Thursday, 23 June 2011

Places to go, people to see: Hogwarts and Hogsmeade Village

What do you mean 'those are fictional places'?! Shut up.

Yeah ok, this post is actually about The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Universal Orlando. For those HP fans who've not been, go. And go now. It's completely amazing, magical you might say. Even my non-HP fan dad was thoroughly impressed when we went last year. The headline ride (Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey which makes up the contents of Hogwarts Castle) is spectacular, the merchandise is brilliant (stand out pieces: a wand from Ollivanders, Chocolate Frogs and Bertie Botts' Every Flavour Beans) and Butterbeer is the best thing you'll ever taste, especially a frozen one in the mid-afternoon Floridian humidity. 

It's also a topical post for obvious reasons film-related reasons and because WWOHP itself has just celebrated it's first birthday. And I'm spending my Saturday night - all of it - at the BFI watching films 5-7. Hugely exciting geekery. 

I don't claim that these photos represent the definitive account of WWOHP - because they absolutely don't - but I quite like them. And I can't wait to take more when I go back next summer!

One entrance to Hogsmeade, with Hogwarts in the background.

'Please respect the spell limits' 

Hogwarts Castle. Famous for its palm trees. (Taken from the bridge between WWOHP and Jurassic Park)


The metal work in the background is the Dragon Challenge dual coaster. Slightly underwhelming for this coaster fan.

The other entrance to Hogsmeade, from Jurassic Park. 

Part of the INCREDIBLE queue area for Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, the INCREDIBLE main ride in WWOHP. The best ride in Orlando as decided by me, my mum, my non-HP fan dad and also Jonathan Ross.
Ridiculous attention to detail.

More detail. It's difficult to photograph the queue area because it's mostly in the dark - and involves some amazing technology that isn't easily captured - but it really is just incredible. Especially the 'magic' paintings.

Detail on the outside of Hogwarts, at the entrance to the ride.

One of the many hugely lucrative and cool merchandising opportunities. Not a hugely practical thing to buy in Orlando in the middle of August but do you really think that stopped me?! A huge, solid block of super sweet, American chocolate. Also has the trading cards, as per the books. I got Godric Gryffindor. 

The first view of Hogwarts you get on entering Islands of Adventure where it's located. Jurassic Park is to the left.

The Hog's Head pub.

The Three Broomsticks (restaurant).

A very very VERY quiet day in Hogsmeade, relatively speaking. You can see the pavement and everything!

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

BBC reveals new Strictly Come Dancing pro lineup

Exciting news to stimulate some rare lunchtime blogging from me: the BBC has released the list of pro dancers who'll be taking part in this year's Strictly Come Dancing.

And it's good news if you're me. Anton is back for another series! Hurrah! My other favourites, Erin and Brendan, are back too. Slightly-less-enthusiastic-but-pleased-nonetheless hurrah! All three of them will have been in every series since the beginning, a not inconsiderable feat given the Beeb's propensity to fiddle with the pro lineup every year.

That said, though, this year's fiddling has been kept to a minimum with just one change: Jared Murillo is out, Pasha Kovalev is in. Honestly, I'm kind of glad to see the back of Jared. As cute as he was paired with Tina O'Brian last year, I never felt he clicked with the show. Maybe it was because he was too young, I don't know, but I did find him pretty annoying. His replacement, a veteran of the US version of So You Think You Can Dance and the stage show Burn The Floor, is older and, frankly, hotter.Good stuff.

The full pro line up for Strictly 2011 is:  Artem Chigvintsev, Brendan Cole, Anton Du Beke, James Jordan, Pasha Kovalev, Vincent Simone and Robin Windsor; Erin Boag, Flavia Cacace, Ola Jordan, Natalie Lowe, Kristina Rihanoff, Aliona Vilani and Katya Virshilas.

You can read the BBC press release here.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Things I'm loving this week: #12

Favourite random news stories
Sean Bean is hard. Fact. So hard that after get glassed in a fight he went back into the pub and ordered another drink. I imagine he pulled the glass out of the wound with his teeth or something. Either way, what a legend. (Don't try this at home kids!)

