Creating Christmas Traditions

Creating Christmas Traditions

Christmas Decorations

When I was a kid, there were a load of little things that just made Christmas. From watching Miracle on 34th Street with my mum to Christmas morning when my parents would go down stairs and whisper to us 'has he been??' before we opened the living room door.

As an adult, you reach the point where you have to start making your own traditions. There will be times when you don't see your whole family every year. Making your own traditions ensures that Christmas stays special and magical, rather than just another day of the year (but with presents...).

We have only just started creating our own but I'm already loving every second. This Christmas is going to be the hardest ever since I lost my Nanna so having our own little things has helped to keep me grounded. The little things really do make a difference.

A new decoration every year

This is most definitely a new one. It started a couple of years ago and I have tried to get a new one from each place. Last year my gorgeous Ted Baker one fell off the second I popped it on the tree which was traumatic. It had a French Bulldog on it. This year I went for something a little less fragile from Liberty and think I'll be getting my new decorations from there from now on. Their Christmas shop is magical.

Liberty Christmas shop decorations

It made me think of Harry Potter so I obviously had to have it.

Putting the tree up on the 1st December

Generally, this is a little too early for me but Gary (bless him) gets so excited. He also makes a very valid point where, at the moment, we always go to see our family in Scotland for Christmas so by putting our tree up earlier, we get to enjoy it for longer. When we put up our Christmas tree, I put on Christmas pyjamas and our Christmas music playlist. We will inevitably bicker over the ratio of glittery to shiny baubles and whether or not we'll have tinsel this year then we'll settle down with dinner, a Christmas movie and a cuddle. It's definitely one of my favourite days of the year.

Ted Baker Christmas Decoration
I still miss this beautiful thing...

Baking Queen

I say this is a tradition, annoyingly with my job, I haven't had the chance to do any this year so will be making up for it for Secret Janta with the Bangarang Girls in January. I normally make gingerbread men that we can all decorate as well as ALL the mince pies (and Jam Tarts for me).

Tacky Christmas Jumpers

As of the 1st of December, I can officially start wearing hideous jumpers. I know that pretty much everyone does this but I try to get a new one every year. Right now I'm wearing a Frozen one I got off eBay for a grand total of £12 and yesterday I wore the best jumper ever... it says 'Merry Christmas Ya Filthy Muggle' on it. I win the best Christmas jumper award for this one alone.

My Advent Calendar

My advent calendar is a giant stocking with pockets that Gary fills every year. A little hand made delight that this year is mostly filled with Lindor truffles and Kinder snowmen. I'm a terrible girlfriend this year and didn't get him one. I've bee trying to get him a Lego one (last year it was Lego Star Wars) but my God are they hard to get hold of. That and I'm RUBBISH. Sorry, Gary xx

These are just a couple of the things I have noticed we do every Christmas and I'm sure we'll make a load more of our own traditions over the years. I will look forward to it properly next year, I just need to make it through this one first.

Do you have any Christmas traditions? 

What I wore to the House of Lords

What I wore to the House of Lords

Lumos Charity

I love any excuse to dress up really. I'm one of those people who still puts on fancy clothes to go to the theatre. Why not, eh?

Really, you don't get a better excuse to dress up than an oh so very casual invite to the House of Lords. That's right, the dudes with the fancy wigs.

The reason I was at such a fancy place is that earlier on in the year I was made an ambassador of J.K. Rowling's charity Lumos. Through Lumos I have been able to see the Cursed Child, meet their higher profile ambassadors such as Evanna Lynch and Warwick Davis, plan how I am going to raise further money and awareness and, most importantly, learn more about the work Lumos are doing in Moldova, Haiti in beyond. You can find out so much more about Lumos in my charity Gala post  right here.

I didn't want to go too overboard with my outfit, but still wanted to feel dressed up. What with the rush to sort everything out before work started, I decided to go with the exact same thing I wore to my last Orchestra performance of the year at the weekend. A mixture of cheap as cheeps and slightly more expensive but paid for with a voucher...

A dress/skirt combo for extra layers and something a little smarter than your standard LBD, The sparkly top bit is actually a woollen jumper dress from Primark that cost me a grand total of £8, the skirt itself is an Oasis number that I traipsed across what felt like the whole of London to find. Srsly.

