My first time using Airbnb!

I did it. I popped my AirBnB cherry.

When I went to London, for my birthday [what’s this? The previous post all about THE HARRY POTTER STUDIO TOUR?], my and my boyfriend decided to stay in an AirBnB apartment instead of trying to find a good, affordable, hotel in the area we wanted to stay.

I’m sure you know London is pretty vast. It’s a great city but it’s expensive and there are some bad areas and even worse hotels [trust me, I’ve stayed in them], so despite it not really being any cheaper in an apartment I at least got to pick a place based on REAL pictures of the rooms and REAL reviews from the folks who had stayed previously.

This is the place we picked, just for reference:

cool apartmentcool apartmentrecord playerrustic kitchencool storagefireplace with mirrordesk space

As you can see, I picked a pretty cool place just off Portobello road.

I suppose you’re wondering if it all went well and if I’d use Airbnb again? Because I TOTALLY would. I don’t know if I’d ever stay in a hotel again, really. I’ve never been one for hotels, I don’t know why. I feel like I have to follow rules – what time you can eat breakfast. What time you have to leave so they can clean you room etc. I dislike it! Especially when they insist on cleaning your room and taking your towels every day which is a total waste of resources!

Rant about hotels over, I LOVE the fact you get to stay in places that have as much or as little character as you’d like. You can see the totally honest reviews from the people who have stayed before and you are in total contact with the owner all the time, which means you can ask them for help if you need it. The whole deal runs off the back of reviews and both the owners of the property and the ‘renters’ are on the chopping block. Bad service? Bad review and people are less likely to stay. Bad tenant? You might not get to stay in another person’s home in the future! I like it! I’m sure people have had bad experiences but I really enjoyed the experience.

I’d visit the same apartment again in the future and I’m now going to use Airbnb next time I’m going anywhere! [FYI: Japan has some really cool places…]

What do you think? Is it something you’d do or is it something you’ve done? Let me know in the comments!

 

Sam

Top 5 reasons to visit Harry Potter London Studio Tour

That’s right, it finally happened! I went to London last week for my birthday and in order to celebrate turning… an age… my boyfriend and I visited the Harry Potter Studio Tour and had THE TIME OF OUR LIVES.

Naturally I took a lot of pictures and by a lot I mean… my phone was so full of them I wasn’t even allowed to view them without deleting some [I’m getting a new phone soon, shhh]. I suppose that’s my own fault for being too lazy to take my actual camera with me.

Before I show you the pictures I thought I’d highlight my top 5 things from the tour – which is difficult to do!

  1. The Great Hall is GREAT! You walk in and you feel like you could be in the movie. I had to stop myself from running through screaming ‘Troll in the dungeon” [there is no need to point out how much of a geek I am].
  2. The trinkets and props! Each item when you walk through is just so perfect and, whilst the displays are kind of all over the place, it’s nice you get to stumble upon them here and there. I’m sure I missed little things just due to them being tucked away like all good things in Hogwarts are. I’ll definitely go back just to re-explore.
  3. The sets and costumes are all great, however, the Potions set is my favourite. It’s dark, it’s cool and the potions are all stirring themselves which, whilst not that impressive, still made me happy.
  4. I thought I’d like the costumes more than I did, to be honest, but the real gem was the creature effects department and the art department. The planning and the intricate design for everything is out of this world. The people involved with all of that work are geniuses.
  5. Hogwarts Castle. They save it until the end and then you walk into the room where the model is and BAM! It’s the icing on the cake, really. I could sit in that room and look at the castle for hours and not get bored.

 

I kind of feel bad that Diagon Alley, The Forbidden Forrest , Number 4 and The Knight Bus didn’t make the list. Rest assured they are brilliant, as well.

Honourable mention also has to go to the green screen broom flying section – you get to sit on a broom and act like you’re flying over London. Whilst HIGHLY embarrassing it’s still amusing though I’ll warn you – buying the pictures and video is expensive and they don’t tell you the prices until you’re at the counter! Sneaky.

If you ever get a chance to go PLEASE do it. It is actually magical!

