Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Plymouth Barbican

Mark came down to Plymouth the other day, and it was a great chance to explore the city I now call home. Unfortunately I was working and in lectures most of the time, so I only had a couple of free days to explore, but we fitted in quite a lot in a short space of time. My phone was being repaired so I had to borrow Mark's phone for the photos!

We went for a meal to The Stable, on the Barbican. We went on a Tuesday evening because they have Tuck In Tuesday offers. I did take pictures of our food but they didn't turn out great, I'll have to go again in daylight! I highly recommend The Stable, they have branches across the South West and they're opening new restaurants fairly frequently - great for pizza, pies and cider (aaall the cider!)

The next day we headed back to the Barbican to nosy round the National Aquarium and the Hoe. It wasn't great weather - grey and murky! This area of Plymouth is stunning on a sunny day.

These are the Mayflower Steps - where the pilgrims left on the Mayflower to head to America.

The Aquarium was quite good. I wasn't blown away by it. I was expecting big things considering its the National Aquarium, but I personally prefer Blue Planet near Chester. This Turtle was quite a character - he was swimming round his tank and kept swimming into rocks and things. We later found out he was rescued from the sea as he was blind and epileptic, poor thing. I do like the fact that you can use your ticket to go back as many times as you like within a year. It was interesting to learn about the marine life in Britain's waters, and the rockpool area was quite cool. I did hear a child complaining that there weren't enough Sharks!

The Barbican is the nicest bit of Plymouth by far, I recommend visiting if you're in the area.
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Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Book Review: Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffeneggger

I was drawn to this in a charity shop a) because I remember really enjoying The Time Traveler's Wife about 6 years ago, and b) because it was in near-new condition and only about £2.

Elspeth lives in a flat in a big old Victorian house in London that backs onto Highgate Cemetery. Her lover/long-term partner, Robert, lives in the flat downstairs and Martin,  a man with severe OCD, lives upstairs.
Near the beginning of the story Elspeth dies, and leaves the flat in her will to her twin nieces who currently live in America, and they move to London.

This is a ghost story - but it doesn't really get creepy until about two thirds of the way in. I did enjoy the story as you get to know the characters and how their lives intertwine.
The insights into the lives of identical twins and the life of someone with severe OCD were really interesting, and they added to the story. I know they are fictional but Niffenegger did do a lot of research!

This is a great read for the lead up for Hallowe'en to get you in the mood - its mainly set in a cemetery, for goodness' sake! Although I admit I started reading this in August and had a break of about 3-4 weeks in the middle where I forgot all the characters' names.

I do love the setting. Niffenegger has obviously undergone in-depth research into Highgate Cemetery, and reading this book has definitely made me want to visit! If you want a little look round the cemetery from a blogger's perspective, read about Becky Bedbug's visit here.

I don't think I've done this book justice in this review - I never really know what to write! The story does stay with you and makes you wander what you would have done in each character's situation.

If you get a chance to read it, do!

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Saturday, 17 October 2015

First Plymouth Haul

You know when you only pop into boots for something small and end up spending forty quid? That happened. And Primark happened. And Tiger. This is only a little shop today, other shopping has occurred since I've been here but this is the first I've blogged :) Apologies for the picture quality - these were (very gratefully) taken on Mark's phone as mine is still being repaired!!

I bloody love Tiger. I've not been in one before moving to Plymouth, and the best way I can describe it is all the fun bits of IKEA but better. The stripy lanyard is from there, which I got to replace the free Magners one from my last post - this is a bit more me!

I really wanted a furry jumper thing to wear in bed when I'm on my laptop so I don't have to wear a full onesie or a dressing gown. I couldn't find just a jumper that I liked so I had to get the fluffy bottoms too as part of this Hogwarts set! I do love all Primark's Hogwarts & Disney stuff. The sports bra is also Primark, I bought one a couple of weeks ago but its so comfy and only £4 so I bought another one! 

