What I Miss About ‘Normal’ Life

Shelley's Party

I know I was aiming for more ‘light-hearted’ content but I wanted to write a quick post about the things I’m missing today. Although overall I’m doing okay I am having moments or days where I’m completely fed-up and instead of focusing on what I can do I’m focusing on what I can’t do. I don’t want to take that attitude ‘cos that’ll just make things more difficult but maybe writing a list will help as it’ll show me what I have to look forward to when we eventually get out of lockdown (and I think it’ll be a while before we’re completely out of it). But here we go, some things that in no particular order, I miss about ‘normal life’.

Nights Out

50th Birthday

I literally only went clubbing once for the entirety of last year (although I did go to a few parties) but I weirdly miss it now that I can’t do it. I went earlier this year with my friend Sorcha and we had a good time and we had been planning to go again the week the country went into proper lockdown. I was looking forward to it but if I’d been asked to compile a list of my favourite things to do clubbing wouldn’t have been very high. I prefer parties and getting drunk whilst dancing to cheesy music with friends and their family (who I trust) rather than being surrounded by strangers listening to tunes that I don’t know.

And yet, here I am, wanting to get dressed up and go for a night out on the town with my best friends. When the clubs open up again I think it’ll be one of the first things I do, I already have my outfit picked out so I’m bloody ready for a night out.

Drunk Conversations with my Friends

Girls

After Hirst’s Halloween party last year me, Jess and Becca stumbled back to my house, ordered takeout and just talked until stupid o’clock in the morning. On New Year’s Eve we met up again to get drunk and although we mostly played games my favourite moments were our drunken conversations about life, politics and everything in between. One of my favourite parts of being drunk is the stupid conversations me and my friends have.

Okay, so I could get drunk and FaceTime my friends but God it’s not the same. Alcohol goes one of two ways for me, I’ll either be super happy or super sad so if I end up super sad I don’t think it’ll help my lockdown life at all. So I’d rather wait until I can see them in person. I want a night in at one of their houses playing stupid drinking games or something, or maybe just a drunk conversation and takeout session after our night out at the club. I just miss them so much!

Long Car Rides

Weirdly specific but obviously I haven’t left my hometown since this all kicked off. Once a week me, my Mum and brother would drive to visit my Nan in West Bromwich and the journey would take about 40 minutes in the car to get there and then another 40 minutes to get home and I loved sitting back and listening to music whilst staring out the window. My Mum’s still driving over to my Nan’s, not for a visit but to drop off supplies and I did think about volunteering to go with her as company for the car ride but she generally pops over before work and also maybe she appreciates just having some alone time in the car.

In fact, this doesn’t just apply to cars. I also miss long train journeys. I’m used to visiting London quite regularly and I appreciate the long train journey. It’s just a nice bit of time to sit and relax. Obviously I’m still listening to music and chilling at home but it’s not the same.

Meals Out

Me + Ian

I’ve been lucky enough to not have any specific cravings for fast food or my favourite foods from particular restaurants but that doesn’t mean that I don’t miss them. Having to think what to make myself for dinner every single bloody night is grating on me, I don’t like spending too much time in ASDA anymore so I feel like I can’t go up and down looking for ingredients so I’m grabbing whatever’s convenient. I can’t wait to go back to a restaurant, have someone cook my food for me and then do the washing up for me like yes please.

The places I miss the most are probably Wetherspoons (controversial but it’s cheap and quick) and TGI Friday’s (which is weird ‘cos I never even ate there that often). I’ve not had many cravings for fast food like McDonalds or KFC but no doubt once those open I’ll go and grab some. Weirdly I’m also missing my Boots meal deals that I’d grab at lunchtime which is very irritating as I was getting bored of them when I was still working in the office.

I know we can still get takeout from certain places but my parents are being absolute snakes and keep ordering it without telling me so I haven’t even been able to enjoy that at the moment, I just keep having to cook for myself and it’s stressful. Every time I go to the shop I forget every food I’ve ever enjoyed so I’m finding myself eating a lot of the same lately.

Cinema

Cineworld

I love going to the cinema. I love going to my local Cineworld, ordering myself a large milkshake and then settling into my seat to pay attention to a film for a couple of hours. I can watch films at home but my attention wavers a lot at home whereas at the cinema I’m able to focus solely on the film even if I’m not 100% enjoying it. I’m way fussier about films at home, I don’t know why, I think it’s because I’m surrounded by too much temptation. Plus I’m one of those people who won’t even take their phone out for a split second to check the time in the cinema ‘cos I think it’s really rude so it’s almost impossible to get distracted.

There were some cracking films coming out this year as well that have been pushed back, the one I was looking forward to most was definitely ‘A Quiet Place 2’. I can’t wait for the cinemas to be open again, honestly.

Browsing in Stores

I’ve managed to perfect my food shop so that I only need to go to ASDA once every two weeks now and whilst I used to really enjoy shopping I actually low-key dread it now. Okay, that’s not entirely true – I like getting out of the house to actually do something but God being in the store stresses me out. I feel the first few aisles are okay, everyone’s respectful and I wonder why I got so worried. Then the middle and end aisles are horrendous, people just don’t give a damn about social distancing and can’t follow the arrows on the floor. By the time I’m done I’m absolutely exhausted from shoving round my full trolley whilst trying to avoid getting too close to anybody else.

Before lockdown I was a ‘shop as and when’ girl so I’d put enough food for the next couple of days into a basket and then just go out when I needed. I also liked to take my time, weigh up my options in my mind, did I really fancy that etc. Now it’s basically grab and go. Nowadays I sort out a mental list of everything I need a couple of days before I go and try my best to stick to that. It’s also more annoying now if I forget anything non-essential. Last Monday I forgot to grab custard but obviously won’t be popping out to buy any. I miss being able to take my time and also not worrying that all the other shoppers were gonna infect me with a deadly disease because they don’t understand the concept of bloody social distancing.

It’s not just grocery stores either, I used to pop to my local shopping centre every lunchtime at work and I’d love to have a browse in PRIMARK and other stores but that’s obviously not an option at the moment.

Visiting Family and Friends

Me + Little Nan

This is obvious and I’d imagine probably applies to most people. Obviously I’m still talking to my friends but it’s not the same as when we’re all sat in a room together chatting shit. Or out and about doing something. My Dad’s phoning me once a week but it’s not the same as going to his house for dinner. I used to see my Nan weekly which I obviously can’t anymore so I’ve been writing her letters and putting them in with the food deliveries my Mum takes. But it’s obviously never going to be the same as seeing your loved ones in person.

Unfortunately I think my grandparents will be some of the last people I see because even once the restrictions are lifted we’re still going to be a risk to our elderly relatives. I know my brother’s missing my Nan (he keeps throwing tantrums whenever I look after him the little shit) so it’s a shame it’s going to take so long to get back to ‘normal’. But we’ll all have to be patient.

Having the House to Myself

I love having the house to myself. As many of you may know I really don’t get on well with my step-dad and even if I did I’d still appreciate having some alone time to roam around the house. Sometimes it’s just for an evening or sometimes it’s for a bit longer if my parents are on holiday. I like it because I have full access to the kitchen to make whatever I want without worrying I’m taking too long and I can also sit in the living room which apparently is a privilege in our house.

To be fair I imagined we’d have all reached boiling point by now since none of us can go anywhere but we’re ticking by okay. But I’m still looking forward to when they can go out again so I can have the house to myself again. At the moment I’m sort of just stuck in my room and although it could be worse it could also be better.

Travelling

Tokyo 2

I was due to go to Sweden over the Easter Bank Holiday Weekend but that obviously didn’t go ahead. To be fair I already knew before we went into full lockdown that I wouldn’t be able to go but in the grand scheme of things it wasn’t the end of the world. As I’ve pointed out a couple of times I managed to have my big trip to Florida in February so I could give up my weekend in Sweden. I’m due to go to Disneyland Paris for four nights in November but obviously that’s not a certainty anymore but I’ll keep my fingers crossed. I think that since I’ve booked it all through a travel company they’ll be able to rebook for me so it wouldn’t be the end of the world.

Last year I did tons of travelling, probably the most I’ve ever done in a year (6 countries) and I really miss it. I think it’s hard not being able to book anything to look forward to because we don’t know when everything’s going to be back to normal. Yeah, I am struggling with the lack of travel. I can’t even explore the UK at the moment let alone other countries.

Theatre

Me + Hirst

I bloody love going to the theatre and to be fair, before we went into lockdown I’d already been a fair few times. Shortly beforehand I managed to see Six two nights in a row, the first with my Mum and then the second time with Hirst. I’d also had a few weekends in London watching various different shows. I am missing it though. In April I was meant to see ‘Friends – The Musical Parody’ which unfortunately was cancelled. Me and Mum were due to see ‘Mary Poppins’ for the first weekend in June but I’m certain that will be postponed which is a shame as it was my Christmas present. I’m definitely missing my theatre trips.

I’m sure there are plenty of other things that I miss if I thought about it for a while longer but these are the main ones. Feel free to let me know what you guys are missing but for now stay home and stay safe.

