burning and now a deadly pandemic. At this rate, would anyone be shocked if there was an alien invasion in April??
All jokes aside, if you are currently self isolating/social distancing/ in lockdown/ bored and don’t really know what to do with yourself than this might be of interest to you. The internet is a fountain of knowledge when you know where to find it all and my lovely friend Tanya, author of Glam Glitz Gloss and The Live Review, has shared this brilliant idea with us all. The Centre of Excellence (an online learning centre) are currently offering courses for as little as £15. So if you’ve got the spare time on your hands and have always fancied learning something new or polishing up on some skills you’ve already got, this would be a fantastic way to go about it!
Money saving sites like Groupon, Wowcher and Livingsocial are also great places to look out for some good deals and they quite often also do heavily discounted online courses as well.
Use Youtube to your advantage and spend the time watching some TED Talks videos, or learn how to do some banging makeup looks from the plethora of beauty gurus on there.
Do you know how many different types of subscription boxes there are out there?? This is a rhetorical I have no idea and I can’t imagine anyone will know the exact figure either but there must be THOUSANDS. The possibilities are actually endless. Whether you’re simply obsessed with skincare, after the hottest makeup and beauty trends, obsessed with pale ales and craft beers, perhaps you’re a fan of Japanese candy and Japanese candy only or you want to do some art with the children there will be a cool subscription parcel making its way in the post to you.
As much as I feel like I’ve seen so many examples of the worst displays of humanity lately, from people fist fighting over the last packet of toilet roll, a group of stupid teens spitting and coughing at an elderly couple or that people have been setting fire to or slashing the tyres of ambulances. I cannot simply comprehend as to why someone would do these things??? Especially at a time like this where simple decency and kindness goes such a long way.
To counteract all of this I’ve seen so many nice, random acts of kindness. I’ve witnessed so many genuinely good people wanting to help others and to all get through this and come out on the other side together. From local butchers and bakers offering home delivery services to their local customers, teachers running online classes for those missing out on learning, museums and art galleries are running online virtual tours. If you want to use this rare, once in a lifetime moment and take some good from it why not see if there’s anything available for you to do in your local community. See if there are any voluntary roles available, check in with your neighbours especially vulnerable people or the elderly. If there’s not anything in place why don’t you offer to do a paper round, pick up essential groceries or walk dogs for those who can’t get out. Lots of supermarkets are crying out for help at the moment so if you’re really feeling the pressure of a lockdown and want to do something productive with your time why don’t you sling your CV that way and you’ll come out on the other side of this with a purse full of dolla.
Obvs it goes without saying I don’t want you to put yourselves at any extra unnecessary risk but it’s definitely something worth considering.
I am always the person in my friendship group that is behind the times. I haven’t seen a good majority of the cult classic tv series that is often met with gasps when I tell my friends I’ve never seen Lord of The Rings/Game of Thrones/Peaky Blinders/Breaking Bad/Orange is The New Black/Eastenders (Delete where necessary). Take advantage of that streaming service you fork out for every month and watch some of those shows or films you always want to but haven’t got round to yet. Disney+ has just landed in the UK sooooo I don’t want to tell you what to do with your free time but The Emperor’s New Groove is one of the greatest films of all time and if you want to solely watch that on repeat for the foreseeable future I totes wouldn’t judge you.
Try to make the best of it
I know it’s easy for me to say as I write this from the comfort of my own bed and as someone who still lives at home and gets along well with my family. But if we are all, globally, facing a health crisis where the government and hospital workers are urging us to stay indoors unless for work, to buy food or an emergency. Staying indoors and feeling a bit bored will be the least of your concern compared to the potential grisly alternative. If you’re blessed with good health and feel like this virus isn’t something that’ll necessarily affect you then I urge you to please share a thought for those that this will affect and have consequences for. Spare a thought for your elderly relatives, your friends relatives, your friends, your colleagues, your neighbours, people on low income, homeless people, I could go on but I hope you get the gist. At times like this, kindness and compassion is key; after all we are going to go through this together.
If you’re still feeling a bit uninspired feel free to browse this incredibly silly list beneath of alternative options; but please don’t hold me accountable if you dye your hair yellow.
Watch a film or tv show and ring a friend at the same time and it’ll be like you’re watching it together. ❤ Like the cliche moments in all the chick flicks I watched as a youth. Paul Rudd not included sorry.
Declutter your wardrobe
Do the cooking one evening
Take it in turns for your household to cook…Like come dine with me but if you rate your mam a 2 you’ll have to put up with the consequences a lot longer aaaaaaaand I don’t think you’ll get a cash prize.
Learn a language.
Give up learning a language cos it’s actually very hard
Watch Eastenders/Coronation Street/Emmerdale/Any other soap opera from the very beginning and try to catch up to present day
Give yourself a makeover
Get someone else to give you a makeover
Cry when you’ve given yourself a terrible makeover
Cry harder when someone else has given you an even worse makeover
Give yourself a fringe (DON’T! SERIOUSLY! Honestly unless you have Rihanna’s bone structure pls don’t come for me when this all goes wrong)
Watch every Youtube video in existence
Ring your nan
Send a letter
Find a pen pal
Learn a dance
Post the dance on IG/TikTok
Realise no one actually cares for your dance
Read all the books you’ve been hoarding
Eat lots of chocolate biscuits
See how many biscuits you’ll have to eat before you get asked to become the official face of McVities
Check in with your friends
Get the drinks in and facetime your friends and it’ll be like your having a right royal knees up
Learn all the words to any good song so when lockdown is over and we’re allowed to go out to play again you’ll kill it at Karaoke night
Wonder why you ever got rid of your PS2 cos The Simpsons Hit n Run was the best game ever to play.
Do a puzzle
CHECK IN WITH ALL YOUR LOVED ONES
Have a pamper night
Try to disengage with the news if you’re finding yourself getting anxious and stressed more often
Make a playlist of happy songs
Start a podcast
Make stopmotion videos
Get some outside time if you can
Do a buzzfeed quiz
Take up yoga
Appreciate how quiet the world is without all the traffic and noise
Go for a walk early in the morning and see what the world looks like at 5am
Listen to the birds
Do something for charity
Start a lockdown diary
Check in with people
Write positive reviews for all your fav pubs,bars and restaurants so when they reopen they’ll see all the nice things people have said about them.
On a real note though. I hope everyone is okay and is staying safe and well. I’m sending you all so much love and light at these difficult times and hoping we can all get through this together. I hope that if we can take anything from these darker times of life is that we cannot take anything or anyone for granted.
Ever since I was young I’ve loved anything to do with makeup, beauty items and skincare. I distinctly remember playing with my Mum’s makeup when I was little, thinking it was all so cool, all these different bits, these lotions and potions and how you could just dab this here, rub that in there and transform the way you look into a movie star. I love being able to experiment with what I wear, the style I carry and the way I look with a bit of makeup. I see it as so much more than just a thick layer of war paint, a protective coat of armour to make me feel a bit more confident, something to enhance the way I look but also as a way of self expression. I view my face and my skin as a blank canvas and I’m free to decorate it how I see fit. Whether I want a permanent tattoo, semi permanent piercings, hair dyes or a bold statement eye look it’ll reflect me and my personality and I’m so happy changing it as I see fit.
