One of my favourite parts of any DVD has to be the outtakes. Not just the deleted scenes, I’m talking about the blooper reel in all its comedy glory. There’s just something so human and wonderful about watching actors and actresses – many of them trying to be so serious – cracking up and completely losing it, take after take. Once when I woke up in the early hours after a bad dream and couldn’t get back to sleep I sat watching Blackadder outtakes on YouTube until it washed away the night terrors. (Speaking of outtakes, while I was writing this I stumbled upon the Hot Fuzz outtakes on YouTube. Both the Blackadder and Hot Fuzz ones have quite a bit of swearing in, just FYI, but they are hilarious. SO worth a watch!)

The life of a blogger is probably at its most embarassing when trying to take pictures in public. You’re trying to channel your inner Kate Moss and strike your best Instagram-worthy pose while the local OAPs Bingo/Zumba/Coffee Morning group totter past goggling at you like you’ve grown an extra head. That or you look at the photos afterwards and your eyes were closed, your mouth open, weird expression in place, photobombed by a tourist, unflattering angles that give you about three extra chins…we’ve all been there!

I wasn’t sure how many – if any – of my outtakes have survived the fullness of time and my trigger-happy delete button. But I found such a treasure trove of hilariously awful photos of me from my trip to New York in 2015 that I just had to share them with you all. So I thought I’d give you a little glimpse through the photographic archives and the chance to witness photos that, had they been printed on paper, I’d have burnt them faster than you could say ‘Incendio!’

Shout out to all the HP nerds who got that reference…

These are all from New York and Washington DC, and I did manage to find a few decent shots to contrast the final product with the ones which failed to make the grade (for reasons which are about to become abundantly clear…) So I before I chicken out altogether, here is my Blogging Blooper Reel!

Stalking a Bird in Central Park

Having said that, there are no redeeming features of this unflattering little series…I spotted this bird while we were walking to the Met Museum and attempted to sidle up close enough for a shot. It lured me into prowling across the grass like a demented lion and then flew off. Jerk…

Busted Near Ground Zero

The area of New York around Ground Zero is full of slick, gleaming office buildings, and I fancied trying to get some outfit shots (I was on a real drive to get them during this holiday). Hence lots of awkward poses, only to be told off by security of the building nearby for taking photos on their wall. Hence what is possibly the best ‘busted’ expression ever.

Central Park Lamp Post

^This^ photo was taken at the exact point in which I stopped swinging around the lamp post to ask “Does this make me look like a stripper?” Whoops…

Failing on the High Line

There are literally no good photos from this seemingly super-casual, fun and breezy moment dancing along the railway lines. Windmilling, creepy arms, unflattering angles…there were no redeeming moments in this little set! The only decent photo I got on this walk has a woman walking past giving me serious side-eye…

Windy Liberty Island

As above. We tried to take dozens of photos of me here. The wind and my hair didn’t play ball, and it turns out that I’d colour-coordinated with the Statue of Liberty in a top that made me look about 5 months pregnant. Winning on all levels…

Washington DC ‘Blue Steel’ Fail

If anything could confirm that I am not cut out to be a fashion blogger, these photos should do it. I don’t know what I was doing with this pose up against a tree (?!), and we had to shoot them in between people walking past (many of whom probably witnessed my pitiful attempts to be Derek Zoolander with despair…)

So there you have it. A small selection from the (extensive) collection of terrible photos, all taken in the name of blogging! Please share your shame (and dodgy photos) with me!

This was posted as a part of the monthly travel link up, celebrating all of our glorious outtakes! If you want to join in, pop your post up before 7th February, add it to the link up widget – found on either Angie’s, Emma’s, Polly’s or Eppie’s blogs – and have a read and a comment on some of the other brilliant posts out there. Especially this month, when we’re all putting ourselves on offer for the amusement of others!

The dawn of a New Year is always so exciting, isn’t it? If my Bloglovin feed is to be believed, everyone has had a dose of ultra-positivity as we enter 2017, and I am no different. It’s just such a hopeful time, and it gets me thinking about all the things I want to achieve in the next 12 months. I’m also a massive list fiend, so this time of year is always fun for me!

As with so many people, travel is always pretty high on that list of priorities. I love exploring the world and embarking on new adventures, and the internet is always one of the first places I turn to for inspiration. Hence this month’s #TravelLinkUp on our 2017 wishlists.

