Sunday 14 September 2014

Hot Topic Wishlist

One website that I love but have never actually bought anything from is Hot Topic. They have the coolest alternative dresses and awesome band merch and pop culture treats but because all of their shops are situated anywhere but the UK and their online shipping costs are often a bit too high for me to afford, I never get round to buying anything. Recently they had a 50% off international shipping offer but unluckily for me, my student loan hasn't graced my bank account just yet, so unfortunately I couldn't take advantage of this mega offer. I was hoping that the offer would still be in affect when I get my loan later on this week, but I'm pretty sure it's ended already. Devastating.

However, I made a little wishlist of things that I love from Hot Topic at the moment, and things that I would totally have purchased if my funds weren't so low right now. If you're a sucker for all things pop culture and love alternative pretty dresses and such, I'd recommend Hot Topic. And those of you in the US and elsewhere with Hot Topic stores, I envy you so much!

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9

Monday 8 September 2014

The big debate - 'Should I go to university or not?'

Although September has creeped upon us already and many of you will already have made such decisions, I've seen a lot of videos/posts about going to university. Many of these have been highlighting reasons against university, rather than for.

Now as a disclaimer, I fully understand and state that every single person is different and what works for one might not work for another, and many things have to be taken into account. But for me, university was a mega experience, and like many others who have taken to blogs or videos to explain their reasons and experiences with regards to not going to university, I thought I'd do the same, only in favour of furthering studies.

For me the decision was never there to be made. I didn't have to ask myself if I wanted to go to university, I kind of just knew I would. I'm extremely academically minded and I've always loved learning and bettering my education. However, when I applied for university, it became apparent that I was going to need a lot of money to pull it off and that meant I was faced with problems. Obviously loans are available and I had no problems with that, but it was upfront costs with accommodation that proved to be an issue. My family have never been well off, and don't have disposable income, and therefore I didn't want to ask them for help because I knew the chances would be slim to none. My grandma and grandad were my biggest bets if I needed financial help and I knew they would support me if I needed it, but I didn't want to ask that of them. So I made the decision to defer my entry for a year. It was a decision I made quite late on in the application process, I think I actually waited for my results before I truly decided. My deferred entry was approved and I set out looking for employment in order to raise some funds. When I broke this news to my dad, he was far from pleased as he wanted me to go to university and thought that I wouldn't end up going the following year because I'd get too used to having my own income and would change my mind. I knew that would never happen and so went ahead with it anyway. I had a number of jobs throughout that year, and also spent a lot of time jobless, which sucked. Both of these experiences just made me want to go to university even more.

When the time came to go to university a year later, I was so excited. The prospect of living on my own and meeting new people was so appealling to me, that I just couldn't wait. When I first got to uni, I was a little lonely. I talked to the people in my flat but it took a good week, before I got to know friends that I really gelled with. Those friends stayed with me for the whole of my university experience and are now my best friends in the whole world, because we became so close during the three years of our degrees. In terms of studying, I did enjoy my course. I studied Media and Popular Culture. Cue the criticism, but I've heard it all before. "That's a pointless course, a soft-option, something that the thick students study, you'll never get a job" I didn't care, I was passionate about my subject and went for it. At times the course was a little badly organised and very stressful, but overall, I enjoyed it. I learnt about the history of the media, the effects it has on consumers, I watched a whole timeline of films and analysed them accordingly, learnt to write in a journalistic manner, learnt a tiny bit about politics, and a whole host of other modules and areas. Three years went extremely quickly and I recently graduated and am now going on to study a further PGCE course. For me, university was my best option and I am so, so glad I did it.

Going to university will:

- Get you a good qualification if you work hard and do your best. A degree shows determination, commitment, and responsibility and can prove useful no matter what your prospective career might be.

- Scare you to death because of the debt - but there's really no need. The debt a student gathers during university can be daunting but it really needn't be, as there are conditions to your repayment so that they are manageable and not crippling.

- Build your confidence and social skills. Going to university forces you to talk to people, present to people and often socialise with people and contacts outside of your peer group. This is something I struggled with on and off during my uni experience, the thought of approaching people and being confident scared me to my wits end and if I'm being honest still does. But during my university life, I've had no choice but to man up and get on with it, or my grades would suffer as a result, I can honestly say that uni has helped me build confidence and given me the balls to put my point across and speak to those I wouldn't normally. I'll still struggle with this, undoubtedly, but uni gave me the realisation that sometimes, you have to do things you're not comfortable with, and because of that, I get on with things regardless of my apprehension. If I hadn't had these experiences, I reckon I would still be very introverted and have little to no self-confidence.

- As above, university gives you the opportunity to meet some fascinating people. It gave me some amazing friends that I never would've met without the university experience and it also forced me to meet some valuable industry contacts through my studies.

- Give you some unbelievable opportunities. Obviously I am still working towards my chosen career path but I have friends who have taken on work placements during their university experience and have been given some amazing opportunities and responsibilities through these.

- Give you a sense of independence. Or at least it will if you let it. I would like to think I am extremely independent due to my three years at university. It forces you into doing 'adult' things such as washing, cleaning, budgeting, etc. Albeit some of those responsibilities often lag a bit at times, but it is a great way to build your independence, if you really stick at it and don't rely too much on your parents doing your washing every weekend and pre-cooking your meals.

- Make memories that will last a lifetime. Some of the antics you will get up to at university will be hilarious, embarrassing and at times humiliating, but they make for great stories and cherished memories at the end. Where else would you get away with pushing your friend half way to the local club in a supermarket trolley or shoving chicken nuggets in a parking meter because McDonald's didn't give you any chips?

- Give you good prospects if you're willing to fight and chase them. I have to be honest, I haven't been great at this, I've often sat back and waited for things to happen, rather than being ballsy and grabbing things with both hands and running. But I'm fully aware that the most successful students from my year group have been the ones who were focused, knew what they wanted and gone at it in a balls out manner. So one piece of advice I would give to those going to university, would be to put yourself out there at every given opportunity, decide what you want and go for it. I wouldn't change anything about my own experiences other than I would do this much more if I had the chance.

