Monday, 28 March 2016

Miami Pt. 1: All Aboard PARAHOY!

Parahoy Cruise with ParamoreBreakfast in the Priority Lounge // The view from the plane window over Miami // Downtown Miami
Parahoy Paramore Cruise ReviewOur humongous cruise ship // Our cute room on the boat // Leaving Miami by boat
Parahoy Paramore Blog Post ReviewView of the first Paramore show from the upper pool deck // Artist passes with Headphone Disco // The second Paramore show
Parahoy Paramore Cruise ExcursionsBeautiful clear waters in Mexico // Snorkelling fun // Hammock Life

Earlier in March, Josh and I travelled from the UK to Miami to board PARAHOY! The 4-day music cruise from Miami to Mexico, hosted by the band Paramore. Paramore just happen to be my favourite band, so I jumped at the chance to bag a place on the cruise - other than the festivals I'm able to attend with Josh, this has to be one of the biggest perks of an event manager boyfriend!

This was the second PARAHOY cruise, the first being in 2014, and each year Paramore board the boat and bring some of their favourite bands along for four days of gigs, DJ sets, meet and greets and other activities. It's basically a music festival on a boat, with my favourite band as the headliners! Each band performed twice across the four days, so there was plenty of time to see loads of music and still explore the usual cruise-liner fun. Performing alongside Paramore were Chvrches, Lights, New Found Glory, X Ambassadors, MeWithoutYou, Vacationer and of course the late night entertainment of Headphone Disco.

We'd never been on a cruise before, so were just as excited about the prospect of slowly cruising across the ocean to Mexico as seeing all the bands' performances! It was lovely to soak up the sun and catch a daytime gig, relax in the luxury spa, have a quick spin in the casino and then have dinner in the delicious buffet all before seeing a gig in the evening. One of my highlight performances from the cruise has to be Chvrches. I'd heard of the Glaswegian band before the cruise but not listened to too much of their stuff, it's safe to say I'm a firm fan now. They were awesome live!

Halfway through the cruise we docked at the Mexican isle of Cozumel for a day and booked onto a speed boat and snorkelling excursion. The weather was awful on the day of the excursion! It was warm but it absolutely poured it down with rain part way through, which caused much hilarity while trying to snorkel and drive our speed boat back to the land. It was a great experience though and I'm glad we left the boat to explore, as it's so easy just to remain on the boat for the entire trip. 

I really enjoyed our few days on the cruise ship and I'm so grateful to have seen my favourite band in such an awesome and relatively small setting - and we got to meet them too! We returned to Miami after the cruise was over, for a few more days of fun before our flight home, so a 'part 2' post will follow focusing on our adventures on dry land.

Which band would you love to see on a cruise ship festival?! Had you heard of PARAHOY?
Parahoy Paramore Cruise meet and greet

Sunday, 28 February 2016

A Weekend in London: Covent Garden

After a busy first few weeks of the year, Josh and I spent a fun-filled Valentine's weekend in Covent Garden. From the perfect central location, we spent the weekend wandering round the city, eating loads of tasty food, seeing a show and experiencing the buzz of the Chinese New Year celebrations. 

We stayed in the Covent Garden Travelodge, which has recently been refurbished as have many of their hotels across the country - it was simple, but quiet and comfy. You can definitely tell the brand has had a bit of a revamp with red metro tiles lining the walls of the bathroom, lighting behind the beds and brand new Samsung tv, sound and air-con in the rooms.

It was a very rainy day, so after brunch at Bills and a bit of a browse around the shops in Covent Garden we headed over to the theatre ticket sellers in Leicester Square. I'd looked up tickets for some shows a couple of weeks before our trip, but we thought the prices were too much on top of the cost of a weekend away anyway. However, the costs of these bargain ticket booths were so much lower and for better seats too! So we decided to hide from the rain inside and see a matinee of the wonderful Charlie and the Chocolate Factory at the Royal Drury Lane Theatre. It was an awesome show with a beautiful set and it was the perfect way to spend a rainy afternoon. After the show we popped back to our hotel for a quick cuppa and change before dinner at Wahaca for amazing Mexican street food and cocktails. If anyone hasn't been or has and wants a recommendation... have the sweet potato and feta taquitos - yum!

After a great night's sleep we wrapped up against the cold and went back into the city to explore. We didn't know until a few days before our trip but Chinese New Year celebrations were in full swing during our weekend away! It was so fun to see the celebrations, lanterns, dancing dragons and souvenir sellers lining the streets of China Town. It was incredibly busy but it was great to soak up the atmosphere and performances for the day.

