Date Night at Reading Showcase Cinema De Lux

Date nights for us usually involve a film. We're either snuggled up in front of Netflix or at the cinema. So you can imagine how excited we both were to be invited to the launch of the Reading Showcase Cinema De Lux. The complex has been fitted out with reclining seats in every screen and we couldn't wait to try them out!

On entering the cinema, we made our way down the red carpet and enjoyed glasses of Prosecco and canapes. I was really impressed with the refurbishments that have been made. Everything looks sleek and modern and there's a really chilled vibe. There's a seating area downstairs to enjoy traditional cinema snacks and a plush Costa if you need your caffeine fix!

We then headed up to the Lounge Bar for another glass of fizz! I think this is a really lovely addition. The decor is elegant and chic which makes it a relaxing space to enjoy a cocktail or two before a film. The extensive drinks menu allows you to really make a night of it!

It was then time to make our way to the XPlus screen, where we were treated to an advance screening of Steven Spielberg's Bridge of Spies. We settled down with our goody bag of popcorn and chocolates and adjusted our reclining seats. I have to say that it's the most comfortable I've ever been in a cinema. What's best is that there's no extra cost for the comfort the new seats provide!

The Xplus auditoriums have a 60ft wide wall-to-wall screens. Dolby Atmos sound technology also allows the sound to be precisely directed to different parts of the room. These two elements combined create such a powerful viewing experience.

I loved Bridge of Spies. If you like films inspired by real life events then this is certainly for you. Tom Hanks stars as a lawyer called upon to defend a Soviet spy during the Cold War. The film is full of drama and action. I loved the characters and the humour. But overall, Mark Rylance's performance blew me away. Just perfect!

We both thoroughly enjoyed our movie date night! I can wholly recommend checking out a Showcase Cinema De Lux near you. The experience feels special and it's ideal for a date or a girly night with friends!

Showcase kindly invited me and a guest to the launch event which included tickets for the film.

Christmas Indulgence Home Wish List

As the night's are drawing in, I've been longing for Christmas films, snuggly blankets and festive candles. Now is most certainly the time to be thinking about this year's Christmas decorations. With so much inspiration on the high street at the moment, I've settled on a look that plays with textures. I love the contrast of natural materials and delicate metallics.
Larger hanging Christmas decorations are great for adding festive cheer to any room. Wilko always have a good selection at budget prices. This mistletoe heart is adorable and would make a fab addition to any entrance way. Any excuse for Christmas kisses! I'm also in love with their polar bear ornament. He's just too cute! In my opinion, nothing marks the start of the festive season better than a good old candle. The festive spice scent from Next is an old favourite and TK Maxx have some stunning candles in at the moment. However, the Neom Christmas Wish candle has won my heart. This luxe offering is the ideal treat to yourself for cosy evenings this winter. I'm always really envious of my neighbour's Christmas wreaths. We've never had one on our door but I would love to change that this year. I like the rustic look of this alpine wreath from Next. I can imagine it making our house look lovely and welcoming. I'd even be tempted to add some fairy lights amongst the pinecones and berries. I couldn't do a home wish list without including some copper. First up is the Strala table light from IKEA. It's battery powered so you could pop this light anywhere. I really like the understated glamour of the design. If you're after something a little more traditional, then a copper lantern is for you! These baubles are beautiful. I love that the mercury glass bauble is hinged so that you can add in a little gift. The glass egg bauble is so Gatsby with it's decadent gold detail. These would make great presents to put in someone's stocking. Last on my list is this gorgeous faux fur stocking from House of Fraser. I've spotted it a few times in store and can confirm that it's as super soft as it looks. I still hang a stocking from the mantlepiece, but have had the same one since a child. I think I'm overdue an upgrade!
This post contains a sponsored link.

Super Easy Photo Printing With CHEERZ

Cheerz is a photo printing service which allows you to print your images from a range of sources. Fancy hard copies of a few Insta shots but also have some snaps lurking in your Dropbox? No problemo.