So there you have a few pointers if you are making this decision very last minute or extremely early for next year. You'll find a lot of success stories from people who haven't gone to university but I rarely see anyone giving university the thumbs up. All I will say is, if you go, go for yourself, do what you think is right, and if you choose uni, embrace everything 100%. Except drugs, don't embrace drugs.

Leeds Festival 2014

Like many people of my age group, I am definitely no stranger to music festivals.

I have always been heavily into music of all genres and I love having my own little bucket list of bands and artists that I can tick off when I've experienced one of their live shows. So for me, music festivals are great.

I'd like to say I'm a fairly experienced festival-goer, as I have been to Leeds Festival twice (2009 and 2010) and Download Festival once (2012) before. However, unlike most festival-goers, I don't get incredibly inebriated with drinks and drugs whilst there. I'm by no means tea-total, I often indulge in a bottle of wine or something a bit stronger when I am in the mood for it and I do drink at festivals, but the thought of opening up a can of warm cider at 10AM is a sickening prospect for me personally and I have never done any drug in my life, so I never go crazy. I also don't judge anyone who does either of these, especially not at a festival, where let's be honest, it is kind of expected.

For me, festivals are all about the music. Seeing my favourite bands and discovering new ones, is something I really enjoy, and that is also one of the reasons that I never go too crazy, because I want to be able to remember seeing them all and be able to recall these experiences for years to come.

So introduction and disclaimer out of the way, I'll get down to the day-to-day running of who I saw and what happened. This could be a long one!


On Wednesday morning, Jade and I woke up, had one of her mum's delightful bacon sandwiches and beautiful cuppas and slowly but surely after catching up with the latest episode of Geordie Shore got showered, dressed, packed up and ready for our trek to Leeds. Jade's family spent the morning looking at our pile of stuff and looking back at us as if to say "you are taking far too much" but we were adamant that we needed it all and didn't actually have that much, in comparison to what other people would be taking. Crikey o' Reilly we couldn't have been more wrong.

We then embarked on the long trek through to Leeds, driven by Jade's mum and accompanied by her sister, while we both napped in the back. After about an hour, we arrived at Bramham Park, where we then had the mammoth task of strapping all our stuff to our backs and struggling up to our chosen campsite whilst moaning and huffing and puffing. It was at this point, we decided, we actually did have too much stuff. Nevertheless, in less than an hour, we were through all the gates, wrist-banded up and had successfully pitched our huge tent all by ourselves. I couldn't have been prouder!

Pitching our tent and carrying all our stuff through the gates was thirsty work, so at this point, I did actually indulge in a drink or two, but they were much much needed after the venture into the camp!

A snapchat I sent to those who might've doubted our pitching skills!
After we had got settled, we went for a walk around the park, looking at the stalls in the village and what foods were on offer, before going to get our Over 18 wristbands. During this walk, we encountered some interesting characters to say the very least and Jade came to terms with the harsh reality of the long-drops and almost had a breakdown.

Later on, we headed back to our tent and rifled through the huge bags of shopping we'd brought to find something to eat. We decided on spaghetti hoops and bread rolls, with the help of my solid fuel stove. This was a task that we initially thought would be quite easy. Ten minutes later, we needed the fire brigade. The instructions to the stove stated to use '1-2' tablets, so I placed two on to the stove and let Jade light them. Within a few minutes flames were incredibly close to setting our tent on fire, and panic set in, we were trying like idiots to blow the flames out, only for them to get worse and then I was ready to bolt for the water point to extinguish the raging fire that had ensued. It was quite an ordeal to say the least. In the end we ended up tipping the spaghetti off the stove and covering the whole thing with a mess tin, to put the fire out. It wasn't a total disaster though, only half of the spaghetti hoops ended up on the floor.

The end result of our first cooking attempt!
After our near-fatal cooking attempt, we went off on another walk and spent the rest of the evening, drinking our drinks whilst watching the fairground on the hill and laughing at the crazy drunk folk on the rides, before heading back to camp for a well needed sleep.


With the first night over, we woke up and decided to head into Leeds to pick up a few things and treat ourselves to a McDonald's after our failed attempt at cooking the previous night. So we went for the shuttle bus into Leeds where we spent a few hours shopping, before our two other fellow campers joined us for the rest of the festival. Whilst in Leeds, we gorged on McD's and I also met Helen Melonlady, a blogger and YouTuber which I'm sure many of you are familiar with. Her channel is one of my absolute favourites and despite looking like a total tramp in a dodgy 80's Oxfam jumper and muddy wellies with scratty hair, I decided to go over and ask her for a photo. She was more than happy to oblige and was as lovely as I expected, and I actually felt a little star-struck afterwards! It was a great start to the weekend.

Not my most photogenic or best quality picture, but look, its Helen!

When we got back to the camp we ended up having to up-route our tent which we had done so well at pitching, because a gang of young girls had put their tents so close to ours, they were practically inside it, despite there being plenty of room around us. In a bit of a rage, we decided to move which took a fair bit of effort but thankfully it wasn't too bad and we ended up in a better spot. Especially as a Hannah Montana/High School Musical sing along later ensued, right near our original spot. It was actually a blessing in disguise, because I would not have coped being smack bang in the middle of that karaoke session.

We spent the night chilling in our tent, listening to the hilarious conversations some of our neighbouring campers were having and laughing our heads off. We also managed to successfully use the solid fuel stove properly, meaning we wouldn't go hungry for the rest of the weekend!

We sussed it!


We started our morning, by putting our faces on and daubing ourselves in UV paint, as you do. Before demolishing a few pasta mug shots and heading over to the arena for the first day of music.

