Thursday, 30 December 2010

Out on the wiley, windy moors we roll...

Me and my friend Beth went on an impromptu ramble on the moors yesterday. It was a (very) welcome distraction from the 3 essays I have to hand in in January, that I've barely begun (but more on that later). I'm lucky to live in a town that's just a short 10 minute bus ride away from Haworth, which is famous for the Bronte Sisters and The Railway Children. It's such a beautiful village with lovely walks that have stunning views. It's always a good idea to get a small route guide from the Tourist Information though, as it's easy to get lost!

Halfway through the Bronte Waterfalls walk we decided to cut through the middle, as we completely underestimated how long it would take because of the steep climbs and slippery slopes. At first we were like '2 and a half hours? Easy!'
This is how people get lost on the moors...

If you recently caught The Railway Children over the Christmas period, you'll recognise this from one of the scenes where they get members of the village to donate gifts for Mr Perks's birthday.

Perfect weather for a true rambling on the moors experience. Fog. And lots of it. You could almost hear the echoes of 'Heathcliff' rolling out over the mist...

My lovely friend Beth.

Home, to a nice cup of tea. Although I did lose a mitten on the moors. If you find one that matches this please let me know! There's nothing sadder than a single glove.

Our customised walk (a spot of lunch in the middle) took about 4 hours to complete. But if you're going to attempt the full walk I'd allow 3 - 3 1/2 hours (including lunch), if you're not a hardcore rambler. It's nice to go for a lovely long walk now and again, especially if you live so close to beautiful hills as I do!

Hope you're enjoying 'limbo week', and that you're excited for New Year's Eve. I'm off to Wales to visit my cousin who's having a soiree with food and games. A part of me quite fancied a big alcohol fuelled night out in Manchester, but another part of me loves board games and tea, and that side won. Should be a lovely evening :)

Happy new year! xx

Sunday, 21 November 2010

I can haz cheezecake?

I made a strawberry cheesecake for my friend's 20th birthday the other day. It is a little shallow as the recipe was for a smaller tin, and I didn't buy enough ingredients to double it, but it was still delicious! Here are a few pictures that I ran through a new editing programme that I'm trying out. All of the pictures were taken with the camera that I received for my 21st, which was on my birthday wishlist in the previous post :)

Mmmmm cheesecake.

Monday, 23 August 2010

Birthday Wishlist

It's my 21st Birthday soon, so I've recently been drawing up a list of things I'd really like to mark the occasion. How self-indulgent of me ;)

Panasonic Lumix FZ35
I desperately need a new camera, and this is perfect for me. Nice and chunky and a kind of 'bridging' camera, which means it's kind of hanging inbetween a DSLR and your average digital compact. Hopefully will get me taking some cool snaps.

MAC - Creme d'Nude
I really need another one of these. I completely used mine up ages ago and can't really justify spending £12 on a lipstick at the minute. Sad times. I rely on my nudes ;)

Beyonce - Heat
I tested this the other day in Boots and fell in love. I really need a new perfume and this is lovely. It's really hard to describe perfume but I'd describe it as a floral and vanilla-y kind of scent.

Wicker Bike Basket
I'd love a basket for my bike so I can put some shopping in it or something. I really just like the idea of having a basket on my bike filled with flowers riding through a meadow on a summer's evening, but I doubt that will happen anytime soon. I'll just have to cope with navigating the streets of Manchester for a while yet.

Benefit - Erase Paste
I need this in my life. Sometimes I like to just use a bit of concealer and bronzer on my face, rather than using foundation, just to cover up some of my blemishes. I've yet to find a really good concealer though, and I've heard that this is the holy grail of concealers.

Polaroid 600 film
I ran out ages ago and it's so expensive. I need more time with my Polaroid, but it's a catch 22 situation as the film is so much. Fail.

Gizzi Erskine's Kitchen Magic
Gizzi's off Cook Yourself Thin, but it's not something I really watch. Cookery programmes tend to make me hungry, apart from Come Dine with Me, but I love cooking and trying new things. I haven't done much since I've been home for summer, but come September I'll be cooking up a storm!

I'd also quite like a nice little book to keep all of my recipes in as well. Especially the ones I tear out of magazines and lose all the time...

I'm sure I'll think of more things I want as my birthday looms nearer.

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Italian ice cream and contemplation.

Hey, I'm back from my adventures. I had a really nice time in Italy, and it was great to do something independently. Turns out flying on your own isn't much different from taking the train or the bus on your own. My friend once met someone at uni who'd never been on a public bus before, but that's a whole other kettle of fish.

