A Day At The Races - Dressing For Cheltenham

Apart from our little family tradition of betting on the Grand National - and by betting, I really mean each of us choosing a horse with the coolest name and putting a pound on it - I've never really had much to do with or taken much interest in horse racing (or any racing for that matter, as you've probably realized by now, sports and me are rather diametrically opposed). However, one thing I DO enjoy muchly and partake in at every available opportunity is dressing up and wearing/coveting beautiful clothes. Any excuse to look like a Disney princess is guaranteed to get a good reception from me! Such an event that obviously comes to mind is Ladies Day at Cheltenham races, which I might potentially be persuaded to attend at some point in the future, although I don't really like champagne, I hate wearing heels on grass and I currently own absolutely nothing that comes close to tweed!

Regardless, I did have fun imaging what I would wear if I did happen upon the chance to go, and the more I started browsing the more and more enthusiastic I became, if only for the fact that I'd get to wear a tutu again! (Read: extremely classy tulle skirt. Not 'tutu'. I just really, really like the word tutu). I know the outfit I've styled isn't stereotypical of the races (I'm looking at the sea of fitted dresses, nipped in waists, long button coats and cloche hats from last years event right now) but it's most definitely me and I know full well if I was really going, I wouldn't cheat myself out of an opportunity to bring a bit of fairy-like magic to the track! 


Ladies Who Lunch | Crepeaffaire Review

Yesterday, me and my Mum and my sister Milly headed across the Pennines to Leeds for a wander around the new Trinity mall, a cheeky bit of window shopping and a spot of lunch. We don't go to Leeds all that much as Sheffield/Meadowhall is a lot closer and more convenient, but after a weekend spent looking after my poorly Grandma and frenzied job hunting, we all thought it would be nice to get out for a few hours and do something a little bit different. Trinity mall itself was a pleasant surprise; with a great mix of shops, cafes and restaurants; beautiful curved glass, stone and aluminium architecture and a prime city center location - although it wasn't exactly as 'indoors' as we expected, which resulted in us going rather under-dressed for the breezy and drizzly weather Tuesday had in store for us!

To warm up and refuel after a couple of hours spent trying on huge hipster cardigans in Urban Outfitters, longingly fondling the gems in Sworovski and coveting matching sets of beautiful underwear in Victoria's Secret, we decided to try out Crepeaffaire in the upper gallery, a waffle, shake and pancake house with additional stores in London, Cambridge, Cardiff, Reading and Germany. This is the first branch to brave the North, and I sincerely hope it marks the beginning of a new trend, because seriously - it's DELICIOUS. Hands down some of the best pancakes I've ever had, with ridiculously generous portions to boot!


Wanderings | Barcelona!

HELLO! Or should that be HOLA? Heh! If you follow me on twitter and instagram you'll have no doubt noticed that this time last week I jetted off for a mini weekend city break with Charlie, staying Friday-Sunday in the Catalonian haunt of Barcelona. We had a brilliant time exploring, eating all the food and drinking all the sangria and going on all the metros (does anyone else really like using foreign metro systems? I may just be weird...), in addition to seeing a plethora of pretty things and soaking up the unexpected and really quite pleasant February sun!

We managed to fit in a trip to the Sagrada Familia (my new favourite place), the Gaudi museum, Park Guell, the beach, the harbour/marina, Las Ramblas, the Palace and Montjuic Fountains, Avenue Diagonal and also wandered in and around the streets between Espanya and the Passeig du Gracia. Mornings began with pastry and nights ended with tapas and paella, and of course more sangria! I got quite fond of the strange Spanish eating times ('lunch' at 2pm-ish, 'tea' at 10pm-ish) even though we were only there for just short of three days, and my only regret is not sampling some of the delicious looking churros as an afternoon snack when I had the chance! I did find out that I like razor clams, periwinkles and (to Charlie's smug delight) mussels, the latter of which I've been a staunch hater of my whole life - I remain convinced that it was only because these particular mussels were covered in squid ink and mixed into a well seasoned and delicious paella that I was able to tolerate them!


Mischief Managed.

They're here, at last! The long awaited and much delayed photos from when me and Emma went to the Harry Potter Studio Tour a whole SIX MONTHS AGO. I can't quite believe it's that long, and I'm definitely getting ready for a repeat trip. It was beyond magical, beyond expectation, beyond anything I'd imagined and utterly, beautifully and marvelously REAL. I quite simply can't put into words how wonderful it felt to be there, to be surrounded by props and sets and costumes and have the whole Potter world come alive - I lost count of the amount of times we squealed, pointed, cried and stared in wonder! The Harry Potter books mean more to me than I could ever get across on paper (or online, heh) and if I could move into the Leavesden Studios for good, I would. It took all of my strength not to climb over the rope that separated us from the Weasley's kitchen and start making a brew, accompanied by some 'Cheeri-Owls', and I wanted to sit by the fire in the Gryffindor common room for the rest of my days. 