Now, without further ado, you get to see all the pictures I have to share [which are of OK quality] because it was SO GOOD, you guys!

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Slytherin Uniform

Hogwarts staff

Hagrid and Filtch

 

The Great Hall

Ron's dress robesHarry Potter costumesHarry Potter costumesGryffindor common roomHarry Potter wigsQuidditch costumes

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I’m sorry there were so many pictures – I didn’t want to break it up by doing a part one and part two!

 

Sam

May Goals Recap

The end of May has arrived! Which means… MY BIRTHDAY has also arrived [1st of June, send your gifts ASAP!] but more on that later!

I figured why not do a little recap of those goals I set to see how well I did… I’m sure we can all agree that May came and went quickly! I had a lot of changes in May and so it’s just whizzed right on by!

Let’s see how I did…

  1. Get my Etsy shop up and running. I haven’t DONE it but it’s almost done so I’m OK with that. I had a few issues with some of the stock and so I need to fix that before I can start listing. June, guys! I promise! 
  2. Finish Etta part 2 and self publish. Nope. I mean, I’ve almost finished the first draft but I’m still getting through it! Like I said; busy month!
  3. Bike. I got my bike out of storage!! I haven’t had a chance to take it on the roads yet but I did dust it down, realign the seat and pump up the tires, which I think counts as half an accomplishment!
  4. Get my office partially sorted out.  No, guys. NO! Let’s not talk about it. I got my new computer but the office is still out of bounds… 
  5. Just finish the last parts of my first full length novel so I can submit it. I’ve been too scared, again. I have this issue where I’m scared. Not of failure but kind of success. Not that I think I’ll succeed any more than anyone else but.. argh. It’s hard to explain. I’m almost there, though… almost. 

So I didn’t do GREAT but I’m still plodding on. I’ll do a half yearly recap of my year’s goals soon.

 

Sam

Outfit of the day [Basic Sam] and note to self

My Blog Queen, The Dainty Squid, recently wrote a post which was a little note to self about body image and it really stuck with me. I’ve re-read it a few times because it’s so simple and straight forward it makes me feel better.

I’m an advocate for NOT striving to be thin or lose weight for the sake of fitting into other people’s expectations of beauty and so, just for the sake of reminding myself, I thought I’d do a similar post.

 

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If I ever remembered where I put my camera charger I could take better pictures! Ignoring the fact that these are awfully grainy and my roots are atrocious this is just me. Nothing fancy. This is one of my usual, casual, outfits which I feel would be one of the outfits my superhero action figure would wear if I were an actual superhero [shhh…].

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I’m not one for jewellery, despite the fact I buy it every now and then, but I do love this necklace I got. I love geo-jewellery and this one is small and cute and goes with almost everything.

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Honest alert; I’m a vegan and still wear my leather jacket. Most people laugh and say what I would consider snide/mean things about my personal life choices when they find this out, like me makes me less of a good person, however, this jacket is the most expensive thing I have ever bought myself [outside of cameras and computers] and so it might take me a while to part with it. Eventually I’ll donate this to someone else and buy a fake one [from a sustainable company, thank you very much!].

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If this doesn’t show you who I am I don’t know what will; these little belt/buckle features should be done up, however, they always come undone so I’ve stopped doing it. Utter laziness!

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Does anyone manage to keep their Converse clean? I have worn them all my life and I’m sad they are a terrible company for being ethical. I’m going to have to find a new brand to wear eventually.

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Just dancing with the love of my life. I feel odd looking at pictures of my ENTIRE body. How strange is that? I think I’m an odd shape, which is silly. I did laugh when I looked back at this picture – my little Juno dancing with me. wp-1496088151598.

I have always wanted to do pictures of outfits. It’s something I enjoy looking at on other people’s blogs but I always felt like I couldn’t do it myself because I’m not a slim person. STUPID, right?

My body has never really been a big cause for concern. I don’t hate it but I don’t always love it, either. Over the past year my liking for it has slipped a little and it’s understandable. I stopped working out due to being tired a lot and not enjoying aspects of my life which made me feel even more drained than I already was. I even stopped doing yoga, which is just silly because it’s one of the best things I have in my life.