Aahhh the Boots haul. I've been after a Primer for a while -  and Smashbox's Photo Finish came up again and again with good reviews so that's what I went for. And the other cosmetics were on 3 for 2. A while ago I asked Katie what mascara she uses as her eyes always look fabulous - check out her insta! I had to get the same one in an attempt to have lashes at least half as fabulous as hers! As it was 3 for 2 I picked up some eyeliner and a brow kit. I really want to up my eyeliner and brow game - at the moment I only use eyebrow pencil so I want to experiment with this Soap & Glory kit.

Has anyone else been to Tiger? New favourite non-clothes shop - even overtaking Paperchase!
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Saturday, 10 October 2015

First weeks of uni (again)

So much for getting my blogging mojo back.. September was going well until I went to uni! Anyways I thought I'd update you on what's been keeping my occupied since the 20th of September.

I moved in to my room in halls... why would I go back to halls!? Its not actually tooo bad..... We have a few loud boys downstairs but its not been too bad during the week since fresher's fortnight has finished.
Here's my room!

I got the bedding in the H&M sale a few months ago, and the throw on top is ikea, as is the cactus pot (blogger standard). The fairy lights are Urban Outfitters, they're on copper wire so I could bend them into different shapes if I wanted. 

I was pleasantly surprised with my room, its in the corner of the flat so its slightly bigger than some of the others, mainly meaning I have more floor space. No excuse not to to yoga/workouts now! There's quite a lot of wardrobe space which is good though I feel like I've got barely any clothes with me! My window looks out over the tennis courts :)

In Fresher's week some of my flatmates and I went to a cake decorating event which we all enjoyed so much we set up a baking society there and then! I need to get down to poundland to get some piping bags so I can recreate these!

This is a selection of my favourite bits from my freshers fayre haul.. the t-shirt and the Ben & Jerry's shovel came from the Domino's stand - along with free pizza of course! The lanyard was from Wetherspoons stand along with a hat and I've been keeping my keys on it. I love the biscuit beer mat! The glow in the dark sperm keyring was from the NHS clinic stand but I gave it to my flatmate because she missed the fayre.

I've just finished my second week of lectures now and I'm realising I know very little biology - my main reading has been enormous anatomy & physiology books! I'm currently having my phone repaired and I've been given a replacement brick and I'm really missing instagram and having a camera! I might get my parents to bring my actual camera down when they come at half term.

Hope you enjoyed reading - I won't leave it as long next time.

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Saturday, 19 September 2015

She's leaving home..

So here goes, tomorrow I will be moving in to my new flat in halls at uni! Call me mad (I do myself) but I am going to university again to study another undergraduate degree. I will finally be studying Speech & Language Therapy, something I've thought about doing since I was about 15!

I am moving from my home in mid Wales to Plymouth, over 6 hours drive away! I never lived so far from home and I've never lived in England! The road signs will only be in one language!

I'm so excited to live in the South West. Watching programmes like Poldark, Jamaica Inn and Doc Martin, who could say no to living in that part of the world? Fairplay, I'm moving from Snowdonia, and nothing's going to beat that, but I think Dartmoor, Devon and Cornwall will come a close second.

I am going to be a mature student (I KNOW!) and I think most of the girls in my flat are around 18/19 - proper freshers! I think there's quite a few more mature students on my course though, but a lot of them seem to be local and living in Plymouth itself rather than on Campus.

I've also got a job in the city centre, I've managed to get a transfer from the store where I work to their Plymouth branch which will mean I have a little bit of income on top of my student loan.

I'm still debating whether or not to take my bike and/or my car. I'll probably leave my car at home, because I won't really need it (being a city with actual public transport and all). I'm still in two minds about taking my bike - I don't cycle a lot and I don't know Plymouth at all, but I know I'll regret not having it even if it's just for popping to the shops. I need to invest in a good bike lock though! Has anyone got any tips for city cycling and getting around?

I'm really looking forward to uni the second time round - I'll keep you updated on how its all going!

