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.

Monday 19 May 2014

Leaving university - What on Earth do I do now? (This could be incredibly boring)

As many of you may be aware, for the last three years I have been a student at the University of Huddersfield, where I have been studying Media and Popular Culture. It has been the most stressful, enjoyable and memorable three years of my life so far and less than a fortnight ago, I handed in my last ever piece of work.

As I imagined, this filled me with so many emotions. I was relieved that I no longer have any essays or projects looming, happy that I could finally have lots of naps and lie ins without feeling guilty and also in the back of my mind, scared that I have absolutely no plans for the future.

To be honest, I have just enjoyed my freedom for the last week or so, but now it's starting to hit home that I don't have a plan. The reason I chose to study Media and Popular Culture was because I enjoyed all things media-related (TV, film, music etc) and wanted to delve further into the history and workings of the industry. Initially I had no idea what I wanted to do, and felt that a broad course would help me in that department as it would allow me to explore many things rather than restricting myself with a specific, specialist course. 

Having said this, three years later, I still feel exactly the same. I have enjoyed aspects of my course and disliked others, but I am still no wiser as to what career I'd like to fulfill and the only thing I know is that I want to write. If only it were that simple. A degree in a media-related discipline + A love for writing = Journalist - Right? Wrong. That is something I have decided strictly against. I don't like the idea of snooping into peoples business and writing in a strict, boring style where adjectives are frowned upon. I like writing, but I like writing about things I'm passionate about, or failing that, writing things to which I can add character and life. I know that is considered an immature view because allegedly the only way you will get opportunities like that is to work your way up career ladders, but unlike many people on courses similar to mine, I just don't have any interest in that profession.

At times I think I may have studied the wrong course and would've benefited more from a degree in something such as Creative Writing or Script Writing. But that's extremely hypothetical and something I can't change. Plus a degree is a degree and therefore whatever the discipline, a degree will hold good stead in any profession. However, the question remains - What on Earth do I do next?

Well, in short I have no idea. I don't even  have a home sorted yet which is something that fills me with dread and fear on a daily basis. I honestly have no idea what my plan is, other than to get a transfer and carry on working at my part-time job to save up plenty of money so that when I do get an idea in my head, money won't necessarily be a problem. I wish I could carry on cross-stitching and blogging and not having a care in the world like I have for the last few days, but unfortunately, that won't pay the bills! Who would've thought that leaving university would be as stressful as being at university?! 

I'm aware how boring this post may be in comparison with my others but I needed a good old whinge!
Don't worry though, I've got a post up my sleeve for Friday/Saturday that will be epic and definitely picture heavy.

Feel free to share your own graduation/leaving university blues and we can all wallow in self pity together. Or, if you do have a kickass plan for after uni, share it with me and inspire me to do something with my life!

Thursday 8 May 2014

McBusted @ Leeds 30/04/2014

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

If you read my blogs on a regular basis you will probably know that one of my biggest obsessions and guilty pleasures is McFly. I've been part of the McFly army since the beginning and even though I get flack for it all the time, I am not ashamed to say I adore them. Everyone had a favourite band growing up that defined who they were and and consumed their adolescence, and as cheesy as they may be, McFly are mine.

Anyone who pays attention to the media will probably realise that last year, McFly announced that they were uniting with James Bourne and Matt Willis of Busted fame for a tour concentrating on the biggest hits of both bands. Now this announcement was met with excitement and also apprehension for me. This was firstly because a McFly tour excites me, no matter what the circumstances are, but the apprehension was mainly because I wasn't actually a massive Busted fan. I didn't dislike Busted, I just wasn't as obsessed with them as many others in my school were. However, I do love a lot of their songs and often bounce around like a lunatic when Year 3000 comes on in Camel Club. Having said this, I was also a little apprehensive because I was all ready and waiting for McFly to release their 6th album and all of a sudden this was put on the back-burner to make way for McBusted.

Regardless of my mixed emotions I bought tickets for their show at Leeds First Direct Arena and I was far from disappointed. The show was awesome. As promised it was a mish-mash of McFly and Busted hits to date and it was fun, nostalgic and downright beautiful! The chemistry between them all is clear and it makes for a really great show. There were some memorable moments during the gig, from their entrance in a Back to the Future style Delorean, to their synchronised kicking and chasing each other round the stage to the three huge inflatable boobs that emerged for Year 3000 - the production values were fab. This was the first time I'd visited this venue and its amazing, it's so different to other venues and it's layout is so unique. Although that meant our date missed out on one aspect of their show, it didn't phase me massively, because I still enjoyed it. The only thing I would've wished for would be a few more McFly hits, or maybe just one or two older, less popular songs for those of us who have been there from the start. But overall, it was awesome, a real feel-good, happy event and I can't wait to go see them again at Scarborough Open Air next month.

I went to the gig with two of my best friends and we also enjoyed some wine, hearty food and boozy cocktails before the show at TGI's, which was also great fun. Check out some of the pics I took of our antics below and you're heading to see McBusted, I hope you enjoy just as much as we did!

Wednesday 7 May 2014

A few favourites and recent purchases

As promised, I'm back on the blogging wagon and I thought the best way to ease back into things would be to do a little (or not so little) review of my recent loan weekend purchases.

The main products I've been buying have been from Boots. Boots is quite possibly one of my biggest vices, it's honestly quite dangerous for me to go in there, and you're about to see why.

