Monday, 31 December 2018

18 favourites from 2018

18 favourites from 2018
cosy club york at christmas

I thought about writing a monthly breakdown of my year and then realised that a) I was relying on what I posted on Instagram to remind me and b) it wasn’t that exciting. I’ll throw it out there now, 2018 was not my favourite year by a long way (I still think my last great year was 2014, sigh), but it had some good bits. Here are 18 of my favourite things from 2018.

1. I got a new tattoo. I decided that I wanted something to remember my dad by and my earliest memory of him is early one morning I was downstairs ‘helping’ him make his pack up for work and he explained to me that the north star was the shiniest one in the sky. The tattoo I got included the constellation that the north star is in and some of my favourite flowers. I absolutely love it.

2. A good year at work. I passed my probation back in January and this year I’ve spent two days being a peak social media manager with Facebook in London, done my first new business pitches and have spoken at an industry event. It’s been an absolute whirlwind but during the last few months I’ve definitely found a bit more of a work/life balance which I’m happy about.

3. My sister had an ACL reconstruction in her knee. I know it’s weird that this is a highlight as it has been a very difficult few months for her post-op, but I’m happy that she’s finally been able to have the operation and is now well on her way to recovery and I enjoyed looking after her whilst she was off work.

4. Two of my friends from home had babies this year. One is her first and the other is her second, and seeing two people I’ve known since we were kids being incredible mums makes my heart happy.

5. The World Cup. I’m not a football fan usually but this summer had the best vibe as we got far further than we ever expected in the World Cup. The love for Gareth Southgate, the increased sales in waistcoats, the standard response to everything being ‘it’s coming home’ really made summer 2018 one to remember.

6. I went all the way to London one afternoon just to have dinner with Haydy, Hayley and Kariss (and managed to drop by the Natural History Museum whilst I was down there).

7. A magical mystery day in Scarborough with Rachel and Caroline, which ended with the best GBT (garlic bread and tomato) in the world from Florios.

8. I made time for mental health breaks, whether it was a little midweek day off just to switch off or a walk around Roundhay Park.

9. I ate out a lot, which one of my favourite things to do in the world (and a lot of the time it was with my gal Kellie, which is an added bonus).

10. I went to my first festival! My mum took my sister and I to CarFest North as our Christmas present and though it rained a lot, we had a fun day out.

11. I saw Jurassic Park with a live orchestra which is a big tick on my bucketlist.

12. A blogger date day in Leeds where we ate donuts, went to the Christmas markets, visited the Royal Armouries and ate the best food ever from Slap and Pickle.

13. I worked with some incredible brands, with my favourites being Trinity Leeds, Pieminister and more recently Marks and Spencer.

14. I went to see Ed Sheeran, Katy Perry and Michael McIntyre, all of which were incredible nights.

15. There were also a lot of great nights out including two Otley Runs and my first time at Bongo’s Bingo.

16. I went ginger (albeit temporarily). I went full on Weasley back in September and absolutely loved it until I went back to the dark side for Christmas.

17. I spent Christmas, as always, with my mum and sister, we had a really lovely, relaxed time (and ate icecream on the beach on Christmas morning, of course).

18. I ended the year surrounded by the best friends and family a gal could ask for.

I really hope everyone reads this has a happy new year and I want to say a massive thank you to everyone who has read my blog as your support means the world.


Saturday, 29 December 2018

How to get back to healthy habits after Christmas

How to get back to healthy habits after Christmas
christmas dinner flatlay

Twixmas. Chrimbo-limbo. Whatever you want to call that time between Christmas and New Year, there’s no denying that calories aren’t exactly at the forefront of anyone’s mind, are they? If you struggle with leading a healthy lifestyle for the other 51 weeks of the year, not letting the festive period kick you off a cliff into a downward spiral can be tricky. Here are my tips for getting back into healthier habits following the Christmas indulgence.

Don’t try to detox
Detoxing is absolute bullshit. Weightloss pills, laxative teas and juice diets are absolute bullshit and don’t work. At all. (Yes, the people selling them on Instagram are either lying or deluded). If you ‘needed’ to detox from all of the so-called toxins in your body, surely everyone who didn’t do it would be dead by now. But as it happens, we have a liver and two kidneys doing that job 365 days a year.

