Wednesday, 26 November 2014

LIFESTYLE // SEASONAL ADVENTURES TO TAKE IN THE SOUTH EAST THIS WINTER

Around about this time last year, I talked about the London Dungeons at Christmas and touched upon some other seasonal things to do in London. Really though, the list is endless and I have no doubt I'll be dedicating another blog post to all the fun Christmas themed things you can do in the city this winter.

However, this blog post is about seasonal things you can do a little more further afield, if you're from the South East/outskirts of London like me. I suppose it's fitting that I'm posting this a little early as s few of these things might require a day booked off work!

I'm quite lucky in that I come from a close knit family and when I was younger we'd always go on random adventures to cool places nearby and a few a little further out. I'll always be ever so grateful to my parents for that and so it means I've visited some really awesome places or attractions over the years! Here are a few that I think are definitely well worth a visit this winter...

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WARWICK CASTLE
Though it's a little further afield, Christmas at Warwick Castle is always a fun affair, especially because there's so much on all year round as it is! Warwick Castle offers typically everything a castle should - beautiful grounds, a rich history and daily shows and talks. It's also home to some attractions such as The Castle Dungeon & The Princess Tower - making it ideal for all the family. However, Christmas is when the castle really outdoes itself. The whole castle gets decked out in Christmas deco and offers a 25ft Christmas tree in the Great Hall. There are plenty of events on over the winter period such as A Very Victorian Christmas Party and the opportunity for kids to meet Santa. Most years they have an ice skating rink in the grounds or an ice skating trail too and let's not forget about how stunning the grounds will look covered in a blanket of pure white snow. You'll have to dress up warm but attractions aside, even just visiting this attraction on a winter day will be visually pleasing and you'll no doubt enjoy exploring the grounds.
Strictly speaking, Warwick castle more so in the Midlands as opposed to the South East but I couldn't miss it out!
Warwick Castle is just under two hours outside of London.

WOBURN SAFARI PARK
A safari park doesn't sound like it'll be much fun during winter - but it is, trust me. For starters, a lot of the safari is explored via car around a specific trail so grab a thermal mug full of tea, put some Christmas music on low and admire the animals in their natural habitat without having to ever step out into the cold. The safari park sets up a very special winter wonderland each year and additionally, usually hosts various different craft or Christmas fairs which is perfect for last minute Christmas gifts. You'd be surprised at how festive a safari can get when Christmas rolls around!
Woburn Safari Park is an hour and fifteen minutes outside of London.
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WADDESDON MANOR
I visited Waddesdon Manor a couple of years ago and to this day still smile at the memory. The manor is home to some stunning grounds that can take almost all day to walk around and you can explore these grounds over winter. The grounds also play host to a lot of Christmas and craft fairs in the colder months and you'll find captivating light trails throughout the gardens and woodland area. There's even a winter trail where you can spot reindeer and stables where you'll find seasonal activities for children such as lantern making or photos with real husky dogs! Finally, the actual manor itself is decorated each Christmas with stunning Christmas trees and twinkling fairy lights. This years theme is is Lights and Legends!
Waddesdon Manor is about an hour and a half outside of London.

HARRY POTTER STUDIO TOUR
You don't have to be a fan of Harry Potter - even if you're not you'll find the whole tour extremely pretty at Christmas. All year round you can explore the set and submerge yourself in the wonderful world of Hogwarts but visit at Christmas and you'll get so much more. The whole place is decorated for Christmas with parts of the tour covered in snow. If you ever remember how the great hall looked
at Christmas in the films, then you'll know this isn't a tour to be missed this winter.
Harry Potter Studio Tour is an hour outside of London.

If none of these take your fancy, how about just jumping in the car and driving to a random town for a fun adventure? More often than not, different places have their own seasonal events from Christmas lights being switched on to carolling and different fairs. And if not, most cities are worth a visit simply just to travel through and gawk at with Christmas lights and decorations. Cambridge, Southend on Sea and even Canterbury have always been known to be festive at winter - perfect to get you into the Christmas spirit.

Is there anywhere you always make sure to go with your family at Christmas? Where else would you recommend in the South East that just HAS to be visited this winter? Let me know!

