The Festive Tag

So it’s finally December, and those of us who have been waiting impatiently for the days when Christmas jumpers and non-stop festive music are acceptable have finally been satiated. The inevitable excitement this produced in me, teamed with my guilty conscience for the neglect of my blog in favour of school work this past month, have really made me eager to get writing again. So when I got a message from Viola from apieceofviola tagging me in the Festive Tag, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to get back into the swing of things as well as an opportunity to ramble about all things festive.

1. Favourite Festive Food

It goes without saying that one of the best things about this season is the ability to eat as much food as you’re physically capable of without fear of judgement. In terms of Christmas dinner itself, the stuffing and pigs in blankets have to be the high points, and aside from that, mince pies and mulled cider have to be the winners for me- nothing else warms you up quite as well.

2. Favourite Reindeer

After spending many a childhood Christmas arguing over it, I am proud to say I possess the wonderful talent of being able to recite the full collection of names by heart (it’s invaluable knowledge, trust me). Nevertheless, I have to admit I’ve never gone so far as to decide on a favourite.. I guess I’d have to do it based on name and go for Comet, which I think is quite apt for an animal that flies through the sky and makes wishes come true.

3. Favourite Day in the 12 Days of Christmas

Easily got to be Ten (I think) Lords-A-Leaping simply due to the hilarious corresponding actions it always seems to produce.

4. Favourite Christmas Song

I feel I’m quite unimaginative in my festive music choices, with my favourites being the obvious choices: The Pogues’ ‘Fairytale of New York’ and Mariah Carey’s ‘All I Want For Christmas Is You‘. I’m one of those people that firmly believe in not playing Christmas songs until December, so now it’s finally here I’ve spent a worrying amount of time already prancing round my room to festive compilations!

5. Favourite Christmas Present

Without a doubt this would have to be my record player which my parents bought me when I was 16- an orange 70s portable Philips one which I absolutely adore. Since I was very young, we’ve always had many record players in the house as well as a jukebox, so I’ve grown up with an ingrained preference for vinyl over downloads, and this is certainly the case now I’ve started to build up my own collection.

6. Favourite Christmas Film

I’m sorry to disappoint in the fact that once again I have to choose the most obvious answers there are, but ‘Elf’ and ‘Love Actually’ are just too classic to have be beaten by any other, and the latter may be a large part of the reason I love ‘All I Want For Christmas Is You’ so very much.

7. Favourite Cracker Toy

I can remember many childhood Christmases longing to get the spring with the little metal ring on it (please tell me other people know what I’m talking about here). I always loved the fact that despite my youth, I seemed to be the only one who knew the ‘trick’ behind it- years later I look back and consider the very real possibility that they were simply humouring me…oh to be young and ignorant.

8. Favourite Cracker Joke

‘Why is it getting harder to buy Advent calendars?
Because their days are numbered.’

9. Favourite Christmas Decoration

That would easily be the terrifying “fairy” that I made when I was about 7 and my mum still begrudgingly finds space for every year. At least it has character, right?

10. Favourite Candle Smell

I’m really not a fan of anything overly sweet as a lot of Christmas scents tend to be; I lean more towards the spicy scents and my favourite this year has to be spiced apple, although the Spiced Orange Yankee Candle is also heavenly.

11. Favourite Christmas Advert

The John Lewis advert is always the most hyped up every year and never fails to impress, but this year I have to say the Waitrose advert brought a little tear to my eye. In general, the competition has definitely been upped this year and there are so many great ones if I’m honest.

12. Favourite Christmas Tradition

In our family, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day are never complete without a long walk in the beautiful countryside around where I live, always accompanied by a flask of hot coffee and whatever leftovers can be found. It’s one of those traditions that I loved when I was little, despised as a teenager, and will probably pass down when I have a family of my own one day (sorry in advance kids).

13. Favourite Place to Spend Christmas

Anywhere as long as there are a lot of people- I love spending Christmas at my dads because there’s always so much of my family there and the house is so full of life, especially with my five-year-old brother and sister running around wreaking havoc.

