Thursday, 22 January 2015

TRAVEL // UNDERRATED UK BASED VALENTINES GETAWAYS

Oh yes, it's almost that time of year again. It's nearly that time when the dreaded 'V' word is on everybody's lips and whether you're single or taken, you simply cannot escape the holiday. I think it's easy to dislike Valentines day when you don't have anyone to celebrate with and it's especially easy to succumb to being bitter about it all but I do think it's important to remember that taken or not, it doesn't have to be a day to dislike. Even if you don't have a Valentines this year, there are plenty of ways to enjoy the holiday just as much as you would if you did have that special someone. I will do a blog post offering some ideas for fellow singletons near to the day, but in the meantime for those of you who are in a relationship and might want to do something special (but also something not too expensive!) you've gotta start planning early.

We all yearn for exotic holidays abroad but over the years, I've found that the UK has plenty to offer in terms of quaint little towns from those that have little to offer but can be terribly romantic when exploring with the one you love, to places that can be exciting with tons of attractions, leaving you with memories you'll never forget.

Here are some of the UK's most underrated places that could be perfect for a long weekend away this February.

And here's a hint - don't feel you absolutely HAVE to celebrate over Valentines Day to make it most romantic. These places can be enjoyed all year round so choosing to visit on any weekend in February will cut your costs down loads as opposed to visiting over the 14th..

BATH
Bath is a really beautiful city that doesn't necessarily mean breaking the bank for a little weekend away. There's tons to offer from spa breaks and a visit to real Roman Bath's, from attractions like Bath's escape room and more. Bath is a lot of fun just to wander around because it's so pretty but it's also very rich in history meaning if you're a bit of a history buff there's probably no chance you'll get bored! There's also a lot to offer in terms of museums and shopping so whatever you're into, you can't really go wrong.
You can grab return train tickets for as little as £56.50 when travelling from London Kings Cross on a Thursday and returning on Sunday evening. The train journey takes about 2 and a half hours.

THE LAKE DISTRICT
The Lake District might not sound that fun - especially for your boy - when you first think about it (I know, it sounds like it's just a bunch of lakes and countryside), but it's very underrated, especially among young couples. You don't have to be old and into bird watching to enjoy an intimate and romantic getaway here. Sometimes exploring around the countryside then snuggling up in front of a warm fire in a cozy cottage can be more fun than you'd ever imagine. The Lake District is also home to some really cute seasidey (I know that's not a real word...) villages and if you visit Lake Windermere you can have a lot of fun renting and attempting to row a boat. The Lake District also boasts some real plush spa's too, some of which have outdoor hot tubs. Just saying.
You can grab open return train tickets for about £108.50 when travelling from London Kings Cross on a Thursday and returning on Sunday evening. The train journey takes about 8 hours - eek! Probably best to drive for this one...

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Exploring The Shambles in York

YORK
I've visited York personally and still believe it to be one of the most interesting and beautiful places I've visited in the UK. It's beyond stunning and when walking around it's narrow and cobbled streets, it's so easy to think you've traveled back in time. In fact, some inspiration for Harry Potter was taken from one of York's medieval shopping areas called The Shambles. There's lots to offer for eating out in York - which is also home to lots of quirky bars - but this really is the place to go if you like your history or if you like anything a little bit different! York has tons of museums, including the amazing York Castle museum - which will take almost a whole day to explore. And if you love your spooky stuff like me then York is definitely worth a visit. You can find the York Dungeons, daily ghost walks & Jack The Ripper Walks and one of the most haunted houses in the country - phew!
You can grab return train tickets for as little as £53.10 when travelling from London Kings Cross on a Thursday and returning on Sunday evening. The train journey takes about 3 hours.

DURHAM
A little further up north, Durham is perfect for anyone who loves their sleepy towns to be picturesque whatever the weather. This city has lots to offer from the beautiful Castle and Cathedral to the bustling shops, both independent and designer. There's also the Victorian Beamish Museum nearby and many of the cobbled streets give way to typical English pubs, the kind that you can spend whole evenings in to avoid the cold. Durham also offers quick train links to Newcastle if you want a more upbeat nightlife.
You can grab return train tickets for as little as £79.50 when travelling from London Kings Cross on a Thursday and returning on Sunday evening. The train journey takes about three hours.

I have also added some suggested train ticket prices, based on a random long weekend in February from Thursday to Sunday, so you can get an average idea of travel costs. This is just me looking at a glance at random times, so there's no doubt that if you looked yourself at different times/dates you could get a much cheaper deal!

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Saturday, 17 January 2015

TOP BUDGET TIPS WHEN BOOKING ACCOMMODATION ON HOLIDAY


As this post goes live I should hopefully be exploring the beautiful streets of Amsterdam - that's if this crazy weather doesn't delay my flight! I've been excited for this for longer than I can even remember, even though it only really became a reality a few weeks ago. I've been telling myself for about three years now that I'm finally going to bite the bullet and book a weekend away to Amsterdam but I simply never got around to it.

