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I can’t believe how quickly this year has sped by. My new year’s resolution was to take a photo every day and I stuck to it, which has made it so much easier when trying to cast my mulled-wine pickled brain back over the year to recap what I got up to; as I certainly wasn’t blogging about it. Sorry! It’s been a pretty grim year, one that makes you grit your teeth and fear answering the phone as you know it will be another piece of bad news. Sadly this has continued right into the festive season and so I’ll be very relieved tonight to toast the end of a rotten apple year and the start of 2013 which can surely only be better. That said though, I think it’s all too easy to write off a bad year and in fact there have been some sparkly moments of wonderful wanderings, experiences and memories that I wouldn’t swap for anything.

This turned into such an epic beast that I am blogging it in two parts, the first being January – June.

January

January

This was a walk that Nick & I took up Malham Cove with my parents. If you ever find yourself in Yorkshire then Malham is my absolute favourite place to visit and my top recommendation. Looking up at the cove itself  will leave you breathless and feeling very tiny indeed. We were so fortunate with the weather, as despite deep snow for miles around, the treacherous 400 stone steps that take you up to the top of the 260 foot cliff face were clear and could still be climbed in my £6 Primark brogues with no grips.

 February

February

One of the “how is this happening to me” moments that have peppered the most successful professional year in my career. Considering I still speak with such a broad Yorkshire accent I basically need subtitles, get ID’d every single time I purchase alcohol and still constantly get comments on my “quirky” fashion sense, I still struggle to remember I am actually a head of my own department and seem to be doing pretty well at this whole work thing. It feels like the 12 hour days are finally paying off (although maybe not for my health; see October) In February I was still working for a children’s media company and was invited to the Houses of Parliament to take part in a seminar on children’s welfare and charity work. It was such a privilege and something I know not many people will experience. I just wish I’d had more time to poke my nose around the incredible wooden chambers and rooms with vast ceilings and chandeliers. Instead I was ushered in for breakfast, where they had the most tempting looking Danish pastries but my stupid etiquette meant I was too embarrassed to eat one as they were too far for me to easily reach, so instead I just had to make do with a few bits of (extra posh) fruit salad and a super strong coffee.

 March

March

I didn’t go to many gigs this year because my main entertainment-indulgence money went on my monthly Cineworld card and spending hour after hour in the various West End cinemas (in total I saw 34 films this year!) Luckily it was quality over quantity and this gig, Future Islands at Scala, was my favourite. If you aren’t familiar with the band you should definitely download some, I’d recommend Before The Bridge, Inch of Dust and Balance. What I love about them is that the singer has this incredible theatrical voice but looks NOTHING like what you expect him to. He is probably the best showman I have ever encountered, as despite being at the end of a lengthy European tour he seemed to adore every moment, resulting in the audience storming the stage for the encore.

 April

April

The image sort of sums it up, but after 5 years working for the same company, I took a new job in April. It was scary as I had always worked in the same office, with the same people, for my whole London life but it was definitely what I needed and I haven’t regretted the decision once. The fact that regular trips to New York and Los Angeles are now part of my job kinda helps too!

 May

May

After a tequila-fuelled London celebration, Nick & I went to Dorset for an extended Birthday spoiling. There were so many highlights, but I think Swanage remains one of my favourite places in the UK. For many reasons (the beautiful twinkling lights as the sun sets, the boats in the harbour, the road into the sea, the ice cream and the beautiful Jurassic coastline) but mainly because we discovered Jurassic Park crazy golf there! Wildly flaunting a million copyright infringements this combination of two of my all-time favourite things (crazy golf + dinosaurs) was the perfect birthday present. We also went on a huge walk and spotted my first ever slow worm, which it turns out isn’t a snake but it still has a cool fork-y tongue.

 June


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I had been promising to go on holiday with my oldest school friend for about a decade but we’ve never had time or holiday budget that matched up. This year we finally got it together and after a few vetoed suggestions of destinations (Benidorm being one…) we settled on Ibiza. Given that I’m not exactly a clubber at the best of times, and that the music isn’t my cup of tea, I was a bit eye-rolly about the whole thing. The flight from Bradford to Ibiza isn’t one I’d want to repeat (just an aeroplane FULL of hammered northern men, 5 of whom were arrested before even leaving the airport!) but I enjoyed every second after that. We were away for the Jubilee weekend so decked our hotel balcony with chintzy union jack bunting and celebrated with carton after carton of 70cent Sangria.

June

We stayed in Bossa Park which is the ‘up and coming’ area according to our hotel manager and I definitely felt like it had a cooler vibe than the hen/stag saturated San Antonio side of the island. It was fun to chat to the people selling tickets on the street and haggling deals. On our first night we ended up buying from a Scottish guy who kept flipping between heavy Glaswegian accented English into perfectly fluent Spanish and who led us through a quiet civilised fancy restaurant down some stairs into the most heaving secret basement bar I’ve ever seen where everything glowed UV, we drank free cocktails and danced to Rihanna with the locals. I can’t remember the last time I felt so young, and so free. It was such a glorious four days with tons of sun lounger reading, playing beach ball in the pool and stocking up on our grimy B&B breakfast to make it last the whole day.