I was recently contacted by Jenny from falseeyelashes.co.uk and she kindly offered to gift me some false eyelashes to share on my blog/social media channels and to show off the fab looks I’ll be creating and the side eye I’ll be serving with these new little beauties. I will admit, I don’t wear false lashes very often; but when I do it’s always for a special occasion or a big night out where I want to be looking my absolute best.
Falseeyelashes.co.uk is a site solely dedicated to all things falsies! Whether you’re looking for something natural and understated, something big, bold and fluttery, faux mink lashes, vegan and cruelty free, something budget friendly or something a bit pricier they’ve got every person, every style and every purse point covered with thousands upon thousands of different brands and styles. If that’s not enough to tickle your pickle they also have an amazing lash subscription service (something I’d never heard of before and think is amazing!) so if you’re totally obsessed with one particular style of lash so all you need to do is simply hit the subscribe button when you purchase and choose whether you want them popping through your letterbox every 2 weeks, every month or every 2 months!
If you’re new to the false eyelash game and really want to give it a try I want to use this post to share with you some simple, easy ways to learn to get to grips with false lashes and to be able to create fab looks with falsies…and without running the risk of glueing your eye shut or for the lash to fall off mid date! I swear these types of ‘horror’ stories were so common in girly teenage magazines when I was younger; it reeeeaally put me off using them before going to the school disco in case I’d be the one, writing into Mizz Magazine the following week because I, too, was gathered around the hand dryer trying to pry my eyes open.
So first and foremost, my advice to lash newbies, or to anyone attempting anything for the first time but this is a bit besides the point right now, is to start off slowly. If you try something for the first time and do it a bit rushed it’s only natural it’s going to be a bit sloppy?!
Try to take care when taking your false lashes out of it’s packaging. They usually come stuck to a little plastic tray and the best way to remove them without altering their lash line shape is by taking a pair of tweezers (or an eyelash applicator tool) and slowly, gently pulling from the corner to release them.
Before you put any glue or adhesive on them make sure they are the right size for your eye shape. The simplest way to do this is by simply holding a false eyelash against your natural eyelashes and trim from the outer end.
Apply the glue/adhesive in a thin layer on the seam of the eyelash strip, leaving it for a few moments to dry and go a bit tacky to the touch.
Either with a steady hand or tweezers/eyelash applicator gently place your falsies as close to your natural lash line as you possibly can.
It’s easier to do this if you can position yourself so your hand and the lash is coming down from above rather than directly straight on. This’ll make it a bit easier to apply, to get it in place a bit easier and to give you a bit more control over it.
Using the tweezers/eyelash applicator to gentle press the lashes into the right place to make sure it lines up, looks neat and more natural.
Leave the lashes alone for a few minutes to dry and set in place.
Once the lashes have set you can then apply mascara on top if needed to make them look a bit more natural. Similarly, using a quick flick of eyeliner on the upper eyelid will help to fill in any obvious gaps from the lashes and give you a fancy, feline look.
Most false lashes will last nearly all day if not longer but when it comes to removing them it’s just as easy to take them off as it was to put them on. Gently apply some makeup remover/cleanser/coconut oil to a cotton bud, cotton pad or just to your fingertips and gentle massage in. Leaving it for about 30 seconds for the remover to soak in and gently pull the lashes from the outer edge.
Make sure to check on the packaging of your falsies and what they’re made out of because most sets can be reused plenty of times and you’d want to get your worth from it!
December really is the month for all the social butterflies out there. Amongst all the evenings spent frequenting pubs, bars and Christmassy market mulled wine tents, work christmas parties, all the other Christmas related festivities in-between and of course pre/post New Year’s celebrations it’s easy to see why it’s the most wooooooonderful time of the year.
You’ve probably been to plenty of parties in your life, for all sorts of occasions. Many will live on in your memories, while others were forgotten about merely days later. If you are throwing a soiree soon, perhaps for Christmas or the New Year, you know which camp you are going to want yours to fall into. However, throwing a party that is remembered for all the right reasons can be particularly tricky at this time of year; especially when the weather is so terrible outside! So whether you’re big on parties or prefer the quieter, chilled nights in, you’re the first to get the booze in or prefer guzzling all the soft drinks and if you are looking to add a bit of sparkle and something special to your party; hopefully there’ll be something for everyone to think about with these handy tips here!
The first thing you are going to need to consider before you organise the big bash is where you’re going to host the partaaaay of the year. Are you going to throw it from the comfort of your own home? Or will it be somewhere you’ll need more space like hiring a room at a village hall or a conference room at a hotel? Or pushing the boat out and getting all your mates together for a night away at a bouji AirBnB. Personally, my favourite types of parties are the more lowkey types. The ones where you can comfortably settle in for the night on the sofa with all your friends, shoveling in a handful of crisps and not having to worry about moving onto the next bar or pub every hour!
If you’re going to throw the social occasion of the year at home you’ll need to consider:
If you live with other housemates or family members keep any other rooms locked to keep out stray party guests.
If you think you all might get a bit carried away whilst having fun, perhaps warn your neighbours beforehand just to stay in their good books!
Keep anything you don’t want to get broken out of the way especially if you’ve got clumsy drunken pals.
If you’re throwing a party in a public place like a hall or something similar you’ll need to consider:
You’ll have to pay. I feel like this one goes without saying and there may be a waiting list or might be all booked up by now for Christmas dates already.
You’ll be allocated a certain amount of time and will have to clean up fully at the end as well. I don’t know about you but in my opinion nothing quite kills my partying buzz like whipping round with a hoover at the end of the night.
There might be restrictions on what you can do and whether loud music is permitted.
Perfect that guest list!
Now I don’t know about you but sometimes in life it’s nearly impossible to have completed blended friendships groups. You’ve got your family, your friends, your work friends, childhood friends, old family friends the list could go on and on. They’re all great and you adore them all equally but when it comes to hosting a shindig before you click send to all to all your FaceBook pals you might want to just double check who you actually want there, who’ll probably RSVP yes and not even bother to turn up at all and who’ll defo come through for ya and will bring a bucketload of snacks and a playlist to make Steve Aoki quake in his boots.
Have a theme!
When we think of a theme, the first thing that may come to mind is Halloween. In fact, Christmas and New Year particularly lend themselves well to themes – everyone is feeling a little more fun and more prepared to ‘let go’ and immerse themselves in the festivities. It doesn’t have to be anything too over the top (it’s your party you can do what you want to cry if you want to) Dress up to the nines for a Glitz and Glamour Hollywood theme. Have a purely Christmas themed shindig and everyone has to wear the most Christmassy jumper or go a bit wild with it. Or finally, set it to a particular decade or era and get some great pics to cherish forever (as long as everyone is game with a night of fancy dress!) or plan the night around an exciting Murder Mystery event.