Me and Jade excited on the first day of bands

Unlike other festivals I've been to, where I've kind of gone along with everyone else's band watching agendas, this year I had my own and put myself in charge of organising who we were seeing and when. To begin with, I dragged Jade to the BBC Introducing stage where a band from my home-town were playing. While I've never seen Allusondrugs before, I knew of them and knew that they hailed from my hometown of Castleford and had been doing really well, getting gigs left right and centre, and I had generally heard a lot about them, so I decided to head over and show my support, regardless of the fact I'd never heard/seen them before. Needless to say, I really enjoyed them, I recognised a few faces in the crowd too. It was clear that the compere guy had a lot of love for the band and backed them 100% and I could easily see why. I liked their sound a lot and the crowd clearly did too. The first band of the weekend, and I wasn't disappointed.

After their set, we headed over to main-stage for Young Guns and Papa Roach. Both of which I thoroughly enjoyed. Papa Roach are one of my favourite bands, and I have seen them before at one of their own gigs, but they were astounding again this time round. Jacoby had everyone's attention and those who were familiar with their songs were singing away and it was a great atmosphere, and for me one of my favourite acts of the weekend. We stuck around for Sleeping With Sirens, who niether of us had heard of before and quite frankly don't want to hear again. It was so confusing. The singer didn't really look like he fitted with the rest of the band and his voice was somewhat baffling, Barry White one minute, Pinky and Perky the next. Not my kind of thing, and to be honest, I think Papa Roach should've had the higher slot, but that's just my own opinion, they clearly appeal to many other people, but it didn't do anything for me.

Papa Roach killing it!

A Day To Remember were the next band on the bill and although I'm not a huge fan, I do like a few of their songs and therefore wanted to see them in action. It was a good set, and unlike Sleeping With Sirens, I think they actually warranted their place in the line-up. After ADTR, was You Me At Six, who I'm not a fan of. Lots of my friends like them, but I've have never got on board. Having said that, I've seen them more than many of their fans might have, just due to the fact, they often support bands I do like, or I often stick around during their festival sets in order to get a good spot for the next band. However, luckily for me, Jade didn't mind missing them, although she is a fan, she had seen them before and wanted to go catch a glimpse of The Kooks on the NME stage instead, because her mum is a huge fan.

A Day To Remember

So we ditched YMAS for The Kooks, and although I don't particularly like either band, The Kooks were interesting to see, as I remember their songs coming out while I was in school and it was kind of nostalgic to hear some of their songs again. After The Kooks we bolted back to main-stage for Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, who I have to admit, I was a bit apprehensive about. The placement of their set within the line-up baffled me somewhat, as it always does when a band or artist shoots into the limelight, despite having only a few well-known songs. However, in order to get a good viewing spot for Blink 182 afterwards, I gave them a go. Before seeing them, I was a total noob. I didn't really know any of their songs and actually thought the DJ guy was Macklemore and the rapping guy was Ryan Lewis - my bad. Despite the fact that the bass was incredibly loud and they played 'Can't Hold Us' twice, I genuinely really enjoyed their set. Macklemore engaged with the crowd massively, at one point even taking one crowd member's fur coat and wearing it himself. At times, it seems as though the rapper might be slightly vain, but then it becomes apparent that he is also not afraid to make fun of himself whilst donning a Rod Stewart style wig and dancing like a buffoon. Overall, the apprehension I felt about seeing this set quickly diminished and it was possibly one of the most fun sets of the whole weekend.

The Kooks

Macklemore in his acquired fur..

..And without

As aforementioned, Blink 182 were at the top of Friday's bill. A band which defined my teenage years and a band which I am fortunate enough to have seen live three times now. I never saw them live during their hey-day but instead, after their hiatus and after they had settled their differences. Nevertheless, for me personally, Blink 182 shows have always pleased. Since returning from Leeds, it was made apparent to me that the band received a lot of criticism about their live performance at the Festival. Now even though they are one of my favourite bands, I won't lie, they are not the best in terms of their live performance, but I don't believe that anyone who goes to a Blink show expects a 100% polished performance. The attraction of seeing them live, for me anyway, is more about nostalgia and taking you back to your pre-pubescent angst ridden days but doing so in a humourous, light-hearted way. There's no doubting that their shows aren't perfectly played and executed, I think they even know that themselves, hence Tom's not so subtle habit of throwing in an inappropriate joke when he messes up or improvising crude lyrics when he forgets the real ones. But in my book, the novelty of seeing a Blink show and singing along to every song like you're still a spotty mischievous teenager much exceeds the need to see a pitch perfect and instrumentally perfect show.

Blink 182 headlining

Why hasn't he married me yet?


Saturday began with a trip to the NME tent to sit in the sun and watch Gerard Way. I'm not by any means a fan of his really, but as a 14 year old, I was a huge My Chemical Romance fan and as I never got to see them live, I thought I'd head over and see him as the next best thing and to see what he had to offer. It was slightly surreal to see a man who hand fronted a band who headlined main stage at this festival only three years ago, opening on the second stage. He took it very much in his stride though, and loads of old MCR fans were there supporting him. I thought his songs were alright, I don't think he'll be massive but they were definitely listen-able. I loved the fact he was so open and honest saying things like "This is another one you definitely won't have heard but thank you for coming anyway and I'm sure you'll like it!" He knew people weren't familiar with him as a solo artist yet but it didn't phase him at all, he was really positive and happy and I genuinely think he's a great frontman, with band or without.

