SLIDER

Christmas in October?!

10/31/16

In retail, time waits for no one...Metquarter, the leading high end, luxury shopping centre in Liverpool and Carousel PR teamed up to organise a superb Christmas event. Yes, I just dropped the C bomb at the end of October. I absolutely love the Metquarter and would recommend anyone visit when in Liverpool - it is the perfect place for some TLC and for shopaholics. They have an Illamasqua, MAC, House of CB, Links London as well as restaurants and even more of the best big and independent brands out there. I was greeted with a glass of prosecco (2pm in between university lectures yolo) and canapés from Carluccios before I had the chance to wander around the different Christmas inspired displays from some of Metquarter's finest brands. 

A gorgeous interior display by Made.com...a homeware brand of which I attended their launch a while ago (read here)... as well as pieces from the gallery, Wall to Wall...


New products perfect for Christmas by GHD from Metquarter's very own Sasoon salon... they sell nail polish at GHD now!


Perfect party shoes from L.K. Bennett...


Poppin' and perfectly pigmented highlighters from Illamasqua...

The perfect Christmas party dresses by L.K. Bennett...

A stunning new lip range from MAC...the perfect stocking filler for any beautyholic this Christmas...


Canapés rom Carluccios & macarons by Patisserie Valerie... (who also do Christmas hampers for any foodies out there...)


The stunning new nutcracker range from MAC, now available in store and online, with THEE most beautiful packaging... and a big thanks to one of the MAC girls who gave me the most insane smokey eye makeover (which sadly I did not capture well enough on my phone).


And sparkly jewels from Olivia Divine to boot...

I was SO impressed with all current ranges in the Metquarter, they've got everything covered whether you need a gift for your best friend, mum, dad or loved one...I'll be back soon for sure!

A Spain Vlog

10/28/16


Looking out the window at a very grey and wet Liverpool, I'm dreaming of sunnier days back in Madrid. Daydreaming aside, I did forget to share my finished vlog from my travels! I edited and edited, tried a zillion songs that just didn't fit, uploaded it, wasn't happy, edited some more and a friend helped me pick the final tracks for the video and finally, I think they might just work perfectly. Enjoy and remember to watch it in HD!


The Film Club #5

10/22/16

Hey film fans! I haven't written about my favourite films in ages and i've realised I should probably mention when there are films I haven't liked so much. So, i've decided to talk about them all - the good, the bad and the not worth wasting a cinema ticket on. Here are my recent favourites and not so favourite...


The Girl On The Train

As it was 2 for 1 Tuesday, we made the whole 1 minute walk to our next door local cinema FACT to finally see The Girl On The Train. I've been so excited to see this after finishing the book in 2 days over my summer holidays - quite impressive for someone that normally takes months to a year. There's good and bad press about both the book and film - saying the book was too easy to read, nothing new, similar to Gone Girl (which yes it does have similar themes to) etc. Others saying the film didn't match up to the book. First of all, I loved the book - it had me wanting to not go to sleep and wanting to get up and read it asap the next day, the story had me on the edge right till the end, guessing and questioning the outcome. As for the film, of course, everything was less of a surprise since I knew the whole story already but I still enjoyed seeing it all happen in front of me, seeing the characters i'd read about come to life and in my opinion, they matched up perfectly as I imagined when reading the story. 

In short, the story tells the tale of Rachel (played pretty well by Emily Blunt) a sad, clearly mentally unstable, alcoholic who rides a train to work everyday and watches people from the train...bit creepy, yes. Quite a simple narrative initially, until she sees something one day that somehow changes everything in her life. There's a lot of switching back and forth from different times as well as different characters pov...which my friend pointed out was probably to demonstrate the confused/lost/drunken state of mind of Rachel and her scattered memory caused by blackouts. All in all, I enjoyed both, the book more because I had no idea what was coming, the film a little less because there were some o.t.t/romanticised scenes that weren't entirely necessary. I thought the filming style was a bit ugly and could have been a lot better!

7/10


Sausage Party


Me and my flatmate decided to watch this one evening - with the colder evenings i'd much rather stay in and watch a movie than go out! The only way I can describe Sausage Party is that it's a stoner movie. I can imagine Seth Rogen, James Franco and the others sitting around smoking and one of them suddenly coming up with an idea for film - like "shit guys, you know what would make a good movie? A movie about talking food, food that have feelings like humans". It's as random and as strange as it sounds. It's not for children either and is probably one of the rudest cartoons i've seen. Despite all the silliness, i'm sure there was some deep meaning behind it all...like do humans consume too much? Or do sausages really have feelings? Hmm...

