Blonde back in Bristol

I’M BACK! Bristol is my.. uh.. maybe not oyster. Shall we say fishcake? No.. too controversial. Lets go with fish finger (the budget kind that I shall be munching on all too often from now on).

I arrived at my lovely 2nd year home at around 7.30pm on Saturday night, and have since passed through quite a number of thoughts, feelings and chocolate digestives. The first order of business upon arrival was a much awaited reunion with housemates, before settling in with an episode of Friends and a microwaved meal (it took all the energy I could muster). I know, the glamour..

Day 1 was spent unpacking the hoards of things I have somehow accumulated over the past year, and trying to get my new room into some semblance of order. I’m actually really happy with how it’s turned out.. especially this little gem that I picked up from The Design Studio on Ecclesall Road in Sheffield.

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Gladly jumping on the lightbox bandwagon

However, the first morning in the house was also witness to an incident. Ten seconds into my first shower, and the curtain and rail fell on top of me, leaving me forcing their weight up with one hand and using the other to frantically attempt to switch off the water gushing onto me. There’s always one, isn’t there?

We treated ourselves to a brunch at Boston Tea Party yesterday morning, which is conveniently (maybe dangerously) close to our new house, and its funny how quickly things seem to have gone back to normal. I feel like every time I leave one city for the other I have to readjust slightly, but this is always going to be easier when accompanied with fruit smoothies and friends, right?

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‘I’ll take one of each, please’

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It’s weird being back- a mixture of heartbreak at having to leave my beloved Sheffield girls (and parents, I’m not ashamed to say) and yet excitement for the year to come.

I don’t think it’s ever going to be easy leaving Sheffield. I may have a year of uni and living away from home under my belt, but I’m still sat here listening to Fifteen by Taylor Swift wondering when I’m going to start feeling like a grown up. However, the pain is numbed somewhat by the likelihood of many more berry smoothies and the promise of  visits soon from friends and family. Any suggestions for where to take them? Please leave me ideas in the comments!

 

Blonde back in Bristol

Fear X Loathing

Uni is great. But being in a city half way across the country does come with its drawbacks, a major one being the distance between you and your friends from home. Since my girl group are especially close, this has been one of the hardest things I’ve had to deal with over this first year in Bristol. So, making the most of being back in the same city once again, last week five of us decided to have a very much needed catch up at Fear X Loathing- a burger-and-beer-and-cocktails-and-everything-you-need-in-your-life joint on West Street.

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I found out about F X L recently via Instagram, and after seeing pictures of their food it wasn’t exactly difficult to persuade everyone this was somewhere we needed to try.

After much deliberation, oo-ing and aa-ing, I had the juicy chilli jam chicken burger (try saying that aloud without tripping!) with chips and a side of halloumi bites. I’ll admit that (as usual) I was slightly optimistic about just how much food I could eat in one sitting, so a little help was needed with the bites which were far too good to go to waste.

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Despite having probably already eaten too much, two of us hadn’t learnt our lesson and decided to order chocolate ‘freakshakes’ using the justification that it was only the same as having dessert. Turns out, it’s not.

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They are ENORMOUS. You know how usually when you go out for food and something is declared as being ridiculously huge, in the back of your mind you’re thinking ‘yeah right, bet I can finish that easily’? Not this. The shake itself was gorgeous, but, served with about two tonnes of cream, toasted marshmallows, an oreo and a chocolate mini roll, I was defeated. I 100% recommend this, but maybe on an empty stomach…

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After posting a photo of my delicious Tuesday night on IG, a friend, who had just got back from travelling and who I was desperate to see, messaged me saying she wanted to try it too, so I ended up going twice in the same week. (It’s that good).

The great thing about F X L is that you can go for a full on meal, or just pop by for drinks and a side at lunch. I wasn’t quite as greedy second time round, and just went for a regular sized raspberry ripple milkshake which was cute enough to belong in a ’50s diner. (Yes, I got a milkshake while Heather got a beer.. I know I’m a child)

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For the second round we splashed out and went for cocktails- a pornstar martini and a rumberklaart, which were excellently presented and tasted just as good as they looked. The pornstar martini comes along with a shot of prosecco, as though it’s not tempting enough already.

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I’m painfully aware of how gushy I sound, but I only have good things to say about this place. Chilled atmosphere, good music, the friendliest serving staff, top burgers and gorgeous cocktails. Trust me, you don’t want to miss out on this one.

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Fear X Loathing

Any excuse for glitter

I have to apologise for the inexcusable infrequency of my posts recently! After 19 years of living in the bubble of education, I am currently half way through a 6 week summer job – a real one! Working 9-5 after becoming accustomed to morning lectures followed by a nap is proving to be exhausting (I know), but I’m getting better at the whole early mornings thing and honestly enjoying it so much.

