Showing posts with label Life. Show all posts

Intentions for 2018

Highgate Pergola

It's my first week back at work and I am so very tired. Also sick. Already the conversations around New Years Resolutions have began. Mostly with people saying they want to lose weight or are going to do Dry January.

I don't believe in New Years Resolutions because I'm an actual pessimist. That and I rarely stick to anything, especially if I vocalise it. But, obviously, just like everyone else there are a couple of things I'd like to change, but not just because it's the New Year. I already started before Christmas. Little bit by little bit. I guess this is what happens when you start becoming more of an adult.

In my mind, if I consider these as intentions, rather than resolutions, I might actually stand a chance as I have made no promises to myself or anyone else!

Reduce my use of Single Use Plastics

I recycle a lot, especially at work where we have separate bins for everything, including one JUST for coffee grounds. However, Blue Planet this year did traumatise me. It made me realise that I really wasn't doing enough.

In the past few weeks I have been upping my game. More things at home are being recycled. I have a Pokémon water bottle for #Hydration throughout the day rather than getting new bottles all the time, I have stopped with the paper cups for coffee and take my ceramic one with me now.



Make my flat more like a home

The problem with living in a rented place, you can't really make a mark on the place you live. It annoys me but I know I will never be able to afford a house. Any time soon, anyway. Gary and I have wanted to create more of a home for a while so decided to just do it rather than make excuses. 

Before Christmas, Gary re-arranged the living room giving us more space, we've just bought ourselves a big fluffy rug (which the cat LOVES), I have been completely brutal and thrown so much stuff out, and I just bought myself a cute little house plant that I'm determined to keep alive. Currently in my Amazon basket I have a bunch of new Scatter Cushions and throws to match the colour scheme I have in my head and will be finding a way of putting more pictures of friends and family up without using nails and potentially losing my deposit!

Aloe Houseplant


Be nicer to myself

Not only am I going to stop putting myself down all the bloody time (well, try to anyway), I'm going to treat myself better. If I'm sick, I'll stay home and not wear myself down by insisting on working. I'm going to carry on going to the gym, I was really good at it last year and it honestly makes me feel so much better. I'll drink more water because I have ALWAYS been shit at that and hydration is awesome. I'm also going back to actually cooking instead of just relying on Iceland and take-away. Gary and I fell into such an awful habit of it last year and I already feel so much better after making proper meals again. 

These are all very simple changes just to make me a happier person. Knowing my luck though, now that I have written them down, I'll probably forget all about them by March and will fall into old habits. Let's not though, OK AJ? Think of the planet and your bloody happiness.

Do you have any intentions for 2018?


Why I actually love Winter Wonderland

Winter Wonderland 2017

I'm one of those people who loves to hate Winter Wonderland. It's busy and full of tourists, you'll be queueing for days and every time I go, it always bloody rains. But I love it. Despite always having a bit of a moan...

It's not very often you can get a lot of mates together (for me, it's next to impossible... I'm looking at you, Bangarang) but every year, all of Gary's uni mates + me gather together for yearly shenanigans at Winter Wonderland. Every year we've been, we've been a bit rubbish about it and mostly hung out in the Bavarian Village getting pissed (which is still awesome) but this year, friends who live further away stayed at our house so we had a full day of it.

Winter Wonderland London 2017


Things I like about Winter Wonderland in General

Everyone seems to be cheerful

I don't know what it is, it could be the copious amount of booze, the fact that the arrival of Winter Wonderland shows that Christmas is SO CLOSE, or they're just genuinely happy people.

I'm always miserable but find the happiness of our friends and the people at Winter Wonderland infectious. Meaning I tend to smile all day.

All the Mulled drinks

Mulled Wine and Mulled Cider are one of the greatest inventions on this Earth. This year I discovered Hot Toffee Apple Cider and was in my own little Heaven. That was before we discovered the Apple Pie Southern Comfort though... which actually tastes like Apple Pie in a cup.

It's not as expensive as you think

one of the main things people complain about is how expensive Winter Wonderland is, but in reality it isn't. For example, I bought a pint of Cider and Blackcurrant (classic me) at it was £5. Considering the exact same thing in my local pub is £4.90... I really don't think that's too bad.

Things I liked about Winter Wonderland this year

Oh, the things you can do when you plan on spending more than just an evening there...

We barely had to queue

Could be because we got there around 2:30 rather than 6... but we barely had to queue at all. Maybe we just got lucky!

The night before, we booked tickets to the Magical Ice Kingdom which meant we got to go into a separate queue and jump the horde at the gates. When we got to the roller-coasters, we seemed to just walk straight through and get on them, and we barely had to queue at the bar until around 8pm. Pretty good running I'd say.

