I ain't afraid of no ghosts… *


*Actually that's a lie. I am scared of ghosts. And zombies. And basically anything paranormal. Oh, and dinosaurs too. Seriously. I can’t even watch Jurassic Park without having nightmares and becoming convinced that a velociraptor is hiding in the bathroom.
I never used to be such a scaredy cat. When I was a kid I'd be the first to tell horror stores and I even forced some friends into doing an ouija board. I was fearless!

So when did I become not so fearless? I think it started in 2002 and I am wholeheartedly blaming Danny Boyle. I went to the cinema with a friend to see 28 Days Later. I don’t why but somehow we were the only ones in the entire screen, which was a bit eerie anyway.

And the film itself. Well. It’s terrifying – mainly because IT COULD HAPPEN. (Stop laughing – it could! We don’t know what these Scientists get up to behind closed doors….)

Anyway, after hiding behind my large popcorn bucket for pretty much the entire film, I was then scared to leave the cinema screen convinced that during the 113 minutes we’d been inside, the entire population had turned into zombies.

It took me a little while to build up the courage and it was only with a lot of coaxing that I left the building and ran to the car.

So there we have it. From then on horror films that had never really bothered me suddenly did.

In 2010 I was lucky enough to go on a press trip to Universal.  The press trip was centred at Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights. Now we all know the Americans do Halloween well, but let me tell you, after going to this I can confirm the Americans do Halloween RIDICULOUSLY well.

There is no person in a comical sheet that shouts boo at you now and again. Oh no. It’s a lot more bloody petrifying than that.

I’m talking about men chasing you with ACTUAL chainsaws, which they drag along the floor in front of your feet and crazy clowns being crazy clown like. 

Oh and then of course there is the 13 houses of horror, which we had to walk through, each one scarier than the other.

Now the rest of the group took it all in their stride, enjoying the scare factor. My friend Ed and I however, were the opposite of taking in our stride. We were actually running in the other direction screaming our heads off.

In one house we walked towards a mirror and could see a ghoul behind us so we ran forward but it was a trick mirror and suddenly the ghoul was in front of us. Ed gripped my arm so hard he actually gave me a huge bruise.

Most of the houses I went through with my eyes closed chanting a prayer to God that I’d be good forevermore if he just got me through this…. Fear does weird things to people, OK?

One of the houses was actually based around 28 Days Later with soldiers on dog chains and generally just crazy zombies jumping out. Basically my kind of nightmare. I’m not sure how I walked through it. I think my memory has blanked it out and put it in a box at the back of my mind marked Never to be Opened.

Put it like this, I was glad when it was all over and we could head back to the hotel because the fear and adrenaline had given me the worst headache I’d ever had. But obviously I was then too scared to sleep, convinced a velociraptor was hiding in the bathroom…. 

So I'm happy to skip Halloween this year thanks and forevermore, is it Bonfire night yet? 

October Reading


If you’re anything like me, you’ll have a copy of Zadie Smith’s White Teeth on your book case, looking all fancy to impress visitors – but you pray that they haven’t read in themselves and ask you questions because of course, you haven’t actually read it.

Recently I joined a book club and the first book was Zadie Smith's NW. I was really pleased because it meant I'd actually have too read a book of hers rather than giving up after the first few chapters! 

NW follow four Londoners – Leah, Natalie, Felix and Nathan – after they’ve left their childhood estate and moved on to very different lives from each other. After a chance encounter they each find that the choices they've made, the people they once were and are now, rapidly unravel. 

This book is covers so many things: love, race, the pursuit of and the definition of happiness, the embarrassments of youth and the falling short of ideals and expectations. 

Now I’m not going to say this book was an easy read - it really wasn’t. Challenging is probably the best word to describe it! But it was also worth it. 

The first part of the book is told from Leah and has no speech marks in it at all so we’re reading as if from her steam of consciousness. This doesn’t really make for an easy read as you’re battling to wonder who said what! It was a little distracting and I found myself having to re-read paragraphs and sometimes pages. 

