Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Outfit post - Bardot stripes

Skirt: ASOS (old~) - Boots: Primark (old) - Top: New Look (currently in sale)
Necklace: Oh My Clumsy Heart - Ring: gift from my mother.

I hope you all had a lovely long weekend. I headed to Southampton on the train to visit a uni friend and have a Eurovision bash and I had my first pitcher of Pimms this year. Summer is coming! We got the flag bunting out, I made Euro flag cupcakes and we had a drink each time someone said ‘Good morning Australia’ or a song changed key.
I'm a bit disappointed Sweden won Eurovision, I was Team Latvia all the way (didn't mind Belgium and Lithuania too) Trip to Copenhagen next year anyone? I'm a bit of a Eurovision super fan and would love to attend the live show at some point. Who were you rooting for?

This is the outfit I wore yesterday for pottering about and heading out to the shops. I can't stop wearing this top, it's my new favourite item of clothing. I picked it up for just £6 in the New Look sale and it's going to get lots of wear this summer. I feel rather chic in a bardot neckline and the stripes are classic. Why did it take me so long to jump on last years trend? I might treat myself to a dress with the same neckline. I’m also going to jump on the Spring/Summer denim trend a bit late and pick up a A-line skirt with buttons down the front and a knee length denim skirt from Esprit to pair with this top. I’m thinking it will be a good look for my holiday to Austria in just a few weeks time.

How did you spend the bank holiday weekend?

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Monday, 18 May 2015

Fat Frocks ♥ trains - National Railway Museum

I love trains and I'm not ashamed to tell everyone. I don't drive so I get trains everywhere and I studied industrial history at university so trains have been a big part of my life and they helped shape Britain as we know it today. Martyn likes trains too (very handy) but he likes diesel types and I'm interested in the social history of the train lines, the Industrial Revolution and the more romantic age of steam.

We visited York recently (post about it here) and the main aim was to visit the National Railway Museum. It may seem like a bit of a long drive to go and see trains but it has an exceptional collection of stream trains, classic locomotives and rail paraphernalia. The National Railway Museum collection has been built up over the past 80 years. It has over 100 locomotives and nearly 200 other items of rolling stock, telling the story of the railway from the early 19th century to today.

We spent 6 HOURS at the museum and we could have stayed for longer if it didn't close at 6pm. I took hundreds of photos but I know sharing all of them would bore you so I'm sharing my edited highlights. If you do want to geek out over some more train photos check out my Flickr album here.

Class 31
- Designed to replace steam as part of the British Railways Modernisation Plan of 1955 examples of this type of diesel locomotive are still in service for Network Rail. The locomotive's diesel engine was developed from engines used in ships.

The main gates from the old  Euston railway station arch

Mallard - In 1938 Mallard broke the world speed record for steam locomotives, a record that has never been beaten. Built in 1938, she hauled express passenger trains on the east coast mainline until 1963. The Mallard is my favourite locomotive, she's a beautiful isn't she?

Shinkansen - This is the only Shin-Kansen outside of Japan. The speedy bullet train would whisk passengers along at speeds of just over 130mph.

The warehouse is a Aladdin's Cave packed with over 750,000 objects displayed in open storage. It houses lots of models, railway signs and crockery used on dining cars.

The Station Hall was once home to York's main goods station. It was built in the 1870s and was a working railway building into the 1960s.It now houses some wonderful royal carriages including one that was used by Queen Victoria. I've never seen such an opulent train interior, she had it fitted out in wonderful blues and gold and used it to travel to her favourite estates around the UK.

I would highly recommend a visit to the National Railway Museum to anyone. The scale and variety mean it's not just for railway buffs and it's only the fourth British Institution to win the prestigious European Museum of the Year. It's free to visit but please consider making a donation because it costs a lot to maintain these beautiful locos and add to the collection. I had a wonderful day seeing how glamorous rail travel used to be in the age of steam and the Pullman dining service. Can you imagine departing for a trip in London Paddington with dozens of steam trains waiting at the platform? It must have been terribly exciting.