Do eat your five a day
If your diet has primarily consisted of leftover turkey in sandwiches and snacking on your selection box, the chances are you haven’t been nibbling your way through the fruitbowl. But adding some salad to your plate, reaching for a handful of grapes before reaching for a handful of celebrations isn’t a bad shout – the more you fill up on the healthy stuff, the less space there will be for chocolate, right?

Do a big food shop
When your fridge supplies of leftovers are beginning to dwindle, take the opportunity to refill it with a load of wholesome food that can be easily cooked and snacked on whilst you’re at home. If there’s food there to eat, you’ll be less inclined to order a takeaway or grab something when you’re out.

Socialise - but eat in not out
If you’re having a catch up with your friends and family over new year, why not offer to cook and have everyone over? It puts you in control of what everyone’s eating so you can tailor it to what you fancy, whatever you can cook that is low effort/looks impressive (fajitas is my go-to for this) and how healthy it is too.

Don’t do Veganuary to lose weight
Going vegan in January is a big thing and if you’re giving it a go because you want to save the pigs and chickens or y’know, the planet, fantastic. Good for you, strong effort. But being ‘vegan’ isn’t the same as being ‘healthy’. Of course, you can make a vegan diet incredibly healthy if you research it and try a whole load of new recipes to ensure your diet is balanced (and again, great shout if you do), but don’t automatically assume that vegans just eat vegetables and that will make you healthy. Vegans eat cake too!

Plan your drinks and then your hangovers
Pick your poison carefully and weigh up the pros and cons. Find the balance between the alcohol which will be the fewest calories vs the alcohol that will give you the best hangover. Clear spirits are your low calorie option, especially with diet mixers, but if you know you can do a full night on beer and the next day not feel so rough that you speed-dial Dominos, that’s a plus too. Always have food in which you can eat when you’re both drunk and hungover as it will stop you tapping up Deliveroo in your moment of need.

Go back to normal
It sounds stupid but carry on what you were doing before the festivities rather than trying to make a drastic change to your lifestyle will feel a lot more sustainable. If you went to the gym twice a week, go back to the gym twice a week, not every day. Eat the food you ate before, not a whole new diet.

How are you planning on getting back to normal in January? Let me know in the comments.


Friday, 28 December 2018

Reflecting on my 2018 goals

Reflecting on my 2018 goals
bauble on tree

Every year, I like to write a list of resolutions as, if anything, it makes me feel accountable for what I’d like to achieve. In work terms, it’s like setting my life objectives where halfway through the year I have a review of the first two quarters and then in December, it’s an annual appraisal and re-setting my objectives for the next year. Yep, I need a holiday, don’t I? That being said, having clear goals for the year is really important as otherwise it’s so easy for time to slip by. Addressing it by laying down what you want to achieve then working out why it has or hasn’t happened means you can assess. Change of priorities? Fine. Didn’t invest enough time into the things that make you happy? Not fine, needs to change. See what I mean? Here is how I got on with my 2018 goals.

Do more fun stuff
This is a resolution that seems to have come full circle a bit during 2018 as I feel like I spent a lot of the first half of 2018 going out and then I just seemed to get it out of my system when I realised that weekends are too short to have a two day hangover (the perks of being 26). My version of ‘doing fun stuff’ is now a bit more low key and sober but I’m still happy with that as it means that when I do out ‘out’ out, I enjoy it a lot more. This year I’ve definitely done a lot of fun things like going to concerts, meals out, blogger events but I’ve also done the things I find fun like having weekends of no plans where I read a new book from start to finish. I think I’ve got to the point of having balance between home-y plans and big plans which I’d like to continue into next year.

Improve my living space
Well, I can’t say this has been the most successful as I haven’t exactly done a Grand Designs on my little shoebox of a flat! I have however kept a plant alive for a good month or too so that’s something, right?! My flat definitely feels more like it’s mine now that I have a whole load of prints up on the wall (Desenio and Fy are my go-to, plus IKEA/Wilkos frames), as the canvases that came with my flat were dull af, but other than those, I haven’t made any big changes to my living room/kitchen. My bedroom levelled up when I got those marble tables from Aldi and a lot of decluttering has made the space more aesthetically pleasing too. I’m happy enough with where my flat is as until I can afford a lot of new furniture (LOL), it’s not going to get much better.