Winter Wonderland London 2017


The Roller-coasters are actually amazing

I LOVE roller-coasters. When I was growing up, my mum and brother were very much the 'bag holders' and I found out recently that my dad really doesn't like them either. BUT he came on every single one with me so I didn't have to go on alone. Legend.

I've normally avoided put up and take down roller-coasters at fair grounds because I didn't imagine they'd me all that safe. However, with an event as big as Winter Wonderland, you'd think they'd go under many, many safety checks!

You know, what? They were amazing. We didn't go on every single one but the ones we tried were fantastic. First round we went on Ice Mountain, which was very similar to Space Mountain at Disney Land. Gary became Designated Bag Holder for the BIG ONE though that had around 8 loops. I have discovered that after 4 years in a relationship with that boy, spending a whole day at Alton Towers may be off the cards...

I screamed a lot and got off each ride with a massive grin on my face. I'm still gutted that we didn't go into the Haunted House (because OF COURSE they'd have one...) but there's always next year.

Winter Wonderland London 2017


There's music everywhere

I can't explain how much I love music and how it has shaped me over years so if there's a bugger tonne of music, I'll be happy. We made the foolish attempt of a day of Whamageddon until we realised every bloody stall was playing the same music... after we had run away from one bar in different directions and I spilt Mulled Cider all down my coat (twat). In each main bar you have different stages with DJs and performers too. Towards the end of the night, we settled into one of the smaller bars in the Bavarian village and were delighted by the performance of a 60 year old man performing 'sexy and I know it' and 'Gangnam Style' before a traditional German brass band (which I loved). I haven't giggled that much in a while.

It's worth paying for more than just food and drink

As I've mentioned, we got tickets to see the Magical Ice Kingdom, an immersive experience of ice sculptures themed around under the sea. Cue me creating an Instagram story of everything using the lyrics for Under the Sea from the Little Mermaid. I'm cool, I swear.

Not only did we have the joys of skipping the queue at the beginning, but we also had the best time in sub zero temperatures.

The Sculptures were absolutely incredible and we discovered my coat is not suitable for an ice slide. All in all, it was so worth the £10 and if you get a chance to see it, you should.

Winter Wonderland London 2017


I probably had the best time at Winter Wonderland this year than I have at any other time. I'll definitely be checking out what new things will be there next year and will maybe go even earlier to make sure I actually have a full day of giggling like a maniac.

Winter Wonderland London 2017




Things to do in London at Christmas

Christmas in London 2017

I have been saying it for years and I won't stop... London is one of the best places in the world at Christmas. I have so many friends and family who have moved here that I always bring up 'I can't wait until you see London at Christmas. There's something magical in the air which means I'm always in a jolly mood... even if Marketing at Christmas is one of the most stressful jobs ever.

It's just over a week before I leave London to be with my family for a week and It's occurred to me that there's so much of my usual Christmas activities that I haven't had time to do so I'm going to be ramming in as much as I can this weekend. In between last minute Christmas shopping, of course...

There are so many things to do in London that sometimes it's difficult to know where to start, but there are a couple of things I look forward to every year and some I'm looking forward to doing.

See as many Christmas Decorations and Trees as you can

London Really is a festive wonderland right now with lights on pretty much every street. I love seeing all the different trees in their different styles. The giant one in the red plant pot in Covent Garden has always been a favourite but this year it has been trumped by the beautiful one in St Pancras, decorated with over 1000 flowers.

St Pancras Christmas Tree

Get on the Rooftops

The roof top pop up has been growing for years. Wig Wam Bam on the roof of the Queen of Hoxton was always a place to be for me but I have been travelling further afield to see what else is out there. 

South Pole Saloon Brixton

For our Annual  'let's try and get Bangarang in one room for a Christmas Party', we headed down to Brixton for the South Pole Saloon. There were only 5 / 11 Bangarang Girls but that's pretty impressive for us.

The South Pole Saloon is the winter replacement for Brixton Beach, all decked out like a little winter wonderland with wooden huts and fairy lights everywhere. 

South Pole Saloon Brixton


Although the loud music (like srsly... too loud) left much to be desired, the overall atmosphere was lovely. There was so much different food to choose from, especially a stand that specialised in Mac and Cheese (they know the way to my heart) and a bunch of Christmassy Cocktails and mulled wine to really get you into the Christmas Spirit. Definitely worth a visit if you're heading south!

Food South Pole Saloon Brixton

Winter Wonderland et al

Now, I really don't like Winter Wonderland as a whole. I love it in theory but it's shockingly busy and expensive... yet I am still going at the weekend. 

