23/11/2015

The Gloucester Victorian Christmas Market

Every year around the end of November the Victorian Christmas market takes place in Gloucester Quays. The market features a variety of 150 different stalls, all of which range from locally made food and drink to handmade gifts such as glass decorations, artisan jewellery, knitted hats and scarves and also homeware such as multi use brushes, wooden bowls and stools, as well as many other things. All of the stall holders were dressed up in Victorian costumes, and to carry the theme further, there was a wooden Victorian cart placed in the middle of the stalls and also wooden crates placed to the side. Additonally, other Victorian characters were wandering around the market dressed in costume as well, they were interacting with many people and were said to "surprise, amuse and entertain vistitors with their exploits."

The quays is the perfect location for a christmas market - its surrounded by restaurants ranging from Nandos to Ed's Diner to Pizza Express, and variety of Cafés such as café nero, caffè corretto, costa and Cafe Tucci. This means you can pop into a café for a cup of coffee to warm up before making the journey home, or you can plan your visit around dinner, and pop into a restaurant before or after visting the market. Additionally, the docks which surround the quays are historically picturesque and are therefore the perfect background for this sort of event.

The market is very family orientated, most years they have a horse carousel which is placed in-between the two main stall areas. And this year in addition to the carousel they had a Ferris Wheel and a Helter Skelter - all of which were very popular with the children. There were also Victorian Games taking place - none of which happened whilst I was there - but I'm sure the old Victorian toys and games entertained many children. There were also stalls that sold wooden toys, make-your-name bunting, childrens wooden tables and chairs and child friendly christmas decorations such as reindeer's and a snowmen made from felt - as well as many other things.

However, the market isn't just aimed at families, there were a lot of adults and couples wandering around and the live music which ranged from brass bands and choirs to upbeat pop/rock music attracted a lot of adults to the event. Alcohol such as locally made wine, beer and cider was sold at a variety of different stalls, and so was locally produced food such as sausages and cheese - however, a lot of the stalls that sold these items were very popular and most of them were quite overcrowded when we passed by. Additionally, there was also a real ale tavern which was perfectly placed next to the stage, this meant a lot of people were stood around eating hot food, drinking good beer and listening to music. Of course you could also purchase mulled wine - the festive drink which on the cold evening was a perfect warmer. Food and drink wasn't the only attraction to adults though, the many different craft stores meant the market was the perfect place to visit to find original, handmade Christmas gifts or decorations, the bakery stalls were also great for treating yourself or your loved ones.

The Victorian Christmas market is a completely free event (except of course if you find something that catches your eye - if you get away without buying anything be sure to tell me your secret to resisting). Unfortunately, the Victorian Christmas market has finished this year, however, keep an eye out for it next year, you won't regret taking a couple of hours out of your weekend to visit.

If you're still wanting to visit a Christmas market in Gloucester Quays this year - the Enchanted Christmas Market is taking place between the 11th and 13th of December click here for more information. Although this market is slightly smaller than the Victorian market the festive spirit ensures its just as magical.

"It is Christmas in the heart, that put's Christmas in the air"

Until Next Time,

Alice x


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05/11/2015

The About Me Tag




My bestfriend Meg from the blog http://projectcastaway.blogspot.co.uk/ tagged me in the About Me tag - this is a little bit different from my normal posts but I'm excited for you guys to get to know me a little bit better!