There are so many places out there on my list, but with house-buying (hopefully, possibly, maybe) on the horizon, our opportunities may be slightly restricted this year. So I will be throwing out a more general wishlist, including locations that I really hope to see some time over the next few years. I really hope I’ll be able to check in with you throughout the year as we gradually tick off these wonderful adventures…

Cuba

(Image source – and my first stop for planning this holiday! – here)

The boyfriend and I hope to be visiting Cuba in April for a big of spring-time sunshine. It’s not somewhere I would ever have thought to visit before, but I can’t deny that I love the idea of a chance to absorb myself in an entirely new culture – and hopefully get a bit of a tan at the same time…

Australia

(Image source here)

I visited Australia over 10 years ago now with my family and absolutely loved it. We climbed the Sydney Harbour Bridge, road tripped the east coast, walked around the base of Uluru at sunrise and cuddled koalas. It was beyond epic. I would absolutely love to take the boyfriend to revisit the incredible places we visited, and to discover some new ones together.

Dublin

I last visited Dublin over five years ago with my friends from uni, and we were very much on a shoestring budget. It would be nice to return to this vibrant city with an actual salary under my belt, revisiting sites such as Kilmainham Gaol and Trinity College and venturing futher afield to some of the beautiful countryside just outside the city.

Rome

(Image source here)

A perennial favourite, I haven’t been to Rome for about 12 years now, and I have such a hankering to indulge my love for authentic pizza and Ancient Roman history in the Eternal City! Plus a friend of mine moved to Southern Italy a few years ago, and it would be great to meet up with her again.

Suffolk

I will be back up to Suffolk at the end of January into February for my mum’s birthday, and I hope to have the boyfriend with me for some of it. Although Suffolk is always at its best in summer, I can’t wait to introduce him to the county I grew up in, even in the heart of winter, and kickstart our travels together.

London

Despite living in London for 7 years now, I still haven’t seen nearly as much of the city as I should have, and I would like to change that this year with a few adventures closer to home, particularly north and east of the capital where I haven’t yet ventured. Recommendations very much welcome!

America

Always, always, America. Despite their political and economical worries, I will never tire of revisiting this insane, beautiful, brilliant country. From San Francisco to New York and everywhere in between, I cannot wait to return to the good old US of A.

Which new and exotic locales are on your travel wishlist for the year ahead?

If you want to join in with the travel link up, you have until 7th (tomorrow – yep, I’m running a little bit late myself!) to do so. Simply pop your post up and add it to the link up widget – found on either Angie’s, Emma’s or Polly’s blogs. Make sure you also have a read of some of the other posts up there and share the love!

Last month we took an overnight trip away to one of my favourite towns: that seaside favourite of Brighton. I have loved Brighton for years; I first remember visiting with my family one hot summer’s day many years ago, but since then it has mainly been a haunt of mine and Anna’s. We have spent many hours wandering The Lanes and seafront and pier, and I can attest to the fact that Brighton is always windy and always cold. I have never been to Brighton and NOT been freezing cold in recent memory!

On this occasion we stayed in a cosy little attic room at the top of Drake’s Hotel on the seafront. We were told on checking in that we could climb out of our window onto a little balcony created by the roof below us, which I did pretty much as soon as the attendant closed the door! I scrambled out onto our little balcony a lot during the trip – the child in me loves a good adventure!

The view was unreal – I have always loved watching the water, whether it be the river or the sea, and we were spoilt with our unparalleled view of the ocean. The wind whipped around us but the sun shone, and we soon headed out to explore the town.

The Snowdogs were in residence when we visited Brighton. Unfortunately we weren’t there long enough to track them all down, but we gave it a good shot on our way around the town…

As the afternoon began to draw in and dusk began to fall, we headed for the pier. It was an impressive sight as we strolled along the beach – the clouds were gathering overhead and the sea was raging, as a storm brewed right before our eyes. I have never seen the sea like that on all my visits, so wildly beautiful and untameable and honestly a little bit terrifying.

The pier was so dark as we trode the familiar boards that we couldn’t see through the gaps in the wood to the turbulent sea below. And at the end of the pier a truly eerie sight awaited us.

Slightly later than intended we hiked out into the narrow, hilly streets of The Lanes in search of Mexican food. Luckily, La Choza was still open when we arrived. If you’ve never been there, you genuinely couldn’t miss it – it was like a psychedelic shrine! The restaurant is small (you will sit in very close proximity with your neighbours), and the walls are painted in an array of bright, jewel-tone colours. The shelves all around us were crammed with a variety of colourful nicknacks, from skulls to antlers to figurines. There was even a frieze of a glittery Last Supper on one of the walls!

