23 March 2016

Creating a cosy space for reading

My first ever post on this blog a year and a half ago was a book review,  since then I've reviewed in some way, every book that I've read for the entire time I've had this blog.  Considering I read between 40-55 books a year this has been quite a journey!  Recently however, I've not been enjoying reading as much, and I think that has a lot to do with the environment I'm in when I read.

These days I rarely read at home, in fact the last hardback I finished took me over a year for this exact reason.  I read on the tube, and I read on my lunch break, and all the time I am fighting the draw of my phone.  Working full time and being a blogger means that lunch is often the only time I get to check and update my social media and my email.  Then every few pages, I find myself just checking my phone, endlessly checking!

That's why I think giving yourself a space to totally switch off digitally, even only for a short time, is essential.  At the moment I'm crashing in my sister's flat, but I'm dreaming of having my own small reading space (with emphasis on small as I'm living in London).

So here are some little things that can change that one corner of your flat into a technology-free haven!

First things first comfort is key, and what makes a space more cosy than a pillow fort!

The first three pictures are from the website Human, which is my go-to site for cute feminist/statement home wear and clothing, and here is just some idea of the stuff on there.  I love it because their designs are powerful, but also cute and colourful.  I spotted this reading pillow  (yes apparently a actual thing) on a website I'd never heard of before called Dormify.  It's more expensive than I would usually look at for a pillow, but it comes in a lot of different designs and most importantly it's literally made to prop you up when you're reading!  I had to include this super kawaii cloud pillow from Etsy - just look at it!  Lastly, these camera pillows from Uncommon goods* are ideal for bloggers - let's face it, they are picture perfect!

"But where am I going to put my tea?" I hear you cry!  Tea is an essential part of winding down with a book, so here are some beautiful pieces of furniture to rest your mug on:

This first piece by Houzz is super chic, much more than I would ordinary pick, however I chose this because of its hat-tip to mid-century style.  I'm all about those legs, and as much as I love kitsch, there is something about this neutral palette that I love.  Speaking of kitsch, why not rest your tea on books, seems fitting right!?  Which you can totally do with this book table, yes that's right, and it comes in a variety of colours.  Another very chic and minimalist design comes from Uncommon goods here* with this unique tea side table, very on trend.  Lastly, I just thought this last one was super cute!  It's a table made for exactly one cup of tea.  That's some genius thinking right there!

Visuals play a large part in telling our brains to switch off, so surrounding ourselves with beautiful artwork is a great way to create a personal space within a home.

Why have you got a cartoon picture of a random dog I hear you ask?  Well Uncommon Goods* are at it again with these personalised prints, so you don't have to choose a random dog, you can get yours.  One of the things I miss the most since moving is having my dog near, so I'd love a cute personalised picture of her nearby.  Plus it's been proven that looking at pets have all kinds of calming effects.
There's a tea theme going on here right?  Tea is the best!  It relaxes me when I need it to and perks me up when I'm sleepy, and most of all, it makes me feel homely and cosy - so this print from Not on the High Street is a great edition.  Lastly, I had to just add this print because I love its atomic, vintage style.  Home-wise, I am heading more and more towards that 50's style, which will be a shock to no one.  I love how this is simple, but adds a splash of colour.  You can grab this one over at Zazzle.

So there you have it, that's everything you need short of actually smelling like a paperback to create your own little 'haven'.  Don't forget to hit up Uncommon Goods if you want to find some really unique home d├ęcor, made by individual artists.  Perfect for brightening up any home.  What do you use to brighten up your reading space?
*contains sponsored links

21 March 2016

The Ship Tavern: Restaurant Review

Just a stone's throw away from Covent Garden, hidden down a quiet side street, you will come across a traditional pub and gin bar, that also happens to have a restaurant upstairs.

