Tuesday, 27 May 2014

#stylecase - packing for my weekend in Sheffield

Over the Bank Holiday weekend I headed to Sheffield for a wedding of a fellow blogger and I had a wonderful time. I love weekend breaks and it was the first time I've attended a wedding with my +1 Martyn so I was looking forward to a trip away with him too. As much as I love travelling around the UK there is alays one major headache with a weekend away... what do you pack?

I always have issues with what to pack and I regularly take enough clothing for a week when I am only staying for 2 nights. I always end up wanting something I left at home but this time I was determined to travel light and planned ahead. bonprix invited me to choose two items from their latest collection that would be key pieces in my bag to take away with me.

I didn't need to pack my first outfit as I wore this to work on the Friday and I headed to Sheffield straight after work. I wore this with a cardigan in the day and then swapped that for a biker jacket and a splash of lippy in the evening when we headed out for a bite to eat in Sheffeild city centre. I wore black shoes because they would match the other dresses I had packed and shoes always weigh a case down so only having 2 pairs with me all weekend was great.

My second outfit was for the final day where I would be having breakfast with the wedding party, hoping to stop off for a spot of afternoon tea on the way home from Sheffield and travelling home 3+ hours in the car. It has to be smart, comfortable and not crease so I opted for another jersey dress, this time with a pretty polka dot print.

I normally carry a huge make up bag with me to work everyday which really weighs be down so I emptied my bag out and only took what I would need to create looks for the whole weekend. My Naked palette has colours for both day time and more dramatic looks so it's perfect for a weekend away.

I finally got to use all those miniatures and toiletries I got as part of gift sets at Christmas. I checked ahead and the hotels I was staying at had conditioner, body wash, sop and plenty of towels so I didn't pack any of those and saved a lot of space.

My final outfit was what I wore to the wedding. I used the clutch bag on the Friday night and all day Saturday and the blue Clarks shoes were the only ones I packed in my case as I wore my patent pumps there. This dress had such a full skirt so I rolled it up to make sure I could fit everything in my case and then jsut hung it up as soon as I got tot the hotel so the creases could drop out.

The only other things I packed that aren't in the pictures was a pair of PJs, tights and some underwear. There was even enough room in my case for a part of Martyn's shoes and a few of his t-shirt!
How do you think I did? Do you always pack way too much when you go away?

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Monday, 26 May 2014

Isle Of Wight Festival Competition

The 2014 Festival season has just kicked off and once again there are some great events with amazing line ups all over the UK. The Isle of Wight festival takes place in just a few weeks time from 12th until 15th June and has one of my favourite line ups of the year.

Headliners at this years event are Calvin Harris, Kings of Lean, Red Hot Chili Pepper and Biffy Clyro but I have to admit I'm more interested in the BT ‘Big Top’ where The Horrors and Peace will be taking to the stage. The Horrors have just released their fourth LP Luminous and hearing them play Still Life at Bestival a few years ago was the highlight of my summer so they are definitely ones to watch. Suede are also playing and I'm considering making my way down for the weekend mainly to see them, they were amazing when I saw them in Birmingham a few months ago. 

BT Sport are going to make sure that football fans don't miss any of the World Cup action for the duration of the festival by showing 11 games on a massive 7mx5m screen in their entirety. You can watch the hosts Brazil take on Croatia and England's first match of the competition. You can catch all the football in the “Field of Dreams” and alongside all that action will be coverage of the MotoGP as well as films and live music.

To celebrate their sponsorship of the Big Top BT Sport are giving away a pair of tickets to the festival away every day until May 30th. Each day will have a new question with a new chance to win – users being able to enter once every day. If that sounds like your kind of thing then you should head over to BT.com for your chance to win today’s pair of tickets.  All you have to do is answer the easy question to enter the draw. Best of luck!

*content created in collaboration with brand

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Sunday, 25 May 2014

Surprise date night - Nash Point

We had such lovely weather for most of last week so Martyn thought he would make the most of it and picked me up after work on Friday for a surprise date. He packed a little picnic and took me to one of my favourite spots. We went to Nash Point on one of our first dates and it's such a beautiful place on the Welsh coast so I was more than happy to return.

A picture of Nash Point lighthouse in Wales

I picked up my picnic basket in BHS a couple of weeks ago and you can get one for about £25.


a picture of sheep

Nash Point is a picturesque headland along the coastline of the Vale of Glamorgan and has cliffs of limestone. This was the last manned lighthouse in Wales (it became automated in 1998), and is now open to the public. Only about 10 in the UK open up to visitors. It is a popular location for ramblers and hiking along the cliffs to Llantwit Major beach. I hope I will head back in the summer to take advantage of the coastal path. 