There are lots of alternatives though! Winterville is the newest on the scene down in Clapham, everyone I know who has been has said it's glorious so I think I'll give that one a go next year.

Hunt down mulled wine/cider

It's the ultimate warming thing. I look forward to that first glass / mug every year. Guaranteed most pubs will be serving it about now but it's at the Christmas markets where you'll find the best. 

Mulled Cider London

Last year a colleague of mine went to Leicester Square JUST for Mulled Wine, last weekend the European Market in East Finchley swung by to spread Festive Cheer and if you head down to the South Bank, you''ll find your fair share of warming alcohol. Perfect for dark and cold December evenings

Find yourself a Christmas Carol performance

They. Are. Everywhere. St Martin's in the Field do Carols by Candle Light, there are buskers on pretty much every street corner and local musicians performing in shopping hot spots. My Orchestra will be playing in Spitalfield Market this weekend and I'm already dreading the cold but will love every second when I'll be playing. 


At the moment I'm listening to Christmas Jazz surrounded by endless paper chains and fairy lights. After writing this I'm feeling proper Christmassy and am now going to hunt down Pigs in Blankets for lunch

What are your favourite things to do in London at Christmas?


A History of Magic at the British Library with Lumos

Lumos charity

Harry Potter is 20 years old. Can you believe it? Sometimes I can't.

To celebrate, there's an exhibition at the British Library: The History of Magic. The exhibition is all about Harry Potter, the inspiration and the actual history of magic. I was lucky enough to attend a closed event with Lumos after failing to buy tickets with the rest of my friends.

You've probably heard me mention Lumos by now, if not you should take a scroll through and all the other amazing things I have been able to experience as part of my ambassadorship with them! Lumos was founded by J.K. Rowling herself to help children across the world out of institutions and into loving homes.

We say 'institutions' and not 'orphanages' because, sadly, many of them are out for profit alone, treat the children badly and lead to many children out of the streets with very little life experience, education and support. There are millions of children world wide stuck in institutions and it's Lumos' mission to get them out. Every child deserves a home and every child deserves love.

At the History of Magic event, we were privileged enough to hear speeches from Jason Isaacs, the Curator of the Exhibition (oh yes, I do think I would have been VERY good at that job if you didn't need so much experience) and Neil Blair. We learned more about their plans for the future, how much Lumos has achieved so far and the amazing work they have been doing in the past year alone.

This also happened:





Please try your very best not to hate me...

With the exhibition itself, sadly there are no pictures allowed. As much as I desperately wanted to take pictures of everything, I managed to restrain myself somehow.

Without spoiling it too much for you, I can tell you that it consists of everything from Herbology to Defence Against the Dark Arts. Turns out Mandrakes are a real thing, dontcha know AND Nicholas Flamel was a real person.

I'm not sure how long you're supposed to be in there but Leanne and I were in there until 10pm. We kept running around and back to rooms we had been before just in case we had missed something. It's a hands on experience as well as a 'look at these amazing things' exhibition, with technology and games for we muggles to enjoy (Please don't tell Gary I admitted to being a muggle)...


Being one of the last to leave (other than Ezra Miller who was clearly living his best life despite a 5am call time the next morning), you definitely need more than an hour to experience the sheer splendour of the exhibition. Walking into it is just as magical as entering Hogwarts itself, there are scripts and deleted scenes from the book sand movies, J.K. Rowling's own illustrations and many 'real' magical items. As a massive Harry Potter fan, I'm sure you can imagine my joy seeing notes written in J.K. Rowling's own hand.

You should definitely attend the exhibition while it's still around. Tickets are £16 for adults and £8 for children (you can get them here). While you're at it, why note donate to Lumos. Every little helps and 100% of all proceeds go to the programmes themselves and NOT someone else's pocket.

If you fancy a quick chuckle, here's the moment J.K. Rowling retweeted me. Thank you Leanne for capturing such a moment. Yes, I am crying. I have no shame.






*Disclaimer: I was invited to the event for free as an Ambassador for Lumos. However, I constantly work to support Lumos and this has in no way encouraged this blog post. I was not asked to do it, I just did. So there.

Bangarang X Zeal & Heart - Jewellery Collaboration



I bet that there's at least one of you sittig at your desk right now dreaming of your next holiday. Maybe on Pinterest rearranging some of your travel inspo or maybe you were even lucky to get some bargain flights in the Black Friday sale. Either way, we're all always looking for our next break, whether it's staycation or jetting off to somewhere entirely new.

