29 October 2016

What to expect from Mickey's Not so Scary Halloween Party

Unlike the general Halloween and autumn theming at Disneyland Paris, the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World offers an exclusive premium Halloween party, where the park closes early and the party picks up.  This isn’t included in your standard Disney World ticket, you need to get a separate ticket just for the evening, so is it worth it?  I attended a Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party this season, and here is what you can expect:

Exclusive Boo to You Parade

This Halloween parade is one you will only see if you attend the party, and boy it is a good one!  With a catchy song, characters you will only see on this parade, and an actual headless horseman, there is so much to see here I think it’s one of my favorites.  I also love that there are characters that you normally only see on rides including Splash Mountain, Pirates of the Caribbean and The Haunted Mansion.  

Happy HalloWishes Fireworks

This version of the popular Wishes firework show adds a Halloween twist, with fitting castle projections and music.  The fireworks are gorgeous and the re-theme fits well, but I personally think the regular wishes is better.  

Hocus Pocus Villain Spectacular Show

This is basically the thing that sold me a ticket.  Hocus Pocus is my favorite Halloween film and the characters have been brought back for this fabulous show, bringing a whole host of your favorite Disney Villains with them for this Halloween spectacular.  There is so much talent in the show, it is fantastic, a much watch for anyone attending the event!

Unique photographs

While it’s not worth attending the event for alone, this is a nice plus point.  There are certain photopass exclusive photos that can only be gained by attending this event, such as this one of me and the headless horseman!

Unique character meets

There are certain characters, such as Jack and Sally or all the seven dwarves, that you can only meet at this party, so if you are a character meet and greet fiend this in itself might be worth it for you.  Lots of your regular characters will also be out in their favorite Halloween costumes too, making some unique photo opportunities.

Free Candy

Who doesn't like free candy!  Throughout the Magic Kingdom there are various candy stations set up where you will be given a bag and cast members will hand over hand fulls of candy at each one.  I had heard horror stories at how bad the lines for these can get but I honestly had no problem on the day I attended, I filled my bag easily, and no, no one will care if you are an adult, trust me!

Lower lines

If rides are your thing you will find the lines pretty low at this event, due to less people and a lot of them taking advantage of the other entertainment.  While not everything will be open, popular rides such as Space Mountain is likely to have waits of around 20 minutes or even less.

Amazing people in costume, great atmosphere and decor.

While not an official draw, seeing everyone in their costumes was one of the things I loved about the part the most!  I especially loved the really inventive and unique costumes, especially the group ones.  Disney are understandably really strict on what you can and cannot wear to the parks, they don’t want you getting mixed up with an actual character performer after all, so make sure you check their website for the guidelines before you go.  The atmosphere is some of the best you will find of the parks and little touches, like street decor, smoke effects and music, really add to this.  
So there you have it, would you spend Halloween in Disney World?


26 October 2016

Top 3 Autumn Must Reads

This time last week I was on an aeroplane, heading back to the UK from the 30+ degree sunshine of Florida. Autumn had definitely arrived while I while I was away.  I’m a girl who loves the sun, so this shock to the body wasn’t so pleasant.  However, one thing I love about this time of year is the prospect of filling my home with fairy lights, building a reading nook and settling down with a book while I watch the rain fall out of the window.  My TBR pile is ever growing as always, but here are three in particular that I will be reaching for this Autumn.

The Wolf Wilder by Katherine Rundell
Disclaimer, I work for Bloomsbury, the publisher of this book, and that is how it come to my attention as it’s been gaining quite a lot of positive publicity of late, but they don't know I'm writing this.  This is a young adult book centred around a young girl from Russia and her family's connection to a pack of nearby wolves, whose live takes a dramatic turn when the Russian Army arrive and she is forced to flee her home.  Something about the setting of this book, with is wintery imagery, has really grabbed my interest. I think this is going to be a great read for curling up with a cup of tea.