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It's not only poloroid style prints either. Cheerz have a wide range of different products. Maybe you want your photos printed onto magnets to adorn your fridge? Or perhaps you're after a more traditional poster or framed moasic? There's something to suit everyone.

The super friendly team at Cheerz kindly sent me a Christmas Cheerz Box. I couldn't resist the gold foil and the adorable ribbon! This limited edition cutie holds 30 polaroid style prints. Each image is printed onto thick, high quality Fujifilm paper. You can also customise each one with text and different colour borders.

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I can't wait to try out some cute DIYs with my prints. I'll be using some in my Project Life scrapbook and I'm sure there'll be some bakers twine and mini clothes pegs making their way onto my walls sometime soon!

With Christmas right around the corner, Cheerz have some fantastic ideas for original and personalised gifts. What's better than receiving memories of friends and family for Christmas.
Cheerz kindly sent me a Christmas Cheerz Box for review.

Winkworth Arboretum

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These photos have been sat in my drafts folder for a good couple of weeks now. I've been trying to think of the right words to accompany them. But actually I don't think they need many. They were shot in the National Trust's Winkworth Arboretum, in Surrey. A beautifully serene woodland which is a delight to walk around. When I visited it was the perfect opportunity to clear my head and find some peace and quiet. And I think that's needed today. #jesuisparis  photo ww 4_zpsjyw9rieh.jpg photo ww 1_zpssya9jyoa.jpg  photo ww 5_zpsafxfl034.jpg  photo ww 6_zpsuqpoi7ex.jpg

Scandinavian Home Wish List

As the leaves start to burst into the colour of flames and the nip of the chill air forces me into jumpers, all I want to do is nest. For home ware inspiration I've been looking North to Scandinavia - and also to Pinterest. Interiors filled with a mix of monochrome furnishings and natural materials have won my heart.

I've been drawn to furniture with the clean lines and minimalism of mid century design. This G Plan sofa from John Lewis would be the focus of any room. Soften up the look with chunky textiles and some bold geometric patterns. This cushion cover from H&M is perfect. Moss stitch knits give great texture and I'm keen to get my knitting needles out but for now this grey blanket also from H&M is a great addition.

I love the industrial feel of this Next tripod lamp. I've seen a few that I really like but this one just has a bit of attitude that I couldn't resist adding to my wish list! Next also have a great range of geometric vases in different shapes and textures. I can imagine this large cream vase being great on its own or filled with fresh flowers.

IKEA is the obvious choice for Scandi interiors and this woven water hyacinth plant pot adds warmth with natural materials to the monochrome palette I've been coveting. I think it would look fantastic with a giant sculptural plant in. Lastly, it wouldn't be a home wish list without a candle. Orla Kiely's designs are ideal for the overall look I want to create - I love the jar of her Earl Grey candle. What Autumn home trends are you loving at the moment?

Itsu, Reading

Itsu is one of those much coveted eateries that I thought was reserved only for those living in London. Their Reading branch opened at the end of August and I couldn't be happier. I've been really exited see their Eat Beautiful ethos put into practice.

 The new Reading Itsu store is located on the corner of Broad Street and Queen Victoria Street. The interior is in-keeping with the existing 50+ stores. It's bright and clean with elements of traditional Japanese buildings. The chain is owned by Julian Metcalfe, the founder of Pret. There is a similar importance about the freshness and nutritional value of the food on offer. You can expect to find salads, sushi and bento boxes that pack the protein without the calories or saturated fat. There's a great selection of healthy snacks too. It's also perfect for those of us who want to cut down on the wheat and dairy that we eat.

 Itsu's beauty smoothies are packed full of goodness and look so beautiful on their shelf. I like that you can see exactly what's going into your drink before you take it to the counter to be blended with ice. I went for the dairy free fruit superseed beauty smoothie, a heavenly mix of coconut milk, dates, apple, strawberries, pineapple, banana and seeds. For food, we both decided to have one of the 'on a bed' bento boxes - different toppings on a bed of seasoned sushi rice. I chose the Salmon and Tuna Tartare and Mum went for Tangy Tuna. Mum's was rather heavy on the ginger, which I'm not a fan of, but I was assured that it was delicious. Mine was equally as tasty. Sashimi grade salmon and tuna, topped with chives and a side of teriyaki sauce is definitely a new favourite for me!

