28 January 2016

Murder on the Posh Floor Event

Recently I was invited along to one of the most exciting events I've ever been to.  A murder mystery event hosted by the guys over at Posh Flooring.  The timing couldn't be better as it was held the first Saturday after I moved to London, which meant I got to hang out with a lot of the wonderful Leeds bloggers I'd met over the past year.  

We were told very little other than to 'dress to impress', which had us all guessing for weeks and definitely added to the sense of mystery.  I don't think I did too badly considering I had to set off for the event at 8.30am for my train.  I opted for my Lindy Bop Vanessa wiggle dress and my Collectif fur trim cardigan that makes everything feel a bit more glam.  Unusually for me I was one of the first to arrive, we were offered drinks and had a good chat and catch up before events got started.  There was a photographer on hand who took some amazing photos which took some of the pressure off us and allowed me to just have fun and get stuck in!  There was a photobooth set up with some great props and as you can see, we had a lot of fun with it.

Soon we were let into the room where the main event was held, there were three tables and we all had to compete against each other.  Just as we were settling down someone burst into the room, and dramatically died right in front of us!  The game was afoot!  No worries though, as Sherlock Holmes soon came to help.  However the rest was left up to us!

Now, no one wants to face a murder with an empty stomach so we were served a beautiful three-course meal as we tried to put our heads together and figure it out. We had a kit full of stuff to use to get the clues we needed so we could ask loads of questions to the suspects and get things DNA tested etc.  It was a lot more interactive than I had thought it would be.  We even had clues which we could test for fingerprints, it was so much fun.  I can't say I had the most analytical mind in the group but we had a couple of theories and eventually, one started to be gaining traction  At the end, we submitted our answer and unexpectedly our group were asked to reenact are theory, costumes and all!  I was laughing so hard the whole thing seems like a blur.

I won't be giving away the story in case any of you guys end up doing the same one (I definitely recommend The Murder Mystery Company!) but our team won!  We were so excited, we even got to share a bottle of champaign to celebrate!  I know other teams got close but what can I say, sometimes the nerds come up on top!

In all honesty, this was one of the most fun events I've ever attended.

Have you ever attended a Murder Mystery?  This was my first!

24 January 2016

Sunday Shutter Short: London Light Festivals

This is something new I want to try out with you guys.  Sometimes you can experience some really great things, but words won't cut it.  Sometimes, an image is enough.  They do speak a thousand words after all!  So I thought that occasionally, I might do these 'Sunday Shutter Short posts, to show you guys what I've been up to.  I was going to write this post about the recent Lumière Festival in London last weekend, but then a couple of days later I also attended the Canary Wharf Winter Lights, so I thought I would share them both and show you the lights of London!  So let's start with Lumière:

This Sunday I walked all over London checking out these beautiful light sculptures, it was a great way to see the city and get some exercise to boot.  Some were definitely better than others - the area at Kings Cross wasn't much to write home about, however the sculptures in central London were fabulous.  My favourites were the projections on Westminster Abbey and the cute neon dog lights.

On Tuesday I headed over to Canary Wharf to take a look at the Winter Lights:

It was much quieter here and the lights were over a small area, so it made for a nice chilled out night.  The installations were more art focused and there were exhibitions that you could interact with.  The water spelling out words was particularly spectacular.

What do you think about these festivals?  It definitely brought a bit of colour to a cold Winter night!

P.S I did take my camera with me, but I ended up taking all these on my phone as I didn't really want to keep wrestling my camera in and out of my bag in the crowds.  Anyone got an recommendations for a good point and shoot?  I'm not too happy with these.

21 January 2016

Theatre: Wonder.land at The National Theatre

Wonder.land is the classic tale of Alice in Wonderland as you've never seen it before.  This musical adaptation takes this Victorian tale and brings it bang into the middle of the 21st century.  In this version, rather than going down a rabbit hole to Wonderland, Alice (or AlyPaly23 as her online persona is known) finds an online role-playing game called Wonder.land.  Soon she creates an avatar that is the exact opposite of her, the perfect escape for her problems at school and at home.  But when the online presence is more appealing than your real one, when does it go too far?

A visual spectacular, that is the best way of describing this performance.  In their typical style, The National Theatre have managed to combine two over used themes, Alice in Wonderland and Children's addiction to technology, and create something actually unique.  This could so easily have been cheesy, but what was created was something new and innovative.  The same goes for the characterisation, how many times have we seen adaptations of Characters from these famous books?  Yet ere the characters and quite realistic in their adaptations, despite the surreal settings.  

Onto design, the costume and wigs are some of the best I've ever seen.  Verging on the surreal, they brought a visual element that was truly spectacular.  The contrast in colour between the grey, mundane real world and the crazy colours of wonder.land are almost on par with that famous scene from The Wizard of Oz.  The staging was inspired, the technology involved was complex yet seamless, leaving the audience wondering what was happening next.  It felt genuinely magical.