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Monday, 24 November 2014

RAMBLINGS // WHEN KARMA ISN'T THE B*TCH IT'S SUPPOSED TO BE...

At twenty-four years old, I like to believe I've learnt a lot about dating and relationships since I first really put myself 'out there' and properly started dating at seventeen. I don't consider myself an expert, and I most definitely will nine times out of ten still choose a douchebag guy despite knowing that he's a doucebag but overall I think I have my shit together when it comes to dating. 

I don't have any particular baggage and I've learned many important dating lessons over the years - compromise is key (as is communication), not everything is black and white etc...but, like a lot of people I guess, there is a part of me that hold back and an even bigger part of me that finds it hard to trust people.

Being that I'm not really looking for a serious relationship right now, none of this tends to bother me in the long run (although no doubt one day it will). However when I found myself unable to sleep a couple of nights ago and ended up aimlessly scrolling through old Facebook messages, I was faced with memories I'd rather forget. Memories of a tough time I'd gone through a few years ago, a time that I can easily forget when I don't think about it but, when I do, still gives me that pang of pain in my stomach.

And it really got me thinking that although it doesn't affect me directly anymore and although it isn't something that currently causes a huge issue in my life, it's still really bloody unfair. It's really unfair how a person can hurt you and go on to show no remorse and never quite fix things. It's not right that a person can outright cause so much emotional pain and three years down the line be happily settled down without a second thought to it all. I find it hard to accept that when I was the one hurt, I've been the one to suffer. Because of what happened, I now find it tough to trust people and tend to hold back when I meet someone. Because of the way I was hurt, I tend to avoid relationships like the plague now, in some ways finding myself absolutely terrified of any form of commitment.

Maybe it's pathetic and childlike to feel the way I do; to feel less angry about the actions but more angry about the aftermath and how unfair it is. Does it paint me in a bad light to think it's not right for the person to hurt someone else to end up happy, but the person getting hurt ends up still dealing with the consequences all these years on?

I know I'm not the only one who feels like this. I'm certainly not the only person to think that perhaps if I was more ruthless, if I cared less, I would not be the one affected right now. But then again, I suppose, in some ways it has made me care less and has stopped me forming relationships that could lead onto something pretty good. And maybe that's how it all starts, how the cycle begins..someone gets hurt, who goes on to hurt someone else and so on so fourth.

So if I was going to say anything to conclude this post I would say that you should always be aware of your actions and how it might be affecting someone else. What might just seem as something small and blase to you could influence someone else's values and outlooks on relationships, it can even halter or limit their chances of opening up to someone new, to a new love. 

And I suppose if you've been hurt before too, perhaps it's important to try and remember that you should never let someones actions define your own happiness. 

Karma might not have got them, but when you end up real happier than them in the end, you'll find it doesn't even matter.


Thursday, 20 November 2014

FASHION // H&M AND PRIMARK HAUL

I've been spending a bit too much lately getting ready for winter but in my defence, the shops do have some really gorgeous & cozy winter wear right now. Additionally, with my 25% H&M staff discount, I can't really say no, can I? 

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Here's what I bought, starting with my buys from H&M. Also, sorry about the photo quality, it's winter which means no natural light :(

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I absolutely love this vest from Divided Grey and think it's so edgy and cool. It's a well fit with low armpit holes without being too big and a really simple design on the front. I didn't actually realize there was a design on the back until it turned up so that was a nice surprise! It's really cute to wear over a pair of leggings when lounging around the house or with a floral kimono in work to make it a bit less edgy and a bit more feminine.

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On the left, another edgy top with skulls on the boobies! I really love this and in real life it looks really worn with a few small holes and rough edges which I adore about it. It's totally rock & roll and ideal for gigs and probably to wear in the summer too as it's very loose fitting and light. On the right is an oversized deep green top just for work. Unfortunately you can't really see the colour very well in this photo but it's so comfy and looks great just worn over a pair of skinny fit jeans and boots. It's perfect for winter.

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These socks are adorable! I've been wearing them religiously on cold days and they look so cute and stylish with my ankle boots. I really love the funky print, ideal for Christmas and winter.

