21 September 2015

Guess Who's Back

Hey everyone! 

I'm really sorry I haven't posted in an awfully long time - sometimes life gets in the way of blogging and, while I try not to let it, it has this ability to make me succumb at particularly busy/stressful times.

So what have I been doing while I haven't been blogging? 

- I've been working super hard at my job on the Technical Design team at a Leeds-based menswear suit supplier. 
- I've been on a break with my boyfriend (details of which I'm going to keep private, I'm afraid).
- I've been making more time for my friendships and catching up with people I haven't seen for months/years since living darn Sarth.
- I've been making more plans to travel (watch this space)!
- I've been spending a lot of time with my family as my sister is going through a particularly difficult time.
- A couple of months ago I took up Zumba and have been going to classes once or twice per week. (Fat, be gone!)
- I recently had a birthday which means I am now a grand old age of 25.

I will try to post more regularly as we head into Autumn/Winter and I find myself preferring to snuggle up indoors in my onesie with a cuppa than be out and about in the cold darkness.

My love of blogging is still there - it's just had to take a back seat for a while! But, rest assured, I will be rekindling the flame very soon.

Thanks for reading!



9 May 2015

10 Must Do's When Visiting the Big Apple

(This is the final post in my America series. If you missed the previous instalments, you can catch up on them hereherehere and here.)

If there's one thing that you must do before you die, it's visit the famous New York City.

Also known as the Concrete Jungle, Big Apple or just simply NYC, New York it’s a place where dreams are made. I’ve been a grand total of five times now and with each and every trip it has exceeded my expectations. There's nowhere quite like it anywhere else in the world and if anybody says otherwise then they're lying!

This time around, my sister and I were supposed to be there for three nights on the way home but a delayed flight from Boston meant that we arrived a whole 24 hours later. I was also still incredibly ill from my time in Boston, which unfortunately spoilt it a little for me. As I’d already been four times before though, I just re-visited some of the sights I’d already seen and tried to take it a little easier.

Here’s my top 10 must do’s when visiting the city for the first time:

1. Have a picnic in Central Park.

This one is obviously weather permitting as no one wants to sit on wet grass in the rain eating soggy sandwiches when they’re on holiday (or ever)! Central Park goes on for blocks and blocks so there’s quite a lot of ground to cover. It surrounds a lake and, in the summer, it’s rather nice to buy an ice-cream, set up camp in the sun and just people-watch the day away.

2. Sail past the Statue of Liberty.

A lot of tourists spend tons of dollars to go on the trip to Liberty Island; however, if you’re on a budget, you can just take the free Staten Island ferry. This sails right past the Statue of Liberty which allows you to get some amazing full length shots completely for free! Then you can simply hop on the next ferry back.

3. Visit the One World Trade Center and Twin Towers Memorial.

When I was a wee young girl (aged nine) on my first visit to NYC, I was lucky enough to ride the elevator to the top of one of the Twin Towers before the 9/11 tragedy occured. This meant that when I visited Ground Zero for the first time post-9/11, I was even more overwhelmed with sadness for what happened on that devastating day as I remembered it how it was previously. I’m not going to lie, visiting the memorial is heartbreaking. I haven’t actually been in the new Museum but I went in the temporary Museum while the One World Trade Center was being built and cried my eyes out. It’s unbelievably sad but worth going to pay your respects and learn more about what happened.

4. Shop until you drop in Soho.

The majority of the shops in Soho are all on one street and go on for about 26 blocks. Have fun but try not to spend all of your money! Also please learn from my past mistakes and always remember your suitcase space limitations. Having to panic pack and sit on your suitcase while your travel companion tries their best to zip it up a couple of hours before your flight is nobody’s idea of a fun time.

5. Take your camera to Seaport.

Seaport is a cute little shopping district at the most southern point of Manhattan (hence the name Seaport as it’s right on the sea). From here you can see both the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges which means there’s some pretty awesome photo opportunities.

6. Go up the Rockefeller Centre.

Now, you might have heard that going up the Empire State Building is THE thing to do. A lot of people do it and thoroughly enjoy it; however my advice is to NOT go up the Empire State Building. Go up the Rockefeller Centre instead. By hitting the Top of the Rock, you get spectacular views of the city INCLUDING the Empire State Building. Also, if you’re strategic with your timing, you can get incredible photos of both the daytime view and sunset view, as well as seeing how pretty everything looks lit up in the dark. You’re welcome.

7. Stroll down Fifth Avenue.

Fifth Ave caters to all your shopping needs as it’s where all the tourists like to make their purchases. If you want the luxury market (a la Louis Vuitton), you can find it here. But if trashy souvenir shops are more your style, there’s plenty of them around too. Do me a favour and go in Trump Tower on the way down/up. It’s rather cool and they do nice coffee.

