24 June 2017

Top 10 Highlights of the Pride in London Festival

I’m sure you are all aware by now that Pride in London is just around the corner, but did you know that there is a Pride in London Festival that runs two weeks before the day?  From the 24th of June to the 8th of July the world’s biggest LGBT arts festival is taking over London. There is over 100 events to choose from, a third of which are free and half of them are under a tenner!  Out of all the acts on offer, I picked ten of my favourites to share with you.

Lip Sync Battle Live
If, like me, you’ve been bingeing on Ru Paul’s Drag Race lately and are eagerly awaiting the grand finale tonight, then I’m sure you too will have been practicing your lip sync skills.  Well if you’ve got it down you can head over to Freedom Bar and join Topsie Redfern and Vanity Von Glow (one of my favourite London queens) and get miming!  Whether you want to jump in and try it or just watch some amazing (and maybe some not so amazing) lip syncs, this is sure to be one fun event!
Thursday 6th July, Freedom Bar, £5

Science Museum Lates
Next Wednesday you can head to the Science Museum for a late night opening with a twist, it’s been taken over by Pride!  Expect to see a ton of things going on including music from The Gay Men's Chorus and Gin and Harmonics, dance performances, speed drawing, drag acts and loads more.  Plus there’s plenty of panel discussions on everything from sex robots to the decline of queer nightlife spaces, it's going to be an amazing night.
Wednesday 28th June, Science Museum, free but with some optional extras

Citydash Game
Citydash is a treasure hunt that takes you around London, looking for hidden messages and cracking cryptic clues to gain points. However there are secret patrollers who will try and find you and chase you to steal your points!  It’s a great thing to do with a group of friends or a great way to make new ones if you're coming solo.  
Sunday 2nd July, Soho, £20

This is an exclusive one night gala performance of the world’s first show based on coming out stories.  Prepare to hear stories from some familiar faces, and a whole heap of emotion with over 20 speakers sharing their personal story.
Monday 26th June, Lyric Theatre, £25-£50

Saucy Soho Tours
Now I love a walking tour. In fact I actually did a similar tour to this just a couple of months ago.  Join three Westminster City guides as they take you around the legendary Soho and tell you some of it’s hidden secrets.
25th June-8th July, Soho, £16.52

Pride at the Palace
I’m a totally history and monarchy nerd so this is right up my street.  I went to the first LGBTQ+ event held by Historic Royal palace earlier this year and I've been looking forward to this event ever since.  Held at Hampton Court Palace this is a special series of tours exploring queer stories throughout British history.  
30th June-2nd of July, Hampton Court Palace, £15

Love Happens Here for Women
An evening of discussions held by women, for women.  There’s some amazing speakers here so it would be a pleasure to listen and laugh along to these outstanding women, plus it ends with a DJ set so you can get your grove on.
Friday 30th June, Soho Zebrano, £5
Pride ride
This free bike ride through the streets of London is a good way to get some exercise in while meeting new people and seeing some of the gorgeous sights of London.  Come in your brightest clothes and cover yourself in glitter, this isn’t your normal bike ride!
Saturday 1st July, Underneath Waterloo Bridge, Free

Britain on film: LGBT Britain
The BFI is bringing rare archived LGBT films to the big screen on the gorgeous South Bank, this kind of thing is right up my street and a great way to see some hidden gems.  
Tuesday 27th June, BFI Southbank, £8.80-£12.10

The HIV Monologues
This is a show I've actually already seen and really recommend, check out my full review here to see what I thought.
5th July, Two Brewers, £14.85
Head to the Pride in London website to find out more about these shows and all the other performances on over the next two weeks.  Pride in London is entirely run by volunteers and a lot are needed to make sure the day runs smoothly, if you want to volunteer you can sign up here. Find out why I’ve volunteered for seven years in this post or why not check out this vintage post from my experience at Pride in London 2014.

Are you heading to any Pride festival events?
Pic courtesy of Pride in London

21 June 2017

Reichshof Hamburg, Curio Collection by Hilton, Hotel Review

A couple of weeks ago I headed over to Germany to the gorgeous port city of Hamburg for a couple of days of exploring.  I'd been invited over by Come to Hamburg and I've got loads of gorgeous posts I can’t wait to share with you about my short break there, but I thought I'd start off by showing you around our gorgeous hotel.