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6th June 7th June

The daytime highlight was definitely an afternoon at Café Mambo watching the sunset which is as phenomenal as everyone says and is definitely something everyone should see once in their life. The night-time highlight was seeing Tiesto at Pacha (still can’t believe those words are coming out of my mouth, in the same way I can’t believe I since downloaded that Tonight We Are Youuuung song as it was played every third song anywhere we went). The clubbing was so easy to throw yourself in to, and I barely drank (mainly because even a bottle of water is 8 euros) but you don’t need to as the atmosphere itself is contagious and totally electric. It was like being at a really good music festival as everyone is so happy and just enjoying the experience. It wasn’t at all what I expected and we ended up making tons of friends with waifs and strays from all over Europe. My favourite clubs were definitely Pacha, Ibiza Rocks (for the pool alone, which everyone was drunkenly chucking each other into – it reminded me of the bad donkey island in Pinocchio!) and Es Paradis which has a stunning interior and played my kind of music rather than the mwam mwam mwam of everywhere else. I definitely have the fabled Ibiza-bug and would go back in a heartbeat.

June 2

I couldn’t re-cap this year without featuring this image that will forever be burnt into my retina! This view from the heady heights of the London Eye, where myself and my dear Craig got stuck for nearly an hour! The jaunt started happily enough, with my ticket being a generous birthday gift and thoughtfully planned to take in the sunset on the longest day of the year. We scuttled down to South Bank, devoured a pizza and a bottle of rose wine and were actually a bit tipsy as we boarded the Eye. As our little pod climbed towards the sky, we shoved our noses up against the glass and oohed and ahhed and it was brilliant. Then, at the just-before-the-top slot, we stopped. After 20 minutes a few people started asking why we were stopped and I reassured them that it was totally normal and just to give us a ‘good view’ (! which actually on reflection makes no sense as then the wheel would never move) after 30 minutes I started to feel a bit antsy with that sinking feeling that something’s gone array and I am stuck 135 metres in the sky in a glass capsule.

I only have one fear, and its claustrophobia, so the next half an hour were a massive test of my ability to keep a gigantic panic attack at bay. It helped that I had Craig at my side so we just spotted landmarks and took in the incredible view and laughed about the fact that a) this type of this ALWAYS happens to us and b) at least we got our moneys worth. An unhelpful recorded message reassured us that “due to unforeseen circumstances your rotation had been terminated, do not panic & do not be alarmed” (!) and they cranked up the air con so much I had to huddle with the rest of the tourists in a borrowed woolly hat for warmth. Eventually we got moving again and we never did find out why we got stuck but I was certainly relieved to get my feet back on solid London ground again as I had been envisioning helicopter rescues.  I have definitely had my fill of the London Eye for life now. Never again! Not even in one of the swish champagne VIP pods.

 

 

 

 

 

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There are certain times you hear a song for the first time and you know that the moment will be forever engrained on your memory, no matter if that artist/band turns into a flitting one hit wonder interest, or a firm forever favourite. In the middle of October last year there was a bizarre week in London which I refer to as fake-summer. Despite crinkly autumn leaves skittering around the place and the fact I already had to huddle into my faux fur coat, suddenly the sun shone and the temperatures soared and scorched in the late twenties. It was one of these days that I was lazing around in my (at the time) shiny-new boyfriend’s bedroom, and it was stuffy and sticky and a song came on his shuffle. It made me sit up and get that rare tingly twinkly feeling on the back of your neck that is physically impossible to recreate on demand. A combination of the singers voice, the urgent melody and the lyrics (Everybody wants to see all the lovers in the streets, I don’t know why, And everywhere we go leaving trails in the snow, I don’t know why we long to be…)

I was still in the stage where I didn’t want to look uncool (!) so really ummed and ahhed about whether I should ask him who the singer was, feeling sure it must be someone hugely massively popular that in my real-summer of hermit living I had somehow missed. As the song finished I took the plunge and asked, because I knew I couldn’t cope without being able to hear it again very very soon and download it for myself. I was really shocked with he told me that it was in fact his little brother singing, otherwise known as Chime Hours. Shocked, but also pleased, because now we have become friends and I get to say that I knew him before he was a huge, famous rock star. Alright! To recreate my spine tingly first listen, you can check it out here.

I probably can’t sum up Chime Hours any more accurately than his own official bio, which says “Chime Hours (aka Philip Horton) weaves tales of love and loss around a distinct combination of guitar, vocal loops, drum machine and anything else that makes a noise” but reasons for adoring certain music is always subjective so I have to add my two pence worth. I think the thing Chime Hours does that really strikes a cord (and is a running theme in most of my favourite artists) is that his lyrics are beautiful. I know beautiful is a totally overused word and if I could create a new word to describe how haunting and goosebump-inducing they are, then I would. Each song creates an entirely new world or character or emotion, that sucks you in from the first to last beat.

Chime Hours repertoire is completely varied too. I think this is aided by his extraordinary vocal range where he can seemingly switch from heights even a tiny dog probably couldn’t reach (well definitely not in such a graceful and tuneful manner) back to bottom bass that vibrates through you. Listening to a few songs in a row is a bit of an emotional rollercoaster as they can go from making you feel gut wrenchingly sad to smiley head-boppy in swift succession. To experience this first hand I recommend you plug some earphones in and head over to…

Chime Hours Sound Cloud

& listen to the other three songs there. Wanton will leave you a bit meloncholy and breathless, The Waiting List will make you feel nostaligc and a bit lost, and Ha Woo will make you want to put the song on a tape and sing along in your car with the windows down! (Do cars still have cassette tape decks? I haven’t driven for six years but I really really hope so)

Even better, if you are a London-er  (particularly South of the river) trot down to Streatham on Friday and catch Chime Hours live at the The White Lion on the High Rd. He is on around 7.30pm and entry is the best price – FREE.