The restaurant has a lot of history, it was originally established in 1549 and its kept its traditional layout since this period.  The upstairs restaurant is covered in dark woods and candle light, giving it a romantic, traditional air that is warm and cosy.  If you want to see what London was like in days gone by, this probably gives you some indication.  It has its own varied history to boot, including the fact that it was used as a secret place for Catholics to take mass during the reign of Henry the VIII when it was forbidden to do so.  There are even 'hidey-hole' hidden throughout the tavern, which was used for priests should the palace officials come around.  However some were not so lucky, and were executed on the spot.  The Ship Taverns website claims that it is haunted, and that some of the chilling screams can be heard to this day!  Luckily none of the ghosts seemed to be around when I took a visit last week to check out the Sunday menu.
We started off with a couple of drinks, I plumped for the Sloesecco, a mix of prosecco and sloe gin, while Harry chose the house ale.  Both were recommended on the menu so we were sure they were a safe bet.  I'd never tried sloe gin before so I thought it was a good chance to try it.  The drink was sweet and spicy, reminding me almost of Christmas.  The house ale was a ruby, slightly smoky and not too bitter.  I think we would both order these again.
Unfortunately as I went to order my starter we were told that several items throughout the menu were sold out, including what I was going to order as a starter.  This was unfortunate, but instead Harry ordered the Salt and Pepper Calamari, and I opted for the fried Brie.
The salt and paper was a nice addition to the calamari, and really helped to enhance the flavour.  The portion size was very generous.  I personally found the batter a little sickly and wouldn't have been able to finish more than a few for that reason, which is a shame because the calamari itself seemed fresh and the mayonnaise was a nice touch, if possibly a bit too strong, masking the flavour of calamari.
The brie was beautifully presented, and tasted very nice, although it's hard to go wrong with fried cheese!  The salad was fresh and dressed well. The cranberries were fresh and enhanced the brie.
Unfortunately again, both Harry's and my first choice for main course wasn't available, and neither were my second or third choices.  Instead we both opted for the traditional Sunday lunch, Harry going for lamb, while I went for chicken.  
The lamb dinner was beautiful on the whole, although unfortunately a bit cold.  The chicken was huge, which was great, but had the unfortunate side effect of being rather dry, making it hard to eat much of it.  The vegetables on both our meals were cooked perfectly, and the goose fat potatoes were a great treat.  Speaking as a Yorkshire girl, I can also commend them on their Yorkshire Puddings, which were light and crisp, definitely one of the highlights of the meal
Lastly it was time for pudding,  Always hard to choose but Harry decided on the lighter option of the sorbet, while I choose one of my all time favourites, sticky toffee pudding.  The three sorbets were all delicious and tangy, the perfect end to a heavy meal, very refreshing.  The sticky toffee pudding was nice, but was a bit dry, which the ice cream helped balance somewhat.

Thank you to The Ship Tavern for inviting me to review, and for being so welcoming.  When you're done eating, there is also a gin bar downstairs to complete the night.

16 March 2016

The Father: Theatre Review

A few weeks ago I went to see a play I'd heard a lot of great things about, The Father.  The Father is a play about a man with dementia, and how his daughter deals with his regression over a period of some years.  The play takes us quickly through the decline of a person and is long, harrowing and heartbreaking.

This was a beautiful, emotion-filled performance that actually brought back some painful memories from my own life that I didn't even realise I was still holding on to.  Some of the mannerisms used for the part of the Father were eerily similar to the ones I recognised in my own grandparents when they were ill before they unfortunately died, the acting on his part in particular was fantastic, occasionally leaving the other actor lagging behind.  

It was harrowing throughout, yet humour was used to point out how we deal with these situations, smiling to get through.  Simply put, this is fantastically written.  The writing propels this forward while the strong, fragmented direction style presents memories as fragile as they really are. Even going as far as playing with the audience's own memory, bringing these subjects to light in a brilliant way.  Simplistic yet highly effective lighting, sound and adaptive naturalistic staging all help to add to this feeling of the frailness of life and our mental health.

Simply put, this is one of the best pieces of theatre I have seen so far this year.  it is only on until the 26th of March so go see it while you have the chance!

13 March 2016

Get in the Sea Sunday: TREsemme's Pre-Wash Conditioner

Welcome to my new, occasional series about things I just need to rant about, Get in the Sea Sundays.  These will be popping up every now and then when you just need to ask, what are people thinking!  Let's start off with something that's really getting on my goat this week, TREsemme's Pre-Wash Conditioner.

You might wonder why a product that I don't even own can get my annoyed?  Well it's the concept that really winds me up.  By now you have probably heard of reverse hair washing?  If you haven't, it's a simple idea, instead of shampooing your hair then conditioning, you just reverse it.  Conditioning first, and then finishing with a shampoo.  It's supposed to stop your hair feeling weighed down and leave it feeling cleaner.

Now I don't have an issue with reverse hair washing at all, in fact it's saved my hair since moving to London because London water is horrible.  This is the only thing that has stopped my hair looking greasy straight after I wash it (if I was some kind of diva celeb I would totally get tanks of Yorkshire water imported), my issue is that somehow, brands have tried to make a product out of this.

One of the beauties of this simple hair trick is that it needs nothing extra that you don't already own, you literally just change the order, and yet somehow TREsemme are trying to make money off it.  They patent some kind of 'pre-wash conditioner' that is so completely unnecessary it's a joke.  Apparently it has "fleximax volumisers and fibre polishing actives" whatever the hell they are!

So simply,  TREsemme's Pre-Wash Conditioner, get in the sea!

