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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..
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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…
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)
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.
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.
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-
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.
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?).
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.
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..
Last night I was lucky enough to attend the wonderful ‘Bloggers Cocktail Evening’ at Sheffield Forum on Division Street. They are currently in the process of launching a new drinks menu and so had a group of us along to sample a selection of cocktails and learn how to make them at home too! (This could be dangerous come September when I’m back in student territory…)
Upon arrival we were each given a glass of Gin and elderflower fizz. Served in champagne flutes with a cute decoration consisting of a tiny wooden peg and sprig of rosemary, this is an alternative to the usual bubbly. It’s an (aptly named) fizzy mix of gin, elderflower liqueur, apple juice and Prosecco which would be perfect for special occasions. Forum host ‘Fizz Fridays’, where their selection of four different sparkling drinks are all two for one if you fancy giving this one a try with a friend!
The new menu is coming into play as the team at Forum begin to focus on quality over quantity, reducing the number of drinks on the menu but ensuring that those served are perfect every time.
Throughout the evening we were on constant rotation between creating cocktails and drinking them, never left without a drink in our hand. The first cocktail we were taught to make is also the first on the menu- the Polish espresso martini. This is an alternative take on the classic, with the additions of mint and honey vodka which create a sweet taste to counter the sharpness of the coffee.
Forum have their own brewery next door to the bar in which they brew their own beer, as well as creating gin which is not only used in their cocktails but is available in miniature gift sets alongside Fentimans tonic (these would be perfect for any G&T-lover birthdays you have coming up!).
In the brewery
Gin gift set
Following the tour of the brewery, our next cocktail demo was for the Candy martini. I’m a bit of a sucker for anything pink and sweet, so I could tell from the name and description that this would be a favourite. Made from equal measures of Liquor 43 and pineapple juice, along with a handful of raspberries, this is definitely one that I will have to try again.
For our final drink of the night, we made ‘Lemon Cheesecake’.. by this point I was wishing I had eaten a lemon cheesecake before coming as I’d had insufficient food and the alcohol was starting to hit! This one was (surprisingly for me) even better than the Candy martini- silky smooth and tasting exactly like the dessert but without the eaten-too-much regret that often goes alongside it. This would be a perfect alternative to finish a meal- a mix of Limoncello, Amaretto, Absolut vodka, cream and lemon juice all finished off with a sprinkle of crushed biscuit.
Thank you so much to The Forum for having me.. it was a great evening and I’d 100% recommend booking one of their cocktail masterclasses (£20/pp) for the next time you want a night out with the added bonus of becoming a (semi) cocktail pro!
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..
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!
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.
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.
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!