The two together give extra swish and the ability to hide my drunken Henna errors... (work Christmas party drinks were had and poor decisions were made)

I'm SO happy with the combo in general. I felt so fancy but also comfortable. No time for choosing between the two.

My hair is the longest it has been in over ten years so I'm trying to learn how to do things with it. I mostly just know how to twist and plait (currently rocking milk maid plaits like a BOSS. I feel like Heidi) but at least I'm trying. The hair didn't work out the way I wanted it but the Gryffindor makes it work... right?

Yes, I'm mixing gold and silver which isn't really a thing but meh.

This is my new Lumos charm bracelet Gary got me for my birthday. The proceeds for each one go directly to the charity so being at one of their event was the perfect opportunity to show it off with pride. I do enjoy how you can add your House charm to it. Can you tell I'm a Gryffindor????

I can smarten up quite well I think!

How do you wear all black?

Reasons 2016 DIDN'T suck

Reasons 2016 DIDN'T suck

2016 really did suck as a whole. Everyone knows it. I only know of one person who had a corker of a 2016 (looking at you Katie Brennan) but I'm sick and tired of being miserable about this year. Just absolutely done with it. 

Instead, here's a bunch of things that have made me happy and have made this year seem less like torture.

I started a new job

A new job I love, in fact. Sure, it's really busy and is slowly killing me but I work with a great bunch of people, work on interesting stuff and for one of the biggest companies in the world. I think they might be stuck with me for a while, 

I also got to meet Little Mix (sassy hand lady emoji) 

Everything Harry Potter

I don't really need to mention it, I've been nattering on about it for so long! But it was awesome. I went to the midnight release of the script for the Cursed Child, saw the play twice, went to the Warner Brothers Studio Tour, became a Lumos ambassador and went to Hogwarts in the snow. All the winning.

Christmas Queens, I saw Michelle Visage at last

Seriously though, this woman is amazing and an idol of mine. I finally ha the chance to see her perform with the Christmas Queens (Oh Alaska, how I love you so) and had the best night I have had in a long time. I went with Erica and Charlie and I haven't giggled and cackled that much in such a long time.

My friends

Speaking of Charlie and Erica, after the bad time I have had it has just made me realise even more just how lucky I am to have the friends I have. no matter what is going on they are there for a bitch, a cuddle, a good rant.... whatever. They are the world's best cheerleaders and the ultimate tribe anyone can have, Thank you Bangarang.

Royal Ascot

YES! Pretty horses and pretty dresses. Yes to wine and going 'out out' afterwards. Ascot is definitely going to become a new yearly occurrence. Thank you very much to Appletiser for sending me.

My cousin moved to London

Yup, another of the clan has joined me in the big smoke. She's yet to experience much of it because she's always bloody working but I know she's always there for a cup of tea and a natter. Such happy.


Soppy shout out to Gary. Without him being the cynical rock he is (that's nice, I promise), I would not have survived this year. Thanks boy. x 

What's made your 2016?

What it's really like to work the red carpet

What it's really like to work the red carpet

Red carpet experience

Ah, the red carpet. Whether it's for movie premiers, concerts or something else the Daily Mail tends to cover... they always seem like the height of glamour.

At least that's what we see.

I recently had the privileged to work a red carpet for my job. I have done one before but it was such a long time ago, I forgot what it was like.

If ever you're going to do a red carpet, whether you're just standing at the edge of a movie premier or are actually one of the lucky sods who gets to stand in the press pit, here are a couple of things I have learned from my weekend on a media run.

It's cold

We were inside but as we were at the O2, which is essentially a tent, it was bloody freezing! There were little heaters scattered around but they didn't really do much except for burn your ankles.

So much standing

This one's pretty obvious really, but I have never been more grateful for my Clark's brogues before in my life. They really made the whole thing more comfortable than it would have been. How people can do this in heels, I have no idea.

You won't get to see everyone you want

Not everyone is going to want to answer questions, some might not even want to have their pictures taken but don't be disheartened. They're people too, remember!

It's slow

There's a lot of waiting around really. Sometimes timings get pushed back so you're just hanging around for a bit and sometimes there's just a big gap between the stars. That doesn't mean it's not fun, it's just a bit slower than before.