Anyway, Italy was great, but too hot and I got devoured by mosquitoes. They seem to like me, but my skin reallly doesn't like them and I had a massive allergic reaction to them. Pale pasty chunky legs + lots of red angry swelling lumps = a very unattractive mess. I didn't feel that hot stood next to amazingly thin and tanned Italian women. I'm just not made for the heat!

The scenery and overall experience of Italy, however, was pretty good. The food was great, the buildings were breathtaking and the people were friendly. Sometimes too friendly, but I guess me and my friend did stand out quite a lot with our moon white legs and constantly sweaty complexions. We were bound to get some comments. And, I've never eaten so much pasta and cheese in my entire life. It's on everything, and in everything. It was definitely turning into a 'too much of a good thing' kind of situation in the end. I was kind of looking forward to a beef stew when I got home. (I don't even think I've ever had beef stew before, but I was trying to think of the most English dish and that's all that popped into my head.)

So now I'm home and everything has settled back into the mundane trudge of everyday life. God, I'm such a pessimist aren't I? I wish I'd taken better photos whilst I was In Milan, but if we're wishing for stuff I wish that I had an amazing camera with which to take amazing photos with in Italy. Despite doing photography at A-level I still feel like I'm not too great with a camera. I know how I want things to look, and I know what I want to get from a shot, but it never really seems to work out. I see a lot of blogs with amazing pictures on them, and I'm just like, 'Wow'. I can talk a lot of airy crap about a photo, but I can't really capture things the way I want to.

This all kind of brings me onto something that I feel has been holding me back from blogging more. (Apart from the obvious fact that loading photos onto here is more tedious and annoying than a crack in a glass eye.) The things is that I feel like I don't really know what to blog about. I'm not that crazy about make-up, as I don't buy it enough, or care that madly about it to blog about it. I don't cook enough to focus on recipes and food. I don't buy that many clothes, nor am I that focused on fashion and trends to talk for pages about what I'm going to buy or what I want. And although I read many books, and watch quite a few films, reviewing doesn't really do it for me. I think I've dabbled in all of the above somewhere in this blog, in the hope of kind of finding my direction. It's kind of how I feel in real life tbh: Jack of all trades, master of none.

Oh dear, I didn't mean for this to such a pessimistic and despondent post, but I guess that's pretty much how I feel at the minute. I kind of always think, 'Oh, I'll do this post with all of these pictures', and then realise that I don't have a decent camera, so I just don't bother. I guess I feel intimidated by all of the other beautiful bloggers out there. To me it's not about the amount of followers, that's not really an issue, it's about the content and the amazing talents behind all of the blogs that I visit. I guess it's that age-old issue where you feel like the awkward new kid in the class, and you just sit and admire the cooler kids who you know you'll never be like.

I guess to me, inspiration and aspiration is also riddled with intimidation and self-doubt. You see how good everyone else is, you compare yourselves to them, and then you give up and ask 'why bother?' I think I need to change the way I think about this. Comparing yourself with others is a dark road to go down 'for there will always be better and lesser persons than yourself'. I know you don't need amazing pictures or an expensive camera to make a great blog, but it feels that I've had this blog for so long and not really utilized it.

Hopefully this will change! I'm tempted to start again, but I don't think that would be right. I like the name of this blog, and you can't really delete things in rl, so I shall move onwards and upwards. *Que fan fair and choruses of Hallelujah* :)

Do any new bloggers share my feelings? And do any of you well honed writers have any advice? I'm really interested to know what other people's opinion is on this.

Saturday, 3 July 2010

And the heart won...

I have booked the flights to Milan, and I am now officially excited! Although I can see how people get into debt when they start to take on the mantra of 'money's for spending not for saving'.

My rent for my new house in Manchester came out of bank account on Thursday so my funds are looking pretttyyy low at the moment. Ah well, I'll just have to be sensible for a while, I guess...

I've never flown completely on my own before, so that's going to be a bit scary. I have a fear of missing flights and things, so I'll probably be on edge in the airport until I'm safely sat in my seat.

There's only 9 days to go! xx

Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Head vs Heart

When my first year at university was coming to a (ridiculously early) end in April this year, me and my fellow course mates were left with the decision of what to do with our extensively long summer. Whilst I wrestled with the idea of Camp America, and changed my mind quite a few times, my best friend chose to be an au pair in Milan, Italy for a few months looking after two young boys in a trilingual(?!) household.

Since being home I've got a summer job in a jewellers in my town, and spent the rest of my free time not really doing much worthwhile, apart from a copious amount of reading. As my job isn't full time and has rather casual hours I'm faced with too much free time. Yes, that's right too much free time. It seems that too much of a good thing also refers to things you can't eat/buy/spend. Although you could argue that you can spend and buy time...

