Wednesday, 27 November 2013

£75 High street outfit challenge - Win 2 tickets to the Clothes Show Live

I'm going to be heading to the Clothes Show Live with Echo Falls again this year which I'm pretty excited about after having such a lovely time last year. If you want to join me and some other lovely bloggers at the Clothes Show Live then you're in luck because Echo Falls have given me two tickets to the Clothes Show Live to giveaway. The show runs from the 6th to the 10th of December at the NEC in Birmingham and you can choose which one of the days you wish to attend. I'm going up on the Sunday along with Sarah and a few other ladies and you will catch us hanging around at the Echo Falls wine bar. The Echo Falls wine bar will be a hub of activity over the duration of the Clothes Show live. You can stop by and enjoy some wine whilst getting a manicure, fashion tips and much more.

To celebrate being at the Clothes Show Live Echo Falls have challenged me and some other bloggers to create a Clothes Show inspired outfit for under £75 with items coming from the High Street. This is what I came up with:


red lace dress


Dress: ASOS
Necklace: Punky Pins
Shoes: Topshop


The Clothes Show Live is at the start of December so I wanted something a little festive but practical at the same time. You spend a lot of time walking at the Clothes Show Live, browsing the stalls and watching demonstrations so I went for these cute but comfy shoes from Topshop. You don't want to have aching feet by the end of the day do you? They came in at £32.


The dress is eye-catching and festive in this lovely deep red and a lace dress is a bit of a staple in my wardrobe.

I had to get the necklace to finish the outfit off because it was just so kitsch and fun. It's only £13 from Punky Pins and I know I will be wearing this a lot over the Christmas period.

£75 outfit challege

Do you think I did well with my budget?

The prize for the giveaway is a pair of tickets to the Clothes Show Live on any day you chose (travel is not included) and to enter you just need to fill in the form below.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Are you heading to the Clothes Show Live this year?


Gemma
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Monday, 25 November 2013

Catch Up

It's been pretty non stop recently and I've just not had the time to post about all the things I've been up to so this is going to be a bit of a round up post with highlights from the past few weeks.

First up are some snaps from the Christmas shopping night at St David’s. There were loads of great offers in store with up to 25% off and little treat stations where you could pick up some Pimms and churros throughout the night. I was invited along before the event kicked off to meet up with some other local bloggers and find out about what would be happening that night.

ST DAVID'S SHOPPING CENTRE, CARDIFF, 07/11/2013

Me, Leanne and Joanne.

ST DAVID'S SHOPPING CENTRE, CARDIFF, 07/11/2013

There were loads of shoppers at the late night event and we headed over to the Vivienne Westwood store later that evening to see the new collections which as a big Viv fan I was pretty excited about.

ST DAVID'S SHOPPING CENTRE, CARDIFF, 07/11/2013

I hosted a IN Thing night last week. I always want to try and do my bit and raise money for charity but running 10 miles or doing a sky dive is not my idea of fun so this suited me perfectly. The IN Thing is the perfect excuse to have that well-deserved girls night in and raise some money for charity at the same time.  You invite your friends over, get them to donate what they would have spent on a night out and join thousands of women staying in to help beat cancer sooner. Sounds good, right?
The campaign is running in November but there’s still time to get involved. Cancer Research UK have declared 30 November as Sofa Saturday – the best night of the year to stay in with the girls before the festive season truly takes over. Register before the end of November to get your free party pack.

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I did a raffle on the night with some beauty products and vouchers and people could donate to the charity over on JustGiving. 

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Ladbrokes kindly sent some 80s treats for my and my friends to share that night to celebrate the release of a new 80s themed game on their site. Me and the girls tucked into the retro sweets and sang along to some hits from the 80s. I had a fun night and managed to raise £50 for charity just by having a night in with the girls, so simple.

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Sookie wanted to be one of the girls and join in with the fun too which involved her jumping up and trying to sneakily steal some sausage rolls from the table. Little madame...

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I also popped up to Birmingham for the day last weekend to browse the Christmas market and do some Christmas shopping. The highlight of my day was visiting the new public library, it was a bit of a busman's holiday as I work in a library everyday but the building was wonderful. I loved all the study spaces facing out into the city, the striking architecture, the outdoor gardens where you had great views and the scale of it all. It's great to see money being spend on libraries in a time of austerity because communities really need them. 

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I was blown away by the book rotunda in the middle of the library, if you're ever in the city I can highly recommend a visit to this pretty special library.