Other people can be annoying / rude

If you don't get there fast enough, other people will take up as much space as possible leaving you crammed into a tiny little corner. They can also be rude to you or about you but I just chose to ignore the girl who was commenting on my blanket scarf... (yeah, I heard you but at least I was slightly warmer than you were).

Other people can also be lovely

We were huddled up next to a pair of rather lovely chaps who kept offering us sweets and even offered us beer during one of the breaks.

You won't be able to resist the urge to have an 'I'm famous' shot

I mean, come on. You're on the red carpet and that well lit wall is just there ready for some snaps. Take your moment and strike a pose. Maybe look less awkward than I did but whatever.

red carpet experience

I pull SUCH awkward faces. I really need to work on that.

You will love it

Despite all of the gripes and having to stamp your feet to stop your toes falling off from the cold, you will love every second. It's a new experience, you get to chat to some wonderful people and, let's face it, it's not exactly something that people to EVERY day.

Have you ever been on the red carpet?

A weekend in the New Forest

A weekend in the New Forest

Burley New Forest
This was our 'garden'

When I started writing this, I was sitting on a train. Its was 6:30 am on a Monday and the sun hadn't come up yet. My feet were soaking wet from the rain, I was absolutely shattered and the idea of going back to London was slightly nightmareish. Mostly because of the adulting it requires.

I had just spent the weekend in the New Forest with my boyfriend and our friend and the post 'holiday' blues have properly kicked in the very second I stepped onto the train. I ended up braving the stupid O'Clock train just so I could stay an extra night. I really didn't want to leave.

When you live in London, sometimes you really do just need to get away for a bit. It's probably the same anywhere but London is so loud, crowded and always busy! It's a fast moving lifestyle so sometimes you just need a quiet place to sit and breathe. 2016 has been so horrid that a trip to the New Forest is definitely what I needed.

We arrived in darkness under a sky of the brightest stars I had seen in a long time. You really don't realise how much of a difference the light pollution has until you go to the middle of nowhere. The 'cottage' (actually a God damn mansion) was down a lane with no street lamps and surrounded by trees on either side. Thankfully we went there in a taxi otherwise we may not have found the bloody place!

Burley New Forest
Said lane during the day
I have seen FAR too many horror films so the idea of staying in a cottage, in the middle of nowhere with no street lights was terrifying to say the least. Thankfully I was with too big strong boys. No way I would have been able to stay there by myself.

Burley New Forest

The 'cottage' came with a pool table for the boys (apparently the selling point), a kitchen that was my idea of heaven (so much Le Creuset) and I discovered that I could keep myself entertained with a piano too! I was beyond happy. I didn't have any sheet music but thank god for technology.

Or house instructions also said that deer roamed the area and if we were to see any in the garden, we would have to chase the, away. I didn't see any deer but we did find this:

Burley New Forest

Yes, those are my pyjamas.

We had absolutely no plans whatsoever for our weekend away. On both days we ended up exploring the small village, drinking many a pint and stuffing our faces.

Burley New Forest

Burley is such a tranquil place with horses just casually roaming around. There were also loads (well, three) witchcraft shops! I obviously had to Google why this was a thing here and apparently it's because the roots of Modern Wicca can be traced back to here. Pretty cool really.

Burley New Forest

Burley New Forest

Burley New Forest

While we were there, I honestly felt the most relaxed I had been in a very long time, even though I had to work from home on the Saturday. It was all so peaceful and slow and SO QUIET. No constant traffic and sirens, no rushing around. I honestly did not want to leave and I really want to go back.

I guess I'll be dreaming of village/forest life for a while. There's honestly nothing better than just chilling out, pint in hand, next to an open fire and pretty much just forgetting about the rest of the world.

Burley New Forest

Have you ever visited the New Forest?

Trainspotting Live Review

Trainspotting Live Review

Trainspotting Live The Vaults London

One of the best things to come out of the 90s was Trainspotting.Some of you may think that's a bold statement but it really is. From page to screen.

I get that something like Trainspotting isn't for everyone so it has remained a cult classic. It's raw direction and 'colourful' script has made it one of my favourite films of all time. So much so, I wrote part of my dissertation on it at Uni! So glad I did an interesting degree.