Somewhat more predictably, the fact that Anton won Rear of the Year has also been keeping me amused:

Du Beke described the award as an ''absolute honour. Sadly, it has often been said that my rear is better than my front, so thank you very much indeed,'' he said.

It's nice that sometimes awards go to people who deserve them:

Photo stolen from Katie H on Facebook. 
Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off for a lie down in a darkened room. 

Soundtrack to my life
At the moment I'm obsessed with Kanye West's new(ish) album My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. As the name suggests it's not for the faint hearted - or easily offended - but I love it. Not sure there's a standout track for me, I love them all, but if pressed I'd go for Monster, which also has a completely mad video (serious health warning on this - it's an incredible video, in both senses of the word, in my opinion - I love the bit with Nicki Minaj - but not without... controversy). 

Speaking of mad videos I'm also majorly loving Katy Perry's new offering, Last Friday Night. This video is a work of genius: 

Rebecca Black AND Corey Feldman? What more could you want!

New reading matter
I've just started Tony Blair's 'A Journey'. Initial thoughts are positive - it's very engagingly written and his analysis is incredibly sharp, even if I don't agree with all of it. It's also disarmingly self deprecating - very unexpected from someone like TB! I'm looking forward to getting stuck into it properly.

Best film I've seen in ages
I'm increasingly a massive comic book geek, as my Batman Converse and tickets to Batman Live will attest. So perhaps it's unsurprising that I loved X Men: First Class. It's that rarest of rare things: a big budget blockbuster with a brain. I thought both Michael Fassbender (who, incidentally, is seriously fit - how did I not know this?!) and James McAvoy were pitch perfect as the young Magneto and Professor X and I adored the scene stealing Kevin Bacon having way too much fun as a proper comic book baddy. I think pretty much everyone I know has seen this film now but if you haven't then go and go now!

Monday, 6 June 2011

RIP Andrew

It seems to me most strange that men should fear;
Seeing that death, a necessary end,
Will come when it will come.

So says Shakespeare in Cymbeline (Act IV, Scene 2). That's all well and good - part of one of my favourite passages from any Shakespeare play, discovered through a beautiful song in the Stephen Sondheim musical The Frogs - but sometimes the idea that 'death will come when it will come' is an extremely troubling, heartbreaking and infuriating one.

I'm talking, of course, about the achingly premature and frighteningly sudden death of Andrew Reeves. Much has been written, blogged, tweeted and Facebooked about Andrew by others who knew him much better and write much more eloquently than I do (Mark Pack over at LDV being one of many that really touched me). It's a testament to the affection and regard in which he was held and something which he clearly would've really appreciated, especially the fact that for a few hours on Friday he was a Top Trend in the UK on Twitter.

I first met Andrew at the Norwich North by election. He was due to arrive mid way through the day and I distinctly remember everyone, even the most hardened and long serving staffers, being genuinely excited that he was coming. It had been decided that he was going to spend his spell in NN working front of house, a job that his particular brand of down to earth warmth and unflapability (clearly not a word, but it just fits) was perfectly suited for. For reasons best known to someone else, I was sent to join him. The two of us were starting our front of house 'shift' just as the blue letter stuffing/sorting job had arrived. Anyone who's run an election of any sort knows how prone to stress and disaster this is and I was apprehensive at best about taking it on with someone I'd never met before.

I really needn't have been. Working with Andrew that weekend was an absolute joy. At the time I was seriously considering whether I was really up to working for the party, and whether I wanted to. By the end of the weekend I had been convinced - in typical gentle, warm, non-hectoring style - that I was and I did. I took a massive confidence boost from that campaign and so much of that was down to realising that people as well qualified to judge as Andrew thought that I knew what I was doing. It's probably down in no small part to his encouragement (at NN and since; I'll never forget the congratulatory bear hug I got after getting my current job) that I'm still working for the party now. Whether that's a good thing for the party is for someone else to say, but it certainly is a good thing for me.