So here is a reminder to myself; You do not have to be ‘thin’ to wear nice clothes. You do not have to exercise to feel good but you do feel good when you do it. You do not have to compare yourself to anyone else. You can be that person everyone admires for their self confidence when they need to look to someone else for strength.

I don’t have small thighs. I don’t have a flat stomach. I don’t have toned arms. That’s cool. I’m a writer, I’m not an athlete. Bodies change and that’s cool. BE HEALTHY.

Sam

 

TOP: ASOS Jumper in Stripe with Oval Tan Elbow Patch – currently £14

Jeans: OASIS ‘Cherry’ slim leg – £55 [and not worth it anymore now the price has gone up. Time to jump back into jean-buying mode…]

Jacket: Warehouse Leather Biker Jacket [no longer available but THIS is similar]

Shoes: Converse Classic All Stars – £45

Necklace: One of a kind from Mickey’s store on Etsy [go and show her some love if you live in the US, OK?]

Tea Mode [with discounts]

Whilst it’s VERY true, I love coffee, I’m also a HUGE lover of tea. Any kind of tea. Just give me all the tea!

My tea stock is currently running a little bit low so I thought I’d do a quick recap of the tea that I’ve been drinking recently – I’m also going to say this RIGHT NOW: I’m going to be adding some links to the Twinings website where they currently have an offer on for 20% off, ending TOMORROW! If you use the link and happen to purchase something I will get a fee.

With that out of the way let’s move onto the actual tea.

I don’t solely drink Twinings tea, in fact, I usually only have one or two boxes of their tea in my stock at a time as I like to try lots of different brands for fun. That being said here is what I’m currently drinking from their selection:

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Twinings green tea is actually one that I almost always have because it’s a firm fave. It’s not too bitter and, if you’re a heathen like me, you can leave the tea bag in for the entirety of the cup and not feel like you’ve just eaten tea leaves.

The Lemon Trio is equally delish. I usually like to just have hot water and lemon but, recently, I’ve been forgetting I have lemon in the fridge and then it’s too late to use it so, whilst I’m being forgetful, I decided to invest in lemon tea. Every time I drink it I feel like I’ve been very healthy and it reminds me of summer for some reason!

The China Rose if a new one for me. I love rose flavoured everything and I have had some fancy rose tea before. This is very delicate and you can’t steep the bag for too long because you do lose the freshness but it’s really nice if you just want something warm and not overly flavoured. It’s only a hint of rose but it’s good stuff!

Although I wasn’t going to go into the darjeeling you can see poking through in the pictures I’ll just comment and say YES it’s good… however, I have had far better darjeeling from bespoke tea companies so I’ve been spoilt a little bit with it. I drink the Twinings version and it’s lovely but it’s not the best one out there!

If you’d like to shop using the 20% off code I have please feel free to click:

logo.gif and use the code WEEKEND20

They’re now offering some ICED TEA options, which is always what I’m looking for so don’t miss out on those!

Now I’m going to tell you about a couple of NON Twinings teas which I have no affiliate links for, I’m afraid!

The first is Starbucks:

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The Teavana range is my favourite of all their tea. I love the new flavours they brought out and I’ve been drinking them ever since… you know, when I’m not drinking all the espresso’s.

The Emperor’s clouds & mist is lovely. Like most of their tea you can’t leave it to steep for longer than 3 minutes as it goes very bitter, however, it’s refreshing and it feels like it’s cleansing your entire body so I love it! [The Youthberry tea is the one I drink the most, hence me not having any to show you…].

Finally, I was recently given this box of The Tea Makers flowering tea as a leaving gift from my work and the tea is delicious. Whilst I wish I’d picked a prettier one to photograph you only get 5 in a box and I didn’t want to waste one just for another picture but you’ll see from the images how it all works!

The result is a fresh, mellow, sweet tea which is so fun to make it’s hard not to use them all up in one day! I’m trying to be good, though.