Trainspotting Live first appeared at Edinburgh Fringe and has also done performances in the likes of the King's Head Theatre in London. I missed it this time around so I had to get tickets to see it at the Vaults when Charlie sent me a text in big capital letters saying WE DO THIS, YES? The Vaults is quickly becoming one of my favourite venues in London. I've seen so many things there now, most recently Ghostbumps Alive which was also awesome.

Trainspotting Live The Vaults London
My 'ticket' was a glowstick wristband!

Trainspotting Live is an immersive experience that starts in the heart of a 90s rave. There's many a strobe light so I had to keep my face covered for a good 10 minutes (#EpilepsyProblems). Complete with glowsticks, whistles and loud music, you really felt like you were a part of a drug-fueled party is some abandoned warehouse somewhere.

The acting is amazing, Gavin Ross joked on his Twitter feed that he will always be Renton. He played Ewan McGregor's infamous drug addict on stage with the original performance at the fringe and he is just outstanding.

The whole thing is brutal from the very beginning, but in a good way. I'm glad they didn't have 'The Baby' though. I don't think I would have been able to handle that. I laughed in my seat when chracters climbed into the crowd and, at points, even sat on people. The highlight though was when I saw people leave during the situation with 'The Worst Toilet In Scotland'. To be honest, they probably hadn't seen Trainspotting before!

To be honest, the drug taking-ness freaked me out a little, but that's only because it looked so real from where I was sitting. That scene with Tommy (no spoilers here, watch it if you need to know) was so full of emotion that it gave me shivers. It was just brilliant, really.

I strongly urge you to see it as you only have another 6 weeks to do so. Although, one word of advice would be to sit on the left handside so you're away from the toilet!

Reasons I am looking forward to 2017

Reasons I am looking forward to 2017

2016 really has been a shitter, hasn't it? That's just putting it mildly as well! It seems like whenever we thought things couldn't get worse, the universe decided to slap us in the face and scream 'don't test me, bitch' before doing something else equally as awful.

We've had Bowie, Brexit, Trump and a series of other shit storms, but I refuse to believe that this horror will continue.

I have decided that 2017 is going to be awesome. At least, I hope it will be.

There are so many things that have already been planned to make me forget about the disaster of 2016. So many new experiences to enjoy and loads of fun to be had. I'm actually looking forward to something for what feels like the first time in a long time (excluding all of the Harry Potter stuff... obviously). I honestly CANNOT WAIT.

Not sure what you have planned for next year, but here's a couple of awesome things coming my way.

Bangarang do Bucharest

The joys of our group chat on Whatsapp is that you never know what's going to happen. One of the most random of random things to come as a result of ours is that after nattering away about Black Friday Sales, a bunch of us booked flights to Bucharest. It's been YEARS, like nine years or something stupid, that I have had a girls weekend away and net year I get to have one with some of the best girls on the planet.

Some of the Bangarang Girls at our Christmas party last year

Dublin with the boy

For Gary's birthday this year, I booked flights to Dublin. I'm yet to plan anything properly, including sorting out the accommodation, but we really are going to have the best time. I have always wanted to go to Dublin, mostly for the Guinness Brewery, and already I have a ridiculously long list of recommendations from friends.

I think I should get some major girlfriend points for this.

AFI and Deftones at Alexandra Palace

This is pretty much all my teenage dreams come true. I have loved AFI since I was about 14 and it was a sheer stroke of magical-ness when we found out they would be the special guests for the Deftones in May. When I found out, I had to call Charlie immediately and interrupt her watching Planet Earth have my first mini freak-out. I haven't see AFI since their last tour in 2009 so to say that I'm excited would be such an understatement it's unreal.

Oh, Davey Havoc.


This one is still a maybe but one of Gary's friends is getting married next year and the party will be in Cancun for Day of the Dead. It'll also be my 29th Birthday. Starting the last year of my twenties lying on a beach with a good book would just be the dream.

Budapest with Charlie

Spotting a bit of a theme really when it comes to this list! It's all plane hopping really! Charlie has invited me to come with her on an adventure to Budapest, it knocks another one off her '30 countries before 30' list and it means I get a whole weekend with her to myself. We shall eat, drink and be merry.