Own my style
I think that whilst I’m still feeling the super-casual, safe dressing vibe, I’ve become a bit more ‘you do you’. I’ve taken a couple of baby steps out of my comfort zone, (apparently 2018 was the year I embraced the colour yellow?!) but significant weight gain has left me wanting to blend in a bit. That being said, since I’ve started Slimming World, I’ve felt that confidence I once had creeping back in and there are some style staples I’d like to purchase in the new year. I know where I want to be by this time next year, so I’m looking forward to that!

Share the love more
Kindness goes a long way, as do coffees for homeless people (if you’re on O2 and don’t get the free Caffe Nero hot drink on a Tuesday, trust me, there will be someone in need who wants it). I’m trying to get into better habits of doing little things like sending cards and I still have a blood donation booked for the end of 2018 too so I’m half way there, but as always, the love can always be shared a little further.

Learn more professionally
2018 has been another whirlwind year professionally and from it I’ve taken some great learnings. I’ve spoken at an event, pitched for new business, spent a couple of days with Facebook and worked on some really great client projects. Though it hasn’t been the step up that 2017 was, this year has been the year where I’ve become more comfortable working at a higher level whilst at a fast pace and (bar a few sleepless nights!) I’ve really enjoyed it.

Overall, I wouldn’t say that 2018 has been my best year as it’s been another emotional rollercoaster, and I’m definitely not ending it in a better headspace than when I started, but I’m really excited for everything I want to do and achieve in 2019. I’m not going down the ‘new year, new me’ vibe, but I think the last couple of months have seen positive changes in 2018 and they’re changes I’d like to carry through into the new year too.

How did you get on with your resolutions? Let me know in the comments!


Wednesday, 26 December 2018

A note on remembering what success looks like

A note on remembering what success looks like
corn exchange leeds at Christmas

I freaking love a new year’s resolution. I love that the weird inbetween time that falls in the middle of Christmas and new year where you don’t really know what day it is becomes a reflective period where you look back at the last 12 months and think about what you achieved, what you maybe fell short of achieving and what you want to do next. I think goal setting is great, and whilst I don’t think falling for the advertising that sells the ‘new year, new me’ wonder products should be celebrated, a kick up the arse towards self-improvement definitely should.

It’s at this time of year though that we spend a lot of time catching up, particularly with our peers. Our school friends, friends from our first jobs, friends from home, people who are our age. People who we might not see again until the next reunion in the local pub. And it’s at this time, where we whether we like it or not, find ourselves setting benchmarks of where we should be at in life. It’s where we compare and contrast to the people who we grew up being put against at school. From who was the most popular to who had the best grades and every other childhood comparison inbetween.

But when you’re in your twenties, it’s so important to remember that every single one of you and your friendship groups has gone down a different path. It’s been a long old time since you sat at the back of an A Level maths class wondering why the hell you took such a difficult subject when you could have taken something else (I can confirm that at no point in my fashion degree did I need to use any sort of equation).

Since leaving sixth form, I’ve got a degree, worked my way up to having manager in my job title in a relevant industry, moved to another city and bought a flat. One of my best friends took a year out, got a degree, spent a year in London, traveled the world, came back and has just had a gorgeous baby girl. Another of my friends left school, did an apprenticeship and now has a shitload of qualifications, a job she loves and no student debt. The three of us went to the same school, had the same part time job at Next and now we’re living entirely different lives.

There isn’t a benchmark of where you ‘should’ be in life. There isn’t a time limit, a deadline and most importantly, just because your friend has achieved something you haven’t, doesn’t mean that you’ve failed, it means they have succeeded. And their success has no direct impact on your life. It shouldn’t take away from your successes, nor should it highlight what you haven’t quite achieved.

Success isn’t defined by your job, your home, your income, your relationship status or your material possessions. It’s defined by your happiness. Your version of success isn’t the same as anyone else’s, so this Christmas when you’re sat around a table in the pub you spent your teenage years in, remember that what everyone else is doing isn’t a direct comparison to your life choices. It isn’t a GCSE and you haven’t all taken the same paper to be graded at the end.

