Monday, 30 March 2015

The Ideal Home Show


I am a little nuts when it comes to home d├ęcor kind of stuff. But because I am still living in furnished, rented housing at the moment, I have no space to stretch my creative wings. This doesn't stop me, however. I am definitely the type of girl who will quite happily spend her afternoons in House of Fraser, lusting after the beautiful set ups they have on display. Therefore, when I was invited to the Ideal Home Show in Kensington Olympia (thanks Hilary's Blinds, you literally made my weekend) it was actually a dream.

I am not furnishing a house right now, so downstairs was not all that relevant to me. It had all the sofas, dining tables, garden furniture, kitchens, bathrooms you would expect. I did wander around there a little because I find the room set ups absolutely fascinating. The interiors are just so beautiful. I like to pretend, it is my house - don't ask, I am crazy.

Where I spent most of my time, was upstairs. And here was the really interesting bit. This had all the homeware items and I had to be really really careful not to spend hundreds of pounds. Because I could have easily. There was some beautiful art, which I was very tempted by. And a huge amount of what my Dad would call 'pretty junk' - the type of things that look really pretty sitting on a shelf, but actually serve no purpose. What really held me back was lack of space where I currently live. You just wait until I get my own place...

But there were a few bits I couldn't resist. Firstly this clock. I just loved it. And considering we put the clocks forward an hour on the day I visited, I thought it was very fitting.
I also bought these from Alexander Interiors. I love this kind of inspirational stuff. It took me ages just to pick these three. But I got there in the end. Thank you to the lovely guy on the stall - who was so patient with me and retrieved all the canvases I wanted. Of course, I had to choose the ones which were at the very back.

I then was absolutely starving so headed into the food area. Which didn't help my hunger at all because there was so much to explore, I had to have a complete look around first. It was probably another hour at least until I had lunch). I did nibble on a few free samples (in fact I had so many wine samples that I started to get a bit tipsy but shhh...don't tell anyone). There was a fascinating variety from coffee to tapas to duck wraps (which is what I eventually went for. YUM) to chocolate to fudge to hog roast and everything inbetween.
I do need to become more skilful in the art of running away from stall holders I don't want to talk to though. I am just too friendly and tend to smile at them, which only encourages them to try and sell me something that I know I will never buy. This led to one guy cleaning my glasses for me. Which was very kind and all but when he was showing me how sparklingly clean they were, I couldn't actually see anything. A bit of a flawed sales tactic there. And then another guy was trying to guess my age...he came up with 27. 27??? 27????? Really??? I know it's not exactly old, but late twenties sounds a lot older than early 20s. Maybe I should have bought the night cream, he was trying to sell me.

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Friday, 27 March 2015

Made in Dagenham


I haven't written a theatre review in ages - sorry about that - but that's not to say I haven't been to the theatre, recently. Oh no, I have seen all sorts of things including Shakespeare in Love (the play is exactly like the film but better) Miss Saigon, Matilda, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (with Robert Lindsay - hilarious guy) and Made in Dagenham. Twice.

I have to say I LOVE THIS MUSICAL. Which is why I have seen it twice in the space of three months. It is a new one to hit London, but it has managed to creep into the top 5 out of the 30 musicals and plays I have seen in the West End. Pretty unheard of as I am very critical and new shows are not often as high calibre as some of the old classics such as Les Mis, Wicked or the Lion King. However Made in Dagenham is a gem which you HAVE to go and see before it closes in a couple of weeks time.

Reason One - Gemma Arterton. She is a complete goddess. I genuinely think I love her. I don't know why but it always surprises me when movie actors can sing. And she can sing really well. She makes it look so easy as well, belting out fast catchy numbers one minute, and then performing soft emotional numbers the next. There is a lot of emotion in this particular musical and Arterton leads her character, Rita O'Grady on such a journey from a simple mother working in a factory, to a leading figure of female rights. She plays the ups and downs perfectly and it all looks so natural. A very skilled actor.

Reason Two - the history. The musical depicts such a good story and that's because it's based in truth. Rita O'Grady and all the rest were real people, working in the real Ford factory in Dagenham in the late 60s and they really did secure equal pay for women. I studied history A level and I didn't even know their names. Which is just terrible. They make up an important part of our history and should be remembered accordingly. So here is one really fun way to learn about them - make sure you go and visit the musical.

Reason Three - it's just great. Inspiring, fun, emotional, this musical has everything. It has it's ups and downs and roundabouts. It has hilarious moments, silly moments and teary moments and actually seems pretty realistic. I love musicals that focus on people and stories. And this is one hell of a story. The characters grow so much and the world literally changes by the end. Which, in turn, will make you feel ready to take on the world and start your own protest, changing all that is wrong in the world.