It was such a fun weekend away and we headed back to Cheltenham with achy legs and sleepy eyes! Covent Garden is just the perfect location to explore the city - definitely recommended!

*Collaboration with Travelodge

Friday, 1 January 2016

Looking back on 2015


2015 has been many things for me, but sadly it hasn't been a year of blogging. Life's been exciting and busy, with two new jobs within the year, a new car and a couple of holidays in there too. The time, energy and motivation for blogging just wasn't there, but I honestly missed it and everything that comes with it. I'm not one for new year's resolutions, but if there's anything I intend to do in 2016 it's go back to blogging like I did before. Whether it's one post a week or one post a month, I'll be happy with that.

Before tackling 2016, let's just go back to 2015 for a minute. There have been exciting changes that haven't yet been documented on this blog - towards the end of the year, Josh and I put in an offer on a little house that we saw and it was accepted! We're still waiting for all the paperwork to go through and for our solicitors to arrange a completion date, but hopefully if all goes well we'll be moving in early 2016! I'm so excited to have our own space to decorate and make ours, we've already been looking at furniture and sofas - it's so exciting!

I also started a brand new job in December, moving on from my social media role at Whittard of Chelsea to another social media role for fashion brand Superdry. I've loved my first month there, it's all really fast paced and exciting so I'm looking forward to everything to come in 2016.

As well as those key life changes, 2015 has been full of friends, gin, travel, food and plenty of fun. I'm very lucky to have found the people and things that make life great - so here's to more of that in 2016!

How was your year and what are you looking forward to in 2016?

Thursday, 23 July 2015

Jamie's Italian Cheltenham: Review

A wonderful evening out at Jamie's Italian Cheltenham*

Last week, Josh and I were invited to visit Jamie's Italian restaurant, in the heart of Cheltenham, to test the menu. Housed in the town's former court rooms, the building is beautifully old, grand and spacious with some of the original features, such as the judge's table and jury box, still remaining. Perhaps not a normal point to bring up in a restaurant review, but the bathrooms are amazing in this venue. They're deep in the dungeon-like cellar, through winding brick tunnels lined with barred cells. It really does make you feel like you've been transported back to the days when the building was still a working criminal court.

I'm sure you're here to read all about the mouthwatering dishes in the photos above, rather than the toilets, so I will move swiftly on. After choosing our own table and being seated by the very attentive waiting team, we browsed the drinks menu. Josh opted for a glass of merlot, whereas I went for a non-alcoholic Ginger and Mango Mojito. It tasted every bit as good as it looked - fruity, fresh, minty and topped off with a slight spicy kick from the ginger beer.

To start, we ordered the Artisan Breads and the World's Best Olives on Ice - with a name like that, we had to give them a try! The artisan bread board consisted of a selection of crisp crackerbread, soft foccaccia, herbed ciabatta and more. Along with the bread came olive oil, balsamic vinegar and an olive tapenade - delicious! The olives on ice were equally as tasty, being chilled makes them extra fresh.

Following our starters, I chose Turkey Milanese for mains - a flattened turkey breast stuffed with proscuitto, cheese and topped with a fried egg and shavings of summer truffle. A super rich and indulgent dish, with plenty of flavour and texture. We had a portion of Funky Chips, coated with garlic and herbs, which were perfect to dip in the runny egg. Josh chose one of the specials for the day, a vegetarian pasta dish with loads of fresh, seasonal vegetables in a light sauce. Being completely honest, we thought the dish was a little expensive at around £14 despite being tasty. Apart from a couple of pastas and salads, there aren't that many veggie dishes on the menu so make sure you check the specials board too, for more options.

Finally, we indulged in pudding - my favourite part of the meal! Josh went for the Epic Brownie - a warm, gooey, chocolatey brownie topped with ice cream, chocolate fudge sauce and popcorn. I made him share a little spoonful with me because it looked so incredible and I'm glad I did! I chose a slightly lighter pudding, the Raspberry and Honeycomb Pavlova. It was delicious, with fresh mint complimenting the raspberry perfectly and the honeycomb adding crunch to the soft cream and gooey marshmallow centre of the meringue. 

We thoroughly enjoyed our evening at Jamie's Italian - the food and drinks were delicious, especially the puddings. All the staff in the Cheltenham restaurant were wonderfully attentive and knowledgeable too, they made sure everything was spot on throughout our meal. I'd recommend making a trip to the Cheltenham restaurant, try the olives to start, pavlova to finish... oh, and make sure you visit the toilets too! 

