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.

Monday, 29 April 2019

CHILLING ADVENTURES OF SABRINA OUTFIT WISHLIST

Like most teenage girls in the 90s, I was pretty obsessed with Sabrina the Teenage Witch. She had magical powers! Cool aunts! A super sassy feline sidekick! Aaand a weird obsession with pancakes? (Teenage Juliet used to dream of going to IHOP in America, thanks to that pancake episode). It was great.

So, when Netflix announced they were producing a dark reimagining of Sabrina, I was here for it! It follows the same premise as the original series: Sabrina Spellman is a half-witch, half-mortal, who struggles to find a balance between living her human high school life and discovering her new magical powers. But this time round, it is CREEPY. Gone are the pastels and pancakes, this time there's murder, demons and dark arts.

It's based in the present day, but the styling is a 1960s dream, with a gothic twist. The outfits are amazing! Sabrina's dressed in peter pan collars, lace dresses and satin slips. Michelle Gomez (always amazing) plays a teacher possessed by the spirit of Satan, in femme fatale dresses and vintage looks. Sabrina's cousin lounges about in silk robes. It's all a treat!

So, with that in mind, I've put together a wishlist of Sabrina-inspired looks. I know it's not the most Spring-like of outfit wish lists, but I live in Scotland, and it takes a little longer for summery days to roll around here. Look at that green dress! Those boots!


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Monday, 4 March 2019

MOTHER'S DAY GIFT GUIDE

This week's weirdly warm weather means it definitely feels like Spring is here! I loved the big snow we got this time last year, but it is so nice to see some blue skies and spring bulbs coming up (although this cartoon very much sums up my feelings about the unseasonably nice days we've been having).

Spring also heralds the month of many presents I have to buy! In March it's my mum, sister and niece's birthdays, followed by Mother's Day, so I've been on the lookout for cool gifts for the women in my life (that aren't going to annihilate my poor wallet). So, take this as your annual reminder that Mother's Day is just around the corner (March 31st! Mark your diary), and please stop reading if you are likely to get a gift from me in the next 4 weeks (mum! This means you!).

For everyone else, here's some mum-friendly gift inspiration.

mothers day gift guide quirky independent gifts

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Monday, 25 February 2019

10 THINGS TO SEE AT EDINBURGH SCIENCE FESTIVAL

Somehow it's that time of year again! The wonderful Edinburgh Science Festival have launched their 2019 programme, which takes place from Saturday 6th - Sunday 21st April, Sci Fest's 31st edition!

Taking inspiration from the 50th anniversary of the Moon landings, this year's programme explores the theme of Frontiers, pushing the boundaries of what we think we know, and stepping into new territories (including loads of cool space things, obviously).

As always, the Science Festival has something for everyone (even you, person who thinks science is boring!). This year they've got 270 events on offer at 31 venues across Edinburgh (including their shiny new Festival Hub, the Pleasance), with loads of funny, creative, hands-on events for adults, as well as millions of things for kids. Fancy drinking gin while getting told cool gin facts? Or discussing if Jurassic Park could actually happen? Or getting the secrets behind the Moon landing? Of course you do.

There's loads to choose from, but I've picked out my top picks from this year's programme.


1. Life on Mars Grab your pals and join this pub quiz, board game and sci-fi mashup to build a new life on Mars.

2. The Science of the Sesh An evening of delicious drinks, boozy experiments and cocktail history. You'll discover what factors and senses affect how we taste, how to make amazing cocktails at home, and get to sip on some great Scottish spirits as you learn. Win win!

3. Secrets of Seafood Sci Fest are well-known for their great food events, and this looks no exception. This event promises some surprising science as you try out Scottish seafood, discover what other edible treats the sea offers, and debate how we make sure our stocks are sustainable.

4. Fake Moon Landings and Other Persistent Conspiracies Conspiracy theory experts (what a cool job) Prof Knight and Prof Sutton chat conspiracies, how they take root, and why people believe them. Lizard people! The Moon landings! Fake news?

