An awesome August

Well the last month has been pretty wonderful. I feel like I’ve had most of August off work and I’ve feel like I’ve barely been in London. It’s been brilliant!

First I went to the beach in Mablethorpe for a weekend with my friends. And as anyone who has visited the beach along the North East coast of England will know, it can be bracing, wet and down right cold but it is always the most fun.

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Next, me and my housemates went to Croatia! We went to Split and Hvar and I cannot recommend it enough. The place is beautiful, the people are warm and welcoming and the company was brilliant. I basically spent the entire holiday with a smile on my face, it was glorious.

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The day after I got back from Croatia I went to a wedding! My gorgeous friend Lucy tied the knot in Gloucestershire. It was a beautiful day filled with love and laughter.

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Next on my adventures in August was Leeds Festival. I hadn’t been to Leeds in a few years but it was the first festival I ever went to – and boy was it good to go back! We had a massive camp, carnage ensued and a good time was had by all.

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All in all, August has been awesome. Next on the list is Secret Cinema and Bestival and I cannot wait!

What have you guys been up to this summer? Hope you’ve had a wonderful August too!

Rx

Music Monthly – July 2014

As well as my months in photographs I thought I’d share with you some of the songs that have been a constant on my iPod over the last month.

Up first: Alt-J and ‘Hunger Of The Pine’


The first time I heard this I was hooked. There is something utterly captivating about Alt-J’s sound, which I have loved from the very beginning. I CANNOT wait to hear the rest of the album.

Next, the return of Jamie T with ‘Don’t You Find’


Jamie T is one of my favourite artists of all time. His music really spoke to me and I think he was on the cusp of becoming a voice of our generation after Kings and Queens in 2009. I was gutted he disappeared – I used to do a social media search for him every month or so, desperate for him to come back. And he finally has! This song is joyous – give it a listen.

Third comes Jungle – ‘Busy Earnin”


I’ve liked Jungle for a while now but seeing them at Glastonbury made me fall in LOVE with them! I bought their album (which I would highly recommend doing) and every song is brilliant. I could have put any one of their songs in Music Monthly but Busy Earnin’ has a truly excellent video. Let’s learn the dance!

Fourth comes Lana Del Rey. Well, the Cedric Gervais remix of ‘Summertime Sadness’


I’m not the biggest fan of Lana Del Rey. She mainly annoyed me during her Glastonbury performance with her constant posing. I do think her voice is good but I can’t listen to many of her songs in a row before I want to end it all. BUT, this remix of ‘Summertime Sadness’ is great! It really lifts the song and for me, this is summer in a song.

Golden oldie time now for my final song – Pink Floyd with ‘Wish You Were Here’


For a long time I avoided Pink Floyd but I have recently realised they’re brilliant. All those people were actually right about them… who knew? Anyway, this is a beautiful one.

What have you been listening to this month? What’s been your top song? Leave links and comments below as I’d love to have a read!

Rx

The Libertines, Hyde Park

I went to see the Libertines with Virtual Festivals last Saturday and they were awesome! Here is a copy of my review!

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In a set that was plagued with crowd interruptions, The Libertines’ reunion was filled with energy, controversy and compassion – it was everything the crowd wanted from the band whose history has been so filled with drama.

The set was called to a halt three times due to crowd crushing (one person passed out), flare throwing and the crowd climbing the camera towers. After a patchy stop-start for the first few songs, Carl, Pete, Gary and John got into their stride and revived the audience with a roaring version of ‘Horrorshow’ followed soon after with a raucous ‘The Ha Ha Wall’. Deafening crowd sing-alongs then came in the form of ‘Music When The Lights Go Out’ and ‘What Katie Did’.

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The guitars were tight, the bass solid and dependable and the drums kept everyone together. Each Libertine played brilliantly, and Carl and Pete sung as well as they ever have. The sound quality, which was at times patchy (as has often troubled Hyde Park concerts) couldn’t distract from the show of talent on the Main Stage.

When ‘Can’t Stand Me Now’ came round, a song which used to be filled with such anger during their troubled times, Carl and Pete simply sang it to get past it. There was little dwelling on the song which became the theme song to the Libertines’ breakup. Instead the set focused on the happier times – archive images of the band filled the screens behind them adding to the sense of nostalgia.