It's really refreshing to finally find somewhere that offers lunch which fills you without feeling full. Everything was delicious and tasted incredibly light and fresh. Its great knowing that you can eat out and maintain a healthy lifestyle. I'll definitely be back for another of those beauty smoothies and I'm dying to try the Eggs Benedict from their new breakfast menu!
I was kindly provided with a voucher for Itsu for this post.

6 Things You'll Learn at Uni

Naps are essential, and also special and lovely and glorious things. There's nothing better than crawling back under the duvet after a 9am lecture.

It's completely acceptable to buy every pack of novelty sticky notes you see. The same goes for cute pens, stickers and notebooks.

If you're walking or getting the bus to the supermarket, NEVER use a trolley when you're there. Carrying home 13 bags of value vodka and frozen potato shapes is not fun.

Regardless of whether you think they're disgusting or not, that Pot Noodle that you found in your Fresher's goodie bag will be eaten at the end of term when you've run out of money. Don't throw it away.

Setting an alarm on your phone so that you reach the nearest supermarket in time for them to reduce their bakery items is just common sense.

You come to realise that your selection of dressing up outfits is more impressive than that of the average four year old. Hairbands with ears attached are now your most worn accessory.

What I Read In August

 THE PAYING GUESTS by Sarah Waters ****
Set in 1922, Frances and her mother are forced by their economic situation to take in lodgers. Lust, intrigue and drama intertwine in this novel of interwar domesticity. There are all the elements that you would expect of a Waters novel - crime, murder and lesbian relationships. But alongside the sensational events is a reminder of everyday ordinariness. Mundane daily activities underpin the plot and at a few times in the book I was reminded of Virginia Woolf's writing. The scenes in which characters are walking alone through the London streets are very Mrs Dalloway-esque. I really enjoyed this novel and the way it dealt with the changing times and attitudes towards class and sexuality.

ORANGES ARE NOT THE ONLY FRUIT by Jeanette Winterson ****
I was given a reading list at the end of sixth form by my English teacher and Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit was on it. It's been a long time coming but I've finally read Winterson's semi-autobiographical novel. It is a coming of age story in which Jeanette finds her own voice and forms her own opinions. She challenges all she has been taught by her Pentecostal mother. This is a difficult book to read at times, but Winterson's prose is poetic and witty. I'm looking forward to reading more of her work.

THE TESTAMENT OF MARY by Colm Toibin *****
I'm always enchanted by Irish authors and the way they write about the family and memories. Toibin's writing is so beautiful and I was deeply moved throughout. Mary, the mother of Jesus, is a given a voice and human sensitivity. She is brought to life through the account of her grief. This contrasts greatly to the stark and silent representation of her character that I have been used to. This very short novel is absolutely stunning and I would highly recommend it.

BURIAL RITES by Hannah Kent ****
Agnes Magnusdottir was the last woman in Iceland to be executed. In Burial Rites, Hannah Kent imagines her last months. The imagined tale is a gruesome, atmospheric snapshot of a country in the grip of patriarchy and historic superstitions. The narrative is split between three characters and Agnes' sections are brilliantly haunting. I found myself re-reading the beautiful sentences and becoming more and more attached to the story with every turn of the page. This is a fantastic debut novel and I'm eagerly awaiting news of a second.

  MIDDLESEX by Jeffrey Eugenides ****
Eugenides is a master of story-telling. Although worlds apart from The Virgin Suicides, I thoroughly enjoyed Middlesex. It tells the epic journey of three generations of the Stephanides family, Greek immigrants now settled in Detroit. Greek history and mythology mixes with the aspirations of the American Dream in conveying to the reader how our narrator, Cal, is now living as a male despite being brought up as a girl. War, desire, family, sexuality and gender are all themes that jostle for attention in the novel. They mingle together so well that the book made me laugh out loud one moment and be desperately sad the next. Despite having a few issues with the ending, Middlesex is a book that I'll find hard to forget.