Goth: The Design, Art and Fashion of a Dark Subculture by Chris Roberts, Hywel Livingstone and Emma Baxter-Wright
One thing you probably aren’t aware of about me, unless you are a long time reader who has come across my Resistanz Festival post, is that I have a goth side.  I am really into industrial music and have attended plenty of goth festivals in the last few years  I find the culture so friendly and welcoming, and the many different clothing styles beautiful. This nonfiction book aims to show more than just the gothic fashion, and delves into other aspects of the gothic culture such as architecture, art, fiction and lots more.  I’ve had a quick flick through this book already and the photography looks stunning, so I can’t wait to get stuck into this one.  

The Nightmare Before Christmas by Tim Burton
I’ve been a fan of the film The Nightmare Before Christmas for a number of years, but I hadn't realised that it actually existed as a book before the film.  To mark the book's twentieth anniversary Puffin have released this new edition, complete with additional illustrations and a short introduction by Burton himself.  I actually couldn’t resist this when it landed on my doormat, so I have read it already and was surprised to find out that the story actually differs slightly from the film.  The stunning illustration alone, along with the poetic verse, is enough reason for you to get this book. A great short read to get you into the Halloween mood.

Do you have any favourite Halloween reads?  I’d love to hear about them!
*all three books were gifts from the publisher. Also I work for Bloomsbury Publishing, all opinions are completely honest and my own.

24 October 2016

Autumn and Halloween Celebrations at Disneyland Paris

'Disneyland Paris?' I hear you cry 'But haven't you just got back from Walt Disney World?'  
Why yes I have, but before I start sharing that with you, I thought we’d take a trip back to this time last year when I also spent this spooky season in a Disney Park, much closer to home!

Halloween has always been a bigger thing in the states than over here in Europe, so as you might expect the celebrations over at Disneyland Paris have a wider, autumnal feel to them then just purely Halloween. However, that doesn't mean they won't be plenty unique things to see if you decide to head over at this time of the year. Here's some of the theming you can expect to encounter as the leaves turn.


The Disneyland Park (the Parisian name for The Magic Kingdom) is filled with stunning Halloween decor. Main Street especially has a real draw, with the feeling of a local village putting up its decorations for the season, with orange awnings hanging from the shops, character shaped pumpkins, witches hats on the street lights and amusing ghost character statues filling the park. I think the decor here is stunning, it really adds to the park and I think on the whole actually looks better than the Halloween decoration to be found in Walt Disney World. Also, like Walt Disney World, the decor only really exists in this park, the others stay largely the same.

Mickey's Halloween Celebration Parade

Despite the name, this parade is more of an autumn celebration then strictly Halloween, with veggies and rustic farmland providing the backdrop of this parade, and there are no scary characters in sight. It's has a very different tone to Walt Disney World'popularlyar Boo To You parade, but you still see your favourite characters and it's got a theme song that's catchy as hell!

Themed character meet and greets

Heading around the park you will see Mickey and his pals in their Halloween gear. Not only that but some characters, such as Jack and Sally from The Nightmare Before Christmas, will be out to meet and greet during this season only. Also, while they don't have candy stations like at the Haloween parties at Disney World, some of the characters will give children bags of candy after they meet them.

Villains Show 

I'm calling this a show but I am not really sure this is what it should be classed as.  Several times a day on the castle stage, a whole host of popular Disney villains will appear on the along with music and fireworks.  However the show part is super short and the characters leave after just one song to head into the crowd to get photos with the audience, which is the real draw here.  
Haloween here is really fun, and the cold air (and trust me, it is seriously cold!) really puts you in the mood for the season. Plus the year round scary rides and fireworks add to the atmosphere, it's a great time of year to attend.

Would you spend Haloween in Disneyland?

