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On Saturday, Charles and I headed down to London to watch the annual Pride parade. We managed to get a front row spot on Oxford Street so we had a great view of the day’s events, and to top it off the weather was beautiful and sunny. This year Pride came one day after same-sex marriage was made legal in all 50 US states, which made the day feel extra special. The atmosphere was so positive and happy, and everyone looked like they were having a fantastic time celebrating. By the end of the afternoon I was covered in confetti and stickers, and had a huge smile on my face.
One of the highlights of the day for me was seeing LGSM (Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners) leading one of the parade sections. The film Pride, which tells the story of how and why LGSM was formed, is one of my favourite films, so it was fantastic to see the group out in force, over thirty years later, especially considering the similarity between our current political climate, and that of the 1980’s.
Unfortunately I didn’t get many photos, and they’re not the best quality as I was using my phone, but here are a few of my favourites from the day.
We also went to see the Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty exhibition at the V&A, which was an amazing and overwhelming experience. I’m hoping to go again during July, and I also plan on reviewing the exhibition, so check back soon for that.
Did you go to Pride this year?
I’ve been experiencing a lot of stress and anxiety lately for various reasons, so to remind myself of the good things I have going on, I’ve decided to take part in a tag that I’ve seen doing the rounds lately – 50 Things That Make Me Happy. Making this list has actually helped me feel a bit better and shift my focus away from the negative, so I tag anyone who’s been feeling a bit down in the dumps lately!
So in no particular order, here are my 50 things…
1. My fiancé, Charles.
2. My pet rats, past and present.
3. Cooking, and trying out and inventing new recipes.
4. Spending time with my family.
5. Seeing my friends.
6. Going to gigs. I love that feeling of being in the same air space as my musical heroes, and hearing them sing my favourite songs live.
7. Taking photographs. Whether it’s a snapshot for Instagram, or a shoot with my DSLR, photography is a definite passion of mine.
8. Being outdoors. I try to get out as much as possible as it makes me far happier than being cooped up inside all day.
9. Theme Parks. There’s nothing quite like the adrenaline rush you get from a massive rollercoaster!
10. Eating out at my favourite restaurants.
11. Being appreciated at work. It’s always nice to hear some good feedback, either from a manager, a colleague, or a student.
12. Running for charity. I try to complete an event every year. This year I’m doing the Race for Life.
13. That feeling of buying and wearing new shoes and clothes.
14. Glastonbury. The town, not the festival. It’s a beautiful place.
15. Dublin. Another of my favourite places.
16. Watching wildlife. Squirrels, foxes, hedgehogs, rabbits, everything. I especially have a thing for birds. My mum likens me to Bill Oddie…
17. Volunteering. I recently did some volunteering at the local wildlife hospital and I loved it.
18. Chocolate, cake, puddings, pastries, ice cream. All the sweet food.
19. Chilling with my favourite TV shows.
20. Mine and Charles’ takeaway and movie nights.
21. Getting home from work.
22. A good cup of tea.
23. Coca Cola from a cold glass bottle, especially on a hot day.
24. Finding a bargain. It makes getting something new feel that little bit sweeter!
25. Going to carboot sales. See above.
26. Books. The way they look, the way they feel, the way the smell, the stories within them.
27. Watching Grav3yardgirl videos.
28. Listening to my favourite music. In particular, Kate Bush, Nine Inch Nails, Placebo and Mike Oldfield take me to my happy place these days.
