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  • Inlifestyle, Manchester

    Date night at Pier Eight, The Lowry

    Most people won’t know that The Lowry is where John and I spent our first date – it’s our best kept secret, albeit unintentionally.

    On a cold, frosty Sunday morning, back in 2013, we nervously strolled along the quays until the warmth of The Lowry enveloped us and there we sat; two people pretending to observe the artwork of its namesake, making small talk and stealing fleeting glances at each other. I look back with fondness and remember that feeling of nervous excitement. Because of this day, over four years ago, The Lowry holds a special place in my heart. Read more

  • InManchester, wedding

    Magpie Wedding _ The Show, Manchester


    Magpie Wedding _ The Show, Manchester

    Like any bride to be, one of the first tasks on my agenda was to visit a wedding show to gain inspiration, meet suppliers and generally, be carried away with wedding excitement. In March, I visited The National Wedding Show in Manchester and came away feeling uninspired, underwhelmed and fearful at the suggested scale of a modern wedding. Six months later, Magpie Wedding _ The Show, Manchester , was the perfect antidote.

    Previously named the National Vintage Wedding Fair, Magpie Wedding _ The Show, Manchester , claims to offer artisan, creative wedding inspiration for the free-thinking bride. This resonated with me as a bride to be trying to avoid convention and also the label of alternative, or vintage. So far, my wedding inspiration has been a result of poring over back-issues of Rock n’ Roll Bride and hopping from one wedding Instagram feed of inspiration to the next. So, I decided to complete the holy trinity and purchase two VIP tickets.

    Located in Manchester’s historic Victoria Baths, the venue for Magpie Wedding _ The Show, Manchester was any sentimental blogger’s dream. Original, antique green tiling paired with stained glass windows greeted us on arrival. Our VIP tickets granted us each a glass of fizz and myself, as the bride to be, a goody bag. Captivated by the charm of our surroundings, we decided to take in the first sight of the fair by climbing the stone steps to the balcony. We were greeted by a bustling hall, filled with exhibitors and most importantly for me, colour!Magpie_Wedding_The_Show_ManchesterMagpie_Wedding_The_Show_ManchesterBreaking my reverie, the event’s compare announced the imminent start of a floral crown workshop with Charlie’s Flower Boutique. Floristry is something I’ve never turned my hand to before, but it’s something I was interested to try. With half-drank glasses of Prosecco, we immediately made our way downstairs to find a class of patiently waiting ladies and a table filled with blooms.

    Charlie, owner of the flower boutique and leader of the class, began by naming each of the flowers laid on the table in front of us, described their properties and explained where a creative bride-to-be could source her own bridal flowers. With only one hour set aside for the class, I listened intently and set to making a floral crown adding my personal style as I went. I predominantly selected greenery, only adding flowers when necessary. Interestingly, my mum was very methodical – accurately interspersing flowers with greenery. One hour later, we’d each created two very different crowns, different but perfect for us with each of their imperfections. Of course, I had to photograph mine on my return home.

    Magpie_Wedding_The_Show_ManchesterMagpie_Wedding_The_ShowAfter expressing our gratitude for our newfound skill, we vowed to complete a Christmas wreath making class in December and left Charlie to prepare for her next class whilst we continued to the main purpose of our visit – to see the exhibitors, of which there was a real variety. After the National Wedding Show, I knew to expect a bombardment of questions and so, I was prepared: Slovenia, August next year and yes, we’ve found our venue.

    As I’ve yet to find a dress, or even envisage my perfect dress, one of the first exhibitors I was drawn to was a seller of vintage wedding dresses. The stallholder explained how she takes vintage pieces and lovingly restores, sometimes customises, vintage dresses ready for their next bride. Perusing the rail of dresses brought along to the fair piqued my interest, but only because of my love of vintage clothing, unsurprisingly for me, I did not find my dream dress here. Magpie_Wedding_The_Show_Manchester

    Flower crowns in hand, we found this to be the perfect ice-breaker at Knot & Bloom’s stall – a small company that specialise in headpieces for the vintage modern loving bride. Without a wedding dress, we could only admire the headpieces and so, as we weren’t serious buyers, we moved away and continued around the hall.