What are you looking forward to next year?

Warner Brothers Studio Tour London (Part Two) - Hogwarts in the Snow

Warner Brothers Studio Tour London (Part Two) - Hogwarts in the Snow

Warner Brother's Studio Tour London

It's not everyday you get to go to Hogwarts and casually sip prosecco in the Great Hall, is it? So when I was invited to go to Hogwarts in the Snow at the Warner Brothers Studio Tour, I said 'yes' without even needing to think. I mean, it's Hogwarts.

Yes, I know I have already been there this year, but that's not the point. This time there was snow and it's every Potterhead's Christmas wish to be at Hogwarts for Christmas.

Donned in our scarves and other Harry Potter attire, it turned out that we had one from every house! I was there to represent Gryffindor while Charlie and Leanne were our Ravenclaws, Katy was Hufflepuff and Charlie's sister Becky was a Slytherin in disguise.

The Great Hall was as awe-inspiring as ever, made even better by the supply of food and booze and Christmassy spirit everywhere. I have decided that I desperately need Harry Potter themed crackers this year.

Warner Brother's Studio Tour London

Warner Brother's Studio Tour London

The famous Christmas feast was laid out for display, all handcrafted out of resin and ridiculpusly realistic looking. The best part was the Christmas puddings that were actually flaming!


When we walked through to the art, props and sets I noticed some things had moved around that was a little disorientating but I was still absolutely amazed with everything. Especially the 'ice sculpture' from the Yule Ball in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. It just looks so cool!

Warner Brother's Studio Tour London

This time, we had the joys of doing something I have never done before. GET SILLY PICTURES TAKEN!

Just look at my 'I can't act' faces! It was so ridiculous but so much fun. I got to wear ACTUAL Gryffindor robes and Katy got to be a full blown Hufflepuff. We were beside ourselves with giggles on the Hogwarts Express and seeing Leanne's reaction to seeing the Hogwarts Express for the first time was just heart warming.

Skipping the butterbeer (I actually hate it, please don't kill me), we ran outside where we squaled like excited fangirls when snow started blowing out of the top of the Knightbus. I danced in the snow in Godrics Hollow. Could I have BEEN any happier? I also got the chance to piss of the Dursleys. Who wouldn't want that?

Who even is this youth loitering and DRINKING in Privet Drive? What is the world coming to?

You're probably getting sick and tired of photos of Hogwarts, especially if you follow me on Instagram! But... COME ON. Seeing it in the snow is incredible. It kind of looks like the most amazing gingerbread house. Kinda.

Warner Brothers Studio Tour London

Warner Brothers Studio Tour London

Warner Brothers Studio Tour London

Don't you just wish it was real? And yes, I cried again but no, I am STILL not ashamed.

Laden with bags, a new Ravenclaw scarf for my cousin and filled with loads of new happy memories, we made our way home and reality had to be a thing again.

Hogwarts is my home and seeing it in the snow really was one off the bucket list. I can't wait to go back to the studio and relive it all over again.

Have you ever seen Hogwarts in the snow?

*Disclaimer: I was invited to attend this event for free but you all know I LOVE Harry Potter and I would have been a right idiot if I turned it down. 

A Year of Firsts

A Year of Firsts

Earlier on this year I lost one of the best women in the world. After a battle with cancer my Nanna passed away in July.

I made the journey to Scotland to see her while she was ill in hospital, but I arrived a little too late. She passed away unexpectedly in the early hours of my first full day in Scotland and I didn't get to see her.

She was the only one who knew it was coming.

There are lots of way people deal with grief. It's something I have never had to process before so It's likely I have been through them all at different stages. I have screamed, I have cried until I hurt and I locked myself away. I Haven't exactly broadcast this information and is part of the reason I have hardly blogged this year. I didn't want to pretend like my life was all happy go lucky when in reality, it really wasn't. I pretty much avoided the internet. Even as I'm writing, I don't really know where this post is going, I just know that finally putting words out there is good. Accepting the fact that I'm really not OK is part of a new process I'm trying. I just hope the words make sense and aren't too much of a ramble.