20 October 2016

Moments: September 2016

I've been whizzing around Florida so I've only just had the chance to sit back and reflect on what I did in September.  Typically, with me saving up for my holiday I didn't think I'd done much last month, and then looking back I did some awesome stuff!  Here's some of it:
I’ve Visited
The Tate Modern-
I met up with my friend Dave and headed towards the new hall to check out what’s in store.  I won’t lie, I mostly go here for the giggles and I certainly laughed a lot at some of the art here. I can’t pretend I know a lot about art but I still had fun.
Terrifyingly it’s 10 years since I started University, so I went back up to Lincoln for a mini reunion or sorts and to visit some friends.  Lincoln is some damn pretty, it will always have a special place in my heart, as will Sugarcubes, the dirtiest of nightclubs that I think I had a great time at that weekend if I can piece my memories together correctly...
I’ve Read
Wyrd Sisters by Terry Pratchett-
It’s been awhile since I read any Pratchett but I am working my way through the Discworld series slowly.  It will always hold a special place in my heart as my first ever blog post was a review of one of the books from this series.  I find that as I understand the world and the writing style further, I enjoy these more and more. This was a lot of fun to read!
We Have Always Lived in the Castle-
A crime book club has been created at work where everyone who volunteers gets a free book which we read, then discuss at work later in the month.  This was the first book since I started and I really enjoyed it.  It is a classic and I have to say I love the writing style and found the world so eerie and strangely fascinating. Although I don’t think I would necessarily classify it with what I think of as crime.  Unfortunately, I missed the actual book club meetup this month so I can’t offer any more in depth insight!
Gypsy: Memoirs of America’s Most Celebrated Stripper by Gypsy Rose Lee
Gypsy Rose Lee is a woman who has fascinated me for a long time, I love feisty, entertaining people from this era.  However, I’m not normally a big biography fan so this book had been on my shelf since Christmas.  It was a mistake because it was fascinating, hugely entertaining, and I'm sure, largely false!  It’s crazy to believe anyone could have gone through the stuff she claims in the book and yet, because of the kind of entertainer she is, this doesn't actually matter at all!  True or not, it makes for a damn good story!
I’ve seen
Macbeth at The Globe-
It’s been awhile since I’ve seen some Shakespeare, and even longer since I’ve seen any at The Globe.  I chose to stand in the pit as it’s so much cheaper and I enjoyed this show on the whole, although some of the way the witches were portrayed felt like they were trying too hard to do something new.
The anniversary of the Great Fire of London-
It’s been 350 years since the Great Fire of London, so to mark the anniversary a huge wooden replica of London was floated down the Themes and then set on fire.  It was busy so I didn't get a good view but I just love being around the Southbank, so it’s never a lost moment.
No Man’s Land at Wyndham's Theatre
Yes, I was one of the lucky ones who got tickets to see two of Britain’s most loved actors grace the stage in this famous Pinter Play.  Obviously both McKellen and Stewart were amazing, well worth a watch if you like Pinter.
The Libertine at the Theatre Royal Haymarket
I actually wrote part of my dissertation about this play but I have never had the opportunity to see it live, so trust me when I say I was very excited to finally get to finally see this!  I enjoyed the performance on the whole but it wasn’t perfect, however I thought Dominic Cooper did a good job as John Wilmot.
I’ve been up to
Grabbing Crystals (or not) in The Crystal Maze
In what was one of the most fun things I’ve done all year, myself and a group of friends teamed up to take on the new Crystal Maze in central London.  I didn't get the crystal in any of the two challenges I did, but that didn’t dampen my day at all.  Honestly, it’s amazing just how much of this looks exactly like the original TV show, they’ve done such a good job!  Oh and those damn silver tickets in the dome are much harder to grab than they look! If you ever get a chance to do this do not hesitate!
Swing Dance Classes-
You might recall in my January round up post that I was going to go to swing dance classes then chickened out.  Well, after seeing an offer in Timeout I took the plunge!  I’ve been to two classes but been too busy for the last couple so think I’m going to pick it back up after my holiday.  I’m awful so far, but enjoying it!
Holiday planning-
I looked into my favorite Universal Rides and listening to Disney World podcasts to prep for Florida.
Flying down the ArcelorMittal Orbit Slide-
When I bought the tickets for this several months, ago, I decided to ignore the fact that I actually hate slides, especially covered ones.  This one, wrapped around the UK's largest sculpture, is bloody massive! So it’s fair to say I was fairly nervous when I rocked up to this, however, I did it anyway.  Turns out, it wasn’t anywhere near as scary as I thought and I actually really enjoyed it, a totally unique experience.  You get a great view of the Olympic Park too.
Doing a 20k Charity walk-
As you will have seen in my London Sightseeing post, myself and a group of friends completed a 20k walk and raised over £1000 between us!  Despite the fact one of the group had food poisoning, one of the group has MS and one of us is pregnant, we still managed to complete it together.  Thank you so much to anyone who sponsored me, we smashed out £1000 target!
I’ve eaten
Say what you want but I do enjoy Nando’s and it had been a while, got to love some spicy chicken!
Meat Liquor-
Another month, another visit to Meat Liquor. This time with a bunch of friends in tow!  It was as good as ever.
This is a restaurant I discovered near our flat that only serves desserts!  Harry went for a waffle while I went for a sundae, and they were both huge!  Not the cheapest but if you want a sweet treat, this is a great place to go.  There’s a crazy amount of choice too!
Pumpkin Spice Lattes and frappes-
I know I know, so basic, but so what?  I bloody love them and I'm making the most of it while I can, 'tis the season!
Pizza Express-
A post 20k walk treat while we all struggled to stay awake, it was much needed/ deserved!