My guest in VIP

My guest in VIP

The Libertines finished with a riotous ‘I Get Along’. Pete and Carl sharing mics and singing to one another made for an emotional end to a thrilling set, hugging and celebrating at the end until they were on the floor. Pete led a singalong of the hokey cokey before praising the crowd and the armed forces, and with Carl, performed a rather beautiful rendition of Siegfried Sassoon’s 1918 poem Suicide In The Trenches to finish. The frontmen were back as one once more.

There was high expectation on this gig after the success of the Glasgow warm-up shows and the boys in the band definitely delivered. Carl and Pete played with a confidence which was lacking in their 2010 reunion – they seemed more focused and much more comfortable together. The announcement of two more dates in London later this year confirms the band’s commitment to one another and hopefully rather than a reunion, this becomes a revival in the Libertines’ history book.

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The Libertines at British Summer Time 2014 set list:

‘Vertigo’
‘Boys In The Band’
‘The Delaney’
‘Campaign Of Hate’
‘Time For Heroes’
‘Horrorshow’
‘Begging’
‘The Ha Ha Wall’
‘Music When The Lights Go Out’
‘What Katy Did’
‘The Boy Looked At Johnny’
‘Can’t Stand Me Now’
‘Last Post On The Bugle’
‘Love On The Dole’
‘Death On The Stairs’
‘Radio America’
‘Don’t Look Back Into The Sun’
‘Tell The King’
‘Up The Bracket’
‘What A Waster’
‘France’
‘Albion’
‘I Get Along’

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Photos from my Virtual Festivals article (and my iPhone)

Did you go to the Libertines? What did you think? I loved it!

Rx

A year in photographs – June 2014

June has been a whirlwind – I went to Glastonbury which was incredible. Check out my detailed blog post for more info on the greatest place on Earth. Check out May’s photos here.

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Hope you had a lovely June!

Rx

Glastonbury 2014

Glastonbury Festival is my favourite place on Earth. I have yet to find somewhere that I cherish as dearly and whole-heartedly love as much as Glastonbury Festival. Some of the people I love the most were there and I’ve had some of the best experiences of my life there. The atmosphere is incredible – like nothing I’ve ever experienced prior or since.

This year was my fourth Glastonbury and it was brilliant. Here are some of my highlights:

The Other Stage

The Other Stage

Arcade Fire

Arcade Fire

Kasabian

Kasabian

The Park

The Park

Did you go to Glastonbury? What did you think? Leave links and comments below!

Rx

Sam Smith – In The Lonely Hour

I’ve decided to start incorporating my music posts into A Lot of Lovely Things. Music is my main passion in life, it drives me. And it seemed a shame to keep it separate from my other loves. So here is my first post:

Let’s talk about Sam Smith’s new album In The Lonely Hour.


This single Money On My Mind has been in the charts, accompanying adverts and blasting out of radios for months. If you’ve missed it, God only knows where you’ve been. Give it a listen whilst I run down the rest of the album.

I bought the album In The Lonely Hour yesterday and it is one of the most beautiful albums I have ever listened to. I played this album on repeat about six or seven times at work and at one point I cried. Yes, I welled up at my desk and had to run to the bathroom to compose myself. The song in which brought about such a meltdown: Not In That Way. The story of unrequited love really touched a nerve. But, in hindsight, the whole album struck a nerve – every song is so raw, full of passion and love, and so well crafted – it is hard to not be affected by this work of art.

His latest single Leave Your Lover shows off the true talent of the BRIT Critics’ Choice Award winner. His silky voice, so full of emotion tells the story of our protagonist pleading with his love. A truly sad song which many people will be able to connect with.


Stay With Me, his third single from Sam Smith and is utterly gorgeous. His voice oozes with love and vulnerability, meaning you hang on to every word to see how the story ends.

“This album is supposed to be the soundtrack to those quiet moments in life” Smith told Digital Spy and I can’t agree more. It was when working on my own at work that I got so caught up the unrequited love story that I started crying. This is one to be listened to alone and when you’re ready for a time of reflection, but it is worth the tears as it is simply stunning.

Have you listened to In The Lonely Hour? What do you think of Sam Smith? Leave comments below as I’d love to know your thoughts!

Rx

Elizabeth Arden Visible Difference

You may remember my, frankly catastrophic, time with the Clinique skin care range last year. It wasn’t fun for anyone involved. Since then I’ve been using the Body Shop Seaweed range, which has been, alright. And that’s all I can say about it really. It’s alright. My skin doesn’t look radiant, but it doesn’t break me out, it is pretty average stuff. So I’ve been on the hunt for some different skincare products which will improve the look of my skin.

