Monday, 26 August 2019

OUTFIT: LIBRARY LOOK

As an life-long book worm, as soon as I spotted this dress I knew I had to have it!

Dress - Lindy Bop
Shoes - H&M
Made by UK brand Lindy Bop, this is their Bletchley Book dress - a 1950's style shirt dress, with a flare skirt, cute matching belt, and pockets!! 

I'd eyed up Lindy Bop dresses for a while now, I'm a big fan of swing skirts, vintage styles and cute patterns which they have in abundance (how nice is this woodland print dress, for example!) but it took a dress covered in books to make me race for the buy button. Only problem was it was sold out on their site, but a bit of googling led me to Little Wings Factory who helpfully had it in stock. Phew!

The dress is made from a matte finish fabric, and is essentially a fancy polyester dress, but it feels nice to wear, is sized well, and has a concealed zip fastening. You could easily wear a petticoat with it if you wanted to go full 50s, and I reckon - despite being quite a bold print - you can style it up or down, depending on how fancy you want to look. 


I wanted to look quite fancy as I wore it to go to the Queen's Garden Party in Edinburgh. I'd been invited through work, which gave me the excuse to dress up and head off to Holyrood Palace for an afternoon in the scorching sunshine, drinking elderflower cordial, eating tiny posh cakes, and lounging in very cute flowerbeds (whilst ignoring the actual Queen, sorry Lizzie!).

Monday, 1 July 2019

LIFE LATELY

Last time we spoke, I was gearing up for Edinburgh International Film Festival, and I was EXCITED.

Matching #edfilmfest nails by the brilliant Buff CS
Festivals are addictive things. You work on them year-round (shhh, people who ask "but what do you do the rest of the year?"), going from the calm, fallow period where you've got AAAGES of time to plan and reflect, moving into a slightly more concentrated state of deadlines-are-near, followed by months where it takes over your life, you never get to the end of your to-do list, and suddenly it's the month of your festival, you work every day, and emerge at the end exhausted and elated, unsure if you've got it in you to do it all over end. Then comes the chilled, planning period where you think 'oh wouldn't it be cool if we did this?' and you read lovely audience feedback which makes it all feel worthwhile, and it all starts all over again.

I'm currently in the exhausted and elated stage. This has been a hard few weeks. In a stroke of grim timing, I got sick the week before the festival started. Not just a bit of a cold, but a severe salivary gland infection - which I'd never heard of before, and wish I hadn't. It's kind of like the mumps, in that your face gets HUGE and swollen, but it has other fun symptoms like a swollen tongue (the grossest thing that's ever happened to me), fever, and a whole lot of pain.

I've never had anything like it (and I've had the mumps! This was worse), and it turned me into a sad little frog, waiting on antibiotics to kick in, up to my eyeballs on codeine, still trying to keep up with emails and phone into conference calls, even though moving from the sofa felt like an impossible task. I got through the week, my giant face returned to normal, and everyone was very supportive, but I think it's been a good lesson not to push myself through sickness like that again - two weeks on I'm only just really feeling like myself again.

EIFF Marketing & Development teams, hiya!
But the show must go on! And it did. We had red carpets and cool guests, lots of people came and liked what they saw, we drank a lot of whisky, ceilidh danced, I met interesting new people and watched great new films (my very, very favourite was The Biggest Little Farm - if it's playing near you, go see it!), and hung out with a great group of festival pals.

Now I've got a few days off to do nothing (what a treat!), then I'm off to a lovely friend's wedding, followed by a fun summer. I'm going to Dublin for the first time, it's the (other) Edinburgh Festivals, and then at the end of it all, I'm off to Greece so there's millions of things to look forward to... although secretly, I'm most excited about doing nothing this week - bring it on!

Monday, 3 June 2019

10 THINGS TO SEE AT EDINBURGH INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL

Exciting times! The 73rd Edinburgh International Film Festival programme has just launched and it is packed full of amazing movies, special events, super cool guests, and fun things for film fans (full disclosure: I am totally biased, I work there, but it is great!). It's somehow my fourth (!) Film Festival, and I still kind of feel like I'm making it up as I go along, but I'm very proud of what we've got planned this year.

This year's Festival runs 19th - 30th June (with some special events and previews running 14th - 16th June too!). This year we've got 121 film premieres, including 18 World Premieres, 12 International Premieres, 8 European Premieres, and 72 UK Premieres from 42 countries, not to mention a packed retrospective programme, and a whole heap of special events.


Obviously it's all great, but if you're not quite sure where to start, I've picked out 10 things to see in the Festival programme. Enjoy!