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After all this and more (including a trip to London to see a play this weekend) I really can't wait for a quiet weekend and a good sleep. 

Gemma
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Friday, 22 November 2013

Feeling Festive

I know it's not December yet but it's pretty close and I'm excited about Christmas. 32 days until Christmas everyone!! The day were you can sit in your PJs and watch The Muppet Christmas Carol whilst polishing off a selection box with no guilt. I've been trying to make a lot of my Christmas presents this year, I've bought all my Secret Santa gifts and I've only got a few things to tick of my list for the family so I think it's time to treat myself to a few festive gifts.

I've got quite the list of things I want to get on pay but I narrowed it down a bit:


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I'm on the hunt for a Christmas day dress and this one from Ark (who also sell things like Criminal Damage Womenswear) fits the bill. Demure enough to wear when the family visit but still fun with the lace detail.

The cute necklace is from Punky Pins. I've already got a cute deer necklace and snow man earrings on the way from them but I'm tempted to get this necklace too. They also sell lots of personalised gifts which would make great stocking fillers.

I've wanted a Crown and Glory bow for a long time, I love these cute little ones but hey, it's Christmas so I may as well get a giant green one to go with my red dress.

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I can't believe I've never read A Christmas Carol, I watch so many Dickens adaptations but I've never really taken the time to read this. I've got a kindle so I can get a copy for free from Project Gutenberg but I do love this clothbound classic version which is available from Penguin. I might make a start on reading this on the coach to London and back tomorrow.

How adorable is this Christmas pudding purse?! I don't need it but it's so darn cute and it's perfect to pop in a clutch bag for a party rather than taking your huge purse with all the receipts and loyalty cards in.

We don't have any children in the family so the decorations at my house are a little subdued now. Long gone are the days of garlands hanging from the ceiling and tinsel everywhere. I still want to get into the Christmas spirit and spruce my house up a bit but my mum wont let me get any decorations that aren't cream or gold so I'm going to get make some Christmas paper chains like these ones from John Lewis  for my room.

Gemma
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Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Outfit post - Yumi Dress and Clarks Boots

Well today has been a bit of a write off. I forgot my railcard and make up bag so had to go back home to fetch them and missed my train to work. I got drenched in a downpour and I've just managed to shut my fingers in the door. Can someone just come and pick me up from work and take me home? Such a walking disaster. I'm a total mess today but I'm wearing my current favourite dress and boots so I suppose  it's not entirely bad.

I thought I would get a little dressed up today because I'm going out straight after work for food with friends and this outfit fits the bill. Smart enough for work but also OK for an informal meal.

polka dot yumi dress

Dress: Yumi
Belt: Primark
Boots c/o Clarks
Brooch: Topshop

I've been wearing my Clarks boots non stop recently. They are great at keeping my toes warm and dry and they give my a few extra inches in height but are easy to  walk in because the heel is nice and chunky. I think I might pair them with some tartan on the weekend for a bit of a grunge look.

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Some silly posing for you.

polka dot dress

Clarks are currently running an Instagram competition where you can win £100 Mr & Mrs vouchers and a free pair of shoes. To enter all you need to do is upload a photo of yourself wearing some Clarks shoes and use the #ClarksStyle hashtag. Nice and simple. 


facebook BackInBoots


Gemma
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Sunday, 17 November 2013

Outfit post featuring Ugg Boots

I've enjoyed a weekend at the German Market in Birmingham and a lazy day today watching Monsters University in my PJs and rustling up some paprika wedges. Pretty much a perfect weekend. These photos are from earlier this week when I wore this to go and watch the RSC cinema live link of Richard II starring David Tennant.

biker jacket smock dress

Dress: ASOS
Jacket: New Look
Necklace: Zalando
Shoes: c/o Ugg

I have to admit that I've not always been convinced of the style credentials of Ugg boots. Sure, they are warm and comfortable but they are a little bit like fashion marmite. These boots offer loads of ankle support, warmth due to the lining and plenty of style. Consider me a convert.

a picture of UGG boots

The Shezbie boots are described as 'Rife with menswear-inspired charm, the Shezbie confidently asserts its femininity from a 3 ¾” stacked, leather-wrapped heel with a perfectly walkable ¾” platform.' They are made from leather and feature the most wondeful sheepskin lining to keep your toes warm in winter.  They also have tread brick traction pods on the bottom to make sure you don't slip. These are some seriously high quality boots.

ugg boots asos smock

My baby Sookie

Sookie labrador dog

Gemma
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Friday, 15 November 2013

Edible Christmas Gifts

I'm really looking forward to Christmas this year as it's the first year that our new house has been totally renovated. We have carpet in, the front room will be finished in time for Christmas which means we can have a Christmas tree for the first time in a couple of years and it really feels like home now.Woooo!