Do you fall into the trap of comparing yourself to other people? Let me know in the comments.


Sunday, 23 December 2018

A festive day out in Leeds

A festive day out in Leeds
temple coffee leeds

Leeds has been my home for over four years now and it has changed SO MUCH since I first rocked up aged 22 to start a graduate job in marketing. The city has developed crazy amounts, especially since the opening of the Trinity and Victoria Gate shopping centres, and there is clearly a massive appetite for and appreciation of the independent scene too. Some of my gals came up to Leeds recently so I thought I’d share what we did during our day together.

Haydy, Hayley and Kariss all traveled about a million miles to see me (they live in Essex, Birmingham and London respectively so coming up north is a trek and a half) and Haydy arranged a bit of a ‘date day’ for us. She usually arranges date days for her boyfriend but I got jealous and she arranged one for us girls! Our first stop was a Friday night feast at Pieminister which I wrote about here, followed by a cocktail at Be At One on Boar Lane. After that, we drove back to York for a sleepover at Mummy Legge’s before heading back to Leeds on Saturday morning.

Our first stop was Temple Donuts which is a must-visit for any keen Instagrammer as their donuts look beaut (and taste incredible) and their hot drinks come in a multitude of colours and flavours. We all had a donut, I borrowed Haydy’s coffee for my photo and left with sugar crashes pending.

After Temple Donuts, we headed to the Royal Armouries which is a museum about war and it’s actually located about a 10 minute walk from my flat – though I’d never visited for anything other than a conference. We learnt about how animals are used in war, saw some pretty hefty armour and I’ll admit, a lot of it went over my head. After about an hour or so of wandering round (it’s surprisingly hard to navigate), we headed over to Dock 29 for lunch.

I’m a long time fan of Dock 29 as it’s quirky, reasonably priced and the food is decent. The service can be pretty slow at the bar and if you’re dining as a big group but for four of us, it was the perfect pitstop and chance to do important things like exchange secret santa gifts and charge our phones. By the time we left, it was dark but we managed to get some photos of Leeds dock before heading up to the Christmas markets.

christmas markets leeds

Once we got to the markets, we quickly found a place inside one of the huts to have a drink (I won’t lie, I was outraged that a can of diet coke was £2.50), and just chill out in the warm. Leeds got rid of the big beer tent a couple of years ago and replaced it with a tipi, but as it tends to be pretty difficult to get a seat in there, heading to the huts that have table service is the easier option.

Out last stop of the day was Assembly Underground which is a new street food and independent collective. It’s located quite literally underground, and located on Great George’s Street (just up from Almost Famous). We went along to try the food from Slap and Pickle who recently did a pop up in Trinity Kitchen in Leeds and they invited us down to see them at Assembly Underground too. Considering that it was their first weekend of being open, it was absolutely rammed – it turns out everyone in Leeds must have heard about Assembly Underground opening.

slap and pickle assembly underground leeds

Zoe and James from Slap and Pickle sorted us out with some food to try (thanks guys!) and it was very much a case of ‘go big or go home’ when they brought over a quadruple stack burger and the biggest tray of dirty fries. They actually cut their fries into a curved shape specifically so they’re good for scooping up the toppings! Needless to say, it was incredible – whilst it may be ‘fast’ food in that you go to a vendor and have your meal pretty quickly, there is no compromise on quality. The burger was meaty and tender and the fries were fresh and crispy. This is the kind of food you need when you’ve already had a few drinks at the Christmas market and you want to just sit down somewhere that’s warm, cosy, has a shitload of craft ales on tap and have something delicious. Having a load of independents in one place is great as you can support local businesses, know you’re going to get a high quality product and the prices are pretty reasonable too. Assembly Underground is like Trinity Kitchen for grownups and I love it.

Our Leeds date day was the most fun day out and it felt like proper ‘quality time’ together as we had a full day of catching up, heart to hearts and cry laughing – I honestly couldn’t have asked for anything more.

What do you think of our date day? Are you inspired to have a day filled with donuts and burgers with your besties? Let me know in the comments.