8. Explore Times Square.

Times Square is, undoubtedly, the best bit of the Big Apple (in my opinion). It’s the most visited place globally with over 360,000 pedestrians per day. The dazzling lights, skyscraper buildings and charged atmosphere are what the city's all about. You're very likely to stumble across the next big premiere or marketing event right in the middle of it, so make sure you keep your eyes peeled. When I visited Times Square for the fourth time, I walked right into the Transformers 3 premiere and got to see the cast and crew being interviewed on the red carpet.

9. Go see a Broadway show.

This is a pretty obvious one but I just thought I’d throw it in here in case some of you have been living under a rock for the last however-many years. The shows on Broadway are unbelievably amazing. I’ve seen Peter Pan, West Side Story, Chicago and The Lion King and loved each and every one (especially The Lion King as that’s one of my favourite films of all time)! It’s a bit pricey, so make sure you ask your hotel Concierge for deals. Or you can wander through Times Square where a lot of show reps will approach you with ticket opportunities. There’s also a ticket booth in Times Square where you can queue early in the day for discounted show tickets for the following night. Enjoy!

10. Have lunch at The Plaza.

Are there any Home Alone lovers out there? I ask as the hotel where Kevin McCallister stays when he gets lost in NYC in the movie is right next to the south entrance to Central Park. It’s a gorgeous building and a great place for lunch. It has a food hall in the bottom, a bit like the food hall in Harrods, and there are plenty of yummy choices on offer. Bon Appetit!

Whatever you do in NYC, try to make the most of your time there as the city is so fast-paced that you might blink and miss it. Then you’ll be home before you know it, chewing your friends’ ears off and reminiscing about your time in the Big Apple – just wishing you'll have a future opportunity to take another bite.

(Have you been to NYC before? What’s your favourite thing to do? Thanks for reading! Katie-xo)


28 April 2015

Mini Primark and Matalan Haul

Good news: I've got a new job! Not so good news: I'm having to resist splurging until I get my first pay cheque.

However, I couldn't resist a cheeky little visit to my local Primark and Matalan as I knew I'd find some bargains at these stores that would cure my spending withdrawal symptoms without breaking the bank.

First up: Primark.

Pineapple Print King Bedding - £13
Pineapple White Candle and Holder - £1.50

I saw this adorable, funky pineapple-print bedding in the Leeds store a couple of weeks ago and immediately fell in love. I have a purple-themed bedroom at the moment and thought this multi-coloured bedding would be a nice way of adding a bit of colour and brightening up my surroundings, as well as complimenting the present colour scheme (some of the pineapples are purple). I also thought the use of the pastels on a white background looked super fresh for spring/summer and would be a fun addition to my existing bedroom decor. But, unfortunately, the Leeds store didn't have right size bedding that I needed for my king size bed so my dreams were temporarily ruined.

Although, imagine my sheer delight when I was shopping in Harrogate a few days later and managed to find the exact same bedding but in king size! Hurrah! I also managed to pick up this cute little matching pineapple-shaped candle at an unbelievable £1.50 #winning.

Next up: Matalan.

Black and Berry Embroidered Dress - £9
Gold a Double Stacked Rings - £1.50
White Butterfly Candle Holder - £6

I'd been looking for a new dress to go out in on the bank holiday weekend for a while and have wasted a lot of time and effort in doing so. Well, I should have just gone to Matalan in the first instance. As soon as I stepped into the store, I spotted this black beauty with berry red coloured embroidery in the sale for a mere £9. I immediately thought it was pretty but didn't know if it would suit my figure - it's a dress but it looks like a two piece co-ord and they never usually flatter my body shape. However, when I tried it on, it looked really nice and I could just picture myself wearing it on my night out - boho style - with layered necklaces and midi rings aplenty.

Additionally, I saw these gold double stacked rings in the sale for £1.50 which would compliment my usual array of midi rings. 

I then trotted over to the homeware section and found that I adored several of the pieces. Due to my budget limitations, I thought I'd just pick out one cheap thing to buy. It ended up being this white butterfly candle holder for £6. I love it's vintage look and have many bits and bobs the same style currently in my bedroom, so I thought it would fit right in! 

Overall I'm really happy with my mini haul - I'm just concerned I won't be able to stop myself from spending again before pay day! Life's hard being a blogger sometimes. Wish me luck!

(Do you like my purchases? What's your favourite piece? Thanks so much for reading! Katie-xo)

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23 April 2015

Bad Luck in Boston

The America Series

After my sister and I had spent 14 nights in Los Angeles, 3 nights in Vegas, 5 nights in Nashville and 7 nights in North Carolina, it was time to head to Boston. (If you need to catch up on my posts in the America series, you can do so here, here, here and here.)

There was a severe weather warning for Boston, NYC and several other East Coast cities whilst we were still in North Carolina. However, we managed to make it to Boston in one piece without any delays. The taxi ride from the airport to our hostel in the centre of Boston, however, was ridiculously long (and expensive) compared to what it should have been. This was because of the wintry weather and traffic build-up as it had been snowing in Boston for several days on end.

I was amazed by the snow and how it was just casually piled up on the sidewalks – some piles taller than I was! I’d never seen anything like it before so it did make our experience in Boston a very interesting one.