14. Favourite Christmas Fact

According to data analyzed from Facebook posts, two weeks before Christmas is one of the two most popular times for couples to break up.. make sure you watch out for 11th December, kids.

15. Favourite Snowman Accessory

Must say this is a bit of a random question but I’d have to say the scarf as I used to have one just like in ‘The Snowman’, which is easily my favourite Christmas childhood book and which will always be a classic.

Thanks to Viola for tagging me, I’m throwing the ball out to you guys now- anyone who hasn’t already done the tag and wants to join in, feel free! As for me, I’m off to find myself a mince pie and my copy of Love Actually… happy December everyone!

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Autumn 2014 Lookbook

In true British style, autumn has hit us hard with seemingly endless downpours interspersed with only the odd sunshine-filled properly autumn-style day. This has to be the weirdest and most awkward season in terms of fashion, but it might just have to be my favourite; the Doc Martens and scarves are out but it’s still possible to leave the house without a puffa coat and thermals. Recently, I’ve seen a lot of bloggers sharing their picks for the current season and I really love being able to take inspiration, so I decided to procrastinate from school work even longer, whip out my camera and hop on the bandwagon. As far as I can, I’ve tried to link up the items below, but there are a few bits and pieces from various vintage and charity shops, so I apologise in advance for that annoyance.

look1(Denim Jacket- vintage; Top- Boohoo, £15; Skirt- vintage, Doc Martens- Office, £100)

If I had to choose a favourite piece in my wardrobe, I would have to say my denim jacket which was fiercely bartered for in Spitalfields market two years ago- it’s 80s Levi’s and it would be safe to say a week doesn’t go by where I don’t throw it on, no matter the season. For warmer autumn days, I’ve paired it with a dark grey straight skirt which I picked up from a kilo sale in London for a couple of pounds, and a new purchase of a cute white crop top with crochet detailing on the hem. Of course, there was no other option for shoes than my Doc Martens- nothing makes me happier about heading into the colder months than being able to wear these beauties again.
look2(Coat- Boohoo, £45; Dress- Boohoo, £12; Boots- Boohoo, £20)

If you’re noticing that there’s an excess of Boohoo products in this lookbook, that would be the result of the huge order than was delivered to my house the other day, burning a rather large hole in my purse but adding some much-needed basics to my autumn wardrobe. My favourite of these are this new boyfriend coat and boots (yes they are self-admittedly cheaper copies of the beautiful Timberland boots which my bank balance cried at the prospect of me purchasing). Along with these, I paired this grey “cold shoulder” dress which was such good value for money- I’m seriously loving the baggy dress/coat with tights and boots combo at the moment if you hadn’t guessed.

look3(Skirt- vintage; Jumper- Boohoo, £12; Shoes- Blitz Vintage; Tights- New Look; Slippers- Urban Outfitters)

I find it really hard to find skirts that fit me well and suit my shape, but this denim mini that I found in an underground vintage market on Brick Lane is one of my best finds. Teamed with this cropped basic black jumper, knitted tights and these adorable men’s leather boat shoes, it makes the perfect combination for a chilly autumn day or just curling up by the fire with a mug of tea and my gorgeous slippers from last Christmas (I’m really hoping Urban Outfitters bring back something similar this year).

look4(Jeans- Blitz Vintage; Top- Boohoo, £8; Converses- Office, £45; Scarf- Shepherd’s Land)

For those slightly sunnier days, I immediately reach for my favourite high-waisted boyfriend jeans (they’re Levi’s 901s in case anyone was wondering). With these, I pretty much without exception will wear my worn-in-to-the-point-of-being-battered converse lowtops and a simple long-sleeved crop top. I do love a bit of colour, so I can’t help but reach for my checked scarf- nothing says Christmas is coming like red tartan. Coincidentally, it actually matches my lipstick (Rimmel Matte Kate Moss in 107) pretty well too, so I can pretend that I actually take care in things like coordinating my outfits.. bonus.