Mix up the music!
Music is a must at any party, whether it subtly plays in the background or becomes more of a focal point with a dance floor. If your budget (and space!) can stretch to it, hire a professional DJ – they know exactly how to read a crowd and get them up and on the dance floor. Sometimes the really cheesy ones are the best too, there’s nothing quite like having a giggle with all your mates as you all get up singing and dancing to Living On A Prayer for the third time that night! Similarly, if you’re looking for a much cheaper alternative creating a playlist of all your favourites, cheesy classics are a must I’m afraid (soz I don’t make the rules but ABBA do) ask one of the party attendees to be officially in charge of the Spotify playlist or just simply put the radio/music channel on in the background!
Consider the entertainment!
For many parties, music is the sole form of entertainment, but if you want your party to be a little bit different, consider other forms of entertainment. When you’re surrounded by all your friends or family sometimes it’s nice to have a little something extra to do as well (aside from the annual tradition of the character assassination about my work life/ love life and repeat). Board games in recent years have had a real revival. Gone are the days of just spending hours cooped around a small table playing Cluedo and Trivial pursuit til the small hours with your great Aunt Ethel and there’s an ocean of the most hilarious games and activities for groups to do. Whether you want to organise the tradish style drinking games like beer pong or never have I ever? The App Head’s Up is a great way to integrate people and have a laugh.
I’m really into silly games especially the types where you learn something brand new about innocent Sheila from accounts. I’ve seen a lot of hubbub about Big Potato Games a fun company from the UK who create some really entertaining games for big groups to small gatherings alike. Cards Against Humanity is always an absolute belter for getting everyone in the fun, partying spirit. Similarly you can find loads of fun different games to play if you have a quick search on Amazon.
Usually the idea of organised fun to me sounds as much fun as poking myself in the eye but if you’re after a really fun activity with all your pals this festive period check out what’s going on locally in your area. Pub quizzes are a great way to get together and sometimes (if you’re lucky) win some fun prizes. I’ve never won a pub quiz in my life but we’ve got free rounds for the best team name which is always fun. Or check out Fizz Box to see what exhilarating activities are on offer in your local area.
Plan your food and drinks!
Food and drink are essential at any party, whether you are planning a fab finger buffet or a three-course formal dinner. However, the last thing you want to be doing is spending all night slaving away in the kitchen and missing out on all of the fun. Order in some pizzas for the group to share and feast on throughout the night. Crisps and dips are the best part about a social gathering if you ask a little piggy like me. Make something fun for everyone to get involved with like a tex-mex station with guests to make fajitas, tacos and overloaded macho nachos. Or if you fancy having a cocktail making and shaking sesh for the evening; grab all your alcoholic beverages, different spirits, soft drinks and fruit juices and make like you’re all fully trained bartenders and enjoy testing out each other’s creations.
Fingers crossed that these tips will hopefully help you to plan and throw a party that no one will forget this Christmas time.
If you go to a fast food restaurant you can get a meal of a burger, fries and a drink for about a fiver on average. Will that meal fill you up and curb those hunger pangs? Yes. Will it be delicious? Yeaaaaaah probably…I mean I’m 24 going on 25 and yet to have a bad McDonalds (other fast food chains are available but I’m a McDonalds gal thru and thru) Will it be nutritious? Debatable. If it what’s you can afford and what you fancy; having it every once in a while won’t do you any harm.
Now if you think about the flip side to this, if you were to dine out somewhere else, having a near identical meal (handmade burger, triple cooked chips, fancy soft drink… can ya picture the type of gastropub I mean), somewhere that sourced local produce, paid the farmers, the cleaners, the waiting staff, the chefs all properly and fairly. Somewhere that considered the food miles that occurred to make that single plate of food and the overall environmental impact of each dish. Would it taste the same as a fast food option? Absolutely not. Would it cost as little as £5? Also a hard no.
When it comes to food and what we’re consuming, we’re all pretty much aware of where our food comes from or what things we should be eating. We know that if we had the money and the budget, ideally, we should be purchasing fresh, organic produce. It’s easy for me to preach that behind a computer screen, knowing that not everyone can afford that lifestyle; I certainly can’t! We’re raised to think about our ethical footprint when it comes to the food we consume but why in this current climate is it taking us so long to consider our fashion footprint and how to become a conscious consumer of clothes?
Up until quite recently, I was really naive to what fast fashion and being a conscious consumer really meant. To me I’d hear the phrase ‘conscious consumer’ and think of someone dressed head to toe in hessian sacks and singing kumbaya. I had my head stuck in the sand when I’d shop ’til I dropped; , contently filling my basket with all the latest garms. Within the last 18 months, you see these phrases more frequently used in the press and in informative documentaries all about what goes on behind the scenes, teaching the audience to be more mindful; and how to put their most conscientious, ethical (but still bang on trend) foot forward.
If the term fast fashion is completely new to you, let me bring you up to speed a bit. Within the last few decades, the way in which consumers shop for clothes has changed massively. With an influx of more and more fashion retailers adorning each and every high street and each corner of the internet; it’s easy to see why low cost, fast fashion retailers really took off. They take the styles and designs seen from top, high end fashion houses, reproducing them quickly for a lower cost (and quality) for the consumer. This then in turn gives the customer the ability to get on board with the identical trend for a fraction of the price.
So what does this have to do with being ethical and how does it negatively impact the planet? So these practices often rely on offshore manufacturing processes where labour is so much cheaper; paying low wages and not taking into account if there are adequate health and safety practices in place. Not only is it not ethical for humanitarian reasons. For other human beings to pay the price for some cheap garments but by the time your outfit gets to store it’s got more air miles on it than the average gap year student.
Becoming a conscious consumer isn’t dressing head to toe in hessian sacks and singing Kumbaya.
To maintain the cheap price of these fast fashion items, often the materials used are of a cheaper, lower quality so they don’t last as long and then get thrown away after a small handful of uses.
Now, I completely understand that the price of clothes is something of a sticking point. Not everyone can afford to buy high quality clothing. Not everyone can physically access shops that stock items like these. I realise there is an amount of privilege that comes with being able to afford to shop this way. I don’t want to offend or isolate anybody with what I’ve written here, I’d be deeply troubled with myself if that was the case. I just wanted to share some ways that even if you can’t quit your fast fashion habits, or you can’t find clothes to fit you from other stores, how you may benefit from some of these simple solutions.
Search on Depop/Ebay/Facebook Marketplace.
There are numerous different apps and sites like this. Whether you’re looking at it as a simple way to make some extra dosh or even peruse the shelves of other online wardrobes. It’s an ideal way to find a new outfit on the cheap, whether you’re looking for something from a high street brand, something a bit off the cuff or a designer label; apps like this have got you covered. It can be a bit of a hassle going through the to-ing and fro-ing with individual sellers but the good majority of the time the individual sellers are good. With most corners of the internet you’ll find those types of people trying their luck, to get a vintage, one of a kind item for about 34 pence with postage and packaging chucked in too as if you’re doing them the favour! Nah.