Anyway, my friend who is currently in Milan, has asked me to come over for a week whilst the boys she is looking after are away for a week with their Dad. The question is: do I go and spend money I should be saving for rent on flights and lovely Italian food, or do I stay at home and not have to have the awkward conversation of asking for time off work when I've only just started? The sensible thing would be to stay at home and save the money, but that's also the easy option, because it involves doing nothing on my part.

I guess it is really one of those once in a life time opportunities (que cliché cringe), but when will I ever get the chance to just rush off to Italy no strings attached and not have to pay for accommodation in such a beautiful city as Milan? BUT I just absolutely hate those type of confrontations with employers or anyone who is above me when you have to ask for something that you're to not too sure you're allowed. I also feel bad causing an inconvenience when they've taken a chance employing me. I like to be reliable, but I also want to be able to stand up for myself and do something pretty damn cool.

I did once have a VERY awkward conversation over the phone with an old employer about taking time off for my birthday, when I'd just had 3 weeks sick leave after an operation. Oh god, it was so awkward. But I wangled my way our of working/told them there was no way I was working on my birthday and they still gave me shifts to work over Christmas, hurrah! I guess that should be point positive that I should go for it! Eeeep. £170 return flights to Milan here I come!

(Ok, maybe that last photo is a cafe in Venice not Milan, but who's keeping note?) :P

All images from


Thursday, 27 May 2010

Robin Robertson and Carol Ann Duffy

I went to a poetry reading last Thursday at the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester and after the show I managed to meet Carol Ann Duffy and she signed my book. Yay!

I may have got a little bit star-struck when I met her as all I said was 'hi'. Oh well, I had no idea what to say! She read mostly from The World's Wife which I studied at A-level (where my love-affair with her poetry began) and some from her forthcoming collection 'The Bees'.

Poetry is meant to be heard not read, so it was lovely hearing her read her own poems, especially the sharp witted ones from The World's Wife like Mrs Darwin.

Who's your favourite poet?

Sunday, 11 April 2010

Barter Books

I went up to Northumberland for a few days to stay with my friend and her family in a little holiday cottage that they had rented for Easter, and we went to Barter Books.

Barter Books is one of the largest second hand bookshops in England, and it used to be a train station, so it is pretty mahooosive.

It has lots of lovely old books, and plenty of fairly new paperbacks as well. My idea of heaven.

You can bring in some of your old books with which to 'barter' with, so you can buy new ones. My friend's family brought in 3 big bags full of books, so they let me pick some books for myself and technically have them for free. Yay.

Barter Books is also home of the 'Keep Calm and Carry On' poster, which they found in a book they bought in auction in 2000. So, I am now the proud owner of a Keep Calm and Carry On mug :)

I love tea :)

Have you ever been to any nice second hand bookshops? Did you have a lovely Easter?

First two images from Google

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake

Last night I went to see Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake at the Alhambra Theatre in Bradford

Two words: A. Mazing.

This was my first ballet, so I was a bit hesitant; I thought that I would be waiting for someone to speak all of the time, but that wasn't the case. I kind of got lost in it all, as cliché as it sounds...

I've always found that there's a stigma attached to ballet or the theatre by young people. It's seen as being a bit pretentious or pompous, but I'd definitely prefer to see a play than watch the same regurgitated rom-com Hollywood has been producing lately. Although I do quite want to see Remember Me. Anyway...

Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake is a contemporary interpretation, and he chose to have male swans instead of the traditional female ones. Thank. you. Matthew Bourne. Male ballet dancers are just beautiful, and the two leads (Sam Archer and Jonathan Ollivier) were pretty breathtaking to watch (body-wise and dance ability). Ollivier is married though, dammit. I would have hung around the stage door for hours after the performance if I wasn't with my mum...

Look at the beautiful men :'-)

Parts of the performance were quite comedic, which I didn't expect. But it was a contemporary version after all, so why not? Why shouldn't we laugh at a ballet?

It ended with a spectacular finale, but it was a bit of a tear-jerker!
5 stars out of 5
I was sat there in total awe for most of the performance.

It's next showing in Athens, but then comes back to the UK in September for Norwich, Wimbledon, Leicester, and finally Glasgow. Go see it!