I never thought I'd be a travel person. Sure, I haven't packed my bags and buggered off to some far corner of the world, but I am definitely seeing more of it.

I always thought I'd never be able to afford the travel life, or that I would never have enough holiday at work. It's very recently that I have decided 'fuck it'. I'm going anyway. I'm nearly thirty now and life is far too short.

This is a kind of bravery in my own way. I decided to JUST GO.



JUST GO is a quote from the Bangarang Girls that pretty sums up what we're all about. No matter how down we feel, how stressed, no matter what restrictions or reasons not to... we JUST GO.

Zeal & Heart is an adorable Etsy store where you can get a variety of quote pendants, with their help Bangarang have been able to carry around our own bravery every day to remember that no matter what, we should JUST GO.

The pendant itself is a lot smaller than it looks in this picture, it's so small and delicate I have pretty much lived in mine since it arrived. As I wear it, it makes me think of my favourite people in the world, the obstacles we have crossed and all the adventures in the future to be had.


Our little pendant is also helping to raise money with each purchase for Headway, Headway are a charity for brain trauma and helped Bangarang by Proxy Amy when she sadly passed away after an accident last year. Amy really was the epitome of JUST GO and she lives on in a way through the adventures Captain Charley goes on with us.

If you'd like one of these of your own, just visit the Zeal & Heart Etsy store, the pendant on it's own is £25 and £35 with a chain. They'll make an amazing Christmas present for the adventurer in your life and will help to support the patients and families dealing with brain trauma every day. You'll have to be quick though, only 100 were made so once they're gone, they're gone. I'm number 8!!

Just remember this, if you're ever doubting yourself, thinking you can't do something or go somewhere. Just bloody do it. Live your best life and JUST GO.

What I'm wearing

Coat: Ebay Bargain 
Velvet body: Primark
Brogues: Clarkes ( a year ago..)
Necklace: Obviously Zeal & Heart



*Disclaimer: Bangarang are not profiting from the sales of this necklace in anyway. We're all about small business and raising money for charity

Feeling Sassy with Ellie Salon

Ellie's Salon Putney


I have been trying to write this post for WEEKS. So long, in fact that I'm ready for another hair cut. bloody typical.

People who have known me the longest will know that since I started uni I have had short hair. Pixie Cuts mostly. Like, proper short. One day, I woke up and decided to grow my hair because as much as I don't like change, it is just necessary. This was also news that made Gary VERY happy.

Two years and no haircut later, it was time to sort the barnet out. I have had a fair few bad haircuts, haircuts that have made me cry, so I normally refuse to go anywhere that isn't my usual place. Sadly, I can't afford the £80 it tends to be... fortunately I know a lot of people and they all have recommendations. After previous experience, I wouldn't normally go to an independent hairdresser again but seeing how people like Pink Julep goes to Ellie's Salon at least once a week for the most gorgeous blow dry I have ever seen, it was totally worth a go.

Ellie's Salon is all the way in Putney, and considering I live in East Finchley, it was one hell of a journey, I dragged Gary with me as well. Mostly so I didn't feel a whim of change and get the hair all cut off again!! Despite how raggedy I felt, he likes the long hair.

Everyone at Ellie's was warm and welcoming, so unlike many of the chains where you're just another customer who will be in and out. There was an in depth discussion about how I had used henna on my hair the night before (turned the water green during that AMAZING head message we all love) and how it's made my, what I thought was ratty, hair in really good condition. The benefits of using more natural products than just endless chemicals. All the recommendations on how to make my thin hair look fuller without the product, turns out a diagonal parting is the way forward, has changed my life and just shows that they know what they're doing. There was never a time I felt uncomfortable, I have never been one for the hairdresser small talk, and I found myself nattering away endlessly. Seriously, hats off to them!



After what I can only describe as the best haircut and blow dry I have had in a VERY long time, I left feeling sassy and confident, my previous views on independent salons has definitely changed and it was more than worth the hour and a half journey to get there.



If you're in the South London area, I would 100% recommend Ellie's. I'll be booking my next appointment soon because I want to finally carry on having fabulous hair.







*Disclaimer: I was given the haircut and style for free in exchange for a review BUT if I wasn't happy, I wouldn't be writing about it. Why would I, that's just rude.

Off we pop to Bedfordshire: Getting a good night's sleep

sleeping tips


I am notorious for being crap in the morning. I'm difficult to wake up for a start (Charlie has been known to clap in my face), if you want to have a coherent conversation with me in the mornings then you'll need to wait until I'm at least two coffees in, I have also been known to sleep until 2pm on a weekend.

I have no shame in this.