Please go show a lil’ love and follow & like too.

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Everyone likes to be able to say they discovered someone before everyone else and I would place a hefty bet that this will be the case in pretty soon judging the hype so far.. But yknow,  feel free to buy me a drink at the gig on Friday in advance to thank me.

 

 

 

 

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Hello 2012! I meant what I said, I really have returned to the land of Bee blogging, life has just been getting in the way a little bit. First it was all Christmas chaotic and then my first week back at work involved far too much desk-lunching and squinting at my computer screen, and not enough 11am drinking and living on a diet of roasted peanuts, turkey sandwiches and cheeselets for my festively conditioned body! Despite these pesky blog-obstacles, I have a really good feeling about 2012, and all the exciting adventures I will have to write about.

Anyway one thing sure to kick my ass into some Sunday afternoon scibbling (ok typing) is the fact tomorrow is my biggest blog-fan’s birthday. She has been a dedicated reader, a fan-email sender and all round eagle eye on all things Like a Skeleton Key. And she is… my mum! (This probably = minus cool points for some people, but she is the coolest fan I can think of having) So this little update is especially for her. When I mentioned I might blog about this trip we took, she said ooh I better watch my Ps & Qs if I’m going to be written about. I don’t think I have ever heard her utter more than a flip and she needs to be pretty raging to even drop one of those, but feel free to read this imagining that she swore at everyone she encountered and I’ve edited it out, it might make for a funnier read.

My mum and I have a tradition of going on a couple of weekend breaks every year. We’ve been known to pack ourselves off to chic Euopean locations like Paris… Bruges… Liverpool… Manchester… and this year her pick for a weekend jaunt was (drum roll) Nottingham. Yup, I know. I have to say, although it sounds very nice and all, I did give it a bit of a nose crinkle and furrowed brow as it’s a city I just didn’t know very much about – let alone what on earth we might find to entertain her there for three days. I’m glad to say, I was proved very wrong to be so doubtful.

We stayed in a standard Premier Inn, costing about the price of a round of drinks in London (!) per night. I am a big Hotel fan so found the room pretty swell even though it was no-frills. And of course I was chivalrous and gave my mum the double bed whilst I slept in the pull-out kiddy bed contraption that kept threatening to munch me everytime I so much as tensed a muscle in my sleep.

On the first day we just pottered around the town centre, which is really easily walkable and has some pretty areas to explore, like the old Lace Market and Hockley. I had the joy of introducing my mum to Shakeaway! I think these milkshake bars are quite common down South, but I’d only ever had the pleasure once before so was thrilled to stumble across one in Nottingham’s central square. I opted for a chocolate chip, dime bar and cheesecake special. (Mum opted for ‘just chocolate, just normal chocolate please’ ! Probably their easiest customer of forever) Mine tasted delicious, but also like diabetes in a cup and gave me the sugar-jitters for about 3 hours after; which was seriously badly timed with me having to pop into Primark to buy a cardigan. I had forgotten (tut, despite being Northern) that anywhere outside of London doesn’t have the protective smog jacket of stinky warmth, and so was in need of extra layers.

All set with my new chunky mustard knitwear (I am obsessed with mustard this year after never ever wearing anything that colour before. I’m like a magpie and now own so much mustard coloured clothing it might need it’s own drawer in my wardrobe. It’s a worry) I was ready to do some more exploring. We headed out of the city centre towards the Nottingham Trent campus, where there is an Arboretum. I didn’t know what this was, so to the uncultured, it’s basically another word for park. It was definitely worth a look; it had a nice lake, muchos ducks, ornamental gardens, exotic birds to peer at, a little maze and lots of leaves to kick. I think if we’d had longer I would have ventured out on the tram to Wollaton Hall & Park because it has real life deer and as previously mentioned, I love a good deer spot.


If you do find yourself in Nottingham, I think the best recommendation I received (via the power of Twitter) was Lee Rosy’s Tea Room,which is tucked away in the backstreets of Hockley, nestled between some nice independent art and music shops. They serve hundreds of different types of tea and a plethora of yummy cake goods. Not so good for lunch, as it’s just basic sandwiches on offer, so perhaps better as a good excuse for taking afternoon tea like a fancy person. The tea room was bustling but had a really nice atmopshere and very friendly staff, and was a great place to sit supping from our seemingly never ending pot of tea and reading books for an afternoon. They also stock tea to buy online here. I bought my boyfriend some lapsang souchong for Christmas (and a yellow submarine tea infusor, how cute is it?!) and it was really nicely pacakaged and tasted just as good at home without a nice waitress to brew it for you.

The more I write, the more wholesome and twee our Nottingham trip seems! I was going to say we did do one thrill-seeking, adrenaline pumping activity… but it was taking a ride on the carousel in the city centre. Ok, so we were definitely the only people on there over the age of 8, but it did go really fast and was dead scary, honest.

