January Verbs

Welcome to my new feature!  I’ve decided to combine my loves and likes of style of life, beauty and fashion and create a cheeky new feature about my doing activities for every month.  Here’s hoping I stick to it, and can give you all some inspiration for stuff to do for the month ahead.

Watching: 24

24 is a series (FYI Series 1) I think boyfriend and I began in 2012, but we got very bored and neg about it.  Whilst the real time idea is genius, it’s also tedious, and quite frankly, the storylines are just ridiculous.  Nevertheless, we persevered, finally finishing Season 1 of 24 a few nights ago.  I’m pleased we did, there were definitely a few heart pumping moments in the last few episodes.  Netflix does however inform us there are a grand total of 193 (which isn’t even a multiple of 24?!?!?) episodes on Netflix, which is a frightening concept, so we’ve decided to leave 24 for now.

24

24

Reading: The Racketeer by John Grisham

This book (crime/law/whodunit genre) is completely outside my reading comfort zone.  I actually found it brand new on a train with no owner in sight, so decided to give it a loving home.  A couple of weeks ago I spotted it on my shelf, and needing a lightweight book for the commute, grabbed it and left.  It was excellent!  I really enjoyed it; it was so interesting all about the ‘justice’ system in the States and with a real twist at the end.  I’m definitely going to read some more Grisham books in the future.

The Racketeer by John Grisham

The Racketeer by John Grisham

Listening To: Spotify Top Lists

This is such a great playlist, it really is.  I’m a Spotify free user (I can’t quite part with the monthly outgoings when all I have to endure is a WKD advert interrupting my Kesha flow) and quite frankly, haven’t got round to making my own playlists.  I like pop and I’m not ashamed of it, it’s like a permanent updating UK Top 40, for free!

Spotify Top Lists

Spotify Top Lists

Wearing: My new Mantaray Cardigan

I’ve been wearing a beautiful new, cream knitted cardigan I was given for Christmas (but actually picked out last June!).  Because it’s cream it goes with every outfit, and it’s big, oversized and is so good to snuggle into when it gets cold!

IMG_3133

Wearing on my face: No7 Bronzer

In this dull, drab weather I keep clicking through old holiday photos where the weather was warm and beautiful.  Thailand, Australia, Cyrpus, Turkey … sigh.  Since body fake tan looks utterly horrendous on me, I have to do what I can to fake it on my face.  My trusty No7 does the trick, and with some sneaky contouring tricks I learnt backstage at the dance show, my face looks slimmer (I hope!) with more colour.

No7 Bronzer

No7 Bronzer

Eating: Pickled Onions

I’ve recently come to realisation (albeit 10 years too late) that unhealthy snacks are not only really bad for you, but they’re also really expensive.  Pickled onions are a great snack and satisfy that need to crunch on things.  Drained from all their vinegar, they’re cheap and healthy.  Healthier than Pickled Onion flavoured Monster Munch anyway!

Pickled Onions

 

Drinking: Twinings Mint Humbug

My university campus is a 5 minute walk away from Twinings Tea Headquarters.  I went in there a couple of weeks ago for some free samples and couldn’t resist buying the Mint Humbug tea bags.  They’re in the style of Teapigs, with a netted pyramid shape tea bag and the flavour is just unreal.  Healthy, great in taste, and a good alternative to wine on cold evenings!

Mint Humbug

What have you been doing this January?

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Watch The Throne

On Friday night, I went to watch The Throne at the O2.

NO.  Not that kind of throne, stupids.  This kind of throne.

The amazing, the incredible, the outstanding .. Jay-Z and Kanye West throne!

Strengths:  EVERYTHING.  The two hour wait where we were supposed to have a pre show, believe it or not, was pretty good.  The whole crowd got completely hyped, and completely sozzled judging by the queues at the bar and the amount of people security were throwing out.  The show started from nowhere.  Kanye on the main stage and Jay-Z on the tiny stage in the middle of the arena, both rising high complete with graphics of sharks, random, but awesome.