BUT.. throughout the past few weeks of 7am alarms and pencil skirts, there has been a distinct lack of grooviness, which was thankfully corrected by this weekend’s Tramlines extravaganza. Having booked Friday off work and made it clear with friends that we intended to wear as much glitter as is possible without actually becoming disco balls, I was so ready.

Let me just take this chance to say Sheffield is i n c r e d i b l e. Weekends like this one make me appreciate it so much- not only is it one of the greenest places known to man, but it’s also one of the friendliest. The atmosphere for the past four days has been amazing and I don’t think I’ve ever seen as many people so happy.

A funky disco set from Mr Scruff in Leadmill kicked off the weekend.. I think this photo just about sums up how happy I was at the prospect of seemingly unlimited gin and glitter-

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The highlight of Friday was an unexpected one. Those of you who know me know that I’m not exactly the biggest rap fan, but I can say in all honesty that I’ve had Dizzee Rascal on repeat ever since his set at Ponderosa. Fix Up, Look Sharp and Bonkers especially had so much energy, and I have well and truly been converted. My favourite photo of the weekend is without a doubt this one of Frankee, proving that she was born to sit on someone’s shoulders and look incredible in the midst of a bouncing crowd.

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Following a night of boogying to Soul Jam at The Harley, we headed back into town on Saturday for a walk through the beautiful Western Park. Jazz was blasting out from the bandstand speakers, including a 1930s remake of Stacey’s Mom which was impossible not to smile to, and the weather was about as kind as it gets in the usually drizzly North. There’s a link here to who I’ve now discovered are ‘Postmodern Jukebox’ if some jazzy clarinet mixed with Fountains of Wayne is what you’re missing right now (of course it is, who are you kidding?).

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What do you mean ‘grim up North’?
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Is any outfit complete without glitter though

Saturday also provided the always-welcome opportunity to relive the Noughties through seeing the fabulous Kelis. Despite warning that she had a cold, she really didn’t disappoint in either vocals or atmosphere and inevitable screams to classics like Milkshake and Millionaire ensued.

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I know quite a few people have complained about prices this year, but for three days and four nights of non-stop, whatever you fancy music in too many locations to list, I really don’t think you could get better value for money. I’ve literally only scratched the surface with this post, and even if you don’t know many or any of the artists playing, it’s worth it just to go into town and drift from venue to venue listening to some of the amazing local music. Just make sure you’re open to anything, ready to have a good time, and of course rock some sparkle..

Sheffield, I love you.

 

 

Any excuse for glitter

7 things to do around Sheffield this Summer

Yes, I realise that I’m straying somewhat from my namesake. It feels as though I have two lives at the moment- that in Bristol and that in Sheffield, and since the Steel City is to once again be my home for the next few months, I figured I’d better make the most of my time here!

Relying on student funds means that any trip out is likely to be ‘budget’. This somewhat narrows my options so I’m going on a mission to discover the best things to do in Sheffield for not very much money at all. I’ll make my way through as many of these as possible, achieving maximum fun before returning to Bristol in September!

1. Swim at Hathersage Lido

The idea of swimming outdoors in England wouldn’t usually conjure much enthusiasm from me, but the Hathersage swimming pool is heated and set in such beautiful surroundings that this is my number one ‘must do’ for this Summer. Now to wait for a day when the sun decides to shine…

2. Picnic in the Botanical Gardens

I love Sheffield Botanicals. They hold memories of cherry blossom and ice creams in sixth form lunch breaks, and are the perfect spot for an afternoon picnic. Take a blanket and some strawberries, sorted.

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3. 7th 1940s Wartime Weekend & Vintage Fayre at Kelham Island 

Having not been to Kelham Island for years, I was already meaning to visit this year. Then I stumbled across this event. Taking place on the 23rd and 24th of July, they promise war time music, dance, afternoon tea and antique stalls. What more could you ask for? Entrance is £6 for adults, £5 for concessions and free for children.

4. See an exhibit at Graves Art Gallery 

You’ve got to squeeze some culture in somewhere, right? Graves always seem have something exciting going on, but one exhibit which I would love to see this Summer is ‘The Age of Abstraction’- a display of 1960s and 1970s abstract art from female artists. One for a rainy day!

‘The Age of Abstraction’ is on show from Friday 5 February 2016  –  Saturday 29 October 2016 and it’s free entry to the gallery

5. Milkshakes at The Lucky Fox 

Instagram- satan to anyone who wants to work on their figure but also has no will power or self control. I have seen far too many gorgeous things from this place and have tasted far too few..