STANCLIFFE'S HOTEL by Charlotte Bronte ***
The Bronte siblings had invented imaginary worlds as children and written about them in teeny tiny books. Charlotte extends on her and Branwell's world of Angria in Stancliffe's Hotel. The writing is witty, political and has a certain masculinity about it. It's interesting to see into the Bronte's private life - these writings were intended for the enjoyment of the family alone. I really want to read more of these early writings having seen the originals at the Bronte parsonage in Haworth earlier this year.

I really don't know how I feel about this one. Although it's well written and funny I felt uncomfortable reading it. The control Miss Brodie has over her six favourite students is disturbing and I just wanted to be finished. I do want to give Spark another chance and have my eye on A Far Cry from Kensington.

Healthy Snacks from itsu and Metcalfe's

I like to snack, a lot. From carrot sticks to carrot cake, I'm all for a mid-afternoon pick me up. Lately, my treats have tended to be on the unhealthy side (cake, cake, cake). I've been making a conscious effort to munch on healthier snacks. These offerings from itsu and Metcalfe's are a brilliant addition to my daily banana milkshakes.

Itsu is known for it's flavours from the Far East and these are incorporated into their snack selection. Whilst the Crispy Seaweed Thins may not be to my personal taste, I can't get enough of the Honey Cashews. Their rice cakes are an amazing alternative to a chocolate digestive - although I don't drink tea, so can't comment on their dunking performance! I have to say that the Honey Bee Skinny Popcorn was my absolute favourite. Each piece tastes exactly like honey on toast so I have a feeling it would definitely be Winnie-the-Pooh's fave too! I'm really excited that there are healthier snacks with a difference available on the highstreet. Picking up snacks or a light bite are usually where I slip up when I'm out. Now I know that there's no reason whatsoever for that Biscuit and Raisin Yorkie to fall into my hands!
itsu kindly sent me the above snacks to review for this post.

Alice in Wonderland at South Hill Park

Alice in Wonderland is 150 years old this year. Generations of children, myself included, have been enchanted by the White Rabbit and his whimsical friends from Wonderland. To celebrate the book's birthday a host of events have been planned and special souvenirs have been released - from limited edition stamps to Vivienne Westwood designing the cover and end papers of a new edition of the book. I jumped at the chance of taking part in an event commemorating the occasion and joined in the Caucus Race and had tea with the Hatter at my local arts center, South Hill Park.

The production was as imaginative as Alice is. As part of the audience I followed Alice through the former country house's gardens, meeting new characters at every turn. The children in our group were more than happy to interact with the characters and my boyfriend was even called upon by the Duchess to stir the mixture for her jam tarts! We all sat down to tea with with the Hatter, the March Hare and the Dormouse before meeting the Red Queen during the finale of the performance.

 I really enjoyed spending the afternoon doing something different and I came away in a dream like haze! The whole concept and interactivity made a thoroughly enjoyable experience - I was wishing my boyfriend's niece was a few years older as she would have loved it too! I'm really glad I took part in celebrating such a memorable piece of children's literature and I'd love to hear if any of you got involved.
South Hill Park kindly sent me a ticket for the production and offered a discount for a guest ticket.

What I Read in July

July Wrap Up

H IS FOR HAWK by Helen Macdonald ****
I started off the month with Helen Macdonald's much hyped autobiography. The book tells of how she deals with the loss of her father by training a goshawk. This is written so beautifully and I found myself getting lost in Macdonald's prose. There is an other-worldliness surrounding Mabel the goshawk that is truly enchanting. The structure is somewhat unconventional and is a mix of biography, autobiography and academic writing. There are a lot of references to various falconry books and in particular to The Once and Future King by T H White. I found the links between Macdonald herself and T H White extremely interesting. However, I can imagine that this book isn't for everyone. It's almost as if the only way Macdonald can try and understand her grief is to write this book.