1. Film Fest in the City with Edinburgh Live
EIFF kickstarts the Festival with Film Fest in the City - a free weekend of films in St Andrew Square Garden from Friday 14th - Sunday 16th June. This year we've got films including Mamma Mia 2 and Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse (some of my favourite films from 2018!), Black Panther, The Greatest Showman, Bohemian Rhapsody and more! Start praying for sunshine now...

2. Boyz in the Wood The Festival opens with the European Premiere of Boyz in the Wood, a Scottish comedy-horror set in the Highlands. Four teenagers are let loose in the countryside, only to get into all sorts of mishap as they lose their map, discover hallucinogens, and get hunted by Eddie Izzard (playing a very posh farmer).

3. The Dead Don't Die Fresh out of opening Cannes, this is a zombie-comedy with a killer cast. Three police offers (Bill Murray, Adam Driver and Chloe Sevigny) and a samurai-sword-wielding mortician (Tilda Swinton) have to battle a zombie horde when the dead start to rise from their graves.

4. CineCuisine Food and film go hand in hand, and this year EIFF is presenting its first strand of culinary cinema. There's documentaries exploring whisky, olive oil, and Scotland's ace produce, and special events including Food for Thought - a night of Scottish tales and tastings (and spoiler - this event is a steal at £5!).

5. EIFF Youth Man, I wish they had stuff like this when I was a teenager! EIFF Youth is our ace programme of events, workshops and screenings for 15-25 year olds, for people who are interested in finding out more about the film industry, or are just cine-curious! There's acting and audition workshops, a talk with Game of Thrones and Outlander's costume designer, and workshops on screen combat, screenwriting, SFX make up, sound effects and more! Plus, it only costs £5 for a EIFF Youth pass which gets you entry to all events for free!

6. Bludgeon You can always count on EIFF for a great documentary! I am excited for Bludgeon, a film following a group of medieval re-enactment enthusiasts from small-town New Zealand, who are trying to make it to an international competition in Europe.

7. In Person: Jack Lowden Scottish actor Jack Lowden is a bit of an EIFF favourite, and this year he's here to chat about his career - from starting out in Scottish Youth Theatre, then getting roles in War & Peace, Dunkirk, EIFF award-winner Calibre, and Mary Queen of Scots.

8. The Littlest Big Farm This just looks so DELIGHTFUL! This documentary follows a Los Angeles couple who give up city life, buy a farm, and follow their dream of growing every ingredient they might want to cook with.

9. The Wind I've said before, but I'm a sucker for a creepy sci-fi tale. This feminist western follows Lizzy, a tough, resourceful frontierswoman in the remote American frontier. Isolated from civilisation in a wilderness where the wind never stops howling, she begins to sense a sinister presence that seems to belong to the land itself... (aaaah!).

10. Cage-a-rama Scotland's first Nicolas Cage film festival, Cage-a-rama takes over EIFF for a special Nicholas Cage 3D extravaganza! What more could you possibly want on a Saturday night?!

Tickets for Edinburgh International Film Festival are on sale now, and you can view the whole programme here.

Monday, 13 May 2019

LEARNING TO LIKE SWIMMING

It took me three years to visit the Victorian swimming pool that was one minute walk from my flat. I never thought of myself as a swimmer, so I didn't think swimming was for me. I didn't do it competitively at school, and since the lessons we were forced to take, the only swimming I did was splashing about in the sea on holiday. I thought people who went to swimming pools were scary-serious-speed swimmers, and there wasn't really a place for someone like me.

Photograph - Soo Burnell (from her amazing Poolside series of Edinburgh swimming pools)
But the pool called to me. It was January and I was feeling sluggish, I wanted to do something. And it turns out, I hate running with an intensity greater than my fear of trying something new. So I bought myself an actual swimsuit (thank you bravissimo for making nice things built for my body shape), and headed to the pool.

The moment I stepped in the water, I froze. What if I literally couldn't swim a length? I could swim in the ocean, but that's more fun-bobbing-about, rather than trying to cross a pool and back. I figured it was do or drown, and I managed to frogkick myself along. It is a bit like riding a bike, I knew my technique wasn't great (and oh my god, my body hurt the next day), but I could do it! Yeah, there was some scary swimmers there, but they just ignored me. Everyone ignored each other. Exactly my type of activity.

Fast-forward five months later (!), and it turns out I really, really like swimming. I've been going roughly twice a week since the start of the year, and I can't imagine life without it. I didn't start swimming with a goal to lose weight (I think there's better sports if that is your focus), but I just wanted to feel better. And I do. I feel less sluggish. I'm sleeping better. And I can really feel the difference when I'm swimming. I'm still terrified of the fast lane, but I'm faster! And while I could probably do with a swimming lesson or two, it feels like my body finally is starting to understand what it's doing.