And now... FRESHERS! (help) 
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Thursday, 17 September 2015

#PartyAtTheAngel Big Welsh Bloggers Event

On Sunday I made the 3 hour journey down to Cardiff with my boyfriend to attend #PartyAtTheAngel at the Angel Hotel (would you believe?) I'd been excited about this event for a while because I was finally going to meet bloggers I've been speaking to on Twitter for ages! And of course see Ffion from A South Wales Blog, the wonderful  hostess, again!

The Angel hotel was is a really fancy building. In the foyer is a stunning staircase with a huge chandelier. Everyone was dressed to impress and the hotel was the perfect venue. I took my phone and my compact camera but I didn't get any photos of the venue or my outfit, blogger fail I know!

We were greeted by cupcakes, canapes and prosecco and were able to go round and chat to the brands that were there. It was great to speak to a really enthusiastic lady from Pad Deco who clearly loved her company, her passion shone through even though she was having to say the same thing over and over again as each of us were drawn over by the mysterious furry gift bags.

It turns out the fur was sheepskin rug samples which were so so soft, I couldn't help stroking it! A few other bits and bobs in the bag included  a pear candle (not soap as we first thought!) and this really pretty notebook.

I loved the photobooth! It was so much fun and such a simple idea. I somehow managed to get in a photo with about half the girls there which I thought was pretty good going! They're all tagged on my instagram. One thing I would have liked would be large versions of the photos, as its quite hard to see the details and the funny props we were using.

I also really liked this competition - everyone wrote/drew in the scrapbook and the best entry won a huge Prairie Charms package.

Hanne from The Beauty Crowd gave a little talk about the brand and some of the products that would be in the goody bag. I got the impression that they are an innovative company using innovative products! She did know her stuff though. I've yet to try the blusher, which looks so pretty, but I've tried the lipgloss and its really vibrant.

Also in the goody bag were temporary tattoos, a Bee Good cleanser and some Prairie Charms hair ties (amongst others).

One of the highlights was finally meeting Welsh Girl Problems. If you don't follow her on twitter, what are you doing!? Follow her now, you don't even have to be Welsh, as long as you appreciate good brows and rugby players' thighs.

She also does really good merch, and I bought this fab mug. As I move to England next weekend, I need a little piece of home to have my morning paned in (that's Welsh for cuppa btw).

I had a brilliant time, and Ffion and Charlotte did an amazing job at hosting their first event! Check out #PartyAtTheAngel on Instagram for everyone else's lovely photos.

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Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Mini Cardiff Haul

As you saw in my last post, I recently did a bit of shopping in Cardiff. I also went to Cardiff on Sunday for #PartyAtTheAngel, and you'll see all about that in another post (check out my insta if you want a sneak peak)

I didn't go mad shopping, due to lack of funds and starting uni next week (eeeeeek!) but I managed to pick up a few bits and pieces in Primark and H&M.

I needed a new duvet cover for uni, so that was my main reason for heading to Primark. I managed to resist most of their gorgeous homeware and Disney pjs!

I was hoping to find something similar to the hedgehog print in the background of these photos which I got last year. I was pleased with this pastel aztec find though!

I also got my eyebrows threaded at Superdrug's Beauty Studio in the St David's Centre. I'm so so happy with them, and it only cost a fiver! I'd highly recommend getting your eyebrows done there if you're looking for somewhere good. I'd previously always got my brows done at Arch Angels at Debenhams, but that's £10 a time!

While I was in Superdrug I picked up a couple of Essie polishes, the blue is Lapiz of Luxury and the Nude is Spin the Bottle. I've wanted Lapiz of Luxury since borrowing my cousin's while we were on holiday and really loving the shade. I've been after a nude nail polish for ages, but there's so many different shades of beige to go on I could never decide. I got this having seen Rosie's post last month!