After Gerard, we headed back to main stage to see what was occurring over there and we were faced with the noise that is Crossfaith. That was bizarre. We'd been warned that they sounded a bit crazy but had no idea. Definitely not my cup of tea and it actually threw it down during their set so luckily for us, we managed to escape and went and sat in the Festival Republic tent to chill until it brightened up a bit. After about 10 minutes, it did and we headed back over to catch Blood Red Shoes. Blood Red Shoes are a band that I recently got into and had been listening to a lot in the run up to Leeds Fest, so I was excited to see them and I was very pleased with their set. I knew a fair few of the songs that they played and even though not many people watched, I loved it. Definitely have a new found girl crush for Laura-Mary Carter after watching them,

Blood Red Shoes
We stuck around for a bit of Deaf Havana afterwards and didn't expect to like them but they were actually alright. I'd never heard them before so wasn't sure what to expect but they were pretty decent. After them, we went over to the NME tent to catch Mallory Knox and Twin Atlantic, who I'd recently heard and liked the sound of. We did end up missing most of Mallory Knox because we found an awesome stall that sold cheese and ham toasties but they were delicious so it was kind of worth it! The bit of Mallory Knox that we caught was good and I took a bit of a shine to the singer. Twin Atlantic were great also, but having seen them a few times before, I knew they would be. Not a huge fan of theirs but I know a few songs and love the lead singer's voice. Crowd loved them and it made for a great atmosphere.

We left Twin Atlantic slightly early to dash to main stage for Enter Shikari who I've also seen a number of times but they're a band I will always go see because I liked them a lot when I was younger. Anyone who has seen Shikari will know they go a bit crazy, Rou tends to give a few philosophical speeches in between excerpts of their songs mashed together with the wildest of sounds and mental circle pits and general carnage. Who wouldn't want to see that again and again?!

Enter Shikari creating chaos as per.
Vampire Weekend were after Shikari and although I'm not a fan, I stuck around because I wanted a good spot for the next band. I have seen Vampire Weekend before briefly and kind of just stood there a bit embarrassingly until A-Punk, which is kind of what I did this time as well, but I did recognise a few more songs and generally did enjoy it, which I wasn't expecting. The lead singer is also somewhat adorable especially in a matching grey tracksuit. I never thought I'd find anybody adorable in a tracksuit.

Next came the band I'd be waiting for most intentively, Queens of the Stone Age. I love QOTSA and am lucky enough to have seen them before, which is why I knew that they would be fantastic. But they even surpassed my expectations and were better second time around. Josh has such, dare I say it, 'swagger' (cringe) that even though he's old enough to be my dad and he's quite ginger, I find him incredibly attractive. I can hear the "ewww"'s echoing already. But seriously, he has such stage presence and I love it. Even though Jade said he looked like he'd fallen out of Emmerdale in his quilted coat and scarf. We were at the second barrier for their set which coincidentally, is where I was last time I saw them and I got a good view. The only thing that put a slight dampner on it for me, was the gaggle of very musically uneducated girls behind me who kept squawking "I'm only here for Paramore, this is shit, etc etc". That was of course until they spotted Hayley Williams watching Queens from the side of the stage, at which point they screeched something along the lines of "OMG OMG Hayley's there" to which I dryly replied, "Yes, that's because she likes real music." It angered me that they didn't appreciate QOTSA. Each to their own of course but they are very lucky that they left with their faces still attached, because for me, Queens were possibly one of the best bands of the whole weekend, if not the best. It had been raining throughout the day and the sun was setting and the sky was such an amazing shade of red at one side and grey at the other and it was just the perfect setting and the perfect atmosphere. I enjoyed it so much that I only got one photo, so you'll have to trust me on this one!

The one photo I got of QOTSA, Troy looking serious

After Queens of the Stone Age, I was done for the weekend day. I've seen Paramore a number of times and so wasn't too fussed about their set. We stayed and caught a bit of their set and it wasn't at all bad, but having seen them before and not being a massive fan of theirs, we decided to get pizzas and head off back to the campsite.


We decided to leave on Sunday night rather than Monday. Cop outs I know, but Jade had work the next day and we wanted a McDonald's and a bath (not together..). So on Sunday morning, we packed up the tent and took our stuff to the car to save ourselves a job later that night. As there wasn't really anyone we wanted to see that day until Royal Blood, we took our time and chilled a bit. We took some chairs down to the arena with us because it was a sunny day and we just fancied a comfy day by the side of the NME tent. We got there in time to catch a bit of Marmozets, who I thought were great, and from West Yorkshire, so equally great. Becca Macintyre is a crazy front-woman and the rest of the band certainly follow suit. I have seen them before and they were so mad I was a little scared! They were slightly more tame this time, but still as kickass.

Royal Blood were next and they were a band who everyone seemed to go see. They've had massive success and loads of plays recently and I think because of that they were one of the most anticipated bands of the whole weekend. The crowd for them was huge and so was their sound. I love their music, I first heard 'Little Monster' on an advert and looked them up, only to find a select few other songs on Spotify which I loved equally as much. With only a few songs actually released, everyone has been waiting eagerly for their album to be released and shortly after Leeds Fest they released it and it shot to number one. I can only imagine that everyone has seen their sets at festivals over Summer and seen how great they are. They were definitely as good as I hoped and everyone else seemed to think so too.

Sticking with the NME tent for the rest of the afternoon, there was only one other band I wanted to see which was Lower Than Atlantis, who I think fitted right in with the rest of the bands that day. Like Royal Blood, I'd heard one of their songs and was instantly intrigued. I enjoyed their set and then we stuck around for Cage the Elephant and Don Broco but was a little more focused on devouring the footlong hot dog and curly chips we bought rather than taking any notice of what was going on band-wise. After eating we resorted to people watching as we weren't huge fans of the bands playing at that moment in time. We definitely saw some characters, one woman was entirely on her own, entirely off her face and doing some sort of hilarious interpretive dance during Cage the Elephant which was highly entertaining.