Christmas dinner the previous two years has been pretty basic because my kitchen lacked any kind of mod cons. We didn't even have a fridge freezer for the first few weeks in the new house until the new one was delivered and had our washer dryer in the garage running from an extension cable. We rushed to install the cooker and cooker hood and base units in the kitchen last year so we could make a traditional roast. You can see some snaps of what my house used to look like in this old post. As you can imagine I'm happy to have a normal home again and hope my family don't decide it would be a good idea to totally gut a house ever again!


Now that I've got a lovely kitchen and nice clean work surfaces I'm going to try and give everyone a handmade gift along with their main present this year. I did a trial run of the edible gifts last night and have shared the results.

Peppermint bark

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You will need:

200g White chocolate
200g Dark or milk chocolate
Candy canes

Method

  1. Melt milk chocolate/dark chocolate and white chocolate in separate bowls in the microwave for a couple of minutes.
  2. Pour the melted brown chocolate on a tray covered in non stick baking paper. Let it cool for an hour and then pour the white chocolate on top.
  3. When the white chocolate becomes tacky, sprinkle pieces of crushed candy canes on top. Cool in the fridge over night and break into pieces the next day.

I bought my candy canes from Poundland and they came individually wrapped which made them easy to break in the bag with the back of a spoon without candy cane flying everywhere. You could marble the chocolate or add a different toppings.


Gingerbread Men

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You will need:
350g/12oz plain flour, plus extra for rolling out
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
125g/4½oz butter
175g/6oz light soft brown sugar
1 free-range egg
4 tbsp golden syrup
cake decorations
writing icing

Method

  1. Sift together the flour, bicarbonate of soda, ginger and cinnamon and pour into the bowl of a food processor. Add the butter and blend until the mix looks like breadcrumbs. Stir in the sugar.
  2. Lightly beat the egg and golden syrup together, add to the food processor and pulse until the mixture clumps together. Tip the dough out, knead briefly until smooth, wrap in clingfilm and leave to chill in the fridge for 15 minutes.
  3. Preheat the oven to 180C Line two baking trays with greaseproof paper.
  4. Roll the dough out to a 0.5cm thickness on a lightly floured surface. Using cutters, cut out the gingerbread men shapes and place on the baking tray, leaving a gap between them.
  5. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until lightly golden-brown. Leave on the tray for 10 minutes and then move to a wire rack to finish cooling. When cooled decorate with the writing icing and cake decorations.

Jazzies

I also made my own festive 'jazzies' by melting chocolate, spooning circles of it onto greaseproof paper and then topping with sprinkles, simple!

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I plan to bag up my edible gifts in celephane bags and tie with ribbon, both of which I buy on eBay.

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This post featured simple edible gifts that anyone can rustle up but I'm hoping to do a few more posts on slightly more adventurous cakes and showstoppers. I'm not promising anything though because I once managed to overheat chocolate and make vile rocky road. There isn't even any baking involved in making that yet I still messed up...

Let me know if you try making any of these yourself.

*This post contains sponsored links

Gemma
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Thursday, 14 November 2013

Beara Beara Purple Mochata Backpack Giveaway

I've got a bit of a treat for you today, one lucky reader can win a lovely Beara Beara backpack. Beara Beara bags are designed in London and handcrafted by skillful craftsmen in Bolivia. The bags are one-of-a-kind bag, help to support the livelihoods of others and made from high quality leather. Sounds great right?

I have one mochata backpack in purple to give way:

This large leather backpack is constructed of soft suede within a rigid leather frame to combine comfort with durability. It features one main compartment with a soft cotton inner lining and a zip pocket for valuables. Fits up to a 15 inch laptop. The cloth is handwoven in short lengths so each of these bags is a very limited edition. - See more at: http://www.bearabeara.co.uk/product/mochata-leather-backpack-purple/#sthash.olkNi9Sw.dpuf
This large leather backpack is constructed of soft suede within a rigid leather frame to combine comfort with durability. It features one main compartment with a soft cotton inner lining and a zip pocket for valuables. Fits up to a 15 inch laptop. The cloth is handwoven in short lengths so each of these bags is a very limited edition. - See more at: http://www.bearabeara.co.uk/product/mochata-leather-backpack-purple/#sthash.olkNi9Sw.dpuf

The beautiful backpack available in the giveaway is constructed from soft suede within a rigid leather frame and the main compartment is big enough to house a 15 inch laptop.The top of the bag features handwoven coloured cloth, making it a unique bag.