Shop Second Hand or in Charity Shops.
One of my all time favourite pastimes is spending time browsing in different charity shops. Not only will you feel good for getting a top notch bargain but you’ll also get that warm, fuzzy feeling inside knowing the money you’ve spent in store is being put to a good use. Compared to buying in a high street, conventional shop, it might be harder to find the exact thing you’re after but you might come home with something even better or even something designer. Ask the staff if you’re looking for something in particular they might see something come in and keep it aside for you or let you know when they’re restocking days are. Some charity shops aren’t the most accessible to everyone from not stocking a wider range of sizes, being quite small and narrow which isn’t ideal if you’re wheelchair bound. I recently was invited to the Julia’s House new superstore in Poole, Dorset to have a nose around click the link here to have a read of what I thought (and what I purchased!)
Browse vintage stores.
If I had all the money in the world I’d love to be able to spend a fortune in vintage or antique stores. Preferably with someone just a few paces behind me with a big bag picking up everything I scream ‘OMG WANT THIS’ at. I like that the clothes (books and home bits too) have more character to them and you definitely won’t see someone wearing the exact same outfit at an event. If shops like this are a bit few and far between near you online sites like eBay or Antiques Trails Maps are great to search for a particular piece.
Host a Clothes Swap.
If you’re like me and have a wardrobe that’s pretty much busting at the seams, get all your friends together, invite them over for a night in of nibbles, drinks and tell them to bring all their unwanted clothes. One (wo)man’s trash is another (wo)man’s treasure and all that jazz? You never know, that top you’ve been eyeing up that your mate wore before, they might be planning to get rid of it and it’s your ideal time to swoop in. OR similarly, if you want to be tooootally extra and definitely end up in The Good Place; organise something like this on a much grander scale. Find somewhere locally, village hall, school hall or something and do it for charity. Inspire your local community to come along with all of their unwanted wears and feel like a mini Gok Wan with all the sustainable clothes swapping going on around you.
Make your own.
To some, this might sound utterly AWFUL and the sheer thought of trying to make your own clothes is as tempting as heading out the door wearing a bin bag and empty cheese & onion crisp packets as shoes. If this sounds like something you’d be genuinely interested in doing or at least trying out there are hundreds and hundreds of of guides, templates and kits to get you started on these types of things. They’re available online on sites like Etsy, in haberdashery shops or places like Hobbycraft. Or just simply hang onto that mini sewing kit that comes in your cracker at Christmas, spend some time with your nan and learn how to re-sew on a button or how to make something that’s slightly worn look like you bought it that way.
Try to shop as trans-seasonably as you can.
It seems like fashion these days cover literally eventuality you could possibly imagine. Once upon a time people bought clothes to wear until they either physically grew out of them or to the point they were beyond repair. These items would be turned into handmedowns or sometimes even used as old cleaning rags. I know I’ve been in the position if I’ve got a party or an event coming up rather than raiding my own wardrobe and wearing that little black dress I’ve worn for the umpteenth time it is far more tempting to hop onto my laptop and check out what dress I can find online for a tenner with next day delivery thrown in you say??? Count me in! Rather than buying something that’ll be in style here and now, perhaps consider something that’ll last a lot longer over the years and you’ll be comfortable to wear it for a multitude of different occasions.
Emma Watson is endorsing the 30-wear promise which is the ethos that before purchasing an item you need to consider if you’ll wear it 30+ times. This is something that I’m trying to consider when I shop for clothes more often. My personality and style can be quite spontaneous and often I’d pick out items on a whim that I think looks cool at the time and then take it home and sit on my bed staring at this garish crop top covered in Furbies and I’ll catch myself and think ‘….What was I THINKING?!’. So next if you’re like me and considering trying this new shopping stance too, next time you buy something new, think about whether you genuinely will wear it more than just the once and then after that it’ll just sit in the back of your wardrobe until the dreaded annual wardrobe-clearing-out task.
Create a capsule wardrobe.
I religiously watched Gok’s Fashion Fix when I was in my teens, not only because it seemed like it was the only thing on telly at the weekends when I was avoiding doing my homework but also because I found it fascinating watching this guy on tv completely transform a rather regular piece of clothing with such ease. His outfit would be pitted against the designer equivalent and nearly always his would win. Probably wouldn’t make ideal viewing really would it if everyone actually voted to say the Prada one was far, far nicer than his safety pin improved number though, would it? My point being is that not only would Gok teach regular folk from up and down the UK how to jazz up a plain outfit but he’d teach something also vitally important; body confidence and how to create the perfect capsule wardrobe. Learning how to create different, fabulous looks from the same few items of clothes, jazzing them up for some occasions, dressing them down for others.
Quality not quantity.
I know, that statement kinda stinks of privilege. Personally, I can’t afford to shop high end and often you can get several outfits for the same price as one singular fashion item in a pricier store. I’ve bought numerous items basic items from high street shops for just a couple of pounds and then I whinge and moan when they fall apart just a few wears later. Rather than buying five £5 basic t-shirts would it have been more cost effective if I bought one £25 t-shirt that didn’t fade and
Shop Sustainable Brands
A lot of high street retailers often seem to be cashing in on the whole sustainable. Call me a cynic, but if you want to make an impact and actually be an ethical trader don’t limit that to just a few shelves out of a bustling shop full. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a start, a step in the right direction but surely it’s no more or less ethical. I’ve noticed more lately that there is a real uprising of ethical traders and brands coming through with gorgeous pieces of clothing.
Sometimes, what you need to consider is that if you’re paying a lower cost for an item, someone, somewhere else is picking up the rest of the tab for that. When you shop locally with an independent retailer. You are supporting a person, you’re supporting a family, a household with income. You might be helping a Mother pay her mortgage, a Father help to pay for his child to go for extra curricular lessons or just helping a person chase their dream and afford to actually live. When you buy from a big fast fashion retailer you are only lining the pockets of the fat cats at the top.
Stourhead House and Gardens is a picturesque National Trust property on the Wiltshire/Somerset border in England. It’s one of my favourite beauty spots near me, as it’s a wonderful place to go for a tranquil nature walk, take in the colours of the season or just to absorb yourself in some gorgeous architecture and local history.
The estate was previously owned by various different wealthy families before being sold to the National Trust in 1946. The house had suffered a fire in the early 1900s but was rebuilt shortly afterwards near on identically. The gardens have been adapted over it’s time with architect, Henry Flitcroft, adding the Temple of Ceres in 1744, the Temple of Hercules in 1754 and the Temple of Apollo in 1765.
The lake was artificially created with a path surrounding it which is meant to evoke the journey of Aeneas descent into the Underworld. Henry Hoare, a member of the Hoare family who owned this estate for many generations, was an renowned art lover and collector; basing the design and concept of the gardens on one of his favourite artists pieces, Aeneas At Delos.
The five arched palladian bridge looks pretty against every seasonal backdrop and just like the setting of Pride and Prejudice.
The Temple of Apollo.