    From pop-up bars, to wedding photographers, we found quirky ateliers and eye-catching stalls but not many that were appropriate or relevant for John and I’s Slovenian wedding and as we were approaching the end of the hall, I found Lost Heritage, a small company specialising in traditional and modern print, cutting and fabrication techniques. Magpie_Wedding_The_Show_Manchester

    So far, our plan is to send traditional ‘Save the Dates’, but as there’s lots of information to tell our friends and family, I’ve chosen and bought the domain name ‘Wed in Bled‘ which I plan to update closer to our wedding date. It’s no secret that I love stationery. So much so,  I’ve been trying not to buy it (my office has an entire shelf of unused notebooks I’ll eventually get to) but wedding stationery – well surely that’s a necessity? I adore the simplicity of their previous commissions. 

    While there wasn’t many stalls relevant to our wedding plans, ironically, this wasn’t an issue. Both my mum and I enjoyed Magpie Wedding _ The Show, Manchester because we felt it was an experience. One of our final activities of the day was to enjoy a catwalk show of both vintage and reproduction wedding dresses, set to a soundtrack of live music from the Nat O’Brien Band (a wedding band playing modern and classic hits.) 

    Carried along with the excitement of the day, it wasn’t until I arrived home that I had chance to look through my VIP gift bag – I was pleasantly surprised. I’d chosen the VIP package for the glass of Prosecco on arrival, it was an extra £3 to upgrade, each ticket costing £7 each. I wasn’t expecting to receive a bag filled with treats: beautifully scented rose petals, English Breakfast tea, a bridesmaid request card and my favourite piece, a beautiful macrame key ring from The Attic. 

    I could not recommend Magpie Wedding _ The Show for any vintage loving, or unique bride to be. Don’t worry, if you missed Magpie Wedding _ The Show, Manchester,  you still have chance. The show is touring the country, with different exhibitors at each fair. You can buy tickets here for Bath, Leamington Spa, London or Chester. Alternatively, you can pay on the door. If you do choose to visit, I’d love to know what you think. Magpie_Wedding_The_Show_Manchester

  • InManchester



    The Viking Arty Party in Manchester had been a date in my diary for some time as something to look forward to; a chance to meet other Manchester bloggers whilst crafting in one of Manchester’s newest boutique hotels, the King Street Townhouse.

    Organised months in advance, my invite to the Viking Arty Party in Manchester, at the King Street Townhouse, offered three fabulous crafting activities: block printing, calligraphy and notebook customisation, all hosted in the luxurious setting of Manchester’s King Street Townhouse.

    Arriving in an unusually bright Manchester, early yesterday morning, I knew I was in for a treat when I discovered the event was to be hosted on the sixth floor. I had checked out the venue beforehand on Instagram and had seen the wonderful views on offer, I certainly was not disappointed.

    These days, I tend to arrive at events alone and although those initial first few seconds are sometimes awkward, it’s wonderful to be able to meet new people with whom I may never have spoken to before. On arrival, I was pleased to see Raimy, a fellow enthusiast of children’s literature, who I missed talking to at the #LivBloggersIgnite event at the start of the month.

    We had each been given a coloured piece of card which denoted which group we would work with, my purple card indicated I would start with notebook customisation, lead by the Crafty Hen. This was an activity that took me back to my high school days when I would deliberate over what to back my exercise books in, frightened to make the wrong choice and risk being ridiculed. Staying true, I chose bright colours alongside geometric shapes (trust me, it sounds more impressive than it looked).

    Breaking for lunch, we adjourned to the King Street Townhouse’s balcony, which overlooks Manchester’s town hall. Maybe it was the sunshine, or maybe it was the company of Codie, from Codiekinz, but lunch was definitely one of the best parts of the day. It was lovely to sit and relax, chat easily and in such a lovely setting.


    VIKING ARTY PARTY in MANCHESTERNext up, block printing. As a person who enjoys craft, especially embroidery and sewing, I was eager to try a new skill. We were shown how to create our own stamp, using erasers, to create a unique print. This was when my creativity departed me and I chose a pattern of three triangle. Sally and Gwen made amazing prints of fruits and leaves, which looked stunning when their box files were complete.

    VIKING ARTY PARTY in MANCHESTERVIKING ARTY PARTY in MANCHESTERVIKING ARTY PARTY in MANCHESTEROur final experience was calligraphy with Joyce, of Artsynibs who I had the pleasure of meeting at Joanie Clothing’s November festive event. Joyce reminded us of the correct posture for calligraphy, explaining this was to protect our tools as well as helping us create wonderful lettering. Of all the tasks, this is the one I enjoyed the most. Joyce was patient and cheerfully answered every question I had (she even wrote my blog name in the most beautiful style!)