Set List:

HAM
Who Gon’ Stop Me
Otis – SICK
Welcome to the Jungle
Gotta Have It
Where I’m From
Jigga What, Jigga Who (Originator ’99)
Can’t Tell Me Nothing
All Falls Down
Flashing Lights
Jesus Walks – Didn’t expect it to be so good, but one of my favourites.
Diamonds from Sierra Leone (Remix)
Public Service Announcement (Interlude)
U Don’t Know
Run This Town
Monster
Power / Power (Remix)
Made in America
New Day
Hard Knock Life (The Ghetto Anthem) – Amazing
Izzo (H.O.V.A.)
Empire State of Mind
Runaway
Heartless – Beautiful
Stronger
On to the Next One
Dirt Off Your Shoulder
I Just Wanna Love U (Give it to Me)
That’s My Bitch
Good Life
Touch the Sky
All of the Lights
Big Pimpin’
Gold Digger
99 Problems
What a Wonderful World (Louis Armstrong song)
No Church in the Wild
Lift Off (Interlude)
Niggas in Paris

In my opinion, the strengths were most definitely in Kanye’s tracks.  I may be bias in the fact I LOVE him (despite the fact what he did to Taylor, I don’t mention that one) but his stage presence and his pure arrogance were just incredible.  Strong songs were Runaway and Stronger (funnily enough).  FYI I’ve heard on the grapevine that there are still some tickets left for the up north shows of the European Tour, get tickets or get lost, seriously.

Weaknesses:  The stage set itself.  Pretty basic, but perhaps it didn’t need to be all big and jazzy with fireworks and dancers?  Being a dancer myself, I ALWAYS think dancers can amp up a performance, and in some of the tracks they really could have here.  ‘Yeah, but then they can’t improv’ I hear you cry.  Trust me, good dancers can bop to improv.  Not gonna lie, I was half expecting Beyonce, Kim Kardashian, Nicki Minaj, Rihanna and Alicia Keys to pop up, so a definite weakness they didn’t!  Also Kanye’s ‘If you love someone tonight, you better hold them tight’ after Heartless.  Dude, man up, what you on about?

Highlights:  When the red lazers spelt out 1D (not gonna lie, pretty funny), the montage of What a Wonderful World of America being obliterated by terrorism and war (very political and poignant, I almost wanted to do the declaration) and the crowd dancing like nutters … pretty much the entire way through.

Uh-May-Zing.

P.S. #DatS**tCray

Loughborough 2012

Apologies of my lack of blogging of late, I have been a busy bee!  The weekend took me to Loughborough, where we (the dance squads of the University of Southampton in street (that’s me!), jazz, contemporary and ballet) went to the Uni there and competed against 15 or so other Uni’s for the knowledge of knowing we were the best.  The weekend went a little something like this:

We stayed in a beautiful Hilton hotel up in Loughborough near the East Midlands Airport.  After a four hour road trip consisting of realizing my seat belts don’t work, that Brunton isn’t very good with a full car load and freaking out at people taking pictures thinking they were speed cameras … oh, and getting lost for a full hour, we made it.  I shared a room with my friend Joyce from dance which was lovely.  The Friday afternoon we got there we took a casual dip in the pool, sauna, steam room, jacuzzi the works … absolute bliss.  After attempting a little bit of a work I gave it to the fact I was having a weekend away and just relaxed and for a full two hours for the first time in I don’t know how long, I just sat and did nothing.  Well, I read Glamour, had a few glasses of wine and watched E4, but it felt like nothing.  No freaking out about work, no cleaning my forever messy room, no yelling at the boyfriend for eating in bed.  Just pure relaxation.  Bliss.

So after a few more glasses of wine with the gang, an absolutely beautiful sleep considering it was a 6am wake up, the day of the competition dawned!  The top picture is of the stadium, it was amazing.  I knew Loughborough was a sports uni but this was something else.  It was so American, with music and bleachers and fast food and mexican waves, such a great atmosphere.  The second picture is of our street dance squad, invasion.  I’m on the left.  Before the weekend, I knew everybody, but now I feel like I can consider them to be friends which is lovely.  I can’t wait for all the stuff we’ve yet to accomplish.  The final picture is an action shot, with me on the left.  Not very flattering, but I wanted you all to see what it’s like!

So then came the after party!  Top picture is me on left and my dance buddies Megan and Steph.  (I’m wearing a TK Maxx Lady Gaga style lace top under my competition shirt, Topshop shorts and a Longchamp bag)  Second picture is us out on the town!  I say town, actually their students union, which was amazing!  Loughborough is very much a campus uni, so their union is pretty much the centre to their nightlife.  There were about ten bars, three dance areas etc.  Awesome.  So after downing a few gins it was results time and BOOM, SOUTHAMPTON CAME FIRST!  Only in ballet though.  We didn’t place in anything except third in Jazz (I think) and first in ballet, but wait for it … SOUTHAMPTON BALLET WON THE BEST DANCE OF THE OVERALL COMPETITION!  It was amazing!  Never before have I felt such pride of really feeling and being part of the Uni, it was so great!  I didn’t really mind that we didn’t place.  Yeah we worked super hard, yeah we spent hours training, and yeah I cried over it … but the whole weekend was just so great and performing was so amazing that it didn’t really matter in the end.  Oh, and the last picture just shows you how a dancer’s night out gets.  Standard.