ELEANOR AND PARK by Rainbow Rowell **
I've not read much YA fiction before and my teenage years are filled with LOTS of cringe worthy memories. I kind of had an inkling that I wouldn't like Eleanor and Park, but I really wanted to. I did like the first half of the novel and really enjoyed the scenes where the couple get to know each other. The second half seemed to completely spiral out of control. I found the ending was rushed and utterly unbelievable. Another thing that stood out was the constant references to Eleanor's weight. I hate that the negative remarks reinforced the idea that teenage girls are supposed to despise their own bodies. I felt this was unnecessary and it just added to my negative feeling towards the book.

What I Read in July

TELL IT TO A STRANGER by Elizabeth Berridge ****
This was my first charity shop find of the month. To be quite honest, I only picked this up because it was the first book published by Persephone that I had the chance to own. The end papers have a really lovely geometric pattern and I knew it had to come home with me. The book itself is a collection of short stories. They are all set during the Second World War and focus on people's experience of the war at home. Berridge focuses on class and gender and the shift in roles that occurred during this time. Each story is beautifully written and I thoroughly enjoyed reading this.

THE DAY OF THE TRIFFIDS by John Wyndham ***
I decided to read this after hearing how much Jean from Jean's Bookish Thoughts liked this. I do really like early 20th century dystopian and apocalyptic literature and I had high hopes for this short novel. However, after every page I found myself hoping for something gripping or disastrous to happen. There's an element of sexism that I really didn't like and overall I just felt disappointed.

The Narrow Road to the Deep North Richard Flanagan

MISS BRILL by Katherine Mansfield****
I've wanted to read some of Katherine Mansfield's work for a while now. I thought this Penguin Little Black Classic would be the perfect introduction and it really was. Miss Brill includes three short stories that are impeccably written. As a reader you get to know the characters so well in such a short space of time. This was such a delight to read and I'll definitely be reading more Mansfield in the future.

This novel follows Australian doctor Dorrigo Evans from childhood, to the building of the Burma death railway and into old age. The treatment of the POWs building the railway by the Japanese officials is not a nice thing to read about. However, I found these sections the most interesting to the point where I resented having to read the other sections of the novel. I thought the chapters were fragmented and jumped around a lot, making my overall reading experience not an enjoyable one. Despite this, I've given it four stars. It's a book that will stay in my memory for a while and the story of the POW camps is one that needs telling.

London Day Out

A change of scenery is always a good thing. Last weekend, I hopped on a train with my boyfriend ready for a day of adventure and exploring. It was really nice not having a plan and just going where our fancy took us.

Camden London Camden London | Brighton Girl Blog

Our first destination was Camden. We wandered throught the market and had a good old browse of the independent boutiques. I even managed to get my hand on a few of the Penguin Little Black Classics. If anyone else is struggling to find them in person, check out Books Iconica in Camden Lock Market. They also have a fab range of beautiful Penguin editions and bookish gifts for such a small space. It's definitely worth a look!

Camden Lock | Brighton Girl Blog

By then it was time for churros and Pimms by the canal. After popping back on the tube and walking for a while we found ourselves at London Bridge and decided to jump aboard HMS Belfast. We both like a bit of WW2 history and I got to swoon over the 1950s typography which adorned multiple signs on the ship!

HMS Belfast | Brighton Girl Blog Ice Cream in front of Tower Bridge | Brighton Girl Blog

I have an ever growing list of places to visit. The Sky Garden and the Audrey Hepburn exhibition at the NPG are ones that I'm keen to see soon. I'd love to hear of more recommendations and hidden gems you know about. See you again soon, London!

5 Simple Ways to Save Money

5 Ways to Save Money

I pop all my small change into my cute little piggy. He then looks after it for me until he's so heavy I can hardly lift him. My bank has a paying in machine which accepts coins, so I use this. I like that this is free and the money goes straight into my account. There are similar machines in most supermarkets however these charge a small percentage for using them.