I’d definitely take a trip back to Nottingham. It was cheap, it was cheery and if nothing else takes you fancy – it’s probably the only place in the world where you can ride a carousel horse named Grandma.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I hate to be disparaging about Leeds because it was my home for five years and I did love it dearly, but sometimes I am reminded how much BETTER London is (sorry!!!) and Winter Wonderland was a very good example indeed.

In Leeds we got the yearly Christmas German Market (actually otherwise known by me and Lol as the German Market of Heartbreak & Doom owing to the fact that everytime the German Market came to town for my 5 years of life there; one of us seemed to on the cusp breaking up/be broken up with by someone and crying into our giant sausage about it.) anyway I digress, for a change. The German market is cool. There are a few little huts selling homemade things, gingerbread and the like. There is a small carousel. There is ONE beer/sausage/schnitzel area that you have to queue in the cold for about 30 minutes to even shuffle inside. And there are some dodgems.

This is what I was expecting when I met up with magic-two-Heathcote for a festive jaunt to Hyde Park. He had been to Winter Wonderland before, a few years ago, and I had never been. Mainly I had never been because I was expecting it to be like the German Christmas Market of Heartbreak and Doom and really once you’ve seen one, you’ve sort of seen them all. BOY WAS I WRONG! The Winter Wonderland is honestly the place dreams are truley made and if you live in London you have top get yourself down there! Website & Tickets Here.

There are no words, it was just magical and enchanting and amazing and if you want to feel the tiny-child Christmas way then this is the only guarentee. Plus there are endless little wooden chalets with fires and mulled wine to rest as you venture round in the cold. We were there 3 hours and didn’t even get around the whole thing! I am going MULTIPLE TIMES next year! Who’s with me?

One regret though, is not having the guts to order a cool power. I want one of those, whatever it is.

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Is everyone getting a little sick of Christmas chat? I thought I’d have a  day off, since strictly I can’t really feel in full festive swing until my plane lands safely tonight in Northern Ireland and my two weeks of lie-ins, boardgames, FOOD and family fun starts! And I’m still at work today, poor me.

So; this is just a shameless excuse to talk about my all time favourite thing growing up, and put out a plea to see if there were any fellow obsessives like me.

From the age of 9 to about 12, I was single-mindedly obsessed with one thing and one thing only. Both myself and my sister were in fact, regularly pooling pocket money and Christmas present opportunities and tag-team scouring car boot sales and charity shop shelves. No it wasn’t Sylvanian Families, or cute Care Bears or wholesome Enid Blyton stories. Our lives were consumed with the world of POINT HORROR BOOKS!

  

   

The Point Horror phase of my life (yes it deserves official ‘phase’ status) started when the portable book library came to school. I’m not sure if this was just a Yorkshire, Northern or UK thing but once a year, this glorified shelving unit on wheels would pitch up to your school and you could purchase cheap books from it. I guess it was an initiative to encourage reading, and it was definitely one the most exciting days of the school year for freaky bookworm kids like me.

I was still stuck in the lame old land of Babysitters Club books, but my older and way cooler sister picked up a copy of The Boyfriend. It was a book that basically took a pretty weak storyline and stretched it over an entire 80 pages! I would describe the storyline, but only the amazingly cheesey blurbs (that used to make my heart leap!) can do it justice:

Wealthy, beautiful, spoilt Joanna Collier has it all, including her boyfriend Dex. But then she breaks up with him – the gorgeous Shep seems more her type. When Dex dies in a terrible accident, Joanna’s sorry, of course, but it’s not her fault is it? She never loved him anyway – he was just another toy to be used and thrown away. But now Dex is back – from the dead. And he wants one last date with her…

What is there not to love! The mega-cool American names Dex and Shep (so exotic), the romance, the passion, the TERRORRRRR!!! I remember we passed this book between us until it was literally falling to pieces. And then we discovered that this book was not a glorious once-off, but part of a collection of books in the Point Horror genre.

   

   

Various different authors published under the genre, the most profilic being R.L.Stine, Caroline B Cooney, Diane Hoh, Carol Ellis and Sinclair Smith. I don’t think we were fussy about the author, although the randomness of seemingly anyone being able to write Point Horror books did mean you occasionally got a real STINKER by some newbie, such as The Phantom by Barbara Steiner… run on Babs! You’re no RL Stine!

It is seemingly worrying that at such a young age we were obsessed with books based around sereal killers, death, horror and terror! But the books seemed to mainly focus on a girl with an issue to solve (not pretty enough, not popular enough, no prom date, no boyfriend, too many boyfriends, too popular, too pretty… you get the picture) and I guess alot of the appeal hinged on this more than the spook-factor.

My favourite trilogy of books was The Cheerleader, Vampires Promise and Vampires Return; although they actually were just one storyline rehashed for three seperate books. In them a plain, unpopular, unattractive girl is desperate to be a cheerleader and popular. She moves into a new house and there is a vampire living in the shutters of her bedroom (I know, I know) who offers her the chance to become beautiful; but she has to chose an already beautiful/popular girl to lose their looks and ultimately; life. I mean COME ON! When you are 12 and a pretty uncool, not particular popular girl  (me) of course a book where the character gets to become instantly popular and hot is going to appeal… as you sort of spend 90% of your life fantasising about the exact same thing.