Q: Whats your Middle Name? 
A: My middle name is Marie
Q: What was your favourite subject at school? 
A: Whilst I was doing GCSE Drama and Maths were probably my favourite subjects to learn, however I think enjoyed my music and English classes more because we always had a lot of fun. But for my A Levels I think Media was probably my favourite subject - I was with one of my good friends, had a good teacher and I really enjoyed learning about the subject. 
Q: What is your favourite drink?
A: Probably Chocolate Milkshake or Coke - I absolutely adore chocolate milkshake I always love trying different ones in different places and coke is kind of my go-to drink when i'm out for a meal. 
Q: What is your favourite song at the moment?
A: This is a hard one for me - I'm listening to a lot of different artists at the moment but I think it's gotta be either The Energy Never Dies by The Script or Over and Over Again by Nathan Sykes.
Q: What is your favourite food?
A: Margarita Pizza is probably my go to food. But my mums homemade Slow Pulled Pork Burger is also REALLY good. 
Q: What was the last thing that your brought?
A: This is really boring - but I promise I also bought a really nice skirt in H&M just before - but it was a plain white long sleeved top from Primark. 
Q: What is your favourite book of all time?
A: This is such a stereotype but it has to be The Fault In Our Stars or The Maze Runner Series (I can't decide) 
Q: What is your favourite colour?
A: Blue has been my favourite colour since I was little (the colour of Cinderella's dress) 
Q: Do you have any pets?
A: No, unfortunately not - I use to have a goldfish and although it lived for a good 7/8 years it died a few years ago - sad times. 
Q: What was your favourite holiday?
A: I have a few as I've been on holiday every summer since I can remember so it's impossible to narrow it down. One of my favourite's, that was hard to top for a long time, is when I went to Spain with my whole extended family. However, since I've been to Appledore in Devon and Solva in Wales, which were the prettiest little towns, I've been unable to decide on my favourite. 
Q: Are you married?
A: No, but I would like to be one day if I meet the right person. 
Q: Have you ever been out of the country, if so how many times?
A: Yes I have, but only a few times - I've been to France twice and Spain once. 
Q: Do you speak any other languages?
A: Well I did French in years 6 to 9 but I gave that up at GCSE as I didn't really enjoy it - so no. 
Q: How many siblings do you have?
A: I have two older sisters - Emma and Katie.  
Q: What is your favourite shop?
A: I absolutely adore two crafts shops we have in my town - Cheltenham Collective and Sugar Loaf. But if i'm talking mainstream shops then Vinegar Hill, WHSmiths (I love the book section) and H&M 
Q: What is your favourite restaurant?
A: This is probably either Nandos or Boston Tea Party - I love going to both, however, I tend to go to Nandos with my friends, where as Boston Tea Party I normally eat at with my family, they do a big variety of food from burgers, to toasted sandwiches to pancakes, so its it's good for an unexpected meal out as there is a lot of variety and it isn't too expensive. Another restaurant I love from when I went on holiday to The Mumbles in Wales, I absolutely adored Verdi's which was an italian restaurant that did everything from morning coffee to ice cream to evening meals - so check it out if you're in the Swansea area. 
Q: What is your favourite movie?
A: Probably the first two The Maze Runner movies, War Horse or Now you see me. 
Q: What is your favourite TV show?
A: My favourite TV show is Teen Wolf - I've watched the first season about 4 times now and it's always kept my interest and attention. 
Q: Do you prefer PC or Mac?
A: Since my sister purchased a mac a few years ago - I have say I now prefer using that to my normal PC whenever I get the chance. 
Q: What phone do you have?
A: I have an iPhone 5s
Q: Can you cook? 
A: Well as I'm going to Uni next year, my mum has been teaching me how to cook different homemade meals, so I suppose so? 

I hope you guys enjoyed learning a little bit more about me, why not give the About Me tag a go, it's surprising how much thinking you have to do to discover what your favourite song, book, movie and TV show is. 

"Sometimes I pretend to be normal, but it gets boring, so I go back to being me" 

Lots of love, 

Alice x 
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22/09/2015

DIY Oreo Cookies

So a couple of months ago me and my sister decided to do some baking. I wanted to create something a little bit different from the normal 'chocolate cupcake' and having recently come across My Cupcake Addiction via a shared post on facebook, I decided to browse through her easy-to-make and unique cake ideas. One recipe that had previously caught my eye was the DIY Oreo Cookies, I thought these looked pretty cool, and the ingredients consisted of things that you would typically have in your household, meaning I didn't have to make a special trip to tescos to collect the items I would need.

We followed both the youtube video and the blog post that had been created by Elise, as this made it easier for us to ensure we were following the correct steps and mixing the ingredients in the right order (however the second time we made these we only followed the blog post - use whichever you find easier - i'll leave both links below).