On the left is a view of the Grotto and on the right is the Temple of Flora.
Inside of the Grotto looking out onto the lake.
Inside of the Grotto.
The Pantheon hidden amongst the Autumnal trees.
As mentioned previously, this is a National Trust property and you have to pay on entry unless you have a membership. If you’re visiting the area and are interested in nature/ history and architecture I’d say Stourhead is well worth a visit. It’s a short drive away from the a303 and as far as I’m aware there aren’t any buses to get there so it’s only really accessible by car.
For those that are wheelchair reliant, or are taking pushchairs, the paths around the gardens and running adjacent to the lake are fairly flat but unfortunately there are steps to get inside a lot of the Temples and the Grotto. To get from the gravelled car park down to the house and gardens is a series of slopes. There are free, all-terrain wheelchairs to borrow and a six seat buggy to go around the gardens as well.
Last Tuesday, I was kindly invited by Sarah from Julia’s House to attend an exclusive blogger’s evening at their newly refurbished store in Creekmoor, Poole. Not only was I excited because this was my first proper blogger event invite, one with other, actual bloggers present (yay!) but Julia’s House is a well known charity foundation in my area and naturally I was so thrilled to be personally invited by them. Oh and also because I am a massive charity shop fan. I’m always on the hunt for a good bargain. I’m like the personification of a magpie for these sorts of things.
Speaking of being a massive charity shop fan. I became a literal massive charity shop fan. The Creekmoor site is one of the biggest charity shops on the south coast. Facts on toast from here on out.
So when Mum and I arrived, we were greeted by one of the staff members, taken through the store, eyeing up stuff as we went (on the evening we were lucky enough to be given 20% off of everything we purchased. So if you can hold on until the end to see all of my new goodies I promise it’ll be worth it!) and were lead out to a meeting room, waiting with all the other bloggers. Sarah, led a short talk explaining to us all about their story, what they do and showed us a video of one of their parents of a Julia’s House child and their experience.
For those of you reading this who aren’t based in the South West of England you might not be fully aware of what Julia’s House is, what they’re about and the work they do. Prior to Tuesday evening, my knowledge wasn’t hugely extensive on all the exact ins and outs either to be honest. I knew they were a children’s hospice and had a lot of charity shops in my local area but that was about it.
So, Julia’s House was created from an idea a paediatric nurse named Julia Perks had. As she worked in the healthcare industry and with very poorly children, she noticed there was something still missing. She dreamed of creating a space or support network for the families who are struggling with caring for a life-limited child. Somewhere, where the child can receive the care and support they need as well as it being a place where the whole family can go or can turn to and feel like they’ve also got a lifeline. In a devastating turn of events, Julia sadly died from cancer and never got to see her dream become a reality. Her friend, Mike Wise, and a small group of dedicated supporters to kindly took the reigns of her brilliant idea and through their tireless efforts and fundraising they got the charity off the ground, employing their first two community nurses; who’d offer families some respite by visiting directly at their homes. Now, one of the first community nurses is still working within Julia’s House and is the Director of Care!
They’ve got a hospice in Poole, Dorset and another one in Devizes, Wiltshire which provides either day or overnight care to the poorly little ones and gives the affected families a chance to have some time out for themselves, to catch up on day to day things or spend with their other children whilst knowing their child is in a safe, home away from home environment. That’s one of the brilliant things I took away from this evening is that Julia’s House don’t just care about the affected child they care for the entire family. Offering and providing experiences such as shopping or spa trips for tired Mums, motor racing day trips to Thruxton for weary Dads, week long residential trips for the siblings to get to know other children/teenagers in a very similar position and giving them a good chance to get away from it all and all their worries. They cover all grounds, making sure no one is left behind and have launched something called Great Mates. A social get together for all the aunties, uncles, nannys, grandads, grans, grandpas, family friends and basically anyone who’s closely involved with the care of a Julia’s House child.
Considering only 5% of Julia’s House is government funded it really humbled me to think, firstly, just how lucky I am to be who I am. I’ve never struggled and I don’t know where the children, the families, the friends, the nurses and the staff get their strength and resilience from to wear a brave face, smile and carry on each day. How do people just learn to cope when they’re told the worst? Secondly it really brought it home to me, just how charities like this must really rely on their fundraisers, their donations, their sponsors, patrons and the customers in each of their charity shops.
So now you’re as clued up on everything Julia’s House as I am; let’s get onto the topic of the new Creekmoor store I visited. I wasn’t really sure what I was going to be expecting. I’d seen a few pictures on twitter and heard raving reviews about it but like all these things you always want to make your mind up for yourself. Upon arrival, I was instantly drawn in by their wicked Halloween display. After years of working in retail I know the pain and the pleasures of pulling off an A* dressed window and how it can entice someone into a store. I was told this wasn’t going to be like any other, ordinary charity shop. There was no dingy and damp smell and definitely no moth ball in sight! It truly lived up to the hype of being an Instagrammer’s dream. From childrenswear, to designer garms, homeware, a cosy library nook and even an exclusive, bridal suite this definitely didn’t feel like any ordinary charity shop. Toto we defo aren’t in Kansas anymore!
After Sarah had finished her talk with us all we were shown around the shop by the manager, Dave. In this day and age, not only is fashion sustainability something that is at the forefront of a lot of people’s minds but the importance of reusing and recycling is too. The team here made sure they put everything to good use that they could possibly and the surplus furniture they didn’t know where to place they fashioned into display cabinets. It’s super quirky and fabulous.
This is the children’s section with this incredible Doctor Who style tardis changing room for children. This was handmade just for this store, and strangely enough, in a bizarre turn of events it’s not the only one they have in here either! Someone from Wiltshire heard about it and gave it to the store. It’s weird and wonderful and totally sums up this whole store. On the outside it looks like any other Julia’s House shop but once you’re inside it’s so much bigger and better than you’d have envisaged. Oh and not forgetting the fab lady stood in front. That’s Claire and she was on hand as our very own personal stylist for the evening. She oozed, style, passion and charisma and was the perfect person to be championing the store and also me into buying loads. They were all so passionate about this place, the cause and you could tell they were all so proud of the newly refurbished store. After all, they were the ones that had literally put in all the hard work!
Never have I seen so many Tardis’s in one place?! The attention to detail to every inch of this store is so inventive.
To the left of the children’s area was the gorgeous Bridal room. To access it, you have to book an appointment in order to treat yourself to a proper Say Yes to The Dress style experience for a fraction of the cost. As we all gathered inside, I was taken aback by the glitz and glamour and was a little bit shocked to see such beautiful gowns! Not that I was expecting them to be horrible but they all looked lovely. All the gowns were either donated as secondhand or from bridal shops that had closed locally. All the dresses are priced under £300 and as wedding shopping / budgeting goes that’s still a massive bargain!
It’s a lovely and big secluded area of the shop so you can try on and get a feel of what your style is.
It just goes to show not everything you’d see in a charity shop looks like something your great Aunt Ethel would have worn in the early 1900s. These gowns are utterly fabulous and you wouldn’t believe you could get it for such a cheap price in a charity shop?!