The food was as immense as the colour scheme. Having started with nachos I then had a divine chorizo burrito, which was utterly delicious! I was so full by the end of it, but I battled on because it was just too nice to leave. I did roll back down the hill to the seafront and our hotel though!

The following morning we opened the curtains to this tranquil view, which couldn’t have been more different from what we witnessed the night before. The sea was a milky, minty green, and it was so peaceful and calm that I took about a billion photos from the balcony while we were getting ready!

We strolled along the seafront, taking in a view of the dramatic, skeletal remains of the West Pier. It has never been replaced since burning down in 2003, though there have been talks of doing so. I personally quite like its apocalyptic quality, though this could have just been the mood I was in following on from the weather the night before!

We ate at a tiny café on the corner a steep hike up from the seafront. Serving decent portions of a variety of breakfasts at a reasonable price, it gave us some much needed refuelling ready to tackle the hills ahead. Brighton is not the one for easy walking. I have never worn heels to Brighton and I do not intend to start any time soon – I like my ankles unbroken…

We wandered on through Montpellier…

…Down to The Lanes. I love a good piece of graffiti, and we were spoilt for choice in Brighton! I particularly loved this pub wall……And this eclectic mix!

We stopped for coffee and then wandered on. I loved the fact that we had such a leisurely, relaxed day, with nothing much to do beyond wander, eat, drink, and chat. We visited Snooper’s Paradise (such a mishmash of creepy things, very much in the apocalyptic horror movie vein we were running on that visit!)

Reading back it sounds a bit like I’ve painted Brighton in some sort of dire light, what with all the horror film references! I actually really enjoyed seeing it in that way though – it put a brand new spin on a town I have visited so often that I thought it couldn’t surprise me anymore. Brighton will always be one of my favourite places, and one of my favourite seaside towns, and I cannot wait to visit it again. I just hope it will be warmer next time!

img_4946As I write this, there are glitzy Christmas decorations suspended overhead in the office I’ve been based in most of this week. Red and gold bells and blue and silver snowflakes sway silently above me, catching the light. I’ve heard more than a few Christmas songs on the radio over the last few days, and have even succumbed to buying and planning other people’s presents. And yet I am currently feeling decidedly unfestive.

Don’t get me wrong, I love this time of year. Having lived in London for the past 7 years I have been spoilt with a vast array of festive events, from ice skating to Christmas markets to spectacular lights and seasonal pop ups (hello, Rekorderlig Cider Lodge). And people do seem to be much happier than usual, with as much festive cheer in the air as there is the common cold.

So with this month’s Travel Link Up topic Celebrating the Festive Season, I thought it seemed appropriate to remind myself of all the things I love about this time of year, and how to turn Christmas into a month-long celebration of Winter throughout December. So here are the things that I am particularly looking forward to for the month ahead:

Ice Skating at the Natural History Museum. Without a doubt my favourite rink in London. I have just booked tickets to skate here this month, and it will either be a very glorious or very damp experience, depending on how much I decide to channel Bambi on ice…

Winter Wonderland. It’s loud and garish and a little bit tacky, but this bold and brash fairground never fails to make me feel festive. If you visit and leave without a smile then you have a heart of stone!

Christmas tree. I’m dragging Tom down to Weybridge this year to pick up a real live tree for our living room. He hasn’t had one for years, if ever, and I am very much looking forward to introducing him to the joys of pine needles everywhere.

Carol services. I am part of a choir at work, and we have a couple of concerts lined up for this month, which should be perfect for getting in the Christmas spirit.

Christmas shopping. Yes, really. I know that trawling the shops on a frantic present-buying trip would be most people’s idea of hell, but once a year my mum and I pick a day to do a spot of festive shopping together. It usually just involves us buying decorations and cards from John Lewis, having lunch and window shopping, but it’s become a steadfast tradition! This year we are retreating to the relative calm of Kingston, but on Monday I will be heading into central London to make my inaugural visit to Hamley’s and see all the London Christmas lights, which I will be taking many, many photos of…

Christmas jumper. I’m breaking away from the two classy Fairaisle knits I have stashed in my wardrobe this year in favour of something truly tacky. I’m talking tinsel, bells and lights, the works! I think I may have found the perfect candidate from Primark, which claims to light up. Utterly garish. Utterly ridiculous. Possibly perfect.