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THESE SHOES. Now let me tell you a story about THESE SHOES. So someone returned them in work a month or so ago because they didn't fit. They clearly hadn't been worn and were in perfect condition. I'm normally picky with shoes but, well, with these it was love at first sight. So I popped them on hold behind the till until my next shift and went home to dream about them. But when I came back they'd gone! Someone had put them back out on the shop floor and I couldn't find them ANYWHERE. I looked online and they're not available online either. I sulked for days, let me tell you. Then a week or so ago I was putting some shoes out on delivery and found my babies hidden behind another pair! Not only that but they'd now gone down from £30 to £10! It was FATE! I bought them immediately. Let me tell you, I'd never been on such an emotional roller coaster with just a pair of shoes.

But how cute are they?!

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Speaking of cute...how sweet is this Christmas jewelry?! I adore the little earrings and have already worn the stars and reindeer a couple of times now (I'm saving the more Christmassy ones for December) and I've been itching to wear the bracelets.Christmas jewelry used to be SO tacky & over the top (although sometimes that's good!) but lately I've seen lots of seasonal accessories that are actually really cute too. The earrings are from H&M and the bracelets are from Primark, which brings me to what I bought from Primark..!

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These two fluffy jumpers have kept me super warm lately. The white one is a little more versatile meaning I can keep it back and continue to wear it after Christmas too. The snowflake one is more wintery than just Christmassy and I've pulled it on to snuggle up warm many, many times after a long day at work. Both are oversized and perfect for when I'm feeling slouchy.

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Finally, I got some really fluffy socks to keep my tootsies warm....and some teenage ninja mutant turtles pajamas! Because they're totally a winter necessary...they just make awesome and cool ;)

So that's my recent mini haul, all of which have been getting a lot of wear! As always, it's a mix of edgy stuff and corny but sweet Christmassy things too. I just have to try not to spend anymore money now..!

Have you picked up any bargains lately? Let me know!

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Tuesday, 18 November 2014

LIFESTYLE // A STORY TO TELL THE GRANDKIDS

This time last year, I was sitting at home in my pajamas, feeling worse for wear and recovering from a long, long week. My hair probably needed a wash and, come to think of it, I probably really needed a proper long soak in the bath - as well as along break from alcohol. I'd been exhausted and still felt slightly sleepy after my much needed lay in, yet I couldn't help but sit there with a smile on my face as I recalled my week to my family and gossiping about what had happened on Facebook.

For in November 2013 me and some friends embarked on an adventure, the type of adventure I'm sure many people dream about or think only happen in books and movies - and to this day I still can't believe it happened. We followed a band on tour, booking tickets to see them at every one of their UK tour dates and turning it into a week long road trip/adventure/party.

To this day, it's still one of the BEST decisions I've ever made.

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Music is my passion, but that's not the only reason why I did it. It was to create new memories, to have some fun. To travel around the country and discover cities I've never visited before. To meet new people and to ultimately go on a road trip. Every single one of my wishes came true and sitting here now typing this, I can't even keep the smile off my face as I remember how the week went.

I still remember the long drive to Newcastle, the pit stop in Sunderland to grab what I still insist is the worlds best takeaway pizza (especially after a night out). How I finally got my night out clubbing in Newcastle (I'd studied at Sunderland University for three years and somehow never went clubbing in Newcastle whilst there). How we bagged ourself into a super expensive club for free. How everyone was so friendly - picking me up and spinning me around. The funky cocktails in one bar and the dancing 'cage' in another. The themed 80s bar. Posing in front of a giant Budda Head statue when it was time to go home...then climbing into a fake car and taking more photos.

And this was before tour had even started!

The rest of the week served us some even more amazing memories. I fell in love with Edinburgh. I laughed so hard in a beyond trippy rotating tunnel. I made friends with support bands and random Noel Fielding lookalikes in the street. I partied hard. I recovered. I partied harder. I took too many pictures to count and listened to some of the best playlists that I'm still proud of now.

And the travelling to new cities part was pretty cool too. From staying in basic travelodge hotel rooms to all out glamorous party apartments like the one below, it's safe to say that we had a real mix throughout the week...!