I love the extra little touches dotted around from the classy chandelier in this room and the big glass full of flowers.
You can see even more dresses and wedding outfits available here too. Whether you’re looking for bridesmaids, or for little lads to look dapper on the big day there’s so much choice.
Similarly, they also did some nice prom style dresses. After speaking to Sarah at the end of the evening I found out that the team at Julia’s House went to one of the nearby schools with loads of Prom dresses and gowns, some drinks and nibbles and the school girls sorted their outfits out in style and for a good cause too. Prom can be such a big deal at school, well everything seems like a big deal at school at least! Everything from the outfit, the makeup, the hair, the vehicle you arrive in is seen by the rest of your year group and it feels like the biggest event in the world at the time. So to be able to get a decent dress much cheaper and much more ethically would have meant a great deal to those school children.
From the bridal room we then moved into my favourite place in any charity shop; the book section. I can’t help but raid the shelves and see what new read I can find and Creekmoor offered an even better alternative to the usual few shelves. A whole library room!
Complete with this comfy leather sofa and a few chairs dotted about the room; this space just looks ridiculously cosy to settle in and sink your teeth into a new book. As mentioned previously (and I’m sure i’m going to mention it a few more times before this post is out) I love all the tiny details the team have used to tie each room together. The cowhide rug, the rustic makeshift table, the vintage typewriter (not for sale unfortunately for me) could confuse you for being in a vintage store, Urban Outfitters or somewhere similar to that! You could easily wile away your time in just this section alone before perusing the shelves and grabbing an armful of new books. They’re £1 each or two books for £1.50 unless marked otherwise and in my opinion you can never have too many books!
I really love the ingeniousness of using these surplus to requirement snowboards as bookshelves. It’s so clever, so good to reuse them for another purpose and it also looks SO cool. Notice anything peculiar about the wall either??? Well, it’s wooden doors!? Seriously I’m astounded at the creativity that went into organising this site and into making it what it is. It’s beyond clever.
The vintage typewriter. There were several items like this dotted around the store. It gives the place so much character, adds to the character and I’ve noticed in my local Julia’s House charity shop they have some donated items just for display purposes.
Coming out of the library nook is the men’s section. The way Dave and the team spoke about it made me realise how some charity shops are actually quite poor when it comes to bits for men. It got me thinking whether it’s a just a slight difference between the shopping habits between men and women. Are men more likely to go into a shop knowing exactly what they want to purchase, buy that specific item and leave whereas women are perhaps more prone to enjoy the general shopping experience and like to browse as they go. Is the Great British high street and fashion retail in general primarily aimed at women more than men. There are endless shops just for women’s fashion compared to how many there are just for men; so is it inevitable that there are going to be more women’s clothes ending up in charity shops and as secondhand items compared to men’s? I feel like I’ve run away with myself on a real tangent there but it’s something you can think about, ponder on and get back to me with your thoughts!
Creekmoor, stocked a big range of men’s clothes, a huge wall of shelving of dvds and games as well as a super impressive, big vinyl record collection.
Right by the front door is a large area of women’s clothes, shoes and bags. Ranging from designer labels like lovely Hobbs dresses to high street togs from the likes of Zara, Marks & Spencer and Topshop. Everything felt of good quality and
As you can see, I was quite snap happy this evening. Rows of old fashioned Singer sewing machines adorned the top shelves of the shoes section.
On the other side of the shop was all of the homewares. They laid it out like it was a proper department store. With a kitchenwares section with electronic items to plates, glasses and other little knick-knacks. A bathroom section almost with an array of different skincare and beauty products all unused and unopened, perfect if you’re on a budget. They used donated wallpaper or off cuts to create the look for each section and each room and I’m really impressed with the thought and attention to detail here. It’s something I’d have never thought of and probably wouldn’t have even realised had it not been brought to my attention. I sound like a broken record but I’m honestly so impressed with all this effort. It helps customers visualise each item when they draw it all together and lowkey makes you want to get more as it all looks so good altogether!!
I love the quirky furnishings. I can’t wait to deck out my future home with funky little pieces like this. It’ll be like a storybook of random pieces and like Phoebe Buffay did my shopping.
This section had real Cosy Club / Lounge vibes. It’s eclectic and fun. In my opinion vintage or vintage style pieces like this have so much more life and character about them compared to a simple (Read boring) frame.
Opposite the till area are these two changing areas.
Well done for making it this far! This is probably my personal record for the most pictures used in a blog post. So I do apologize if it’s quite laggy to open and load this blog post but trust me it’ll be so worth it! As I mentioned previously, we got given 20% off of everything we purchased on the night and I picked out some bargains I want to show off to you all.
I picked up this faux succulent for my room. I redecorated my bedroom back in August going with a really neutral vibe with white walls, keeping the same furniture and generally having a bit of a clear out. I’m using soft furnishings and duvet covers to bring in splashes of colour here and there and also means I can change the theme as I wish. At the moment I’m alternating between a green leafy duvet cover and then a pink and grey floral design. This was only £2 as well?!
I love little trinkets and quirky pieces and spotted this old fashioned, vintage atomizer nestled in amongst some other homewares. I just thought it was quite pretty and I can’t wait to feel like Sophia Loren spritzing myself with my fancy schmancy new atomiser.
As I was browsing the clothes I proudly proclaimed that I’ve got SOOOOO much black clothing and couldn’t possibly need anymore, that I was finally going to get something with a bit of colour. Flash forward to about 15 minutes later when I spotted this off the shoulder sheer blouse; it slipped right into my basket without even a second thought. I love items like this though, whether you want to dress it up with some skinny, cigarette trousers for a smart casual look or layer it with a mini skirt and tonnes of black kohl eyeliner and some silver jewellery for a cool going out out style.
Lastly I picked up this hefty and totally random selection of books. I love reading as you may have already guessed by now! But something I’m really proud of is that my taste in the genre of books I read is fluid and always changing. I’m really keen to broaden my mind as and when I can. As much as I love reading a light hearted chick lit novel I also really enjoy reading social psychology books and things that make me really think. I picked up Single, White Female by John Lutz; the book the film is based on. I love books that you can’t put down until the very end and I definitely think this book will be just like that. I got The Circle by Dave Eggers which I picked up after a skim read of the blurb. The Circle is about a company (called The Circle obvs) that runs the internet and now basically runs everything. The main character starts working for them and slowly but surely notices a sinister truth about this place. Sounds interesting, right!
Next up is Big Bones by Laura Dockrill which is all about the day to day trials and tribulations of a young fat girl. It sounds fun and honest and as someone who was also the young fat girl I’m so glad to see she’s not the laughing stock, the cliche butt of the joke because she’s a larger person. I got Wilde Like Me by Louise Pentland. I know I’m a bit late the party with this one but it was £1 and I like nice to read chick lit which I’ve heard this is.