The cookies did take a good 3 hours to make - but this included making, refrigerating, cutting and cooking the cookie dough as well as making the icing and then scooping it onto the cooked and cooled chocolate cookies - however, you do need to ensure you have enough time to make these cookies and relax afterwards (as being on your feet for that length of time, kills!). I'd advise using a free day you have, so you can take your time making them and you don't have to rush as the odd couple of hours in a day probably won't be enough. 

The time length to make these may seem extreme, but it was definitely worth the time. The creamy icing and chocolate cookie weigh each other out to create a (and i'm not exaggerating) heavenly taste and texture in your mouth. The recipe provided on My cupcake addiction creates around 22-24 Oreo cookies, which is plenty for you and your family to enjoy (obviously if you're planning on selling them at a cake stall etc. maybe double the batch). 

I've now created these cookies twice, the first time was a tester and for my family to enjoy and the second time was for my 18th birthday party which I wrote about in my previous blog post. At my party these were really popular, by the end of the night we only had 5 or 6 cookies left and those were the ones we had kept aside - so it seems everyone enjoyed them. They do not taste like your typical Oreo cookie you buy from the shop - they're completely different - but I have to say, they're probably tastier! In the future I am definitely going check out and try to create more of Elise's original cakes, cookies and desserts!

"Laughter is brightest, where food is best" 

You can find the My Cupcake Addiction DIY Oreo Cookies blog post here and the DIY Oreo Cookies vlog here

Disclaimer: This is not my recipe, Elise shared this recipe on her blog and youtube, however all thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Until next time,

Alice x


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14/09/2015

My 18th Birthday Party

For my 18th birthday, I did various things ranging from going out drinking with my friends, spending the day in Bourton on the water with my sister and parents and having a garden party with my extended family. 


For my garden party I wanted to create some unique and adventurous invites, 

  1. First I bought some 11" balloons (these I bought from card factory for 99p for a pack of 6 - they come in various colours and are easy to inflate) 
  1. Secondly, my sister designed an A6 invite which had all the details about my party on, this piece of paper was going to go inside the balloon. She also created an A5 design which we printed onto card and stuck the balloon onto, which had the instructions of what my guests had to do to retrieve the actual invite. (You don't have to design these invites you could easily order them online or buy them from a supermarket, party shop etc) 
  1. After this my mum used a skewer stick to tightly roll up the A6 invite so it was easier to slide it inside the balloon.
  1. Once the invites were inside the balloons I used some decorative tape to stick the balloon neck to the A5 card (the tape I used for the balloons we already had from when I was younger, but it's easy to pick up from craft stores.)
  1. We then placed the invites inside the named envelopes and delivered them to my family.



    different from the normal 'Facebook messenger' invite. So, I decided to create some "Blow me up and pop" invitations. Now you're probably thinking "what the hell is that". Well, your guests get given a balloon which they need to blow up, once the balloon has a decent amount of air in, they can then pop the balloon and the invite (with all the details of your party) will be released from inside. To create my invites I did as follows:


     As you can see my garden party followed the theme of Alice In Wonderland as I wanted to create a 'Mad Hatter's Tea Party'. But your invites could follow the theme of anything or could just be basic but bright if your party doesn't have a theme.

    My invites were a hit with my family, a few of them attempted to get the invite from the balloon without blowing up and popping it, as they didn't want to ruin the invite (and some of them actually succeeded) but for the most part, a lot of my family thought the idea I came across on Pinterest, was really cool and different, which is what I was aiming for. If I received a "Blow me up and pop" invite, I would probably get quite excited. They are brilliant for all ages, and different occasions, and although they are quite a lot of work, they were definitely worth  the time. 

    If you need any more inspiration, look at my "18th Birthday Ideas" board on my Pinterest account or visit A Girl and A Glue Gun where I followed the blog post to create my invites. 


        Until Next Time, 

    Alice x  



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    03/07/2015

    Hayfever Tips

    I've been suffering from hayfever since I was around 10 years old. I suffer horrifically ever year, and I normally take every precaution I can think of to try and prevent my symptoms as much a I can.   
    I do get prescribed medication but you can buy other versions of these items over the counter at any pharmacy.