12 March 2016

Moments: February 2016

Sorry, it's been way too long, my life is all over the place at the moment!  February is such a short month, it really does go by so fast.  It's one of those months where I don't think I've done much until I take a look-back.  That's one of the reasons I'm glad I started doing these round-ups, it makes me so thankful.  So here's what I've been up to.

I've read...

Vagina by Naomi Wolf- I picked this book up randomly when shopping with a friend last year because let's face it, that name is pretty eye catching.  Billed as 'a new biography for the vagina' I thought maybe I would learn something, and I did.  I didn't agree with everything she had to say, some of it was a bit of a leap, but I found some of the links between psychology and women's physiology interesting, even if it was a bit embarrassing to read it on the tube!  Pick it up if you want to learn more about yourself ladies!

Six Poets: Hardy to Larkin by Alan Bennett- As you probably know by now I am a big fan of Bennett, so when I saw a copy of this in a book store with a 'signed copy' sticker on it, I had to buy it right away, (even if I was supposed to be on a book buying ban).  This is Bennett talking about his favourite poetry.  I know little about poetry and this was a good welcome to the genre.  Having Bennet give the history and his insights to the poems really helped keep me interested.

Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Volume 2 by Naoko Takeuchi- The second in this series, given to me by my manga-loving friend Leann.  Like the first this is a fun, light story that's enjoyable, although some of the translation was a little off.

Skagboys by Irvine Welsh- This is a sort of prequel/re-imagining of the popular classic Trainspotting.  Even though Welsh is one of my favourite authors, this took me 14 months to read!  This isn't a reflection on the book, just that I had it in hardback and I'm rubbish at reading big hardbacks because I have to read them at home.  I do most of my reading during the day and this is too big to travel.  The book itself was really good, as always it takes concentration with the flipping between characters and strong dialect, but it was worth it.  Welsh creates characters like no other.

I've visited...

An amazing Italian- That I can't remember the name of which isn't helpful, but the staff were so old fashioned and polite plus the food was amazing.  If only I had started using Yelp before this!

The Coronet Theatre for a Theatre Tour- This is a free tour of a theatre currently in the process of reconstruction, and it's amazing!  Go do this tour while you get the chance, the building is beautiful and it's a privilege getting to see it in its current state.  The changes there are happening there so fast!

Meat Liquor- Seriously, one of my favourite places to eat.  Dark, dingy and delicious.  The best chicken wings I've ever eaten, I want them right now!

The Oddities Museum, London- Bar on the upstairs, strange museum downstairs.  There are lots of dead things, a few alive things, some vintage porn and celebrity poo, and that's not even the strangest stuff.  Does good beer too if you can stomach it after that.

Pasta Remoli- For some tasty Italian, check the link for my full review.

Home- I went back to my parents for the weekend to see some family, which is always nice.

I've seen...

Nell Gwynn, Apollo Theatre- I went to see this at the start of the month, and enjoyed it for what it was, light entertainment.  A full review is in the link.

The Women: New Portraits exhibition by Annie Leibovitz-  Annie Leibovitz is one of the most famous photographers in the world, or so I'm told.  I have to admit my knowledge is seriously lacking when it comes to all things art related, but that didn't stop me queuing for half an hour in the rain on a Friday night to check this out.  It was unusual, with the portraits shown on big screens rather then individual images, but they were striking and inspiring, and that's coming from someone who knows nothing about it!  It was great seeing pictures from such a variety of women, quite inspiring really. 

Phosegore and Chainreactor at Slimelight- I finally broke my slimelight virginity!  It's a rock club with a tube carriage and a ball pool in it, and that isn't even the strangest thing going on.  The gig itself was amazing, I danced hard!  I rolled in at 6.30 am, causing me to miss something I was supposed to do the next day, woops!

A kitten on the tube- Seriously, made my week!

The Martian- We watched this on my brother-in-law's birthday, it wasn't bad but I didn't love it either.

X-Men: Days of Future Past at the BFI- A private screening event with Joe Bloggers, so cool!

Royal Vaxaul at the RVT- A musical set in the bar that the real events actually happened in.  It involves Freddy Mercury, Kenny Everitt and Princess Diana in drag, and yes it's a true story.  We can only imagine how crazy that event was, but this show gives us a glimpse at some of the possible fun.

The Father- Honestly the best piece of theatre I've seen since moving to London, I'll write a review soon.  It made me cry and I don't cry easily, go see it.

I've played...

Gay Bingo- Yes this is a real thing.  At the Royal Vauxhall Taven, you will find this on every Monday, it's a mix of drag, bingo and insanity.  I highly recommend it.  It's absolutely hilarious and you can sometimes win a microwave omelette maker or a tin of beans, so there's that...

Cooking Fever- It's just this stupidly addictive time management game on my iPad that I enjoy far too much.