Like I say, my reading history is eclectic and random as anything, my next purchase was Jon Ronson’s Them: Adventures With Extremists. Jon talks about his experiences of meeting different extremists around the world and discovered the one thing they all have in common. Probably not an ideal book to reading on the train or in Costa to avoid funny looks. I got Worth Dying For by Tim Marshall which is all about trying to understand the histories, the power and politics of the symbols that people rally around, the symbols that unite us and also divide us. Aaaaaand last but by no means not least; I got Tequila Mockingbird combining my two favourite things, alcohol and literary based puns. This book contains a glorious collection of all the best tipples and I can’t wait to put this book to good use. Y’know for research purposes obvs…I’m doing this for you guys.
I’m so glad I said yes to going along to this fabulous event I got loads of great new bits, learnt loads about this wonderful foundation and feel like the money I spent that evening will have inevitably helped even just a tiny bit. If you’re local to the area I’d really recommend popping in if you’re near to Poole or Bournemouth. This really isn’t like any old charity shop you’d find on your local high street.
Or simply, if you can take anything away from this blog post I implore you to have a root through your local charity shops. Not only will you be giving back to those who need it most, it’s more sustainable than buying brand new clothes or homewares and most of the time you really wouldn’t even know it’s from a charity shop! Plus it’s much cheaper way of shopping plus you never know what might take your fancy!
*I got invited to this blogger event in exchange for writing a blog post / review about it. Even though it was an invited experience all my thoughts, feelings and opinions remain authentic, true to me and genuine.
Subscription boxes over the last few years have really had a giant surge of popularity; what’s there not to like about receiving a mystery parcel in the post once a month from yours truly?! With an abundance of different types available these days so whether you want to spoil a loved one with a fun gift or just treat yourself to a little something.
Recently I was contacted by a company called UOpen and they offer the biggest range of subscription boxes you could imagine. With such a wide variety of boxes they offer something for literally everyone and anyone. So whether you’re a fishing fanatic, crazy about cocktails or curious about crafting; the guys and gals at UOpen have got you covered.
UOpen offered me the chance of receiving one of their subscription boxes as a gift and I jumped at the chance quicker than you can say two for one on all cocktails for the rest of the night for people called Abbie. Staying in is the new going out; especially if you’re a billy no mates like me, so I picked the Pub Supper Subscription box to try out. I wanted the pleasures of going out to my local pub (without the extortionate prices, sticky floors and fighting; and not just for a table) but all from the glorious comfort of my own home and sat on my sofa watching boxsets in my jammies.
I love going to a pub. There’s far more enjoyment for me in a nice, cosy, old man pub with cheap pints and board games aplenty than in a packed out club or bar. If you sympathise with me here or maybe just know someone who’s a pub fanatic; this box might just be right up their alley.
It costs £19.95 for a monthly payment per box in which you’ll receive roughly between 8-10 premium pub snack goodies. So it’s not just your bog standard soggy peanuts and a tiny packet of scampi fries round here. The box I received had a plethora of delights inside, the majority of which I can say I’ve never tried before. Unfortunately for me there were quite a lot of meat based items but as I was sharing this experience and all the contents with my family, they sampled all the things I could not.
One of the first things that caught my eye was this packet of Brave roasted peas coated in a warm and spicy paprika and chilli flavouring. These little bites were super crunchy and super moreish; a little sprinkling in your hand just was not enough. They feel a lot healthier than snacking on some super salty peanuts so if you’re looking for something a little bit different instead to try to fill that savoury void these would be an excellent choice.
But if nuts remain a pivotal part of your predrinks, feast your eyes on these Graze mixed nuts. You get chilli & Lime covered cashews and salt sprinkled peanuts and almonds. The chilli on the cashews is a little bit warm so if spice isn’t your thing, maybe stick to the peanuts and almonds. I love that this mix is a little bit different from what you’d usually find in a pub, bar or in the snacks aisle of a supermarket. And the chilli and lime flavours of this go so nicely with something tequila based or a light beer.
I am not a fan of olives but I’m really glad these were included in my box as some people do actually like these sad salty grapes. Specifically those people being my sister and mum. They’re a popular bar snack and go nicely with most beverages.
What’s a party without gossiping over some wine and crisps?! First up was Scrubby’s Sundried Tomato and Basil flavoured hummus chips which I could have eaten a whole lorry load all to myself to be honest. I love hummus and I’ve tried a few different types of hummus crisps before but these ones were next level as they were complete with some top notch italian style flavours. Next was Nando’s very own Peri Peri grooves Spicy Chicken flavour potato crisps. I didn’t eat these (cos veggie) but even before I turned vegetarian I wasn’t a huge fan of chicken crisps but these smelt a whole lot better. More like Nando’s scent with a bit of chicken flavour as well.
I’ve had these salt and vinegar mini rice cakes before and they are absolutely gorgeous and I could easily scoff loads. You can get them in the bigger size or normal rice cake size as well which is the ones I’d usually opt for, but having this grab bag gave me more opportunity to shove more in my mouth than you should. These low cal snacks are perfect if you’re choosing to not have crisps but still want the acidic tang that salt and vinegar snacks give you.
So I don’t want to keep banging the drum to the same tune here BUT I am vegetarian so I didn’t eat these. They’re a bit different as it’s something I didn’t imagine would be included. I’m not sure if it’s just because I’m a veggie and don’t mix in the meat eating pub snacking circles so obvs it wouldn’t be something I’d choose for myself.
Last but not least in my pub subscription box were two different bags of pork scratchings. We had the Awfully Posh ones which were chilli and roasted garlic flavoured (fancy!) or the Mr.Porky crispy strips. Now to me this is a original classic for country pub snacks. In my local they have a massive glass barrel on the bar filled to the brim of pork scratchings.
On the whole, I really enjoyed the Pub Subscription box even though some of the items I received weren’t all 100% suited to my tastebuds; it provided a variety of different snacks to please a wide and varied crowd. Not literally obvs they’re not Jesus with their loaves of bread and a couple of fish. I’m sure if this was a service I kept up with ordering each month, there would be a whole host of different sweet or savoury snacks inside that would tickle even the fussiest of tastebuds.
Some people may argue that the price seems a bit steep but I think with these types of things it’s excellent if you’re having friends round for a party or if you are a pub connoisseur and to unwind in the evening in your arm chair with a nice bottle of something (no lambrini huns pls) and to delve deep into your monthly box. If you went to a pub with friends or picked up some new, fancy bits whilst food shopping and bought 8-10 different nibbles and snacks I don’t think you’d get much change out of a £20 either and this is delivered straight to your door in a nice big box too.
If I could change one thing about this I think it would be really nice to include what alcoholic or non-alcoholic beverages would pair well with which snack. I think that would be a really nice added touch and tie the whole experience of it so well together. Other than that I really liked it.
With a snazzy subscription box like this in your home or ordered just for a special occasion; There’d certainly be no FOMO going on.