I suppose I should apologise for the fact that I haven’t posted in a good couple of weeks; whilst I may not have an excuse I do have a reason- the last month or so has been absorbed with UCAS forms and university choices, but luckily I submitted my application a couple of days ago so hopefully I’ll now be back into the whole posting when I promise I will thing. Fingers crossed.

A Film A Week: 01

Ask me about books, and I could go on for hours about which ones I love, which ones I hate, those I could read a thousand times over and those I would happily never see again. Same goes for music. Films, however, are a whole other story- I have no real reason for it but the list of movies I have actually seen is strangely minuscule for a teenager that loves all kind of art forms. After one particularly in-depth conversation with my stepdad, who is one of those people that can name the director, release date and whole cast of practically every film ever made, it was decided that I was in desperate need of a film education. Now it’s not like I have never seen a movie before; I’ve watched my fair share of Mean Girls and Harry Potter’s, but it was those cult classics that everyone and their mother seems to have seen that I’ve somehow managed to avoid seeing for the first eighteen years of my life. So, along with said film buff stepdad, a month ago I spent an arguably productive Sunday afternoon going through the IMDb ‘Top 100 Films’ list and creating a list of 52 films to watch (the idea was one a week for a year, in case you hadn’t guessed).

So without further ado, the next Sunday rolled around and we were ready on the sofa with ‘Pulp Fiction’ in the DVD player and a good old roast on our plates. I know a lot of people are going to be in disbelief that I haven’t seen what has to be one of the most famous and best-loved classics of the nineties, and in all honesty I have no idea how I’ve managed to get this far without watching it. I’m pretty sure this was also the first Tarantino that I’ve ever seen and I can definitely see why both he and this film have been so successful. Pulp Fiction is funny in an ironic way, manages to be violent without being classed as an action of any shape or form, confusing at times thanks to its disjointed storyline, but also clever and definitely worth a watch. Is it worth all the hype that surrounds it? My stepdad would certainly say not; I would be inclined to agree, but it’s definitely one of those films that everyone should see at some point- if only so you finally understand the multitude of references that seem to be made to it in everyday life.

One week on and the setting is pretty much the same, apart from this time on the screen is ‘O Brother Where Art Thou’, one of my stepdads favourite films that I have never really heard a lot about. I’ll be honest, I wasn’t exactly pumped to watch it for reasons that I can no longer remember, but it completely blew my expectations out of the water. Directed by the Coen brother and starring the likes of George Clooney, it’s set up to be a pretty great film and it certainly lives up to that. Witty and funny, it’s set in Great Depression-ridden Mississippi and has everything a good film needs, from a great soundtrack to cop chases. Apparently it’s based on the Odyssey and is full of references but I’ll be completely honest and admit that I didn’t realise this until (no surprise) my stepdad informed me… Nevertheless it’s a really great feel good film and I would heartily recommend if you want a chilled evening watching something that’s not too taxing on the brain!

The third and most recent installment of my movie education came in the shape of ‘Memento’, a film that I knew nothing about besides the title and the intriguing DVD cover. As we sat down to watch, my stepdad warned me that I would have to actually focus on what was happening to understand, which is always something that immediately instills fear in me- although he is plenty justified in warning me as I am horrendous at remembering who is who and what is happening in even the simplest of plotlines. ‘Memento’ is the story of a man whose wife is brutally murdered and decides to dedicate the rest of his life to finding her killer. The only minor problem is that thanks to the killer, he himself suffered an injury that left him with short-term memory loss- he can remember everything up until the accident clear as day, but anything since then only lasts a matter of minutes before disappearing from his brain.. bit of an issue when you’re trying to solve a murder case. I think my favourite thing about watching this was that it is shot completely from the protagonist’s perspective; we follow him, see what he sees, know no more than he knows and are deceived just as successfully as he is himself. If you’re looking for a movie whose concept is something new and refreshing that makes you think a bit more than your average rom-com or feel-good film, then this is your guy.

The plan is to put these mini reviews up about once a month as I slowly make my way through the list, although thanks to the almost-impossible task of finding a single night of the week when none of us are busy, sticking to a film a week might be a tad unrealistic. Either way, I hope you found entertainment in some form or other in this because I’ll be back shortly ready to impart even more of my superior knowledge as I delve deeper into the world of films. Three down, fourty-nine to go.