More importantly, is the mental calm it has brought me. When I looked back on 2018, one of my big stand-outs was realising how I'd carried a snug layer of stress with me for most of the year. This time round I wanted to be kinder to my mind, and swimming has been a marvel. When I swim I don't think about anything. Not work, not life, not even swimming. I can do lengths without realising it. I just don't think, I just do. I've not had anything in my life like it before, it is so calming, and has already been a wonderful cure-all to stressy days.

I'm about to hit the busiest point in my year (Film Festival is just around the corner, and our launch is only two weeks away - oh gaaaad), so here's the real test for me and swimming. Will I still go when I'm tired? Will it keep me sane when I am dreaming about pop ups (and other nonsense work-stress dreams)? We shall see. Wish me luck!

Monday, 6 May 2019

HOLIDAY WISHLIST: 10 DREAMY (& AFFORDABLE) AIRBNBS

I'm just back from a week camping in the Scottish Highlands, and already my mind has turned to what holiday I can plan next - I am a fan of having something to look forward to!

I think my plan this year is to try and get two weeks away somewhere sunny and interesting in the Autumn - the last few years have been great for weekends away and short breaks, but it's been ages since I've had a proper 'big' holiday, and I am ready to soak up some sunshine and culture.

Saying that, my budget is not very big-holiday friendly, so enter Airbnb (not a sponsored post, although I wish!). I've been using Airbnb for years and I love it. It's such a great way to discover a city, feel like you are (almost!) a local, and stay somewhere with personality, that can be tailored to your budget.

As I've been spending a lot of time searching through their listings, I thought I'd share 10 places that caught my eye (that are also surprisingly affordable!). If you've stayed at any super dreamy airbnbs, please share them in the comments - I am still searching for that perfect holiday spot!

1. Budapest, Hungary

Just look at this gorgeous design-led apartment. I've never been to Budapest, but everyone raves about it, and places like this make it even more tempting. It's close to all the main attractions, and a bargain at £45/night. 

2. Ostuni, Italy

I've always fancied staying in an Italian Trullo, and look how beautiful this is! It's a 300 year old building (recently refurbished to be environmentally friendly), set in grounds with olive, almond, fig, cherry, apple, pear and mulberry trees (which you can help yourself to). There's beaches and little towns nearby, and hammocks to hang out in, and it looks so nice! It's roughly £80/night.

3. Barcelona, Spain

I've stayed in this apartment, so I can vouch it is as dreamy as it looks! It's just around the corner from a metro station and a market, so it's a really great spot to explore Barcelona from. Plus it's got great balconies to people-watch from, with prices around £100/night (prices have gone up since I stayed there, but it was very nice!).

4. Palermo, Italy

Look at those plants! This palazzo is nestled in Palermo's old city, in a magnificent and aristocratic apartment with a private courtyard. It's perfect if you want to stay somewhere packed with colour and character - imagine drinking wine sitting on that terrace after a day of exploring the old streets? It's roughly £70/night.

5. Lacanau, France


Airbnb is great if you are looking for something different, and this tiny house is just that! Based in the pine forest and lake of Lacanau, it boasts to be the perfect place for a romantic stay in the middle of nature. It's close to the coast, and there's loads of great French villages you can explore from this base. It's £62/night.

6. Koufonisia, Greece

Greece can be pretty pricey, but this studio is a bit more affordable at roughly £119/night. It's on a little beach on a beaut Greek island, and looks like a great spot for a chilled holiday.

7. Madeira, Portugal

I hadn't really considered Madeira as a holiday destination, until I saw how affordable it is! This pink cottage caught my eye - it looks perfect if you want an idyllic getaway, where you can swim in the pool, pick fresh fruit off the trees, and explore the island. It's £55/night.

8. Copenhagen, Denmark

Copenhagen is super cool, so it stands to reason that most of the places you can stay are stylish and super cool too. This apartment caught my eye - it's stylish, in a great spot, and has a beaut outdoor terrace you can enjoy. It's around £91/night.

9. Prince Edward, Canada

How cute is this Wes Anderson themed house?! Every room in this 100+ year old house is themed after or inspired by a different Wes Anderson film - you can sleep in Margot's bedroom, hang out in the Life Aquatic themed living room, and eat in the Darjeeling Limited Tea Room. It's roughly £87/night and I would like to stay here please!

10. Brac, Croatia

This stone Croatian cottage is nestled high on a hill top, giving you beautiful views of islands, mainland Croatia and the Adriatic Sea. I stayed here last year for a week - we've been obsessively travelling to Croatia for the last four (!!) years, because it's so wonderful - and it was a beautiful place to stay. It's only £54/night, which makes the view even sweeter.
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