The last time I saw Andrew was back on the by election campaign trail in Oldham East and Saddleworth. Once again there was a sense of excitement around his arrival, just for the day this time I seem to remember, which given the general hard slog of a campaign in the middle of an excruciatingly cold January was quite something! We didn't get much chance to speak but he did come over to say hello and to mock me for having as my desktop wallpaper a photo of Anton Du Beke swinging Ann Widdecombe around by her ankles on Strictly. We'd enjoyed some spirited Twitter banter on the subject of Widdy's continued presence on Strictly during the series and he was amused that I was still keeping the faith even after the series had ended. He told me that he worried about my taste in men and headed off to deliver some leaflets.

The fact that that's the last thing he'll ever say to me is the thing more than anything else I'm struggling to comprehend. How can there be another by election without a visit from Andrew Reeves? Or another conference? It's all too strange, and sad, to take in yet.

So I suppose what this post is supposed to say more than anything else is thank you. Thank you for the encouragement and advice. Thank you for always knowing what to say about my many and varied relationship crises (and on a related note thank you for not telling anyone who The Bloke is even though I know you knew). Thank you for the gentle, and occasionally not so gentle, mocking and spirited debates about stuff that really didn't matter - the best type of debate I find.

And my god I'm going to miss you.   

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Things I'm loving this week: #11

Have to be honest, the main thing I'm loving this week is the fact that I'm only working for three days of it. Bank holiday + taking Friday as leave to go back to Wales for my dad's birthday = win. Other than that, though...

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. I'm a bit of a devotee of this franchise mostly, and highly obviously, because Johnny Depp's Cap'n Jack is pretty much the best movie character of recent times. Savvy? And for my money POTC4 is the best of the three sequels to the outstanding originals. I love the new characters it introduces, Penelope Cruz's Angelica and Ian McShane's (Lovejoy to Blackbeard via Al Swearengen, oh for his career!) Blackbeard especially. Frankly, I'm quite glad to see the back of the irritating Will and Elizabeth too, and the new love birds (the missionary and his mermaid) are charming in a cute-if-contrived sort of way. Watch out for genius cameos from Keith Richards, Richard Griffiths and (blink and you'll miss her) Judi Dench. Overall a great watch that's a lot of fun. Bring on part five...

Quite excited to be heading to see X Men: First Class this week too - another film franchise I love. Will it be as good without Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen driving it though? And finally on film, if you're a Harry Potter fan and haven't picked up the current issue of Empire then do so, now. It's amazing. 

I kind of gave up on my much vaunted guilty pleasure of last week, Geordie Shore. I was a bit concerned that it was just going to basically be the same show every week and so it proved. Instead I've been getting back into Inked and rekindling my desire for a tattoo. For my money Inked (also set at a Hart and Huntington, the one at The Palms in Vegas) is much better than the '... Ink' series of shows. It cuts out the soap opera crap and just focuses on the tattoos. 

Incidentally, and I'm sure it'll never happen (I'm too chicken and not cool enough), but if I ever did get ink of my own then I'd be going here for some inspiration (I like the Mirror of Erised ones) and getting it done at Hart and Huntington at Universal Resort in Orlando. Or such is my geeky fantasy. I mean how cool would it be to wander into The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and show fellow visitors to Hogsmead your Potter-based tattoo? Stop looking at me like that - cool is a subjective concept. But I digress...

I've also been fascinated at a slightly higher level by TV this week in the form of BBC1's excellent Egypt's Lost Cities. The technology on display here - using satellites to map long lost settlements, pyramids and tombs - was incredible. Also? I want to be Indiana Jones. With a tattoo.

Unattractive personal quality of the week
Stubbornness. I don't know why but this week I've been in one of those moods where if you tell me I can't do something then I'm sure as hell going to do it. Case in point: chatting to a friend on the phone whilst in Morrisons getting some lunch today. Conversation went like this:

Me: hey they have WWE Magazine here. I should totally buy it.
Friend: you're so not going to. 
Me: *proceeds to checkout, WWE Magazine in hand*

I don't really want said magazine. And it was £4 which, given for a similar price I could've got Vogue, is not money well spent. Still, it has some nice pictures in it: 

John Morrison's abs. Wowza. 