Sunday, 28 March 2010

Mini Hauls

I popped into town and picked up a few various things the other day. Here are a few pictures for your viewing pleasure :)

Emma Bridgewater Photo Album £3.99 WHSmith Sale
I had to buy this photo album as it was in the sale down from £7.99. I hate how nobody prints off photographs anymore. There's something about holding a photograph in your hand that I like :)

Elle Magazine with Elle's Best High Street Buys Spring/Summer
Now I don't normally buy Elle. When I buy magazines I tend to buy either really trashy ones like Heat or maybe Glamour or Cosmopolitan, but I've been thinking about Spring fashion lately and this was a perfect purchase for that purpose (try saying that quickly).
It also had a really good article about sexism by Lucy Mangan, who writes for The Guardian. Definitely thought provoking. We might have moved on from the days when women couldn't even dream of holding down the same type of jobs as men, but sexism is still around, albeit in a different guise. Heck, I even went to a house viewing and was told by the agency guy before entering that 'it had a great kitchen, which the girls will love'. I'm sorry, but excuse me? All of a sudden I found myself stood by the sink with an apron on, elbow deep in dishes, waiting for my darling husband to come home from work.
But perhaps more worrying is the fact that there's only a 7% conviction rate for rape. How scary is that? So that even if you're brave enough to report a rape there's only a 7% chance that they'll get caught and convicted.
Anyway, I think I'll definitely be purchasing Elle again it had a good balance between fashion and interesting articles.

Moleskin Notebook £14.99
Gasp. That was a lot of money for a notebook, but it's so lovely. Slightly pretentious but I'm sure I'll survive. The brand has a lovely history and the paper is lovely to write on.

Floral Washbag £2.50 Boots
I'm a sucker for anything floral. I love a good Cath Kidston rip off. I do own some of the genuine stuff, but things like this are a good substitute especially at that price!

Exfoliator Gloves £2.00 Boots
Perfect for my back, which has become quite blemish prone recently. Need to get it into shape for all of the lovely Spring clothes I have planned!

Ipod Touch
Ok, I can't bear to write down how much this cost. Not because it was expensive, but because I really shouldn't have bought it. I previously owned a pink iPod nano 2nd gen and wanted to update, so I had been lurking around eBay for a while but most of them were going for like £130 anyway, which isn't that much of a difference from the RRP. So I went into the Apple shop, handed over my old nano and got 10% off the price of this lovely iPod Touch. I'd like to pretend that I have an iPhone, and apparently there's an app for that. haha.

This weekend I've started watching Mad Men. Someone suggested that I should watch it and now I'm hooked. It's already on series 3 so I had to dig around on the internet and stream it from online. It's basically just about a group of men who work for an advertising company in America, but then it mainly focuses on the lead guy Don and his wife. I love the fashion of 50s/60s America :)

Hope everyone's having a good weekend anyway. It's nice and sunny :)

Thursday, 18 March 2010

DVD Review - The Secret Life of Bees

The Secret Life of Bees
based on the novel by Sue Monk Kidd

*I haven't read the novel, so this review is based purely on the film.

Carrying on with my American south theme this film is set in 1960s South Carolina.

Wikipedia Plot Summary -
This is the tale of Lily Owens (Dakota Fanning), a 14-year-old girl who is haunted by the memory of her late mother Deborah Owens. To escape her lonely life and troubled relationship with her father T-Ray, Lily flees with Rosaleen, her caregiver and only friend, to a South Carolina town that holds the secret to her mother's past. Taken in by the intelligent and independent Boatwright sisters — August (Queen Latifah), May and June (Alicia Keys) — Lily finds solace in their mesmerizing world of beekeeping and develops a romance with her new friend Zach . She learns about female power as the Boatwright sisters show her their black Mary, her mother's past and much more.

Dakota Fanning puts in a stunning performance as usual. She is by far the best child actress in my opinion. Here's hoping that she won't go down the usual child-actor route...

Anyway, I did enjoy this film, but at times felt that the plot struggled between being about the Boatwright sisters and their bees, and Lily Owens's search for her dead mother's past. The tension that's created in the opening scenes continuously dwindles to the very end where we end up sunk into a honeyed lull of 'everything's going to be ok now'. I guess I don't like happy endings that much.

Good, but not a must-see
3 and a half stars out of 5


Monday, 15 March 2010

Book Review - The Well and the Mine

The Well and the Mine - Gin Phillips

'After she threw the baby in, nobody believed me for the longest time. But I kept hearing that splash.'

This book was lent to me by my friend Kate, who thought that it was something I would like. And she was right, I really enjoyed this book. I couldn't put it down and although its not that long (just shy of 300 pages) and I'm a quick reader, I finished it in 2 days, which is always testament to a good book :)

It's set in the 1930s in a small mining town in Alabama and follows the story of a family who find a dead baby in their well. Ok, that sounds a bit gruesome and depressing, but along the way we get to see a portrait of a strong loving family emerge fighting against the Depression. The characters are very vivid and in each chapter the narrative switches between them so we get to see the main events of the story retold from lots of different points of view. Some of the language that Phillips uses to describe things from a child's point of view is pretty great as well. Simple, but hits the nail right on the head.