5/10
War on Everyone

Oh dear god, where do I start? Well first of all, this was the free movie of the month at FACT, luckily, otherwise I would have probably *attempted* to ask for my money back. What a shambles. I can confirm that a few people even walked out of the cinema - which I haven't seen in a while. I have no idea what the director was aiming for here but it was a mess. The characters, the dialogue, the worst puns and jokes ever, pointless violence, pointless sex scenes, a story with no plot, the weirdest shemale actor i've ever seen...I don't, can't even...ugh...just think of the worst film you've ever seen and then realise that this is probably worse.

0/10

Wanderlust
I think that if you're not up for watching a heavy movie and would prefer to watch a light-hearted, fun comedy then Wanderlust is the ideal choice! Keep your expectations low and you'll be pretty happy with this movie. Paul Rudd and Jennifer Aniston make the perfect on screen rom com couple, i'd definitely like to see more comedies with them in it! The story is about George and Linda who are a stressed couple from Manhattan. George is made redundant and they decide to move to his brothers in Atlanta - who I would honestly disown if he was my brother - on the way to Atlanta they stumble upon Elysium, an idyllic community populated by a bunch of hippies who embrace a different way of looking at things. Money? Careers? Clothes? Doesn't matter there! Fair to say it's nothing new, and it's all pretty predictable, but it's a good laugh and will be the ideal pick-me-up.

6/10

Bicycle Thieves

I studied this film as part of my module about realism in cinema this semester and I loved every minute of it. Bicycle Thieves (or Ladri di biciclette in italiano) directed by Vittoria de Sica is about the unemployed Antonio who finally finds a job hanging posters around Rome - in order to have this job he must own a bicycle. Disaster strikes when Antonio's bicycle is expectedly stolen on his first day and he roams the streets with his son Bruno to find it. It's a heart-warming, sad story that focuses on the relationship between father and son and the larger framework of poverty and unemployment in postwar Italy. The movie follows the classic neorealist style ie. a simple story about the lives of everyday people, outdoor shooting and lighting and professional actors mixed with non pro actors - somehow this simple narrative of finding the bicycle manages to keep you entertained for 1 hour and half with little life lessons along the way.

9/10

War Dogs

Neither bad nor great, War Dogs sits somewhere in the middle. The narrative was a little bit, 'been there done' that, however I still enjoyed it and I think the duo worked well together. The genre is hard to pinpoint because it incorporates a lot of different elements such as crime, comedy and action thus this would make it appear to a wider audience range. Based on a true story, the film is about Efraim Diveroli and his childhood friend David Packouz who is offered a chance to make big money by becoming an international arms dealer. The duo exploit a government initiative that allows businesses to bid on US military contracts. In the beginning they are able to live the high life, enjoying the fruits of their labor however things get a bit darker and more dangerous when they land a deal with an Afghan supply force...if this tempts you then give it a watch!

6/10



Westworld -  TV series

Ok so this may not be classed as a film but I thought i'd include it anyway, because i'm obsessed. The series is in fact based on the 1970 Yul Brynner classic and has been re-adapted ft. a star studded line up including Anthony Hopkins, Thandie Newton and James Marsden. I'm 3 episodes in and already hooked! If you're looking to fill that GOT/Breaking Bad/*insert finished series here* gap in your heart then look noooo further! Amazing set design, costumes, action, narrative and plenty to keep you waiting till the next episode. I'm currently awaiting Sunday's new episode after last weeks cliffhanger.

9/10 

Autumn in The 70's

10/21/16




Coat: Primark | Jumper: a random shop in Berlin | Bag: vintage | Earrings: H&M | Skirt: Lidl

Photos by Xie Qin Gru

Ok, so more like Autumn in the 2016's? But hey, 70's has a better ring to it, especially when i'm wearing this little suede A-line number that just ooooozes 70's vibes. And who wouldn't love to go back to the days of flares and Fleetwood Mac? Yes please. And nope, your eyes do not deceive you, I did actually buy the skirt from Lidl! That's the only problem with taking me food shopping with you, ey Mom! I got it back home in France for about 5 €...whaaat a find.