Saturday, 22 December 2018

Beating the Christmas burn out

Beating the Christmas burn out
leeds energy centre

This year, the struggle has been freaking real. Usually when it comes to Christmas, I see it as a well earned break that I’m ready for, but this year, it’s been something I have needed more than words can describe. I haven’t been on holiday this year which means I haven’t taken any blocks of annual leave since February 2017. I worked out that I haven’t had more than five consecutive days off work in 22 months.

We live in a society where being super busy 100% of the time is like a badge of honour, whereas actually, all it does is eventually drive you into the ground. You can only do it for so long. All the endless mid week plans, weekend plans, nights out, subsequent hangovers and the Sunday afternoons finishing work when there wasn’t enough hours in the working day – it can’t go on forever. A fast-paced world may never be boring but it does get to the point where something has to give if you don’t give yourself a break.

I know that in part, it’s my own fault. I’ve worked in jobs where I’ve left at the end of the day and not thought any more about it until I’ve gone in the next morning, and I chose to leave that behind for agency life, which for the most part, I love. I choose to fill my weekends with plans with friends. I choose to go out on the odd Friday night, lose my Saturday to a hangover and cram in all my life shit into a Sunday. Hell, even when I plan in ‘mental health’ weekends where I make no plans whatsoever, they’re the busiest of them all when it’s the first time in a month I’ve had chance to get on top of life admin.

But going back to today, as I write this from my sofa having spent most of the morning reverting to a childlike state of refusing to get out of bed and listening to a Harry Potter audio book, the Christmas burn out is real. It’s not just when you run on empty throughout the December parties, deadlines and festivities then get a rewarded with a cold (though I’m just seeing mine off and it’s been a week of endorsing Sudafed’s nasal spray to anyone who will listen as it’s an absolute game changer), it’s like running into a brick wall and having the adrenalin knocked out of you.

This year has been the ‘lesson learned’ year as fuck me, I didn’t think I could feel this bad for just taking a break. Never again will I go so long without taking proper time off. Never again will I slam on the breaks rather than slow down. This year has been a pretty intense emotional rollercoaster that has seen the highest of highs and lowest of lows, and my stress levels have peaked (primarily at 3am which is an absolute delight, let me tell you), but it’s been a year where shit has sorted itself out in the end. And now the end is here and whilst my head is saying happy days, my body is saying fuck off its nap time.

But how will I be beating the Christmas burn out? By listening to my body. By spending a day or two being antisocial af. By watching Christmas films from my sofa and listening to Harry Potter from my bed. By forcing myself to eat something that vaguely resembles nutrition and not resorting to ordering a takeaway. By spending my nights sipping a Lemsip rather than a G&T. Hell, I might even go wild and go for a walk tomorrow, who knows.

Are you struggling with the Christmas burn out this year? Let me know how you’re curing yourself in the comments!


The perks of being single at Christmas

The perks of being single at Christmas
Christmas tree city square Leeds

There's no denying that Christmas can make you feel single as fuck as it’s the season of cosy nights in, engagement announcements, being asked by friends and family if you’re seeing anyone and cute photos all over Instagram of being snuggled up around the fire. And the thing is, I genuinely love seeing my nearest and dearest being loved up as they’re all lovely people and really deserve that happiness. And yet there’s no way of writing that without sounding sarcastic when I am actually being sincere! But as a gal who is set to be single again over the festive period, here’s a gentle reminder that it’s not the end of the world to receive a standard Christmas card, not a couples one. Here’s why riding solo isn’t so bad after all.

·   Straight up, it’s cheaper. I mean, obviously, as you’re not spending money on presents for them or their families, but you’re also not spending money on driving too and from two sets of family occasions or going to their social events as well as your own throughout the festive period either.

·   This also means that if you want to lose an entire weekend to a post-party hangover, you only have your own plans to consider.

·   If you end up under the mistletoe at your work’s do, it’s (obviously) far less scandalous when you’re single – assuming the other person is too. So y’know, it isn’t a worst case scenario.

·   There are fewer people to argue with. I know that I’m an argumentative little bitch when I have to spend a lot of time cooped up with other people (I’m a joy to be around, clearly), and my family know when to leave me alone, but when it’s someone else’s family? You have to be a fucking delight 100% of the time, and that’s pretty hard work however much you might love your significant other’s family.