*I received this subscription box from Uopen in exchange for a review. As always my thoughts, feelings, opinions and images remain honest, genuine and my own.*
Hello how you diddling? It’s been a little while hasn’t it?! I’ve been stopping and starting with writing on here for too long now for the silliest of all reasons. Either I wasn’t really feeling it, I didn’t like what or I was writing or I kept starting it off by saying ‘Hey Hey’ and that sounded more like Krusty the clown from The Simpsons than it felt like I was being cool and quirky. So hello, how’s that for size?
I’ve neglected this blog and nearly all my social medias recently I think means a proper little chatty catch up post is definitely in order. So settle in grab a cuppa and a slice of something delicious and let’s have a little catchy uppy shall we?
So where on earth do I start…Theresa May resigned from being Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Game Of Thrones came to an end, Britain flopped (as per usual) in Eurovision all in the same month that I had a complete social media purge and deleted Whatsapp, Instagram and Twitter off of my phone and from my life. I’m not saying I hold that much of an impact and my ego is the size of the moon BUT it’s a bit of a coincidence isn’t it just?!
I deleted a few of my socials for a number of reasons really. Firstly, I have literally no storage space on my phone and I value other apps and a plethora of saved memes over me constantly scrolling on Insta like there’s no tomorrow. Secondly, without sounding like a knockoff Marie Kondo, but these apps didn’t spark any joy so why did I really have them? I felt like I was mindlessly clicking on it, almost out of habit, seeing that my life wasn’t nowhere near as good or well put together like others online. I know that with Instagram you only ever see the good aspects of peoples lives; no matter how gratifying it would be to know your favourite fashion blogger or influencer spends all morning cleaning her oven and then eats own brand cheesy beans on toast for tea.
Without all these apps I’ve found that I’ve actually spent a lot less time aimlessly on my phone. God knows how people procrastinated before the telly, internet and social media were invented?! Because of this, I’ve been quite productive in other aspects of my life (apart from on here apparently!) and now I feel a lot less inclined to post something for the sake of posting, or to keep up with a theme or because I haven’t posted in a few days and I might lose a follower. In the grand scheme of things for me, Life is far too short to worry about tiny, little details like that in my opinion.
I’ve become quite lax, maybe a little bit too much so, with posting on here. Which to be honest makes me quite sad. Blogging used to be one of my favourite pastimes and something I could always rely on lifting me out of a funk and lately it’s felt like a blimmin’ chore more than anything. I’ve questioned whether this whole thing is even for me, whether i’m good enough, whether there’s space for me and this little old blog in this growing community anymore and whether anyone actually even really cares. Then once I got over myself I realised I do this for me. To have my own personal journal online for me to look back on and see how far I’ve come, what I’ve been doing and for you all to judge if you so wish.
But, I’ve been toiling away on loads of new content, which I realise makes me sound like such an arse. Like I’m an actual investigative journalist covering topics of civil war in third world countries not that you’re getting one rambled post about cookies once every three months. Can’t win ’em all. Jokes aside I’d love to be able to write about the former, covering such huge topics and bringing them to light, I honestly don’t think I’d have the brain power or the vocabulary to speak about such subjects in a way. I’ve had a bit of a shake up and rebrand around here so it may look a bit different and some new ideas will be coming out to play as well. Think of me like a hermit crab, the exterior may look a bit different but on the inside it’s still the same old, Ab (salty, crabby and always walking sideways apparently)
I’ve been going through the motions a lot in my own head recently. I’m 24 and I just feel like I haven’t achieved anything of significance in my life so far. Like I didn’t expect I’d have amounted to much but I was hoping my roaring twenties would have been more fulfilling than it has been so far. For all those pop culture vultures out there, do you remember when Gemma Collins was in Big Brother and she exclaimed to Tiffany Pollard ‘This is gonna be a long slog, this life for me’ well I FEEL that.
So rather than sit back, mope around like I’m about to sing the sad song in the prelude in the musical of my life. I’m going to try my best to push myself out of my comfort zones and do things, make memories, create stories and genuinely live my best life. Not just look like I am online. I’ve got a notebook, a very cool leatherbound one and I’ve filled it with everything I hope to do or achieve in life. From big things to little things from finding a career I fall head over heels in love with to learning to drink whisky like a cool girl in a smoky parisian jazz bar. It’s probably not something I’m willing to share online right now mainly cos it might read like the ramblings of a mad woman who just really wants to learn how to ride a pony. But I’m hoping this’ll give me a sparkle and a newfound lease on life.
Hopefully it won’t be too long til the next time you hear from me. Have a fab weekend. Ab x
These sweet snacks used to be my absolute favourite treat when I was younger. After talking to my sister about them recently we discovered you cannot find them ANYWHERE. I looked all over and searched high and low in pretty much every supermarket and online (that’s how desperate I became for my sugary fix) and started to feel like this is the hidden conspiracy item or I was a victim of the Mandela effect; did they even exist? Did I make them up and had been living in a cookie induced lucid dream for years?!
Also, side note, if someone finds these being sold somewhere real soon I’m going to sound like such a weirdo conspiracy theorist aren’t I! If I get a comment from someone saying they bought these in Tescos just a few days ago I’m going to actually go mad. But anyway!
So I made some of my own that I think taste pretty similar to the real deal and how they used to taste but given the fact that it’s been the best part of about 10 years since I remember having one they might not be bang on but they still tasted pretty good so if you fancy making some of your own give this recipe beneath a go.
150g softened butter
150g soft light brown sugar
75g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 large Egg
250g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
A pinch of cinnamon and nutmeg. (optional)
smarties (other sugar shelled chocolates are also available)
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees and if you wanna be super organised (unlike me basically) line a baking tray as well.
Firstly, combine the softened butter and sugars in a large bowl. The more I’ve gotten into baking over the last few years, I think you actually really notice the difference when using cold butter, room temperature butter or softened in your bakes. By using room temp or softened butter it enables the sugar and butter to mix together a lot quicker and a lot easier. Plus it means you don’t have to have a mini bicep workout in the kitchen. In this recipe I used both white caster sugar and light brown sugar. The addition of the brown sugar gives the bake a darker golden colour and a slightly more fudgy taste.
Combine the egg and the vanilla extract together then pour into the sugar and butter mixture and stir until fully blended. Even though there’s a lot of sugar in these super sweet cookies by adding the vanilla extract gives the cookies an extra, deeper flavour throughout. Most supermarkets stock extracts or essences in the home baking aisle and if you want to make this recipe your own you could try using different flavourings like almond, coffee, caramel or even a salted caramel essence instead of vanilla.
Once all the wet ingredients are fully combined sift in the dry ingredients until it’s formed a dough like consistency. I added in the spices in at this point it’s completely optional I only used a small amount as I didn’t want it to overpower the whole thing but I felt that it just added a little something extra.
Place the dough in the fridge for about 30-40 minutes to let the flavours develop and the dough to harden up.
I sliced the cookie dough into 1 inch thick circles, rolled it into a ball between my hands and placed on a tray. I then pressed in a handful of smarties into the cookie and then baked for between 10-12 minutes until golden.
Perf with a cup of tea or glass of milk or eating every single one after the other when no is looking…