Weekend in London 13/12/19 – 16/12/19

London

Earlier this year Mischief Theatre announced their play ‘Peter Pan Goes Wrong’ was returning to London and I was super excited. I’d been to see it with Jess a couple of years previously but it hadn’t returned to London since then. They also announced a tour and I would’ve gone to their Birmingham show but I’ll be in Florida so won’t be able to attend. Although it’s not directly a Christmassy show it does feel more like it should be seen at Christmas so I was happy to take a trip to see it in December.

I decided to extend it to a full weekend after watching ‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’ with my friend Hirst in August. I was getting a big pay out for something or other so decided to treat myself with premium seats for the show that weekend. I figured I could travel up to London the Friday after work, watch two shows on Saturday, see Cursed Child on Sunday then travel home on Monday. So that’s exactly what I did.

The journey to London did not go swiftly. My train was at 6:01PM to take me to Wolverhampton where I’d catch my train to London Euston at 6:45PM. There have been some issues with trains in the UK recently so I decided to catch an earlier train to Wolverhampton just in case. A few people thought I was being over cautious but I’m glad I did because once in Wolverhampton quite a lot of trains were either delayed or cancelled – including the original train to Wolverhampton I was meant to catch. This meant I was waiting around for a long time in Wolverhampton but I’d have rather that than getting stressed and trying to rush to catch my train.

First Class

The train to London Euston was ten minutes delayed but did eventually show up and it could’ve been a lot worse. I’d decided to go for a first class ticket on the way there as it wasn’t too expensive. It was worth it I guess simply because my carriage was nearly empty whereas most of the standard coaches I believe were quite full. I was a bit annoyed though because I hadn’t had any dinner and had expected something to eat in first class – they did bring out cheese burger and chips for the carriages further away but in our carriage I literally only got orange juice. I munched on chocolate bars to keep me going and decided to grab something once in London.

Unfortunately we got stuck in Coventry for a while because London Euston was being evacuated so we were delayed even further but we did eventually start moving again and I knew this could’ve been a lot worse. Once we got to Euston I went straight to my hotel in Putney Bridge, dumped my bags in the room (which was a decent size!) and went straight out to find something to eat. I’d stayed at this particular hotel (Premier Inn) earlier in the year so knew that down the street there were some fast food places and a Sainsbury’s. I decided to walk to Sainsbury’s first to stock up on snacks but unfortunately Sainsbury’s had closed at 10PM and it was now 10:50PM. I was in a pretty foul mood anyway because I was tired, hungry and London was really busy so I stomped over to McDonalds, ordered some food then went back to the hotel. After dinner and a shower I went to bed.

I had breakfast at Premier Inn the following morning, walked to Sainsbury’s again to get my snacks and then came back to chill in the hotel room. Since London was so busy I didn’t feel like going off exploring and decided to relax before my first show of the weekend.

I set off at about 1:30PM as the journey would take me about 30 minutes. Normally I like to arrive at the theatre exactly half-an-hour before the show starts but this can be a bit tedious when I’m by myself because once I’ve got myself a drink and popped to the loo there’s still a good twenty-five minutes until the show actually starts and most theatres in London don’t have good signal so I basically just have to sit and let my thoughts occupy me until the show starts – so I’ve tried to start arriving a little later but still with plenty of time to do everything I need to before I get to my seat.

As I missed my first tube I was a bit later than I’d hoped (see I don’t wanna arrive too early but then get anxiety about being late!) and got to the Ambassadors Theatre for 2:20PM to see the 2:30PM production of ‘Ghost Stories’. As the show was only an hour and twenty minutes long with no interval I decided to just get my ticket and find my seat.

Ghost Stories

I’d seen the film about a year or two previously and really hadn’t liked it. I thought it was weird and confusing, and just generally a bit of a crap film but I went in with an open mind and was looking forward to seeing any differences from the film. To be honest once I entered the theatre I was instantly creeped out as they play eerie music and they have police tape hanging with lights that flicker every so often. After a short wait the play began.

I loved it so much more than I thought I would. The atmosphere was so spooky and although I think some of the visual effects could’ve been a bit spookier it was the noises that got me, even ones that weren’t necessarily meant to be scary. The stage show was pretty much the same plot as the film but it was just done better, I don’t know how to explain it without spoiling it for anyone but I’m so glad I decided to see it even though whenever I was in my hotel room at night for the rest of the weekend I kept replaying parts of the show in my head and got really creeped out!

Ghost Stories 2

My only peeve from the show is that so many people were rustling wrappers! One woman behind me very slowly opened a packet of sweets before whispering “God it’s so LOUD!” Yes love, it is, why didn’t you open them before the show began? Also the show literally started at 2:30PM and it was only on for an hour and twenty minutes, do you really need to eat in that time? Take it from the girl who literally never stops snacking – it was completely unnecessary.

Once the show had ended I decided to take a quick breather outside as I was really on edge (a car went past and tooted its horn and I peed myself) before making the poor decision to head back to my hotel. I needed a wee and I was feeling a bit peckish so had the brief idea I’d head back to the hotel, have a wee then get dinner in Putney. Once I had signal on the tube I realised that the Alexandra Palace, where my evening show was being performed, was an hour and ten minutes away from my hotel. But I was committed now so I went back to the hotel, had my wee, shovelled down a chocolate muffin and then headed back out to catch the tube to Wood Green.

I was getting worried that I wouldn’t have time to grab dinner as Alexandra Palace is a bus ride away from Wood Green underground station but it was 6PM when I arrived and there was a McDonald’s right across the road from the station. I ran over, ordered my food and then wolfed it down deciding that the latest I should leave McDonalds was 6:30PM. I was in such a rush that I actually finished eating at 6:15PM – but that was good because it would give me time to get lost. Luckily I found the bus stop quite quickly and was soon heading off to the Alexandra Palace.

We went one stop on the bus and then it all went downhill. Apparently the darts were on at the Alexandra Palace at the same time and I hadn’t realised that darts was so… Rowdy? Several groups of drunk men dressed up climbed onto the bus and soon it was absolutely full to the brim with drunk, chanting and stamping men. It was quite scary even though they were clearly all happy and thankfully they left me alone although I was worried the bloke next to me was going to spill his beer on me. With all the stamping and chanting I was a little bit worried that the bus would ‘fall over’ as we started heading up the hill but of course the bus didn’t fall over and we got safely to the Alexandra Palace. In a way I was glad they all got off at the same stop as me otherwise I’d have had no chance of getting off that bus.

I’d been a bit worried about finding the theatre as I’ve only ever visited Alexandra Palace for concerts and never been in the theatre section but I ended up walking with a couple who had been on the bus and we followed the signs and managed to find the theatre. When we were let into the hall I discovered I was smack bang in the centre of the front row which I hadn’t remembered booking but was happy about.

As mentioned earlier I’d seen the show with my friend Jess a couple of years previously and have seen pretty much every other Mischief Theatre show more than once but had only ever seen this one once so I was really excited to see it again. I’ve seen the version they filmed for TV a few times but it was fun to see the full show again. The actors were incredible and I was crying with laughter at some points. My favourite part is definitely when the stage starts revolving and they can’t get it to stop. I also like that the actors come out into the audience before the show has even began – I just love everything about it!

Peter Pan Goes Wrong

It was a long journey back to the hotel but since I was on the underground I missed most of the torrential rain and the hotel was only a two minute walk (if that) from the underground so it wasn’t too bad. I had a shower, went on my phone for a bit then went to bed ready for another day of theatre the following day.

I have no idea what happened the next morning but I went to bed thinking the time for Part One of Cursed Child was 1:30PM. The next morning I even double-checked the email and said to myself ‘yes, perfect, 1:30PM’. I got to the theatre at about 1:05PM but by the time I’d got my tickets from the box office, taken a photo of the theatre and then headed to the entrance it was about 1:10PM. I did wonder why it seemed quieter than usual as normally there’s a queue of people round the theatre waiting to get their bags checked to go in but somehow I still didn’t twig.

I walked up the woman by the entrance who was like “Hi, can I help you?” and I was like “… Yes, I’m here for Part One?” She looked at me for a second before saying “Okay, you are aware it’s already started though? It started at one.”

It then dawned on me that the guy in the Box Office had looked at me like I was an idiot but I hadn’t quite twigged – and it was of course also the reason why everywhere was so quiet. I’d spent an awful lot on these tickets so I could get a decent seat this time and for a horrifying moment I thought she was going to tell me she couldn’t let me in. I’ve always said I’d rather just not go than turn up late to the theatre and the only reason I’d said anything in the first place was because I genuinely thought I was twenty minutes early, not ten bloody minutes late!

Cursed Child 2

Luckily she checked my bag and told me to go into the theatre so in I went and found that luckily I wasn’t the only latecomer and in fact the other latecomers were seemingly unfazed by it, even asking if they could go the loo before we went in (pretty sure they were told no which was fair, I wouldn’t have had the balls to even ask). We were taken into the stalls and had to stand at the back for a while before being taken down to our seats during a transition scene. Luckily I was on the aisle so didn’t need to make anybody stand up to get to my seat but I was still absolutely mortified. I honestly still can’t believe I was such an idiot.