5. Where the Hell is My Hoverboard? It's 2019 and we don't have flying cars yet! This panel, featuring a robotics researcher, future tech enthusiast and engineering researcher, look at where technology is at, and what we have to achieve before we can live our sci-fi dreams. There will also be the chance to taste 3D printed food!

6. Bring Back the Dodo Did someone say Jurassic Park?! Zoologist Jules Howard chats to the director of the Frozen Ark project, exploring what extinct creatures could be brought back and how. Guys remember, just because we can, does that mean we should...?

7. Thinking Through Animals Over the last century, cognition research has revealed a variety of advanced mental abilities in animals. Experts in philosophy, genetics and anthropology discuss what this means and how it links to human self-understanding.

8. The Science Behind Humanity's Dark Side Fellow murder-podcast-obsessives unite, this is one for us! Learn about the intricacies of criminal psychologists, how similar your brain is to a psychopath's, how many people think about murder, and why we do evil.

9. The Science of Egyptian Mummification: A No-Brainer? I've been studying Ancient Egypt in evening classes this year, so hi, yes, I am very excited for this! Discover the latest ground-breaking research on how the ancient Egyptians dealt with death (and to warm up, pop into the National Museum of Scotland's brand new Egyptian collection, which is meant to be amazing).

10. An Evening with the Moon Science writer Philip Ball, cultural astronomer Daniel Brown, and very funny person Susan Morrison host a whimsical evening of laid-back lunar activities and celestial cocktails, all under the glow of a lunar landscape. Sounds dreamy.

This year's Edinburgh Science Festival runs 6th - 21st April, and you can browse their full programme here.

Monday, 18 February 2019

A LOCAL'S GUIDE
TO EDINBURGH

Gifted post: Spending money was gifted by Hotels.com but all views are my own.  

Edinburgh Scratched map - Fruitmarket Gallery shop
I'm pretty lucky to live in Edinburgh, a city that is frequently lauded for being such an all-rounder of culture, history and good times (in 2018 Auld Reekie was voted the best city to visit in the UK for the fifth time running AND named the best city in the world to live in! Go Edinburgh). It's a city famous for its festivals, and there's an abundance of interesting spaces, places, restaurants, bars, coffee shops and hotels in Edinburgh to choose from. Phew!

But like any local, I can get a bit lazy about actually making an effort to get out and explore my city! So it was much appreciated to get a prompt challenging me to go on a day out and find Edinburgh's best spots and hidden gems. 

Buff Nails | Bada Budan
I started off my day by heading to the Arches at New Waverley - a super cute street of renovated Victorian arches, that's tucked away just between Waverley Railway Station and the Royal Mile (a perfect antidote to the tartan shops that crowd the Old Town). It's packed with independent businesses and hipster delights to eat, drink and shop.

I headed to my favourite nail salon, the Scandi-inspired Buff Nails for a shellac manicure, opting for a grey/neon yellow fade which felt fairly appropriate for the is-it-winter/is-it-spring weather we've got going on. I couldn't recommend Buff more - they do classic manicures alongside cool, custom nail art, and it's such a nice way to treat yourself!

After Buff, I wandered along to independent doughnut and coffee shop, Bada Budan. They offer an ace looking brunch menu, but I couldn't resist going for a salted caramel chocolate doughnut (playing tourist is a good excuse to eat doughnuts for lunch, right?). It's a really cute little coffee shop - I cosied in with my book for a while, but they also have a nice outdoor spot, perfect for sunnier days.

Other ideas to treat yourself: the Lush SpaOne Spa (they have a rooftop pool!)

Creative Connections - Fruitmarket Gallery
Next up, it was time for some culture! I have been dying to go see the National Museum of Scotland's new Egyptian exhibit, but I probably don't need to tell you to go there - the Museum is the most visited attraction in Scotland (but it is amazing, and you should absolutely go).