29. Fireworks. And bonfires. And Bonfire Night in general.
30. Halloween. It’s one of the best days of the year.
31. Going to the cinema.
32. Writing. Blogging, scribbling in my journal before bed, jotting down stories. Love it all.
33. Saving money for a house. I smile every time I see my savings account balance go up.
34. Weekend breakfasts. They usually consist of pain au chocolat, croissants, fruit toast, or something like that. Yum.
35. Storms. Thunder and lightning reminds me that I’m part of something big and powerful, and it’s amazing.
36. Walking and hiking.
37. Geocaching. It’s been a while since I last did any but it’s a lot of fun.
38. My mum’s cats.
39. Boxing Day. I like it more than Christmas Day and Boxing Day lunch is one of the best meals of the year.
40. My birthday.
41. Family and friends’ birthdays.
43. Foot and back rubs.
44. New Walk Museum in Leicester. It’s been one of my favourite places to go since I was a kid.
46. People showing that they care, with a gesture, a question, a smile etc.
47. Getting a good night’s sleep. They’re rare, but damn do I appreciate it when I get one.
48. Winning things. Competitions, games of Monopoly. S’all good.
49. Swimming in the sea.
50. Camping. Feeling the grass on my feet, the fresh smell of dew in the morning, watching the sun set, cooking breakfast on a camping stove. God I love it.
What are 50 things that make you happy?
Last week I was lucky enough to receive some yummy Lindt Easter treats, via the lovely people at Degustabox. I love Lindt chocolate, so this came as a welcome surprise! I was sent a large classic Gold Bunny, as well as a Lindt Gold Bunny Story Book, which is absolutely adorable.
Easter wouldn’t be Easter without a Lindt Gold Bunny. The foil wrapper, red bow and little bell are iconic, and the thick, creamy chocolate is delicious. I always think Lindt’s bunnies are a little bit more luxurious than your average Easter egg, so while they’re great for kids, they’re also ideal for grown ups.
The Gold Bunny Story Book is like an Easter version of an advent calendar, but isn’t dated, so you can open doors and enjoy the treats as and when you wish. The book is quite large, and tells an interactive story whereby you have to seek out the hidden gold bunnies, and open the corresponding door when you find one. The book has eleven doors, each with a treat behind it, and in total you get fifteen treats. Three mini gold bunnies, two lambs, two chicks, three hollow eggs, and five small solid eggs, which is a decent amount of chocolate. Each treat is made from Lindt’s signature milk chocolate.
I hope you’ve all had a lovely Easter so far, and I hope you enjoy the bank holiday tomorrow! What treats have you been enjoying? Did the Easter Bunny bring you one of his gold babies?
*This Lindt Gold Bunny and Lindt Gold Bunny Story Book were sent to me via Degustabox for review purposes. All opinions expressed are honest and my own.*
On Thursday, myself and Charles attended a VIP event at the Leicester Cinema de Lux, for the launch of the new XPlus screen, with a release day screening of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1.
The event started with a drinks reception in the swanky Director’s Lounge, complete with red carpet. For an hour we were showered with glasses of Prosecco, canapés and lovely little desserts. I particularly enjoyed the mini millionaire’s shortbread which was dusted with gold glitter! We also spotted a few Leicester Tigers rugby players in the crowd.
We then headed up to the XPlus screen, which I was really excited about, and I wasn’t disappointed. As soon as we entered the auditorium I was amazed to see the size of the screen. I knew it was going to be big, but it was even bigger than I expected. It’s literally floor to ceiling, wall to wall, and also slightly curved.
Everyone at the event was treated to yet more refreshments in their seats – a drink, and a bag of popcorn, along with a couple of other goodies. When everyone was settled, the manager of Cinema de Lux, and one of the main men at Dolby both gave a speech. They explained that Leicester’s XPlus screen is one of only five in the country, and is designed to give a premium, immersive cinema experience. The screen is in fact 60 feet wide by 20 feet high, and provides sharp imagery, on point brightness, and vibrant colour.
Another special aspect of the XPlus experience is the sound. The auditorium features a Dolby Atmos sound system, and is fitted with over fifty speakers, which provide 360° sound. Having speakers all over the walls and ceiling, which are controlled by sound specialists, allows for dialogue to follow the characters, and for sound effects to come in at all angles, providing sound which completely envelops the audience. Before the film the sound system was demonstrated with thunder-storm sound effects, and I was blown away. The sound of rain and thunder flooded the room from all angles, and I actually got goosebumps because it felt so real.
After the introductions we got to watch The Hunger Games. Unfortunately I didn’t enjoy the film that much, and I’m not sure it was the right film to show off the Dolby Atmos sound system, but the XPlus definitely improved the viewing experience.