Surprise date means pale face with no blusher, sorry 'bout that. 

A picture of Nash Point lighthouse in Wales

Nash Point is the perfect spot to sit back with someone you care for and watch the sun set. 

A picture of Nash Point lighthouse in Wales

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Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Warehouse Swing Dress

This is a picture of a warehouse black smock dress
Dress: c/o Warehouse - Shoes: eBay - Necklace: H&M - Watch: Daniel Wellington

I'm wearing this to work today and it's sunny and 19 degrees. I like to think that I look like someone from American Horror Story Coven but maybe I should be wearing sandals and a maxi dress because this is probably our British summer, right? This dress may be black but it's super light and cool and perfect for the office. The loose fit of the swing dress is great because I've probably expanded a few inches after the BBQ and picnic I had over the weekend. I wanted to make the most of the sun so I spent as much time in my garden as I could and Martyn took me to Nash Point (which is one of my favourite places) for a picnic and I might share some pictures from that later in the week.

This necklace and the watch below are probably my two most worn accessories. They make an impact and can really jazz up a plain outfit.

I'm off to Alice's wedding this weekend up in Sheffield with Martyn and I'm really looking forward to it. It's amazing to think that I met Alice through this blog, struck up a friendship through letters and now I'm sharing her big day with her. The internet can be a wonderful place and I feel lucky to have made connections with some lovely ladies through it. I even met Martyn online so you could say that the internet has been pretty life changing for me. I love having blogger friends all over the country and being able to chat to people with lots in common with me is something I never get tired of.

If you've got any tips about places I should visit in Sheffield please let me know and I want to break up the drive back to South Wales so would love some ideas of places to visit on the way back.

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Monday, 19 May 2014

Introducing My New Home Pt.1

I've posted a few snaps of my new house over on Instagram but I haven't really shared any detailed photos even though I've been here for a couple of months now. My mum and Martyn have been great with helping me transform the bedrooms as my DIY skills are very limited and I have very little patience. I get bored after one coat of paint and sigh loudly after glossing one strip of skirting board.
Both bedrooms were pretty plain before I moved in, I don't think men believe in cushions or accessorising a room at all and I hoped I would be able to add a feminine touch.

This is the room I share with Martyn, I hope we can eventually achieve a bit of a Scandinavian feel eventually. The furniture was already there as it's a furnished rented house but I want to replace it with white or light wood furniture. I think the room is pretty masculine which is what I was aiming for, I didn't want to move in to Martyn's house and make it all pink and twee.

The bedding and light shade are both from John Lewis and the cushions are from Matalan, Habitat and Next. I love grey in interior design and it's the 'in' colour at the moment so I managed to pick up accessories pretty cheaply. The light shade makes such an impact in the room and that's what I was looking for. It was £60 but I had some John Lewis vouchers which I used to purchase it.

If you're moving or improving I highly recommend John Lewis as they had some wonderful items. The bedding I have is such high quality and washes wonderfully.

My dressing room/guest room is much more to my taste. Lots of pretty details, light and airy and very feminine. My cushions were all from next, the bedding from George and the curtains from Shaws. I didn't want to spend a lot of money on this bedroom because I don't spend a lot of time in there and I'm trying to save to buy a house so all work is being done on a budget. 

The bed that was here when I arrived was a sturdy chrome one but not to my taste at all so I picked up a budget on on eBay but I'm hoping to upgrade at some point and I'm looking at upholstered beds to make more of an impact. I'm loving the dusky pink and nude ones below which look pretty opulent.

Here are some more details from my bedroom which isn't 100% complete yet.

I picked up this dressing table for under £30 from a charity shop and I'm going to paint it cream. I want to find a wardrobe to replace the rail I have at the moment, possibly another charity shop bargain which I can spruce up with some paint. I prefer second had furniture and something with a bit of age, much more sturdy that flat pack stuff you get now and it means you have something that nobody else is likely to have.

I've put some artwork up to make sure all the white and cream doesn't look to sparse. The New Order poster came from Bestival a couple of years ago and I brought it with me from my bedroom at my mums. The ticket is from my trip to New Zealand a few years ago and the bird print is another charity  shop find which was only 25p! If you're looking to make a rented house feel like home I can highly recommend charity shops. Prints, furniture and kitchenware are always so much cheaper there and far more long lasting that high street buys.