And yes this photo is only half of our collection circa 1997; at that point we owned every single one that had been published up to that point. I kid you not. In each new purchase; we would proudly cross off each one we had from the full list of released titles that they printed on the opening page! We would also write ‘helpful’ marks out of ten and little reviews of each one next to the title; in case we leant them to friends. It got very messy if we both wrote reviews, especially if they weren’t in agreement.

I think my alltime favourite Point Horror was The Babysitter. Hardly the most original plot (OR blatent rip off of the babysitting urban myth about crank calls) but still, a classic!

I’m not sure what happened to Point Horrors. How me and my sister didn’t SOLELY keep them in business I do not know! For a time there were Point Crimes (bit weak), Point Romance (too slushy and WAY racier than Judy Blume – Forever, which is really saying something) and Point Sci Fi (snore). They then began a series called ‘Unleashed’ which was marketed as a slightly darker, edgier genre of Point Horrors. I remember excitedly getting the first one of these books called At Gehenna’s Door and it was so scary I started crying whilst reading it and it had a bit about eating someones brain from a skull and I was like woah woah woah where are all the cheerleaders? And dates? And the pizza parlours? It definitely went over my fear-limit at that age and they never published anymore non-Unleashed Point Horrors so the dream was over.

I have to confess, I still have quite a hefty chunk of the books at my parents house, so often whenever I’m home in my old tiny bedroom, with my single bed, I sneak a few in and re-read my favourites such as: The Invitation (RSVP or DIE!), The Snowman (A cold-blooded killer.), The Funhouse (Hear the fear!), Camp Fear (The past can’t hurt you, it can kill you.) and Dream Date (Sweet dreams and rest in peace…) absolute guilty pleasure.

 

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Usually 30 people sit on my floor at work. Today, there are 4 people sat on my floor at work. EVERYONE has left for Christmas pretty much, so this leaves me free to roam around munching chocolate and wearing a hoody and generally working at a snails pace! And, um, maybe spending a bit more time than usual perusing the ASOS sale section. The leopard print maxi dress I’ve had a beady eye on for weeks has been reduced by 50% so I might have to order (another) Christmas present to me, from me!

After sampling pretty much every possible Christmas hot beverage within a mile of my work (!) I yesterday discovered Costa Coffees Mocha Flake which is a standard mocha but made with TWO FLAKES crumbled into it. This sounds like the kind of creation I would whip up at home, but obviously made by professional barristas, so is 100 times better. This definitely wins my favourite festive drink of the year.

So, it’s still THE BIG CHILL in London. I think I mentioned before, I really like cold weather so I’m quite enjoying the cold snap and having a proper winter season for once. I love the snow and the frosty breath and the minus degrees and an excuse to wear a scarf inside. I don’t like cold toes, but since I discovered the genius that is thermal socks (even Primark stock them now, in pretty stripey colours) this isn’t an issue. They passed the ultimate test yesterday; walking around Hyde Park for three hours with a hole in the sole of my boot and an inch of slush on the ground.

London does Christmas really well. I don’t think there’s anywhere I’d rather be at this time of year and even if I’m a bit grumbley about still being at work; I did love walking around Soho and Oxford Street yesterday under all the twinkley lights and scoping out the vast window displays. Selfridges definitely wins this year! And outside Hyde Park the trees are covered in fairy lights and the fountains are all lit up red and green. I suppose growing up in Bradford, where they being out the SAME 12 days of Christmas lights every year (where 10 Lords a Leaping hasn’t lit up since I was a toddler, yet they still hang it up!) then I extra appreciate all the details and effort that London puts in to making every inch of street twinkly and festive.

Here are a few (not all festive) links that have been keeping me smiling this week:

1. Sometimes such a simple idea makes for a wonderous blog. And that is definitely true of Someone Else Will Put It Back. Photographs of where people have dumped food in random places in supermarkets, sometimes with deep psycho-analysis of what this might mean, e.g switching fruit salad for a hefty chocolate pudding

2. The adorable Tieka of Selective Potential went to a Christmas Party last week and I have to say, present were the finest array of garish Christmas jumpers, sweaters AND tank tops known to man! Go and behold!

3. Spending two hours a day underground can challenge the strongest persons mental state so you have to find coping mechanisms for when you find yourself stuck in a pitch black tunnel without a book or free newspaper to save you from boredom. I spend alot of time memorising tube station names, or making rude words out of the adverts OR looking for animals shapes within the tube map. I thought it was just me, but then I discovered there is an entire WEBSITE dedicated to this activity. It’s lovely!

4. Do you like grizzly things? My good friend Lee makes adult claymations. Not saucy adult; gutsy, gorey adult! They are amazing, and he is living the dream by quitting his job and now focussing on making claymations fulltime. His Evil Dead in 60 seconds claymation got critical acclaim and attracted the attention of the holy Edgar Wright! So it isn’t just me who thinks they are ace. But clay and stuff costs money, so he is currently asking for donations to the cause. Put your hand in your pocket and donate, and you can get yourself a host of gifts in return like signed cards, props from the set and DVDs of all the work, so everyone is a winner. It’s always great to support up and coming talent, and I’m sure when he’s living on a private yaught in Maui he will remember those who help him at this fledgling stage of his career ;]
READ MORE, WATCH AND DONATE HERE!