I am also a nightmare to sleep with. I fidget, a hog the covers and I talk in my sleep. Seriously, I feel so bad for Gary. Poor sod.

Considering all of the above, it's very rare that I will have a bad night sleep these days. And I mean very rare. Sure, I'll struggle to wake up in the morning regardless of what I do because I just love sleep so much. This is mostly because that over the years I have finally nailed down my way of settling in perfectly. Everyone has their own methods and there are several tips out there for getting the best night sleep ever, here are just a few that work for me.

Hold back on the caffeine

Now, if you know me personally, you'll know that I am pretty much Lorelei Gilmore. Milly has even said before that every time she sees me, I have a coffee in my hand. It's true.

via GIPHY

I can't get through my day without coffee but I make a point of not having any after 6pm. Tea, I can get away with but really you shouldn't be doing that either... you know it, I know it. Put the cuppa down.

Magnesium is your friend

I have been taking Magnesium for years to help with period pains (yup, it works. Trust) and after all the research in the world, it turns out it's also great to help you sleep! Who'da thunk it.

Devices down, yo

These days, people spend more time on their phones than they do asleep (averages, obvs) and I am definitely one of those people. I guess you could just blame this on my job but in reality, I'm just addicted to Social Media. Instagram = Life.

Before Gary moved in, I used to perch my laptop on the edge of my bed and watch Netflix. I'm scared of the dark (yup, judge me if you like) and it helped me feel safe and monster free at night. After a couple of scenarios when Gary noticed I actually spoke to the TV in my sleep, we realised that this was part of the reason why I slept poorly. Since then, no more David Attenborough to fall asleep to, maybe one YouTube video for the giggles but that's it. Phones down and lights off.

Breathing patterns work a dream

I don't always need to do this one as I can fall asleep quite quickly but if there's a little niggle at the back of my head (we've all been there) or I have broken my no caffeine rule, breathing certainly helps. I do gown the route of in for seven and out for seven. It helps relax my body and gives me something to think about that isn't 'Oh god, did I send that email'.

An Electric Blanket is the best purchase you will ever make

Yeah, I know that sounds proper old lady but seriously. You will thank me.

Gary isn't the biggest fan of the electric blanket because he's always too hot (hence why it's OK for me to be a duvet hog), but if I'm on my own, I love popping the blanket on for 15 minutes before I get into bed. It makes the bed a nice roasty toasty cocoon and I feel proper cosy when I'm all snuggled up in the streets.

If all else, fails... Harry Potter it is. The ultimate comfort for any problem I'm having.

Right now, I can't stop thinking about my bed and am really looking forward to going home tonight.

What are your best tips for getting a good night's sleep?

Wizarding Wardrobes at Warner Brothers Studio Tour London

Smashleighjayne


Yup. That's right. I went back to the Studio tour. Jealous much? JUST LOOK AT HOW HAPPY WE ALL ARE.

Smashleighjayne


If you follow the Warner Brothers Studio Tour on Instagram, you'll have already had a glimpse at what Wizarding Wardrobes is. It's a chance to go behind the scenes of the wardrobe department. Initial sketches and final designs of some of the best costumes are on display and you are able to learn more about each piece and the inspiration behind them.


Smashleighjayne

back in July (yup, I'm rubbish again), I went to the event launch because clearly I am now best buds with the Studio Tour. Some of the designers themselves were there, including the legend that is Philip Treacy (*fangirls*) who completely sassed Erica (you really need to check out her A Muggle Reacts post, it's amazing) and rather begrudgingly but did it anyway, let me put on a Beauxbatons hat!

Smashleighjayne


Yup. Admit it. You hate me a little bit right now.

Rita Skeeter is one of my favourite characters, I love to hate her SO MUCH. Plus, her outfits through out the movies are just spectacular. From the Acid Green power suit that matches her acid tongue and the Quick Quotes Quill to the dragon inspired costume from teh first task in the Triwizard Tornament. For Rita, a lot of the inspiration came from the style of Vivienne Westwood and you can really see it.

Smashleighjayne

Wizarding Wardrobes is more than just the clothes themselves. We also got to meet the Makeup department, saw someone transformed into Bellatrix Lestrange and even got our own Dark Marks, we really are the coolest.

Smashleighjayne


Yeah, I'm evil now.

Words can't really describe the sheer hilarity of us becoming Horace Slughorn's armchair or running around with a tennis ball.. Dobby... or making Dobby do the time warp in the special effects department. You really couldn't wipe the smiles off our faces for the whole evening.

Smashleighjayne
LEANNE IS A CHAIR
If you also want to experience Wizarding Wardrobes at the Studio Tour, you have until 27th September, so you better get your butts in gear!