Instead I popped into Edinburgh's Fruitmarket Gallery - a contemporary art gallery based right next to the train station, to look at their current exhibition, Creative Connections, a programme showcasing the work of groups working with diverse communities from across the city. I'm a sucker for bold, bright installations, so loved this piece by Scottish artist Juliana Capes.

The Fruitmarket Gallery also houses a cute cafe and an excellent book and gift shop!

Calton Hill
It's fair to say Edinburgh doesn't always have the greatest weather, but I was lucky today as the sun was shining as I made my way up Calton Hill - the home of the Nelson Monument, the City Observatory, Edinburgh's half-finished acropolis (aka Edinburgh's disgrace!) and the very best views in the city.

I was headed that way to check out the newly-opened Collective Gallery (who moved to their new home on Calton Hill at the end of last year), but was completely distracted by the view. I've lived in this city for years, and even though I've been up here many times, I realised I've actually never walked up on a clear day (instead it's been a destination for firework-watching or Beltane-partying - all fun, but not quite the same!). It's only a 10 minute walk from Princes St, and it's just incredible. You can see Edinburgh's Old and New Towns, the Castle, Arthur's Seat, the Palace at Holyroodhouse, down to Leith and over the Forth to Fife. If you're visiting Edinburgh, it's worth doing this on day one to take in the whole city and get your bearings.

The Gallery was also good though! They have restored the City Observatory, creating a new space for people to engage and think about contemporary art. They also have an amazing gift shop (I'm such a sucker for nice art gifts). 

Want more suggestions? Edinburgh's packed with amazing cultural spots. Watch arthouse films at Filmhouse Cinema, explore the beautiful National Gallery of Modern Art and its amazing grounds, venture out to Jupiter Artland, or discover Edinburgh's creepy medical history at Surgeon's Hall

Aurora
One of Edinburgh's best neighbourhoods is Leith, a historic port district that houses creatives and colourful characters, ace bars and cafes and quirky shops. In recent years, loads of amazing restaurants have popped up, as Leith develops a reputation for being home to some of the best restaurants in the city. It also houses me, so yeah, you could say I'm biased, but it is a brilliant place to live and I love it so.

Nestled on the otherwise-uninspiring Great Junction Street, is Aurora, a tiny restaurant that's been getting rave reviews on trip advisor. Aurora aims to create delicious and genuine food with great respect for the ingredients they use, using locally sourced, seasonal and unprocessed produce.

I'd guessed this was going to be good, but holy moly. The menu is made up of smallish-plates so you can try many things - we had the braised pork cheeks with langoustine bisque and scampi, wild mushrooms with smoked almonds and confit yolk (this was so good, take me back), pan fried sea trout with lobster cappelletti, pigeon breast with pear, and honey pannacotta to finish. It was a delight and all very reasonably priced (between £8-12 a dish), given how beautifully prepared and delicious it all was! 

If you're travelling to Aurora, make sure you make a booking in advance. It'll take about 10 minutes to travel there in a taxi from the city centre.

Monday, 11 February 2019

BOOKS I'VE READ LATELY

I realise I'm pretty late to the party with this one, but this year I finally got introduced to Goodreads, and guys, it's really good?

If you are stuck in the past like me, let me introduce you. It's a social media site just for reading, so you can track the books you've read, make lists of the books you want to read, set yourself reading challenges, and easily discover things you might like. No more panicking that you're about to go on holiday and haven't worked out what books to take! Or being hopeless at remembering exactly what you've read (I am bad for this - if I like a book, rather than love or hate it, it sort of disappears in my brain. I have read Girlfriend in a Coma twice without realising until the end, because I thought it was 'fine' so it disappeared into my brain's netherworld).

So it's great! And as I'm paying a bit more attention to what I want to read next, I think it's making me read more, which is wonderful! Here's a little recap of what I've read lately.