*Jamie's Italian kindly invited us for a complimentary meal in order to accurately write this review

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Nailbox Review: a nail product subscription

nailbox blogger review june
nailbox subscription june review blog
nailbox june review

The postie bought a very exciting parcel to my door last week - a brand new subscription box. It's not like the others - there are no tiny perfume samples, another face mask, or hair oils - but instead, a selection of full size nail products. And we all know, there's always room for that extra polish that's just a fraction of a shade different to the one you already have, but still... essential

Each month the box will contain 3 or 4 polishes, plus 1 or 2 nail accessories and will cost you £15. June's box contains (from left to right) Tanya Burr 'Mischief Managed', Nails Inc 'Colville Mews', Essie 'Roarrrange', Seche Vite Topcoat and Elegant Touch cuticle clippers. I was seriously impressed with the contents of the box for the price, it's amazingly good value. £15 would usually only get you a couple of great polishes, not four!

As with any beauty subscription box, you're not quite sure what you're going to get before it arrives (unless you're sneaky and look at those speedy blog reviews). So there might be the odd shade that wouldn't normally be your first choice. I, for example, don't wear red nail varnish so the Tanya Burr shade won't become one of my regular choices, however, it's a great shade to add to my collection for  occasional nail art designs. I'm really pleased to have received an Essie, Nails Inc and Seche Vite polish all in one box - two brands I already love in brand new shades to me and one I've wanted to try for ages. I may have squeaked a little when I saw the Seche Vite bottle!

I'm really impressed with the quality and value included in the Nailbox - if you're a nail polish hoarder like me, this is a great way to get your fix each month and broaden the range of polishes and products you have in your collection.

Thursday, 9 July 2015

Outfit: Quintessentially British


I haven't posted an outfit in a while so, when we were in the beautiful Cotswold village of Bourton-on-the-Water last weekend, I thought I'd take some snaps of my summery tourist outfit. However, not everything went to plan, when I realised that the memory card wasn't in my camera! Ultimate blogger nightmare. Hence the low quality phone snaps - even iPhone 6 quality isn't quite good enough for a respectable blog post, it seems.

Josh and I had a rare free weekend so we decided to explore the idyllic Cotswold village right on our doorstep. Despite having lived in Cheltenham for the last 6 years, I haven't ventured very far into the surrounding countryside. Bourton-on-the-Water is a lovely village, stretched along a river running parallel to the high street, which is dotted with quaint gift shops and tea rooms. We happily wandered along in the sunshine, stopping in a pub garden for lunch, followed by more meandering in and out of gift shops. The skies suddenly opened as we left one shop, making us dive for the nearest tea room and stop for a quick pot of tea while we waited for the rain to pass. Luckily it did and the sun promptly returned - good old British weather!

I wore one of my favourite floaty sundresses, which I picked up in H&M a good few years ago now, with my grey hat from New Look. Wearing this hat makes me feel very ladylike, perfect for spending the day in a quintessentially British village. We need to make the most of our lovely local sights, so I have a feeling that Josh and I may be visiting more of The Cotswolds very soon.

Sunday, 5 July 2015

Keeping on trend: glasses

lifestyle blogger UK
UK lifestyle blog

I've had to wear glasses or contact lenses constantly for almost 10 years now, but in more recent years, I've been wearing contacts almost all day every day... until earlier this year. I started my new job and suddenly couldn't wear my contacts when looking at a computer screen without getting horrendous migraines, despite doing this previously! Numerous trips to the opticians didn't get to the bottom of the issue, so I had to start wearing my glasses to work.

I've always just had the one pair of glasses, as I only ever used them on rare occasions - usually when I first get up in the morning, rather than blindly stumbling towards the shower. Relying on my glasses every day made me realise how much I needed multiple pairs - worrying that my one pair would break, or I'd lose them, and I'd be stuck not being able to see! I also wasn't sure what I was going to do when it came to summer - wearing contacts with sunglasses is easy... but it's not so easy when you're relying on glasses all the time. So GlassesShop* came to the rescue, with their range of super cheap glasses and prescription sunglasses.

I chose the frames I liked, input my prescription details on the website and before I knew it my new glasses and sunglasses had dropped through my letterbox, safely protected and ready to wear. I chose the Heloise Wayfarer sunglasses* and the Weymouth Cat Eye glasses*. The process was simple and delivery was quick - having never bought glasses online before, I'll definitely be doing it again. It makes it so easy to refresh your style - glasses are such a big part of your look when you wear them all the time, why shouldn't we mix it up every-so-often and splash out on some new frames? I'm definitely going to be!