Web stuff
First of all a recommendation for fellow fashion bunnies: High Fashion Society. This is a great 'designer resale' (ie vintage) site that's definitely worth keeping an eye on. I bought an almost mint condition bright pink patent Miu Miu purse that I'd been lusting after for literally years from them this week for a tiny fraction of what it should really be worth. Their customer service, delivery and super luxe packaging all scores top marks and I'll definitely be using them again. 

Launching this week, and looking damn fine, is the new Anton and Erin website. This is ace and I love it. I especially recommend investing some time perusing the gallery. I'm sure you can imagine why..! The new site is very obviously based on Erin's recently relaunched site - no bad thing as that too is very good, useful and usable. And it has a shop so, y'know, if you're ever wondering what to get me for my birthday... 


Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Things I'm loving this week: week 10

(Well it's kind of week 10 I suppose. I've lost track.)

Soundtrack to the week
Like pretty much everyone else in the world I'm currently obsessing over Lady Gaga's new album 'Born This Way'. It's so, so good. So good. It's rare that I'll say that an album has no filler but literally every song on Born This Way has me hooked. Edge of Glory is my personal favourite track.

Worth-every-penny splurge of the week
My new Gold Series GHDs were by no means cheap but my god they're money well spent. GHDs have always been the daddy of hair straighteners and the Gold Series is the best I've used. The plates glide through your hair so easily and leave hair silky smooth. I can't stop touching mine. It's becoming a bit of an issue. At about £120 a pair they made for one very expensive lunch hour, but for the effect - and on a cost per use basis! - they're completely 100% worth it.

Guilty pleasure of the week
I'm not a particular fan of Jersey Shore. I can't stand The Only Way is Essex. So my viewing of Geordie Shore on MTV last night was only exploratory. In theory. In fact I love the show. For those unaware of the concept eight (four girls, four guys) young, good looking, incredibly shallow Geordies are put in a stupidly nice house with a fridge full of booze and draws full of condoms and, essentially, left to their own devices. Hilarity ensues. And/or all hell breaks loose. It's hard to tell the difference. It's not big, it's not clever but it is entertaining. Trashy, but entertaining.

Some early thoughts: Greg and Vicky are my favourites, Vicky should get with Greg not Jay, Jay's eyebrows are weird and 'a million and ten per cent' is a wicked catchphrase.

Girl crush of the week
Michelle Obama. With the state visit happening at the moment the Obamas are all over the news. This pleases me intensely. Now, y'know, Barack is pretty cool but Michelle is just amaze, as the kids would say. I've always had a soft spot for her but this developed into full on girl crush thanks to the incredible white Tom Ford gown she wore to the state banquet. Oh. Em. Gee.

Shoes of the week
I love Schuh. It's just the best shoe shop out there, especially their web shopping. I particularly love their great range of cute kitten heels which, not being much cop at walking in anything higher, are my go to work/occasion shoe style. My most recent acquisitions are another pair - I already have them in black glitter! - of their Clara courts. And they're ace.

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

So who should take over on Strictly Come Dancing: It Takes Two?

So the sad Strictly news of the day is that Claudia Winkleman is taking a break from It Takes Two this series to concentrate on raising her (what will then be) newborn baby. Or as she put it on Twitter:
"Will miss it terribly but baby / goat will only be very small and can't leave it every day." 
 Sadface. Understandable of course, but sadface.

There's been much chatter today about who the Beeb will get to fill in for her. Names that keep cropping up include Kate Garraway (I'll be demanding a portion of my license fee back if so - I can't abide the woman), Natasha Kaplinsky, Sian Williams, Arlene Philips and various of the ex-pros (Matt Cutler and Karen Hardy seemingly being particular faves).

Taking a slightly more left field approach, over on her blog Caron suggested my beloved Anton Du Beke taking over. I'm not as averse to this suggestion as you might think. I mean come on, it'd be guaranteed Anton five nights a week! I love that idea. On many levels... As long as he still did the pro dances (not the show dances since they're invariably rubbish and the point where everyone puts the kettle on) I could live with him not competing on the show were it not for one thing: he's a dancer.