Not Ready To Be An Adult

As of last Saturday I am eighteen years old, and therefore an adult.. isn’t that a terrifying thought? With my little brother and sister starting school for the first time the day before my birthday, I was already feeling a little fragile in the age department, but now I just feel goddamn ancient. I know it’s such a cliché thing to say but it feels like only yesterday that I started secondary school and now I’m finally in my final year, a lot taller, a lot happier, and hopefully at least a little bit wiser. Nevertheless- jokes from mum about how I now have to do my own washing aside- I can’t comprehend the fact that I am now a legal adult and can more or less do whatever I want. In a year’s time I will be moving out (fingers crossed) and having to think about feeding myself and cleaning my own place and paying bills and all those other things that come with being a “responsible adult”.. and that scares me to death.

Don’t get me wrong, I am so excited to finally be eighteen and everything that entails- this birthday has hands down been the best I’ve ever had as I’ve been lucky enough to have spent time with and been spoiled by the people I love the most in the world. I honestly couldn’t have asked for a better start to adult life and I am so grateful. Having friends that are moving out for uni this week has made me long for this time next year when I will hopefully be in the same position; I am so ready to get out of this tiny village in the middle of nowhere and I’m excited for whatever the next few years will bring. Oh, and if you’re wondering why I’ve become so somber and reflective all of a sudden, that’s what adulthood does to you kids. Just you wait.

Paper Views: Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

I know that my blog has kind of been all over the place this summer thanks to a dangerous combination of my various trips and general laziness, but hopefully now that I’m back at sixth form for my last year of school (eek) I can get back in the swing of things, and the holiday has meant that I’ve plenty of books of which to impart my professional opinion on for you. The first of these, and one that I wasn’t exactly eagerly anticipating reading, was Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë, one of the classics that was suggested reading for my A2 Literature course. Now, I don’t know if I’m the only one that had these preconceptions, but I was expecting this to be one of those novels full of wishy-washy lovey-dovey characters without any real plot line that anyone of our time can relate to (yes, this is exactly what I thought about Pride and Prejudice). I have to say, a few pages in and I was pleasantly surprised- the protagonist and the book’s namesake is a women who is independent-minded right from childhood and finds her way in the world without the help of any man- something that is refreshing to see in a book of that era.

It’s not until at least halfway through the story that you start to see a romance forming, and it is certainly not one of nature typical of romance novels; Rochester is moody and brooding and actually kind of ugly- something which only serves to make the characters more humbling and relatable. Described as something of a gothic novel, Jane Eyre definitely has more depth to it than the perhaps more commonly read Pride and Prejudice, and if you were going to read one of the two I would certainly recommend the former. Whilst I wouldn’t say it’s my favourite book that I’ve ever read, it completely surpassed my expectations and managed to be funny, gripping and profound in ways that I never expected. Definitely one to add to the bookshelf.

Rhythm and Views: Best of Reading 2014

We all know by now how much I love to ramble about bands I love so, as promised, I thought it was time to carry on that tradition in the form of my Reading 2014 highlights. If you’ve read my previous post, you’ll know I was lucky enough to go to Reading this year and now, with a couple of weeks of sleep behind me (although still with an annoyingly persistent collection of illnesses and bruises), I feel I can properly look back on the weekend.

First off, it wouldn’t be right to start with any other than my beloved Arctics, who unsurprisingly smashed it. My friends and I were right near the front before they came on but decided to move further back so we could actually breathe- let alone dance- and I am so glad we did, as I think such a large part of enjoying a band is having a good crowd (yes I’m talking to you, crappy Vampire Weekend audience). From the opening riff of ‘Do I Wanna Know’ I just knew it would be a good’un; Alex was on point all the way through with his perfectly calculated obnoxious charm and the crowd were lapping up his every word. In terms of the setlist, they played ‘When The Sun Goes Down’ which I’ve always wanted to see live, but I can’t help feeling they missed some of their best hits- namely 505, Mardy Bum and Pretty Visitors (probably my favourite live track when I saw them on their AM tour). It’s hard to compare their Reading performance to seeing them at their own show; the latter was probably more slick and technically perfect, but you just can’t beat the amazing festival vibe and a fantastic crowd ten times the size.