I’m incredibly impressed by the XPlus screen, and after experiencing it once I’m sure a ‘normal’ cinema screen will now just look and sound inadequate. I can imagine the immersive sound working really well for action movies, and I bet it would make horror movies even more scary if you could hear things coming up behind you!
The last couple of months have been ridiculously busy and stressful for Charles and I, what with us both starting new jobs and moving house. This weekend was the first in many that we had time to spend on ourselves, doing whatever we wanted, so that’s exactly what we did! Seeing as Friday was pay day, we spent Saturday shopping, eating in our favourite bar, and in the evening we went to the annual bonfire and fireworks display at the local park.
A relaxed weekend called for a relaxed outfit, and as there is finally an autumn chill in the air, and I was spending most of the day (and evening) outside, it had to be warm too!
These red embroidered trousers are a new purchase of mine. They’re by a French label called Blue Rags, but I actually got them from Everything5Pounds. Most of my wardrobe is black, but I like to add a splash of colour here and there, and these trousers are the ideal shade for Autumn. They’re incredibly soft and comfortable and the detail of the embroidery is stunning. I also ordered a pair in black and I’m so glad I did as they’re a real statement piece.
My Dr Martens Lauren boots are another new purchase. They have that buckled biker look that I adore, so they match my biker jacket, but they’re not as clumpy as a lot of my other Dr Martens. I’ve been wearing these a lot over the last few weeks, casually with jeans, but also with my work dresses, and I think they look great. I walk to work so it’s essential that I have a warm, comfy, waterproof, sturdy pair of boots for the winter, and these tick all the boxes.
Over the last few months I’ve been trialling a hair treatment from a small hair care company called Old Wives Tail. Old Wives Tail specialise in luxury organic hair treatments, all of which are handmade, vegetarian and vegan, and free of gluten, parabens and sulfates. They’re also animal friendly and aim to eradicate animal testing in the beauty industry, so 10% of their profits go to charities which save animals from being tested on.
The treatment I’ve been using is the Jojoba and Clove Organic Oil Treatment, which retails for £13.99 for a 100ml jar. The treatment is described as a ‘hydrating, natural and balancing hair treatment for dull, thinning, brittle or broken hair’. My hair is quite unusual in that, though it can get quite oily at the roots, the ends get very dry and split easily, especially during colder months, and the overall look is very limp, lifeless and damaged. I opted for this particular treatment as, according to the Old Wives Tail website, ‘jojoba oil gets to work at penetrating every hair follicle to add strength, volume and texture to weak, lifeless hair’, which is just what I want.
The treatment has a very strong aroma of cloves, which hits you as soon as you open the jar, but it isn’t too overpowering as it is offset with a slight sweetness. It’s also quite a dense treatment, with a slightly waxy texture, but as it warms in your fingers it melts into a smooth oil that glides through damp hair incredibly easily.
The directions for use say to massage the product into your scalp, and to leave it on for one hour before washing out with shampoo and water, and conditioning the ends of your hair. As a ‘wash and go’ kinda girl, an hour is quite a long time to wait, so this isn’t a treatment I would use on a daily or weekly basis, but it’s great for a fortnightly or monthly pamper session at the weekend. Especially as it gives quite an intense treatment.
I’ve used the treatment a few times now and the results are brilliant. A little goes quite a long way, so though the jar is small, it will last a good while. The product massages in nicely and feels lovely and soothing on the scalp. When I first used it I was slightly worried that, being an oil, it would leave my hair feeling greasy, but it washes out well with shampoo, although I find it takes a little while to wash out completely. After blow drying and straightening my hair, the difference is really noticeable. It leaves my hair looking silkier and fuller, and the result is also long-lasting.
Unfortunately, as I’ve had an incredibly hectic couple of months, I haven’t yet managed to get any before and after photos of my hair, but I will be updating this post within the next week or two, so check back soon.
All Old Wives Tail products are available online here, and they cater for all hair types. They offer free worldwide delivery on any order too!