·   You revert back to childhood roles. Everyone does this when they’re home for Christmas and without a partner, you can bicker with your siblings to your hearts content and there’s nobody there to judge you.

·   Your Netflix account can be full of recommended Netflix original Christmas films with nobody else’s viewing messing it up.

·   Nobody expects you to host Christmas by yourself. What could be better than turning up at your mum’s with a bottle of prosecco and knowing that your only tasks will be laying the table and washing up. (This makes me sound like the laziest fucker in the world but my mum is not a woman you want to cross in a kitchen – I can’t imagine where I get my control freak tendencies from…).

So, if you're single this Christmas, 2018 is the year to embrace it. Remind yourself that you're strong and independent rather than alone and unattached. Make plans with your friends, go out in groups big enough that having a few couples there won't make you feel like a third wheel and embrace having alone time that allows you to do exactly what you want. And if you're in a relationship? Remember that compromise is key, list out the things you want to do both together and with your families and friends. Either way, get things planned in advance rather than rolling with the times so you can really enjoy the season with your loved ones.


Friday, 21 December 2018

Christmas parties done right with M&S

Marks and Spencer food hall Leeds
Marks and Spencer food hall Leeds

You know when something amazing happens and you have a pinch me moment? That was me when I got an invite to an event with MARKS AND BLOODY SPENCER!! Honestly, once I’d picked my jaw up off the floor that little old me was invited to spend an evening with the crowning jewel of the British highstreet, I couldn’t have RSVP-ed fast enough.

Marks and Spencer are one of my favourite brands. I love their clothes, I love their food, I love their gifts, I love their customer service and most importantly, I love their tights. I still remember the day I drunkenly took a tumble and cared more about ripping my new M&S tights than I did my bleeding knees (I have my priorities, OK?). But anyway. This Christmas, Marks and Spencer has a campaign called #MyMarksFave which is all about getting people sharing their favourite festive product from M&S and they invited myself and some other bloggers to their Leeds store to try the range so we could pick our own.

Marks and Spencer food hall Leeds

My god, I have never eaten so much party food in my life – I was living the absolute dream. The team at M&S talked us through the entire range, from the snacks you’d cook and serve at a party to foodie gifts and their range of alcoholic beverages too. It turns out that all M&S party food can be cooked at the same temperature which absolutely blew my mind as I’d never even thought about it before.

My favourites of the hot foods were the thai fishcakes, duck spring rolls, lobster mac and cheese (so rich, but so good!) mini beef wellingtons, mozzarella wrapped in bacon, and the little Yorkshire puddings with beef inside. They were all delicious and you can just tell that they’re high quality. We also tried an incredible vegan option which is actually a main meal – the festive parsnip and mulled red onion roast which comes with bulgar wheat, mushrooms and cranberries. It was so Christmassy as it had a similar texture to stuffing, but it was one of those meals where you’d never think to yourself that you’re opting for a ‘vegan option’ and missing out.

Marks and Spencer food hall Leeds

There are a lot of sweet treats too, including of course, festive Percy Pigs! I also loved the crispy cinnamon tortilla wraps that were chocolate coated – they’re like sweet crisps and the kind of thing I think I’d like as a snack for driving home for Christmas. (Note to self, buy some for my drive home for Christmas!). I also really enjoyed the luxury chocolates, including the milk chocolate truffles which were dreamy. Like, we’re talking next level dreamy, better than red Lindor dreamy. Yep.

Marks and Spencer food hall Leeds

When it comes to alcohol, M&S have a range of pre-mixed Christmassy cocktails, but I was personally a fan of their own-brand Christmas gin with Fevertree Clementine tonic. It was the perfect Christmassy drink that I can’t wait to recreate at home. Their prosecco is also delicious and very reasonably priced, so it’s definitely worth popping by to pick up some Christmas fizz.

Marks and Spencer food hall Leeds

At the end of the tasting session, we were allowed to choose five products which were our #MyMarksFave choices. I went for their Christmas gin, a bottle of their prosecco, some champagne truffles (I was drawn in by the beautiful ceramic pot they come in), a luxury chocolate selection and their Mixologist Box of chocolates which are all cocktail flavoured. So as you can tell, my tastes are very much with alcohol and chocolate treats!