I love any tea which flowers and this one is pretty damn good, if you ask me. I might be tempted to buy myself another box or try some of their matcha tea – they are quite costly… around £7 for 5 bulbs but my birthday is coming up so I might add something from their range to my list!

 

I hope you enjoyed this little tea-tour… see what I did there? Because I could have said detour… never mind.

I’m also going to try to do some coffee blogs soon so if you like this kind of thing… stick around!

Sam

Early evening light

I found myself wandering around my local town this evening just as the sun was starting to sink and I had to take some pictures because what else would you do? Well, for starters I did sit on a bench with Juno and read. I feel like people look at me like I’m odd for doing it but reading out in the open and NOT looking at a phone is a delight.

The one thing I like to do is look at the tops of the buildings. It sounds stupid but the shop fronts are, mostly, ugly. The tops of the buildings are the remnants of the original building and there are some stunning ones on the Main Street. 20170524_19434620170524_194424

See what I mean by ugly shop fronts? I just hate the look of most shop windows. However, please do spot my reading bench and also Starbucks, where I usually frequent and from where I was stealing free wi-fi. 20170524_194415

Early evening usually means the street is empty. All the shops were shut which makes it really peaceful. 20170524_194354

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One of the nice things dotted around are the big flower displays. They’re in full bloom at the moment and whilst they do make me sneezy I do like the smell… as does Juno. She always tries to jump up and sniff them!20170524_195613

And here, in the middle of town, is one of the Edible Gardens which is for anyone to help themselves to. There is rhubarb growing, some strawberry plants and herbs. I actually love that we have these, despite the fact I’d be too self conscious to start picking things!! 20170524_194906

 

Whilst me and Juno were wandering I took some pictures of a few ‘urban’ areas in town. They’re tucked away and I really want to use them as back drops for some outfit pictures I was hoping to take. I don’t know. I might not do it because I’m not really a fashionista but I see some of my fave bloggers do it so…

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I really wish I would remember to charge my good camera… maybe next time!

 

Sam

Twin Peaks is coming back!

I just want to start this blog post by saying this isn’t going to be a review, in the slightest! It will also, possibly, contain SPOILERS and so read on at your own peril…

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My experiences of the original series is pretty recent. I only watched it, for the first time, about 6 or 7 years ago because I was too young when it was originally broadcasted. The only thing we were allowed to watch at that age which was ‘spooky’ was The X Files and that’s only because my dad loved it and we probably wouldn’t go to bed. That’s how I ended up watching a lot of scary films that I probably shouldn’t have been allowed to watch and possibly why I’m such an odd-ball-scary-movie-lover now!

Watching it as an adult was amazing. I got to appreciate the humour, the acting and the themes more than I would have done as a kid and rather than have it cast away in my memory it’s so fresh and still one of the best TV shows I’ve ever watched. It paved the way for so many other shows it’s just crazy.

Last night I stayed up late to watch the first two episodes of the new series and it was SO good. I would love to know people’s reactions if you hadn’t seen the original because, for me, it was a perfect jump back into a world I had hoped carried on in the absence of viewers. I feel like that’s what David Lynch has managed to do with the first two episodes; there’s no ‘previously on Twin Peaks’ moment. It’s just like we took a 25 year break and now everyone is older, tired, still going through the same old crap they were before Agent Cooper went into The Lodge.

The room with the box [this is where the spoilers will kick in] actually freaked me out a little bit. I really liked that aspect of the story as an aside. You got to see what was happening in Twin Peaks; Hawk just being the most bad ass deputy sheriff in town, as per usual, the Log Lady being as brilliant and ominous as before, Andy and Lucy being the kookiest couple [I mean… “he’s not even seen Wally”. Made me laugh more than it should have…] and The Lodge being as terrible a place as it ever was with no one even caring that speaking backwards is AWFUL and SCARY!!

In those first two episodes the glimpses of ‘business as usual’ are there to off set the ‘business isn’t as usual as you think’ moments – such as the room with the box.