Have you ever visited the National Railway Museum?

Linking up with: #Reasonstotravel

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Friday, 15 May 2015

Armani Diamonds - Scent in the City

I've always been fickle when it comes to fragrance. I was a Vera Wang Princess girl in my teens, preferred Vivienne Westwood Naughty Alice at University and now I buy Jean Paul Gaultier Classique and it's always on my Christmas present list. I wear perfume everyday, even a little spritz if I'm not leaving the house but I had never put much thought into why we wear and love fragrance so much. I guess fragrances are a way that we can show off our individuality and personality and our love for wearing fragrances all comes down to the fact that they make us feel happy.

There are certain fragrances I hate, not because of the smell itself - but because of an unpleasant association. It can bring back a  memory, or a person from the past who used to wear that certain fragrance. I love Jean Paul Gaultier Le Male because that's what my partner wears and I notice the smell lingering on fabrics when he's not around.

Our perfume preferences vary greatly depending on where we live and what sex we are, Fragrance Direct did some research and here are some surprising facts:

  • 18% of female participants and and 7.9% of men admitted to owning six fragrances or more.
  • Participants of the survey said they spend between £51 - £100 on fragrances a year.
  • The most popular scent in the UK voted by female participants in the survey, is Chanel Coco Mademoiselle, with a huge 17% choosing it as their favourite.
  • The most popular scent amongst male participants was Calvin Klein CK One, with 13% of men said it was their favourite. 
  • 5% of men said they spent over £500 making themselves smell nice. That's a lot of bottles of scent!

Armani Diamonds is the most popular scent in Cardiff which is the city I work in. I had never tried this scent before receiving some to review because I'm strictly a Classique girl but I have to admit the women in Cardiff know their stuff. I love the scent, it's much more subtle and refreshing than my normal choice and my partner noticed that I was wearing something different and liked it. It's got some rose, lily of the valley, patchouli and freesia with hints of raspberry and vanilla. The scent lasts all of my working day and it's definitely going to be my day time scent now and I'll reserve Classique for evenings and nights out when I want to make more of a statement. Emporio Armani Diamonds Eau de Parfum Spray 30ml retails for £32.99 at Fragrance Direct (you save about £8 on there).

The top 5 scents from women across the UK & Ireland are:
Dublin - J'Adore, Dior
Liverpool - Chanel, Coco Mademoiselle
Newcastle - Gucci, Guilty
Cardiff - Emporio Armani, Diamonds
Birmingham - Calvin Klein, CK One

How do you match up to others in your city? What are your favourite scents?

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Monday, 11 May 2015

Have You Packed for Wales?

I was born and bred in Wales and I would like to think I’m a positive advocate for my country. I think everyone should Visit Wales if they have the chance because it’s an amazingly diverse area of the UK in terms of its scenery. We have everything from cities, beautiful blue flag beaches, mountains and a tranquil countryside. Wales really is the perfect holiday destination for everyone from thrill seekers to people looking for a relaxing break. Have a little look at the fantastic new ‘Have you packed for Wales?‘ campaign and you will soon be desperate to visit my home country to explore our castles, surf down the Gower and climb Snowdon. You have to pay to cross the Severn Bridge to get into Wales, it's so good we charge admission ;)