So there you have it, I'm fighting jet lag as I write this so I hope this is making sense. On to the next month!

17 October 2016

Guest Post: What Vintage Means to Me

Welcome to Shy, Strange & Manic. I’m Jamie and I will be guest posting on Kariss’ blog today. I can’t thank her enough for letting me ramble on her blog!

I know that the lovely Kariss loves her vintage fashion so I thought that I would kind of talk about my version of vintage today as vintage fashion can be represented through many different ways. Vintage is defined as something that represents a past era.
I think that vintage can mean the above but I also think that it can also mean embedding things from past eras into your wardrobe. I think that just adding one thing to your outfit that is vintage makes a similar statement as making your full wardrobe vintage inspired.
Vintage to me means things such as bowties and loud patterns, it means old styled brogues, thick old flannel shirts, ripped jeans that are reminiscent of the grunge fashion era, it means fancy suits reminiscent of the 20’s/30’s. It also things like old leather jackets and long knit jumpers.
You can incorporate most of these into one outfit to create a plethora of vintage fashion or add one to make an outfit scream that its got lots of history to it. You could drape a leather jacket over anything really. Add some old fashioned brogues to an outfit. Team a dress up via putting a jumper over it. I just thiyok that doing this adds a different dimension to your outfit and it makes you look quite different and unique at the same time which I think is a good thing.
Do you ever team your outfit with anything that is vintage or wear full vintage outfits? Let me know in the comments below!

Thank you for reading my rambling post about how to put some vintage into your outfit. I would like to thank the wonderful Kariss for letting me guest post on Shy, Strange and Manic. If you would like to read more of my posts then go on over to http://www.jamiesowden.com/

Jamie x

8 October 2016

Staying Motivated at Work

Sometimes, try as you might, getting through a busy shift can feel like an impossible task.
Either your energy levels aren’t high enough, or you have something else on your mind and it’s hard to stay focussed and motivated.

Companies such as Corporate Rewards provide businesses with ways to keep their staff engaged and motivated, but what can you do to help get through a day and stay motivated at work?

Avoid distractions

Your motivation might be flagging because there’s something going on after work, or there’s somewhere else you’d rather be.

This happens to everyone, but you have to remember you’re at work for a reason. Concentrate on what is required of you and try to ignore the distractions. Think about how completing tasks and getting through the day gets you closer to what you actually want to do. While this might not necessary restore any enthusiasm, it can help you to refocus on work and improve productivity.

Simple tasks

One way to avoid distractions is to focus on a task in front of you. Either finishing a piece of work, serving customers, even something simple like cleaning or organising part of your workplace. Look for a task that’s simple and can be accomplished in a sensible amount of time.

These can help to refocus your mind, giving you something to concentrate on as well as a sense of satisfaction when you’re done. These are great tasks for passing time and getting through a shift that’s dragging. Completing tasks also serves as a way to motivate you to continue finding things to do, increasing your productivity for the day.

Long-term goals

You might find that you aren’t that interested in your job, if you’re at uni and working part time for example this could be the case.

The key in these situations isn’t to focus on how much you dislike a job, or how fed up you are but to think about what the job allows you to accomplish, what it allows you to buy, where it allows you to go etc.

Use the results of your job as a means to motivate yourself. Focus on the next thing you’ll treat yourself with on pay day and keep that in mind as a way to get through the shift. You might be working in a job to earn some extra money to pay for a holiday, use the end goal and the reward you’ll give yourself as your focus and motivation.