I know a lot of you guys have been as well, and so what I'm saying in this post is probably second nature to you and nothing new, but I love hearing other people's thoughts and feelings on their experiences and seeing their pictures. If you're not a Potterhead feel free to skip the 'read more, although you could have a sneaky peek and see if it tempts you into going or reading the series or watching the films... I personally couldn't imagine my life without Harry Potter, and I know it'll continue to be one of my greatest loves and interests for all of ever.


Twenty Three.

As it's the last official day of my Birthday Week (you all have birthday weeks, right? I mean, who only wants dessert and special treats on ONE day?!) I figured I'd post a few snapshots of how I celebrated, both on Tuesday and yesterday! Tuesday was a 'family day' and a rather quiet event, filled with food and wine and beautiful gifts, and yesterday was a 'friend day', filled with...actually, that was food and wine and gift orientated too! With added spy movies in the form of Jack Ryan (which is actually surprisingly really good). 

I haven't had chance to see Charlie yet due to work/distance/money issues, but I'm not too sad as later this week we're going to Barcelona for three days! SO INCREDIBLY EXCITED. Also it's not been possible to see my old house/uni mates this year again as we're still scattered all over the world, but they sent me what was possibly the most amazing card I've ever received and so I guess I forgive all of them... 

My pictures are quite sparse, as I was too wrapped up in enjoying my time with family and Emma to whip my phone out - and I don't really like 'haul' style posts, I always think that no-one else would really care what gifts I got, as they were intended/personalised for me and so probably aren't very interesting or exciting to others! I couldn't resist showing off my new ring though, which was a gorgeous and totally unexpected surprise from my mum... she's a star! Most of the photos I actually did take involve food in some shape or form. Which is something I'm totally fine with.


For The Love Of The Sea & The Stars | A Links of London Valentines Wishlist

With Valentines Day coming up a week today, shops and blogs and social media sites are full of shiny and creative adverts showcasing beautiful jewelry, delicious looking cakes and velvety blooms. Even though I'm not a huge fan of the day itself - I prefer it when me and Charlie surprise each other with silly messages or gifts or bake each other scrummy stuff at random points throughout the year - I always like to have a browse around this time at all the new collections; I love the colour red and I love sweets and I love gems, so it's a great chance to add things to my wishlist that I wouldn't necessarily 'just' want for Valentines Day! 

Whilst browsing this year, a certain blog competition caught my eye - Links of London are offering the chance to win your wishlist up to the generous value of £1000 by creating a post or Pinterest board (or both!) of your favourite items from their current collection. I've always admired Links of London for their stunning simplicity and sparkling quality, and knew it wouldn't be difficult for me to find a couple of things to add to my ever-growing list of coveted gems!

The two pieces I've chosen quite simply took my breath away and perfectly fit my style; even though they're obviously way beyond my usual budget! As you'll probably have guessed if you already follow me on pinterest or twitter, or know me in real life, I'm a huge fan of space and stars and the moon - a considerable portion of my wardrobe, sketches and existing jewelry collection is inspired by constellations, inky colours and shimmering stars (did you see my gorgeous new birthday ring?!) and I find something incredibly magical about seeing photos of the night sky; it's so calming yet vast and brilliant and full of quiet adventure. Hence, it was love at first sight when I came across this charm, which would work beautifully as a necklace or attached to my Pandora bangle.

This seashell charm was also impossible to scroll past, I'm becoming more and more attracted to rose gold pieces lately and I love how this shell hides a sparkly secret. The sea, like the stars, also holds appeal to me as being so unfathomable, huge and mysterious, and so as well as being incredible pieces of jewelry these two charms represent my greatest inspirations for my creative hobbies and thoughts. My pinterest board includes some other items I happen to have fallen in love with on the Links of London site, but if I was lucky enough to win then these two pieces are the beauties I'd choose! 

The competition is open to the general public, and more information can be found by following this link - good luck to everyone who enters, both in choosing their items and in the competition itself! 


Liebster Blog Tag

Firstly, I think I owe a huge thank you to everyone who wished me a happy birthday yesterday and sent such lovely tweets and messages, they made me grin like crazy and feel very loved! I had a wonderful day, relaxing by myself with books and paints and The Sopranos until my family got home from work/school, and then whiling the evening away in nearby Sheffield drinking lots of wine, eating lots of food and sharing lots of giggles. There's a birthday round up post on the way, but as it'll take me years a few days to get my photos sorted and edited (taking blurry phone-shots at night whilst singing Frozen songs and trying to eat white chocolate mousse is no mean feat!) I thought I'd complete this Liebster Blog Tag that Char very kindly included me in.

I know these posts are a hit and miss for readers, some people love them and some hate them, but personally I find them fun to do and I love seeing everyone's answers to the questions I pose, bloggers are nosy by nature right?! Take a look at Char's own post here, whilst below, these are the questions she came up with for me:


Happy Birthday-Eve

....to me! Not to Eve. I don't know anyone called Eve! BUT, it's my last day of being 22 today, and I don't know about anyone else, but I always feel like the day before a birthday is a bit like New Years Eve; a chance to reflect on the past year of YOUR life and look forward to the next, deciding what changes to make, remembering what the positives were and happily 'escaping' the not-so-good times. It's no secret that the past year hasn't been my best, and I'm extremely glad to say that 2014 itself is already shaping up to be more wonderful (touching wood here!) and I'm hoping that my ~personal~ New Year carries on this trend, starting tomorrow!