Marks and Spencer food hall Leeds

Marks and Spencer food hall Leeds

Thank you so much for having me M&S, I absolutely loved trying the range!

What is your favourite Marks and Spencer product this Christmas? Let me know in the comments!


Thursday, 20 December 2018

Christmas with Yurt Bar

Yurt bar christmas party leeds
Yurt bar christmas party leeds

Christmas is a time for parties, dinners and winter vibes so when I was invited to one of Yurt Bar's Christmas parties at Moor Allerton Golf Club, I knew it was going to tick every single box. The lovely MacComms team hosted us for the next as we had a three course dinner in one of the three yurts they had set up. 

It's was pretty much a winter wonderland. We're talking chalet feels with a lot of faux fur throws, checked table clothes and log burners - it hit every aesthetic you'd associate with being on a skiing holiday in the alps. Groups can buy tickets, book out tables for the night, or hire the whole thing, so it's perfect for a Christmas party of any size. The dress code was festive with ski-wear optional but there was a definite mix in attire, from full on party looks to jeans and Christmas jumpers. I was pretty pleased with my smart/casual look of a checked skirt and black off the shoulder body.

Yurt bar christmas party leeds

Guests are greeted with a Slingsby G&T on arrival then can purchase additional drinks from the bar throughout the night. We arrived at 7pm and after an hour or so of mingling, we took our seats for dinner and our starters arrived. The starter was a sharer for the table comprising of breads, cheese, pate and hummus. We all had a bit to nibble though between a full table, we cleared the plates and commented that we could have eaten it all again. Luckily our mains arrived promptly - bourguignon of beef with mash and veg. The main was absolutely delicious with the meat absolutely falling apart - it was so flavorsome and tender. After the mains, which was an incredibly filling course, we had a sharer dessert of festive pastries, served on a large board filled with foliage and fairy lights. It tasted as good as it looked too and was the perfect sweet treat to end the meal.

Yurt bar christmas party leeds

As we all had a bit of a distance to travel to get home, we left around 10pm but it seemed that the party was well and truly starting as the dance floor was full and there was a queue for the photobooth. The location meant that it was about 20 minutes drive from central Leeds and it was very much in the middle of the countryside between Leeds and Harrogate, though that means for a work party, travel can be booked for everyone and it stops groups disappearing off into town too, which is something that happens a lot when a do is in the city centre.

Overall, I really enjoyed the night, though it was raining heavily when we were there and a leak in the yurt did mean that the floor near where we were sat was wet, which in turn soaked our bags. It wasn't ideal but it put a bit of a (literal) dampener on the evening! Despite that, I'd really recommend if you're looking at booking your work party for 2019, checking these guys out - for a full evening, it's well worth the price per person. It’s also a really fun alternative to going for a meal in town or hiring an events space, especially if you’re a smaller business as it gives you chance to mingle with other people. The food was great, the atmosphere was fun and it’s a beautiful place to celebrate Christmas, what more could you want?


Thursday, 13 December 2018

Vue Cinema - Leeds

Vue cinema the light leeds
Vue cinema the light leeds

Going to the cinema seems to be an occasion rather than a hobby for me at the moment and after being invited to review Vue in The Light, Leeds, it’s given me a bit of a kick to try and change that. I’m definitely that person who will sit through the trailers of a film (I have to be on time for things and that means I’ll be there watching them all as the cinema slowly fills up) and say ‘yep, I want to see this, this and this’, but I never get round to it.

Really, I don’t have an excuse. I will happily take myself off on a little date night for one, just like I did when I went to see Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald and I need to do it more. In fact, I take myself on dates which are better than the ones I’ve been taken on by most other people. A nice dinner at Pizza Express (hello O2 Priority and your £5 mains offer) followed by a trip to the cinema where nobody is sat next to me trying to rob my snacks. You know who is the worst for this? My mum. She says she doesn’t want her own drink or sweets and three minutes into the film there’s a nudge in the ribs demanding sharesies. But I digress…

Vue cinema the light leeds

I work in central Leeds and Vue is a mere 15 minute walk from my office. As the entertainment venue has about a million screens (and by that I mean, 14 screens), when a film has just come out, there are showings literally all the time and that means that popping to Vue after work rather than the pub is definitely something I should be doing more often. All of the screens are ultra HD and the seats are super-comfy too. If you’re feeling fancy, there are VIP seats too which recline – perfect if you’re going to see something you’ve been looking forward to for ages (this was me when I went to see Jurassic World, The Fallen Kingdom earlier this year!). Though the site has been there for years now, you can tell that it’s had a lot of TLC as it feels new. The sound quality is incredible and it means that big scenes feel really intense – so much better than waiting for a film to come out and watching it online later.