Firstly, let's talk about nail polishes, because I seem to have bought loads. The first one I purchased was this one from No7's Gel Look Shine Range. No7 is a brand I usually stay away from, mainly because I don't usually have any money, but if I did, I'd definitely splash out more. This brand is great, its like a rival to Barry M's Gelly Hi-Shine range, but both do the job equally in my opinion. It glides on nicely and doesn't lose its sheen and pearlescence once it's on. This is the shade, Galaxy and I think it's around £7, but there was a 3 for 2 offer on when I bought this one.

No7 Gel Look Shine in Galaxy

Keeping with No7, I also bought another of their polishes a few weeks ago, from the same Gel Look Shine range. This one is a top coat but is something I've been looking for, for a while. I wanted a top coat that left me with a high shine, no matter what colour was underneath. I was longing for Barry M to bring out a top coat in their Gelly Hi-Shine range, but then I came across No7's own version and was extremely pleased. It does exactly what I wanted and since using it, I've had lots of comments on the shininess of my nails. Again, I think this one was also around £7.
No7 Gel Look Shine top coat

Whilst in Boots, it occurred to me that although I have an abundance of nail polishes in all different shades and colours, I didn't actually possess an electric blue colour. Naturally, I rectified this, in the form of Barry M's Blue Grape, from their Gelly Hi-Shine range. I was dubious about trying the colour because I tend to stay within my comfort zone of dark colours such as blacks, reds, burgundys and purples, but I went for it regardless. The colour is beautiful and I'm glad I bought it, I also had compliments wearing this shade. I think these are the usual £3.99 to £4 in Boots.

Barry M Gelly Hi Shine Nail Paint in Blue Grape

Another brand I've been buying a lot of lately is Sally Hansen. The nail range is brilliant, for anyone who is obsessed with nail painting. I bought two nail polishes from her range, the first being the Hard as Nails polish, which is a strengthener that I generally use under polishes, but have also used it on top for extra strength too. The second Sally Hansen polish I bought was the Insta-Dri. I wasn't sure if this polish would work, or whether it would just leave my nails feeling tacky but I was pleasantly surprised. Both these polishes are ones that I highly recommend to keep nails as strong as possible and also just to save time for those that are impatient like me when it comes to waiting for nails to dry.

Moving out of the nail polish area, I also bought two lipsticks from Boots. The first of these was the Maybelline Colour Sensational lipstick in 547 Pleasure Me Red. I could've squealed with excitement when I found this because I've been looking for a deep, dark red shade for ages and this was exactly the shade I wanted. I love the colour of this lipstick and the texture, but the only thing I would say is that I found it didn't stay on as long as I'd like. Luckily I use Lipcote, so I can rectify this somewhat, but that would be my only flaw with it. I believe this was around £7.99 in Boots.

The second polish I bought was Revlon Super Lustrous in 663 Va Va Violet. This is beautiful dark purple shade, which I love. I'm a fan of purple lipsticks anyway, but this one is a deep, rich shade and is possibly my new favourite lipstick. Like the last lipstick mentioned, this one also didn't appear to stay on for a long time, but again, this is easily fixed by a coat of Lipcote. This was £7.49 in Boots.

The last two things I want to mention aren't beauty products but are two things I'm in love with. Firstly, a pair of flatform open toe wedges from Primark. I just can't walk in high-heeled shoes and for that reason try to stick to wedges for nights out so these are perfect for me. I already have a pair of flatfoms from Primark, but they're slightly different and have a closed toe as opposed to these ones. Of course it means I'll have to shun the tights and brave getting my pins out but I can live with that because I adore these shoes. They were £10 in Primark and look beautiful with freshly painted nails.

The final thing is a dress I recently purchased from Ebay. Its a River Island dress and the RRP was £35 but I bagged it, brand new with tags on Ebay for £16 (not including postage). I was over the moon when I won this because I'd seen it a while ago, only with tartan instead of leopard print. I love the fact that its a midi dress, meaning I don't feel too uncomfortable going tight-less and the black panels down the side are incredibly slimming. I strutted around the flat feeling fabulous when it arrived and I can't wait to wear it on a night out with the shoes as well!

If anyone else has been taking advantage of loan day, I'd love to read a haul/review of some of the things you've been buying, so feel free to leave me your links :)

As predicted, final year held me hostage!

Wow. I knew I hadn't blogged in a fair while, but I had no idea it was all the way back in December. I feel ashamed!

New Years Eve was when I posted my last entry, and that is just crazy, but as documented a few times over the last year, university has had me well and truly whipped. Final year has been chaos, the minute I think 'phew my work is handed in', I have to make a start on the next and for that reason I have been incredibly busy, all year.

However, this is my final deadline week, when the last two pieces of my uni work will be handed in. This is both scary and awesome at the same time. I do not want to go in to the big, wide world anytime soon, I love the student life! But, now the end is nigh, at least I can focus more on the things I enjoy - blogging, partying and cross-stitching. (Party on Wayne...)

So in short, expect a few more posts from today forth. I have been dying to get back into the blogging seat, because I am sick of writing boring essays! Plus, my student loan flourished into my decrepit bank account on Friday so I've been splurging at Boots and various other places and can't wait to report back with a few favourites and reviews.

Back with a vengeance - yay!