When I found out my manager had given me a couple of weeks holiday though (which needed to be used up), myself and my friend Briony decided to go for a long weekend and in a matter of a week or so, the whole thing had been planned and booked. This was only within the last few weeks that we made the decision to go so as you can imagine, it's been a quick process focusing on a tight budget.

The flights simply are not worth mentioning in terms of advice; a flight to Amsterdam takes around an hour or so and has always been (and will always be) cheap. Obviously it depends where you're going on holiday but there's little point in me giving advice on where to find cheap flights.

Accommodation was another matter altogether though. We knew it wouldn't be super expensive no matter where we decided, but we still wanted it to be as cheap as possible whilst still getting a roof over our heads!

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One thing I learned about finding cheap accommodation when booking this long weekend away was that you should always think outside of the box. Our first assumption was to book into a hotel but we soon found there were much cheaper options. Checking into a hostel was our first idea, although unfortunately a lot of people tend to steer away from this idea. I found that hostels in Amsterdam were really cheap and were also exactly the type of thing we were looking for as two young travelers wanting to explore but also have a good time. A hostel sounded inviting because we knew it would mean meeting loads of people our own age with similar interests with us and I also knew that staying in a hostel would mean having a lovely atmosphere throughout the weekend.

We decided against a hostel in the end because we wanted something a little more secure & private for our first time in Amsterdam, but next time we'll definitely be checking into one. Other things we considered was renting a flat for the weekend which sounded very chic and fun! Some of the places we looked at were absolutely beautiful and one place even had a pool! Airbnb was one website that was the most helpful and I found it's app super easy to use too. I think had our budget just been a little bigger, we would have definitely have booked ourselves into one of the plush apartments that were on offer. They weren't especially expensive - the rates were actually very cheap for how lovely the places were - but our budget only really covered places that were quite far out of the centre which wasn't ideal for us.

In the end we decided on staying on a cruise boat! Not only was this one of the cheapest options but it sounds really fun and it offers everything a hotel offers for just that bit cheaper. The rooms are basic but lovely and WiFi is free too. Although staying on a boat probably isn't something that's available at every place you go on holiday, this is just a prime example of how thinking outside of the box and not limiting yourself to booking into a hotel room can save you lots of money and also give you a bit of an adventure!

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Another thing that was really helpful was the app Hotel Tonight. I had £30 free credit left over from when I first downloaded the app and signed up (You can grab £15 free credit too by using my code referral code LJOY9 btw!) and I actually found this really easy to use. It displayed only a few hotels from budget ones to plush ones and made it a lot easier than trudging through pages of results to find one suitable for me. Since I had credit to use, we thought it would be nice to book ourselves into a more plush place for one night of our trip and in the end, our room for the first night right in the centre only cost me £8!

Obviously it's not ideal flitting from hotel to hotel but if you want to explore different parts of where ever your holidaying, it could well work out cheaper to stay in two different hotels for two different halves of your holiday, especially when you take into account different discount codes you can use etc. If you're really looking to save money but can't face staying somewhere bland throughout, you could always pick somewhere super cheap for the first few nights and then using the money you saved for that, choose somewhere a little more plush for the final half of your holiday.

I in no way consider myself an expert on travel but with hoping to get out and about more - if even just in the UK - in 2015, it's important to me to learn how to budget and shop around. I definitely think I did a good job in this case and that overall we've probably saved a good £100/200 pound by mixing things up a bit as opposed to just booking into a standard hotel for our entire stay.

Do you have any travel tips when it comes to booking accommodation? Let me know!

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Thursday, 15 January 2015

MY B-LIST HORROR MOVIE CHALLENGE // NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD


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Watched : Last night
Essential movie snacks : Popcorn
Watched with... : Jasper!
Score out of 5 : 4.5/5


I'd be lying if I'd said I wasn't looking forward to seeing and reviewing this movie the most. First of all it's a classic and has been known to be one of the most influential horror movies of all time. Second of all - zombies. It's all about zombies and we all know how awesome zombies are.

The story line is pretty self explanatory - the dead rise from their graves and a group of survivors try to survive the night by hiding out in a house. It's your typical dead VS the living film (even though it was a kind of new genre at the time of its release) so nowadays, it's nothing new exactly but despite that, it still kept me hooked throughout. 

The acting was a little naff to what we expect these days but even I found myself a little surprised at how graphic it was. Sure, it wasn't blood and guts everywhere like I'd expect if it was a modern film, but I can see why it was quite out there for when it was first released.

I also found that I expected the film to be a little slow in that I kind of expected what would happen but the pace of the film was perfect really. It had a good amount of scares (the tension type as opposed to the jump-out-of-your-seat-type) and the premise was set up really well. The film didn't jump straight into the horror immediately but it didn't leave it too long either.

The ending too was one that I did not expect and I did find myself eagerly awaiting the outcome - this wasn't a film where I could easily predict how it ended for once.