They go (unintentionally) with the watch I got from H&M. I'd forgotten to wear one to Cardiff and it was such a pain having to get my phone out my bag if I wanted to know the time. This was a bit of an impulse buy but it's so pretty! I have been a bit confused due to the lack of numbers though...

I also picked up this belt in H&M because I'd forgotten mine and my jeans were doing my head in falling down. I was so annoyed as I'd laid out a belt on my bed at home whilst packing but obviously had forgotten to put in in my bag. D'oh.

I found this burgundy cardi and grey t-shirt in Primark. They're basic but so useful, and the colour of the cardi (I believe it said Aubergine on the label) epitomises A/W fashion. The little cross body bag came from H&M. This was another thing I bought because I'd come ill-prepared. I'd only brought my huge leather tote with me, which is great for shopping but not so great to go out for an evening meal so I wanted something handy and smart just to hold my purse, phone, lipstick and room key.

I also got a leave in conditioner in Boots which I'll review. I got it with my advantage card points, which is a great feeling! Thankyou for free things, Boots! Oooh and I got a free doughnut with my Krispy Kreme loyalty card. Yay for free stuff!

What do you think of my purchases? Let me know!

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Monday, 7 September 2015

A weekend in Cardiff

I'm baaaaack!
After a slightly unintentional but lengthy hiatus, I have returned to blogging and I have a lot planned for you! I thought I'd start with a little run down of my weekend in the beautiful Welsh capital, Cardiff!

Mark had got tickets for the Wales v Italy match ages ago, and amazingly they were front row seats right behind the posts! Great spot for watching the players warm up before the match.

15 is Leigh Halfpenny, 11 is George North. We were devastated to see Rhys Webb and Leigh Halfpenny stretchered off, and even worse to hear this evening's news that Halfpenny will have to miss the World Cup. 

The morning of the match we met a couple of ladies from our town who were about to set off on their cycle ride from Cardiff Castle to Caernarfon Castle. They are cycling in aid of Odyssey, a charity which aims to help cancer sufferers regain their self confidence through fun and adventure - they do so much good work and really improve the lives of the people they help.

Of course I did plenty of shopping! A haul will follow sometime this week. One purchase I was not expecting to make was from Cardiff Violins. We were walking through Castle Arcade, one of Cardiff's many beautiful Victorian arcades, when I spotted a sign for the upper level saying "Cardiff Violins." I've played violin since I was 10, so I was keen to have a  little look!
I was only going in for a nosy, but then the lady showed me the room full of cases. My poor violin has been in a battered case that's been falling apart for years, so it was well needed! I didn't have a huge budget, as my violin is only basic and some of the cases were double the cost of the instrument, but I found one that fit the bill - now I just need to practice!!

How beautiful is the violin room!?

Mark took part in the Cardiff 10k on Sunday morning. Unfortunately I don't have any pictures of him running, or with his medal, even though it was a beautiful sunny morning, buuuuut I did get this pic of Jamie Roberts who started the race! I also got a selfie with him, but I look really rough in it.

On the way home we decided to stop at St Fagan's museum. We turned off the dual carriageway to be greeted by hundreds of cars parked in a field and car park martials directing people. Cue utter confusion as to why it was so busy! Turns out there was a food festival on, yay food!

We had quite a jam-packed weekend that left us both knackered when we got home yesterday evening. I slept in the car for most of the journey! I'm looking forward to heading back to Cardiff on Sunday for the #PartyAtTheAngel blogging event.. see you there?

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Sunday, 14 June 2015

Book Review: The Hourglass Factory

I've been meaning to write this review for ages but there was one thing holding me back: I'd read the book on my kindle and it just doesn't photograph as well as the real-life book. I've read quite a few books on my kindle recently, and I know a picture of the cover doesn't really tell you much about the story, but it definitely makes the review on my blog more pleasant to look at. Luckily when I stayed at my cousin's recently, I noticed that she had the hard copy, so I photographed that! Now onto the actual review...