*This Jojoba & Clove Organic Oil Hair Treatment was sent to me by Old Wives Tail for review purposes. All opinions expressed are honest and my own.*
Today’s Alternative Snacking post is one for those with a sweet tooth, as it features Creighton’s Chocolaterie – an independent chocolaterie in Leighton Buzzard, owned by a mother and daughter team, who craft and sell their own beautiful chocolates and truffles.
Creighton’s has made it into my Alternative Snacking series as everything they sell is handmade, and though they use traditional methods and fine Belgian chocolate to create their artisan products, they pride themselves on making unique and unusual items that you won’t find anywhere else. Their packaging is also really well thought out and pretty, which is always a nice bonus.
I was lucky enough to receive three different bars and a selection of truffles from their collection to try, and will here share my thoughts on each.
Creighton’s sell a wide variety of fresh handmade truffles and chocolates, which can be purchased in various sized selection boxes from their website. I received a Quartet Taster Selection Box which contained these four chocolates; a Lemon Heart, Raspberry truffle, Champagne Heart, and Mocha Coffee truffle. Every single truffle was deliciously creamy with a very rich centre and fantastic flavour, but the Lemon Heart deserves a special mention. It has a smooth, white chocolate shell, packed full of fresh lemon ganache, and it is absolutely gorgeous. I savoured every little nibble and I’m not lying when I say it was one of the tastiest things I’ve ever eaten. I could eat a box full!
This bar was created in collaboration with fashion accessories brand Betty & Walter, and comes wrapped in a really lovely floral sleeve, designed by illustrator Lisa Levis. I chose this bar as I’m a fan of rose flavoured foods, but they’re hard to come by, and the combination of the rose and almonds sounded delicious. And it is. The chocolate is a very good quality milk chocolate which has a pleasing velvety texture, and the balance of rose oil is perfect. Too much and it can taste like perfume, but this bar gets it right as it is fairly subtle, but with just enough of a kick. The crunchy nibs of almond add an extra depth of flavour, but also texture, which ultimately make this bar a winner with me. Yum.
This Peanut Nutter bar is Creighton’s ‘grown-up’ equivalent of a peanut butter chocolate bar, and is one of their best-sellers. The bar consists of the same velvety milk chocolate as the Rose & Almond bar, but a little bit thicker, and is studded with crushed, roasted peanuts and sea salt. What I like about this bar is that the flavours combine perfectly, so you get a hit of saltiness, the creamy sweetness of the chocolate, and a taste of peanut all at once, which makes for a deliciously moreish bar. I could easily eat a whole one of these in one sitting!
This beautifully rich Freshly Ground bar consists of high quality dark chocolate, which is mixed with freshly ground coffee beans from a local coffee roasters. I’m not always a fan of coffee chocolate as it can taste quite synthetic, but the fact that this bar contains real coffee beans makes the flavour wonderfully authentic, and adds a slight crunch. The depth of flavour in this bar is incredible, and my mum, whose favourite chocolate is coffee chocolate, absolutely adores this bar. In fact, this bar is so good it won a gold star in the Great Taste Awards 2014, and it is well deserved.
Overall, Creighton’s range of chocolate is exceptionally high quality and delicious, and is far more exciting than what you’d find in the supermarket. They sell some really unusual flavours, including Liquorice Whip and Fizzy Cola, and their selection of handmade gifts, which features an edible chocolate box and chocolate tea set, is stunning. Check out their full range here.
PS. Have you seen my first Alternative Snacking post, featuring Leighton Brown crisps? If not, click here!
*These chocolates were sent to me by Creighton’s Chocolaterie for review purposes. All opinions expressed are honest and my own.*
As my regular readers will know, a few weeks ago I was offered a new job, which I start on 8th September. Such good news was a great excuse for me to go shopping, especially as I don’t really have many work-suitable clothes, so over the last week I’ve been buying quite a few new bits. I haven’t done a haul post in a while, so I thought now would be a good time to do one, featuring purchases from a local carboot sale, as well as the stuff I bought yesterday whilst shopping with my mum, from H&M, La Senza, and Primark. Most of what I bought is for my new job, but I’d actually wear most of it out of work too, and I also have a few non-work items. So without further ado, here is my latest collective haul!