In a way it ruined the first half of Part One (of course that was my own fault) because I spent most of it feeling embarrassed that I’d managed to screw up so badly. It’s the fact I double-checked the email and still thought it started at 1:30PM – I looked again after the show and found it definitely said 1PM so I’ve no idea how I managed to misread it. I used the loo in the interval, grabbed a drink and then spent the majority of the rest of it with my head down and hoping nobody was judging me! I was mostly concerned about the lady next to me and the lady behind me – in fact I nearly apologised to the woman next to me but didn’t want to draw attention to it.

Luckily by the time the interval was done I’d relaxed a bit and was able to just enjoy the second half of Part One – which was just as fabulous as every other time I’ve seen it and made even better by sitting in a decent seat where I could actually see all of the action. Once Part One was finished I triple checked my ticket and knew for a fact that Part Two started at 6:30PM and I definitely wasn’t going to be late a second time so decided to find somewhere close by for dinner.

I ended up in Zizzi’s which to be honest was a bit of a disappointment as most of the menu is just pizza but I felt like I couldn’t be picky about where I ate – and I was also quietly relieved to have time for a table service meal instead of having to wolf down yet another McDonalds. I had spaghetti Bolognese which like was okay and then I had time for a chocolate brownie afterwards which was lush. It was about 5:40PM by the time I was done so I headed back towards the theatre, had a quick browse in the geek shop down the road then headed into the theatre at bang on 6PM so that I definitely wasn’t late this time.

I didn’t mind waiting this time and the first half of Part Two was just as incredible as I remembered. When the interval came around I actually got chatting to the lady next to me and the lady behind me (the same people from Part One) and I was privately pleased they were being nice to me as I’d been worried they were still annoyed but they’d clearly either completely forgotten or didn’t mind. It was nice to have someone to chat with to pass the time and then the second half of Part Two began.

Cursed Child 3

Halfway through Part Two there were some ‘technical difficulties’ and I won’t lie I did get worried ‘cos for a hot second I thought the stage was gonna blow up or something (I do tend to be a bit pessimistic or over think things). Without wanting to spoil an aspect of the show for anyone it was a scene with Harry and Dumbledore’s portrait but the portrait frame hadn’t come down onto the stage – the actors still went with it and I only noticed because I’d seen the show before. It’s quite an intense scene to be honest and midway through it the lights at the back of the stage began to freak out – yellow, green, red, blue before they went off completely and I could hear some strange noises. You could see the actors look to the side of the stage wondering what to do before they both left at the same time.

Someone came out to announce there had been a technical issue and they were working to fix it. I didn’t mind too much as I got to chat to the ladies next to me and behind me, they were both so lovely. It was both their first time seeing it and they were amazed when I told them it was my fourth time. It wasn’t long before someone came out to announce they’d fixed the difficulties and the performance would continue. The scene began again and the rest of the show went without a hitch.

I actually love Cursed Child and urge you to go and see it if you’re a Harry Potter fan as it’s definitely not to be missed. I’m not overly fond on the storyline for a few reasons but it also got a lot of things right and is just generally an amazing show.

Once the show was done I headed back to my hotel and just like that my theatre weekend was over. I didn’t do much the next day as I couldn’t be bothered to drag my suitcase around central London, I did some quick Christmas shopping in Putney before catching the train home. But I had an incredible weekend and definitely need more theatre weekends in 2020. I don’t think I had anywhere near enough this year.

What I’m Looking Forward to in 2020

Shelley's Party

We’re about to enter a new decade and I am excited! I’ve got a few things booked for 2020 and I don’t doubt I’ll soon have more things to look forward to. When I entered 2019 I had no idea that later that year I’d be jetting off to Hong Kong for my birthday or that I’d go on a trip to Berlin. Me and my friends hadn’t even booked our trip to Belgium yet. So the things I’ll write on this list are just the things I know I’m definitely going to do, I don’t doubt 2020 will also have some surprises for me though!

London Theatre

Theatre

I’m spending the first two weekends of January in London (here’s hoping I have enough money!). The first weekend will be to see ‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’ with my friend Janie and then the weekend after I have a ticket to see Mischief Theatre’s ‘Magic Goes Wrong’.

I’m looking forward to seeing Janie’s reaction to the play as it’s one of my favourites and I’ve told her to stay away from the book so she can be completely surprised at the show, and I know she’s looking forward to it. Then I know that I’ll love ‘Magic Goes Wrong’ because there isn’t a Mischief Theatre show yet that I haven’t enjoyed. So the first two weekends in January should be a lot of fun!

On Christmas Day my Mom also surprised me with Mary Poppins tickets, a show I’d mentioned to her that I’d love to see so we’ll be going down in June for the night and I’m super excited! A few people in the office have seen it and all said it was amazing so yep, definitely looking forward to that!

I don’t doubt I’ll head down to London several times this year to go to the theatre, I bloody love the West End.

Sweden

Stockholm.jpg

In Hong Kong I spent nowhere near as much money as I thought I would. I bought a fair few souvenirs and tickets for things but somehow came back and swapped a lot of money back to GBP’s. I reassured my Mom that I wouldn’t be booking any trips with it as my annual leave at work is a bit complicated at the moment and also I wanted to save up for my trip to Thailand with my friends. Then I had a day off work, got browsing on skyscanner and suddenly I had flights from Manchester to Sweden booked.

I’ll be going over bank holiday weekend so no need to book time off work, I’m just getting stressed on how I’ll get to and from Manchester airport but like I’m sure I’ll figure that out. Sweden was the first place my friend Becca travelled to on her own and she’s always said it’s one of her favourite places she’s ever visited so I have a feeling I’ll love it too and I’m really looking forward to going!

My Chemical Romance Reunion Tour

My Chemical Romance 2019

Okay, so the dates haven’t been announced and they haven’t even officially said they’re going on tour yet but this girl is holding out hope that they will announce it and tour all of the UK instead of doing what my fave K-Pop groups do and just visit London. I’ve already decided that if they are doing a tour of the UK I want to ideally go to at least three of their shows – probably Birmingham, Manchester and London. I doubt that I actually will go to three shows due to money and annual leave etc. but a girl can dream and that’s my general plan.

I’ve had a lot of people messaging me asking if I want to go with them to see them live and I’ve said yes to everyone but I’m sure I’ll figure out who I’m actually going with closer to the time. I’m just looking forward to having a couple of nights where I can relive being a thirteen year old fan girl. Please My Chemical Romance, announce these tour dates soon!

Florida

Disney World

For a while I was obsessed with the idea of going to Florida. I popped up to my friends like ‘I’ve found some deals, we should go one day!’ and whilst they were enthusiastic they were also realistic and were like ‘we’re not gonna have that kind of money and we were thinking of booking Australia soon etc. etc.’ I shelved my ideas for a while and when I received a fairly big pay from working at my brother’s I decided to have a few nights at Disneyland Paris instead. I mean, I’d loved it when I’d visited with my friends a few years previous and that had only been for the day so surely I’d love to go for a few nights.

But then I received a letter that changed everything – my tax return. Presumably the last tax return I will ever receive and it was a hefty amount, I won’t lie. I was like ‘cool’ but then an idea formed – could I afford to go to Disneyworld Florida with this money? I was straight on the internet looking at deals and eventually found a reasonable one with Tui. The moment that money hit my account I was online and booked the deal.

So in February I will be jetting off to Florida for ten nights. I originally wanted two weeks but finding a decent deal was DIFFICULT and this meant I only had to book ten days off work instead of fourteen or something. I really wanted to stay at a Disney hotel and I found a good deal on their ‘All Star Music Resort’ so I’m looking forward to that. I’m so excited but also so confused, I’ve been watching vlogs and reading blogs and this whole talk with like ‘fast passes’ and everything else is making me think this trip is gonna be really complicated but we’ll soon see I guess! My fast passes are booked and I have a couple of dining reservations but yeah, the whole thing seems way too confusing but hopefully it’ll all make sense when I actually arrive!

I also have tickets booked for Universal Studios and I’m guessing the easiest and best way to get there would be by Uber, which I’m a bit nervous about getting alone in a foreign country but I guess we’ll have to just give that a go.

BabyMetal

BabyMetal

I was initially a bit annoyed to see that BabyMetal’s London tour date was on a weekday I mean like really? Although I like them I didn’t want to take two days off work to see them again. But then they announced a Manchester date on the Saturday. I debated whether or not to go but after listening to their song ‘Pa Pa Ya’ I decided to get myself a ticket.

The only downside to the BabyMetal concert is that it’s literally the day after I get back from Florida. My basic plan was early night on the Friday, travel to Manchester the day of the concert and then just nap all day if I’m still tired before seeing BabyMetal in the evening. I need to buy their new album and give it a good listen before going so that I’m familiar with all their new songs. I think it’ll be sad seeing them without Yui but BabyMetal know how to put on a good show so I have faith that it’ll still be good!

Holidays with My Friends

Bangkok.jpg

Me, Jess and Becca have been talking about going back to Asia to visit Thailand and potentially also slotting in another country whilst we’re over there – we know we definitely want Thailand and it looks we settled on Vietnam for the second country. It’d be great if Hirst could come but I don’t think she’ll be able to afford it unfortunately so hopefully we’ll go on a Europe city break again so that the four of us have all been on holiday together. We’ll have to see if everyone can afford it though!