I have a sort of love/ hate relationship with musical theatre, and Damian Alban managed to keep this production on the right side of that line  It wasn't too cheesy and the story was so fabulously over the top you can't help but smile! I actually laughed out loud a couple of times, which is a rarity for me in performances such as this.   There was a gigantic, glitter spewing remote control ride-on teapot for one thing, and that's not even the craziest part!  I can't even tell you the amount of shiny tape that came out of my clothing at the end of the night!

There were a couple of scenes where things slowed down a little, but other than that I really enjoyed the performance.  If you head over to see this I recommend you go early to head to the interactive exhibition, I had a lot of fun there playing around and because I got there early I was the only one there!

What theatre are you looking forward to this year?

14 January 2016

La Redoute Bloggers Party + Outfit Post

Jut before Christmas (I know, it seems so long ago already) I was very kindly invited to a very special event in Leeds to showcase La Redoute's latest clothing range.  The event itself was simply beautiful, from stunning decor and amazing drinks, to the incredible hot buffet, which put me in the perfect relaxed social mood as we met with the La Redoute staff to learn about their brand.

You might know Laura, she's a fellow blogger and also part of the PR team for La Redoute.  She introduced us to the range, told us a bit about the company, and then we got to go explore.  I had so much fun with the other girls, exploring the rails and seeing what was on offer.  Trust me when I say there were some beautiful things there!  This is a step up in quality from what I would normally buy - you can tell just by the look and feel of the products that they're very on-trend.  It felt like you could step out of the office and right into a cocktail bar and it wouldn't feel out of place.

Of course, I've missed out the best bit.  While we were chatting it was revealed that we could choose a dress and take it home with us!  I was completely gob-smacked - how fabulous is that!?  Cue a bit of mania as a room full of bloggers plough through the rails trying to find something to take home and heading to the one tiny toilet to try them on.  Even the poor photographer, one of the only males at the event, couldn't get into the bathroom because it was full of excited bloggers!

Soon it was my time, and after some encouragement from my fellow bloggers I finally settled on this gorgeous Jacquard dress.  I can't lie, I was mainly swayed because it has pockets!  Unfortunately for me there was only one of these at the event and it wasn't my size, but they kindly agreed to send one out to me.

Now there was a bit of confusion here (which is why this post is a little late), first I was sent a leotard (I do not have the body for one of those!) by mistake.  They swapped it for me, and although I originally wanted it in black, I was sent red.  Which is completely my fault for sending the wrong link.  I was a bit put out at first, but then I realised: I used to love red!  It was my favourite colour and then when I put on weight I lost confidence and thought it would draw too much attention to me.  So I've decided to take this as a sign, 2016 it will be ok for me to stand out!

The dress itself is a modern twist on the style of dress I always go for.  Rather than just being tight fitted at the waist, this is fitted for the whole top half, before flowing outwards.  The material is wonderfully crafted, and the v-neck isn't too low, even on me which is unusual because I have very low shoulders (probably not the best way of putting it...)  which makes this a great option for work.  Then of course, there's the pockets!  There is some stretch to this, but not much so be careful when you take your measurements.  The zip is very small so it is hidden when worn but this also means it can be a little difficult to do up by yourself (nothing to do with Christmas binging, honest...) but other then that I can't really fault it.

Would you wear red?

11 January 2016

Snow Fairy Bundle Giveaway

Today is a good day, not only did I move to London yesterday to start my new job today, but I also recently passed 500 followers on Bloglovin'.  To celebrate, I am sharing a very special giveaway with you guys. 

If like me, you were left unable to take advantage of the famous Lush sale - fear not!  I am coming to the rescue!  I have put together a bunch of the bloggers favourite, Lush's famous Snow Fairy, and items with that same famous scent to see you through until next Christmas.  Here's what I'm including:

100g Snow Fairy Shower x 2
70g Fairy Dust Dusting Powder
Candy Mountain Bubble Bar
Magic Wand Bubble Bar

So in order to enter there are just a few simple rules.  The first is that this is open to the UK only, sorry to any of my further afield readers.  I'd love to share this with you, but unfortunately I just can't afford the postage.  Also, due to the nature of some of the products in the giveaway, I can't be held responsible for any damage to the items before arrival or any loss in the post.

Now that's out of the way, on to the fun bit - to enter, simply follow the Rafflecopter instructions below! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway


6 January 2016

December Reads 2015

So here we are, the last installment of my monthly reads for this year.  I know a lot of the more 'on it' bloggers get these things wrapped up and published in December, but I was reading right up to New Years Eve to meet my yearly goal!  After a reading wash-out in November where I finished a grand total of zero books, I managed to catch up and finish five this month.  One was a gift (shh) and the other I can't find in amongst my packing (moving day is getting close!) so that's why there's only three pictured.