Being taken behind the scenes of the look and style of our favourite films truly was magical, but what made it even more so was, as always, being with my favourite nerds. We gave Erica a glimpse into our world and Emma got to visit the tour for the first time. Our whole evening was full of giggles, prosecco and wonder. And I couldn't be happier.


Smashleighjayne


If you'd like to see more Wizarding Wardrobes glee, make sure you check out Emma Inks and here's  Little Miss Katy's vlog for you too. Cue giggles.




*Disclaimer: I was invited to attend the launch of Wizarding Wardrobes by the Studio Tour but I don't really need to tell you that the words are mine, right? I'm such a nerd, it's just a given now.

Festival Survival and lessons learned: 21 vs 28

smashleighjayne
Here's me at my first festival. so young. so very young.

When I went to my first festival, I was rubbish at it. I bought a tent the day before, only took a sleeping bag and nothing to lie on, didn't take any weather appropriate clothes and forgot all the basics like hand sanitiser and loo roll. I spent so much money on food, it's obscene and I spent even more on alcohol. Oops.

I'm now nearly thirty and you'd think by now that I'll have learnt from my previous mistakes, The answer? Have I bugger. I leave tomorrow (at time of writing), I haven't packed a thing and I don't know where to start. I know that once Friday rolls along, I'll be so much more organised and the whole thing will be amazing. I just hope Milly remembers her tent.

I have been going to festivals for a fair few years now so there are definitely at least SOME things I have go better at (clearly not packing) and it really does make me chuckle about how different my experiences have been over the years.

Reading Festival 2013

The Basics at 21

I took NOTHING. It felt like that anyway. I didn't take enough pants for a start and it's only by some divine miracle that I actually remembered a deodorant, srlsy. I had to do a hasty run to the nearest Asda to pick up things like dry shampoo and hand sanitiser. As they had CLEARLY sold out of little stuff (guessing other Festival goers were equally as crap as me) I had to leave with big bottles which then just had to be thrown away as I didn't have space to carry them back!

The basics at 28

Fortunately, Push Doctor have sorted me out with the ultimate Festival Survival kit so I don't need to worry about it. even sun lotion! However, over most recent years I've made sure I have stocked up on travel bottles of all the necessities from superdrug way before hand. Less waste and less money spent. Winning on both fronts!

Sleeping plans at 21

My friend Silvia and I convinced ourselves that a tiny two man tent was all we needed... that meant very little space and a very uncomfortable floor. Sleeping in a tent is cold enough as it is but when there's just a thin piece of plastic and a sleeping bag between you and the ground, you get so much colder. Layering up with jumpers just won't be enough.

We had all of our stuff piled up at our feet so we had to sleep all curled up and woke up every morning with aching backs and necks. Totally don't recommend that nonsense.



Sleeping plans at 28

An air mattress is going to be your best friend. As will be a onesie. I plan on taking a Big Mac onesie with me because I am oh so classy and totally living the brand (#werk) as well as two sleeping bags just in case.

Milly has a 4 man tent so we'll have plenty of space for all our crap too. YAY! SPACE!

Food at 21

The only things I took with me at my first festival was a cereal selection box and super noodles. i had a camp stove for coffee in the mornings because I genuinely couldn't survive without it. This is probably the only sensible thing I did but it was literally just used for coffee. Cue me spending a hideous amount of money on burgers and cheesy chips when I could have actually used the stove to cook those bloody super noodles...

Food at 28

I've become a bit of a foodie over the years but I know I can't expect anything fancy from the middle of a field. As gas stoves are now banned (thanks youths), Milly and I will be collecting a solid fuel stove, a kettle, tins of sketti, bread and basic breakfast stuff that will be easier to cook. And obviously coffee. At least this way we'll be saving a few pennies by having a half decent breakfast. It'll also give us more energy than my standard 21 year old breakfast of pro plus, dry cereal (where do you keep milk!) and coffee. That's the plan anyway.

Basic hygiene at 21

baby wipes. I don't even want to think about it. I am ashamed.

Basic hygiene at 28.

Use the showers. Not only will you feel more comfortable, the other people on the train home will thank you. They do get busy though so I tend to go either at ridiculous O'clock or if one of the opening acts aren't really doing it for me.

Alcohol at 21

Drinking and eating at festivals is where you're going to spend most of your money. Plus there are all the queues and I had to carry my passport with me at all times because I looked (and sometimes still do) like I was 12. Not exactly ideal. Luckily our Festival Friends were better prepared than us and kindly shared their booze with us.