Seventeen

Seventeen

A couple of weeks ago I received a random email from Ticketmaster advising me ‘Seventeen’ tickets were on sale the next day. They were Jess’ favourite K-Pop group once upon a time, on par with BTS but she hadn’t mentioned them in a while. I messaged to ask if she was going and in the end we decided we’d go together.

The next morning I actually forgot the tickets went on sale and didn’t realise until 25 minutes afterwards. After much trying I managed to secure us two tickets and so in March we’re off to see Seventeen!

We’re also hoping to get SuperM tickets when they’re announced and also BTS are doing that annoying thing where they’re like ‘aye we’re gonna tour, that’s all the info you get for now so have fun!’ so hopefully we’ll get to see them again too!

So yeah, that’s what I have to look forward to so far but like I say – 2019 was full of surprises and I don’t doubt 2020 will be the same! It’s going to be an exciting year.

Weekend in London 8th June – 9th June 2019

London 2

A few months ago my Mom announced she was going on holiday to Spain for a few nights. People that know me know that I don’t get on well with my step-dad and the thought of spending five nights alone with him was not appealing in the slightest. I like going to the theatre so decided to book one of my usual trips to London for one night to escape for a little bit.

On the Saturday I caught the train early-ish, around 10AM and made it to London around 12PM. I don’t normally bother with a suitcase when I go to London for the night as I can fit my things into a backpack but I hadn’t stayed at home for two nights prior to going to London and hadn’t had chance to pop home so I had no choice but to take a suitcase with me. Luckily Euston do store bags for people but Jesus wept at what cost? It was a lot more complicated than it had been when I’d stored my bags in Japan because my bag had to go through a scanner like you get at the airport but I suppose you can’t argue with safety precautions. At least my suitcase was safe and I didn’t have to lug it into the theatre with me (though I think they’d have denied me entry anyway).

My first show was ‘Betrayal’, a show I didn’t know much about and had only booked because Tom Hiddleston was in it. I went straight to the theatre and joined the complicated queue system – luckily there was a member of staff outside who pointed people in the right direction and made sure people were in the correct queue. There were people lurking near the stage door who I guess were there on the off chance they’d meet Tom – me and Becca had been planning to do this the week before when we were in London but unfortunately didn’t have enough time.

Betrayal

Picking up my ticket was easy enough and I went off in search of the bathroom. I ended up at the top of the theatre and stood in a ridiculously long line and when I got to the front I was annoyed to discover there was literally one toilet. Whoever designed that needs to re-evaluate their life.

My seat was good, I was down in the stalls, a few rows back and on the aisle. This ticket hadn’t been cheap and I’d forked out £140 to see this show. There were signs everywhere advising that if you needed the loo mid-show that was a shame because you wouldn’t be allowed back into the auditorium. You literally couldn’t miss them yet it didn’t stop one bloke getting up mid-show – the attendant literally sprinted down the aisle to tell him he couldn’t go back in if he left so he reluctantly went back to his seat.

The show began and it wasn’t a long show, only 90 minutes without an interval and relied heavily on the three main actors which were Tom Hiddleston, Zawe Ashton and Charlie Cox. I’ll be 100% truthful and admit that whilst I was happy to see the show as I would’ve been gutted to miss it, it definitely wasn’t my cup of tea. It was just three characters talking, lots of long dialogue and not much action. Which like is fine. Just not particularly my cup of tea. The play was non-linear as the further into the story we got the further back in time we went, and the basic plot was that Zawe was married to Tom Hiddleston but was having an affair with Charlie – I can’t remember the characters names, sorry!

I’m also very ashamed to admit this after how much I spent on the ticket but once or twice I did nearly fall asleep. No disrespect to the actors who did an amazing job, or the story itself, it’s just I’d had a lot of late nights that week and there were a lot of long, dramatic silences in this show. When the show finished I had wanted to try and meet Tom but I was so relieved to walk around and wake up a bit that I decided to just collect my luggage and go find my hotel. A lot of people did try and meet Tom, the girl sitting next to me literally climbed over me to leave the theatre so she could go and join the queue by the stage door outside. I would’ve loved to have met him but I was pretty much a walking zombie by the time the show was over.

In the end it was quite lucky I didn’t join the queue as the trip to my hotel was actually quite long. I’d booked a Premier Inn in Chiswick, an area I’m relatively familiar with as I used to stay regularly in a budget hotel in that area. This meant it was quite out of the way of central London which is a both a pro and a con. A pro because the general area is quieter and a con because it takes longer to get there.  I caught the tube to Turnham Green and then went off on the fifteen minute walk to find the hotel.

I’ve discovered that generally you can’t go wrong with Premier Inn and if you get the right deal they can actually be cheaper than most ‘budget’ hotels. After a few naff hotel rooms I’m comfortable just sticking with Premier Inn for the moment. Check-in was easy and my room was a decent size.

I was then met with a dilemma. I had a ticket for ‘Mamma Mia’ at 7:30 and I’d been hoping to get to the hotel, have a power nap and head back out. Due to how long it had taken me to get to the hotel I literally had ten minutes in the room before I needed to head back out to get to the theatre in time. It was just as well I wasn’t hungry because there definitely wasn’t enough time to get dinner. I was honestly so tired that I wondered about losing my money and just getting an early night. If I’d nearly fallen asleep at ‘Betrayal’ would I last for an evening show?

In the end I knew I’d regret not going so I put my shoes back on and headed out. It did take a while to get to the theatre but I got there in plenty of time to use the loo, grab a drink etc. It was nicer as I’d been able to dump my backpack in the hotel and only had my handbag with me now. My seat was good, I was on the top balcony at the end of the aisle but on the front row and the stage didn’t seem very far away at all. There was a bar to stop people toppling over the edge of the balcony but if I leant forward it didn’t obscure my view.

Mamma Mia

The show began and I’m so happy I decided to just go for it as the energetic music and general atmosphere of the theatre kept me awake and I loved every second of it. At the end the actress playing Donna announced this was the last night for a lot of the cast including herself and it was a bit emotional, and I’m truly glad I didn’t miss out on it. I had seen ‘Mamma Mia’ in London previously with my Mom but at the time I wasn’t a fan of the film. I am now and was glad to see it now that I’m a bigger fan of the story and the songs. I also didn’t remember the atmosphere being as fun as it was but maybe that’s because it was the casts last night or maybe that’s always the atmosphere? I’m not sure!

The journey back was long and unfortunately I believe I picked up a bug on the underground. The journey was convenient actually as I didn’t have to change but I remember sitting in a seat, listening to my iPod and holding onto the bar for some reason and I think that’s where I picked something up. I made it back to the hotel feeling a tiny bit under the weather but I shrugged it off, had a shower and settled down into Premier Inn’s comfortable bed and went to sleep.

One of the most convenient things about Premier Inn is that in the lift they advise what breakfast times are the busiest, which are quieter etc. I’d paid extra for a Premier Inn breakfast so I didn’t have to faff around finding anywhere to eat and when I went down it was a bit busy but they managed to find me a table straightaway. Everyone milling around was doing my head in so I didn’t spend long down there before heading back up to my room.

I’ve been to London so many times now that I feel like I’ve ‘been there and done that’ with all the tourist spots so I chilled in my room until it was time to check out and then headed back to Euston so they could store my suitcase for me again. I don’t understand their prices though because three hours and under is only £6 something, anything between three and twenty-four hours is £12. Where is the logic? Surely between six hours and twenty-four hours would be a bit more fair than three?

I spent some time chilling at Euston before hopping back on the tube to go and see ‘School of Rock’. I’ve seen this show a couple of times and hadn’t intended on going to see it. For Christmas my Dad got me some ‘theatre tokens’ which were a thoughtful gift but unfortunately are only redeemable either over the phone or in person. I hate talking over the phone so had originally been planning to bring them with me then shop around until I found a show. I accidentally left them at home when I set off a couple of days previously so on a whim just paid for a ticket to see ‘School of Rock’ again as I do love that show and it had been a while.

It was when I reached the theatre that I began to feel under the weather again, I could feel my throat was a bit funny so I decided to treat myself to a cookies and cream ice cream which didn’t help very much but did taste really nice. My seat was good, just a few rows from the stage and the view wasn’t blocked. It’s a decent theatre, not massive and quite modern so I enjoy my visits there.

As usual the show was amazing, if you’re a fan of the film then I think you’ll definitely enjoy the stage version. It’s essentially the same storyline as the film but with more songs. My favourites include ‘Stick it to the Man’ and ‘When I Climb to the Top of Mount Rock’. When I first saw the show they were giving out badges but they’ve stopped doing that which is a shame but I’m glad I got one!

School of Rock 2

After that it was back on the tube to Euston, quick dinner at Burger King and then time to catch my train back to Telford. I’m glad I went but gutted I picked that bug up on the tube as it lasted a week and I haven’t felt that ill in a LONG time – it was actually horrendous. But overall it was a good weekend in London and I’m looking forward to my next theatre weekend – I just need to book it!

Weekend in London: 2nd March – 3rd March 2019

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You may recall my post from last year where me and Becca went to see Cursed Child for the first time. Before the show had even finished we both decided we needed to come again but this time in better seats. More tickets were announced about a month later and we quickly snapped up two tickets worth £150 for both parts which was a bit of a leap from the £30 we’d paid for both parts the year previously. We had to wait almost an entire year but eventually the date came around and we were off to see the show again.