This plate has been packed up ready for the move for ages and I couldn't wait to displays it, it was a gift from the lovely Sarah (A Million Dresses) and it sits proudly on my dressing table.

I've got another post with some photos of the kitchen, living room and garden to share next time so keep an eye out for those later next week. I definitely feel settled in now and I did whinge a lot when I moved in as the house wasn't to my taste but I'm a lot happier now it's had a coat of paint and finishing touches.

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Thursday, 15 May 2014

Easy ways to update a man’s wardrobe

If you’re looking to sharpen up the man in your life’s clothes and accessories, then think style not trends. It’s much easier to simply update a look rather than to jump into the latest fashion, which will usually require a restyle in six months’ time.

Clothes and clothing accessories aren’t always top of a man’s list when it comes to disposing of that monthly income but it doesn’t cost much to update a look. A few well-made, stylish items can make a huge difference to a look but choose classic clothes and accessories rather than the latest ever-changing trends.

The classic accessory
A good watch is the perfect addition to any outfit and is also one of the easiest ways to add a little style. The full-on designer watches can be expensive but are a guaranteed eye-catcher.
There is a huge diversity of men’s watches available to suit every style and budget including the latest smart watches as well as those funky retro digital timepieces. An good quality watch also makes for the ideal Christmas or birthday gift and you can find some great discounts on designer watches by shopping online.

Martyn before and after my intervention for a wedding. He normally wears very casual clothing but I think he scrubbed up very well.

Clothes are an investment
Designer clothing is an investment and a well-cut shirt or pair of jeans should last for years without dating. It may cost a little (or a lot) more for clothes by designers such as Armani, Ralph Lauren and Prada but this is a long-term investment.
A simple shirt, t-shirt, jumper or jeans by the top designers should still look fresh in a few years’ time compared to today’s disposable clothes. Be warned that buying designer clothing can soon become addictive so this habit should be limited to a minimum of once a month.

Jewellery for men
Jewellery can be a sticking point for some men and many won’t even consider even a tiny bit of bling. However, a simple ring or wrist chain can look stylish and can definitely complement an outfit.
Cufflinks look great with a formal shirt and neck chains with a V-neck t-shirt are always a good casual look for the summer. Accessories such as dog-tags and rings can be added to neck-chains to funk it up a little.

The final touch
Some men love after-shave whereas many won’t touch the stuff and for men who won’t consider it there’s always the option to sneak in a bottle as a birthday, Christmas or Valentine’s Day gift. Go for classic fresh smells by well-known names such as Armani, Calvin Klein and Issey Miyake.
For men who don’t like the sting of aftershave there is always the after-shave balm. A 100ml bottle will last for months and is the perfect accompaniment to a well-cut suit or even a casual outfit. I even popped some moisturiser and a manicure kit in my partners stocking for Christmas and he's loved using both.

These are some of the easiest ways to enhance a look and add a bit of class to a wardrobe. A gentle nudge in the right direction and a few accessories should be all it takes to update a man’s look.

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Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Boohoo Plus - Outfit post

This is a picture of a boohoo plus striped t-shirt.

Boohoo unveiled its new plus-size range recently and I was pleasantly surprised by the collection. Plus size clothing can be rather expensive. Leggings and tunics are £20+ when the standard sized ones are much cheaper.  I love the pastels, neons and sports luxe items in the collection but I also love the price- nothing costs more than £30! The range comes in sizes 16-24 (hope this is extended even more) and I feel they offer fashion forward pieces for women with a fuller figure.There are plenty of classic items in the range and I opted to try out this striped t-shirt. It's one of those items that is always handy to have in your wardrobe and it's a heavy jersey material so it hangs nicely.

t-shirt : c/o boohoo - Skirt: New Look - Backpack: Moony Mood - Zip up boots - Clarks

This backpack is my new favourite item, the shoulder ache from my heavy handbags has been relieved and I love being able to use both hands freely on the commute to work. Why haven't I used a backpack since school?!

These boots have been hiding in the botton of my wardrobe for a while now that I walk a fair distance to the station in the morning. I'm wearing the same old pair of converse all the time so it was nice to swap them for a smarter pair of boots on the weekend.

Just to bring a smile to your face I've added a photo of Button's who lives with me and is my boyfriend's bunny. Isn't he a cutie?