I find it weird that out of all the films I've watched, even though my attention did waver a few times, this is hands down one of the best from this challenge. I can't quite place my finger on what it was exactly, but this film was just really, really good. It was nice to throw a classic in there and I think sometimes we're all guilty of bypassing classic films, expecting them to be boring, and instead going for more modern horror with more scares, blood and guts. But this film was a prime example of how even the old films can be just as scary and to be honest, I'm not surprised really. This film has gone on to influence so many others, that I'd say it definitely helped define zombie horror as we know it today.

Well worth a watch, alone, with a friend, with family...this is definitely a film that everyone has to see at least once.

Also, I finally discovered where the famous 'They're coming to get you Barbara' quote comes from and I can't believe I didn't know that before hand.

The geeky notes part -
  • They’re coming to get you Barbara SO THAT'S WHERE THAT'S FROM
  • Is that the new dr who 
  • He’s not very scary he just looks old 
  • Does this woman ever speak 
  • Whys that dude wearing white pants (he looks so geeky)
  • He’s trying to fight them by hitting them with his hand and breathing all funny what even 
  • Their reactions are really funny haha 
  • Actually had to scream out at one point WHY AINT YOU GETTING IN THE CAR don’t just bloody stand there #idiot 
  • The woman’s screams LOL

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P.S Check out the Halloween tag for more Halloween related posts and further horror movie reviews of this kind!


Monday, 12 January 2015

LOTW // I'M NOT UP AND LIVE BUT I WISH I WAS

Today on the blog I'm featuring a beautiful dress and a Look Of The Week debuted on Christmas Eve and many times since. When I was approached by IKrush to choose an item to feature on the blog, it just had to be this gorgeous tartan print skater dress.

Skater dresses have been on trend since the height of last summer and the trend is still going strong because of the easy to wear shape that suits pretty much everyone. This dress was no different and the skater style of the fit meant it accentuated my shape without clinging to me. Tartan is also a style that has been around for too long to remember and will continue to be popular. On it's own it's on trend and cutting edge but has also been worn to create a more punkier rock chick look too - which is of course why I chose this!

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For a real seasonal look, I just added a belt to the ensemble and paired it with a chunky pair of ankle boots with some fluffy socks. I have since rocked the outfit with black tights and a leather jacket for a much more edgier look and one that I will probably feature on the blog too.

My dad acted as blog photographer this day btw, so apologies for the overly geeky sat-in-front-of-warm-fire-with-forced-smile pose, although admittedly he did do a good job!

I really love this dress and I think it's such a bargain being that it can be worn in so many different ways. The subtle colours work well together without being too in your face, meaning that the outfit can be spruced up easily with different layers and accessories. I look forward to debuting one of my gig looks with this dress another time on the blog.

This gorgeous skater dress can be purchased here for only £16.99. What do you think? Would you rock a dress like this for Christmas or a gig? Let me know!

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Saturday, 10 January 2015

LIFESTYLE // ROOMSPIRATION

As of today, I officially have two weeks off work - yay! I'm looking forward to lazy days spent in bed with Netflix - pigging out on food whilst wearing my onesie - and a long weekend away to Amsterdam (more about that later!). However, I am also under strict instructions by Mamaw to SORT. OUT. MY. ROOM.

Unfortunately, this inevitably means a makeover/redecorating in the near future. Boo.

I love my room, I really do. Sure, it's messy and makes me look a bit like a hoarder. But it's me all over, from my favourite pieces of Exaltation (a poem book) printed above my bed, to photos everywhere, gig tickets on display and much more. I love how personalized it all is but, admittedly, it no longer looks very grown up. On top of that, my deep purple walls may look beautiful, but one thing me and my mum can agree on is that the room as a whole really needs brightening up.

So once I get through the mammoth task of sorting out my clothes and everything else, redecorating is definitely on the cards. No guesses to what website I used as inspiration...

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[Source]
These are some ideas of how I'd like my room to look overall. I don't think my mum would ever agree to black walls (boo), but this photo shows how such a dark colour can still look sophisticated and less gothic. I think with bright bedsheets and cute colourful cushions, it could work. Meanwhile in the photo on the right, this look is terribly dreamy. I fall in love with whimsical rooms I see on Tumblr all the time and I love the bright colours, fairy lights and rustic feel of this room. I don't think I'd ever be able to 'theme' my room, but following this for ideas could be a start.

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[Source]
One thing I'm almost desperate to have is my own little desk space. I doubt it would stop me blogging in bed, but it sure would help me be (okay, seem) more professional. On the left, this classy look would be perfect for my dream home but I simply wouldn't have enough space in my current room. The two photos on the right however show that lack of space doesn't necessarily have to be a problem. The sleek desk on the bottom right creates an effortless and sophisticated theme, with the mirrors expanding the space. The top right photo shows such a smart idea - a wardrobe/cupboard opening up into a mini office! This is definitely something I could talk my dad around into making... (he loves making stuff!)

Luckily, trinkets, bits & bobs are simply not anything I need to splurge out on right now. I have gorgeous notebooks, hanging 'things' and even a paper mache skull to make my room look entirely 'me' right now so I suppose the biggest change is going to be painting the walls, creating some space and just having a proper sort out of everything.

Are you due a change at home? What would your dream bedroom look like? Let me know!

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