The first time we went we came on a Wednesday meaning we’d both had to book two days off work. When we booked the second batch of tickets though we both knew we worked Monday – Friday 9 – 5 so we were sensible and bought tickets for a Saturday so we didn’t have to take any time off work. London was a little busier due to it being a weekend but it’s not like it mattered as we were in the theatre for most of the day.

We caught the 10:08AM train just as we did the year before which got us into London Euston at 12:33PM. Both times I’ve been super stressed that one of the trains is going to get delayed and we’re going to miss the first half of part one but of course that didn’t happen. Our train was reduced from ten carriages to five but we both managed to get our seats and our carriage actually wasn’t too busy which was strange.

By the time we got to London we were starving but knew there wasn’t much time to be fussy about where we ate so we ordered food inside London Euston. I got Burger King which I don’t love but will eat when desperate and Becca got two pizza baguettes. Last year I’d been convinced the show started at 2:30PM when it actually started at 2:00PM – we were lucky we’d arrived early to take photos outside the theatre as otherwise we probably would’ve been late.

This year we were way more stressed for some reason and the moment we finished eating we went straight to theatre. Google Maps kept screwing us around but luckily we managed to find the theatre okay, picked up our tickets and went straight inside. We were so worried about being late we actually ended up in our seats 35 minutes early. This was good though as it gave us time to use the loo, grab a drink and just generally chill before part one started.

Cursed Child

We were on Row J in the stalls at the end of the aisle so the view was much better than when we’d been at the very top of the theatre. Last time there’d been a whole section of the stage we couldn’t see. I’d been worried about someone tall sitting in front of me and they did but if I leant forward I could see between their heads and still had a good view.

Some of the cast had changed whilst some were still the same – me and Becca had a conversation about who we thought had changed and we mostly disagreed on who was the same but both agreed it was definitely the same Draco as when we’d last been. Regardless of whether they were the same or not the cast were amazing and I quickly got sucked back into the story. I’m not a big fan of the plot but it’s told better on stage than it was in the screenplay, it just works better.

I think I prefer Part Two to Part One but Part One is still amazing and it was great getting to see the magic closer up this time. Before either of us knew it Part One was over and we had to come back later for Part Two which started at 7:30PM.

Because we’d been in such a rush to find the theatre and get inside we hadn’t taken any pictures yet. Luckily it was still bright out so we took individual pictures in front of the theatre and Becca eventually worked up the courage to ask a woman if she’d take a photo of the two of us. It came out really nice and then we set off to find somewhere for dinner.

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Last year we’d checked straight into our hotel so we could dump our bags but this year they weren’t too heavy so we decided to just go out for dinner instead (which turned out to be a good choice as you’ll discover later). Finding somewhere to eat with available space in Central London is never easy and we walked around for maybe half-an-hour to an hour before finding an Italian place that was relatively reasonably priced and had a table so we went inside.

It was a bit crammed but it was a nice place. Becca flitted between wanting a meal, wanting a starter, not wanting to eat at all, and then said she’d love a dessert but there weren’t any on the menu. Luckily I found the dessert menu on the table so Becca settled on a slice of apple pie and two chocolate milkshakes whilst I had an orange juice and spaghetti Bolognese. It was a nice meal and killed sometime between part one and two.

Last year after seeing the show me and Becca had made some poor decisions and spent a lot of money on unnecessary Harry Potter merchandise. We both agreed this year we would stop each other from spending – mostly because of a concert ticket fiasco the day before but let’s not get into that, that’s for another post. We needed money for the following Friday so we agreed not to let each other make any unnecessary spends. Which is why I was nervous when Becca kept suggesting we go to PRIMARK as they had a Harry Potter section.

After getting Becca’s word that neither of us would spend any money we went to have a look and it’s safe to say the pair of us nearly caved in. There’s nothing I love more than house specific merch and our town is dreadful for that. Becca really wanted a Slytherin night shirt and I wanted a Hufflepuff nightie but we didn’t let the other spend any money before heading off to see Part Two.

I personally think Part Two was funnier moments and just generally prefer it (although as mentioned, Part One still has amazing moments too!) so I was looking forward to this one and it was just as funny as I’d remembered it. Obviously the whole of it isn’t hilarious there are some dark or sad moments too but it’s still amazing. And just like that Part Two was over! The day we’d been waiting for over a year had finished.

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I won’t talk anymore about my personal opinions on the show as I already did that on last year’s post but like if you’re a Harry Potter fan you need to see this show, it’s actually amazing. If you read the screenplay and hated it, don’t worry, I get you, but it’s much better on stage than in the book.

After leaving the theatre it was time to check into the hotel which should’ve been a half-an-hour tube journey away. We got on the Northern line to Waterloo and prepared to change to the Jubilee line only to hear an announcement that it wasn’t running. Neither of us had any signal so we left the station and went to find an alternative route. My phone was being relatively useless (telling me we needed to catch a boat) but luckily Becca’s phone took us on a route that involved a bus ride and then getting on the DLR.

It was getting quite late at this point and both of us were exhausted. I was suddenly worried check-in would close and checked the booking.com app to see if this was the case and it advised check-in was until 11PM. It was now 10:50PM. I tried ringing the hotel to let them know we’d be late and ask if anyone would be there but nobody would answer even though I was getting charged 19p a minute to call the stupid number.

When we finally got off the DLR Becca followed the Google Maps instructions on her phone and was clearly so keen to get to the hotel that as I hurried to keep up with her I almost fell over. Unfortunately it was really confusing trying to find the hotel as it was next to a river, lots of areas were blocked off and there was construction work everywhere. At one point I could see the hotel but couldn’t tell how to get there. We even had to duck under a chain (or crawl under in my case) to get to the pavement. I could see Becca getting increasingly frustrated and was relieved when we finally reached our hotel.

Last year we’d booked a twin room and had arrived to find we’d been given a double bed but decided to just put up with it. This year we were actually given twin beds but they were so close together it might as well have been a double. We were so tired that neither of us cared and within an hour we were both in bed.

Neither of us slept particularly well but we couldn’t have a lie-in as we had a slot booked at Madame Tussauds for between 9:45AM – 10AM, and as the jubilee line was down we had to allow for more time to get there. I got up feeling like an absolute zombie but managed to throw some clothes on and we were out by 8:15AM.

The trip to Madame Tussauds turned out not to be too difficult but we did both nearly fall asleep on the first bus. We were a bit early so we grabbed a drink and then played I Spy to pass the time. In the final round I nearly murdered Becca ‘cos her one was stupid (“I spy with my little eye something beginning with T” – answer turned out to be ‘Transport’). Whilst we were playing we joined the queue and before we knew it we were inside.

I hadn’t been to the Madame Tussauds London since I was about 12 with my Mum – we came to London for the day, queued three hours to buy our tickets and by the time we were done it was all we’d had time to do. With Becca we bought our tickets in advance meaning we got in a lot quicker. As it was a Saturday it was quite busy but it was worth it, we love places with lots of photo opportunities and that’s pretty much what Madame Tussauds is for!

Madame Tussauds

We took tons of photos in every room and I’m happy with most of them, I wish my hair had looked a bit better but that’s life I guess. We had our photo taken on the ride mid-way through Madame Tussauds but neither of us liked it very much which was lucky as we didn’t really have the money to spend on anything other than food. They’d also added the Marvel 4D cinema since the last time I went and as a massive Marvel fan I really loved it. The last section was Star Wars themed which went completely over my head but Becca’s a big Star Wars fan so she had lots of photos in there.

Madame Tussauds 2.jpg

Madame Tussauds had killed an hour or two so when we came out we still had a few hours to go until our train home so Becca asked what I wanted to do. I said I wasn’t sure so with a grin Becca asked if I wanted to go to Kings Cross.

We’d been last year and that had been our absolute downfall, I’d spent way more than necessary at the Harry Potter shop and knew I would again if we went but for some reason we still agreed. As we got on the tube I made Becca agree that we’d only spend £15 each.

When we got to Kings Cross the queue to have your photo taken with the trolley had been cut and we were a bit confused so we decided to go into the shop instead and there was even a queue to get in there. I’ve never seen it so busy in my entire life but it was midday on a Sunday so I guess it made sense. Inside was absolutely rammed so I felt like I couldn’t have a good browse, just getting to Hufflepuff section took about 50 years. It didn’t stop me from buying a Cursed Child lanyard (which I now wear at work like a lame-o) and a Hogwarts Oyster Card holder (as my Hufflepuff one from three years ago had finally bit the dust). Overall I spent about £7. Becca spent about £25, I can’t even remember everything she bought, I know she bought a little Ron necklace to match her Harry one which I’m a bit jealous of. There was a necklace with Luna’s glasses on, I might have to go back and buy that ‘cos it was so cute.

Once we were done in the shop we went and asked about the queue for the trolley photo and the woman informed us it hadn’t been cut it was just so long that we had to go and queue outside so we did that. This was only the third time I’d been but the other times I went it had only taken about 20 minutes max to get your photo taken – we queued for over AN HOUR. We’re such Harry Potter trash I swear to God. We killed time in the queue by doing impressions and just generally messing around until finally it was our turn.