If you are a fan of the grittier musical such as Billy Elliot, you will love this one. So celebrate World Theatre Day and book tickets for Made in Dagenham now. Before it's too late.

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Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Falling in love with heroes


I really hope this isn't just me.

As you might be able to tell from this blog (or my twitter if you follow me), I am a little obsessed with books and films. I say, a little. I mean, completely. I genuinely only spend about 30-40% in the real world, and the rest of the time I am encompassed within some other fictional world.

Recently I watched Insurgent which has just come out in the cinema. I had seen Divergent for the first time only a few months ago and became absolutely obsessed with Theo James. Like I fell properly in love with him (if I met him, who knows what I would do. Probably faint). So of course, I started to seek him out on YouTube to see him in interviews and stuff like that. And while I still liked him - he is literally the funniest guy in the world plus really good looking - I didn't feel quite as deeply for him as I had when I was watching the film.

And this made me realise that I didn't actually fancy Theo James at all. It was his character, Four, who I had fallen so heavily in love with. The way he looks, dresses, acts, speaks and what he specifically says, that of course isn't the actor at all. It is Four and he has been instructed to act that way so he can inspire certain feelings in those that watch the film.

The idea is you are meant to fall in love with him and all the other heroes that books and films present to you. When authors write their characters, they want you to relate to the hero and/or heroine and therefore go through everything they are going through, alongside them. And this is not just the bad things the happen to them, but the good ones as well such as falling in love. The character is meant to be desirable and have certain characteristics which will make the heroine fall in love with him (and vice versa). So, if you empathise with her, you will also find him attractive (and, again vice versa).

I always throw myself into books and films wholeheartedly, imagining the people are real. So I become completely emotionally invested in the outcomes that occur. And I definitely fall in love with every single hero I meet along the way. No wonder I am single. I don't have the emotional capacity for a real boyfriend as well =] Please tell me I am not the only one? Who are your top fictional crushes?

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Sunday, 22 March 2015

My visit to Amazon


This week, I think I attended the coolest event that blogging has ever opened up for me. Which was the Blogging Conference held at Amazon Headquarters, hosted by BritBloggers.

Amazon HQ is awesome. You know when you see an office in a movie and it's all marble floors, a massive entrance hall that only has one tiny desk in the corner and security everywhere? That's exactly what it was like. I got a badge and everything it made me feel important =]

And, as I keep saying I always love attending blogging events because they are such a wonderful community of people. Everyone is so supportive of each other, and it's great to talk about blogging to people who really understand it as much as you do. So that's a nice aspect.

But this was a great event because it really was so useful in all the technicalities of blogging. Which I won't go on about here, because it's all behind-the-scenes stuff which isn't particularly interesting to you guys but I will say this...I am feeling INSPIRED. It has made me want to blog more, has given me a few ideas on how to make my blog look and feel more professional. And it means I will be implementing some new features in the next few months which I am super excited about. So you will have to look out for them.

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Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Choosing a book


Choosing a new book to read is HARD.

Unless you are complete book nerd, I doubt you can actually imagine the struggle we go through. But believe me, it is a serious decision that has to be thought through carefully. Firstly you have to assess what kind of a mood you are in, then you have to decide the genre based on that mood. Next you have to decide how much you really want to concentrate on a book (do you want to have a short and snappy easy read, or a more detailed descriptive book which completely encompasses you and allows you to hide from the world?) And then, when you have all those answers, you have to choose the book itself.

You might be alright if you are just choosing from your own personal library. You will probably only have a few books that fit into the category you have specified from the above questions. And then it's just a case of eeny meeny miney mo really. Although it still takes me about half an hour to choose a book. So much so, I have actually created a lucky dip system to help me. Every time I buy a new book (which is on average about 3 a week. oops) I write down the title on a post it and place it in a box. So when I am ready for a new book and I can't choose, I can simply pull one out. More often than not, I put it back and choose another, but it does force me to make a decision of sorts.

Choosing from a bookshop is another kettle of fish. The choice is so overwhelming. Therefore I never dare to go in there, if I have finished a book and don't know what to read next - I don't want to cause some kind of breakdown.

I only go into a book store if I have a recommendation that I am looking for. And then, of course, I get distracted by the millions of other books that are just begging me to buy them. I am not like other people though. Covers don't bother me at all. What is my bait is the title. It has to have to a good title, otherwise I won't give it another thought. Next up, the hook is the blurb. It has to grip me and attach me firmly to the book. It has to intrigue me and it has to give me a tantalising idea into the personality and life of the main character. Too little and I won't be bothered enough to read the book, too much and I will feel like I can't gain anything more in reading the whole book. And then the delightful rod, is of course the whole book itself, reeling me into a brand new, fascinating world. Which is probably a lot more interesting than mine.