Thrifted Papaya Polka Dot Peplum Top £1 / H&M Black Super Stretch Straight Leg Trousers £7.99 / Primark Black Suedette Flat Shoes £6
Primark Long Black Lace Shirt £10 / Primark Black Skinny Jeans £7 each (I bought two pairs, one of which I plan on customising) / Shoes as before
Primark Polka Dot Cardigan £8
Primark Stripe Long Sleeve Top £4
Thrifted Zara Flying Squirrel T Shirt 50p
La Senza Knickers £1 each
Total Spend: £54.49
I also recently placed an order on DressLink.com, but I am going to do a separate post about those purchases (possibly a YouTube video) as I want to share more details about my experience of the site.
What do you think of my new haul items?
I love a bag of salty crisps and a big bar of chocolate as much as the next person, but when it comes to snacking I’m always on the look out for something a little bit different, and a little bit healthier, that at the same time is slightly more satisfying than a piece of fruit or veg. As such, over the last few months I’ve been trying lots of different snacks, and I now have a few new favourites that I’ll be sharing with you over the coming weeks. All of the snacks are also vegetarian and/or vegan, and ethical – two of my favourite things when it comes to food!
Today’s recommended snack comes as a nice alternative to your average potato crisps. Leighton Brown are a British company, run by three friends, who create gourmet vegetable crisps. They pride themselves on using ethically sourced, natural ingredients, with no additives, and aim to provide high-quality luxury snacks, that are also affordable. Their range currently only features three flavours – Parsnip & Manuka Honey, Beetroot, Horseradish & Dill, and Sweet Potato, Cheese & Jalapeno – but they have more flavours coming soon, and I can’t wait to see the range grow.
Parsnip & Manuka Honey
Leighton Brown’s Parsnip & Manuka Honey crisps are made from British grown parsnips which, when combined with manuka honey, give the crisps a pleasant sweetness. However, the sweetness is balanced with a subtle spice and saltiness, which make these crisps incredibly satisfying and moreish. The crisps also have a lovely crunch (as do the other two flavours), that isn’t always present in vegetable crisps, which gets an extra thumbs up from me.
Beetroot, Horseradish & Dill
As you can see, these Beetroot crisps are made from both purple and orange beetroot, which not only looks great but tastes great too, as the flavour of the beetroot is very powerful. Crisps that don’t have much flavour always disappoint me, but these really get the tastebuds tingling with the warm tang of horseradish and the fresh herbiness of dill. Perfect for anyone with a savoury tooth.
Sweet Potato, Cheese & Jalapeno
These Sweet Potato, Cheese & Jalapeno crisps won a Gold Star in the Great Taste Awards in 2013, and I can see (and taste!) why. I have a soft spot for sweet potato so these were always going to be my favourite, but they’re so much nicer than I even dreamed they could be. The balance of cheese and jalapeno is just right, so they’re not too cheesy or too hot. Rather, the flavours mingle to create sweet and savoury perfection with a hint of heat. I love them!
Leighton Brown vegetable crisps are currently available in 130 delis, bars and coffee shops throughout the UK, so check out their interactive map to find out where to get them near you! You can also find them in Fenwick Newcastle and Selfridges.
*These Leighton Brown crisps were sent to me by Leighton Brown for review purposes. All opinions expressed are honest and my own.*
After seeing loads of Polyvore sets on Tumblr and wishing I could create some myself, earlier this week I took the plunge and signed up. For those who don’t know, Polyvore is a website (and now app) where you can discover and shop fashion, beauty and home items that you love, and put them together in collages to create different looks.
Being able to browse items from all over the internet, with the ability to filter out specific items and colours, is such a great way to explore your own personal style. I’ve been finding Polyvore a great source of inspiration for future purchases and outfit combinations, and even though I can’t really afford a lot of the items I style, it gives me an idea of dupes to look out for on the high street! Also, I’ve mostly been using Polyvore on my phone via their app, and it’s so much fun, and a brilliant way to pass the time when waiting for the bus or travelling.
To give you an idea of what I’m talking about, here’s one of my recent sets, which has a suitably summery theme, but still makes the most of my favourite clothing colour – black!