• Inlifestyle

    HAPPY NEW YEAR :: NEW YEAR IN WALES

    Happy New Year! 

    It seems that time is passing by at a pace far too quickly for my liking. Despite all my best intentions (read resolutions), New Year’s Day passed in a blur of driving and finishing off Christmas Cake with a side of Harry Potter. (Coincidentally, thus adding to my list of resolutions: read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, rather than using it to prop up the rest of the series.) However, I had a lovely New Year’s Eve and I hope you did too! So, forgive me for posting a day later than anticipated.

     
    Now, I’m not one for celebrating New Year’s Eve. Last year, I was in bed by 11pm, but this year my parents wanted us all to be together. Very kindly, they offered to pay for us to visit a spa hotel in Llandrindod Wells, Powys. I can’t tell you how blessed I feel to have parents who are so thoughtful. So, on Tuesday morning, we packed our things and hit the highway. (Okay, okay, the M56, who am I kidding? No one.) It wasn’t long before we’d crossed the Welsh border, with only one toilet stop to hold us back, we were nearly there! Or so we thought! Turns out Wales is a large place, deceivingly large, and it took us almost four hours to arrive at our hotel, Hotel Metropole.
    Weary, but not defeated, my folks had organised afternoon tea for our arrival. An afternoon feast of sandwiches, cakes and more mince pies than you can shake a stick at. Suitably stuffed and not at all bathing suit ready, we decided to make the most of the spa facilities. Waddling my mince pie belly to the pool, we enjoyed a quiet hour relaxing in the Jacuzzi and steam room. Maybe people had places to go, but there was no one about as we lazed. 

    Sufficiently pruned, we decided to get ready for our evening meal. A veritable five course feast! John had brought a bottle of Mumm champagne, which we decided to drink whilst getting ready. It seemed like such a good idea. Hiccup! Suited and heeled, we giddily made our way to meet my parents, brother and his wife in the hotel restaurant. We certainly weren’t disappointed! The food was absolutely delicious, so delicious we stayed for over two hours devouring each course and enjoying each other’s company.

    With the undeniable sound of Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Dancing in the Dark’ echoing from next door’s disco, it was time to join the preparations for the big countdown. Despite being the youngest there, we pulled out our Status Quo moves and even dabbled with a bit of Neil Diamond. Until the countdown started. Up out of our seats, we raced onto the dance floor just before the cries of HAPPY NEW YEAR and the familiar sound of Auld Lang Syne. Crossing our arms, we danced in a circle, giddy with a year’s worth of unknown prospects, until we were the last ones standing!
     
    After many glasses of fizz the excitement of midnight, John and I decided to call it a night. The anxiety of a year of an unknown fate had began to set in and I knew I’d be cheerier in the morning. Rising early, we decided that we would battle the howling wind and pouring rain to investigate the spa town of Llandrindod Wells. 
    Despite a soaking (turns out Welsh weather is just as dire as Scottish weather), I’m so glad we took a stroll around the town because it was just so, so pretty. As it was New Year’s Day, everywhere was closed and there were very few people. That didn’t deter us! The town has retained so much of its Victorian charm and every corner we turned seemed to hold a surprise for our cameras.
     
    Even though we stayed for less than twenty four hours, travelling for almost eight hours by car, I really enjoyed myself. This school break, I’ve travelled to two new countries and met many new people. I’m not yet ready to accept that it’s almost back to school time, but my, it’s been grand. It really has!
     
    How did you spend New Year’s Eve?

     

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  • Inlifestyle

    Christmas Time 2013

    For twenty seven years, I have spent Christmas with my family in Lancashire. After a disastrous break in tradition last year, I thought my days of turkey and Christmas pudding elsewhere were well and truly over. However, this year, I decided to spend Christmas day with the boy and his family. You’ll know that it was our first Christmas together and I wanted it to be special. Arriving on Christmas Eve, the grand unveiling of the Christmas pyjamas kicked off festivities, followed by popcorn, Pringles and peanuts and a side of Despicable Me 2! 

    Christmas morning arrived early, the boy had been up since 6am and was apparently ‘way too excited to sleep.’  Thankfully, after being told to go back to sleep, he did and we awoke at a respectable 9am. Before any presents could be opened, we brewed the coffee Kim had gifted me during our trip to Edinburgh. Orange spiced coffee. It was simply delicious and perfect for Christmas day. I was handed the biggest pile of presents I’ve ever received as an adult. John and his mum had bought me lots! It’s fair to say that I was spoiled rotten this year . With so, so many amazing presents I intend to fill an entire blog post. You see, I’ve also been spoiled rotten by my pals too. So many lovely things. I’ve caught myself saying, ‘How did you know?’ so many times!

    Mid-morning, John’s niece and nephew descended and with them brought chaos and a trail of wrapping paper. Watching two small children open stacks of presents with big grins on their faces totally gave me that Christmas feeling. 

    After presents, I got to wear my Christmas day dress. I posted this snap on Instagram, along with a picture of my Diana F+ camera. It seems everyone was wearing this little beaut of a Primark dress and I don’t blame you. For £15, it’s so well made and fits like a dream. Did you see Rachel the Hat‘s Christmas dress this week? I have a feeling this will become mine for many years to come. 