5. Kitten in a tiny hat!!! I like the hat, I dislike the slapping alot.

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I’ve finally got the momentum going and the nack of questioning, to make my spotlight monthly! To celebrate I am SO excited to have been able to bring you a super special lady for my December edition.

I’ve always been quite laid-back about the prospect of weddings, not really up for any white poofy meringue numbers or people staring and starting to hyperventalate at the thought of choosing first dance songs [DEEP BREATH] but… after discovering the heavenly home of rock n roll bride, I can feel my icey wedding heart start to thaw.

The first day I found the blog I promptly made a giant coffee and sat and read pretty much the entire site from start to finish! Kat blogs about special and unique weddings from around the globe, and what I adore the most is that they are all so personal and unique and special and you really learn about the couples personalities and love and that is surely what a good wedding is all about!

            [Photo of the lady herself; Kat c/o  David McNeil]

Kat herself is a real starlet, her warmth and passion for weddings and all things bridal really shines through everything she does, and I’m so grateful for her squeezing me into her very busy schedule!

1. When did you start your blog & why?
I started Rock n Roll Bride in 2007 when I was planning my own wedding. i used it as an online diary to document the things i liked and wanted to use in our wedding. After the wedding I didn’t want to stop blogging so I morphed the blog into a place to share the unique, alternative and rock n roll weddings and photo shoots that I loved. Nowadays the blog attracts a huge following alll around the world and is the most popular wedding blog in the uk. I have been able to meet and get to know a lot of amazing people within the wedding industry who I like to share with my readers.

            [Photo c/o Rebecca & John & La Photographie]

2. What inspired you in terms of content/theme/appearence?
My readers inspire the weddings that i feature! pretty much everything i share is either submitted by recent brides and readers of the site or by wedding photographers who want to attract clients like those awesome brides that read my site! The theme and concept is a true reflection of myself. The site has always had a pink theme (obviously – look at my hair!) I recently had a complete re-branding and I employed a graphic designer who i greatly love and admire (Nubby Twiglet) to design my new logo styling. My husband is a IT geek so he does all the technical bits. very handy!

3. How would you describe your blog in three words?
rock. and. roll!

           [Photo c/o Adam and Barbara & Allebach Photography]

4. What do you love (/if anything hate) about your blog?
i love being my own boss and that i dont have to commute! i love that i can wake up late, work in my pj’s and stay up late (working or playing!) Ive never really been one to follow rules so i love that i cam make my own. I also love how amazing my readers make me feel. daily emails telling me that what im doing is inspiring people and helping them with their wedding planning makes it all so worthwhile! The only thing that annoys me is that im just so busy that i cant feature everything i’d like to. there just physically isnt enough time! I could do with an extra day in the week please!
 
5. What makes you the most happy and most sad in general life?
my husband, my kittens and my blog friends make me happy. copycats and people only in it for themselves or ‘fame’ make me sad

 6. Who is behind Rock n Roll Bride? Its just me! Im kat, im 26 and i love pink, kittens, sparkle, vivienne westwood, tattoos, shopping, 24 and photography. im a huge poser. I live in the uk, just outside of london and i listen to the same rock music that i did as a teenager!

                              [Photo c/o Jeanie and Mike & We Love Pictures]
 
7. What items are top of your Christmas wishlist?
these new vivienne westwood shoes. i LOVE!  & id also like a new vivienne handbag too and maybe a few days off…hehe!
 
8. Which others blogs do you feast on?
too many! but my utter favourites are Gala Darling, Ruffled and the rockstar diaries
 
9. Which have been your all time favourite weddings to feature?
This is such a hard question as ive featured thousands in the past 3 years! However here are some of my recent faves:
Eclectic Vintage DIY Wedding
Laid Back Homespun Festival Wedding
Incredible Red White Vintage Wedding
Silly Fun Rock n Roll Vintage Wedding

               [Photo c/o Eliesha and Joel & Jonas Peterson]

Thanks again Kat! I advise you to tuck up warm this weekend and get yourself over to Rock n Roll Bride. Weddings are such a privilidge to go to, so getting to gorge yourself on so many wonderul, unique peoples love and special day cannot FAIL to turn you into a squidgy, melty, romantic mess.

 Previous spotlights are here…

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Breakfast Club

Oh Brunch, let me count the ways in which I love you.

You aren’t early enough to be breakfast (tummy too tired to function) but you aren’t late enough to be lunch (argh half the day passed already). You are the perfect inbetween; a fake meal who snuck into my life and stole the best meal prize.  The best brunches include a good friend for company, lots of re-ordering pots of tea, the Sunday newspapers, a scrabble board and going 2 rounds of food so you can try two different types of breakfast combinations.

The best brunches start with sleepy Sunday eyes and I need coffeeee, and end when the sun is setting again and you realise that brunch became lunch and dinner and your entire day. Brunch is unrushable, basically! 

I’ve taken my job of discovering the best places to brunch very seriously and here is the top five. If you ever want to discuss this shortlist over brunch… that would be swell. (Especially at The Woseley aka Brunch venue of the stars and way out of my lowly price range; who’s menu I have downloaded on my desktop and read sometimes just for fun. SAD…)

 #1. S&M Cafe Spitalfields, 48 Brushfield Road, London, E1 6AG :

Be sure to sign up to the lovers club for amazing offers. Straight away you get £10 funny money which should see you a couple of trips for free!