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Sunday, 11 May 2014

The Things I'm Grateful For

I've let myself slide into a bout of self-pity recently. I've been thinking about how I'm not happy with the way I look, I've been comparing myself and my surroundings with other people and what they have. I'm not a very optimistic person and sometimes these thoughts can get the better of me. I'm trying to learn to be happy with my lot as I know deep down that I'm terribly lucky person. Despite all my moaning and self critical thoughts I have a lot to be happy about and here's a little list of the things I'm most grateful for:

1. My job

I have a full time, permanent job and in this climate that's something to be really grateful for. I get to work in a library, for a Russell Group University and I get to do what I love. Yes, some days I want to go on an adventure and not go to work. Sometimes it can be a little dull and other days when the students have deadlines I don't have a minute to myself. I'm very grateful to have a job and one that I I don't dread going to.

2. Martyn

He puts up with a lot from me. I met Martyn about 10 months ago and just kind of fell into living with him recently even though we haved't been together for long. The circumstances were right and I'm glad I moved in so we can share more things together. He's supportive and likes me for who I am and we don't feel like we need to impress each other. We act like a retired couple and go on steam trains, go to the seaside and stay in on weekends and cook. Party lifestyle Gemma has gone (except for when I go to Snobs with Claire) and I can't say I miss it. (Martyn, if you're reading this, I really appreciate the dumbbells and the flowers)

3. My Friends

These guys are really awesome. I don't get to see all of them enough and some of my friends have moved away and are getting on with their adult life now but I value any time I get to spend with them. This photo was taken at Bestival last year with my friends Harri and Emma who I met in college when I was 16. They make me smile, we go on adventures and gossip over some tea and cake. I couldn't ask for a better bunch of pals.

3. My travels at home and abroad

I'm eternally grateful for all the wonderful places I've been able to visit. I've had a job since I was about 15 so have always been lucky enough to have spare cash to travel to some amazing places. I've been to New Zealand, Amsterdam and Paris in the past few years and I've already been to Grenoble and Dorset so far this year. I'm trying to save for a house now so I will be making the most of the UK and having a few 'staycations' as money is a bit tight.

4. My Sookie-sooks

Even though I'm not at home with Sookie anymore I will always be grateful for her unconditional love. Aren't dogs the best? She's always there when I get home and will cuddle me when I'm feeling low. She's a sassy little madame sometimes and be very naughty but I wouldn't have her any other way.

This post was inspired by the Made in Hunters 52 lists project. I'm not taking part in the whole thing as I'm months too late but hope to post a few more here and take some time out to reflect using lists.

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Thursday, 8 May 2014

Things to do in Greenwich Village - London

Located South of the river Greenwich village can feel  far removed from what surrounds it, like a diamond in the rough. Home to the Cutty Sark - A famous clipper ship, the stunning Greenwich University and Greenwich Park which offers romantic views of London’s. Greenwich is the perfect place to spend a whole day exploring when you visit London. 

First of all you need to get to Greenwich and the best way of getting there is the Thames Clipper. It’s a great excursion, passing many original London landmarks as they were meant to be seen: from the river. Coming back into the city after dark is magical, passing under Tower Bridge with the lights of the City shimmering on the Thames. In

The O2 is a pretty iconic and hosts sports events, concerts and  exhibitions. Feeling brave? Scale the dome, Spidey-style, for panoramic views of London from the viewing platform. I'm hoping to climb it on my visit to London in September. The 02 is currently hosting the wonderful Cirque du soleil Dralion which  fuses the 3000 year-old tradition of Chinese acrobatic arts with the multidisciplinary approach of Cirque du Soleil. Dralion draws its inspiration from Eastern philosophy and its never-ending quest for harmony between humans and nature.

If you want a cracking view head to Greenwich Park which been a haven for Londoners and tourists since 1427, playing host to countless cricket games, picnics and most recently the Equestrian and Modern Pentathlon arena for the Olympic Games. It’s royal, it’s pretty and it’s hugely popular. If you want a quieter spot to relax then try heading out to West Greenwich, close to Blackheath, where you can walk up to The Point. You can see across the chimneypots of London and enjoy some lovely views.

Every year millions of Londoners and tourists visit Greenwich Park, one of the capital's eight Royal Parks.
Greenwich Park hosts the Prime Meridian Line and Royal Observatory as well as being part of the Greenwich Maritime World Heritage Site which is home to The National Maritime Museum and Old Royal Naval College.
The oldest enclosed Royal Park, Greenwich dates back to 1427 and offers spectacular views across the River Thames to St Paul's Cathedral and beyond.
- See more at: http://www.royalparks.org.uk/parks/greenwich-park#sthash.J4r91PaO.dpuf

If you want to visit museums, marvel at science and experience the history of London then Greenwich is the place to be. Royal Museums Greenwich is a group of world class museums incorporating the National Maritime Museum, Royal Observatory, Cutty Sark and the Queen's House, situated at the heart of the Maritime Greenwich World Heritage Site. Royal Observatory Greenwich is the home of Greenwich Mean Time and the Prime Meridian of the World.