I feel pretty strongly that the host of ITT should not be a dancer. That seems like a pretty stupid thing to say, right? But for me so much of the charm of Claudia doing ITT was that she knew nothing about the technical side of the dancing. She asked the sort of ill informed questions that the average audience member would ask, given the chance. And she did so wonderfully badly in my favourite bit of ITT - Len's Master Class. Put a dancer in as the host and you lose all of that. I have very little interest in watching Anton and Craig R-H sit and argue about the relative merits of someone's fleckle for half an hour. Stick a non-dancer in to argue with Craig about how much fun it was watching the person try and do said fleckle on the other hand...

So who do I think should take over from Claudia? I'd like to see it be someone who's contributed to the Friday Panel in the past. Miranda Hart would be fabulous, I could live with John Barrowman, even Peter Andre would have his charm. (And also his body, but I digress). But I think my top choice would be showbiz royalty in the shape of Michael Ball. I love his contributions to the Panel and he has the right blend of charm, cheese and cheek to make it his own. And I think he'd make an excellent dance partner for Len, which is surely the most important consideration in all of this!

One thing's for sure though. Whoever eventually emerges as this series' host is going to have one hell of a job filling Claudia's stilettos.

Friday, 20 May 2011

Places to go, people to see: Fountains Abbey

Occasionally, I go to some exceptionally nice places. And I take photos of them and stuff. So consider this the first in a semi-regular series of those places. My first subject is the gorgeous Fountain's Abbey near Ripon where I spent a lovely afternoon post-Royal Wedding. Or, as I like to call it, the most middle class day ever.

Looking down the main aisle of the Abbey. Very appropriate after watching the Royal Wedding!

Love this photo of the arches down the side of the main Abbey.

Store room. Serious architecture.

I'm not one for religious iconography, but I find this very atmospheric.

Fabulously well preserved mosaic floor at the Abbey's alter.

The tower.

Looking back at the Abbey from beautiful Georgian water gardens.

Me and my mum.

Me and my dad.

And me and my iPhone!

Monday, 16 May 2011

Things I'm loving this... er... non specific period of time

Stop looking at me like that. I'm aware it's been a while. What can I say? Life's been a bit... life-y recently. By which I mean, if you'll excuse the language, it's been a bit of a cluster fuck. Personally and, moreover, politically things have not been great. I'm not going to dwell on either other than to say, on both counts, keep calm and carry on.

Anyway, enough of that. Here's some stuff that has been providing much needed smiles and fun:

I seem to have discovered a lot of new (to me) music recently. Top top top recommendation goes to Hugh Laurie's new album 'Let Them Talk'. This is genuinely brilliant for anyone who has even a passing interesting in old school proper blues. The musicianship is astonishing. My favourite track from it, I think, is Swanee River for which the superlative has yet to be invented. Buy it. Now.

Also rocking my socks has been Alexis Jordan's eponymous début album (top track: How You Like Me Now), which is much better than it has any right to be given it came from an American Idol reject, and the excellent Bomb Shelter Sessions by Vintage Trouble. You may have seen these beyond fabulous retro rockers on Jools Holland - if not you missed a treat. Here they are doing my favourite song from the album, Blues Hand Me Down:

Not that I've had much time to read, but when I have I've been absorbed by either travel guides for Malta (the destination of my much anticipated October break this year) or the thoroughly excellent 'Behind the Black Door' by Sarah Brown. This book is a completely compelling, very entertaining account of life in Downing Street by the former 'first lady'. I've not quite finished it yet, watch out for a full review when I do.

One political book I have finished recently is the amazing '22 Days in May' by the equally amazing David Laws. If you've not read this book and have the faintest interest in British politics at the moment then you really need to. The epilogue in which he outlines his hopes for the coalition explains what I believe and why I'm a Lib Dem more eloquently than I ever could.