    For the boy’s Christmas present, I bought him the Instant Lab by Impossible Project. This means he will be able to print out his hundreds of street art Instagram pictures onto a Polaroid. Sweet, hey? Naturally, we were both fascinated by this new fandangled piece of technology and deliberating over which pictures to print out took us well up to our lunch. 

    Christmas dinner. Excuse me whilst I mop up the drool from my chin. John’s mum had prepared a feast for us. I ate every last bit, until my dress no longer fit my hips forcing me to pause before Christmas pudding. As the sun began to set, we started to pack our things ready for the drive to my parents’ house on the other side of Lancashire. 
     
    You see, my mum always prepares a buffet on Christmas evening. It’s a more the merrier affair. Sipping bubbly champagne, I was given even more presents. It was a huge surprise as their Christmas present to me was a tumble dryer (welcome to adulthood). The night slipped by nursing a food baby and catching up with my side of the family before heading home to my own bed. Bliss.
     
    All in all. A perfect Christmas!
    How was your Christmas?
     
    As always, much love,
     
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  • Intravel

    LONDON CALLING

    Can you believe I’ve never been to our capital city? From Paris to Berlin, Krakow to Bratislava, Vienna to Amsterdam, Prague to Rome, Copenhagen to Munich… never London. Say what? Usually that admission causes raised eyebrows and rightly so. When asked, I’d always say, ‘It’s so expensive!’ or ‘I want to try a different culture,’ but as the years have passed, I’ve become curious about London. The city I know only from television, where punk was born and a hotbed of street art…it seems it was meant to be. So, when I priced up a weekend in London for a too good to be true price I just couldn’t resist…
     
    I’M GOING TO LONDON!
     
    Before Edinburgh, I’d never really travelled by train. Sure, I’d  visited my nearest cities but I’d never ventured far. I’ve decided that I quite like trains. Any mode of transport that allows me to sit back and relax whilst someone else takes the wheel is grand in my books. What started as an innocent browse on the Trainline website, a cup of coffee and a few custard creams, ended in a fully booked weekend away and bourbon biscuits too. Whoops. 

    The boy and I are travelling down for Valentine’s weekend. Sure, it means one very early morning train and a budget hotel, but for two whole days exploring the capital for a meagre £50 each, well it has to be worth it. 

     
    Are you planning any trips away this year?
    Have you been to London? 
    Can you recommend some places to visit?

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  • Inlifestyle

    Dreaming of a White Christmas :: A Flashback of Christmas Past

    After a beautiful, mild winter’s day on Sunday, this morning I awoke to a frozen car and  a temperature of minus 1! However, I can’t complain. I’m just so excited about Christmas and colder temperatures could mean snow! 
     
    Way back in 2009, it snowed. And snowed. And snowed! In Lancashire, schools were closed for a whole week. Which meant I got an extra week off work. Roads were treacherous and living in the rural countryside meant that we had nowhere to go, we welcomed this.  At the time, I lived with my parents and it was a week filled with finishing off Christmas food and long country walks. 
    It was also the year that I visited Berlin for the first time and it snowed there too. 

    And, the Christmas after… it snowed again! 

    Since then, there’s been no snow on Christmas day up in the north but maybe, just maybe, this year will be different. I’m dreaming of a white Christmas. The chances of snow in the UK  are pretty high. Manchester has 6/1 odds, although this doesn’t beat Glasgow’s odds of 5/2! If you want to calculate the chance of snow in your town, check out this neat little widgit here. 

    With only a week to go, I’ve been indulging in plenty of shopping! Starting with a visit to the Manchester Christmas Markets. It’s becoming somewhat of a tradition.

    And if it doesn’t snow this year? Well, I’ll be happy just to be spending it with this guy. A white Christmas with the boy? A girl can dream…

    As always, much love,
    Donna x

    Keep up to date with my latest posts and ponderings here:
    // Bloglovin’ // Twitter // Instagram //

    *This post was produced in collaboration with PR. All memories my own*
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  • Infashion

    HEARTS AND BOWS :: MANCHESTER’S NORTHERN QUARTER

    Can you believe it’s mid-December? I certainly can’t! With Christmas shopping to finish, we decided to head into Manchester on Sunday. You could be forgiven for thinking it was an autumnal day. Truth be told, the sun was shining brightly but it didn’t last long before the traditional damp weather returned. Nonetheless, with the promise of a Common lunch, we drove into the city centre hitting the Northern Quarter first. 

    If you follow my Instagram, you’ll have seen my favourite new shop, Fred Aldous. A wonderland of art, craft, haberdashery, books and curiosities encased under a bright and colourful  roof, you can see why I was drawn to it like a moth to a flame. So much of our day was spent in the Northern Quarter in shops like Magma and Incognito. I’m guessing it’s no surprise that I still have lots of shopping left to do.  