Such a classy chick. Some things never change.
Alcohol at 28

You don't necessarily need it as much as you think you do. Yeah it's nice but that doesn't mean you need to go to the bar every 10 minutes. To make life easier for the young of face, you can get an over 18 wristband and leave your I.D. and valuables in a locker (rather than under your mattress or hidden in the lining of your sleeping bag) and one of the best choices is remembering to take booze with you into the campsite. You can't take it into the arena but you'll definitely thank yourself later.

Money at 21

I had no budget. I used the cash machines that charge you an absolute fortune. I spent so much money on my card without a single thought that I lost count of my spending. Such regret in my life choices. I was broke for the whole of September...

Money at 28

I'll be taking a set amount of cash but I don't want to be oh so very poor in September again. For emergencies, I also have my Monzo Card (if you don't have one, get one) for emergencies which is very handy and can track all my spending. I'm desperately hoping to keep everything to less than £200 but I guess we'll just have to see what happens!

That time Charlie, Distracted and I were more excited about Nine Inch Nails than anything else

Now, obviously everyone's Festival Experience is going to be different, these tips are just based on my own. Push Doctor actually have their own rather nifty Festival Survival Guide that's definitely worth a gander. You may find your own way surviving 4 days in a field and if you do please teach me your ways.

Really, the only thing that matters is that you have a whale of a time. Dance, be silly, sing and giggle until your ribs hurt. You're going to love it.

Reading 2013... I'm not really sure what's happening either



*Disclaimer: This post is in partnership with Push Doctor but all lessons and tales of tragedy are my own. #SorryNotSorry

Adopting with the RSPCA: Giving Dobby the House Cat a home

Adopt a cat RSPCA
Introducing, Dobby the House Cat
A couple of months ago, I got a text from the other half saying he wanted to talk about getting a cat.

It seems that my years of badgering him had finally bloody paid off!

We already knew that we wanted to adopt rather than buy. I've spent too much time watching Dog Rescuers and Kitten Rescuers (where I cry... a lot... and say I'm going to rescue all the animals), so I know that there are so many animals that need a loving home after past experiences. I mean, there's nothing worse than not being wanted and sitting there waiting for someone to take you home one day... So we started browsing the RSPCA website everyday and even set up email alerts.

As we live in a flat, we knew we needed a house cat. We didn't want to just get any cat and keep it in the house because we knew that wouldn't be fair. We did a hideous amount of research and discovered FIV positive cats and learnt that they are generally left behind the longest. This could either be down to how a lot of FIV+ cats are Toms who have their fair share of battle wounds, or a lack of understanding in the difference between FIV and HIV. Either way, our poor little Dobby (previously known as Victor) had been waiting at an animal hospital for nearly two months because no one wanted him. It broke my little heart and from the moment we met him, we knew he needed to come home with us.

Adopt a Cat RSPCA
Just look at those eyes!

We spent what felt like and age looking for Dobby before we knew it was him. Every time I came across a new 'profile' (LIKE CAT TINDER.), I bubbled with excitement. I was picking new names for them and pretty much getting WAY ahead of myself. We were doing this properly though.

Adopting a cat isn't as easy as rocking up to an animal shelter and saying 'I want a cat, please'. The people at the shelter want to ensure that you're going to give any animal you take with you, a loving and safe home. The first thing Gary and I did was pop by the visitor centre in Finchley to arrange our home visit. There were kittens and old boys and all sorts of fluff balls. I could have stared at them all day and desperately wanted to take them all home with me.

A week later, Inspector Nicole from the RSPCA popped by to visit. I had been nervous all week because what if she decided we couldn't have a cat? I wasn't ready for that kind of rejection at all! Luckily, it wasn't as big and scary as I thought it would be. She also didn't just turn up with a cat like in the dream I'd had the night before... All that happened was she had a little chat with us, took a look around the house and then (happy!) started showing us pictures of cats in the area who needed a home. She mentioned Victor, a little Tabby stray who was currently sitting in the Hospital in Holloway after having an abscess removed and some of his teeth out. There was only one picture available on the website so she went to the hospital after seeing us, took a bunch more pictures and emailed them over. We booked in to visit him the next week.

The first meeting

When we finally got to meet him, he hid under the sink, would only emerge for food (despite me literally lying on the floor so I was his level and not big and scary) and basically didn't want to be anywhere near me and Gary. He was battered from his tough life on the mean streets of Hounslow and he needed a home. Despite Gary saying to me that morning that we might not bring him home, we fell in love with his little wonky face and he became ours and he became Dobby the House Cat forever.