The Sunlight Pilgrims - Jenni Fagan
I was lucky enough to read Sunlight Pilgrims in the very perfect place. I was up north, staying in a tiny yurt with a crackling fire, tending the logs and reading this book while the wind whipped the tent and rain lashed overhead.

Set in a Scottish caravan park during a freak winter, this book tells the tale of a small community living through what people think may be the end of times. It feels like you are going on an adventure, that you're looking for yourself in the stars, that you are standing in deep snow, about to take your next step. It was a delight, and I can not wait to read more of Jenni Fagan's work.

Normal People - Sally Rooney
Let me join the entire world's chorus: I loved this book. Somehow it reached into my head and my heart and articulated every moment of hopefulness and anxiety I have ever had. It described the exact moment that I kissed my first boyfriend, the emptiness of my break ups, the feeling of steadying your heart and mind, ready to take on the world again. How?! It's perfect, oh my god, you need to read it.

The Way of All Flesh - Ambrose Parry
My expectations were always going to be sky-high after Normal People, so I think The Way of All Flesh got a slightly short stick in my world. It's a really fun 19th century Edinburgh medical thriller, where we follow a scrappy-but-well-meaning medical student who is sent to train under the intimidating eye of the famous Dr Simpson. There's scandal and murder and suspense and it's set right where I leave (I can't tell if it's fun or distracting to read your own street-name as the scene of the crime! Maybe both?). I liked it.

Little Women - Louisa May Alcott 
I have owned this both for YEARS, but have never managed to motivate myself to pick it up. I have just finished it, and WAHHH, what took me so long? Sometimes old classics can be a slog to read, but it is sweet and funny and surprisingly progressive! Yes, the religious morals are a bit much and it can be overly saccharine in places, but I was surprised by how much I liked the characters and how quickly the story trotted along. I'm looking forward to Greta Gerwig's hipster remake of the movie now too!

If you'd like to follow me on Goodreads, you can do so here!

Monday, 4 February 2019

QUIRKY VALENTINE'S CARDS

Despite my general apathy towards the hype of Valentine's Day (which genuinely feels like the worst day to go out for a meal?), I cannot help but continue to love Valentine's cards. I'm a sucker for cards in general, really. I think it's just SO nice to take the time to write something special and give it to someone you care about. Cards are cool!

Valentine's cards are also, on the whole, pretty twee (and so pink!). So here's some cute and quirky ones I found! It's a great way to support your local maker/indie stationery shop, and get that sweet dopamine hit as you spread some love and think good vibes towards others.


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Monday, 28 January 2019

10 THINGS TO SEE AT GLASGOW FILM FESTIVAL

It might still only be January, but Scotland's year of festivals is well underway. Next to roll round is the super fun and friendly Glasgow Film Festival, who announced their 2019 programme last week.

Glasgow Film Fest pride themselves on being the perfect movie mix, meaning they've got something for everyone - from indie arthouse features to classic Hollywood films, rare cult gems and nostalgic retro parties. This year they're boasting over 300 screenings, talks and events, with 7 world premieres, 102 UK premieres and 49 Scottish premieres, all packed into 12 days at the end of February.

There's loads to choose from, but to give you a helping hand, I've picked out ten events that caught my eye!


1. The Hole in the Ground I already find sinkholes pretty scary, so I am intrigued by this supernatural thriller. There's a deep dark wood, a creepy child, and a giant sinkhole? Count me in.

2. Maiden 30 years ago, an all-female crew undertook an incredible around-the-world voyage that challenged every prejudice of the sailing established. This documentary looks so interesting, as the crew look back on their nine-month battle against the elements and sexist men.

3. Benjamin Fancy going to a film festival to watch a film about watching a film at another film festival? Sounds pretty meta, but Simon Amstell is a bit of a genius, and directs this fresh and endearing romantic comedy about a filmmaker struggling with self-doubt and self-sabotage when he meets someone new.