Career path

You might be in a role that isn’t what you want to do forever, but forms a very important part of your career journey. Remember that in many careers you have to start somewhere and, much like the previous point, focus on the end goal as your motivating factor.

You could be working in an entry level role with a view to working your way up through a company. You might not be all that enthusiastic about the daily work you’re currently doing but you are learning and gaining experience which will benefit you in future jobs.

Look at the tasks you don’t enjoy, or the aspects of your job you aren’t too keen on as being stepping stones that you need to reach the next stage of your career. Use that sense of progression and what you want as a career to set goals for yourself, and use those as motivation.

It isn’t always easy to stay 100% focussed at work. You might have an off day where you just don’t feel excited or motivated by your job, that happens to everybody. Use simple tasks as distractions, or use long terms goals as a focus. Give yourself something to do or something to work for and it can work wonders for your levels of motivation, regardless of the job you’re doing.
*This is a collaborative post

6 October 2016

5 European City Destinations You Need To Visit

As you read this I am currently in Florida, most likely running around Disneyworld eating too much sugar and waiting to meet Mickey Mouse, so today Rhian is taking over the helm to share with you her favourite European cities. Don't forget to check out her blog at http://www.rhianwestbury.co.uk/

European City Destinations You Need To Visit
While we’d all dream of laying on the beaches of Hawaii or exploring the colourful streets in Thailand, long-haul holidays aren’t always possible. With so many amazing places right on our doorstep in Europe it’s easy to get a short break away and explore another culture without the need to spend more than a few hours on a plane.
I would have to admit that Copenhagen is one of my favourite places in the world and within 13 months I would have visited the city three times. Firstly Copenhagen is so cheap to fly to, on Sky scanner it’s forever the cheapest place to get a flight to. I’ve heard a lot of people say the city is expensive when you arrive but living in London I don’t find this and as long as you’re not going to eat a la carte every night you can still do it on a budget. Copenhagen has the iconic Little Mermaid statue housed here, Northern Europe’s largest aquarium, one of the best zoos I’ve ever been to, a theme park/ gardens in the city centre (yes you read right) and it’s the birthplace of Hans Christian Andersen who wrote a lot of those fairy tales you remember from a kid. There is honestly so much to do here you’ll be spoilt for choice.
Rome is somewhere I have been itching to revisit for years and is my other joint favourite city in Europe. There is so much history here and I love the stories of the Roman times so this is the perfect city for me. Not only do you have the coliseum and the ruins with plenty of amazing stories, you have beautiful views from the top of the Spanish steps, the iconic Trevi fountain and you can even tick off another country on your visit if you head to The Vatican. Plus you can’t go wrong with all the fresh, authentic pizza you can eat.
Paris is a little bit of a cliché city when it comes to trips away but if you don’t want to head too far away then this is the perfect place to hit up. And there is so much more to do here than just going up the Eiffel Tower. There are plenty of monuments you can scale including The Arc de Triumph, Notre Dame and the Sacre Coeur, plus the Louvre is possibly one of the most famous museums in the world, although it isn’t all about the Mona Lisa. You can spend days just wandering around Paris and never getting bored with it’s gothic architecture and abundance of pastries and macaroons.
If you’re looking for something on the cheaper end of the spectrum when it comes to holidays then look no further than Krakow in Poland. Beer is typically cheaper than water and a three course meal can set you back under a tenner. Not only can you eat and drink your way through Krakow you can visit the stunning salt mines where everything is carved and sculpted out of salt (people even get married down there), and you can visit the moving Auschwitz concentration camps, but make sure you have your tissues ready.
Don’t even fancy heading out of the United Kingdom? Then never fear as Edinburgh has so much to do then 50 minute flight is worth every second. With the iconic Edinburgh Castle, the Queen's’ residence Holyrood Palace, Edinburgh Zoo home to the country's only Panda’s, the Royal Britannia Yacht which serve some of the best smoked salmon in the city and enough fudge to keep you on a sugar high for life you’ll never get bored. If drinking is more your thing then you’re in luck with a Gin Distillery and so many whisky shops you might get drunk just walking in. Edinburgh is a city like no other and one you’ll never want to leave.
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