After hearing about how much a friend had saved in a year using TopCashback, I was signing up straight away. By following the links via the site and shopping online as normal you can collect cashback from most well-known retailers such as ASOS, Next and Space NK. It's completely free to join and I see it as earning money for something you already do.

My purse is overwhelmed with loyalty cards. The high street ones I use the most are for Boots, The Works and Holland and Barrett. I also use my Tesco Clubcard and Nectar card a lot. I tend to save my reward vouchers and points for Christmas shopping. I also save up my Costa reward points for this time of year when hot chocolate breaks are a must! It's nice to essentially have free cash to spend during the festive period and my bank account likes it too!

Clear out your make-up stash and your wardrobe and sell the items you no longer get any use from to a new home. Car boots are a fantastic way to sell your unwanted clutter although they do take a lot of effort. Not everyone is a fan of a 5am alarm! If car boots aren't your thing then head online. Clothes and makeup sell well on Ebay and Depop. I've had success selling furniture on Gumtree and local Facebook selling sites.

By being sensible with my food shop I find that I can save quite a bit. I like to write down the meals that I'll be cooking over the next few days and make a shopping list of the ingredients. I find that with a list in my hand I'm a lot more focused in the supermarket and less prone to picking up a bag of cookies or two. I definitely see an improvement in how much food is wasted when I plan my meals and I've been using the freezer a lot more too. From par-boiling broccoli that won't get used in time before freezing or slicing up brown skinned bananas for delicious milkshakes, I'm more conscious of what gets thrown away.

Deliciously Ella Banana Milkshake

Deliciously Ella Banana Milkshake A banana milkshake from McDonald's was my favourite sweet treat when I was little. I didn't have them very often, so when I was handed my paper cup and individually wrapped straw I savoured every second. The suspense of seeing the thick liquid slowly travelling up the straw made the first sip taste even better. I get equally as excited about making Deliciously Ella's banana milkshakes. I've tweaked the recipe a little to suit my taste buds. The result is both really yummy and really healthy. I make sure I have my freezer stocked with sliced ripe bananas. This means I can pull out a bag of frozen banana coins and pop them into my blending jug at any time. I then add in 1 Medjool date, 300ml of almond milk and a tablespoon of almond butter and whiz it all up using my hand bender. Recently, I've been enjoying these at breakfast time as they're so quick and simple to make. I feel like I'm indulging but the ingredients are all so good for you! Of course they taste even better enjoyed in the garden and accessorised with a stripy straw!

Ultimate Holiday Essentials

The endless photos of stunning beaches and Pinterest-worthy hotels on my Instagram feed have got me hankering for another holiday. I'm hoping to snap up a last minute deal for a short break later in the year. Having these ultimate summer essentials to hand makes it easy to throw a weekend bag together.
   Ulimate Holiday Essentials with M&S

My #1 holiday beauty item is sunscreen. My pale skin stays protected and moisturised with Hawaiian Tropic Silk Hydration SPF50, followed up with M&S Sun Smart After Sun*. I don't tan very well at all so if I'm after a sun-kissed glow - I'll fake it. Fake Bake's Amplify Daily Gradual Tan* not only smells amazing, but works to smooth and soften skin before holiday and to boost your tan afterwards.
Philip Kingsley Swimcap* is the ultimate haircare solution. It protects against chlorine, salt water and the sun reducing your chance of post-vacation frizz. I like to pop this on and then braid my hair if I'm lazing by the pool or going for a dip.

For skincare, I like a good exfoliating product and the REN Glycolactic Radiance Renewal Mask* works its magic on your skin to wipe away dead skin cells leaving with healthy, happy looking skin. I'm yet to use the James Read Overnight Tan* mask as I'm waiting for warmer climes. I'm hoping this will give a lovely natural glow, reducing the need for heavy foundation and concealer in the heat.

 I like to keep it simple on holiday when it comes to makeup. A layer of Ultrasun Face* sun protection and lashings of Benefit's Roller Lash are all I reach for during the day. My teeny weeny MAC palette is great for travelling. Omega and Satin Taupe are my shadows of choice if I want something more in the evenings.