Becca’s been a few times so she’s had her photo taken with every scarf at some point so this time she picked Gryffindor as it matched her outfit. I did the same as I already have Hufflepuff and Slytherin so I only needed Gryffindor and Ravenclaw to complete my collection and Gryffindor matched my outfit. We asked if we could have a picture together and we changed into our actual house scarves (Becca’s a Slytherin and I’m a Hufflepuff) and asked for a fight photo. It came out quite well so when we went in I bought the group one where we’re looking at the camera, Becca bought both group ones and her solo one. Becca ended up going quite a bit over the budget in the end.

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As we’d queued so long to have our photo taken we now had to head back to Euston to grab lunch and head back home. We were both exhausted and kept falling asleep on the first train back but after that we had to change twice until eventually my Mum picked us both up from the station.

Overall it was an awesome weekend, it was great to see Cursed Child again (in better seats) and we’re already talking about going next year and visiting the Studios as well next time which would be so much fun. I’m already going to see the show again with Hirst in August and my friend Janie has mentioned going and seeing it but honestly there is no such thing as too many times with Cursed Child!

Favourite Memories with my Friends

Squad 3

Here’s another post celebrating 10 years of friendship with my favourite nerds. I thought in this post I’d mention some of our favourite memories. I doubt I’ll manage to fit them all in because already the list is really long and there are tons that I can’t remember so prepare for a long post.

Rhyl

Rhyl.jpg

Our first ever holiday! It’s strange now but it seemed so difficult to pull off at the time. We wanted to do something before me and Jess went to university in London because we were under the impression it’d be ages before we saw each other again (whoops) so we decided to go on a small holiday to the beach. We looked at most seaside towns but settled on Rhyl, I can’t really remember why but we decided to go.

Jess hadn’t long passed her driving test and I can’t remember if Hirst had her licence by then or not, she wasn’t long off either way so Jess and Hirst sat in the front because they could both drive and me and Becca sat in the back having a great time. I’d made a CD before we left that mostly contained songs from the ‘Into The Woods’ soundtrack but also had some cheesy Disney music on it too which we listened to and sang along with the entire way there.

We stayed in a house and it was a bit of an old person’s house to be honest but it was nice to have our own space. If we wanted to go to the beach front we had to drive but it didn’t matter too much because the house had been relatively cheap so we didn’t care.

We did some fun things while we were there – did shots on the first night in the house, went to an aquarium, went to the circus, went to a fairground that nearly ended all of our lives and watched the sunset on the beach on the last day. It was quite a simple holiday but we all enjoyed it and we still look back at it with fond memories.

It’s weird to think we found it so difficult to plan at the time considering we’ve been abroad five times now but yeah at the time we had no clue what we were doing but I think we did quite well for our first holiday together.

Paris

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Our first trip abroad, something I thought we’d never manage to pull off. Basically we went to Paris to go to K-Con (except for Hirst) and we had about maybe two months’ notice at the most. Tickets went on sale about a month before the concert so we had to rush to book everything and get our spending money sorted in time. But we did pull it off and it was amazing.

Due to time and money we didn’t have much choice and had to book a coach to take us to Paris instead of a plane because it was a hell of a lot cheaper. It wasn’t too bad on the way there because it was an overnight coach (although Becca did down eight sleeping pills which stressed the rest of us out) but the way home was torture. We got on the coach with nothing but a box of maltesers and three mars bars and within two hours we’d completely eaten our supplies. Luckily the driver had the sense to stop at a service station when we got back to England. That sausage roll and chocolate milk was one of the best meals ever.

I loved our first trip abroad even though it was far from perfect. The hotel we stayed in was a bit naff, I got scammed out of ten euros at the Eiffel Tower (Jess only got scammed out of five while Becca and Hirst got away) and me and Hirst got told off by a lady on the metro but honestly it’s one of my favourite trips we’ve been.

We did all the typical tourist stuff, I’m pretty sure we didn’t even meet up to talk about it that much because we knew what we wanted to do. We saw the Eiffel Tower, went to Disneyland, went to Notre Dame, saw the Mona Lisa painting, went down into the catacombs. And best of all we went to K-Con and saw BTS, Block B, f(x), FT Island, IOI and SHINee live.

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I was exhausted by the time we eventually got back to England (it took us about 18 hours) but it was worth it. We vlogged this trip and it was the first time we’d ever attempted to vlog a trip but it’s still one of my favourite vlogs to occasionally rewatch. If you’d like to watch it then click here [x]

Harry Potter Studios

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For my 20th birthday I was told that Jess would be staying with her Auntie and that Becca couldn’t get the day off work so I thought me and Hirst were doing something together. Turns out it was all an elaborate trick and the three of them were taking me on a surprise trip on my birthday. I was thrilled that it had been a trick because I had cried a little when I thought everyone was busy on my birthday except for Hirst, because I’m dramatic like that.

They took me to the train station and we changed at Birmingham New Street with me still having no idea where we were headed. They’d hidden letters within my presents and cards and I was told I had to use these letters to figure out where I was going, which I was going to do on the connecting train. This was a plan that quickly failed when I went to WHSmith with Jess to look at food and she turned to me and asked “Do they even allow food in the Harry Potter Studios?”

There was a moment of silence before Jess tried desperately to change the subject upon realising what she’d done but I couldn’t pretend I hadn’t heard it. The others were mad but I couldn’t wait. I’d been to Harry Potter Studios with Jess the year previously but I hadn’t read the books at the time and I was excited at all four of us going even though Hirst hadn’t seen a Harry Potter film at that point.

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I had the best day ever, it was so nice of them to surprise me like that and I had an awesome time. I even got to push open the doors to the Great Hall because it was my birthday. We got a ton of cool photos and it was probably the best birthday I’ve had so far. Thanks guys!

24K

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I’ve talked a lot about the time I saw 24K by myself but the first time I went to see them was with Becca and Jess and we went to London together. We had an awesome time even before the concert started, the train journey there was hilarious and Jess downed an iced coffee when we got to the hotel and went a bit hysterical. We spent all afternoon trying to find something to do and hours later we ended up at Big Ben for some reason? Then we headed to the concert and waited outside in the rain until we were allowed in.

We were stood towards the back but 229 is quite a small venue so it didn’t really matter where you stood because there was still a good view. At the time I didn’t even know many songs and I was a casual fan but oh my god they were so good that I had to stan. 24K are one of those groups where their songs are good but you don’t sit back and think ‘wow that’s amazing’ but once you’ve seen them live it all changes. They’re one of the most energetic groups I’ve ever seen and seem to genuinely care about their fans.

We had such a good time that me and Becca saw them again in Amsterdam and met them that time. We talked about it for ages afterwards and there’s an eight minute long video of us freaking out about it once we got outside, it’s one of my favourite things to watch. I’m really hoping 24K come back to Europe this year so we can see them again because it’s been a while since I saw them with Becca and I wanna freak out with her again.

Driving Around

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For some reason in August 2015 just before me and Jess went to university the four of us would meet up and just drive around in someone’s car. A lot of times we just drove around because we weren’t sure what to do so we ended up in the Aldi car park a lot of the time just chilling. We don’t really do that anymore because we’re all too busy which sucks.

One of my favourite times was when we drove around in Hirst’s car and for whatever reason Jess rolled the window down then tried to roll it back up and Hirst’s car was quite old so it kept rolling itself back down and I remember sitting in the back seat crying with laughter. We went to ASDA to buy some snacks and two girls decided it’d be fun to follow us around and take the piss out of me so obviously my friends had my back and as we were driving out of the car park we spotted them walking along so Jess rolled down her window and yelled at them. They yelled at her to kill herself and Jess started doing some manic laughing then tried to roll the window back up but obviously it was Hirst’s dodgy car so they kept rolling themselves back down.

I can’t remember if it was the same night but we decided to walk up a hill and it was quite late at this point so we were driving down some country lanes in the pitch black and me and Becca were in the back worrying that a werewolf was going to pop out the bushes or something. We never found the hill we just managed to creep ourselves out.

Innuendo Bingo

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I remember playing this when we were maybe sixteen or seventeen and at the time it was the funniest thing ever. Unfortunately we played it when we were a bit older and we didn’t find it as funny anymore but the first time we played it was hilarious. I was pretty good at the game, Jess came a close second but Becca was definitely the worst.

For those who haven’t played Innuendo Bingo and don’t know what it is, you fill your mouth with water and listen to some clips of innuendos. The idea is you hear the innuendo and try not to laugh or in some cases massively fail and spit the water everywhere. As I said, Becca wasn’t great at the game and she was stood directly opposite Jess and every time she managed to spit her water the length of the garden and land it right on Jess’ shoes. Becca was way funnier than the actual innuendos a lot of the time.

It’s a shame we don’t find it as funny anymore but it’ll still be a good memory.

Bean Bamboozle Challenge

I don’t have any photos of this one unfortunately or any videos but God, what a day. Jess had been on about playing this game for a while and eventually bought the beans and brought them into college. The four of us only had one lunch break a week altogether and that was on a Friday so that’s when we sat down to play it. Out of me, Jess, Becca, Lucy and Hirst only me, Jess and Hirst decided to play.