    I'm going to start with probably the most obvious Hayfever reliever. There are many different types and brands of hayfever tablets and some are different strengths to others so be sure to read the details on the back of the box. I do get prescribed tablets, however these are the ones that my mum bought at Tesco. Although after comparing the boxes, we realised their wasn't much difference between my tablets and the ones she had bought over the counter. I take 1 hayfever tablet every morning when I wake up, as instructed on the box.

    Next, is my nasal spray, I normally use this when I get an itchy nose. I squirt two sprays into each nostril to relieve the itch and I do find this normally works and my nose becomes less irritant. This is my prescribed nasal spray however there are plenty available in pharmacies and supermarkets, the only problem with these are that with most of them, you have to be over 18 years old, so if you are younger and suffering hayfever it may be better to go to your doctors to see what they can recommend.

    My prescribed eye drops help relieve any itchiness I get in my eyes. I can use these up to four times a day, however I don't normally use them as regularly as my nasal spray or tablets. Different years I find different areas on my face irritate me however recently, my nose has been worse than my eyes. I normally place one or two drops in each eye when needed, and I do carry the small bottle, as well as some tissues, around with my in the summer season just incase my eyes start irritating me. Eye drops are also avaliable to buy over the counter for £3 to £5 which isn't too expensive. 

     With all three of these items, if you are buying them, I recommend you only buy nasal spray or eye drops if and when you need them, as otherwise the cost will build up over the summer. However, I would buy some hayfever tablets, as although they don't completely stop your symptoms, they do minimise them. 

    Eating a teaspoonful of some local honey each day, also helps my hayfever. Although this may seem a bit strange, but I've been doing this since summer last year, and it really does help me. Alongside my other medication, I always ensure I have some honey every morning in the summer season, whether its on toast or I get a teaspoon and outright swallow some honey. The honey pictured below is local to my area, the honey you eat HAS to be from your local bees otherwise it won't help you at all. The logic behind it is that you're affected by your local pollen, so if I'm in Birmingham, my allergy's are coming from Birmingham pollen, but if I went on holiday to Swansea for a week, my allergy's for that week would come from Swansea. So if you eat local honey, that your local bee's have collected, from your local pollen that is giving you allergy's, then you will be building up an immunity to pollen, minimizing your symptoms (kind of like an injection where you are injected with a tiny bit of the disease so your body can build up an immunity against that particular disease). Now, although this hasn't been scientifically proven, and many people say it's just working as a placebo, I think it's like many remedies, different one's work for different people. I definitely recommend giving it a go, and after a month or two, you don't see any difference then perhaps just continue with your normal relievers, but it's always worth a try right? 

    Finally, my last tip to help prevent your hayfever is wearing sunglasses. Now I know this one seems too simple to even be worth trying, but when I'm outside during a summers day, wearing sunglasses always helps prevent my eyes from becoming itchy. I think this because my eyes are covered and so they aren't directly targeted by pollen. Even if the sun has briefly gone behind the clouds, ensure you keep your glasses on and see what happens, and if it helps you at all.


    Let me know if any of these tips help you this summer, or if you think any of them are useless, as they didn't help you at all. 

    "Being allergic to pollen, makes us sneeze, it would be worse, if we were Bees" 


    Until Next time,

    Alice x

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    13/06/2015

    Polabox

    Polabox (recently renamed Cheerz) is an app where you can get photos printed in a polariod style or in a photobooth strip (or Polabox ID as the app calls it). The company who print the photos are Paris based, but after ordering your photos they arrive at your house within a few days. The company's unique way of printing photos reaches out to a new and more modern audience and I personally think the unique idea is super cool. 
    Obviously with it being an app, you have to have the photos on your phone, iPod or iPad but I think it's a easy and quick way of ordering, and the fact it is something you have to do on your phone really attracts the younger audience, they are obviously targeting, as more and more people use their phone to purchase items (such as the eBay app) rather than using a computer. 

    The app is free but the cost of printing the photos isn't actually cheap, for 4 photobooth strips (as you can see I got printed above) the original cost was £9.40 (including over £2 postage and packaging) however searching for a code online is always worth a try and after successfully finding one I got £4 off my order, which is a really good discount. After ordering they give you your own specific code that you can pass onto friends or use yourself on your next order, the code is (obviously) for a £4 discount but giving this to every customer who orders with them is really beneficial.
    They also send your order in really cute packaging, that protects your photos, with a few square promotion cards and a small magnet. All of which are really cool and are a really nice addition to the delivery of your photos. 