The section is told from Felix and with the added use of grammar makes it much easier to read and follow and by far he was my favourite character. Natalie came last with a couple of surprises that you just weren't expecting.

NW is without a doubt worth a read, even though difficult at times it did keep me gripped as I was desperate to find out how everything was resolved. Like I said, NW was challenging at times but it's oh so worth it when you get to the end! 

Perfect Paris


Paris. Because I'd been there aged 14 on a school trip I thought I'd 'done it' and therefore had never had any desire to go back - how stupid I was. 

Last month (of how the sunny days of September seem so very, very far away now) my fabulous friend Amy was visiting from Sydney. Unlike me she was desperate to go France's capital - and with the knowledge that Champagne would be on tap, I was more than a willing companion. 

We boarded the Eurostar from St Pancras for the bargain price of £60. (Who knew it was so cheap?! Just a few days later I travelled to the less than glamorous Derby for the not so cheap price of £82!!) And just two hours later we'd arrived. 

The moment I stepped out of the station in Paris, I knew I'd had it all wrong for all these years and this was going to be so, so different from the school trip I went on. 

For starters we weren't staying in a grubby hostel but in the decadent Hotel du Panthéon in the rather cool St Germain. 

Dropping off our bags we headed straight out to soak up the Parisian atmosphere - which basically meant drink Champagne and eat cheese. 

Lunch consisted of Croque Monsieur, a selection of cheeses and a bottle of Pommery, whilst sat outside a little cafe. Paris had me in her grip. I could see instantly why it was the city of romance - the cheese saw to that. 

Afterwards we walked through a park and took in the beautiful buildings before stumbling upon a gorgeous little chocolate shop. Stocking up we then headed back to the hotel to get ready for that night. 

Dinner was at Kong, a Japanese infusion restaurant which you may know from the famous Sex and the City episode where Carrie meets her Russian lover's x-girlfriend.

And hey, if it's good enough for Carrie, it's sure is good enough for us. 

With it's glass top rooftop we had the most perfect views across the city a sunset. Of course Champagne was ordered (when in Rome and all that, or in this case, er, Paris…) 

Amy ordered their famous lobster with udon noodles while I went with the tuna and red curry mashes potatoes. YUM. 

Afterwards we went a short taxi ride to the Crazy Horse. Now I know people go on about Moulin Rouge being fabulous and I can't really comment as I've never been, but what I can say is if you get the choice you should seriously go to Crazy Horse, you won't regret it. This is the best cabaret I've ever been too - the girls are mesmerising! 

The next day after an obvious breakfast of croissants and of course more cheese, we headed down the Seine to the Pont de l'Archevche also known as the lovers bridge over the Seine with Notre Dame nestled behind it. 

With those tourists spots ticked off we headed to Angelina, the original French tea room where I had the most delicious pistachio macaroon which was almost as big as my face. All washed down with Champagne - what else?! 

That the evening we headed to Eiffel Tower as we wanted to see it at sunset.

While it was lovely and iconic what ruined it was the sheer amount of people pestering you to buy tacky souvenirs. We were going to have dinner round there but we were really put off so headed back to St Germain ending our trip how we started it - sat outside a little cafe drinking Champers and eating a  Croque Monsieur and a selection of cheeses. Perfect.

Paris you were très bien! Let's not leave it so long next time, yeah? 

Bloody Brilliant Blogs #1


I read a lot of books every month and review the best of the bunch. But it occurred to me a couple of weeks ago that I what I really read a hell of a lot of is other peoples (brilliant) blogs and I want to talk about them too! 

I know a lot of other bloggers do their round ups of favourite blogs so this is my input too!

Firstly, I was lusting over this Domestic Sluttery  post on their Etsy Pick: The Happy Pencil. I LOVE owls so this print is now top of my birthday list (17 days away, FYI…). 