It also severely affected it. Due to the snow and public transport delays, it was very difficult to get around and do all of the things that we wanted to do. It was really cold as well – around -12 to -15 degrees Celsius on average – I don’t actually think I’ve ever been so cold in my life!

There was one particular chilly morning where we got to see the Victory Parade for the New England Patriots as they had just triumphed over the Seattle Seahawks in the Superbowl a few days previously (which we watched on TV in Charlotte). We were stood outside for two hours waiting for the parade to pass us and our limbs had actually gone numb in that time. There was an extremely bizarre and surreal moment where we couldn’t feel our poor toes! In all honesty, we couldn’t wait for the parade to be over so could run into the nearest Dunkin’ Donut, sit down, rub our toes and be able to feel all of our body parts again.

Then, on a separate day, we wanted to check out the Charles River where you’re supposed to get a pretty good view of the city. It snowed during the entire journey (which was on foot, by the way, and involved sidestepping big piles of snow and trying not to break our necks on the ice) and when we finally arrived the river was completely covered in snow and the city skyline was barely visible! It was a bit of a waste of time.

Put it this way – I now understand why people say don’t bother visiting Boston in February. The incredible architecture and history is what draws people to Boston and there’s so much to see but you need decent weather to be able to see it! Additionally, the city is quite spread out so you need much better walking conditions and public transport links that are not going to be delayed every two minutes.

We did get to go see the famous Harvard University though, on a day when the snow stopped. That was fun as Harvard is based in Cambridge which is a cute student-filled town with a good shopping, restaurant and night life scene.

Speaking of the night life scene, for the first time in my life in Boston, I queued for almost an hour in a snow storm - wearing hardly any clothes, might I add - just to get into an Irish pub. It was such a laugh in the end, but I’m not sure that I’ll ever do that again! Just thinking about it now gives me the chills.

Then the day after the night in Cambridge, I caught the bug that my sister had badly suffered with the week before in Charlotte. It involved being violently sick for 24 hours, not being able to eat, feeling weak and then having to deal with severe diarrhoea a couple of days later. Needless to say, after suffering with wisdom tooth pain in Wilmington and not being able to get around Boston easily and do the things that we wanted to do, the trip went even more downhill at this point! It was such a shame as we only had three days left before we were due to travel home to England.

To top it all off, our flight the following day which would take us to our last stop on the trip (NYC) had been cancelled. After a few stressful hours (which involved panicked phone calls to our parents, American Airlines and the travel agency that we booked our trip through), we had arranged to be put on a flight 24 hours later. But this meant that we lost one night’s accommodation money in NYC, as we had booked the hotel there in advance, and we had to shell out for an extra night’s accommodation in Boston. Then when we looked at the flight status via the American Airlines website the night before for our rescheduled flight, we discovered that this had also been cancelled. CUE MORE STRESS AND PANICKED PHONE CALLS (which contributed to a horrendous phone bill for the month to follow).

Luckily for us, there was a flight scheduled to leave later on the next day that was on time - so we did eventually manage to get the hell out of Boston.

PHEWF - it bit of a difficult few days, to say the least. I was still very ill at the time of leaving Boston as well, which did not bode well for the next part of the journey.

Even though our time in Boston was tough, I'm still glad that we went. It was an experience that I will never forget! It's also a great city - it'd just be even greater in warmer weather!

This brings me nicely onto NYC. Look out for my final instalment in the America series - coming soon!

(Have you been to Boston before or had any bad luck when travelling? Thanks so much for reading! Katie-xo)


17 April 2015

Cinderella Magic

My sister and I went to see the real-life version of Cinderella yesterday after hearing such positive reviews from critics and friends alike.

I really liked the movie; it's completely different to the 'Snow White and the Huntsman' version of Snow White as it stays truer to the Disney animated feature (maybe because this version of Cinderella was produced by Disney?) Regardless, director Kenneth Branagh done good.

The visuals are seriously stunning with production design by Dante Ferretti and costume design by Sandy Powell. Cinderella's dress that she wears to the ball is particularly breath-taking.

Lily James plays the part so well and it's amazing how many times while watching the film that I admired her natural beauty and charisma.

Richard Madden (Robb Stark, for all you Game of Thrones fans) ain't bad either as Prince Kit. The fact that he's easy on the eye helps (I'm a red blooded woman, don't judge me).

Cate Blanchett also stars as the Wicked Stepmother which is another genius casting. 

Cinderella (2015) is a heart-warming, magical adaptation that sends out a positive message to the kids. Ella's Mother teachers her to 'have courage and be kind' as 'where there is kindness, there is goodness - and where there is goodness, there is magic!' It's a nice sentiment which is the centre of an uplifting movie if you fancy something feel-good for a couple of hours. (Or you can just go for the visual treat alone.)

(Please note that these images are not my own - thank you to my photo sources for allowing me to use them.

Have you seen Cinderella yet? What did you think? Let me know in the comments below! Thanks! Katie-xo)

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