    When purchasing your photos make sure to use the code ALISTP to get your £4 discount. 


              





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    07/04/2015

    Ed Sheeran - Multiply (X)


    Ed Sheeran has been one of my favourite artists since he released his first album Plus (+) back in 2011. His latest album Multiply or X, was released on the 23rd June 2014 (UK) and holds a total of 12 tracks. However the deluxe edition of the album holds an extra 5 tracks making the total come to 17 songs instead. The album includes singles, "I see fire" from the film The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, "Sing" which Sheeran co-wrote with Pharallel Williams (the voice behind number one single "Happy" back in 2014),
    Picture"Don't" which first came about as a riff on the star's phone, "Thinking Out Loud" which has a music video that sees Sheeran ballroom dancing with Brittany Cherry,  and the most recent singl"Bloodstream" that is yet to be released.

    Ok, so Ed Sheeran's latest album was released nearly 8 months ago, but the outstanding music on this CD ensures that you can have the songs on repeat for hours on end and it will never get boring. I personally am a massive fan of his music because each song is distinctly different from the one before and the one after. The large range of genres his music covers, including, a folksy, acoustic sound, mixed with hip-hop and rap elements; mean his unique sound attracts a large range of different people. Although his target audience is typically around 16 to 25 year old men and women, as he himself is only a young adult and so he can relate to them more, older people are also fans of his music.

    I can't talk about every song from the album (we'd be here for days), so I'll talk about my favourite song "Photograph".When my sister first bought this album she was listening to this song non-stop, therefore, this was the first song I heard (aside from the singles that had previously been released), and because of this I instantly became attached to the slow start in the song and the meaningful lyrics. I always try to take as many photos as possible so the obvious background story to this song meant I could easily relate to the lyrics "We keep this love in a photograph, We made these memories for ourselves". 


    "I can't tell you the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everyone" 


    Check out Ed's new album on iTunes: It costs £11.99 to download.


    Until next time, 

    Alice x


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    The Maze Runner Series

    Ok, so I watched and read the Maze Runner back in September/October time - so it hasn't exactly been recently that I became a fan of this series - but, the plot of the stories seriously kept me interested and absorbed.

    I'll start by writing about the books. I came across the series after I found out that Dylan 
    PictureO'Brien, was playing the lead role as Thomas in the film. (O'Brien also stars as Stiles Stilinski in the American TV show Teen Wolf, this is where I first came across him.) Now, James Dashner, the American writer of the series released the first Maze Runner book back in 2009, following this he also released 'The Scorch Trials' in October 2010 and to finish the series 'The Death Cure' in October 2011. These three books are all continuous from each other, they continue the story of Thomas, Minho, Newt, Gally, Teresa, Winston and all of the other guys, as well as introducing new characters along the way. I'm not the biggest reader ever, and a book or story have to have an interesting plot to keep be captivated, however, although James Dashner isn't the best writer I've ever come across, the plot and the emotional attachment you get to these characters makes up for the average writing. The story follows Thomas, from when he first enters the maze, when he's fitting in with the rest of the guys who live maze, when he's trying to convince them to escape, when Teresa arrives, and to when they escape. The story is fast paced, unusual and completely different to any other franchise at the moment, but I think that's what makes it so interesting. Dashner has also written a prequel to the maze runner 'The Kill Order', now I did purchase this book, however, although I am intrigued to find out what happened before the maze was created, I have yet to read the book. This was mostly because it is basically a completely  separate series. I have read prequels in the past, however I have struggled to pick up this book and read it, just because the characters are completely different and I have become use to reading about Thomas and his friends. I know once I actually get the motivation to pick up the book and read it, I will most likely enjoy it, it's just getting use to the change in characters.  