Later, we went over to main stage ready for Arctic Monkeys. We sat towards the back of the arena for a while as we weren't too fussed about Imagine Dragons or Jake Bugg. I actually enjoyed Imagine Dragons to say I'd not heard much from them but still just wanted to chill towards the back, so we perched up by a load of other people on their chairs and just sat back and relaxed for a bit in the sun. In between Imagine Dragons and Jake Bugg, the hilarious woman from before reappeared and had us a load of others around us, in absolute stitches with her dance to 'Ring of Fire' by Johnny Cash which was played during the break. At one point she even made us cry laughing, when she took it upon herself to sit in a spare chair which belonged to a group of women in front of us. We all just looked at each other in hysterics before a song by The Kinks came on and she bolted upright and started her comical dancing again before running down to main stage. It was arguably the funniest moment of the whole weekend, but I'm sure you had to be there.

I've never jumped on the Jake Bugg bandwagon. I appreciate the fact that he's slightly different to other people around at the moment but I'm not a huge fan. Everyone around us seemed to really enjoy his set but for me, it sounded like one long song. I was just waiting patiently for Alex and co later on.

Arctic Monkeys, I have to say are absolutely one of my favourite bands. Ever since my dad handed me his copy of 'Whatever People Say I am, That's What I'm Not', I was hooked. I loved their sound, I love Yorkshire and I love everything about them other than when Alex dons those dodgy Americanisms. But, the first time I saw them live, in 2009, they did really disappoint me. Alex was clearly inebriated on something and generally messed it all up a bit. That might sound contradicting after what I said about Blink before, but it was an actual shambles and I was a bit peeved about the whole thing. However, since then, they've released some massive songs, various new albums and experimented with all sorts of sounds, all of which I've loved. They even partnered up with the man I spilled my feelings for earlier on, Josh Homme, which was a match made in heaven, if you ask me. After watching their Glasto set last year, I knew that they had upped their game and I didn't think they would disappoint me this time. I was 100% right. Of course Alex was a bit merry but he didn't screw up and spent the whole set declaring his love for us White Rose's. It was everything I expected and more. Everyone was singing every word, and it was a brilliant end to the whole festival. I'm so happy I can say I've seen them properly now, without being let down. AM was in my opinion, a top album and to hear some of the songs from it live, was great. Arctic Monkey's, I genuinely love you.

Arctic Monkeys ending the weekend in style

Just look at that silhouette!

And that was my Leeds Fest experience. It was a great weekend and I saw some great bands and really enjoyed myself. Did not expect this post to me this long and I would be surprised if anyone actually read it all but hey, I promised it so I did it!

Aaaand breathe!

Wednesday 27 August 2014

Crazy few months - Graduation/Moving Out/PGCE/Holidays & Festivals


Everything has been a little bit hectic since my last post.

First of all, and possibly saddest of all, my university experience came to an end. On the 21st of July, I graduated from the University of Huddersfield, which was a bit of a surreal day and left me with a whole load of emotions and feelings. Firstly, happy that I'd passed and was now the proud owner of a degree, sad that my three years at uni had come and gone in the blink of an eye, scared at the prospect of making a fool of myself whilst on stage during graduation, and also scared at the fact that I had absolutely no post-graduation plans whatsoever. Nevertheless, the day came and went and it wasn't nearly as scary as I had anticipated, I didn't fall off stage, I didn't look as stupid as I thought I would, and I actually had a great deal of fun.

Photograph courtesy of Shauni Hetherington via Facebook

The day after graduation was the day I'd been dreading for months on end - moving out day. The day I had to say goodbye to the friends I'd pretty much lived with on and off for the last three years. The friends that I shared every innermost thought and deepest secret with. The friends that knew every last thing about me, right down to how I was feeling at any given moment to what I was probably thinking at any given moment. The friends that I am very rarely seen without and very rarely cope without. It was one of the most emotional days of my life, as dramatic as that might sound. It took us all weekend to move our stuff out of the flat and the sheer amount of stuff we threw away was ridiculous (so much so that the binmen had a good rummage and took out some of it for themselves!) Eventually we left our beloved home and went our own separate ways, which was devastating, but hopefully we will not be seeing the last of each other because those girls mean the world to me and I hope the feeling is mutual!

Our humble abode looking empty and downright spotless!

So after moving out of the flat, came the big move back to Castleford - another event I'd been dreading for months. Cas is my home-town and I'm not the kind of person to forget my roots but at times it can be such a dull place, where everybody has their own little routine and many people lack ambition. Those who do have aspirations and ambitions rarely stay here, and instead venture off to nearby cities and towns with a little more to offer. That being said, the novelty of coming home to a place I grew up in, does often sound really appealling and sometimes fills me with excitement, but this novelty wears off very quickly, when I realise how mundane life round here really is. 

Now as I've probably documented before, when in Castleford, I stay with my grandma, because she is the only member of the family with a room spare for me! And because it's my escape place, and a place I feel comfortable and well looked after in. My grandma and grandad do and have done an awful lot for me, so I do like spending time at their house and in their company and I'd like to think they enjoy having me here too. While staying here, I've had some epic meals and learnt a lot about my family that I never knew before and I have genuinely really enjoyed having long chats with my grandma and looking at old photos trying to decide which baby is which grandchild whilst laughing at our shocking fashion choices. The last month has had me yo-yo-ing between Castleford and Huddersfield for work, but I have actually enjoyed spending time in both places and having the best of both worlds.

(See below for some of the aforementioned hilarious baby photos me and my grandma managed to unearth!)

However, my time dipping between Castleford and Huddersfield is about to come to an end, because I will be moving back to the Hudd next week for another year of studying, only this time for a PGCE (Post-graduate Certificate of Education.) During the last two months, I applied for a place on a Further Education PGCE, because I had no idea what I really wanted to do with my degree and the only real career I had ever toyed with was the prospect of being a teacher. Everyone who knows me, knows just how much I relish the opportunity to check over other people's pieces of work, offering better ways to word sentences and ideas to improve whatever the project might be. This combined with my knowledge of Media Studies, could potentially be my ideal job. With this in mind, I applied for a place on a PGCE course at my former university and with no experience and little confidence in myself, I honestly didn't think I would even be considered for a second, let alone given an interview. But, obviously, I was, and I can't even describe how nervous I was for the interview, in which I had to give a presentation (something I don't exactly excel at!) But I bit the bullet, and threw myself into the interview whole-heartedly, and am so proud of myself because it meant I was successful and will be starting the course within the next month. I am incredibly excited for this next chapter and can't wait to get stuck in.