    After four hours spent socialising and crafting, the event finally drew to a close and we were fortunate to be gifted with a #VikingArtyParty gift bag and a calligraphy set from Artsynibs. Thanks to Viking for the invite, their marketing team for all of their hard work and Matt for providing images.

  • Inlifestyle, Manchester


    Jane Eyre at The Lowry, SalfordJane Eyre at The Lowry, Salford

    Oppression, injustice and the fight for independence, themes you’d expect to find in any modern day drama but it’s Brontë’s Jane Eyre we’re referring to, a book that was written almost 170 years ago. Now re-imagined and brought to life by the National Theatre, Jane Eyre at The Lowry, Salford, is not to be missed.

    I’ll admit, I wasn’t sure what to expect from Jane Eyre at the Lowry, Salford: the reading of classic novels has always eluded me, I favour dystopian, futuristic texts. Nevertheless, after visiting Wycoller and Gawthorpe Hall, places both linked with Charlotte Brontë, the opportunity to see Jane Eyre brought to life on stage, at one of my favourite venues, seemed too good an opportunity to miss.

    Working in central Manchester, Salford Quays is only a short drive away. Arriving early, I collected our tickets, programme and of course, all-important snacks before meeting my mum at The Lowry’s box office. As we settled in to our seats, I was given a brief synopsis of the plot by my mum who worried it wasn’t my thing. Turns out, she needn’t have worried as it was, undoubtedly, the best performance I’ve ever seen. From start to finish, I was enthralled.

    For those, like me, who haven’t read Jane Eyre, the story tells the tale of the protagonist’s fight for freedom, equality and independence in Victorian times. Orphaned at birth, her early life is filled with injustice, poverty and cruelty. Jane faces life head on, a feisty feminist whose moral compass ensures her final happiness. 

     A co-production from the National Theatre and Bristol Old Vic, director Sally Cookson is the brainchild behind the tumultuous and somewhat controversial reimagining of this classic novel which opens with an almighty cry from Nadia Clifford, who plays the protagonist throughout, starting with her birth at the show’s opening. Manchester actress, Clifford, is spirited, powerful and convincing: you want her to succeed in her quest for independence and equality. However, it’s Mr. Rochester’s faithful companion, Pilot (played by Ben Cutler) who threatens to steal the show with his playful, bashful mannerisms which are a delight to watch.

    Jane Eyre at The Lowry, SalfordImage by Brinkhoff/Mögenburg

    Without a doubt, Cookson has dragged Jane Eyre into the 21st century with the addition of a live band on stage and a modern soundtrack featuring Noël Coward’s ‘Mad About the Boy’ and Gnarls Barkley’s ‘Crazy’, the latter bringing goosebumps to my arm as Melanie Marshall, playing Bertha Rochester, uses these lyrics to explain her episodes of madness and to bring clarity to the demise of Thornfield Hall.

    The verdict? A riveting and spectacular classic brought to life through a creative director, excellent casting and imaginative staging- not to be missed!

    You’ll need to be quick to catch Jane Eyre at The Lowry, Salford. The final shows at The Lowry feature on Saturday 15th April, with a matinee and evening show.

    Our tickets were provided complimentary for review purpose.

  • Inlifestyle, Manchester

    The Wind in the Willows :: The Lowry, Salford

    The Wind in the Willows at The Lowry, Salford

    Poop Poop! Who remembers Kenneth Grahame’s classic tale, The Wind in the Willows, from their childhood days? I’ve no doubt many primary teachers tried to introduce me to this classic text, but somehow, it passed me by. Arriving to see The Wind in the Willows at The Lowry, Salford on Press Night, John and I tried to recall a story famous to us only by name.

    Brought to life by producer Jamie Hendry, writer Julian Fellow, composer George Stiles and lyricist Anthony Drewe, we discovered the tale to twee, heartwarming and alive with song,. We’re happy to say The Wind in the Willows has survived the transition from childhood to adulthood and is a treat from start to finish. 

    The Wind in the Willows at The Lowry, Salford, begins along the riverbank and the grand sound of the orchestra signals the introduction of the opening song, ‘Spring’. We are introduced to Mole first, as the music gradually builds to reveal a cast of anthropomorphic animals busily preparing for spring. Alongside the riverbank set design, it can only be described as mesmerizing.
    The Wind in the Willows is a tale of unlikely friendship between Rat, Mole, Badger and Toad. When the story begins, Mole (a solitary character) is bored of spring cleaning and ventures out onto the riverbank where he meets Rat. ‘Ratty’ is a good soul and shows Mole the ways of the river. The two become good friends and Ratty takes Mole to meet his friend, Toad, who is wealthy and likes to have a good time. A rich playboy, Toad decides he must own a motorcar. This ultimately leads to Toad’s imprisonment, whilst Ratty and Mole decide to seek the help from Badger. The story unfolds to deliver lessons in morality whilst tugging on the heartstrings. 