Star Wars Battlefront- I had the TV to myself over the weekend so I got to play with friends, I was awful but it was fun.  I've somehow lost my headset though so that made it a bit less enjoyable as I couldn't here my friends taking the piss out of me for dying for the 50th time.

Fallout 4- This is probably going to be on this list for the whole of this year, I love it.

I've been...

Learning Code- Work had mentioned in passing that if I wanted to, I could spend a few hours a week learning code.  I know nothing about code and I'm really excited about it.  I've been getting stuck in with Code Academy, I've got a lot to learn but hey, you've got to start somewhere right?  It would be nice to change things on my blog without having to ask my boyfriend!

Eating Hary Potter Cupcakes- I work for Bloomsbury, the publishers of Harry Potter, so for Harry Potter Book Night we all got themed cupcakes.  They were delicious!

Wearing the crap out of this jumper- It's the one from my Modern Sweater Girl and it's just so warm it's become my go-to, especially for work!  It works perfectly under a pinafore dress. 

And this one- What can I say, I'm lazy and I hate the cold.

Eating Pizza- No regrets.  Well, except I found out Papa John's is homophobic, so that's my last pizza from there.

Taking advantage of the Skinny Dip Sale- I got these cool bags for a steal, even if I did have to queue for most of my lunch break.

Eating Pancakes with bacon and maple syrup- For pancake day of course!  My sister thinks it's weird to have this combo with British pancakes rather then American style ones, but she is wrong.

Walking around London- My favourite days in London are when I accidently find hidden gems.  I took a walk and ended up walking all through central London and it just made me so happy.  I found a really cool shop and I bought some glitter, and then made my way to a Waterstones and bought a few cool books before ending up on the Southbank.  It was simple but amazing.

Trying to find out how to get my money back from this Mac scam- Seriously if anyone has any ideas let me know.  It's the principle more than anything else.

To Bunker 13, Leeds- This is an alternative goth/ industrial night run by my friends.  I decided to drive so it was my first ever club night driving and not drinking.  I loved it as always, I went out in my bra which was new!

I've hung out with...

Old friends on Facebook- Someone created a Facebook group for all the people who used to be emo/ metal kids in the early 00's in  Rotherham.  Basically, there was this famous pub called The Charters where all the cool kids went to break bones in mosh pits and do a bit of underage drinking.  I was too much of a wuss for the underage drinking part, but I saw some amazing (or at least they seemed it at the time) bands and wore a lot of black!  People got really enthused by this simple Facebook group and I saw some crazy photos and it brought back some amazing memories.

The London Theatre Bloggers at the Lift 2016 Launch- It as so nice to meet people who had such similar interests and this launch was a lot of fun.  There are some amazing things coming to the Lift festival this year, so hopefully I can check some out.

More lovely bloggers at the Siara Shoes event- Seriously people have been so nice, the shoes at this event were stunning too.  The materials are such high quality and Indian inspired in a totally unique way.

My boyfriend- He came down for a weekend, it was lovely!

My little sister- Despite us living in the same city we don't usually see each other much so this has been nice, we even got Nando's, winner!

Yelp People- One of my new blogging friends told me about Yelp, so I decided to give it a go.  I went along to a meet event for new users, and got to have a chat with some amazing people while eating some tasty food.  I'm just getting to grips with the app but I'm hoping to get involved more, I'm enjoying it so far. 

My cousins (and my dog)- I used to be so close to my cousins when I was younger, but our families fell out and we lost touch.  We have been getting close due to a couple of nice things and one very bad event.  Every cloud and all that! 

So there you have it, March is upon us!  If you want to follow my adventures why not following me on Instagram  or Twitter.  What are you looking forward to this month?


1 March 2016

Private Marvel Screening at the BFI

Last week I was given a true superstar treatment by the guys at Joe Blogs and their friends BGO.  I was invited down to the British Film Institute (swanky!) to take part in a private screening of the popular Marvel film X-Men: Days of Future Past.

I was also lucky enough to be given a plus one, so I invited my friend Dave to tag along with me.  We arrived and were greeted with tasty food, drinks and sweets.  We got to mingle and chat and my friend Dave was even interviewed for BGO's video round up.  Unfortunately, he didn't make the final cut, but you can catch a few glimpses us both having a blast here. 

Soon we grabbed some popcorn and headed down to the private cinema to watch the film.  It was such a great experience getting to see this film in such an intimate setting, it was action packed and a lot of fun. 

So what was this in aid of?  Well BGO have a brand new X-Men themed slot game out for the iPad, and we all got to have a go.  There was a prize for the top scorers, but unfortunately I don't think I even came close!

If you could see any film at a private screening, what would you pick?
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