As if all of the above wasn't chaotic enough, I have also been on a holiday with my family and even spent last weekend at Leeds Festival, which I am planning on writing a post about, very soon. July and August have been hectic to say the least, hence my distinct lack of posts. I won't make any promises about having lots of posts to come, because in a fortnight I start my course, which I have been warned, is pretty full on. But I will definitely be posting about my Leeds Fest experience before I go AWOL again.

Friday 11 July 2014

Baaad Baaad Blogger

I have a confession to make; I've cheated on my blog.

One of the reasons I've been absent lately is that during the last two weeks or so, my boyfriend went to Glastonbury and I was left in charge of his blog. His blog is more of a diary style blog, on which he posts everyday and so I vowed to keep up with it while he was away.

I did not anticipate how hard it would be to do daily blogs! I was on holiday in Scarborough at the time and while I did loads of cool stuff, I found it really hard to do interesting blogs every single day. And for that reason, I took a bit of a blogging break.

Usually after a Scarborough trip, I do a lengthy blog about what I've been up to, complete with a few pictures, but that's basically what I did, only over on Jud's blog instead, and I did it more to cater for his blog rather than mine. But by all means, to read those posts, follow this link and read from about 24th to the 30th of June.

In other news, I got my uni results back a few weeks ago and am pleased to say I'll be graduating a week on Monday with a 2:1 in Media and Popular Culture! I am incredibly nervous for graduation and absolutely convinced that I'll do something ridiculous like lose my hat, trip up or have my gown tucked in my knickers, but hey I suppose at least I'll be remembered right?

The next week is going to be pretty emotional. Got all my C7 gang coming back for their graduation and to move everything properly out of the flat that we've lived in for two years. Some of them have already moved out but are coming to stay next week so that we can party, and reminisce and probably cry a lot too. I am so close to these girls that I am genuinely going to be lost without them, so I fully expect that I'll be a quivering mess this time next week.

Having said all this, I have decided on my next move. I am applying for a PGCE in teaching for further education at the minute and while I'm super excited at the prospect of coming back to Huddersfield and studying something new and different, I also don't want to get my hopes up too much, because I don't want to jinx myself. If all goes to plan, I'll be back in Hudds in September and hopefully my friends can come and visit all the time, and I'll be closer to my boyfriend and my best friend who is currently off travelling but will be back in September. So yeah, fingers crossed for me!

That's pretty much an update of what's been occurring and why I've left my lovely blog in the lurch for a few weeks. (That and the fact I haven't really been shopping and therefore don't have anything to show off!) But hopefully, once next week has passed, I'll have plenty of blogging time, because I'll be back in Castleford and bored out of my tree.

So that's something to look forward to....or not!

Oh and before I forget, I'm trying to get rid of loads of stuff so that my grandma doesn't flip when I arrive with a million boxes of my belongings to store at her's over Summer. So check out this link to my Ebay, as I'm getting rid of loads of clothes at the minute.

Thursday 5 June 2014

Recent purchases and bargain buys

Payday showed its beautiful face last week and in my book, that means only one thing - shopping!
I headed off to town with one of my best friends and fellow shopaholic, Jade and spent far too much money on clothes as per usual.

Unfortunately it wasn't a successful shopping trip for me because I made the rookie error of not trying things on before buying them and therefore got home to find nothing fit me! However, after a second trip and a few exchanges, I now have a few new purchases that I am super happy with!

My absolute favourite buy has to be these Leigh Super Soft Skinny Jeans from Topshop. I never really shop in Topshop, because I feel that it's one of the more expensive high street fashion retailers and I rarely have any money so I tend to steer clear. That's not to say I don't love their clothes, I've never had any problems with anything I have bought from there, I just can't afford to do it very often! However, we headed in for a browse and ended up picking up a whole host of jeans to try on in the fitting rooms.

Generally I have issues with jeans, because I can never find any that fit me soundly. I am quite a slim person, and during my adolescence, the only shape I had was that of a stick. I had no shape and was incredibly thin for years, but then all of a sudden I finally gained hips and am now still a slim person, only with an abnormally large derrierè. For this reason I struggle with jeans and the only place I've found that sell jeans which do fit me nicely is, H&M. But, since we had plenty of time, I thought I'd grab a few different styles in Topshop and see which ones did me favours and which ones didn't.

Of all the styles I tried, I found that the best were the Leigh range. The pair I tried on were incredibly comfortable, looked good, fit me well and left me plenty of room to eat as much as I would in a pair of leggings and not feel like I'd been cut in half. With this in mind, I scouted round the shop for other styles in the same range and came across this pair, which I am in love with. I have worn them to death this last week and can safely say that even though they were about £34 with student discount, they are definitely one of my soundest investments.

To go with my new b-e-a-utiful jeans, I picked up two cami style tops from H&M. The one on the left is probably my favourite, it has a beautiful floral pattern and has buttons up the front and a racer style back. I'm not massive on floral but I love the print on this. The second one, on the right is very me. It is a simple cami with a black and white chevron style print and I love it. I love this style of vest at the minute and they look great with a good pair of jeans. I think both of these were around £9.99 in H&M.

Keeping with H&M, on my first shopping trip I bought this dress in a size 8 because although I am usually a 10 or 12, this style of smock dress is a bigger fit and since there were no other sizes, I thought I'd see if I could get away with an 8. This did not happen, I got stuck in the dress. I was gutted, I'd fallen in love with the boho paisley print and style of this dress and when I realised I couldn't even get my arms through it, I could've wept. I headed back to H&M yesterday to exchange the dress and could've wept again because out of nowhere, there was now a 14. Even though it wasn't a 10 or 12, I needed to own this dress, so I tried the 14 on in the fitting rooms and beamed from ear to ear to find it fit almost perfectly. I am so happy about this and can't wait to wear it. I love smock dresses and now I am on the look out for more in the same style. This dress was £14.99 and well worth it.