The Reichshof Hamburg, Curio Collection by Hilton is a bit of a mouthful!  That's because this is a hotel with a lot of history, originally built in 1910 it was given an overhaul by the Hilton chain just a few years ago after it closed in 2014 to bring it up to date, while keeping it in touch with it's original history.
The location is fantastic, literally straight across the road from the main Hauptbahnhof train station in Hamburg and with plenty of restaurants, bars and entertainment venues near by.  It’s a great starting point to reach all areas of Hamburg.  When we walked into the hotel we were greeted by the stunning reception area, with large hanging chandeliers and stunning decor you really felt like you were in for some luxury.  The reception area has a small bar, a small shop where you can purchase drinks and snacks, and a relaxation area.  There is also a full bar, gym, spa and restaurant but we didn't get chance to experience these during our short trip.
On to our room itself.  We had a great view overlooking the train station from our large window, as a lover of light I adored this.  It was a super hot day when we first arrived so throwing open the curtains and windows felt so freeing!  The double bed was incredibly comfortable and I had an amazing nights sleep, this is the first hotel I've ever been to when I literally didn't hear a thing from any other guests, the sound proofing must be amazing.  The room came with a Tassimo coffee machine, flatscreen HD TV with Sky TV and free wifi, very important for the bloggers amongst us!.  Room service options were available and the rooms were spacious with plenty of storage and a comfortable chair to work or relax on.  There is an iron and ironing board in the room and a hair dryer in the bathroom, which helped cut down on much needed space in our carry on luggage.  There was air conditioning, which is unusual in Europe but a godsend in the heatwave we had, and a room safe as standard for extra peace of mind.  Even the bathroom was state of the art, with a walk in rain shower that was just what we needed after some of the hot days we had during our trip!
It seems like a little thing but the lighting in a room really makes a difference, it might be the old lighting technician in my but I really think it can change a room.  Modern lighting fixtures are placed throughout the room and really add a touch of personalisation and style.   

This hotel is architecturally stunning with stylish quality interiors, I wouldn't hesitate to staying here again.  It's great for a romantic weekend away or a business event, it's a comfortable yet beautiful place to stay.

Have you ever stayed at this hotel?
This room was given to me in exchange for an open and honest review 

16 June 2017

Spring Cocktails with a Twist at TwoRuba

Heading towards the Tower Bridge area of London you will be greeted with a plethora of upmarket hotels, bars and restaurants all catering to the corporate clientele.  These are often, sleek, chic and well...a little bland.  It’s a ‘one size fits all’ mentality that can be restrictive.  With TwoRuba being part of the Hilton Hotel you’d be forgiven for expecting this bar to carry on this trend, however the team here really know how to add some personality!  Last week I headed over to the TwoRuba's new Spring garden popup to check out their new spring/summer menu.

The bar does a really god job at walking the line between a classy, upmarket bar and a fun seasonal theme.  The bar staff are experts and couldn’t do more to help, while the spring garden area that greats you as you walk in is cute and a great place to relax. It's complete with grass and deck chairs for a truly sunny experience.  If this isn’t to your liking you can find more traditional seating further into the bar.

Before we get onto the main event I just want to give a shout out to the amazing food.  We were supplied with a hearty amount of nibbles, all of which were delicious, the chicken in particular I couldn’t get enough of.  Im not going to go into too much detail as the bar itself doesn’t actually have a kitchen, but they do share a premises with the Jamie’s Italian next door and they can bring customers food over to the bar from there, a great idea!