I spotted another girl holding this coat in Primark and I literally darted across the store like a ninja to find it for myself... it's perfect for Autumn: long, cosy and ideal for jazzing up a simple outfit like this one or with jeans and a breton tee. Turtle necks are another absolute staple...and even more 70's esque, mine tied in well with my black Con's and the black on the coat too. I'm not quite sure what inspired this look - a mixture of That 70's Show, Alexa Chung (dare I say it) and whatever mood I was feeling when I put it together.

Travel | Au pairing & Hostel life

10/16/16

It's been 4 months since I left to be an au pair in Spain but I decided it would be worthwhile talking about my experience as an au pair, with some pointers and tips for those that want to try it themselves. Further on i've wrote about my week solo travelling and my experience staying in hostels... I hope you find some of this information useful!

- Madrid -
Tips from my experience as an au pair

So, the basics: back in February this year I decided to apply to be an au pair through Au pairs in Spain - the process all went pretty smoothly and I would recommend the agency - it was straightforward with just some forms to be signed, letters to be written and so on. I was offered a family who were interested in me, made a Skype call and knew instantly they were the perfect family to go with. 2nd year of university finished and I flew over to Madrid in June and stayed till mid August. 

I was very lucky because I got on so well with my family, didn't have any major difficulties with the children and I was overall very happy. I'd heard some stories from other au pairs I met there, and read about online, that had experiences not so good but I think this really depends on you and your family. It was my first time doing this but I think it's possible for anyone to try, child experience or not. I was accommodated, fed and paid as an au pair and stayed with a Spanish family with two kids - boy and girl.

Me and some of the lovely au pairs I met in Madrid!

My tips & advice:

- Find other au pairs on Facebook/through your agency before going. I created a group chat and the majority I spoke to, I ended up meeting irl when I arrived. It was a great way to establish who was going, for how long, if they were living nearby and to organise meet ups.

- Choose your family well. Where do they live? Near the centre? Countryside? Do they speak any English at all? How many children? How old are the children? I didn't think toooo deeply into all these things but they are important factors to consider - if you get along better with girls/boys, a certain age etc. I decided a balance of a boy and a girl would be ideal, they were aged 9 and 5, and they were adorable!

- Make sure your family is the right one for you. I had a gut instinct that I'd found a great family but if you feel uncertain, maybe Skype them a few times before going to make sure they're the right match.

- Patience, things take time and keep as busy as possible to avoid homesickness! I was lucky in that, I didn't feel sad, homesick or dislike my family so settling in was easy. The initial meeting for the first time was nerve-wracking but that disappeared very quickly and I was happy to be there.

- Go to au pair meetings and network. If you go with an agency, like mine, they will organise meetings for you. I went to the first one during my stay and met loads of other au pair girls. It gave me helpful info about the next 2 months ahead of me and I made some new contacts to hang out with during my stay.

- Find fun ways to teach the kids English. Board games, word games, films with subtitles. Cycling/swimming/arts & crafts/toys - are all winners.

- Use your free time wisely. I worked Mon-Fri 9am-3pm and the rest of the time was my own (and some nights I babysitted). The family offered me to hang out with them or do my own thing. Looking back I think I made the best use of my time and saw every inch of Madrid I wanted to see, as well as in the surrounding cities like Toledo and Avila. You can go out during the week but don't be tired or hungover, the kids have a lot of energy so be prepared! Go out on weekends, see as much as possible but also spend time with your family in your spare time too. You are with them for a long time and it's important to build a good relationship with them - and don't just spend time with the kids in your working hours.

- Skype home occasionally. See as many places as possible. Take photos. Enjoy living life like a kid again. Ice breaker: buy the kids some toys from the UK. Have patience and if all else fails play hide and seek because it makes everyone laugh. Help around the house. Don't pack jackets when it will be 37c in Madrid. Learn Spanish. Enjoy it.


Overall, I had the best time, with a few ups and downs which is only natural. My family made me feel at home and included me in their life. They would even ask if I wanted anything I like from the supermarket, they didn't make me feel like a part-time worker, but a member of the family, were helpful, welcoming and made the BEST food. Make sure your family ticks those boxes too, although it is not totally necessary that they buy you avocados on their food shop - but it's a bonus.

- Valencia -
Travelling solo, getting lost, getting burnt & partying on a 'party bus'...

On my last day as an au pair (so many tears) I got the bus (would recommend Alza & Avanza) from Madrid to Valencia. With the money I earnt and saved from working I had enough to do some travelling. Other au pairs I met had longer contracts/had already left etc. so I decided to go it alone. I knew it wasn't forever so if it was horrible then I knew I could cope!