I think the main focus is not a 'how to deal with loss' or anything like that, everyone always has their own experiences and techniques, I guess it's more of an overview of what is happening, what has happened and what is still to come. My mum put it so beautifully and told me that we are essentially having 'A Year of Firsts' - from the first day without her to the first anniversary.

Over the past few months. some of my 'firsts' have come and gone but there are so many more to come and I imagine they will be the worst.

Some firsts for you:

The First Day

The day my Nanna passed away was a series of emotions and also partly a void. Pretty much every negative emotion happened in one day.

I cried so much I wore myself out. I was furious with myself for not going up sooner.  I regret that the last time I spoke to her I told a lie (well, a white lie: She didn't know I was coming to see her and when she over heard my Grampy on the phone telling me not to tell her she obviously asked what was going on. I said 'nothing'. I lied).

Most of all, I hated how she was taken away.

How rude of the God damn universe.

Fuck you, 2016.

The First Time I Saw my Grampy Cry

Yeah. That was a thing and it killed me.

When we saw Grampy for the first time since we heard the news, he said 'sorry' as though he hadn't done enough. I helped him put my Nanna's clothes away (she would have told him off if he hadn't kept everything tidy). He started crying and called himself a 'silly sausage'.

Grampy's aren't supposed to cry. They're there to make you life, read you stories, kiss it and make it better when you've fallen over. They're the strong ones in a big scary world. Like the BFG. Just not on that day.

First Funeral

Interesting fact of the day, I had never been to a funeral before until this year when a friends passed in January (reiterating 'fuck you 2016' here). This time it was different. I was part of the family. I was in the procession in the Grandchildren car driving slowly behind my Nanna, people stood to let us pass, people cuddled us and said 'sorry for your loss' so much I couldn't stand to hear the words any more.

I hated every part of it. We tried to make things better by sharing nice stories and telling bad jokes. But it still felt like I was in a weird wormhole of sadness. It sucked. And I got mascara everywhere.

First Day Back at Work

I didn't really give myself enough time to grieve. This is probably why it's taken me so long to process it all. While I was in Scotland, I was still working until the day of the funeral. When I got back to England, I went straight back into the office the next day. I locked myself in the toilet and cried for a good twenty minutes. I had such a puffy face.

First Night Alone

I don't normally have any nights alone, when we were in Scotland I knew that my mum was in the next room and I love with my boyfriend so we're very rarely apart. My first night properly alone came on a day where Gary had gone to stay with a friend and I can guarantee that the nights are the worst. I didn't sleep at all.

The morning Nanna passed away, I was woken up by my mum screaming and crying. That night I was alone for myself for the first time, I couldn't get that noise out of my head.

First Text Message

Not everyone does this one but whenever I was texting my Nanna or my Grampy, I'd always copy the other one in. That way I knew that at least one of them would see it and get back to me. I can't remember what I was texting my Grampy about but I went to copy my Nanna in automatically and it was a shock to the system when I realised I didn't have to do that anymore.

First Birthday

Every year on my birthday my Nanna calls me and sings 'Happy birthday to you' down the phone. My Nanna also always wrote the birthday cards. This year my card was written by my Grampy but still said 'love Nanna and Grampy' just in handwriting I don't see that often. Cue breakdown.

Their First Birthday

It's this weekend. I'm just thanking my lucky stars that I have to work so I at least have a distraction. I have a card at home I haven't written in.

First Christmas

This is possibly the first year in FOREVER where I am not excited about Christmas. Not even in the slightest. It's December and I have barely started Christmas shopping. I'm still adjusting to the idea that there's one less present to buy,

My Nanna loved Christmas, when I came a long a rule was implemented where we weren't allowed to talk about Christmas until AFTER my birthday,

I'm really not looking forward to t, I kind of wish I could skip it.

First Anniversary

Maybe on the 23rd July 2017, things will have started to heal. I don't know yet. No one knows yet. It could be wonderful. It could be the saddest day ever,

Everyone has different firsts and every one takes their time to 'get over it' (even though you never really get over it...), I don't even know whether I'm taking too long. All I know is that it hurts less every day. Maybe one day the hole n the pit of my stomach will vanish and I'll be able to watch the Phantom of the Opera without crying. That will be a new first. There will be lots of new firsts to come and I'm sure some of them will be amazing. I just need to get past the shit ones first!