So here's what I read:

The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M Danforth

When Cameron Post’s parents die suddenly in a car crash, her shocking first thought is relief. Relief they’ll never know that, hours earlier, she had been kissing a girl.

But that relief doesn’t last, and Cam is soon forced to move in with her conservative aunt Ruth and her well-intentioned but hopelessly old-fashioned grandmother. She knows that from this point on, her life will forever be different. Survival in Miles City, Montana, means blending in and leaving well enough alone (as her grandmother might say), and Cam becomes an expert at both.

Then Coley Taylor moves to town. Beautiful, pickup-driving Coley is a perfect cowgirl with the perfect boyfriend to match. She and Cam forge an unexpected and intense friendship — one that seems to leave room for something more to emerge. But just as that starts to seem like a real possibility, ultrareligious Aunt Ruth takes drastic action to ‘fix’ her niece, bringing Cam face-to-face with the cost of denying her true self — even if she’s not exactly sure who that is.

This was the November Sassy Books read that took me longer to get through than I had originally planned. Read my full review here.

The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness

Prentisstown isn't like other towns. Everyone can hear everyone else's thoughts in an overwhelming, never-ending stream of Noise. Just a month away from the birthday that will make him a man, Todd and his dog, Manchee -- whose thoughts Todd can hear too, whether he wants to or not -- stumble upon an area of complete silence. They find that in a town where privacy is impossible, something terrible has been hidden -- a secret so awful that Todd and Manchee must run for their lives.

But how do you escape when your pursuers can hear your every thought?

I put off reading this for so long and I'm not sure why.  I did have a big break in the middle of reading it, but it really picked up pace towards the end.  I loved the twists and turns as the story developed.  I will definitely be continuing with the trilogy.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

An all-new edition of the tragicomic smash hit which stormed the New York Times bestseller charts, now featuring an introduction from Markus Zusak.

In his first book for young adults, Sherman Alexie tells the story of Junior, a budding cartoonist who leaves his school on the Spokane Indian Reservation to attend an all-white high school. This heartbreaking, funny, and beautifully written tale, featuring poignant drawings that reflect the character's art, is based on the author's own experiences. It chronicles contemporary adolescence as seen through the eyes of one Native American boy.

This is one of those modern, young-adult classics I've wanted to read for a long time, and I'm glad I finally did.  It's really interesting, well paced and quirky.  I loved the characters and the integrated artwork; a very cute story.

The Ladybird Book of Mindfulness by Jason Hazel and Joel Morris

This delightful book is the latest in the series of Ladybird books which have been specially planned to help grown-ups with the world about them.
The large clear script, the careful choice of words, the frequent repetition and the thoughtful matching of text with pictures all enable grown-ups to think they have taught themselves to cope. The subject of the book will greatly appeal to grown-ups.
Not much you can say abut these books other then they are short and fun to read, perfect stocking stuffers!
The History Boys by Alan Bennett 
An unruly bunch of bright, funny sixth-form (or senior) boys in a British boys’ school are, as such boys will be, in pursuit of sex, sport, and a place at a good university, generally in that order. In all their efforts, they are helped and hindered, enlightened and bemused, by a maverick English teacher who seeks to broaden their horizons in sometimes undefined ways, and a young history teacher who questions the methods, as well as the aim, of their schooling. In The History Boys, Alan Bennett evokes the special period and place that the sixth form represents in an English boy’s life. In doing so, he raises—with gentle wit and pitch-perfect command of character—not only universal questions about the nature of history and how it is taught but also questions about the purpose of education today.
Lastly, to end the year: some Bennett.  To be honest, I expected to love this a lot more than I did. In order to fully appreciate the references, it felt as though you had to have some specific experiences during the time period. Either that or first-hand knowledge of the Oxbridge application process.  In fact, if it wasn't for the lengthy forward, I am not sure I would have understood most of it.  It does have it's funny moments but I feel like this would be better staged then read in order to really get a feel for it.
So that's it for 2015! I hit my target of 40 (just) with an overall total of 41.  I also hit my personal page goal of 10,000 pages reaching over 11,000 this year.  This is the fourth year now where I have hit my goal, so even though I've read fewer books than I have over the last two years, my page number has still stayed over the limit.
So on to 2016.  Let me know what your favorite book of 2016 so I can add them to my list, or add me on Goodreads so I can have a good nosey!