So that was Loughborough.  It was an amazing weekend.  Bring on 2013!

Dexter

You guys heard of it?  If not, absolute shame on you.  Andy and I began watching the first series about six months ago and became absolutely hooked.  Now on Series 4, I’m now more excited to see him for a night in, in order to watch Dexter than just to see him, ha!  For those of you who don’t know, Dexter is the hit American TV series surrounding the life of sociopath serial killer Dexter Morgan.  It’s just amazing, the way the writers make you laugh, cry, gasp and essentially fall in love with such an evil disgusting man.  It’s incredible.  Not to mention the cliff hangers series to series, I jump around the room in excitement for all of thirty seconds, before watching Episode 1 of the next series straight away, oh the joys of downloading.

It’s also really made me want to go to Miami!  After Britain and Island’s Next Top Model AND Kelly’s X Factor girls heading there, the stars are telling me it’s totally a-go-go!  The Cuban dancing bars, the beautiful white beaches, the sailing, the beautiful bustling vibe EVERYWHERE you go.  I actually can’t wait.  After finding a holiday deal for just £500 for an entire week there … yes I know, it’s scarily plausible.  Just sacrificing one night out a week at Uni from now til Summer … BOOM, money saved.  Apologies, I’m getting carried away.

Essentially, it’s incredible. I’m not really a ‘series’ kind of person.  I can’t concentrate for more than an hour without a cup of tea and some jelly beans, and I can get very confused by too many in a cast and an over the top amount of story lines.  But Dexter has it just right, I flipping love it.  So, a quick post, procrastination in the middle of journal writing when my internet went down.  But yes, if you’re going to watch one series start to finish before you die (other than The West Wing, obviously), I would recommend Dexter.

I <3 NY

So good they named it twice … SO GOOD!  New York, New York for a week – one of the greatest weeks of my life.  My Mum and I jetted off after my last exam for a week of girly tourism, shopping and bliss.  Such an incredible time.  After 8am champers at the airport (of course, darling) and an 8 hour flight we arrived.  I fainted in the cab on the way to the hotel, not eating for 8 hours and 36 degree temperatures from being inside with my hoards of revision food isn’t exactly a good mix.  But the less said about that the better.  Our hotel was absolutely beautiful, located on 51st and 7th we were just 5 minutes walk away from both Central Park and Times Square – perfect!

The first night consisted of a bleary eyed walk around Times Square and Macy’s, just lapping up the atmosphere.  The lights, the smells, the atmosphere, the people = just incredible.  I walked into a shop and it was ‘Oh Hey Gurl, I’m Tiffany, Yall just give me a holla if you need anything!’  I loved the women.  So genuine, so friendly, so up for just helping you and being a good sales person.  I felt happy and secure around them, not at all as though they were about to mouth off about me in their little check out till pow wows.

Jet Lag came like a demon, I was up at 3am shaving my legs and reading ‘Seventeen’ magazine for an hour, fell asleep for an hour before heading to Grand Central Station for breakfast.  So surreal being there at 6am.  The business men were buzzing about doing their thing while we sat gormlessly eating bagels deciding our plan for the day.  Next, we headed up the Empire State Building.  Stunning views!  We could see for miles, it was just breathtaking, so overwhelming that we were actually there after months and months of planning, speculating, talking…  We got the bus down to Battery Park where we chilled out at the World Finance Centre at the yacht harbour.  I felt so elite!  With Hollywood bodies jogging past us and yummy mummies doing yoga it was The Apprentice meets 90210, New York style.  After a casual stroll to Trinity Church, I fell in love.  Now, those of you who know me well will be well aware one of my favourite films of all time is ‘National Treasure’, where the suspected treasure of the world is concealed in the Trinity Church basement.  I was just in awe, I had half a mind to ask the security guards if I could have a sneaky peek down to the cellar.  We headed down Wall Street to Federal Hall where a looming monument of George Washington stood, one of my favourite Presidents.  One Staten Island Ferry with prime views of the Statue of Liberty later, an incredible Planet Hollywood meal awaited us before tumbling into bed.

