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

How to Survive Cheer Tryouts 101

I’m not, nor have I ever been, a sporty person. In fact, I basically repel gym equipment. One fateful day in a Y9 PE class, we were instructed to dribble a basketball to the end of a line, throw it at a wall, catch it on its return, and dribble it back for the next person. Simple, right? I got the dribbling down, but after throwing it a tad too hard at the wall, it bounced back, hit me full in the face, and I fell to the floor in front of an entire class. It’s taken me a good few years to laugh about it, but that should tell you all you need to know about my athleticism.

So.. when I walked towards the glittery Bristol Jets stand at Freshers Fair last September, I found myself wishing that I could- just for once –not make an idiot out of myself and instead be one of those girls that make looking glamorous whilst doing sport look easy.

I bottled, skipped quickly past the stand… and then thought ‘why not?’. Why not give it a go? What had I got to lose?  I walked back, the pom poms acting like magnets, and approached one of the smiley (but still fiercely intimidating to a fresher) older girls waving flyers. She insisted that the club was all inclusive and that no experience was needed, so I put my name down and took a cute postcard detailing the time and place of tryouts.

After getting home to discover that my new flatmate (now one of my best friends) had also signed up for tryouts, fear turned to excitement.. which turned back to fear in no time at all after actually arriving at the gym the following Wednesday afternoon. So many girls in fancy sportswear looking like they had just walked off a Nike ad campaign and I freaked. After being given numbers, and instructions on what the tests would be, we got started working our way round stations practicing dance, basic stunts and gymnastics (shudder). Without Sophie there, assuring me it would all be okay and I would survive this, I would have bolted within the first few minutes. But it was something I wanted to do.. and she happens to be ridiculously calm in stressful situations.

Just to give you some idea of the potential embarrassment I had brought upon myself, I can’t do a handstand. Or a cartwheel. I can just about manage a forward roll. Yeah, I questioned what I was doing there too. But the girls were lovely and not one negative comment was made.

I’d been told that Jets were all-inclusive.. but I had assumed this was just a line and that I would soon get an email saying ‘sorry, but you have been unsuccessful’. Instead, I was placed in Gameday- the non competitive team who attend uni games and put on a Varsity routine. This was taken at the first (basketball) game we cheered for..

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First time in uniform.. Don’t let our calm exteriors fool you

Since then, I’ve spent Sundays waving poms supporting American football, and evenings practising stunts with girls who became some of my closest friends at uni. I went to Croatia for four days of dancing at Easter, and did three varsity performances without falling over once. I’ve learnt new skills, done heaps more exercise than ever before and met some of the sassiest and loveliest girls you can imagine.

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It might sound cheesy, but joining cheer has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. If you’re starting uni this September, my main piece of advice would be to just try things. If you think you’ll fail or people will laugh, do it anyway. How they managed to keep a straight face when I attempted a cartwheel before collapsing in a heap at tryouts I’ll never know, but the bitchy cheerleader stereotype was well and truly proven wrong.

As always, don’t let what people might say stop you from doing what you want, because 9 times out of 10 they’ll be much kinder than you think, and the other 1? They’re not worth worrying over.

‘Don’t let the fear of what could happen make nothing happen

-Doe Zantamata’

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The stereotype= wrong.. except for our love of sassy photos

 

 

How to Survive Cheer Tryouts 101

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

Craft and dough

This weekend was my flat-mate’s first proper visit to Sheffield, and so, after a night of partying it up on Saturday, we decided to give her a sample of the best bits of the city yesterday before she returned home to the South.

The day was spent wandering along Ecclesall Road, browsing in Yorkshire themed shops (translating the unfathomable-to-a-Southerner language.. ‘tha’ knows’ may as well have been Mandarin) and relaxing in the Botanical gardens. Before all this though, we went for a lovely late lunch at Craft and dough- an artisan pizza restaurant who also serve a variety of brunch dishes if that’s what you fancy. (We didn’t arrive in time for brunch but if you’re desperate for pancakes they also serve those as a dessert so its never too late!)

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We had cranberry and lemon mocktails to start, which were delicious, and then later on I gave the lavender lemonade a try. The lavender is very strong in this so I wouldn’t recommend if you only like the taste when subtle, but since I love lavender (especially in scones!) this wasn’t really an issue for me.

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Cranberry and lemon non-alcoholic cocktails
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Lavender lemonade

I went for the Piggy smalls pizza, which was covered with smoky bacon, a huge amount of pulled pork, mozzarella, and frazzles. Yes, you read that correctly.. frazzles. The pork is so tender that it falls apart in your mouth, and I think it was the first time that I’ve been so full that I haven’t managed to finish a pizza, which says a lot for their portion sizes.

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(Clockwise from top left): Globe artichoke and napoli salami, Nduja, Beets and roots, Piggy smalls

We ordered some beer battered courgette fries as a side, which were nice but a little too thick for me. The batter was lovely- thin and crispy, and they came with a great spicy chilli dip that gave them a lot more flavour.

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The atmosphere was brilliant- it’s got quite a homey feel to it, great background music, and our waitress was so friendly. The prices were really reasonable- £3.50 for the non-alcoholic cocktails and most of the pizzas are less than £10.

Craft and dough have three restaurants in Sheffield- one located in Kelham Island and the other two on Ecclesall Road and Campo Lane. They specialise in craft beers, and have a great cocktail menu if you’re just popping out for some drinks. It was my first time visiting here since it was Fancie cupcakery, and I definitely plan on going back. I struggled finishing my pizza, so desserts were sadly not an option.. but on my next visit I plan to save enough room to manage the nutella doughballs which sound gorgeous.

Check out their website/menus here or visit their Instagram page- well worth a visit (or two!)

Craft and dough

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

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.

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‘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’