    Right, onto the film. The Maze Runner was released in October 2014 (UK) and directed by Wes Ball, a new and upcoming Director. The Maze Runner was the first film Ball has ever directed, however you wouldn't be able to tell because the structure and setting of the film is absolutely amazing. The plot obviously slightly differs from the books, like all films do, but most of the changes were necessary. For example, in the books Teresa and Thomas can communicate through their minds, now although this was a major feature of the book, it was unrealistic to put it into the film, so it was decided the connection between the two characters would be shown another way, this was done by Teresa and Thomas recognizing each other even though all of their memories had been wiped (well, it is a little bit more complicated than that but you need to watch the film to understand that). The casting for the film was also completely spot on (ok I may be a little bit biased because Dylan O'Brien but sh). The characters are exactly how I imagined them to be in the book - Newt being played by Thomas Brodie-Sangaster (who also starred in Nanny McPhee as Simon Brown), is portrayed as a tall, square jawed, blonde haired, teenager. Sangaster is a British actor and because of his characters repeated use of the british-curse 'Bloody', he was allowed to keep his British accent  whilst filming for the maze runner. Gally, portrayed by Will Poulter, was the main character in the book and film who didn't get along with Thomas, Gally is a tough looking guy, who is very serious and has a hard accent, he mainly didn't like Thomas because of his determination to escape the maze. This was the type of cast I expected, they almost meet the descriptions of the characters in the book to a point, and they portray the people that were written about exceptionally well. All of the actors in the film are young but really, really talented.

    The only thing that irritates me about the Franchise films at the moment is the fact that they're all getting pushed aside because of the Hunger Games. Don't get me wrong, the hunger games is an absolutely phenomenal series and I am massive fan of it, however new and upcoming franchise series keep getting ignored or knocked out of the way by the British community because of it. The Maze Runner still did amazingly well and was recognized,  however, cinemas don't seem to understand that they can recognize more than one franchise series at once, the same happened when the Harry Potter films were being released, all other big sequels were knocked aside by cinemas. This is a massive downfall for these companies because younger people such as myself, enjoy hearing about and watching lots of ongoing sequels at once.   

    "If you ain't scared you ain't human" 

    The Maze Runner film was on DVD on the 16th December 2014 in the USA and is released on DVD on the 9th February 2015 in the UK - Make sure you check it out! 

    Until next time,

    Alice x 



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    The Five Year Engagement

    'The Five Year Engagement' is a film that was released in 2012 and is from the makers of 'Bridesmaids'. The film stars Jason Segel (Tom Solomon) and Emily Blunt (Violet Barnes), however, the approximately, 2 hour and 4 minute film literally does feel like 5 years. Whilst the acting is amazing and the plot did keep my attention for the entirety of the film, the whole story line seems dragged out and quite predictable.
    Picture
    The film starts by showing you how the couple - Tom and Violet - become engage, the proposal includes them reminiscing on how they first met, this cleverly includes flashbacks which gives the audience visual evidence on their meeting and allows us to see exactly how it happened.  Not long after this scene, it is revealed why they put their marriage on hold (she wants a career first and he's happy to do whatever makes her happy), but as they get settled into their new life in Michigan, it not only becomes unclear to the audience whether Violet is a teacher or student at the university, but this is where the rest of the film goes down hill. When we first saw the couple they were happy and clean-cut but as it becomes more obvious that Tom (Segel) is unhappy with their move, he becomes more depressed and scruffy; this turn in his life gave me an uncomfortable itch underneath my skin and made me feel cringey and dirty. Not only this but as the couple drift apart it becomes evident that something is going to happen between Violet (Blunt) and her new tutor -Winton (Rhys Ifans), an older guy who gives off a creepy vibe. After more drama between the couple (whilst together and apart) they finally get back together at the end of the film and eventually get married. My finishing comment as the credits rolled down the screen was "Finally" which basically sums up the entirety film.
    I wouldn't completely out-rule this film as 'a must watch'  however I wouldn't name it as one of the best films I've seen either. If you were having a girly night in or just a random film day maybe it would be one you'd put on your list as a 'lets just give it a go'. But, if I had to rate it out of 1 to 10 I'd probably give it a 4. 

    "There is no right cookie, you just choose one and take a bite"

    Until next time,

    Alice x


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