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I still remember watching the sunset as we drove somewhere in between Edinburgh and Liverpool, running late and music blasting loud. A few years ago, I watched the 'Kids in Love' music video by Mayday Parade and just thought how badly I'd love to get away and take a trip like that with my friends, to be speeding along in the car with music playing loud...and at that time, I did. I had that moment, and that was pretty damn surreal for me.

Truth be told, I'm notourous for having dreams and not following through with them. But this is one dream I actually managed to fulfill and it was hands down one of the most amazing adventures of my life. Sure, it was tough arranging it all and it cost money and some people even judged us for it. But it was more than worth it in the end.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that if you want to do something crazy, do it now while you're still young. Don't think about what people might say or how much it might cost. Don't even worry about work. Just book a week off, jump in your car and do it. There's no time like the present and you'll be amazed at how one small road trip can change your life forever.

DO IT. NOW. You wont regret it.

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Sunday, 16 November 2014

MY B-LIST HORROR MOVIES CHALLENGE // BOOGEYMAN

I know it's not strictly Halloween or even October anymore, but I still have 5 more movies on my B-List Horror Movies Challenge list! Tonight I'm reviewing Boogeyman, a film I was at first surprised that I hadn't yet seen. When I first picked it up, I figured it was one of those old 90s movies that most kids had seen growing up, but on further thought, I think I might have been getting it mixed up with Candyman (which I haven't seen either come to think of it). Boogeyman actually came out in 2005!

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Watched : This evening
Essential movie snacks : Pringles
Watched with... : Some friends
Score out of 5 : 4.0/5


The premise of this film feeds on childhood fears - the fear of the dark or, more specifically, what hides in your closet at night. When a young Tim looses his father to such a thing hidden in the dark, it's no surprise that when he grows up, he's not quite over it. Following the death of his mother, he comes home and finds himself fighting to unravel the mystery or at least beat the thing that had haunted him for so many years.

Considering this only cost me 65p from CEX (I know!) I wasn't sure if I was expecting it to be bad because it was so cheap, or if I just had low expectations for it costing so little and hoped it would be much better than my expectations.

As it turns out, it was one of the best movies I've watched from this challenge so far! It had a strong storyline which I really digged because of how simple and innocent it was - everyone has been scared of the dark at least once in their life. The 'boogeyman' was never really revealed until the end (and man he was freaky), so that really built up my anticipation. There were quite a few jumpy parts too.

I wouldn't say the actors in the film were amazing, but they were a lot better then I expected them to be too. Some of it didn't make total sense though and got a little confusing, like how he tended to transport from one place to another through the closet at some points (and even seemingly go back in time at one point?). I didn't entirely understand the end, but it was exciting and kind of dark.

The film had a very nostalgic feel to it, like it was the type of film to be watched as a teenager, sneaking out of bed to watch a scary movie your parents don't want you to, or the type of film to watch with your best friends and scream your head off at the whole time. I'd probably even go as far to say that this is a date night movie too.

The ending was okay, too. It stayed away from typical horror movie endings where there's 'one last kill' or a suggestion that there might be a sequel a few months on. It was nice and simple and rounded things up nicely.

It wasn't the best horror movie I've ever seen but I enjoyed it and would watch it again.

My notes/inner monologue during the film -
  • Is that Sylvester Stallone 
  • Holy crap this is actually kinda messed up 
  • That Tim guy is sort of hot but damn that jumper is ugly 
  • What a weird little kid
  • Hiding in the barn and shit
  • He’s like transporting through the closet what 
  • Tim doesn’t need mental help it’s the boogie man!
  • OMG THE TWIST
  • How the hell can a tap make me jump?! 
  • Holy sh*t it’s actually kinda scary 
  • Hmm I didn’t completely understand the ending but the very very ending was nice and simple
  • And the song in the credits is awesome
I've discovered this movie inspired a couple of straight-to-DVD sequels which I wouldn't mind seeing for review purposes of course! Maybe I'll keep them in mind for next years challenge...


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P.S Check out the Halloween tag for more Halloween related posts and further horror movie reviews of this kind!