(I just went on Amazon to find the blurb and got distracted by their 3 paperbacks for £10 offer, which this title is part of.. go go go!)

The suffragette movement is reaching fever pitch but for broke Fleet Street tomboy Frankie George, just getting by in the cut-throat world of newspapers is hard enough. Sent to interview trapeze artist Ebony Diamond, Frankie finds herself fascinated by the tightly laced acrobat and follows her across London to a Mayfair corset shop that hides more than one dark secret.

Then Ebony Diamond mysteriously disappears in the middle of a performance, and Frankie is drawn into a world of tricks, society columnists, corset fetishists, suffragettes and circus freaks. How did Ebony vanish, who was she afraid of, and what goes on behind the doors of the mysterious Hourglass Factory?

From the newsrooms of Fleet Street to the drawing rooms of high society, the missing Ebony Diamond leads Frankie to the trail of a murderous villain with a plot more deadly than anyone could have imagined...

 I read this in the weeks leading up to the General Election and it definitely made me want to vote (I was going to anyway, but this added to the cause). I love the way Lucy Ribchester describes London in the early twentieth century. It feels a bit Dickensian but I also liked the mentions of recognisable streets and landmarks so you feel like you could follow Frankie George's footsteps if you wanted to today. It really brings home how much soceity has changed in just over a hundred years, and I am so so thankful for the suffragettes.

Anyways.. enough social history.. onto the book! We follow Frankie around London as she tries to get a photo of Ebony Diamond for a story, but this quest leads her deeper and darker into the sideshows of Soho and the questionable pasttimes of high society. There's a murder and we know the killer is trying to strike again, but whodunnit? And why? Everything kicks off with the police, suffragettes, politicians and performers all pointing the finger at eachother. There is a major plot twist that I did not see coming and the conclusion is nothing like what I might have expected from the first chapter.

I highly recommend this book, its an important (if ficitonal) glimpse into the suffragette movement but also a really good murder mystery. If you get the change to read this - do!

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Monday, 30 March 2015

A little taste of what I get up to at pottery...

I thought I'd introduce you to something that's been part of my life for as long as I can remember: pottery. I used to go up to my mum's friend's studio when I was a baby, and since then our house has gradually become filled with ceramics. Last summer I properly started going again, and I thought I'd show you a step-by-step coil pot I made. 

When I first started making this, the other ladies (mainly middle aged) were asking what I was making and they all laughed at me when I said a pot for my hairbrushes. The main question being "how many do you have!?" As you can see from the final pictures: it's definitely needed!

Step-by-step Coil Pot

1. I started by preparing my coils. We have this awesome tool that's basically a huge garlic press. You put clay in, you push down the handle and coils come out. Simples. I call it the pushy thing or sausage maker but apparently it's technical term is an extruder.

2. I rolled out a flat bit of clay to make the bottom of the pot. You can do this by coiling your coils but I'm lazy.

3. Next I attached my coils. I had to scour the coils and the bottom of the pot so the slip (wet clay) can grip at attach them securely.

4. Once I'd built up the walls of my pot I smoothed the insdide with a wooden tool to make sure the coils are really stuck together and give a smooth finish. I left the outside because I like the texture of the coils.

5. Once the pot had dried a bit I smoothed off the edges and tidied it up. Then I let it dry a bit more so it could be fired in the kiln - in what's called a biscuit firing. (Sadly no biscuits are involved) This is what it's like after being fired: your classic terracotta pot:

6. But a plain pot is boring, right? I glazed the inside with a plain white glaze and the outside with Clover on the top and Green Reflections on the bottom.

7. Then that had to be fired again (at a higher temperature this time) to bring out the colour and shineyness of the glaze.

8. The finished product. As you can see there's a huge difference in colour once the glaze has been fired. The finish isn't as great as I'd have liked because it was so awkward to apply the glaze evenly between the coils!

Aaaand here's the pot fulfilling it's purpose. My hairbrushes really did need a home!


What do you think? Has anyone else tried pottery?
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