TwoRuba have crafted four new cocktails for their spring menu, all of them unique so there is something for every taste: 
Elderflower Breeze
Does it come any more refreshing then this?  Even the name makes me feel relaxed.  Containing gin, elderflower, lemon, cucumber and basil this drink is perfect for those warmer days.  It’s the kind of thing i’d love to drink wile sunbathing in a park, completely British and just sweet enough to remain really fresh.
Raspberry and Thyme Smash
This Summery drink contains dark rum, raspberry, cranberry lime and thyme feels like the perfect drink to sip at the side of a pool.  Unlike most poolside classics however this isn’t chock-full of surgery sweetness.  The flavours are delicious, subtle and moreish.  This was my personal favourite of the evening.  
Spring Spritz
Containing tequila, St Germain, lemon, vanilla and mint the spring spritz isn’t something I would normally choose based on the tequila alone, it's something I usually avoid.  However the other flavours really balance it out, making it pretty easy to drink.  It was reminiscent of a mojito but the mint hasn’t as over-powering as I find it to be in those.  
The TwoRuba Cooler
Another drink to refresh your tastebuds, the TwoRuba Cooler consists of gin, Cointreau, apple, lemon, rose syrup and rosemary.  As you can tell TwoRuba love combining their drinks with herbs for a fresh spring flavour.  I’m not normally a gin fan but this strikes a great balance between just sweet enough and truly refreshing.
After we’d tried all four of these it was time for a little healthy competition. We were split into two teams and asked to try and make two classic cocktails.  The first group got mojito, where as we got the classic Cosmopolitan.  Now I’ve drank a few Cosmo’s in my time so I was feeling pretty confident.  I knew the ingredients, knew how to chill the glass, the whole shebang, however as it turns out I am not so hot on my quantities. Ours ended up tasting like a vodka and lime juice mix, woops!  So needless to say we weren’t the winners, making cocktails is much harder then it looks!
Thankfully we could leave it to the experts at this point to show us how it’s really done, and I spent the rest of my evening relaxing in a deckchair and drinking the (much better tasting!) cosmo!

Have you ever been to the TwoRuba?  What’s your favourite cocktail?

12 June 2017

My Five Favourite Places to Listen to Audiobooks

As I’m sure you are aware by now I like to read. In fact when I get into a really big reading mode I get frustrated when I can’t read every second of the day.  I also hate wasted time so anytime I'm on the tube, walking somewhere, or just have any spare time where I am not doing something productive I get frustrated if I can’t read.  At the moment with all traveling I’ve been doing I’ve not been reading as much as usual, you’d think that with the flights etc I’d have plenty of time to reach for my book but I’ve found my brain just isn’t in the right mode.  This is where BookBeat comes in. All the times when I want to read but can’t, I can plug into a book and listen away, and even when I don’t have the energy to read on a long flight I can still chill out and listen instead.  I’ve been using BookBeat for a couple of months now and here are my favourite places to listen to audiobooks on the go.  

On the tube
I love reading on the tube, it’s a great way to gear up my brain on the way to work, or switch it off after.   I’ve been so deep into a book at times that I’ve just completely missed my stop. With rush hour however, having the space to pull out a book isn’t always possible, but I can always be plugged into my phone to listen to an audiobook.

On a plane or train
I usually fly budget so if I’m flying with Ryanair I don’t even have a seat pocket to put my book in and with Easyjet I can't have a secondary small bag to carry my book in. So unless I want to wrestle it out of my carryon case on the plane it leaves me a bit stuck.  However I can just haven my pocket and be instantly listening to anything I want without having to worry about the bulk.  The same goes with being on a train, I can just plug in while I work away on my laptop or just loose myself in a story.

Doing chores at home
Let me tell you something, I hate housework!  The only thing that gets me through cleaning or any housework is distracting myself with Netflix, but it’s not practical as I move around the house and can be too distracting.  With audiobooks I can play it out loud throughout the flat or walk around with me headphones in and make it much more enjoyable.  

Walking through London
One thing I do a lot more of since I’ve moved to London is walk.  Generally if a place is under an hour away and the weather isn’t crappy I’ll walk it, and even longer if I have the time to spare.  It’s the best way to up my step count and it's how I find so many hidden gems in London, I love exploring my city.  However if I’m not listening to something I can become aware that I am just alone with my thoughts while walking which can de-motivates me, getting lost in an audio book makes these walks even more enjoyable.  Even Stephen Fry is a fan!  

In the bath
Reading in the bath is one of life's little luxuries, but whose got their book wet while doing it?  In fact I do it every time, I’ve even completely submerged a book a couple of times!  With audiobooks I can just connect my phone to my wireless speakers and let myself be taken to another world and really relax!

Check out my other post on why i’m giving audiobooks another try, don’t forget you can use this special code to get a month free.  Where’s your favourite place to listen to audiobooks?
I'm writing this honest post about my experience with BookBeat for a years free trial.

9 June 2017

They Call Me Mellow Yellow: Wedding Outfit

The sun is out and the wedding season is in full flow!  I know a lot of people get sick of it but I love the chance to dress up and see friends and family, plus I’ve only been to a couple of weddings in my adult life so I’m not at breaking point yet like I know some are.