Despite the fear in some compainions eyes when I tell them I’m taking them to an S&M cafe, there is nothing kinky here except the occasional Carry On film-still on a menu. S&M stands for Sausage & Mash, which the cafe specialises in when it isn’t serving up KILLER brunches! Cute red gingham table clothes,  oh so friendly staff and – for London – the cheapest  edible brunches I have found so far. You can get 3 breakfast items of your choice (including the holy grail that is bubble&squeak) for £3.25 and a cup of tea for £1.40. If you’re on a post pay day rampage then you should go bigger and braver. Their day job as sausage specialists means there are treats such as marmite or caerphilly cheese & leek bangers to try.

#2. Riveresque 15 Bridge End Road, Leeds, LS1 7HG

 

A picture tells a thousand words and hopefully this one is telling you that the Riveresque cafe WINS the portion size prize. I mean count it for yourself! That’s 4 toasts, 2 hash browns, 2 eggs, 4 sausages, 3 bacons, beans, mushrooms and tomato. For £5. I can’t see how they’re turning a profit but boy was I grateful  (need to work on my grateful face) Added to the generosity, you get a neat view of the river and randomly, a heaving back catalogue of Chat magazines to browse through. After the 2nd egg; reading Love thy neighbour: the girl next door sliced my Mels head off for £30! wasn’t a great move. Please go, but please take your own reading material.

#3. The Pot 38 Crwys Road, Cardiff, CR24 4NR : Click

It’s quite ironic that I had my first ever traditional American breakfast in Wales, but I can’t imagine the yanks make them any better. Wow-wee. Waffles, pancakes stacked to the sky, bacon, maple syrup and the perfect sunny side up. This little gem might involve a hefty hike out of the town centre to the student patch of Cardiff, but it is well worth the treck and hey, you’ll have walked off any calories you injest when you can’t resist the chocolate cookie milkshake. The decor here is flea market/shabby chic and the most serene spot to while away some hours. The waitresses are also adorable, all decked out in frilly polka dotted pinnies and so friendly that it definitely feels like you can stretch out and sit it out for the long weekend haul.

#4. Clock Cafe, Headingley Lane, Leeds, LS6

Is it called Clock Cafe? Or LS6? A long, pointless, bone of contention between Leeds residents Vs the Leeds student population! This place means business and isn’t in any way meant to be visited for less than three hours. Pitch up in one of the huge boothes, grab yourself scrabble and buckaroo and start calling friends to visit you over the course of the day. Afraid the brunch menu isn’t up to much, so this is a location for when you have a serious hangover. Then you can order the giant portion of dutch fries (of which the hot skinny waitresses like to ask ‘are you sure you want a whole portion to yourself, they are very big’ the answer is YES YES YOU DO!) mm curly fries, cheese, mayo and ketchup. Add in an iced coffee and a few hours later the fairy lights come on and the cafe turns into a bar and you can order a Fruli beer and start the night where your day began.

 #5. The Breakfast Club 2-4 Rufus Street, Hoxton, N1 6PE : Click

 

Wins the best cafe name before I even step foot over the threshold. I hadbeen perusing this joint on the internet for weeks before I even moved to London and my hopes were high as it boasts 2nd place in the Observer food awards – Best UK Breakfast line-up. Brunch here quite regularly involves a queue first and even then, it’s so busy you may well have to sit on the big shared tables with… STRANGERS argh! So not one for shy and retiring types, or people who want to swap secrets. The menu is epic though with absolutely tons of choice; including a dish called Green Eggs & Ham ♥ If you like a side portion of risk with your eggs opt for the charity breakfast – where you flip a coin and if you win – you get a £12 brekkie for £4. If you lose, you pay £12 but the extra money is donated to charity. Although I would recommend The Breakfast Club, all the staff I’ve encountered are very East London Cool (read: surly and quite affronted when faced with this prospect of you actually wanting to order food from them, rather than just gaze lovingly at them!) so do not go if you are on the verge of losing consciousness with hunger as service is slightly slow and sometimes stroppy!

PS. In non brunch information, I finally have a blog email address. likeaskeletonkey@hotmail.com – feedback, brunch recommendations, thoughts, ideas for posts and well anything you’d like to say here please!

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Me and my day trip buddies had planned this trip months in advance, picking a day at random and scribbling in our diaries on the train home from the seaside in April. This time we wanted to take our day-trip relationship to the next level. We were ready to commit, we were ready to invest seriously. We were ready for… BENSON! (our street car hire car) We made a shortlist of potential locations and after lots of umming and aahing, Ali came through with Isle of Purbeck in Dorset. As the day approached, England was in a pretty good state of affairs. Blistering heat and glorious sunshine and not a cloud in the sky. Until you reached our day-trip day on the five day forecast for Dorset and the summary was “Chilly, with beefy rainclouds“. Luckily, like with many things (eg. the time bbc weather told me Bestival would have a mini-heatwave. In reality there was a freak storm, followed by a typhoon, followed by people being airlifted to safety from the knee-deep mud…) they were wrong. And thus followed… the day of perfect.