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Lucky Fox Instagram

6. A country walk to Our Cow Molly

Another one to save for one of those (sadly rare at the moment) sunny days- an afternoon walk and the opportunity to get semi-lost but in the most beautiful countryside with the end goal of fabulous ice cream and the chance to pet farm animals.

7. Open air theatre from Heartbreak Productions – Sheffield botanical gardens 

You can probably tell by now that I’m pretty fond of the Botanical Gardens. They’re a fun adventure out any day, but watching a play on a Summers evening there has to be one of the highlights of my year. I’ve seen Heartbreak do Pride and Prejudice, Romeo and Juliet and Much Ado about Nothing, and every time they have been fantastic. This year they are touring with showings of Ratburger, The Tempest, Murder on the Terrace and The Importance of Being Earnest. The latter is one of my favourite films, so I intend to book tickets ASAP! This is always such a wonderful evening out- brilliant acting in a beautiful setting. Take a picnic, a bottle of wine, and lots of pillows!

 

Do you have special plans for this Summer? As always, comments are welcomed!

 

 

7 things to do around Sheffield this Summer

Oxford wandering and an almost duck attack

I’ve been meaning to visit one of my best friends in Oxford since September. Yesterday I finally made true on my promise and hopped on a train to a place which made me feel as though I had either gone back in time or stepped through the looking glass..

Oxford. The word summons ideas of grandeur and elegance, and rightly so. With almost every new view my breath was taken away. In summary, spectacular buildings, good gardening and dreamy waterways.

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I was promised a good date and oh did Bessie deliver. First I was taken on a tour of the city with facts dropped left, right and centre about the history of the university (why pay for a tour guide when you have your very own Oxford Uni student?), before a wander through Port Meadow, punting, and finally ending the day with stargazing in Christchurch.

The mini heatwave gave the whole day a holiday-like feel and it was wonderful to catch up with one of my favourite people. As well as surprising her by bringing another of our friends from back home along with me, yet another fellow Sheffield-er (hey Frankee) spontaneously jumped on a train and came to meet us in the evening, making for a full blown reunion.

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By the Radcliffe Camera

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Arch goals

Following a walk to The Perch pub by Port Meadow (well worth a visit if only for the wisteria-covered archway) and some unexpected swimming in the river for people who were warned to wear aqua-appropriate underwear, we headed to the Magdalen Bridge Boathouse to fulfil the ultimate Oxford expectation and hit the punts. We managed to get about 10 metres before Frankee called to say she had arrived and was stood at the dock, which meant promptly turning back around to fetch her in a dramatic turn and being hit by several tree branches along the way.

 

Things learnt through this experience:

  • punting is harder than it looks
  • the evening light is best for well lit punt selfies
  • do not feed ducks doughnuts

An especially pushy creature, the duck was determined to follow our boat for the length of our journey once it discovered that we had food. Throwing a small piece of sugared doughnut to distract it whilst we made a (not so) fast getaway is amongst my biggest regrets. It was promptly gobbled, before the duck returned to claim the rest and in doing so ended up flapping it’s way across the punt accompanied by my screams and my friends’ hysterics.

After my heart had recovered from this incident, and our punt session had sadly finished, we headed back into town to collect jumpers and blankets before making our way to Christchurch College to do some stargazing.

Because in Oxford, laying in a bed of blankets watching the stars from surroundings featured in Harry Potter feels completely normal.

The perfect day with lovely people, in a place which I fully intend to visit again at the soonest opportunity.

 

Dress: Topshop, Sunglasses: ASOS, Fringe sandals: Next

 

 

Oxford wandering and an almost duck attack

One ticked off the Bristol bucket list

Whilst I realise that this is probably the most cliché blog post that somebody living in Bristol could do, it seemed only appropriate for my first real entry.

For the past eight months I have been told over and again to visit the Clifton Suspension Bridge. Providing possibly the most iconic representation of Bristol, and set in beautiful scenery just a few minutes away from some of the prettiest shop-fronts I have ever seen, I had to visit before my first year came to a close.

And so, in a desperate attempt to escape all-consuming piles of revision and enjoy the last of the day’s sun, I optimistically changed into a dress and sunnies and wandered over to Clifton with friends who, thankfully, know their way round this city far better than I do.

I wasn’t disappointed. The bridge itself is spectacular, with a drop large enough to force me into looking up and ahead during the walk across, and the surrounding area is just beautiful.

Visiting at sunset provided the perfect lighting (which of course I took advantage of to take a few snaps..) and made for a lovely Summer evening.

Walking around this lovely city is fast becoming my favourite past-time, and I have no doubt that I shall be returning here in September.. if only to visit the much recommended Bar Chocolat.

One ticked off the Bristol bucket list