You might have seen in my Weekly Vlog: May post that I attended a stunning family wedding in Maidstone last month and I needed an equally gorgeous dress to go along with it.  I haven't bought any clothes in months as I’ve been putting all my spare cash into travelling and trying to reduce my overflowing closets, so I felt like I deserved to treat myself.

Now if you have even a passing interest in vintage fashions I’m sure you will have heard of vivien of holloway.  They are one of the most well known vintage repo brands, and with good reason. There dresses are high quality, based on real vintage styles and are beautiful.  They are usually out of my price range, I have owned a couple of their dresses in the past but I sold them this year as they hadn’t fit me in a long time and both were gifts. However this year there was something new in the air, vivien of holloway had a huge sale in their store in Holloway (where else) so I headed down for some bargain hunting!  I did have a dress style in mind but I ended up going for something safer and closer to my usual style.  It was very busy as is expected and a little stressful as you could only try on 5 items at once before re-joining the queue if you wanted to try on more (which was quite a queue!) and I’d got my sizing wrong the first try on session so that was a whole half hour waisted!  Finally I sorted out my sizing and settled on this yellow number:
Perfect for a spring/ summer wedding don’t you think?  I love the colour, it’s not my usual shade of canary yellow that I reach for, it’s slightly more toned down which works for more formal events.  While the dress might look simple and almost plain the quality of VOH really makes the difference, the higher neck and boning in the upper half really give you shape and the full skirt gives a true 50’s feel.  The quality of the dresses here compared to some other lower cost vintage repo brands is insurmountable.  The materials are cut beautifully in a way that really makes a difference to your shape and doesn't crease or pull easily.  The shapes are more true to what you would find in genuine vintage items and the cut is flattering for all shapes.  

I also picked up this white bolero while I was there and if I’m honest it’s one I would probably only wear for special occasions, rather then every day use as I prefer a more full sleeve.  I was unsure about the boxy shape at first but I do think its flattering with the dress and pulls the white and yellow together.
I wore my white Lindy Bop petticoat which you might recognise from my 50's party post to add some shape.  I love it as although it is a budget petticoat it has a lining (so no scratchy legs) and gives a good amount of volume.  It’s a pale pink colour but the length can’t be seen with this dress so it didn’t bother me although I would like to add a shorter white one to my arsenal.  Under my skirt I was wearing my Tortz anti-chafing shorts to stop the inevitable chub rub when I don't wear tights. They are comfortable and lightweight and I couldn't really tell I was wearing them, which is exactly what I wanted.
The shoes are B.A.I.T which I mentioned in my Ladies Day post, I picked them up in a Black Friday sale a few years ago and they’ve become a pair of my vintage favourites.  You might have read in my London Insta-walks post or in my vlogs that I’d sprained my foot pretty badly so I only wore these for a few hours before switching to some cheap Primark flats after the ceremony.  You can sort of see in the pictures how much bigger one foot is then the other, you have to make a sacrifice for fashion sometimes right?  

I kept my accessories simple as ever, the white bag is an old Primark fave you may recognise from one of my first ever vintage fashion posts, also about a wedding outfit.  The white straw material gives a hint of tiki style and has enough space for necessary makeup touch ups, my phone and a small camera and of course my purse. I love this bag!  The white flower hair clip I picked up in the Collectif sale a couple of years ago and the hair barrettes I got from Amazon, they are great but struggle to stay in my hair as it is so thick. I did attempt to do a true 50's hair set and to be honest it didn't really work out, I am still terrified of the bush out so it doesn't look right but it did last which is more then I normally get when I try it. The perl necklace was a charity shop find seen in a lot of my posts including the Autumn in Spring post. The lipstick was a new one for me, it's Fever by Chloe Ferry. To be honest I have no interest in Geordie Shore so I had no idea who Chloe was but I do love liquid to matte lipstick so I had to give it a try. I find that you had to be really careful in applying, making sure you are removing all the excess product, so that you get an even application. Otherwise you will end up with darker areas which isn't a good look. However once it's on, it's on! Mine didn't budge the whole day through all the food and drinks, and it even came off easily at the end of the day without staining my lips, I actually think this is even better then my Jeffree Star liquid to matt lipsticks in regards to last and ease of removal.

All together I actually ended up loving this outfit and I plan on wearing it for at least one more wedding and a christening this year, it’s just so perfect for the summer months! What’s your favourite wedding outfit? Also, these pictures were taken on my Harry's Google Pixel phone instead of my camera as I didn't take it with me, what do you think? Did they come out ok?
*The Chloe Ferry Lipstick and Tortz shorts were both sent to me for review, all words and opinions are my own.