I owe a lot to the Effaclar Duo [+] which is a cream sent from the gods. (I picked up another in Paris, and FYI, it is loads cheaper on the continent!) It keeps my skin clear and makes it feel amazing, but I can’t use just moisturiser, I need something to clean and cleanse my face too! As a result I am trying the Elizabeth Arden Visible Difference range.

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I bought the tester size pack from Debenhams for £15. I bought the set for combination skin as that’s what I have but there is another set available for dry skin.

As you can see you get a cleanser, a toner, a serum and some lotion. After using these four products for the last three weeks I can whole-heartedly say that my skin has been transformed. It really has made a visible difference (**cringe cliché alert!**). My skin feels radiant, nourished and looks healthy. I’ve barely worn foundation the last couple of weeks because my skin looks so clear.

The products themselves:
The cleanser is the wonder product of the four in my eyes. My skin feels better than it has in years after using the cleanser – it cleans your skin but leaves it feeling healthy and refreshed – a perfect way to start the morning.
The toner is brilliant for taking off any scraps of makeup etc, that the cleanser (or I) misses. It smells amazing and works brilliantly with the cleanser.
The serum is super nourishing, or it feels like it is anyway! It’s not got the nicest smell but because it feels like its working wonders I’ll forgive it.
The lotion is the product I like least. In that, I don’t like it at all really. I’ve come to realise that I hate lotions. Give me a super thick moisturiser any day of the week over a lotion. As well as the texture being totally wrong for me it also smells of cucumbers, which I detest too.

In summary, the cleanser and toner are wonderful and I will definitely be purchasing them in full size. The serum is also good but at £39 for 30ml (WHAT!?) I think I’ll be looking for a serum which is a bit kinder to the purse. Needless to say I will not buy the lotion but will stick with my La Roche-Posay and my age-old favourite Nivea Pure & Natural Day Cream for the mean time.

Rx

Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

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Myself and my friend Gill went to visit Kew Gardens the other day and it was bloomin’ marvellous. (Warning: There may be a large amount of horticultural puns in this post!)

It was a glorious day and as the sun shone over London we made our way along the Thames to Kew. The area around Kew Gardens is beautiful and oh so typically English – we passed the cricket green on the way – it was delightful.

Once you arrive at Kew you are faced with 121 hectares of gardens and botanical glasshouses. It is a gardener’s paradise! But what I found most amazing at Kew, is that whatever your expertise on plants, it is so accessible to everyone. If you don’t want to read the plaques and information you can just wander around the stunning gardens. If you want to learn all about a particular type of plant, the chances are it will be at Kew as the Botanic Gardens plays host to the largest collection of living plants in the world. In the WORLD. It is simply staggering.

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One of my favourite parts of Kew was the Princess of Wales Conservatory which recreated ten different climate zones. The cactii were brilliant but the iguana which was roaming free frightened the life out of me!

Another highlight was the bar… There was a huge display of herbs and plants which are used in bitters and tonics – often found in cocktails (a particularly passionate hobby of mine…!)

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Kew costs £16.50 for an adult (with a £1.50 donation) but a membership is only £72 per year. If you live nearby I’d get a membership and go whenever the sun pokes his head of out a cloud!

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Kew Palace is also situated within the grounds of the Royal Botanic Gardens. It was the home of George III in his youth and has been a resides of the royals for many years. Now, however, it is open to wander around.

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I think these pictures prove just how beautiful Kew is. I absolutely fell in love with the place. It feels like you’re out of London, in your own perfect paradise. As a Northerner stranded in the South I often find I miss greenery, countryside and, you know, space – but Kew has it all. It was wonderfully tranquil and reminded me of home. I can’t recommend it enough.

Have you been to Kew? What did you think of it? Leave links and comments below!

Rx

A year in photographs – May 2014

May has been crazy. It went so fast! I was super busy with PYLOT Magazine this month so apologies for the lack of posts. I will be much better in June, I promise! Anyway, the next in my series of photos are here. Check out April’s photos here.

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Rx

A year in photographs – April 2014

Well April was pretty wonderful. It was my birthday, I went to Paris and we had some pretty brilliant nights out. Here are my March photos if you’d care to take a look!

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Rx