Next up, there has been a lot of food loveliness in the blogging world this week. Gingey Bites presented this smoked mackerel pate which I am thinking would make a perfect Christmas starter…. Amy over at Cocktails in Teacups made her own version of Wagamama's Katsu Chicken which looked AMAZING and with it being autumn good and proper now I shall be following Ashleigh from 25 to 30's pumpkin soup recipe

And now, prepare to drool at What Olivia Did's Nutella macaroons. I need them in my life right NOW.

I LOVED The Cup and Saucer's Royal Family post - someone who is a big a Royalist as me!! Whoever didn't have a smile at the Christening photos and how gorgeous George looked must have a heart of stone. 

Finally, my friend in real life Kim from Lunacy of Ink unveiled the transformation of her cow shed - which now has it's very own bar! ENVY! Get that Prosecco chilled Kim, I'll be over to prop the bar up soon… 

So there is my round up, some fab blogs I'm sure you'll agree. Until next week! 

Happy Birthday Just Seventeen!


A couple of weeks ago I read this great feature in Stylist: The magazine that changed our life - and how true it was. 

Just like more magazine (RIP) I got all my sex education, info on boys and fashion and beauty tips from teen magazines, especially Just Seventeen. I'm an only child so it really was the big sister I never had telling me all the bits of information that I was too embarrassed to ask my mum. 

Of course I was nowhere near 17 when I became a reader, I was more like 11 and reading it was a true eye opener. Did I need to know how to turn a bad guy good? Or how to play it cool so he'd notice you? Probs not, but that information proved very handy a few years later. Just Seventeen  was a revision guide for the real world and most importantly it gave me my one true love - Take That. 

I poured over every interview (in there hey day of the mid-90s they adorned the pages a LOT) and cut out the pictures of Gary to blue-tack onto my wall or glue into my Take That scrapbook (don't judge.) 

Of course, it's quite racy content meant that my mum didn't allow me to actually buy it so it was smuggled into me by a friend at school who had very relaxed parents. I then shoved it to the bottom of my school bag before getting home and stashing the issue under my bed which had become a graveyard for magazines I shouldn't really have been reading… 

When Just Seventeen went monthly and glossier, changing it's name to J-17, I loved it even more and when I was 15-years-old I applied fro work experience and got a one-week placement. My school wasn't happy because they wouldn't be able to send anyone to check on me, my mum was a little nervous too about letting me loose in London. I didn't care, I was going and no one was stopping me. 

I'd just turned 16 when I finally stepped into the J-17 offices on Shaftsbury Avenue and I knew there and then the only thing I wanted to do was work for a magazine. It was glamorous! It was fun! And when I heard one of the writers interviewing Gary Lucy, my mind was blown… 

OK, so I spent the week making tea and sorting through letters and competition entries but it didn't matter. I was sold and loved every minute. 

It's a shame that J-17 isn't around today. I've said it before and I'll say it again, I know you can get all the information you could ever need with one click of button on the Internet, but it's not quite the same or as fun as lying to your newsagents that: 'Of course you're 17' is it?

Happy Birthday J-17. Hope you have a fabulous day in the great magazine heaven in the sky.  

Bridget's back....


I was 14/15 when I picked up Bridget Jones's Diary off my mum's bookcase in the late 90's and I LOVED it.  

It made me laugh but most of all I was completely envious of Bridget's life. OK, her love life was messy and she was a bit scatty BUT she was a journalist, had a fab flat in London and spent her spare time getting pissed with her mates on Chardonnay. That's the life I wanted! She was my idol! 

So I was really excited to read Helen Fielding's latest instalment on Bridget's life - and I wasn't disappointed. 

The world has changed since we last heard from Bridget (who is now 51 which I really struggle to get my head round…) but luckily the Bridget we know and love hasn't. She's still scatty, clumsy, logs her weight and alcohol units - and now we have texts and tweets to add to the mix. 

It's been well published that Mark Darcy died so Bridget is now a widow with two small children. A lot of people were outraged that Bridget's happy ending was killed off but I was pleased - I'm not sure if I'd have liked to read a book where she's morphed into a 'smug married' herself. 