One band who have definitely thrown themselves into the industry head first thanks to Reading has to be Catfish & The Bottlemen, who’ve managed to sell out their tour even before the release of their debut album (I’m still bitter that I missed out on tickets). I know they’re going to be huge, and I can’t be more happy that I got to see them in the tiny Festival Republic stage with one of the best crowds of the festival- complete with a naked crowdsurfer, egged on by the band themselves to “take it off, take it off!“. On straight after Catfish came King Charles, hands down my favourite act from 2000 Trees last year; nothing makes me want to dance more than his music does. Fab music, fab voice and even fabber hair- what more could you really ask for?

Now I’ve always been a fan of Cage The Elephant from their ‘Aint No Rest For The Wicked’ days, but I can’t say I’ve listened to a lot of their newer releases (my beautiful signed Shake Me Down picture vinyl is still unashamedly one of my favourite possessions). The same cannot be said for one of my friends though, so at her request we elbowed our way to near the front and I ended up counting it  as hands down one of my favourite acts of the festival. Definitely will be seeing them again sometime in the future. The end of Cage’s set meant a quick dash back to the main stage for Foster The People- I’ve been wanting to see them live for four years now and I’m still pretty amazed that I finally have. I know a lot of people aren’t fans but I really don’t get that- Mark Foster’s voice is just to die for and everything about their music is so happy, especially at a festival- nothing beats being in the middle of a crowd belting out some indie-pop lyrics as the sun slowly sets behind the stage.

I could go on for weeks about every band I saw at Reading, but I think (know) I would probably lose every subscriber I have, which is probably best avoided. I  just had to give a particular mention to a few bands that particularly stood out or I was especially impressed by- as I said before, any chance to ramble about music is a chance that I never fail to grasp with both hands. As I’m sure you’ve gathered.

Reading 2014

Oh boy, where to begin? I’m currently curled up with a hot mug of Twining’s English Breakfast Tea (yes this is a recurring theme, no I am not ashamed) and have been pretty much consistently since I rolled into my bed on a very soggy Monday morning; drenched, freezing cold and nursing a sore everything, but having had the best five days of my life. For those that somehow aren’t aware, last weekend was Reading and Leeds Festival and I was lucky enough (I say lucky, but I was the one that slaved away at work for months to be able to afford it) to go to the former, and oh my was it an amazing weekend.

As a first time Reading-goer I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect, and without a doubt it lived up to the “drink, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll” reputation that it has gained itself- perhaps with less of the rock ‘n’ roll with the likes of Disclosure and Vampire Weekend topping the bill of famous faces. But in spite of that (or perhaps as a result of) the whole festival just had such a friendly atmosphere and you could tell that everyone was there for the same reason, apart from maybe the wonderful human outside my tent at 4am whose new friend asked him who he was most excited to see and to which he replied “oh I don’t even know who’s playing, I’m here for the ket”.

For those of us that were actually there for the music, we certainly weren’t disappointed, with my stand-out act being Arctic Monkeys (not really a surprise for anyone who knows me in the slightest)- it was the second time I’ve seen them and I finally got to see them play When The Sun Goes Down live, which pretty much made my year. I’ll probably end up doing some in-depth reviews of particular sets from across the weekend as it is way too much to fit into one post, but my other highlights would have to come from Catfish & The Bottlemen, Cage The Elephant, Foster The People, King Charles and The Kooks, just to name a few.

All in all, despite the gag-inducing toilet stench and complete lack of sleep, comfort or sanitation, it was a weekend I won’t be forgetting quickly- not least thanks to the multitude of illnesses I seem to have returned with that garner no sympathy from my parents on account of being “self-inflicted”. Can’t say I can really argue with that.