4. Aquarela Sometimes you just need to sit back and take in the world, and this sounds just the ticket. Travelling from the frozen waters of Russia's Lake Baikal to the mighty Angel Falls in Venezuela, this immersive documentary promotions a mind-blowing fusion of sound and vision in an epic film which captures the raw, glorious power of water and its impact on the planet.

5. The Vanishing Scotland makes some pretty great thrillers, so I'm looking forward to this lighthouse mystery, starring Peter Mullan and Gerard Butler. Based on the true story of the Flannan Isle mystery, this follows three lighthouse keepers who arrive on an uninhabited Scottish island.

6. The Blair Witch Project GFF have a great rep for their special events and this year is packed with them! Top of the list is the genuinely-terrifying sounding Blair Witch screening in a secret-location, which is flagged not for the faint-hearted! Luckily there's two versions if you fancy it, but are a bit of a wimp - an afternoon event for scaredy cats who fancy a thrill, and an evening event for the hardcore horror fans!

7. Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure If there's no way you are going to an immersive horror party, but still want an event cinema experience, try this! Dress up as your favourite historical figure, and get ready for some inter-century partying, dude.

8. Character Makeup with Danny Marie Elias One of my favourite things about film festivals is the fascinating look you get behind the scenes when you listen to a filmmaker talk about their work. Making movies is just so cool! This event is free (!), and promises an interesting chat and live prosthetics demo with one of the UK's leading makeup and prosthetics artists.

9. Freaks If you haven't guessed, I have a tendency to gravitate towards creepy sci-fi thrillers, so I'm pretty pleased GFF have loads on other! Freaks stars the very handsome Emile Hirsch, who plays a paranoid father, in a film that is packed with sci-fi action and dystopian chills.

10. The Empire Podcast with Michael Palin Join the award-winning Empire podcast and their very, very, very special guest Michael Palin (!!) for a chat about film, movie reviews and GFF. What a great way to finish off your festival experience!

Glasgow Film Festival runs 20th February - 3rd March and you can browse their whole programme here.

Monday, 21 January 2019

BLACK & BEECH

For the last few years I've tried to make an effort to buy more from local and independent brands, and I'm always impressed by the number I find that are on a mission to do great things and support great people, as well as making super cool products.

Fuck the Male Gaze embroidered tee
Enter Black & Beech. Initially making teething jewellery aimed at style-conscious mums, the brand has expanded to celebrate empowerment and intersectional feminism, making jewellery, stationery, apparel, prints, and other merch to their range.

Black & Beech support equality and donate to Abortion Support Network, and have raised funds for Together for Yes, Terminations for Medical Reasons and In her shoes:Women of the 8th, amongst others. In other words, they are good eggs! And their products are pretty, powerful and packed with important messages.

Liberté, Egalité, Sororité tee
As it's January (and ergo, I have no spending money) I'm stuck with just eyeing up the things I like until payday rolls around. But when it does, I'm ready! I love this Do No Harm pendant, it's pretty and subtle, but is such a good mantra! I love this tee (and this one, oh and that one too). I think 2019 is a good year to shout about the things you believe in, and this is a nice way to do that with your wardrobe!

Monday, 14 January 2019

OUTFIT: MONKI & LEOPARD

Let me introduce you to my new favourite slouchy cardigan and boots combo! I've been on the hunt for a brown cardigan for aaaaages, and was lucky enough to find this under the Christmas tree - it's the perfect shade of chestnut (it matches my hair! I'm into that) has pockets, and basically feels like I'm wearing a giant blanket, which ticks all of my winter boxes.

Cardigan - Monki
Dress - Monki (via ASOS)
Boots - New Look (via ASOS)
I got some Christmas ASOS vouchers, so I treated myself to some leopard print boots (they are cute and comfy, and I treat leopard print like a neutral so I'm wearing them with everything), and a Monki wrap dress (which is now down to a bargainous £13 in the sale!).