With this is mind, I've collected a little round up of the good times and nice things from my time being 22, to remind myself that not everything has to be clouded by the one or two majorly rubbish things that occurred. Also, I've finally managed to upload photos from my old camera onto my laptop, so I'm probably going to be showcasing a lot of old events and happenings over the next few weeks, including a long awaited full post on mine and Emma's Harry Potter Studio Tour! That was definitely one of the highlights of my 22nd year, amongst these others...

Going to see Walking With Dinosaurs Live! REAL DINOSAURS.


Birthday Wishlist - BOOKS EDITION

Hello February, favourite month of mine... not just because you're unique and the only one with 28 days, but because YOU'RE MY MONTH! Well, my birth month. In four days, I turn 23, and even though I don't get quite as excited about birthdays as I used to when I was younger, I still can't help but get a bit giddy when there's less than a week to go! This year it's just going to be a quiet one, as it's a work/school day, but there's going to be a meal out involved and hopefully some homemade pastries and definitely a lot of wine. As it's not long since Christmas, wishlist-wise I never really know what I want for my birthday so rely on friends and family being their usual creative selves, and I'm never disappointed with what they come up with! That being said, my book tbr pile is ever-growing, and so if people get really stuck I always direct them towards my Goodreads account for inspiration...

Kevin Quinn is a standard-variety American male: middle-aged, liberal-leaning, self-centered, emotionally damaged, generally determined to avoid both pain and responsibility. As his relationship with his girlfriend approaches a turning point, and his career seems increasingly pointless, he decides to secretly fly to a job interview in Austin, Texas. Aboard the plane, Kevin is simultaneously attracted to the young woman in the seat next to him and panicked by a new wave of terrorism in Europe and the UK. He lands safely with neuroses intact and full of hope that the job, the expansive city, and the girl from the plane might yet be his chance for reinvention. His next eight hours make up this novel, a tour-de-force of mordant humor, brilliant observation, and page-turning storytelling.

A beautiful Somalian refugee-turned-actress is found murdered on a reindeer farm, gruesomely mutilated, a racial slur carved into her chest. Inspector Kari Vaara, head of the rural police force, is under great pressure not only to solve this crime himself, without the help of the big-city cops from Helsinki, but also to keep the potentially explosive case out of the news. Sufia Elmi had become a tabloid fixture, and her death—not to mention the awful way she met it—is sure to send shock waves across this insular, secretly racist country. Was this murder a hate crime, a sex crime—or both?

On the first day of Lillian’s summer-before-college, she gets a message on her cell from her sort-of friend, Penny. Not only has Penny faked her own kidnapping, but Lil is the only one who figures it out. She knows that Penny’s home life has been rough, and that her boyfriend may be abusive. Soon, Penny’s family, the local police, and even the FBI are grilling Lil, and she decides to head out to Oregon, where Penny has mentioned an acquaintance...

A mystery, an unsolved crime and one of the most unforgettable characters since Mark Haddon's Christopher. Meet Maud ...
'Elizabeth is missing' reads the note in Maud's pocket in her own handwriting, and the one on the wall.
Maud's been getting forgetful. She keeps buying peach slices when she has a cupboard full, forgets to drink the cups of tea she's made and writes notes to remind herself of things. But Maud is determined to discover what has happened to her friend, Elizabeth, and what it has to do with the unsolved disappearance of her sister Sukey, years back, just after the war

Veterinary surgeon Clara Benning is young and intelligent, but practically a recluse. Disfigured by a childhood accident, she lives alone and shies away from human contact wherever possible. But when a man dies following a supposed snake bite, the victim's post mortem shows a higher concentration of venom than could ever be found in a single snake.
Assisted by her softly spoken neighbour and an eccentric reptile expert, Clara unravels sinister links to a barbaric ancient ritual, an abandoned house and a 50-year-old tragedy that left the survivors fiercely secretive. Then the village's inventive attacker strikes again, and Clara's own solitary existence is brutally invaded.

A beautifully rendered, literally haunting tale of the afterlife, Robert Hunter's The New Ghost follows a spectral entity on his first day at work: dark, gentle, poetic, and heart-warming all at once, it is an atmospheric tale to dash the conventions of comics and leave you thirsty for more from this young storyteller.

I made a good start on my reading goal for the year last month, getting through six rather brilliant thrillers, and I'd like to achieve the same or more in February. I'm going to be taking part in Alex's Blogging Good Reads series in March, so there's definitely two titles I need to get stuck into, and I'd love to update my Kindle - my self-enforced spending ban was never going to work out, if I'm totally honest, and it ~is~ becoming a bit neglected! The titles above are some of the current titles on top of my list, if you've read any or heard anything about them, good or bad, please let me know - and if you want to recommend me something similar, or throw me a wildcard you think I might like, PLEASE do, I'll love you forever!

*blurbs taken from Goodreads