If you haven’t heard of this challenge basically you buy a box of jelly beans which will be colour coded on the back. There are several of each colour but there’s a difference in the taste. For example a brown one could either be chocolate flavoured or dog food flavoured. It’s pretty much impossible to tell which is a good one and which is a bad one and the challenge is that if you get a bad one can you finish eating it?

What an absolute joke that game was, Jess got all eight good flavours whilst me and Hirst got seven bad ones and one good one each. We ate all our bad flavours except for rotten egg and vomit. The ones I definitely remember eating were smelly socks, dog food, baby wipes and snot. Dog food was particularly hard and I remember Lucy and Becca saying “That smells so bad that I feel sick.” Yeah, it must’ve been so difficult for them.

It’s funnier now but at the time I did want to vom a little bit, they tasted absolutely horrific. I’m convinced that Jess can’t taste if she has a bad flavour but we have yet to test that theory.

Tully’s Farm

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Becca had mentioned this a couple of times over the years and that she wanted to go but it was one of those things we talked about but never got round to planning until eventually she put her foot down in 2017 and insisted that we go. Hirst decided to sit this one out because she’s not really a fan of people dressed in costumes, especially if they’re jumping out and deliberately trying to scare her. To be honest I was very worried too but ended up absolutely loving it.

I wrote a long post about it here [x] but basically it was really funny, I made Becca and Jess hold my hands the entire way round and Becca was making me laugh so hard from how much she freaked out. It was a brilliant night and we’d like to go again this year but it might not be possible with everything going on around that time.

Amsterdam

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I already mentioned we went to Amsterdam to meet 24K. It was the first holiday where we went on a plane together and I was honestly terrified. My Mom very kindly drove us to the airport and then suddenly we had to navigate our way through the airport. In the past I’d just relied on my Mom to sort everything and I’m not gonna lie, it was a bit nerve racking being there without a parent. But we were fine and we got to Amsterdam in one piece!

We were very lucky with that holiday because the weather in Amsterdam was gorgeous so it made the city look even more beautiful. It’s definitely somewhere I’d love to visit again because there were a couple of things we didn’t manage to see, for example Anne Frank’s House was sold out because we hadn’t planned it until the last minute. But we saw some amazing things like the palace, Vondel Park, went on a canal boat tour, the red light district and the ice bar. Truthfully my only regret is that I didn’t do a weed brownie with my friends on the last night but ultimately that’s my fault.

Given the opportunity I would definitely go back because it’s truly a beautiful place and I had some good times with my friends there. Even if we did stay in the dirtiest Airbnb apartment I’ve ever seen in my life.

Hirst’s Birthday Party

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I will be 100% honest with you now that the party has passed, I wasn’t looking forward to this. Not in a nasty way but at the time I wasn’t really into parties, I didn’t drink and I just didn’t really like them. But obviously as Hirst is my best friend I knew I would have to go and I would have to find a way to enjoy it. You only turn 21 once and I was not about to ruin my best friends party by having a bad attitude.

Anyone who knew me knew that I hated alcohol, refused to touch the stuff most of the time but I realised that to have a good time I might need to get a little drunk. The trouble was that I knew I could put on a happy face but they know me too well and I knew that if someone mocked me and said they knew I wasn’t having a good time then I’d turn sour very quickly. But I couldn’t let that happen so I quickly figured out the best way – down a bunch of shots and get a bit drunk.

Hirst was a bit surprised when I said I wanted to but Becca agreed she’d do it too and that was the plan. I was nervous before we went but I knew I just had to get on with it. I’m painting a picture of me proper dreading and hating this party, I honestly was looking forward to it and I did get into it when I bought my costume, I was just a bit apprehensive at the time!

I actually had the best time ever. Me and Becca had like three shots each every half-an-hour and eventually got just a little bit drunk. I say a little bit. Becca cried outside the venue and I lost count of the amount of times I fell over. We were both a little bit of a mess but hey we were happy (except for when Becca cried) and I have nothing but good memories of the night. I’m really glad that whenever we talk about it it’s nothing but positive. And now I’m looking forward to any other parties I may get invited to in the future!

Lithuania

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Mine, Jess and Becca’s birthdays are very close together so for our 21st Jess and Hirst decided to team up to book a holiday for me and Becca. Their original plan was to go to Blackpool but somehow they ended up booking flights to Lithuania and that’s where we ended up going.

I’d never really heard of Lithuania before and for the first 24 hours or so I had a really difficult time remembering the name of the country – there’s a video of me on the plane trying my best to pronounce it, I really don’t know why I kept forgetting. So I didn’t know much about it but ended up absolutely loving it, it’s probably one of my favourite places I’ve ever been.

I think what I liked is that it was quieter than most cities so you could actually see and do more, for example we made a wish on the lucky brick (mine didn’t come true but whatever) and it was one of those things that if you were in Paris or somewhere more popular you wouldn’t be able to get anywhere near it.

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It’s a shame that Jess got sick on the Sunday but other than that it was an amazing trip and I’d definitely go back in a heartbeat because I really liked it there.

Slender Man

The four of us became proper best friends when we were about sixteen and around that time we started playing ‘Slender Man’ quite a lot when we hung out. Over time the game kind of loses its appeal because all you do is walk around these woods looking for pieces of paper and it only really gets interesting if you find one or see Slender Man himself, 90% of it is just walking round in circles though.
I remember when we first started I absolutely loved it but I was also too scared to look at the screen so the first time I sat on a different sofa and just watched the others play it for the first few rounds. We went in pairs so that someone controlled the mouse and someone controlled the keyboard. The worst combo had to be Becca and Hirst, Hirst kept panicking and Becca kept telling her off. For example saying “Oh great, the ground, just what I wanted to look at!” The best combo probably would’ve been Becca and Jess because they’re probably the bravest. When I eventually played I kept looking away from the screen ‘cos I’d get creeped out and was probably a bit useless but it was a fun game at the time!

Looking Around the School

The secondary school the four of us went to was quite an old building and when we joined the school we were told that they were going to be building another one and by year eleven we would move into this magical new school. That didn’t happen because the planning permission didn’t go through or something but our school did eventually merge with another one and they built a new one, we’d just already left by that point.

Someone on Facebook had posted some photos they’d taken of our school now completely abandoned so we decided to have a look around it for old times’ sake before it was completely knocked down. A lot of other people in town clearly had the same idea because when we walked down the gate was unlocked and we could just walk inside.

We were quite lucky with the night we picked because when we went into the old science labs there were a ton of shot glasses, condoms etc. so there had clearly been a party going on at some point and the next night a few groups went into the school for a look around. The only people we saw that night were a group of lads on bikes who thankfully left us alone and let us carry on looking around.

It was strange to see the school we’d gone to for five years was suddenly abandoned but it was cool to be able to enter rooms that had once been forbidden to us, for example the staff room, the kitchens, the basement etc. It was creepy because we went at night but it was definitely worth it. It wasn’t exactly the safest building anymore but none of us were injured.

Some of the highlights include me and Jess smashing plates just because we could, Jess trying to break a TV with a fire hydrant but the TV was the sturdiest thing ever and wouldn’t break, me collecting any keys I found and ending up with about 500, Becca and Hirst ripping framed paintings off the wall to keep and Hirst taking all the chalk. I’m making us sound like complete vandals, all the stuff left behind was definitely not wanted anymore so we weren’t just being assholes! It was a good night, I’m sad the school’s been knocked down now.


Greece

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Greece was our most recent trip and we had an amazing time. It was a ‘surprise’ for Hirst’s birthday that I managed to completely ruin. Basically, we gave her cards with little hints about the trip inside and gave her 50 euros each so she’d know we were going away but the plan was not to tell her. I’d been worried that I’d get a bit drunk at her party the night before and tell her but luckily didn’t, only to end up accidentally telling her when I was completely sober the next day.

Other than that the trip was a complete success. We rented a car, something which I’d been a bit nervous about, and drove round the island and just driving through Greece listening to absolute bangers was amazing. The highlight was definitely the lake, I would go back there in a heartbeat. We had so many laughs on that trip and the weather was amazing. I’d love to go back to a different part one day.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

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Me and Becca went to see this show, it felt like so much waiting around but the day eventually arrived. It was worth the wait, it was absolutely amazing and it was so good that we’ve booked to go back next year but with more expensive tickets this time. The only thing that had sucked about last time was that our view wasn’t brilliant. I wrote a longer post about it here but yeah, it was amazing.

London

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This was our first sight-seeing holiday and I guess it brought out the tourists in us. I’m pretty sure we went because Five Seconds of Summer were performing in London on Hirst’s birthday and the day after – she didn’t want to be away for her actual birthday but as a sort of birthday trip we went to see them the next day.

We obviously did some over sightseeing while we were over there – Camden Market, Trafalgar Square, Platform 9 and ¾, the Globe Theatre, Oxford Street. We also went to see a show, it took a lot of debating on what we should see but we eventually settled on wonder.land which was sort of based on Alice in Wonderland but was about an internet app or something… By the time we got to the theatre we were all so exhausted I’m surprised none of us fell asleep during the show. It was a good show but I remember us all sitting there before it began, none of us speaking and just looking absolutely dead inside.

It seemed like the weekend was over way too quickly but we had an amazing time and I’m glad we all went.