I discovered Monki last year and I am in love. If you're not clued up, Monki's the Swedish fashion brand owned by H&M. It's just as affordable, but quirkier and cooler. 

They mix bright colours and bold prints with Scandi style and good shapes - their clothes are pretty much perfect for my body shape, and it is such a delight to find skirts and dresses that seem designed for normal body shapes (they come with sleeves! They don't surprise you with weird backless panels! They almost always have pockets!).

Hello, I still don't know how to pose in these photos, no #fashionblogger editorials here
I love dresses like this, as you can make them pretty casual (like this) which I'm wear to work or on the weekend (my life/work wardrobe is essentially interchangeable) or lose the cardigan-blanket, wear different shoes and it becomes a Nice Dress! Win win win.

Monday, 7 January 2019

HELLO 2019

Well, here we are. It's a new year, and with that, the deafening proclamations of intent across all social media platforms - I'll do this! I'll be better at that! Resolutions can be really fun, but this year? Hmm, I'm not sure my heart is in it.


I love the first week of the year, when the world starts to return to normal but there's a certain stillness, an agreed slowness to it all. I always enjoy that final pause before I return to normal life - it's a time to reflect, to plan for the year, to get your home and mind in order, and to recognise the importance of things and feelings that might have passed you by in the whirlwind of the year behind you.

I feel happy and calm at the moment, and I'm just curious to see what comes next. It's not a big bold statement, and part of me feels like I'm sort of lacking, that I'm not running to take the year by the horns, or setting myself a million goals. Sure, there's things I'd like to do this year. I want to take another evening class, I want to start swimming, I'd like to explore more of Scotland, I'd like to go on an alpaca trek (am I just looking for ever more creative ways to fill the gap of a dog in my life? Shhh), I want to get more confident at cooking, and I want to spend less time with my phone and more time with a book (like every millennial in the world), but I definitely do not want to give myself to-do lists, when I have enough of them in my working life!

I think I'm just a bit sick of the grind, the idea that you must be striving to achieve at all times. I don't want to! So I'm not. Instead of setting myself goals and feeling that I have things! to! do! I'm just going to take some practical steps and let the good times follow. I've bought a swimsuit (there's a victorian swimming pool one minute from my house, which I've never been to, this feels like a missed opportunity), I've signed up for one of Edinburgh University's evening classes (I'm so excited to learn things without the stress of exams at the end), and I've deleted my work email from my phone (to hopefully end the habit of impulsively checking it all the time).

I know these are basically resolutions by another name, but the simple step of just reframing them as options-I-have rather than objectives-to-complete makes me feel so much more relaxed, and excited to see what I'll get out of it, and what surprises 2019 has in store.

Whether you are setting resolutions or not, I hope you can also shrug off the nonsense pressure about reinventing yourself and your life choices at this time of year. January is tough enough (and the world is overall, a bit gloomy) without heaping the pressure on yourself. So don't! Just have fun, be kind, and do it at your own pace, and it'll all come together.

Wednesday, 2 January 2019

LOOKING BACK AT 2018

Well, hello 2019! Just like that, the year is over, and before I get deep into reflecting on what's to come, I thought it might be quite nice to share what I got up to in 2018.

This was a pretty tiring year for me. Lots of great things happened, but I also spent a lot more time worrying and stressing about things than was probably healthy (some of that was unavoidable, but some was totally in my control - have I learned my lesson? We'll see). But I got to go to amazing places! And I did cool things. And I have very wonderful, funny, smart people in my life! Overall, I guess you weren't too bad, 2018.

Here's how my year went.

January

The year got off to a pretty excellent start, with a week in Fuerteventura to celebrate my ace boyfriend's birthday (I blogged about the trip here if you want to see where we went). The weather was beautiful, the company was loads of fun, and the very best bit - we climbed a volcanic crater where we discovered loads of tiny ground squirrels that clambered all over you!

I always find January a bit flat and grey, so it was so much fun to have something big to look forward to, and go adventuring so early in the year!
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