For the first two days, Dobby stayed away. He was still unsure of where the hell he was after spending so long at the hospital. He didn't realise that the fancy bed was for him and (even now) he hasn't quite worked out how to use his scratching post. He hid under the bed in the spare room for two days but then he started to creep out a bit more and eventually get comfortable.

Now, he doesn't shut up and clearly couldn't be happier. He miaows all the time, stands up like a meerkat to lick your fingers, nuzzles up against you and has claimed one of our sofas as his own. In short, his a bit of a legend and the actual best boy.

Adopt a cat RSPCA

Adopting Dobby is the best decision ever, even if it has led to my mum asking whether it's 'first cat, then kids' (cue le me cackling away). If you're thinking of getting a little fur baby of your own, I strongly recommend you adopt. There are so many boys and girls who are desperately in need of a forever home.

Live in a flat? That's fine! These little tykes can't go outside. Want a kitten? They're all right here. We chose to adopt through the RSPCA and shall be supporting them even more moving forward. There are lots of other cats charities out there but through the RSPCA, this is some of the support you'll get.

  1. As many meeting with the cat you like, if you're not sure he likes you
  2. Free More Than pet insurance for the first 6 weeks (if you renew with them, they also make a donation to the RSPCA)
  3. Discounted Pet care plan for only £10 per month to cover all the necessities like additional vaccines 
  4. Check up with the RSPCA after the first 6 weeks to see how you're both getting along
  5. Support at the other end of the phone whenever you need it
  6. All cats you adopt are micro chipped, vaccinated and neutered/spayed
  7. A warm bubble in your heart knowing you've helped someone else find happiness

Now, just for the Lols, here's a bunch of things we have learnt about Dobby the House Cat since bringing him home:

  1. He like standing up like a meerkat. It's not very helpful when you're trying to put his food down
  2. He likes belly rubs, apparently this is weird for a cat
  3. He's missing lots of teeth so he has a wonky mouth and dribbles a little bit during chin scratches
  4. He doesn't know how to use a scratching post
  5. He's not fussed about boxes (weirdo)
  6. He has the loudest purr known to man...
  7. ... and the loudest miaow
  8. Who gives a crap about beds when you have a perfectly good sofa to malt on
  9. He desperately wants to try pizza (but is SO not allowed)
  10. He's the best and most handsome boy in the world
Don't you just desperately want a happy face like this in your life?


See more happy and fluffy cats using #MoreThanCat on Twitter or you could click right here

Disclaimer: This post is in partnership with the RSPCA and More Than but I was going to tell you all about Dobby anyway. All experiences in the post are my own and I genuinely like both companies. So there.

What the hell is going on in my head?


Over the years I have battled with my own Mental Health problems and have come out shining at the other end regardless of the hard work it took to get there. I may have been exhausted but there was a massive smile on my face.

Over the past year or so I have been experiencing something different and I have mostly kept it to myself. After beating one thing, I didn't want to admit that something else was wrong. I'm not really sure what it is, I have a rough idea but I could be entirely wrong.

I have tried really hard to not let it show. I smile as much as I can and have been known to be 'annoyingly positive' (direct quote from a former employee). Like wearing a mask.


There are a couple of things that could have triggered this, the past few years really have had their ups and downs. I've been made redundant twice, been diagnosed with epilepsy and I lost one of the most inspirational women in my life, my Nanna. In short, it's been pretty shit (except for some things) and over the past 12 months it has been especially hard to cope.

What exactly is happening, though?

Sometimes I can't sleep and sometimes I struggle to breathe. I shove headphones on so I don't have to talk to people and sometimes my whole body feels heavy.

The other week, I wrote about a drop in my body confidence recently, and that's certainly had an effect on how I feel as I go about my day to day. I've found myself wearing more baggy clothes and where I can't, cardigans are my saviour. I'm always worried that there will be a nasty glance or nasty comment and it's been a while since I have felt confident in my own skin.


I have proper 'imposter syndrome', I've not long started a new job and have convinced myself (pretty much every morning) that they're not going to want to keep me. I know it's stupid but my brain tells me 'you're not good enough', 'you're terrible at this job', 'you're way out of your depth'. I absolutely adore my job so it does put a dampener on things every morning and I find myself on the edge of my seat frequently.

I'm reaching a milestone in my relationship that I have never reached before. It's always been at this point when they leave... As I approach that milestone I am constantly questioning every move I make, unintentionally causing arguments because , in my head, he's going to leave anyway.

The rational part of my brain knows this is stupid. It knows the whole thing is stupid but there is still that little whisper and I end up doubting myself on all levels and wish people just couldn't see me.

Maybe it's not anxiety, i don't really know. Maybe there's something else happening up there that I don't really understand but I'm sure I'll work it out.