Christmas Drinks. This has been a bit of a tradition among the uni crew for the last few years now. As Emilie is abroad and Sanna’s due date falls in the next two weeks we will be two short, but Tom and I hope to be hosting a little get-together of our own. A soiree if you want to be posh, complete with mince pies and mulled wine and maybe, just maybe, a song or two around the keyboard (if he and I can stomach being quite that twee…) Basically it’s an excuse to gather some of my favourite people together – and you can’t go wrong with that!

Family time. My work schedule is often crazily erratic and I can’t always guarantee having Christmas off. This year I have managed it, and once I know what my parents have planned I will be divvying up my time between them. Because, more than anything, Christmas is about spending time with those you love most in the world, enjoying lots of food, quality Christmas specials on TV, and all the hygge you can handle. Because to me, that’s what Christmas is all about.

If you fancy joining in the travel link-up, just pop your post up over the 1st – 7th December & add it to the link up widget found on Angie‘s, Emma’s or Honey’s blogs. We would love to hear how you celebrate the festive season!

IMG_3059This month’s travel link up topic was about home. What makes a place home to you? Have you ever visited anywhere which felt like home straight away? As somebody who has always lived in the UK, I thought my answer would probably be a bit boring. After all, I’m no expat with a glamorous home country and a romantic story which brought them to their adopted country. But then I started thinking about it in more depth, and I realised that I could actually witter on about the topic of home right through to next month! So I really hope this makes some kind of sense and doesn’t bore you rigid…

058For example, over 25 years, I have called 14 different places home, and I’m set to move again to number 15 in a few months’ time! I can’t honestly say that one particular house is my home, no individual town or village or set of four walls. When I’m asked where I come from in the UK, I can’t really give a straightforward answer. My accent is very middle of the road – I can’t claim to belong to any one place – and currently I’ve not lived in one house for more than 8 years.

FullSizeRender[1]I was born in Liverpool by pure chance. My mum and dad were born and bred Londoners, but found themselves up north for Dad’s job when I came into the world. We divided my childhood between Suffolk and North Wales, finally settling in Suffolk after Dad’s retirement. This is where I’ve spent the longest amount of time to date. It’s where I forged friendships which have lasted me to this day.  It’s where I learned to drive, where I took the exams which would determine my future, and where I witnessed the breakdown of my parents’ marriage first-hand. With so many joys and heartaches, it was a bittersweet day leaving that pancake-flat county in the East of England behind. Although I was so happy to finally be free and independent, I also missed the familiarity of my parents and friends, how easy the life I left behind was.

DSC_0076_2I was a truly naïve country bumpkin, but over the years I’ve evolved into a hard-nosed Londoner, marching everywhere with determination and purpose, keeping a wary hand over my bag at all times and rushing around with barely any time to stop and breathe. Although I call London home now, over the years I’ve found myself truly missing the tranquillity which Suffolk offered. I now look forward to returning there, finding it a real escape from the chaotic and difficult adult life I have built for myself in London.

1-357However, if I’m honest with myself, Suffolk only truly feels like home because of the people in it. My beloved parents, and their respective new partners, are what make returning to this little county so worthwhile. Because the friends I made there have all moved on too, and we took our memories with us on our journeys into adulthood. When we come together again now, it’s thankfully easy to pick up where we left off and resurrect the little ‘family’ we formed at school across various corners of the country.

087Not only that, but my self-defined family has gained some new members over the years. People such as Anna, Tom and Jon, who I am blessed to know and who are more important to me than they will ever know. My family may not be a conventional one, expanding over the years to accommodate new members and sometimes shrinking with the departure of others. But it is the one constant throughout my life, as terrific, turbulent and sometimes downright terrible as that life can be.

421601_10150647852662459_882439583_nWhen I first started writing this post, I compiled a quick list of what makes a home for me. It consisted of photos, books and cuddly toys, like a revamped version of The Generation Game! But I’ve realised that this was completely the wrong approach. Because, despite the need for four walls, electricity, water and all those other boring but necessary amenities we are lucky enough to take for granted, the most important thing which makes a home are the people under that roof with you. The people you can call on, day or night, to love you and accept you without question or judgement. The people who allow you to be free and happy and 100% you, who will stand by you until the end of time. Because, as the old cliché goes, home truly is where the heart is…