I could go into the way David Lynch is a master of the uncanny and macabre but there are literally dozens of books about it so I’d advise you pick one up if you want to delve deeper in the mind who came up with BOB.

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Now that the re-introduction is out of the way I’m really looking forward to learning more about the ‘demons’*, what happened to Audrey, who is the rich dude** running the experiments and where the heck is Truman and the rest of the Bookhouse Boys?

I think I actually have more questions than that but I’m more excited to just start watching it rather than pulling it apart so early on.

Let me know if you watched it and what your initial thoughts are – did you enjoy the lingering moments and extended periods of time where there was no dialogue? I’m a big fan of those things but I know others find them boring…

 

Sam

 

*If you could call them demons. It’s never really been spoken aloud but just assumed. I think, once you start accepting them as part of the world of Twin Peaks the whole ‘uncanny’ themes take off. It’s such a normal world but there’s so much of it that makes you think of it as an alternate reality. If you’ve watched Fringe – thoughts please! 

** assuming it’s a man…? 

Short hair, again.

If you are a frequent reader you might have caught my last post about hair. It’s cool if you didn’t. I’ll just wait here whilst you catch up on your reading…

You good? OK, let’s plough on!

I recently took the plunge and got my hair cut almost a year to the day as when I got it done last year. People always seem to think this kind of cut is drastic because I had about 5 inches cut off, maybe even 6, but for me it’s just the norm. I love the idea of having long flowing locks but when you are a terrible hair-parent and never brush those babies and expect a coconut conditioning mask to do all the work for you… well, luscious locks you don’t get.

So here is my hair. And my face. Without makeup because you don’t always have to look like a better version of yourself.

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I was actually tired when I took these pictures; I’d been out for the LEAVING PARTY for work the night before and I had been for a run in the morning so I was tired but I still think I look like a cute alien. I also separated my hair into top and bottom so I could curl it.

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Ignoring the fact that I need to do my roots it’s’ always so much easier and quicker curling my hair at this length. It takes me about 5 minutes which, for a lazy bones gal like  me, if perfection.

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Here is my dehydrated skin. And my curly top layer. You can’t tell, really, but my hair is now sitting just above the shoulder and it’s bouncy and cute AF.

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And then, of course,  you have to run your fingers through them all and break them up so they look messy and unintentionally done when, in fact, this is the only intention I ever put in my hair.

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Sam

The Littlest Juno Puppy

I feel like, every now and then, I’m allowed to do a little blog post about how cute Juno, my Beagle, is.

Whilst I’m sure other’s aren’t as charmed by her cute little face as I am it doesn’t really matter because YOU don’t have control over my blog. [chuckle. chuckle.]

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This little pup* [*she’s three years old but will always be my pup] loves nothing more than to find the patch of sun in the window and sunbathe until she get’s too hot which is when she’ll throw herself down in the shade.

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Often she’ll chew her own toys, however, it doesn’t stop her from chewing her own feet every now and then just to be strange.

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And then she does something like this. I mean… the pose! Most of the pictures I take of her are blurry. It’s less a lack of photo taking skills and more the fact that as soon as I press the ‘shutter’ she moves… it’s like she knows. “Clever girl”.

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She really hates having her picture taken. It’s strange. Perhaps it’s more to do with the fact that I’m always right in her face? The jury’s still out.

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One of the most ‘fun’ things Juno does is the fact that she does everything on her own terms. She doesn’t like to be stroked. She will back away from people who come near her, until she decides she wants it and then you’re screwed because she won’t leave you alone. Similarly with toys. Throw a ball? She won’t bring it back. And then she appears at your feet hours later with another toy.

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The one thing she does do, though, is get A LOT of attention when we’re out. Perhaps it’s her ‘life jacket’ harness, which helps me spot her when she’s out in the wilderness. Perhaps it’s that damn cute face? She occasionally listens to me when we’re walking, like above when I told her to wait, however she will more often than not pretend to be deaf. It’s a real thing. She will look the other way as though eye contact proves she’s heard me.

Does anyone else have a dog who is just so… awkward? I mean she’s darn cute but… awkwaaaard AF.

Sam