The Obligatory Christmas Train Journey Post…

It’s 7.30am and I’m on a train up north to spend Christmas with my family. I feel like I’ve written that sentence so many times…

I discovered that tickets to Manchester – my usual destination – were really expensive and there were no connecting trains to Bolton, so I managed to bag one to Wigan instead for £8.50. The only trouble is, it was at 6.15am. It’s worked out well so far – there’s a storm set to hit the north later on this morning, by which time I should be happily relaxing in my jammies at my Mum’s house. The carriage is pretty much empty, so I’ve taken advantage of that and sat at a table with a power socket to charge my phone. There’s the usual whinging toddler (“But whyyyyy? Nooooooo, I don’t want that! Muuuuuum I waaaaant thaaaaat”) so I’ve put my headphones in and am listening to The Backstreet Boys. They’re not normally my travel music of choice, preferring 80’s rock anthems usually, but it feels like a Backstreet Boy kind of day. Continue reading

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Christmas Preparations

Liberty display

Liberty display

I’m still on a buzz from the weekend…

We got back on Saturday evening with a sense of ‘did that all really just happen?’ and decided to continue the fun by going to watch the new Star Wars film on Sunday morning, which I really enjoyed. Unfortunately (as is the usual case with the cinema we go to) I had to put my teacher voice on and ask the teenagers to take their feet off the back of The Bloke’s seat and stop kicking him, despite the fact that their parents were sitting right next to them. Thankfully, they did, and we watched the rest of the film without further interruption. I always feel like a whingy toe rag when I say something, but it always gets on my nerves when I have to get into teacher mode. Continue reading

London, Rent and Anthony Rapp

imageIf there is such a thing as a perfect weekend, then this was it.

Those of you who follow the blog regularly will know of my mini-obsession with RENT, the musical. Admittedly, I only really discovered it properly this year, despite learning lots of the songs in my teens at college, but after seeing it live in a local theatre this summer, I’ve become a huge fan…

For my birthday last month, The Bloke surprised me with tickets to the 20th Anniversary tour in London, along with a night in a hotel and train tickets, so I’ve been not-so-quietly looking forward to it for ages.

It also happened to coincide with the end of term (The Bloke works in a school), so he left a few hours earlier than everyone else and by 1.30pm we were on a train (complete with reserved seats, a power point and a table – he had thought of everything, bless him). I was grateful – the train was predictably rammed and ridiculously warm – so while we sat in our seats and talked nonsense at each other, everyone else was fighting for spaces. Continue reading

A Cat in a Hat and a Drunken Tree

imageAfter enviously seeing some of my neighbours Christmas decorations over the last few days, I took the opportunity this morning to finally decorate the tree and front room.

We’ve had the same tree for years – a cheap and artificial Argos purchase – and it’s been with us through three house moves. The decorations initially started off as one silver bauble set, lights and some tinsel that we bought with the tree, but every year we have added to it with things we have purchased on our travels, resulting in a mishmash of glass stars, little pottery santas, Beatrix potter characters, wooden snowflakes and gingerbread figures. People with design ideals and OCD would have a minor panic attack. Continue reading

Getting Glam for Christmas: Rush Hair Salon

imageParty season is just beginning, and I began mine by attending the launch of the new Rush Salon in Birmingham.

It was my first visit to the salon, but with a deep blue frontage and shiny black floor, it immediately stood out amidst the stores on Martineau Place. I was the first to arrive, so was given a tour by the store manager, Liam, of the beautiful interior, along with the tranquil and beautiful treatment area at the back. There were numerous stations set up ready to cater for individual styles and hair types, along with some lovely snacks and glasses of prosecco. The salon was clean and elegant, the staff were extremely welcoming and friendly and I could immediately feel that it had a great atmosphere as soon as I walked in. Continue reading

The Magic Lantern Festival at the Botanical Gardens

With the build up to Christmas already happening, The Bloke and I thought that we would start the festivities by attending the launch event of the Magic Lantern Festival at the Botanical Gardens last week.

This is the first time it is being held in Birmingham, having launched last year in London and is one of three lantern festivals being held across the UK. Celebrating both Chinese culture and Christmas, the installations are set across the 15 acres that the Botanical Gardens offers and promised to be an exciting experience for everyone.

We weren’t disappointed – the official launch was opened by the Lord Mayor of Birmingham, accompanied by an impressive Chinese musical and dance performance, along with beautiful canapés of tempura vegetables, breaded chicken bites, mini hotdogs and cheeseburgers. We were then led outside to enjoy the exhibition for ourselves. Continue reading

Birthday Shopping, an Engagement and Blogmas!

It was my birthday the other day. The Bloke and my friends were at work and I had already been spoilt with lots of lovely presents and cards (personalised notebook, Mojito lollipops, money, lovely meal, the new Caitlin Moran book, voucher, TICKETS TO SEE RENT IN LONDON), so I decided that rather than attempting to organise a get-together, I would have a day to myself. I was in Birmingham city centre by 8am, munching my way through a McDonalds breakfast, armed with a voucher and birthday money and braced myself for the chaos that descends daily in the city around this time of year.

I had a plan to race round and finish off my Christmas shopping by 10.00am. I did quite well, managing most of it by 10.30am without being run over by a baby buggy or one of those really annoying wheeled suitcases (seriously, don’t even get me started on those…) and then got myself back home armed with lots of bags and bubble tea. I plonked myself under a warm duvet in front of the TV, where me and the cat (who was tired after running around, singing the songs of his people and attacking my face at 3am) caught up on some programmes we missed last week and had a snooze. Continue reading

The ‘Bean to Bar’ Experience at The Chocolate Quarter

Those of you who follow the blog regularly will know of my penchant for independent businesses, chocolate and good company, so when I was invited to a ‘Bean to Bar’ Christmas chocolate event at The Chocolate Quarter in Birmingham, I couldn’t get there fast enough.

I’ve been lucky enough to attend several events at the family-run store, established less than a year ago in the Jewellery Quarter by Kempes, Maninder and Jay, and it is my favourite place to buy bespoke, handmade (and quite frankly, rather delicious) luxury chocolates. Indeed, I’ve made sure to purchase some whenever I’m in the area, something that The Bloke has certainly appreciated when I’ve returned home with new flavours to try. It’s the ultimate place for chocoholics and I absolutely love the warm welcome I receive whenever I go in. Continue reading

Christmas Shenanigans and the Return of Ian, the Scary Gnome

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It’s been a busy few weeks. With Christmas prep and the end of term, several nights out, an early Christmas with The Bloke, a bloggy event that I organised at Organique – my favourite beauty store – Christmas with the family, a 200 mile round-trip and, of course, the new Star Wars film (which was awesome, by the way), I now find myself sitting in my front room surrounded by stuff. The house is an utter mess, I can’t button my jeans up, there’s a random assortment of leftovers in the fridge and freezer, and I have no idea where I’m going to put everything. Continue reading