 

 

 

 

 

 After a 3 hour drive and listening to Go West a few more times than necessary, we boarded the ferry that took us from mainland Dorset onto the peninsular . Our first stop was Corfe Castle which is a quaint little chocolate box village with a beautiful ruined old castle sat overlooking it. It’s apparently what Kirrin Island in the Enid Blyton books is based on, which made the fact we climbed up to the top for some jolly wholesome exploring and picnicking even better. Ali had made the most amazing picnic – to make sandwich bread you buy a Tiger loaf, empty out the middle and then fill it with your favourite fillings (more the merrier, I think we had cheese, ham, pickle, tomato, black olive spread & hard boiled egg!) then when you arrive at your munching location you can just slice it and ta-da instant, perfect sandwiches. We had a flask of ice tea and punnets of huge strawberries and raspberries. We met some mountain beasts (ok, brown sheep) and moseyed around the village shops before getting scared because it appears their thing is scarecrows and pretty sinister looking ones at that, with pipe-cleaner glasses. I have an irrational fear of scarecrows and it was beginning to feel like we were in the Wickerman, so made a hasty exit.

 

Isle of Purbeck was enchanting because we kept stumbling across incredible things when we least expected it. For example we pulled into a standard looking Co-op to use the cash point and behind it we found this vintage steam railway that looked straight out of a film set. By now we were getting itchy beach feet and the sun was like nothing else. Total Hawaii weather. We pulled up at a random path that looked sandy and started trekking towards what we hoped was a beach. 20 minutes of walking barefoot on scorching sand, through ferns & forests and past lakes and not seeing a soul… we spotted the sea! And white sands! And… a large angry looking naked man! 

We had managed to locate the ‘famous’ (apparently) nudest beach, and boy was it busy. We had no option really but to skulk along the dunes, trying to keep our eyes on the horizon, but the naked people seemed very keen to run past/towards us and I definitely saw more wobbling male genitalia in that 30 minutes than my entire life up to that point. We paddled past the nakeds and towards a more clothes-friendly part called Shell Bay.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The main aim of daytrips is always to sample the local fish and chips, and we found a place in Swannage that definitely fitted all my requirements called ‘The Fish Plaice” and with a surly 12 year old looking waitress who we had to practically use brute force to get to actually acknowledge our presence and take our order! The fish was lovely but the batter was greas-ee. A chocolate milkshake and OD on tartare sauce helped. Also +points for the 20p bread and butter slices on the side. For pudding? A polystyrene pot of shrimps from a kiosk on the pier, that scared Craig so much that if I chased him with them he screamed a bit.

 

The sun finally set and on route home we stopped at a pub in Wareham to laze in their beer garden and eat homemade Dorset apple pie with cornish clotted cream. Even the 4 hour journey home (big bad motorway accident, boo) and then the fact I missed my last tube and had to stomp my sandy feet through the mean streets of Bow at 11.30pm couldn’t wipe the fresh-air smile off my face. The phrase ‘staycation’ used to filll me uncertainty, but I really doubt you could find prettier places across the whole of Europe as the Isle of Purbeck. I’m sure we only scraped the surface and I’m already plotting my return.

We only have one more day-trip of the summer left, before Ali abandons us for a life of Fika and Ikea homeware in Sweden in August, so any location recommendations welcome.

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I’ve escaped London for the rest of the week to hide at home in Yorkshire. Being a ratrace-face is starting to give me burn out so there was only one option, hit the woods and walk and walk until I was hopelessly lost.

 

 

 

As well as a good fish & chips and a good cup o’ tea, I really miss WOODS. Where are the woods in London? I don’t understand. There are plenty of good parks, yes I can vouch for that. Granted; there’s lovely heaths, there’s a pretty awesome river and riverbank. There’s boating lakes, there’s urban farms and there’s some super hills (Primrose Hill is the place I run to the second the sun puts its hat on). All these things are fine and dandy but I want treeeeees. I want dense fairy tale forest with moss and gnarled roots reaching for your feet as you wander through. I googled London Woods and it produced quite a lowely list of 15, most of which on further inspection contain the words small, former or previous and so I guess don’t actually really exist anymore. I think the best option looks to be Queens Wood particularly appreciating this line in the review …the wood has no park or playing fields but does sport a children’s adventure playground built on top of the plague pit. (!) so I might venture out there when I’m back in the smokey city.

 

 

To satisfy my lack of woodland woe I ventured out to Hardcastle Craggs near Hebden Bridge. I arrived at about 11am and it had been raining all morning, that constant drizzle that makes your face and hair all dewy. Luckily I was really protected by the canopy of new leaves for most of my walk so could just enjoy the beautiful freshgreen rainy smell and use it as an excuse to don my wellies and jump around in the river. It also meant I could take some photos without the sky giving my camera a shower. The walk was about two miles and I only bumped into two other people and a giddy spaniel! I saw lots of unseasonal robins, a tree-creeper, a dipper, a beautiful yellow wagtail and a bunch of ants eating bilberries. My favourite spot of all was this little chap. He looked extremely happy mooching along the damp bark.

I love the eerie mist that hangs around deep inside woods and the mysterious way that everywhere you look can shift and sway and look the same as the place you’ve just come from. I think everything can be put in perspective by getting deep down into nature and listening to the peace and quiet

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