And that's what reading is all about - blissful escapism. Where you can forget your own troubles, in favour of someone else's. All you need now, is the perfect book to help you out.

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Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Celebrating the top lady in my life


The other day was International Women's Day so, in order to celebrate that, plus the fact it is Mother's Day in a few days time, I thought I would give a bit of a shoutout to my Mum. She always reads my blog, and I haven't told her I am doing this. Therefore it should be a nice surprise.

Because quite frankly I am a pretty rubbish daughter. I am argumentative and stubborn, and think I know best and am fiercely independent but at the same time I rely on both my parents in a really huge way.

If anything goes wrong - anything at all - I go to her. I literally ring her for everything. If I have to make a big decision I ask her advice (and then ignore it, but I pay attention to some of it, I promise); I update her on my life constantly; I moan and whine and cry; I ask her how to deal with people who are being rubbish and, if I am ill, I always ring my mum before anyone else. Even before the doctors. She used to be physiotherapist so if I have pain anywhere, she is genuinely qualified to give me good advice. And she is pretty hot on every other type of illness as well - she's very good at homeopathic remedies and stuff. So, as I hate taking medicine and distrust doctors, I normally do what she tells me. That way, I can normally miss out the doctors altogether. Yay.

She is also one of these rare women who is ridiculously unselfish. Don't read that wrong - I said UNselfish. I don't know if that's just a trait of mothers in general but it's something I really value in people. She has given up so so much for me and my siblings. She event parted with us for weeks at a time while we attended boarding school, a move that must have been so difficult for her but she did it because she knew ultimately that we would receive the best education there. And that's what she wanted more than anything. She (and my dad) scrimped and saved and sacrificed so much so they could afford to send us there (anyone who tells you that you have to be rich to go to boarding school, is so wrong). Even now, she would be more likely to lend me £100 than to buy some new clothes.

I now feel like I am gushing - she is not some sort of saint, she's a pain in the arse as well. Obviously. We have a very healthy, argumentative relationship. But I am not very good at showing affection so I thought it was time I should just announce in public how much she means to me, and how much darker my life would be without her. Love you Mum.

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Thursday, 5 March 2015

How to improve your mood


Everybody gets down sometimes. But the scariest times are when there is nothing really wrong. You just feel generally rubbish and everything appears to be going badly. Even if it isn't or there isn't anything specific.

I get this fairly frequently so I have come up with a few ways to cheer myself up and put life into perspective a little more. And I thought I would jot them down here so they might help other people as well.

1. Ring a family or close friend
As long as it isn't the middle of the night or anything, they are perfect to cheer you up, tell you everything is ok and that you are being ridiculous. Just the sound of their voice can help a lot but knowing that someone who understands you, is right there listening to you, and will give you honest advice is so so helpful.

2. Text someone you haven't talked to in a while
You know that friend who you used to be so close to, but who you haven't seen in months? Give them a bell, see what they are up to, arrange to meet up. It's so fascinating hearing what everyone is doing now, and everyone has their own moans and groans about life. Even though their life might seem so perfect on facebook, you will get a much more realistic side to it when they tell you all the details.

3. Read a book or watch a film
Throwing yourself into someone else's life really helps you to forget your own. You can invest yourself in their emotions instead and sometimes watching a sad film can be really beneficial. It makes you cry and releases your pent up sadness.

4. Do something creative
Write a story or a poem, paint a picture, do some sewing, play the piano...anything to get the emotions out of you.

5. Make a list of all the good things in your life at the moment.
This can really help to put into perspective what is actually wrong in your life (with me it's often very little) and makes you realise how lucky you are. I have a lot to be thankful for and this reminds me of that.

6. Write a list of all the bad things in your life at the moment
On a different bit of paper obviously. You don't want to remember these. Once you are done, throw it away. I read this bit of advice (that came from a psychologist) in a newspaper and I thought it was totally ridiculous. But it actually really worked.

7. Listen to an upbeat song and sing along to it really badly
Or really well, depending on your talent. Walking on Sunshine is my favourite for this.

8. Go for a walk
Occasionally it's just a case of getting out of the house and having some fresh air. Head for countryside rather than people who might annoy you. There is this really pretty lake near where I live and, although it sounds lame, just looking out over the water with the sun darting off it and watching the ducks, fills me with this inner peace. It always relaxes me.

9. Treat yourself
Buy that dress you have been lusting after, that notebook you don't really need, that overpriced something or other you have been trying to ignore. Don't hold back when you are feeling down (although don't spend hundreds of pounds either, especially if money worries have caused all of this. One treat will do for now).

10. Dress up
Put on make up, straighten your hair, wear something that you feel great in. When I do this, my mood automatically improves and I feel ready to face the world again.

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