The book takes us on Bridget's journey into online dating and life with a toy boy and of course it's not straight forward…. What is where Bridget is concerned?! 

Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy is what it is - silly and hilarious and you won't be able to put it down. If you were a fan of the first two books then you really must read this. It won't fail to raise a smile. 

There's no such thing as TOO much Champagne....


I don't really need an excuse to drink Champagne, so when I heard that Searcys Champagne bars had launched a National Champagne Week I whooped with joy and headed down to my nearest bar in Westfield Stratford. 

The week was launched after a survey they conducted revealed 48% of people didn't realise that Champagne can only come from France and 62% admitted they wouldn't be able to tell the difference between premium Champagne and a low cost brand. 

Now, I can safely say I DO know Champagne only comes from France however, I wouldn't be so confident in saying that I could tell the difference between premium and low cost Champagne… So there was only now way to educate myself - by ordering the tasting tray where I could sample three different Champagnes from the House of the month. 

This month was Laurent-Perrier and we were poured Laurent-Perrier Rose, Laurent-Perrier Brut and Laurent-Perrier Ultra Brut. 

I'm not a huge fan of rose Champagne (or any kind of rose in fact) but I have to admit this was good, probably because it was very dry. The Laurent-Perrier Brut was also very good but what I was most excited about trying was the Laurent-Perrier Ultra Brut. Ultra Brut means it is super dry and super crisp - meaning it's super amazing, basically. 

And boy - it was. Just from drinking the three glasses from the same Champagne house, I could tell that this was the more expensive of the three. 

Another fabulous thing about the Ultra Brut is that it's a 'zero dosage' Champagne, meaning that no sugar is added at the end of the fermentation process. No one is saying it's a diet Champagne, but knowing it's sugar free means as far as I'm concerned I can drink it guilt free. Apparently it's Kate Moss's preferred Champers too, and if it's good enough for Mossy...

During our time at Searcys we spent time chatting with the manager, Philippe, who talked us not only through the ones we were tasting but also happily talked about his favourites and why which made me immediately want to jump on the Eurostar and head towards Reims, where all the Champagne houses are. 

After eating snacks of potted crab and smoked salmon, which complimented the Champagne perfectly, we headed off very happy from all the bubbles. 

Even though I still can't claim I'm a Champagne expert, I'll happily keep tasting until I am. Top up? Oh go on then…. 

To find your nearest Searcys visit: searcys.co.uk and follow them on twitter: @SearcysBars

30 and fabulous!


Last month saw one of my oldest friends Emily, be the first one of us to road test being 30* - so the pressure was on to get a present(s) that would be perfect! 

So I embarked on the task of putting together 30 presents - each with a note about being 30… 

These included anti-ageing cream (because now she's 30 she'll need it… luckily she isn't offended easily!), an academic diary (to make exciting plans for her 30th year) and a collapsible wine glass (now she's 30 she must always be prepared!)   

My favourite bits that I gave Emily (and her fave bits too!) were from dotcomgiftshop

I loved these little jam jar candle holders which will look great in the house or garden. 

This sign, also from dotcomgiftshop, is perfect as Emily and Sushil have just got married!

And this gorgeous necklace from The Jewel Shack suited her so much! 

She was thrilled with all her bits and we had the most amazing champagne breakfast at Michael Frith's in Bennetts Brasserie. 

For just £22.95 per person you get half a bottle of Champagne per couple and a three course breakfast. Bargain!

I went with the oat, almond and honey granola with dried fruit. 

The full English breakfast…. 

And believe it or not I still had room so went with the mini banana crepes! Seriously lush and all cooked from fresh. If you live in Derby I urge you to go immediately - and at just £22.95 you don't even have to wait for a special occasion! 

It was a lovely day and we had so much fun that I'm looking forward to my 30th even more now next year! 

Have you got any special birthdays coming up? 

*Emily assures me that being 30 is just fabulous!