I'm a little jealous that I don't get to keep this. For your chance to win use the rafflecopter form below, good luck!



a Rafflecopter giveaway



This large leather backpack is constructed of soft suede within a rigid leather frame to combine comfort with durability. It features one main compartment with a soft cotton inner lining and a zip pocket for valuables. Fits up to a 15 inch laptop. The cloth is handwoven in short lengths so each of these bags is a very limited edition. - See more at: http://www.bearabeara.co.uk/product/mochata-leather-backpack-purple/#sthash.olkNi9Sw.dpuf
This large leather backpack is constructed of soft suede within a rigid leather frame to combine comfort with durability. It features one main compartment with a soft cotton inner lining and a zip pocket for valuables. Fits up to a 15 inch laptop. The cloth is handwoven in short lengths so each of these bags is a very limited edition. - See more at: http://www.bearabeara.co.uk/product/mochata-leather-backpack-purple/#sthash.olkNi9Sw.dpuf

Gemma
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Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Dorset - Part 2 - Lyme Regis

Looking at these photos is making me very sad indeed. It's been over a week since I returned from my jaunt to Dorset and the company I booked my trip with just sent me a brochure for 2014 to rub it in even more that I'm not near the coast in the lovely barn, sigh. I posted about the first two days of my trip on the weekend but here are the photos from the final day when we visited Lyme Regis.

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I would love to head back in the summer and hire one of these charming little beach huts.

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Windswept posing.

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Making my final meal in the kitchen that I loved using. (Spanish chicken and chorizo)

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Anyone want to come and be a library assistant in Cardiff for a few days so I can head back to Dorset? No? That's a shame...

Gemma
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Monday, 11 November 2013

Great Plains Biker Jacket

I had a rather lovely and calm weekend after all my recent travels around the UK. It was great to be at home, do some cooking, make all my lunches for the week ahead and spend some time with my Labrador Sookie. I didn't spend the whole weekend lounging around in my PJs though, I went to the Oxjam event in Cardiff on Sunday to see my boyfriend's band play and to see a friends set. This is what I wore:

great plains jacket

Jacket: c/o Great Plains
Dress: New Look
Snood: New Look (old)
Black winter Boots: Clarks

It's rare that I find a biker jacket that zips up without having to size up a couple of times. It's lovely and soft and was perfect for a gig because it's light and not too bulky to hold when it got a bit hot.

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If you've not heard of Great Plains before they are owned by the same people and French Connection and have some great basics and items in fun prints. They have stylish and casual pieces which are all very understated, well worth checking out. I have a lovely bike print skirt from them which I posted about here

biker jacket

Sookie came out in the garden to help me take some blog photos/stand in most of the shots.

sookie labrador

Hipflask, probably playing a song about a cat.

hipflask


Gemma
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Saturday, 9 November 2013

Dorset - Part 1 - Chesil Beach - Portland Bill Lighthouse - West Bay

I wouldn't stop talking about my trip to Dorset in the weeks building up to it and moaned for a week after because I was so sad to be back home. I'm going to stop sulking about not being in Dorset to bore you with loads of photos from my trip.

I stayed in a newly converted barn near Bridport which I booked through this site, I would highly recommend a stay at here because it was really idyllic. I will definitely be returning in the new year for a longer trip. I spent the weekend with my boyfriend (thanks for driving all weekend Martyn) and we explored as much of the Jurassic coast as we could during our short time there.

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Isn't it lovely? It's the perfect place for a couple to stay and had everything we needed.

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When you're on holiday you have to eat something a little bit special so I made my first ever pie and it was the first time I made pastry and I think it went pretty well. I followed this recipe to make a tasty pie containing beef, ale and mushrooms. It took a couple of hours to make the filling and pastry two days in advance but didn't take long to assemble at the barn. I don't think I would make it again because I'm pretty sure my boyfriend preferred my chicken and chorizo bake where I just bung all the ingredients in a tray and roast in the oven, much simpler.

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Trying out my new Nikon D2300 and looking relatively neat before I headed out into the crazy 70mph coastal winds. I love my new camera but still getting to grips with it so if you've written a post about shooting with a dslr then please leave a comment with a link.