The second day was just as beautiful.  We strolled around Central Park for a good chunk of our morning before heading to the American Museum of Natural History (think Night at the Museum, but better).  Highlights were definitely the gigantic whale and the statue from Easter Island, no I’m not being sarcastic, these elements were genuinely very interesting.  Then we headed to Top of the Rock (Rockerfeller Centre), which was in my opinion, even more breathtaking that the Empire State.  There was a phenomenal view of Central Park and back to the Empire State Building.  We stayed up there for a good hour, why rush when you’ve got the world at your feet?

The next day was Saturday.  After a lovely Diner breakfast and a quick stroll around the Times Warner Mall, the Sex and The City On Location Tour awaited us.  3 of the best hours of my life!  We headed all around Manhattan, seeing all the famous locations for all the best scenes, not to mention hopping off the bus to visit the stunning SATC shopping area, complete with cupcakes!  We strolled through the 6th Avenue Saturday Street Market before hopping to a secret burger joint – quite possibly the best meal of my life!  One 34th Street shopping trip later we were well and truly shattered.

Independance Day!  Yes, such an awesome experience being able to be in New York for 4th July.  We got the bus down again to Battery Park, where we visited Ground Zero.  It was very moving actually.  Despite the fact that work has now begun on the Ground Zero site, think cranes and builders, you could still feel the overwhelming emotion of something greater.  It was well worth a see.  Then we headed back to Trinity Church for the Church Service.  So beautiful!  There was an incredible sermon plus some marvelous hymns, including one titled ‘America’.  I’ve never felt so patriotic!  Then we headed to Pier 17, one of the liveliest of the Piers, for Lunch and an atmospheric soaking sesh.  We got a cab over Brooklyn Bridge before walking back across it.  Astonishing!  Walking from Brooklyn to Manhattan in 36 degree heat, seeing first hand the hazy smog encompassing the city combined with all the scents and sights of heaven was just, amazing.  We got the subway to Bloomingdales where I picked up quite a few bargains I must say!  The evening was glorious.  After cooling off in our hotel pool we headed over to Times Square where we watched the fireworks.  We weren’t too fussed about being by the river.  Seen one firework, seen them all.  Times Square was the perfect place to be, police horses and buskers galore, to be amongst the people of the greatest city on Earth on the greatest day of their year.  Not even thesaurus.com can give me the words to describe that one.

The Monday of our trip was the hottest day New York City had received in a decade, so yes, was pretty warm.  After a stroll around the gorgeous St Patrick’s Cathedral and the purchase of my Christmas present (I couldn’t afford it, okay?!) in Saks, we went to MOMA, The Museum of Modern Art.  I felt very cool wandering around, with all the super arty, geek glasses, tattooed lovelies.  We caught the bus up to Columbia Uni – so Gossip Girl it was unreal!  I loved it, the American equivalent of Oxford no doubt.  We sat in the heat watching all the Preps wandering about with their Starbucks, I honestly felt like I was on a movie set.  Next we headed to the Lincoln Centre, ‘the cultural hub of the city’, I was right at home.  We sat and watched some of the Juliard Students in an open air concert which was so relaxing.  I really felt like a New Yorker in that moment.  The sun was shining, we were sat with our smoothies enjoying the talented youngsters of tomorrow sing their dear little hearts out, I felt so relaxed.  It was lovely.

Our last day was spent as though it was our last.  We headed to the USS Intrepid which was just awesome.  The nerd in me was the reason we went there really, the Air, Sea and Space Museum, but we loved it.  Going down in a submarine, watching a Kamikaze show and learning SO much about Vietnam.  We headed to Bryant Park for a coffee before the New York Public Library.  Cue me running around like a loonie in the ‘The Day After Tomorrow’ and ‘Sex And The City’ film set.  I was so excited!  But the best was yet to come … The Declaration of Independance!  On display for a beautiful 10 days, so beautiful!  I literally stood and looked at the 2 pieces of paper for a good half hour, scrutinising every word.  And the best part … Josiah Bartlet was a real person!  I’m well aware that won’t mean much to most of you, but basically it’s that the fictional President from hit US Politics Show ‘The West Wing’, was actually a real New Hampshire Congress Man in 1776.  We headed to the General Post Office for a wee look about before strolling around the Upper East Side once more in true Gossip Girl fashion.  One Central Park walk, Manicure and Chocolate Shop later we had lots of beer and went to bed.