If you liked To Kill a Mockingbird then you'll definitely enjoy The Mine and the Well as they both deal with some of the same issues and themes. For some reason there's something about the Depression in America that I like to read about, hence why my favourite book is The Grapes of Wrath. So, if you're like me and enjoy a book about 'the best and worst of human nature', family unity, childhood and growing up then you'll like this one too :)

Also, how lovely is the cover? I know you shouldn't judge a book by its cover but I love the tarnished silver spoon against the hard grain of the wood.

4 out of 5 stars

And if that didn't persuade you it also won the Barnes & Noble Discover Prize!


Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Thanks AMC Cinemas!

In my post about The Lovely Bones I told you that I complained about the temperature of the screen that we were sat in to the manager via email. Well guess what? We got free tickets to a showing of our choice! :D

Thanks AMC Cinemas!

I once complained about a KitKat that had no biscuit wafer in it and I got a cheque for £3 from Nestle. haha.

Have you ever complained about something and got free things? :)


Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Marina & the Diamonds

Me and my flatmate Jack went to see Marina & the Diamonds at The Deaf Institute in Manchester last night. It was a sold out gig but we luckily managed to get our hands on some tickets by hanging around the entrance selling our souls.

It was such an amazing and intimate gig. Definitely worth the extortionate price that we paid to get in. Here are some pics from the night:

Me copying Jack's silly posing.

She has the most amazing voice live. It was such a good performance even though she admitted to being 'very hungover'. You couldn't tell one bit :)

'Obsessions' is probably my favourite song along with 'Seventeen.' I'm so glad that I got to see her at this point in her career, as this is most likely the last gig she'll do with such a small capacity. She's already sold out Manchester Academy in May and that's literally a hundred times bigger venue than this one.

After the gig had finished we managed to catch up with some of the supporting musicians.

That's the drummer and the bass player. And then I got a bit embarrassed because Jack wouldn't stop taking bloody photos and tried to get them to tell him their last names so he could add them on Facebook.

It was one of those nights that you think is going to be an absolute failure but turns out to be pretty amazing. I love Manchester.


*Oh and Kate yes I am wearing your necklace remind me to return it to you when I'm next home! :)

Sunday, 21 February 2010

The Lovely Bones

I went to see The Lovely Bones at the AMC cinema last night. Me and my flatmates decided to go to the late showing of 11:40pm. That's one thing to tick off my 'Things to do before I Die' list. It was really weird walking to the cinema when people were on their night out dressed in the skimpiest of clothing.

I read the novel The Lovely Bones about five years ago, so I'd pretty much forgotten most of the storyline apart from the main bits that were shown in the trailer. And I probably won't be able to tell you how true to the book it is because it's been so long since I've read it.

But overall it was pretty disappointing. It hasn't got great reviews and a few people told me not to go see it, but I wanted to try it for myself. As stubborn as I am.

There was nothing amazing about it and the story just plodded along to its finish. The scenes in Susie's 'inbetween place' had really stunning computer graphics but its context had no real insight into death and the afterlife. It just didn't say much. The actor who plays Mr Harvey did a great job though; I was thoroughly creeped out many times. The cinematography of it was also lovely, it had a nice retro feel with all of the yellow hues and 70s fashion. There were a few tense moments which grabbed my attention but other than that I found my mind wandering.

2 stars out of 5

Also, the screen that we were sat in was absolutely freezing! We were all sat wrapped in our coats and scarves along with the rest of the people in there. I'm going to write a very strong worded email and hopefully get some free cinema tickets! I love complaining and getting free stuff :)

Saturday, 2 January 2010


2010 is going to be about staying positive. I've recently realised how much of a pessimist I actually am. There was a lot of 'I can'ts' or 'I'll never be able to do/look like/achieve that's' going on in my head without me even noticing. And believe me, they weren't getting me anywhere.

Staying positive isn't always an easy task. Like anything it's easier said than done. It takes that little bit more effort to shout down the 'I can'ts' than to just blindly accept the negative thoughts.

Apart from staying positive, when I get back to Uni I'm going to join the student bike scheme. I've always wanted a bike but could never really afford the hefty price tag and this scheme allows you to enjoy cycling for just £1 a week. How good is that? It'll be a great way to keep fit as it's something that I enjoy which is the key to success in exercise. And Manchester has some pretty good cycle lanes.

But before I get back to uni I have to finish all of my work that's due in on the first week of term...


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