4 January 2016

5 Fun Date Ideas for Long Distance Relationships

I have been in two long distance relationships in my life.  After the first one had ended, I swore I would never do it again, and yet here I am!  Long distance is hard, and it's certainly not for everyone, but if you meet the right person and you both work at it, its worth it.  I have been long distance with Harry for 2 and a half years, previous to that we were good friends and lived in the same city.  Typically we only got together after we both moved away.  Now I'm moving to London, and he's in the Lake district, we couldn't live much further apart in England!  Especially as he cannot drive and I will no longer have a car!  

There are, however, some things you can do to make the distance almost seem a little less far.  Date night is something that's good for all couples, whether you are in the same room or not.  Here are five things we like to do to have our own long distance dates:
  1. Read together: This might seem thoroughly sad but this is something we like to do together.  We pick a book and then read it to each other a chapter at a time.  At the moment, I'm reading The Complete Sherlock Holmes to Harry but it also might be a good idea to read a chapter each.  It also helps to have something you can dip in and out of.
  2. Watch a film/TV Series Together: This one is similar but more chilled.  I love watching a TV series together in particular, as you can make it a regular thing.  I always put Skype on so we can seem like we are watching it together, and then discuss it during the ads.
  3. Play Games Together: Maybe not for everyone but we both love gaming so this is so much fun.  You can pick a game where you play against each other or co-op.  Whatever you fancy, currently we are playing Star Wars Battlefront but you can play online board games if you prefer.
  4. Cook a meal together: I saw someone do this online and I need to try it soon.  You both pick a meal to cook and make it each while on skype, then you can eat it together!
  5. Dream together: This is one of the saddest to outsiders, but honestly I love it.  We just chat about what our dream life will be like, what are house will look like, and how different things will be when were together.
Have you ever been in a long distance relationship?

1 January 2016

Goals of 2016

How are the hangovers coming along guys?  I suggest milkshakes and pizza in copious amounts!

So yesterday I was telling you all how I don't really pay much attention to goals and how rubbish I am at sticking to them - yet here we are.  The thing is, I like to make them anyway, I like the hope and motivation.  2016 is going to be an exciting and scary year for me.  I'm moving to London and starting a new job at the other side of the country from my boyfriend and far away from all my friends.  2016 has a lot coming for me, here's what I want to do with it

  • Make friends: This is something I always struggle with, I don't find it easy to make friends.  I have something I call a two-year rule, where on average it takes me two years to make friends any new place I go.  I need to make more of an effort and try and switch the part of my brain off that tells me everyone hates me.
  • Work Hard: I am starting a new job and I have so much to learn, I really just want to try and take in as much as possible and start working my way up the ladder.
  • Make the Most Out of Being in London: Let's face it, I love a night in more than anything, but if you are paying the extra price for being in London I think you've got to make the most out of being there.  My sister is my inspiration, she has something going on most nights and she never stops.  If you get in the loop there is plenty you can do for free so I want to experience as much as I can.
  • Be healthier.  Getting a car has made me so immobile, I'm hoping to do more walking and eat better when I'm completely in control of my food intake once more.
  • Live outside of my blog I started my blog because I was out of work and knew no one, now that I'm balancing a full-time job and a blog I can be tempted to sit in and write after work rather than experiencing the world.  I want to keep doing my blog though as it is really important to me.  But I need to make sure that it's part of my life and not my whole life.
  • Give my blog a makeover I've been playing around with the idea of updating my layout and possibly changing my blog name since March and so far I haven't done either.  Now I don't even know if I want to change my name anymore, but either way, I need to refresh my layout!
  • See more theatre and live music: This will depend on how I can stretch my money, but it's definitely something I want to do more of.
Now let's talk blog goals, it's easy to get lost in numbers and stats, so as much as I will set myself goals to work to they will only be soft goals.  Whatever happens, happens.  My blog isn't just a numbers game.
  • Improve my Instagram photography: This is something I really started doing the last couple of months and I've seen an improvement in my likes and followers, so I'd love to continue this.  If I passed 1000 followers I'd be happy.
  • Be more social on social media: Sometimes it's easy to be on social media and not interact with other people, that's what I want to do more of.  I love the community on twitter and I want to be more involved with it, and hopefully join in some chats if I have time.  If I get to 2500 followers that would be a plus.
  • Keep improving my blog photography: I started photography classes this year to help improve my photography, but I've had to cut it short because of my move.  I hope this is something I can continue to work on.
  • Carry on blogging and have fun doing it!  This is my biggest blogging goal for this year, just to continue my blog and have fun with it through all the changes my life is going through.  This might mean working with fewer brands and concentrating more on lifestyle posts, but we will see.
What do you want to achieve this year?
P.S My friend Eddie kindly let me use his image for this post. He is fantastically talented and you can find him on Twitter, Facebook, and, of course, Instagram.  You can also take a look at his prints over on Etsy.
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