Where I stayed: the River Hostel in Valencia - cheap, good location, modern, helpful, ideal for backpackers and students, breakfast was £3 and there were lockers in the bedrooms. There were communal showers and bathrooms and I shared with 6 other girls. Now, I know for most, and for me, the first thing to cross my mind was, will I have to sleep with my phone under my pillow each night?! Are hostels thatttt safe? I think this all depends on the place - look at reviews on the hostel first, decide on how many you will share with in a room, mixed or same gendered etc., use the provided lockers and you will be fine!

The good thing about hostels is that it's really relaxed so if you want some time to yourself then do that or if you want to socialise then you can talk to literally anyone. If you're shy, this could definitely help with your confidence by chatting with strangers and if it's awkward, just talk to someone else! There is always someone nice with an interesting story to tell. Hostels are really friendly places and there are a lot of other people backpacking alone. Another thing to remember is that, people are coming and going all the time. For example, I met some nice New Zealanders who I had paella with on my first night, they left the next day and then I went on to meet more new people. 

Honestly, the day I left and the first full day in Valencia, I was feeling homesick - for Madrid! I felt all of a sudden anxious because I didn't have a family that were looking after me anymore, but I got my adult on and tried to get on with it! I had no desire in Valencia to do anything touristy, I was tired and maybe just emotionally exhausted (lol) so I just decided to spend a day on the beach - the best decision I made. Except I forgot my sunscreen and turned pink - moving on...

I got lost my first evening walking round Valencia - luckily kind taxi drivers exist, who drove me to my hostel for free, I didn't have enough change on me, turns out I'd walked past my hostel by about a minute - but I would recommend saving numbers of your hostel, people you've just met, your hostel address, don't stay out till late alone, bring change on you always - the kind of things I should have known before going. I was so relieved to re-find my hostel, I went straight to the bar and chatted to the first people I saw...personally, I don't like being alone too long!

People are so helpful therefore don't be afraid to ask - a kind South African girl offered me a gel compressant for my sore back (am I even 21) and I gave her a mini tour guide about Madrid, the next destination of her travels. Two Dutch girls gave me aftersun when they saw how burnt I was and it reminded me that people can be so friendly. The final night I decided to join a pub crawl organised through my hostel - 20 euros for a 'party bus' (as tacky as it sounds), a tour round 3-4 night clubs on the beach and shots (sorry mom) in each night club. It was such a fun way to meet people and I ended up hanging with a group of 20+ girls from an Australian football team who were so fun, friendly and up for a good time.

 All in all, my first few nights travelling alone weren't so scary after all!



- Barcelona -
 Hostel life continued, seeing the Sagrada, partying on the beach & navigating the city

I got a bus from Valencia to Barelcona early in the morning and booked 2 days there. 

Where I stayed: the 360 hostel - great place to stay right in the centre, reasonably priced, communal kitchen and showers, private lockers in rooms and social nights organised by the hostel. They also sent me my phone which I left in my room the day I left (yes I am that stupid sometimes) - so a big thanks to them! This time I shared with 1 other person, a lovely woman from Turkey who again, was so friendly, helpful and kind. There was a slight language barrier but we managed. I know for some it may seem odd to share with a complete stranger - and I don't know if I trust people too easily but there really wasn't anything to worry about and I felt very comfortable and safe. She also offered me a light shirt for my ongoing sunburn, bless her...yes I was pretty burnt btw.

My first day I explored Park Guëll and the Sagrada familia - note: book in advance! I did both of these alone and was very happy to. I met another au pair I found on Facebook and spent some time with her - it felt good to speak to someone, and in French which helped me refresh my language skills. The first night my hostel put on a free tapas night - delicious and a great way to socialise with other travellers. Barcelona wasn't the easiest to navigate mainly because I'd got to know Madrid so well, therefore getting to know another big city was tricky. But don't feel afraid to bombard your hostel with questions and ask for advice - that's what they're there for! Mine gave me maps, directions, recommendations and were always there to help.

My final day I went out in hope of seeing the famous market la Boqueria but sadly it was closed (holidays in Spain) so I made a quick decision to not waste my day and bought an open top bus ticket. It was the ideal way to see the city. Barcelona is huuuge so this allowed me to see all of it and parts I would never have known about such as the Port Vella and the gothic area. The last night I decided to go on a night out on Playa de la Barceloneta - where I joined an au pair I met in Madrid. The nightlife is crazy, with clubs on the beach, people laying on the beach till sunrise and just a great atmosphere. 