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We braved the winds to visit Chesil beach which is over 18 miles long and stretches from Portland to West Bay. The 70mph winds were not the best conditions for enjoying the beach or maintaining a chic look but the people windsurfing seemed to be enjoying it.
 
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The lovely view of Chesil beach from one of the viewing points along the coast.
 
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We hadn't quite had enough of being blown around so we headed to Portland Bill to see the lighthouse. Portland Bill Lighthouse guides vessels heading for Portland and Weymouth through rough and hazardous waters as well as acting as a waymark for ships navigating the English Channel. The area was absolutely beautiful but the rough seas and high winds were a little terrifying if you got too close to the edge. I would love to come back when the lighthouse is open to visitors and when the wind is a little more calm to explore more.

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I really wanted to visit West Bay after watching Broadchurch as most of the series was filmed here. All the press shots are taken in front of the east cliff which is pictured below. Again, I shouldn't hang around on the beach for long because the wind was so cold so we headed back to the barn for a cosy night in chowing down on some very nice food which I posted about earlier in the week and watching American Horror Story.

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I'm going to post about day three of my trip later in the week, hope you enjoyed the photos.

Gemma
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Thursday, 7 November 2013

Recent trips: AX Party, The Wallace Collection and Suede

The past couple of weeks have been very hectic and I have to admit I'm looking forward to a lie in this week and a few Christmas blogging events close to home. I've been to London, Birmingham and Dorset in the space of two weeks, phew! I'm going to bore you with photos from my weekend in Dorset over the weekend but for now I'm sharing a few snaps from my trip to London and Birmingham.

I was originally going to pop to London just for an evening to attend the AX Party but I thought I would make a full day of it so headed to London early in the morning to make the most of my time there. I headed straight for Bond Street to do some shopping in Forever 21 and Selfridges where I treated myself to a few accessories and went a bit mad at the MAC makeup counter.

I spent most of my day at the wonderful Wallace Collection which Alex recommended to me. For those not in the know (like me before my visit) The Wallace Collection is a national museum which displays works of art collected in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries by the first four Marquesses of Hertford and Sir Richard Wallace, the son of the 4th Marquess. It was bequeathed to the British nation by Sir Richard's widow, Lady Wallace, in 1897. It's set in a lovely town house really close to Bond Street station and Selfridges so you could pop in for an hour or so when you're in London doing some Christmas shopping.

I'm so glad I took the time to visit because the house was breathtaking:


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I was really excited to see three portraits of one of my favourite historical figures, the poet and actress Mary Robinson (Perdita). She was a family friend of the 2nd Marquess of Hertford and the Prince of Wales gave the family one of the portraits. She was quite the trendsetter in London, introducing a loose, flowing muslin style of gown based upon Greek statues that became known as the Perdita. She was the mistress of the Prince of Wales and in addition to poems, she wrote eight novels, three plays, feminist treatises, and an autobiographical manuscript. Very accomplished! I recommend reading Perdita by Mary Byrne if you want to find out more.

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After hitting Patty & Bun for a tasty burger lunch with some London based friends I headed to the AX Party to see the wonderful AX Paris party dress collection and hangout with some of my favourite blogging ladies.

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There were lots of sparkly sequins!

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Sophie, me and Claire sipping on uuum French Martini's possibly?

We were treated to a burlesque show, pic'n'mix, cocktails and some yummy nibbles. I had a lovely night but had to cut it short to get the last train back to Wales.

Claire is very lucky (or very unfortunate depending on how you  look at it) because she got to see me again this month as we met up to see Suede in Birmingham last week. I went for a wander around town and walked by the new library (really want to visit properly) before heading to the gig with Claire.

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I was a little nervous about seeing Suede. They are one of my favourite bands along with the Manic Street Preachers. I was far too young to watch them back in the early 90s at the height of their fame and wondered if it would be best to never see them play live and not ruin the notions I had about them. They released a brilliant album called Bloodsports this year which I fell in love with so I decided to get tickets. Seeing them play new material made it feel like I wasn't wallowing in nostalgia and it was my favourite gig of the year so far. New songs like It Starts and Ends With You felt like classics and I enjoyed singing along to old favourites like Trash and So Young. Brett is really charismatic and it was nice to be at a gig where I wasn't surrounded by teenagers filming the whole thing on their phone.

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You can see lots more photos from my trips to London and Birmingham over on my flickr account.

Gemma
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