I’m sure there are tons and tons of other amazing memories that I’ll kick myself for not including on this list but it’s already quite long so I’ll end it here. I hope you enjoyed reading this and here’s to ten more years with my favourite nerds!

Things That Make Me Happy

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I’ve noticed something strange recently. At the start of last year I had an awful first few months where I felt low and angry pretty much all the time but by August things melted away and I just enjoyed the second half of the year feeling pretty good. I was determined that the start of 2018 would be better so I got myself organised and did some things I’d been putting off that I actually really wanted to do – I got my first tattoo, went on my first solo trip abroad, started piano lessons and did my best to generally cram in as much fun stuff as possible.

Regardless of this though I still felt low and angry a lot of the time just like the beginning of last year. To be fair I feel like I tried harder this year but some things happened completely out of my control. My Grandad passed away in February. I’ve never lost anybody before and to reach 21 and not lose anybody is a pretty amazing but I don’t think I’m coping well with it now it’s happened. Then a couple of months later my colleague Malcolm also passed away. I had never attended a funeral in my life now suddenly this year I’ve attended two within the space of three months.

Other things were getting me down too but I don’t really want to dwell on them in this post. This post is about what makes me happy so that hopefully in my lower moments I can refer to this and do my best to cheer myself up. I’m quite dramatic so when I’m upset it’s quite easy for me to just wallow in my own self-pity but I don’t want to keep feeling sorry for myself. So here is my list of things that make me happy.

Travelling

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Okay obviously I can’t just get up and go abroad every time I feel sad because honestly I just couldn’t afford that lifestyle but usually at any given time I have a trip to look forward to. At the moment those trips include Paris, Japan and South Korea (and then Paris again). It doesn’t even have to be abroad, I love going to London which I do quite regularly.

I’ve been to some amazing places over the past few years including Benidorm, Paris, Amsterdam, Luxembourg, Lithuania, New York, Poland and Greece and I loved every single one of them. I travel so often that I figured out since starting my job last March I have visited six new countries within that time. I now have a reputation in the office of being a bit of a jet-setter and I’m not complaining, I love having that reputation.

In February I was telling a colleague I’d just got back from Poland to which they responded “So that’s you done with trips now for the year?” Done with trips? In February? I don’t think so. The moment I’m back I’m ready to book the next one and it’s usually never long before I’m off somewhere else again.

I went to see the nurse recently who told me “I do like going on holiday but I also hate it because of the depression I get coming back home” and I feel that, I do get quite down when I come back to work after an amazing trip but ultimately I could never stop travelling and don’t plan to. There are so many places I want to see!

Books

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I love reading books but unfortunately I don’t always have the motivation. I feel like I haven’t read as much this year as I normally do but I haven’t lost my love for it. I’m pretty much always in the middle of a book and I can leave it for a while then just get straight back into the story. My Mom told me she can’t do that, she has to read it all in one go or she loses the plot but I could leave it a while and just pick it back up whenever.

At the moment my favourite book is ‘Only Ever Yours’ by Louise O’Neill which isn’t the most cheery book ever but I still love pretty much everything about it and I’m looking forward to the movie version (I’m praying it doesn’t suck). Other favourites include the Harry Potter series, ‘The Lost and the Found’ by Cat Clarke and ‘Am I Normal Yet’ by Holly Bourne. I just love getting lost in a book for a few hours instead of staring at a computer screen like I so often do.

I definitely need to read more because there’s a lot in my ‘to be read’ pile that I haven’t look at even though they’ve been there for over a year. It’s on my bucket list to have a year where I read at least two new books a month so I might have to make that my 2019 goal. I’m actually so excited I might start collecting the books and preparing now!

Cinema

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I swear our local Cineworld has healing powers or something. One day I was up town and got really bad period cramps but the moment I got to Cineworld and was sat in the screen with my large chocolate milkshake they completely stopped. For ages I had an unlimited card so I spent an awful lot of time at that cinema and it never failed to cheer me up, even if the film I saw was dreadful. I got rid of the card but now have it back again because I go so often that I might as well.

This year I’m going to write a list of my favourite 2018 releases and films that I think will be quite high on the list are ‘The Greatest Showman’, ‘The Incredibles 2’ and ‘A Quiet Place’ because I just absolutely loved those movies. I don’t understand people who would rather watch the movie at home on DVD, there’s nothing better than watching a movie on the big screen.

My Mom

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The woman drives me up the wall but ultimately she is my best friend. Not a day has gone past that I haven’t spoken to my Mom, even when I’m away I text her regularly and we always know what the other is up to. We work in the same building so every Friday we meet up to have lunch and we always make time to hang out with each other.

It’s convenient having her in the same building because one day I came into work and my friend informed me that one of my colleagues had been bitching about me while I’d been off the week before. I was already sad about other things and that kind of tipped me over the edge so at lunch time I went into my Mom’s office and had a mope to her. She took me over town and treated us both to a slice of cake and had a chat about what had upset me.

Last month we started watching Love Island together, something I never thought I’d be interested in but it was cool that me and my Mom had something to watch and talk about together. I could tag her in the memes on Facebook and we could just have a laugh. It was nice, I enjoyed watching it with her and I just love spending time with her.

Theatre

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I’ve always loved going to the theatre but I didn’t really consider myself a ‘theatre fan’. I just assumed everyone liked going as much as me – it wasn’t until last year or the year before that I realised yeah I actually love the theatre an awful lot. One of my favourite weekends was my birthday present to myself last year – I spent the weekend in London and watched five shows – ‘Annie’, ‘Aladdin’, ‘Dream Girls’, ‘School of Rock’ and ‘The Comedy About A Bank Robbery’.

My favourite show so far is probably ‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’. Me and Becca went in March (as you can read here) and had such a good time that we’re going back next year but in the more expensive seats so we can hopefully have a better view. If I’m sat behind a giraffe now I may have to cry.

I don’t just go to London, I’ve seen some good shows at closer theatres in Wolverhampton and Birmingham. There is a local theatre a short walk away from my house but there’s not usually much on there to be honest although I do go and see the panto every Christmas Eve there.

But yeah, I’m usually quite happy when I’m sat in a theatre watching a show.

Going For a Run

Unfortunately I don’t always have the motivation for this which is annoying because usually I feel really good afterwards and I know that it’s good for me. We’re in the middle of a heat wave right now in England so I can barely walk anywhere let alone run but I love going for a run in the cooler months, especially when it’s dark and no one can see me. I thought about signing up for the gym because that might motivate me to exercise more as generally exercise does make me happy but gym memberships are quite expensive so I decided not to because, y’know, running’s free. Now I’ve written it down I can come back to this and hopefully force myself to exercise!

My Friends

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I already wrote a long post about what I love about my best friends but like… I do love my friends. An awful lot. Even when we argue I still love them. We’ve made some amazing memories together and I know we’ll continue to, probably for the rest of our lives. I can’t see us breaking friends any time soon and I can’t wait to see where we all end up.

This year we’re celebrating ten years since we all met each other. The idea was to get a joint tattoo but we’re not sure that’s happening anymore. Regardless I’m glad we’ve known each other for ten years and I can’t wait to celebrate twenty years in 2028.

Hanging out with three of them makes me insanely happy. I’m in the middle of writing a post of my favourite memories with them to celebrate our ten years of friendship but even the small times where we just sit in someone’s house and talk mean an awful lot to me. Even just our Facebook group chat can mean a lot to me. Hearing about Hirst going to ASDA to buy some garden gnomes at 11PM the other night really made my night. So yeah, chilling with my friends makes me super happy and I need to make more of an effort to meet up with them regularly – difficult because we’re adults and have our own responsibilities and schedules but we’ve managed so far.

K-Pop

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Lame but music does make me happy, especially K-Pop. Recently me and Jess went to a K-Pop Night in Birmingham which was amazing until around the 3AM mark when I was suddenly exhausted. But it was cool to be able to dance to songs I knew as opposed to when we went clubbing the week before and I barely knew any of the songs. It was a good night though and I’m looking forward to the next one when hopefully Becca can join us.

I also love going to K-Pop concerts – so far I’ve seen BTS, FT Island, f(x), IOI, SHINee, Block B, 24K, EXID, Snuper, Highlight, KNK and Dreamcatcher. There are plenty of other groups/artists I would absolutely love to see including but not limited to G-Friend, Red Velvet, TWICE, Hyuna, CLC and so many more.

Another thing I love about K-Pop is being able to learn the dances. Even though I’m sure I look like an absolute moron doing them it still makes me happy to give it a go. I’d love to rent out a dance studio for the day and just learn the dances to my favourite songs but as I can’t afford that I will have to make do with my living room whenever my parents are away.

Going out for Meals

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Okay but who doesn’t love going out for a meal? Having food cooked for you and then not having to worry about the washing up afterwards is lush. I never really eat anywhere fancy because I’m a fan of just simple food so my favourite place to eat is Wetherspoons. If I’m feeling more adventurous than I do love going to TGI Friday’s but the food there is quite a bit more expensive. It doesn’t matter where I am though to be honest I just love going for a nice meal out whether that’s by myself or with friends/family.

My only issue with this list is that a lot of the stuff costs money and I need to find more things that are free that make me feel happy. Feel free to comment with things that make you happy, I might be able to take inspiration!