    // Dress – Vero Moda (via EBay) // Shoes – Primark // Cardigan – H&M // Brooch – Inherited from grandma // Coat – Topshop // Satchel – Cambridge Satchel Company //


    Recently, I’ve been leaning towards the twee side of my wardrobe. Animal motifs, polka dots, hearts and collars have all been firm favourites. I love this micro heart and polka dot dress by Vero Moda. I bought it on eBay for a bargain price some time ago, I think it was about £5 and that’s including postage. For so long it sat unworn in my wardrobe, forgotten about. I can’t believe I haven’t worn it sooner! Even though the zip scratched my poor waist to pieces, I still love it and will be wearing it lots. This Izabel London dress is a ringer for it. 

    Did you notice my brooch? I inherited this from my grandma, who was called Dee. Apt that my initial should also be D. Now that I’m settling in to my home (read: organised) I’m beginning to find hidden gems I’d forgotten all about. Why have I never worn this before? I’ve had it years.

    With just over a week to Christmas day, I’ve got so much planning to do. Gift vouchers to buy, cards to send and my bag to pack for Edinburgh with Kirsty, Kim and Erica at the weekend. Eek! I’m ridiculously excited!


    Are you ready for Christmas?
    Will you come and wrap my presents? Please?
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  • Infashion

    One for the Boys :: Christmas Shopping

     

    Men. They can be so hard to buy for. Each and every year, I spend countless hours searching for the perfect gift to buy each of the men in my life. My dad is the hardest to buy for. What do you buy the man who enjoys the simple things in life? 
     
    This year, it will be the boyfriend and I’s first Christmas together. I simply cannot wait to wake up and present him with his gifts. Again, he is also difficult to buy for but hopefully, he will like what I’ve bought. 
     
    Now that my Christmas shopping for the boys is complete, I thought I’d share a selection of ideas:
     
    1.  Whiskey Stones:: An ingenious product from homewetbar. My dad and I are both whiskey drinkers, he prefers his neat. The one problem? He hates it when the ice melts and dilutes the flavour. These clever whiskey stones will keep his whiskey chilled and undiluted. Genius. 
     
    2. YMC Knitwear:: Stylish, unique and durable, YMC is my boy’s favourite brand. With him walking to work each day, this cozy knit would keep him warm. It’s also the colour of his favourite football team, bonus. 
     
    3. Uniform Wares Watch:: I actually bought this for the boy’s birthday present. In my opinion, you can’t go wrong with a watch, it’s something every man will find useful. I love its simple, clean design.  
     
    4. Lambswool Scarf:: This is one for my brother. He’s four years older than me, in his thirties and likes practical presents. This lambswool scarf won’t date and will keep him snug for years to come. 
     
    5. Lomography Sardina Camera:: One thing my boyfriend and I share is a love of photography. This year, he’s bought so many cameras; from Polaroid cameras to my Diana F+. This is another toy camera to add to the list!
     
    6. Le Creuset Mug:: Well, who doesn’t love their own brew mug? 
     
    What have you bought the men in your life this year?
     
    As always, much love,
    Donna x
     
    *This post was a PR collaboration. As always, all lustings are my own.*
     
     
    Enjoyed this? Did you see my Christmas lustings?
    Keep up to date with my latest posts and ponderings here:
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  • Inlifestyle

    A Christmas Girls’ Night In

    This year, two of my closest and dearest friends announced that they were each expecting. As you can imagine, this was news that brought great joy and excitement. For each of their pregnancies they gave up their great loves; soft cheese for Jenna, sugary sweets and chocolate for Katie. Now that each of their bundles of joy have arrived, we knew that this Christmas our celebrations would be very different. So we decided to have a Girls’ Night In.

    You will have met Jenna and Katie before when I blogged about their baby showers. With each Daddy happily holding the fort for the evening, the girls arrived at mine for our Christmas Girls’ Night In. Katie’s little girl is only weeks old and this was the first time she’d been apart from her. It’s understandable and natural that she’d prefer a night in. Even though I don’t have children, I’d always choose a night in with the girls than out on the town. 

    It seems we’re not alone. Research conducted by Ladbrokes Bingo found a staggering 70% of women asked preferred a night in with the girls than out on the town. 14% of women stated bumping into an ex-partner as a reason they preferred to stay in, I hear you sisters!

    With only a pit stop for pizza, we cracked open the bottle of Dr. Pepper (it was a school night after all) and launched into catch up mode. Sharing pictures of their little ones lead into their birth stories, something that equally fascinated and frightened me at the same time. What was undeniable was their sheer, unadulterated happiness that shone through every word.

    As all good hostesses should, I topped up their glasses and filled their plates with pizza, snapping pictures as I went until I heard Jenna’s immortal words, ‘You’re not going to blog us, are you?’ Busted! Permission granted under duress, we settled in to watch a spot of television and to carry on with our gossiping. 

    Before long, it was time for the ladies to go. After all, they had wee infants to see and, well, I just had work to go to in the morning. Even though I wouldn’t rule out a night on the town any time soon, I’ll happily enjoy a girls’ night in!

    Do you prefer a night in?
     
    As always, much love,
    Donna x 
     
    *This post was brought to you in collaboration with Ladbrokes Bingo, who gave me the excellent idea of a girls’ night in*
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