Our last morning consisted of a Bloomingdales Brunch before a super long stint at the Airport, but lots of Duty Free Purchases!  Congratulations if you’ve made it to the end of this blog, thought, travelogue splurge.  You deserve a medal.  So yes New York, so good they named it twice.  I’ve exhausted thesaurus.com but really, there are no words to describe how amazing my week was.  I’ve only just begun to do it justice.

Freedom

Wow, just wow.  Massive apologies for not blogging in a while, stuff has been pretty hectic.  Nevertheless, as the title suggests I am now free, absolutely free.

My last exam went well before rushing to the pub ordering Champagne and Camembert.  Standard.  I felt delightfully tipsy as I packed my case for New York.  I remember feeling nothing, it was bizarre.  The day before, after my Chemistry exam I had sobbed the whole journey home.  Nothing to do with the exam, that was fine, I just wept.  I still don’t really know why, maybe I was just being a girl, but A Level hell was nearly over.  The next day I felt nothing.  I sat in my car, just waiting for the explosion of emotion that I expected to hit me like a ton of bricks, and none came.  It still hasn’t.  The closest was a few goose bumpy tears on the plane, coinciding with the ‘StreetDance’ movie finale (Beautiful film if you ever get the chance to watch it).  Maybe it’s natural.  My friends thought so when I asked them about it, no tears, no relief, no fear, just nothing.  Hmm, I’ll update you if anything changes.

The whole freedom thing is a bit strange though.  For almost 2 years I’ve had my strict college routine and even stricter these past few months with revision.  Now I have nothing.  I bounded out of bed this morning with my head buzzing with study cards and highlighters, to be greeted with a day of nothing.  Lovely, but odd.  The freedom from technology for a week was definitely welcome.  I couldn’t be doing with my phone in the States and I only checked the Internet a couple of times, I just didn’t feel the need.  Before New York, I maybe updated Twitter and checked Facebook three, perhaps four times a day.  Now, I’m more than content with just once.

So I’m free.  Free from exams, from college, free from my life as I’ve known it these past two years.  Summer has officially arrived with a stunning trip to New York, stay tuned for that one.  I’ve fallen blissfully in love with life all over again.

Empire State Of Mind

3 weeks today I will be in New York.  After 2 years of thinking, talking, finally getting round to booking and now preparing for it, I can’t quite believe it’s nearly here.  My last, and only trip to New York (so far) was 3 years ago, in the Easter of 2007.  I had an incredible time.  I went on a Drama Trip, surrounded my the best friends in the world being a lunatic tourist and loving every second of it.  This time, I feel will be somewhat different.

Don’t get me wrong, I had an awesome time but looking back it was truly ridiculous.  We stayed in an awful hotel where the plugs sparked every time you connected something, ran around like headless chickens on a super tight schedule never really being able to absorb anything and didn’t do half the things I wanted.  I know, what did I expect for a trip of thirty 15 year olds?  Hardly Upper East Side Gossip Girl style, but nevertheless the trip wasn’t me, that experience in New York City wasn’t me.

I think that’s what I’m looking to get out of this trip.  From what I know, have experienced, and have gathered from misleading TV shows, New York is everything I am.  It’s cosmopolitan, cultural, fun, insomniac and beautiful (perhaps skimping on the last two, for me at least).  I’m so excited.  Instead of running about Times Square in my pjamas (yes, that actually happened), I will be seeing and experiencing the New York I know is out there.  I’ll go for a church service at Trinity Church, head to the Natural History Museum, check out a book at the Public Library, have a coffee in Central Perk and dance on 42nd Street, just because I can.

Being there for Independence Day will also be spectacular I feel.  Whilst I can think and dream about it to my heart’s content, I’m desperately attempting not to.  For these next 3 weeks, exams are absolute priority over everything and I can’t waste them  imagining what’s going to be happening anyway, bigger, better and a hundred times more overwhelming than I could ever possibly fathom.

I have an ache for America.  I know it’s the place that somehow, someday, I will most probably end up.  So I don’t know all 50 states and I still haven’t grasped how to order the perfect ‘cup of coiffee’ but I have a passion, a crave for city lights that only New York can fulfill.   Concrete jungle where dreams are made of, there’s nothing you can’t do, when you’re in New York.  We’ll see.

Gorgeous Sunset from the top of the Empire State Building

Just chilling out in Central Park

Statue of Liberty

Best Breakfast Award

NYPD, just doing their job ;)