Lastly, Primark's travel rollerball perfumes are amazing little space savers. I have Miami Beach Club which is a really summery fruity scent. My nails where I like to splash out the colour when I'm on my hols. Leighton Denny Mini* polishes are super cute. I love the shade I Love Juicy (in the center) - it's a coral/red one coat wonder!

Ultimate Holiday Essentials with M&S Ultimate Holiday Essentials with M&S

When it comes to that one must have item, it's got to be a maxi dress. I'm a convert to the longer length and love how easy they are to style. M&S have a fab range of dresses at the moment. I adore this seventies inspired M&S Indigo Collection Floral Maxi*. It's stunning for evenings when paired with a messy updo. The boho vibes make it ideal for wearing on lazy days too. I paired it with a delicate layered necklace from Orelia and my trusty New Look gold sandals.

Denim shorts are another summer staple for me. They're just so comfy and perfect for exploring in. Add in white pumps and a simple tee and you have an outfit sorted! Another footwear choice is a fairly recent purchase. I never thought sliders would make it anywhere near my feet but I LOVE these white ones from H&M. They're so comfy! Sunnies are a must and this Primark pair are seeing my through summer nicely.

So there you have it. Everything I need for a short break. Have you got any holiday packing tips that I need to know?
M&S kindly sent a beauty box and the maxi dress to review for this post.

A Bookish Request

A Bookish Request

Let's talk about books.

I used to be that person who had 5 books on the go at one time. I was that child who would hide in bedrooms or bathrooms with my nose in a book when I visited other people's houses. And then university came along.

Of course, I studied Literature. The thing is, uni was tough for me. A fear of failure, perfectionism and a never ending course reading list didn't mix well. Since graduating I really haven't read as much as I used to. That is, until now. I'd forgotten what reading for pleasure was and it feels SO GOOD!

In between chapters of 'Elizabeth is Missing' and endless George R R Martin reading sprees, I've been discovering more and more BookTubers too. I've been aware of the BookTube community for a while now but only recently actually sat and watched people's videos. Despite not adding my two cents (just yet) and being a bit of a lurker in the comments section, I feel that I'm part of a conversation about something I love. And that makes me happy.

So I'd love some recommendations. For books, BookTubers, twitter chats, anything book related! 'H is for Hawk' is going to be my next novel to get stuck into - unless you have a brilliant book that you'd like to share with me?

Celebrating the Summer Soltice

The Summer Soltice is finally upon us and what better way to celebrate the longest day of the year than with a picnic! I grabbed my checked blanket and headed for the nearest green space. There's nothing better than enjoying pork pies and sweet treats while the sun is beating down and bees are buzzing nearby.

Waitrose Cellar Summer Soltice Picnic Waitrose Cellar Summer Soltice Picnic

With a little help from Waitrose Cellar, my Mum and I were able to treat ourselves to a bottle of Prosecco. Our morning had been pretty rubbish as we had to have our last bunny rabbit put to sleep - sleep sweet, Poppy. The picnic was the perfect afternoon pick me up. A dash of sparkling wine in the sunshine was just what we needed.

Waitrose Cellar Summer Soltice PicnicWaitrose Cellar Summer Soltice Picnic  This post is in collaboration with Waitrose Cellar, who kindly treated us to the wine and picnic food.

Costa Caleta, Fuerteventura - The Highlights

At the beginning of May, I spent a super-relaxing week on Fuerteventura. The resort of Costa Caleta is a stone's throw from the island's airport and is a central location for exploring both ends of Fuerteventura. Our week was filled with reading, eating and generally lazing about! There was so much more we could have seen but we both fancied a bit of a rest.

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We made the short walk from our hotel to the harbour for lunch most days. The food itself was pretty simple, but the whole area has such a chilled out vibe. It's recently undergone a major redevelopment and now looks modern and calm. One afternoon we watched the fish and crabs for ages before heading along the coastal path.