Stand with a foot in each hemisphere at Longitude 0°0' 0” in the Meridian Courtyard, marvel at the scientific discoveries that changed our understanding of time and space and see how the Astronomers Royal used to live and work at Sir Christopher Wren's Flamsteed House.

Enjoy a spectacular cinematic experience at London's only planetarium, with breathtaking tours of outer space guided by real astronomers.

If you want to shop head to
Greenwich Market which is open 7 days a week. It's London’s only historic market set within a World Heritage site. Surrounded by independent and boutique shops you are sure to find something different. You can get a bite to eat here with plenty of nice pubs and cafes in the area. Enjoy a relaxing day out with a great choice of take away food from the market and a range of gastro pubs, restaurants, cafes and wine bars within an easy stroll.

What are your favourite spots in London? What other delights does Greenwich have to offer that I've missed out?

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Monday, 5 May 2014

April in photos

  1. I had a very tasty Bleecker Street Burger with Hannah before heading to see...
  2. The Manics in Brixton Academy.
  3. Tried baked eggs for the first time and they make an excellent brunch.
  4. Martyn assembled my bed and hung some pictures up for me so my dressing room/guest room is looking lovely.
  5. I headed to Caerleon Roman Fortress with my best friend for a fun and informative day out.
  6. I went to visit my nan and her dog Sindy, don't get to see them often enough.
  7. The conference I helped to organise, Library Camp Wales was a success and a day filled with cake.
  8. I went to see Derren Brown in the Millennium Centre with Martyn on his 'Infamous' tour, won't spoil it for anyone but it was brilliant.
All these photos are my from my instagram account which you can follow here.

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Friday, 2 May 2014

Library Camp Wales

I don't really talk about my job on the blog very often as I'm sure a lot of you wouldn't find it very interesting. I don't work in fashion or PR or the music industry or any of those jobs that Cosmo tell you how to 'bag' in those articles which annoy me. I might want to be a farmer or a dentist, not all women want to work in fashion. Anyway, I digress...

I've been using the skills that I've learned through blogging to promote the library and I've been sharing this with people at events. I spoke about blogging at a CLIC(Cardiff Libraries in Co-Operation) event a few months ago you can see some photos here and I've got a few more talks lined up at conferences in the near future. I never really thought that I would be using what I have learned from blogging in the world of work and it's great to be able to share this with colleagues and the wider library community. Who know blogging would teach you so many transferable skills?!

I've also planned a few blogging events in Cardiff and I put those organisational skills to use when I helped to plan Library Camp Wales as part of a team. A library camp is Librarycamp is 'user generated unconference' for people interested in libraries. Anyone can organise a librarycamp - they run across the UK and there's a larger event every October in Birmingham.

Our event was held in the rather grand Glamorgan Building here at Cardiff University where I work. Doctor Who and Sherlock have been filmed there.

A picture of Glamorgan Building

A picture of library camp wales badges

At a librarycamp the participants lead the agenda – in fact, there isn’t an agenda until people make suggestions for what they’d like to talk about at the start of the day. It’s free to attend and there are no keynotes speakers. It’s open to anyone: public/private/whatever sector and you don't have to work in a library.

It’s an unconference so we followed the principles of Open Space events - people can wander in and out of sessions, tweet, blog and take photos all day. Sounds a lot like a blogger meet up and it's actually very similar. I got to meet library staff who I only know through twitter or reading their blog and eat loads of cake.

Above are a few of the sessions that were pitched on the day. If you want to talk about something you can just pitch the idea which means these events can be very topical and lively.

library camp wales cake camp

There is always loads of cake at these type of events and they don't have any funding so people bring lunch to share and we approached companies for competition prizes. Working with companies on this blog gave me the confidence to negotiate with sponsors and agree to give them exposure in return for products.

a picture of welsh cupcakes

This was our speed networking part of the day and a great opportunity to meet library staff from all over Wales and the South West.

Me and the rest of the lovely organising team. It was such a great day and we all pulled together to create a fun event that brought people together an enable them to share ideas. I took photos and tweeted all day (again skills I picked up through blogging) and created a Storify for the event which you can look at here if you want to.

Do you apply what you do on your own blog and in the world of blogging to your job?

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