The final night, my hostel organised a paella night which was again amazing, and allowed me to speak to other travellers from Brazil to Chile and my homeland UK. 


I discovered a beautiful rooftop bar on top of a hotel in Barcelona called the Yurbban terrace - which was open to anyone, with amazing views, a small pool and served amazing cocktails. Currently deciding when to go back...


My time in Barcelona wasn't perfect but it was lovely and an important learning curve for myself. I'm not the most independent of people, I am in some ways, but when travelling I am prone to rely on other people/friends/family, so this trip put me on the spot and forced me to go about things alone. Would I travel alone again? Sure, I think now that I know what to expect, there isn't really anything to fear. However, I think travelling with someone is fun too because you can share the experiences. But honestly, whenever I was alone, I was extremely content and relaxed so I think both travelling alone and together has it's benefits.

I hope this helps any future au pairs and gives you some advice, or to future backpackers ready to take that plunge and travel alone. You won't regret it! SOOO cheesy but that is why travelling is so important to do because you gain so many new amazing, fulfilling experiences and memories that you won't find just staying at home. Do it! And take me along with you plz.

October Playlist

10/15/16


Some favourite tracks of the past month...

9. Nicolette Larson - Lotta love


I also recently saw Katie Pham & The Moonbathers in Sheffield recently and definitely recommend you check them out! Another new fave are Kagoule who I saw supporting The Magic Gang in Liverpool last month. 

Current Beauty Favourites

10/13/16

Not gonna lie, I haven't been spending too much on beauty products as of late - am I even a real blogger then?? Let's be realistic - i'm a student. However, I do keep my eyes peeled for new products that won't break the bank. Here are my current favourites that i've accumulated throughout the year...

Firstly, a new staple to my make up routine is the NYX Colour Correcting Liquid Primer. These primers come in a set of 5 colours, each targeting a certain 'skin problem' you may be having. I chose green which aims to reduce redness. I apply a small amount in the problem areas and blend, then my skin is all prepped for foundation. It's a light consistency, blends well, hides redness and nope, it doesn't make your face green, it's pretty much invisible!

Next, I've been loving the EcoTools Bamboo Powder Brush which I bought in Boots. I had my usual face brush from Avon for years and decided I needed an update. The brush is SO soft, made from recycled materials and the handle is made from Bamboo - I won't start preaching about global warming to you but I guess every little helps, and if you're looking for a good brush kit - why not get an eco-friendly one?

Back with NYX! This is their Soft Matte lip cream which I bought in shade 'Amsterdam'. These are probably one of the best matte lippies i've found. It doesn't leave my lips feeling disgusting, glides on as soft as butter and it's really cheap.

Rimmel is probably the most student-purse-friendly make up brand there is. This is my 3rd Kate lipstick, this time in shade 107: wine. It's a wonderful, deep autumnal red/burgundy and so perfect for this season.

Hurraw! A vegan lip balm, smells good and only costs a few quid. A friend bought me this for my birthday and it's replaced my usual Vaseline. It's ideal to chuck in your pocket and get out on these colder days when your lips are drying up -  there are so many scents to choose from too.

I'm not much of a perfume person because I smell so great already  but my holy grail faves are either Alien by Thierry Mugler or currently, Chloé eau de parfum. It comes in the loveliest of bottles with a bow and it smells incred, with notes of freesia, lychee, peony and hints of rose. It lingers all day long too. Not the cheapest, but this was bought around my birthday. Treat yo'self.

Laaaastly...the famous Tangle Teezer! It's a bit pricey for a hairbrush, but your hair deserves the love! My split ends were crying out for help so I decided to invest. It was a little tricky at first with the whole 'no handle' thang but i've got the handle of it, lol, and i've definitely seen benefits - my hair has reduced in split ends and feels way softer.

No More Excuses

10/6/16





















 Wearing: Bomber jacket: Bershka (which has been reduced and also comes in black) | Crop top: New Look | Culottes: Zara | Necklace: H&M | Hoops: Topshop | Trainers: Primark

Photos by Xie Qin Gru

I spotted this jacket in Bershka in Madrid a few months ago - at the time I thought maybe I shouldn't spend the money, but then I read the slogan across the back and that changed my mind, easily swayed that I am. When you want something, you'll find a way, not an excuse, ya? Loving the lighting à la Winding Refn at this venue in Liverpool - it's called Blind Tiger and they do dang good cocktails and dim sum.
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