Another recent purchase I am obsessed with are these flat velvet chelsea boots from ASOS. I am severely lacking in decent shoes and all I ever wear are Converse or Vans and therefore was in dire need of something I could wear with all the pretty dresses I seem to be acquiring lately. I did have a pair of creepers which doubled as ankle boots as my go to dressy shoe, but they are starting to fail me and need replacing. I started looking online for something similar, something cool but dressy, and actually came across a few styles that I liked, but these ASOS boots came out on top. They were £35 and another solid investment, allowing me to ditch my scruffy sneaks in favour of something a little more prim and proper. (But not too much, it is me we're talking about...!)

Last but by no means least on my list of recent purchases: Scrunchies. Yes they're back in fashion, yes they cost twice as much as they did in the 90s and yes everyone and their mum are wearing them, but I don't care, I'm all over this! I seem to be hoarding scrunchies since I jumped back on the bandwagon and have acquired quite a collection. They are so much more comfier than a regular hair elastic and don't rip my head apart when I've had them in all day for work. Pretty and practical, that's what we like. Here are a few of the ones I've bought recently. Coloured, tartan, velvet, you name it, I'll buy it!

And those are all my recent bargains and buys, I love this type of post so feel free to link me your own recent hauls!

Thursday 29 May 2014

Crafty Obsession - Cross Stitching

A while ago, after seeing lots of cute pictures online, I decided I wanted to take up cross-stitching. I mentioned it a few times to friends and family but never actually got round to it because I didn't have a clue where to start or what to do.

That's when one of my best friends took it upon herself to make me this cute little Cross Stitch Starter Kit, to keep me busy while my flatmates went home for Christmas.

I completed the stitch in about a week and my obsession with cross-stitching grew from there. Obviously, I had a lot of uni work to do this year, so I stitched in dribs and drabs, but since finishing uni a few weeks ago, I have spent nearly all of my spare time stitching away.

I love how cute and intricate stitches look when they're finished and while I am by no means an expert, I really enjoy doing them. I still have to get to grips with cleaning the back up and find a way to not get agitated when stitching large blocks of colour, but other than that I am loving cross-stitching.

Here are a few I've been working on lately, and remember: don't judge, I'm still very much a beginner!

Bit of an amateur one. but Jake the dog from Adventure Time

Cute little owl

A project I'm currently working on, The Powerpuff Girls (Note Spice World on in the background)

Birthday present for my mum, quite proud of this one!

Seal inspired housewarming gift for my boyfriend and his uni pals

A stitch I did for my Guinness-loving friend for her birthday earlier this year

And lastly, one I did for myself!

In accordance with my recent stitching obsession, I also took it to another level and spent a good three hours organising my skeins of stitching thread into this nice, neat little box:

As sad as that is....I love it!

Monday 26 May 2014

Trend Envy - Ethnic and Tribal vibes

The ethnic and tribal trend is something I've been loving for a while, and is currently featuring heavily in all our favourite stores. I decided to take some inspiration from the fact that one of my best friends is about to go travelling and put together a collage of my favourite ethnic-inspired fashions out there at the moment.


1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8

Saturday 24 May 2014

Causing chaos on the Corrie cobbles (23/05/2014 - Coronation Street: The Tour) [Picture heavy post!]

--- May contain spoilers for those of you who are yet to go! ---

I'm not sure if it's something I've mentioned on my blog before, but anybody who knows me or at least spends any time with me, will know that I am an avid soap opera geek. As sad as it is, soaps are very much a constant in my life and I fully place the blame for this with my mother. Ever since I was a little 'un, I remember my mum dashing around like a maniac at tea-time, trying to get her last bits of ironing done or trying to bath her squadron of kids before 7pm chimed and the anthemic drone of Emmerdale's theme-tune rang through the house. From then, until 9pm, (depending on what day it was) it was time to sit down, shut up, and tune in to soap after soap before heading off to bed the minute the last one ended. Those two hours were very much my mum's downtime. Growing up, this nightly regime never changed. Even now when I go home for a few nights, its exactly the same routine every night and since moving to university, I have adopted the same routine, and have even trained my flatmates to adopt it too.

Now obviously, the big three soaps in the UK are Coronation Street, Emmerdale and Eastenders and those are the ones I primarily watch. I can't get my head around the fascination with Hollyoaks and personally don't find it a viewing necessity as opposed to the other three. These are the ones I grew up watching, and while I enjoy all three, Coronation Street is my absolute favourite. I don't know what it is that I love about Corrie, I think I just really enjoy the fact that its a Northern, humble, working-class soap and constantly reminds me of my own street back home. It's history is fascinating and it is, in my opinion one of Britain's best TV shows.

Due to my love and fascination for the show, I actually wrote my final university dissertation on it, earlier this year, in which I explored the notion that Corrie is considered a national institution. I talked about aspects of the show that have kept viewers gripped for nearly 54 years, from the characters, the storylines, the history, the worldwide fandom and the factors that resonate heavily with its audiences. Writing and researching this piece, meant that I had to read a plethora of books written by ex-producers, archivists and cast and crew members in order to build my knowledge of the programme. Doing this just strengthened my love for Coronation Street and everything about it and therefore when they announced the news that they were opening the old set for visitors, I could've squealed with excitement.

I rallied up my flatmates and fellow corrie companions and we bought tickets to Coronation Street: The Tour, as a little treat for when our work was handed in and our exams finished. Our tour took place on 23/05/2014 and this is how the day unfolded....