5 June 2017

Weekly Vlogs: May

Hey guys!  So as I turned 29 at the start of this month and I am quickly heading towards the last big 3-0 so I thought why not document the last year of my twenties!  So I've given myself the goal of documenting what I get up to every week this year as I head towards my thirties.  Here's what I've been up to so far:
In my first week I celebrated my birthday fairly quietly due to a very badly sprained ankle but I didn't let that stop me heading to Liverpool to celebrate a 50th birthday that weekend!  I had a great time at the Cavan Club and exploring the gorgeous Albert Docks.  I also share some PR mail with you as well as my birthday haul.
In the second week I headed over to Maistone in Kent for my first trip to this gorgeous area of the country, for an equally gorgeous wedding.  Both the wedding and hotel was stunning.  I also checked out some theatre and did some summer reading this week.  
I combined weeks 3 & 4 as I have done a lot of travelling these last few weeks, hitting up Krakow, Bath and Bristol (separate vlogs on all these coming soon!).  So I combined what was left of the weeks together and it consisted of a lot of theatre and one seriously cool event featuring Pixie Lotte for Kiss Cosmetics.  I share my goodie bag with you as well as some nail based PR mail.

So that's what I've been up to in May so far, It's sure been a busy one.  I'm learning as I go so I'd love some feedback if you have any.  I would love it if you subscribed to my channel, let me know if you have one and I'll take a look.  On to June!

1 June 2017

Does Glasgow Deserve its Reputation as the Friendliest City?

This is a bit of an unusual blog post from me. it's less along the lines of tips and travel ideas and more of a story of how I feel in love with a city a little bit more thanks to it’s sweet citizens.
Scotland has a bit of a mixed reputation.  On the one hand people often see Scotland’s residents as aggressive and abrasive, but on the other hand they have a reputation of being incredibly friendly, and none more so than Glasgow who have even adopted People Make Glasgow as their motto.  So which is correct?
Despite Glasgow's outdated reputation as an unsavoury city, as a female solo traveler I can honestly say I never once felt threatened or uncomfortable.  Even when taking the subway after dark or walking back to my AirBNB late at night away from the busier tourist areas, I felt completely at ease.  There were a few small indications of the city’s friendly-ness early on in the trip.  On the train up from London the Glaswegian working in the cafe gave me a free coffee for my patience when he was dealing with some card machine issues, and everywhere I went people would say hi or smile as you passed in the street.  So far so good, but nothing that is so different then when you head anywhere outside of London.  That is until I went for dinner.
On my first day in the city I had arrived just after midday on an unseasonably sunny day in early April.  I had walked my feet off so when I checked into me AirBNB (use my code to get £30 off your first stay over £55) I struggled to get myself going to get back out again for dinner.  Eventually and much later than planned I freshened up and convinced my aching body to head back into town towards Paesano Pizza.  I arrived I sat at my table for one, happy to indulge in my solo pizza experience and ignore the world.  Then five minutes later a party of six were seated next to me, two middle aged couples and their son and his partner.  Next thing I know they are chatting to me, sitting at my table and asking me a ton of questions about where I’m from, what I’m doing in Glasgow and singing my praises for traveling solo just to explore.  I was taken aback, this just would never happen down south!  They said they’d leave me to eat but not before pulling my table up to theirs so I could eat with them.  They even insisted I ate some of the sides they’d ordered to try (and oh my god I’m glad they did, they were delish!).  I honestly had such a laugh and they were such lovely, friendly people.  They even gave me tips on how to save money on my second day and where I must visit in my limited time there.
I finished my meal and they offered to put me in a taxi but I insisted I was fine to go alone and got back on the subway.  I was buzzing from this interaction, it just wouldn’t happen anywhere else!  The next morning I was leaving my Airbnb guess what?  There they were!  It turns out they lived nearby so I had another chat with them and they said they’d have made me share a taxi with them if they knew how close by I’d be.
So there you have it.  It might not be a crazy, ground-breaking travel story but just a nice, friendly interaction that’s stayed with me.  Isn’t this what Glasgow means when it prides itself on it’s friendly status?
Do you have any similar stories from your travels?
*Contains affiliate links for AirBNB that I am using because they are a genuinely great company.


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