We'd been promised wild chipmunks but didn't expect the expanse of rock pools we found. It was honestly one of my favourite days as we climbed and clambered over the volcanic rock in an attempt to spy as many tiny fish as we could. After getting our toes wet and being caught out by the waves, we eventually reached the headland with our bag of treats. The chipmunks are so used to visitors that they'll take peanuts from your hand! FYI - they're not so keen on raisins!

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There is a free coach which picks up from a host of hotels all over the island and takes you to Fuerteventura's very own zoo and botanical gardens. The journey from Costa Caleta took just under an hour and we had from 10am until 6pm at Oasis Park. We were worried that we'd end up stranded and be aching to be back by the pool - how wrong we were! We didn't even make it to the botanical gardens as there was so much to see and do. The price of your entrance ticket includes the daily sea lion, parrot and birds of prey shows (the reptiles were having a day off when we visited). We saw the sea lions performance and it was really good but I would highly recommend booking one of the animal experiences.

We went for the camel safari and lemur experience. Both were incredible and I'm so glad we did it! I never imagined I'd be getting up close to month old lemur babies and being jumped on by Gypsy (the brother of Julian, apparently)! Camel fact of the day - travelling down hill is NOT as enjoyable as going up hill!

 I'd love to return to Fuerteventura one day and would love to hear recommendations for places that we missed this time.

Easter Nails

Ever since visiting Poppie at SHE-NAIL I've been obsessed with checking the #nailart tag on Instagram. My nail polishes have been out on the side constantly, instead of hidden away in a drawer. Mum's even requested fancy digits and is currently sporting pastel ombre tips! The nail art bug has bitten hard.

Mini Egg Easter Nail Art

For Easter, I've sweetened my nails with a Mini Egg inspired mani. There's not much nail art going on here, but it's something that I've wanted to try for a while now. I went for a creamy yellow as a base. Ciate's Big Yellow Taxi is a beautiful shade. I've never really worn yellow on my nails before and was so surprised at how it suited my skin tone. I can see myself wearing it A LOT over summer. After two coats, I popped a layer of Ciate's Brocade Parade.

I'm super pleased with how these turned out. They'd look cute with different base colours too. There's only one flaw - I now want to eat ALL the Mini Eggs!

She-Nail Brighton

Nail art is something that I've dabbled with in the past. During my Brighton days, I would fish out my dotting tools as a way of delaying writing my essays. These days I'm certainly less adventurous with my nails. However, I feel this is about to change after meeting ex-WAH Nails girl, Poppie. I was super excited to be invited along to her SHE-NAIL studio in Brighton for a nail makeover!

Daisy Nail Art by Poppie Sharman at She-Nail, Brighton

After browsing through Poppie's amazing nail designs on her Facebook page, I knew I had to go for some adorable daisies. Having pretty nails makes me so happy and I honestly couldn't stop looking at mine! I went for a lilac base but the daisies look stunning on a naked nail too! Negative space nails are a big trend at the moment and they're one of Poppie's current favourites, along with her signature Paisley nails.

SHE-NAIL Studio Poppie Sharman Nail Art

The SHE-NAIL space is situated within the Dental Health Spa on Queen's Road and Poppie has really made it her own. Her polishes are housed in printer's trays and she's decorated with tissue paper tassel garlands. It's such a cute space and the perfect setting for a good old chat and after work treat. It was so lovely to chat to Poppie about her time at WAH Nails, travelling in South America and setting up SHE-NAIL. She's honestly so sweet and I had the best time!

SHE-NAIL Brighton

I'd highly recommend Poppie if you're after some fancy fingertips. There are four levels of nail art available and to celebrate the start of SHE-NAIL you can get anything you like painted for £15. The studio is open Monday – Wednesday evening (6-8pm) by appointment only, with drop ins welcomed Thursday & Friday evening, and Saturday 10-3. SHE-NAIL is at the Dental Health Spa, 14-15 Queen's Road, Brighton. Email or call 07572 383722 to make an appointment.