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.


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

The Anchorage

This morning’s visit was my third trip to The Anchorage, and (on a student budget with prioritising to be done) that should say it all. Located in West One near Division Street in Sheffield, this has become my favourite brunch spot over the past few months.

For a few weeks now they’ve had a 50% off all food for students deal which I was determined to take advantage of before it ended, so (just in time!) I went this morning with four friends to catch up over waffles and toasted muffins.


Of course, if food is half price then the only thing to do is to order double, right? With that in mind, I ordered the Kimchi Benedict- a toasted muffin with pork belly, poached eggs and kimchi infused hollandaise- and chicken waffles (professed to be ‘the best thing on the menu’) to share.

Kimchi Benedict

I’m normally pretty same-y when choosing what to have.. pancakes with bacon is my go-to brunch food and I rarely stray. The Kimchi Benedict is something I haven’t seen anywhere else and so I thought I’d give it a go- so glad I did! The pork was cooked beautifully and the slightly spicy kimchi went perfectly with the eggs and hollandaise.

Barely enough room on the table.. (problems of gluttony ordering) – pancakes with bacon and maple and the chicken waffles

The ‘side’ of chicken waffles with maple syrup was 100% a good call..  it may even be the new pancakes and bacon. As a friend said whilst tucking into his, “I’m going to have to return to this establishment”.

The food is presented beautifully, and the whole place has a great atmosphere, largely due to the lovely staff. Even without the discount the prices are reasonable, and if you feel like splashing out there are always ‘bottomless’ drinks available. Drinking as many mimosas as you can in two hours sounds like my kind of challenge..

Brunch is served from 11:00-15:00.. make up an excuse and get yourself there ASAP!



The Anchorage

Good to be home

Reflecting on my first year in Bristol, I’m a little overwhelmed. It isn’t until you look back on photos that you realise just how much happens in a year, or in this case only 9 months. I’ve loved exploring such a wonderful city with new friends and gaining some independence, despite doing everything I could to put off the dreaded weekly Tesco shop by the time the end of the year rolled around. Who wants to spend money on food when there are shoes to be bought??

Anyway, after the best first year I could have asked for, I’m back in Sheffield for the Summer. And it’s lovely. It’s lovely to see hometown friends and family, lovely to be able to relax, and lovely to be back in a house with a TV license. (Game of Thrones just isn’t the same on a laptop screen)


Here’s hoping that this summer will be filled with day trips, adventures around Sheff and lots of late night dancing free of should-be-revising-guilt.


Good to be home

Iskra Lawrence’s overhaul of ‘normal’

I, like many of us, am guilty of spending far too much of my day scrolling through Instagram feeds. I go on to check what my friends are up to and end up half an hour later looking at August 2013 of a complete stranger’s life. And that’s okay. However, the thing with Instagram, as with all social media to some extent, is that it only shows the good bits- the ‘highlight reel’ if you will (yes I stole that from Taylor Swift – see her wisdom below) of people and their goings on, and that makes it dangerous.

‘Never compare myself to other people. It is comparing my behind the scenes to their highlight reel’- wise words from Tay

I’m all for nice filters and pretty candids, but our society has reached a point where ‘normal’ is a perfectly toned body and unlimited funds, or at least to try and appear that way to people who end up on your profile. ‘Normal’ now is pretty, size 0, rich, well-travelled, cultured, flawless. Imperfections are seen as things to be erased, to be cropped out, things which we pretend don’t exist. Likes and approval are the main order of the day, even if it means that the picture we show is a romanticised, rehearsed version of the actual image.

Iskra Lawrence is a model from Worcester in the UK who is known for her all natural, non-retouched photos and ad campaigns which encourage women to embrace their bodies rather than aspire to an impossible ideal. She calls stretch marks ‘tiger stripes’, cellulite is hailed as ‘lightening bolts’ and every photo includes a hashtag of #everyBODYisbeautiful.

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(Photo taken from Iskra Lawrence’s Instagram page)

Lawrence is a size 14- one size below the average clothes size of a woman in the UK (See stats). Surely then, she is ‘normal’? In fact, she is known to some as ‘plus-size’. Despite this making no sense, it is what we have come to expect. In one Instagram post, she says ‘in my teens I was called fat so many times by the fashion industry I am now numb to it’ before stating ‘I am more than a label, a size I’m one of a kind and so are you’.

Personally, I am against any form of negative judgement against a person’s body. It is their body, to do with what they will, and unless their eating habits are putting them at risk of ill health, I don’t see how it’s anybody’s business but their own. Eating disorders affect both men and women, and studies have shown that increased use of social media has direct links with disorders such as anorexia and bulimia, suggesting that the constant bombardment with images of photoshopped bodies is at least part of the problem. (Read eating disorder stats here)

Iskra Lawrence’s message is vital to the young girls of today. She is promoting strength- physical strength as an alternative to bowing to the media’s pressure and size 0 obsession, and mental strength in having the confidence in yourself to ignore people who have something unpleasant to say about you. Her response to an internet troll who called her fat? Eat some crisps, and film it.

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These goals that we are setting ourselves subconsciously by scrolling through perfect, fake lives are contributing to mental health disorders, eating disorders, unhappiness. We need to take a leaf from Iskra’s book and learn to appreciate life, and our bodies, in all of their beautiful imperfection.

Visit Iskra’s Instagram feed


Iskra Lawrence’s overhaul of ‘normal’

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.


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.

By the Radcliffe Camera


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

Introducing Blonde in Bristol

It’s drawing to the end of my first year studying and living in Bristol and so, in the midst of revision chaos, of course my sensible mind thought that this would be the perfect time to start a blog.

It’s been such an incredible (almost) year. Moving to a new city, starting a new course, meeting new people- all things which at the time seemed completely overwhelming but which now I couldn’t imagine living without. Bristol is just as wonderful as the photos I poured over before moving and the smiley people at the open day promised, and moving there is among the best decisions I’ve ever made.

And so, through this blog I hope to document the more interesting exerts of my life in a city that makes me feel so lucky, whether that’s a new spot I’ve visited or a new style brightening up my day.

Whether you end up here intentionally or accidentally, thank you for reading and please feel free to comment!

Iona x

Introducing Blonde in Bristol