Vue cinema the light leeds

It’s also cheap. Though my ticket was complimentary as part of the review, it’s £4.99 for a standard ticket AND if you have Meerkat Movies, two of you can go to Vue for less than a fiver on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. You won’t be able to get a date night that cheap anywhere else! Especially given that the only other cinema in Leeds city centre requires you to take out a mortgage to buy a ticket because it’s that expensive. When it’s just a fiver all week, it makes it great for family outings that won’t break the bank. If you’re not feeling a new release, there’s plenty going on with live theatre and musical events, classic film screenings and plenty of Christmas movies in December too!

As I don’t have kids, my main priority when saving dollar’ on a ticket if having money left over for a Tango Ice Blast. Vue has all the snacks you could want (sweets, chocolate, popcorn, every flavour of Ben and Jerrys under the sun) but nothing compares to a blue raspberry Tango ice blast when you’re in the cinema. If you’re on Slimming World like me, a dynamite cup (the biggest one) is only 5 syns and personally, I’d rather have that than sweets in a film.

I’m so pleased that Vue invited me to review the entertainment venue as it’s really rekindled my love of going to the cinema. I love picking my seat (so that it’s the furthest away from anyone else), grabbing some refreshments and watching a film or live event on the big screen to switch off for a couple of hours. It’s a break from social media, from WhatsApp messages and work, and it forces you to concentrate on the film without distraction which is something I really enjoy.

Have you visited Vue recently? What did you go see? Let me know in the comments.

Tuesday, 11 December 2018

Making a homemade hamper – budget Christmas gift idea

Making a homemade hamper – budget Christmas gift idea
Making a homemade hamper – budget Christmas gift idea

I absolutely love buying Christmas gifts at this time of year but it’s always tricky to find something for everyone without absolutely destroying your bank balance to the point of no repair. Saving dollar where you can is important, especially as January is a long, lonely month when you get paid early in December and your wages do a magic trick where they turn into mulled wine which is £5 a mug at the Christmas markets.

I love the idea of doing something really personal when buying presents for your nearest and dearest, so creating a hamper is perfect for that. My mum has actually done this for me and my sister and it’s honestly my favourite gift. Here’s a list of the things you could include – which most importantly, you can pick up on offer in most supermarkets!

1. Tea and coffee – Yorkshire Tea will always go down a treat
2. Fancy biscuits – Sainsburys Taste the Difference quadruple chocolate biscuits are the absolute one
3. A reusable coffee cup, for a more environmentally friendly 2019
4. A reusable water bottle, as above!
5. A new book for them to read on Boxing day / voucher for a book download on Kindle
6. New bedding – preferably already washed and ironed (my mum does this, it’s the best gift in the world)
7. A scented candle – Aldi’s knock off Jo Malone ones are the dream for this
8. A new fragrance – check offer sites as a lot of them have great deals on at Christmas. My sister’s favourite which is Vera Wang Princess seems to be permanently discounted which I love.
9. Toiletries – give a gal the right shampoo, conditioner and shower gel and you’re starting her day off right for a week or two
10. Socks – you come to an age where socks are one of the best things to receive at Christmas and I can confirm that it’s any time from 25 upwards
11. A photo printed and framed of you with them
12. Gloves – the cheap, black touch-screen gloves from TU at Sainsburys are the only ones I wear.

It’s all pretty basic stuff but it will bring joy well into 2019. It’s the kind of gift that is practical, filled with some bits which you’d normally buy yourself and some treats too. Plus if you wrap it all up nicely in a cheap basket or box, it’s more impressive than any other gifts!

What would you love to find under the tree this Christmas? Let me know in the comments!

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