As the tour was in Manchester, we set off pretty early to meet our old flatmate, Hannah who coincidentally lives in Manchester herself. We headed for dinner before jumping on a shuttle-bus which took us almost directly to the tour. From the moment I woke up, I was extremely giddy, probably more-so than anyone else in our gang. This escalated pretty quickly once we arrived through the gates into the old Granada complex.

We met our tour guide at 3pm, and she geed up our little group, which was in hindsight a little bit cringey but definitely worked nonetheless. She was clearly a fan of the soap herself and certainly knew her Corrie stuff. To begin, we visited the old cast green room which was really exciting. The tour guide told us stories of how the cast hung out in there before takes and showed us the cast pigeon holes and filming schedules which made it clear just how real it all was. All I could think was I wonder who has been sat in this very same chair, over the years and who had liased in the room I was sitting in.

The guide told us a few facts in the green room before we headed down the 'Corrie-dor of stars' where the cast dressing rooms were situated. Some of the dressing rooms were open for us to see and it was funny to see how each room was decorated slightly different and adorned with little trinkets depicting their owner's character and personality. Along the corridor were huge pictures of the cast, past and present and lots of stills from memorable episodes, creating a real cast presence.

At the end of the corridor, we turned into the costume department, which held some of the characters most recognised outfits. Among these were Emily's blouses, Carla's wedding dress and an abundance of props such as pink cowboy hats and tiaras, which screamed Cilla or Becky. To the left of this, was a dressing table with wigs, make up, hair sprays and beauty products. At this point the tour guide asked for a volunteer to sit in the cast's make-up chair, and with everyone clearly too shy to co-operate, I took it upon myself to be the guinea pig. I am actually quite an embarrassment and its surprising that I have friends. But secretly I enjoyed it!

After this, we went and watched a montage of clips from the last 50+ years which was actually really emotional. It started with dramatic and serious clips which had me and Hannah weeping, and then ended with some of the show's best comical moments and witty one-liners which had us in stitches. It was a great way to show the programme in all its glory and got us excited for the next stage.

Once the montage was over, we headed into Stage One, which was where the dressed sets were situated. Firstly we saw Carla Barlow's old flat before she moved in with Peter. On TV, I loved her flat, but I have to say, in real life it is rather garish! An abundance of prints and fiery red shades made up her abode and the tour guide talked us through the design of her upmarket flat. It was fascinating to see it there in all its glory and we couldn't believe how well the floors were painted on and that the appliances in the sets actually work and are in fact PAT tested. Next we saw Gail's or rather David's home and I was most surprised to see that they had a copy of Calendar Girls on DVD under their TV. Our guide told us a few anecdotes and stories before we moved on to the next set.

This was another emotional moment for me (wow I need help). The next set was the Rovers, which most people will know, is the street's local pub. The doors of the set opened and it was so surreal to see it in real life. It was just as it appears on TV, only much much smaller. We grabbed a booth like Emily, Norris and Rita and sat on the edge of our seats as we waited patiently to get our picture taken behind the bar. I literally wanted to stay there all day and re-enact scenes and play barmaids, all I wanted to do was dive over the bar like Becky once did to hurl a punch at Jason. While in the Rovers, I also had a nosey at the jukebox and was extremely pleased to see McFly on there!

Us behind the Rovers bar (I definitely think it suits me!)

We then saw a few other sets such as Underworld, Jack and Vera's/Tyrone and Fizz's, Martha's Barge, and a lot of memorable props and outfits such as Rita's wedding dress, Hilda's rollers, the statue that Tracy whacked Charlie Stubbs with, and even a cabinet full of past awards such as BAFTA's, NTA's and Soap awards.

After this, we headed to the pièce de résistance - the street itself. The tour guide did a very amusing countdown before hitting a button which cued the Corrie themetune and opened the doors to the famous cobbles. At which point, I cried...again. We hit the cobbles and I literally took advantage of every photo opportunity possible, getting snaps outside nearly every house and business. I was so happy to see the 'Dennis Tanner 1951' inscribed into the window ledge of number 11 and for me, that was one of the highlights, because I know that not many other people know that its there, but once I took a snap with it, many other visitors did the same, which made me happy. Getting pictures outside number 11 was great for me, as one of my most favourite characters of all time, is Elsie Tanner, who lived there for many years. I think its now Eileen's home, or hostel as it sometimes appears, full of strays and waifs! It was great to be able to go round the corner and see Barlow's Buys, Roy's Rolls and even go down the illicit back ginnel behind all the houses and hear the voices of Hilda and Stan and Jack and Vera bellowing down the alley. 

Selfie with Graeme's old window cleaning bike / Coronation and Rosamund Street signs / Me and my pals outside the Rovers (Oh how I wish that licensee plate had my name on it!)

A selfie with the street / Roy's snowman from Christmas last year

Underworld sign / Our feet on the cobbles / The Kabin, Kev's garage and Underworld

Chilling outside Streetcars

Propping up the Rovers

Group shot of us outside Roy's Rolls

Extremely excited before we went in

Dennis Tanner's inscription on the window ledge of number 11

Group picture outside Nick's Bistro


Knocking at number 11 / Outside the Barlow's / Me on the cobbles

We were pretty much allowed free roam on the street and could stay there as long as we liked, and I reckon we were probably on the street for a good hour or more. After this I went and spent an unprecedented amount of money in the gift-shop which had lots of little trinkets and souvenirs and was where we could collect our Rovers pictures. I bought a Hilda Ogden shopper bag, a postcard, a pen, two keyrings, a t-shirt and god knows what else but I loved being able to get keepsakes because it was such a great day out.

My goodies from the gift-shop

All in all, I had an awesome day. The tour was around £16 and I think its an absolute bargain to walk the cobbles and step onto a national institution. The tour guides and team organising the tour were friendly, knowledgeable and made it a great experience and therefore I would totally recommend visiting the tour before it closes for good later this year.