Visit Wales, and Berghaus challenged me to reveal what I would pack for a trip to Wales. I never pack light and try to cover every eventuality but I don't want to bore you so here are my edited 'must-have' items:
  1. A good backpack - I hate not being to have everything I want with me when I go for a walk or not be able to steady my camera in both hands so a back pack is essential. Some parts of Wales can be rural an isolated so it's good to have everything you need close to hand. There's plenty of room for a picnic and camera in this one along with some extra layers if the weather is changeable.
  2. Maps & guide books - I know you can find out most of what you need online now and use googlemaps but that won't be much help on a beach with a poor signal or half way up a mountain. I like to prepare in advance and have a good idea of what I want to do with my day so I can pack a lot into my holiday and make the most of it.
  3. Camera & notebook - If you're going to visit Wales and it's spectacular views you want to be able to remember them and capture them on camera. I also like to keep a little notebook with me so I can jot down names and details to put in my holiday scrapbook when I get home.
  4. Flask and external battery - I like to camp when I go on holiday in Wales (Trevayne is lovely), we don't have an electric hookup cable so being able to charge my phone in the car or with an external battery is handy and a flask means I don;t have to keep on using gas to boil water for tea.

Once you're all packed for Wales and ready to explore where should you visit?

Fat Frocks top 5 places to visit in Wales:
  1. Tresaith - A stunning beach in West Wales with a huge waterfall
  2. Caldey Island - A holy island just off the Pemrokeshire coast where Cistercian monks live.
  3. Penarth - Pretty seaside town with a newly renovated pier, a short bus ride away from Cardiff.
  4. Brecon - Stunning national park which is home to a steam train, Pen y Fan & waterfalls.
  5. St David's - Smallest city in the UK with a large cathedral and a great place to surf and camp.

I have to admit my list of top places to visit in Wales is pretty South, West and Mid Wales centred but that's because I've never been to North Wales. Scandalous, I know. I'm hoping to change that with a trip up North to explore Snowdonia and Portmeirion in September.

Have you ever been on holiday in Wales? What would you pack for a trip to Wales?

Linking up with: #Reasonstotravel

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Friday, 8 May 2015

5 positive things you can do today

I'm holding back tears, trying to not let my anger get the better of me and using the results of the General Election in the UK to propel me to become more involved in politics and my local community. We don't know all the actual figures yet but around 35% of people did not vote and only around 30% of those who did vote placed cross in the box for the party who are going to form the government.

Are you worried about what is going to happen in the UK over the next five years? Does the thought of more cuts and austerity leave you feeling helpless? There is something you can do to make sure your voice is heard and that the people in power are made accountable for their actions. I'm not going to lecture you on my beliefs or just urge you to join the party I belong to but if you want to make a contribution and not feel powerless I urge you to consider the following five points.

Join a political party
- If you join a party you can influence their policies, vote for who becomes the leader of the party and much more. For sign up forms click here for Labour, Plaid Cymru, Green and here for SNP. If you don't want to join a party you could attend local political meetings and some councils stream their meetings online so you can see what happens and what type of things are discussed.

Join a trade union - If you want better pay and conditions, a safer workplace, job security, advice and support, legal protection at work and fairness consider joining a union. There are lots of unions for specific industries such as UNISONwho represent public sector workers and USDAW who represent workers in the retail, distributive, manufacturing and service sector.

Check out UK Uncut -
UK Uncut is a grassroots movement taking action to highlight alternatives to austerity. They use acts of creative civil disobedience to show our opposition to the Government’s cuts to our public services.

Volunteer at a food bank
- The people at the The Trussell Trust want to tackle the underlying roots of poverty in the UK and want to bring communities together to end hunger. 3 million people live below the poverty line in the UK .Every day people in the UK go hungry for reasons ranging from redundancy to receiving an unexpected bill on a low income. Trussell Trust foodbanks provide a minimum of three days emergency food and support to people experiencing crisis in the UK.If you don't have time to volunteer you can donate money and if you don't have cash to spare consider organising a food donation box or helping to sort food at one of their branches.

Don't just moan - If you see inequality, hunger, injustice and despair please do what you can to help out. It's going to be a long five years of ideological cuts and the vulnerable need to know we've got their backs.

If you run/help out at a charity, organise protests and petitions and want to share what you do please leave links in the comments. I hope that we can move towards electoral reform and ensure a future fair for all inhabitants of the UK, not just those with wealth. I didn't know how to get the tone of this just right or even if doing a silly blog post will help anyone but I've given it my best shot.

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