    What is intriguing is how costume designer, Peter McKintosh, is able to convey the creature through the use of simplistic costume. Most obviously, Toad, always attired in green or golden scales. Cleverly, the sly weasels of the tale dressed like gangsters with only their ears poking out of their hat to betray their animal tendencies.
    Fra Fee as Mole and Thomas Howes as Ratty are endearing as their friendships grows alongside the story. Neil McDermott, famed for his television roles, is fantastic as Chief Weasel, leading his woodland pack of weasels, foxes and stoats to take over Toad Hall, whilst Toad is unfairly imprisoned for driving offences.
    The show is recommended for children and adults alike, although it may not be suitable for children younger than 6. Badger’s language, in certain parts, is antiquated for the purpose of adding to his upper class character. In addition, the show is relatively long: roughly an hour on each side, with a twenty minute interval in between. 

    Overall, we found the show thoroughly enjoyable and left the theatre feeling uplifted and singing the catchy songs. It was definitely a date night to remember! 

    Have you seen The Wind in the Willows? What did you think? 
    Our tickets were provided complimentary for review purposes. However, the show is at The Lowry until 6th November, tickets can be purchased here. Readers in and around Southampton can catch the show from the 10th November. 
  • Inlifestyle, Manchester



    Rush Hair Manchester Blogger Event

    It seems that last Thursday was the night to be seen in Manchester as a whole host of events were taking place in the city centre: fashion bloggers, lifestyle bloggers, fitness bloggers, beauty bloggers, no matter your field, there was a Manchester blogger event for you. I could tell you that I chose the Rush Hair blogger event because I’m eternally searching for a hairdresser a cut above the rest, or a place with fringe benefits, but I’ll stop with the puns: I’ve been boring everyone about my distaste for my hair’s current state for far too long, I thought it would be a good opportunity to seek advice.

    I’ve been bemoaning my short hair for the past few weeks, not only am I growing out the length, I’m also growing out my fringe (and desperately trying to avoid the temptation to have it cut back in). At the moment, I have one style: poker straight and clipped to the side. I’d been told that stylists would be hand throughout the event to offer advice, but I didn’t expect to leave this Manchester blogger event feeling optimistic and armed with skills to tackle my bonce and love it once more. 


    Arriving in Manchester city centre, I met Katie from LifeonVista before entering the salon, a bright oasis away from Manchester’s famous rain. Spacious, airy and gleaming, we were among the first guests to arrive and stood self-consciously nursing a glass of Prosecco whilst eyeing-up the largest canapés I’ve ever had the pleasure of laying eyes on. Within minutes, a member of the Rush team, Casey, had put me at ease by sitting me in a hairdresser’s chair and asked me to moan about explain what frustrated me about my hair.


    Giving me tips on how to transform my eternally growing-out fringe to resemble Bridget Bardot’s iconic swept fringe, I left Casey feeling optimistic and excited to try something new. By then, the salon had begun to fill with familiar blogging faces and also, new bloggers I had yet to meet. Before the event, I eagerly checked Tamsin’s thread on Manchester Bloggers’ Facebook group and followed those who were attending. It was refreshing to be at an event where everyone was friendly, smiling and open to chat. 

    It was a pleasure to meet some new bloggers: Rachel from Ode2Fitness, Laura from HairWonderfulDay and familiar Manchester blogger, Fikki from Pasttime Bliss who I met at the Mottram Hall event. I lost track of time chatting away before realising that the event’s attendees had started to undergo spectacular hair transformations: curls, curls everywhere! And that was when I met Lucy, who within thirty minutes, had taken me from drab to feelin’ fab! 


    What do you think?

    Since the event, I haven’t pinned my hair back once and have started to embrace the side sweep. I will be returning to Rush, after all it’s not often I find a hairdresser that can make me feel so, so good about a grown out fringe and hairstyle. A ladies cut and finish with one of Rush’s stylist is priced at £44, slightly more expensive than what I’d usually pay, but Rush are offering 50% off for new customers with the code: RUSH50.  

    Thanks to the team at Tank PR and the staff at RUSH for a wonderful evening! 
    All images taken, with thanks, by Katie from Life on Vista