First of all, yes I did watch - and enjoy -  every second of the Royal Wedding. Let's just say that and get it out of the way. Apart from the bits with Fearne Cotton, I thought the BBC coverage was pretty good. (And, if you're wondering, my picks for Best Dressed Guest go to Lady Frederick Windsor - AKA Big Suze off of Peep Show - in deep blue Georgio Armani, Sam Cam in beautiful Burberry and Miriam Gonzalez Durantez and that amazing embellished turban.)

Second of all, yes I did watch - and enjoy - every second of Eurovision, including the two semi finals. My favourite songs were from Switzerland and Iceland. I also adored Lipstick by the ever youthful and energetic Jedward. So shoot me.

Finally, if you have Sky and enjoy trashy shit as much as I do then I implore you to check out Spartacus: Blood and Sand on Sky 1. It is... well, it's awful! It's kind of like what would have happened if a 13 year old boy had written HBO's excellent Rome. There's a lot of (fairly graphic) completely gratuitous sex and all the violence you could ever want, inexplicably shown in slow motion. I'm not really making a good case here am I? But seriously if you have a spare hour and it happens to be on then do have a look. It will make you giggle.

Finally finally, if you have Sky and enjoy properly good drama then look out for In Treatment on Sky Atlantic. Another HBO export, it stars the uber dishy Gabriel Byrne as a therapist - and he is mind blowingly good. It's not always an easy watch (each episode is a simple double hander between Byrne's therapist and one of his patients, or occasionally his own therapist) but it is just supremely good.

Friday, 15 April 2011

Things I'm loving this week: week 8

Ironically, I'm far too knackered from an awesome week to blog at any great length about all the people and things that have made it awesome. So some very select highlights...

This week I'm mostly drinking: Old Rosie. Oh yes. The defining drink of my student days is having a bit of a resurgence thanks to the emergence of a new drinking buddy. Old Rosie is a ridiculously strong, still cider that has one of the oddest flavours I've ever tasted. And I adore it. I've not had any for years so to rediscover it this week was brilliant.

This week I'm mostly listening to: the Rihanna and Britney remix of S&M. It's not big and it's not clever but it is so SO good! Today I've randomly been listening to last year's Eurovision entries. I'm not 100% sure why. I'd forgotten how truly dire the UK one was.

This week I'm mostly watching: DVDs. I spent a fabulously lazy day on Sunday watching Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows 1 followed by Toy Story 3. Heaven. And brilliant films both.

Photos of the week: from Matt's birthday night out last Saturday. The photos as a set are brilliant, but these are my favourites:

Chris, me and Matt in Reflex with the CRAZY drunks and least sexual pole dancing ever.

Matt and me in the newly refitted Fibbers. Some of Chris' better camera work.

Josh, me, Chris and Matt peering through the somewhat excessive dry ice. 

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Thank You Edge

So I woke up this morning to the news that one of my absolute favourite WWE Superstars, Edge, has been forced to retire from in ring action. Not kayfabe, not an angle, he's actually gone.

This has put something of a massive downer on my day. I know relative to a lot of other people who'll be writing these sort of posts I've not been a WWE fan for that long. But for the 18 months or so I have been a fan Edge has always been one of the main reasons why. You always knew that a match that Edge was involved in was going to be entertaining, regardless of his opponent. He was naturally charismatic and genuinely entertaining - and my god the WWE needs more people of whom you can say that. His finishing move - the spear - wasn't complicated or flashy but it was effective and the build up to it, in all its crazy eyed, hair scraping glory, was just brilliant. I can't really believe we're never going to see him deliver it again.

My favourite match (the Smackdown Elimination Chamber this year) and favourite feud (with Chris Jericho) have both been Edge related. I hate the thought of the WWE without him, but I hate the thought of him being forced out in a wheelchair even more.

This post could go on and on if I sat and spent my entire lunch break writing about all the matches and all the feuds that Edge has featured in that have made me an out and proud WWE fan. But, sadly, the real world beckons. The WWE website has all the details on why he's forced to retire (you don't mess around with a spinal injury) and all the coverage from last night's announcement on Raw. Beware the video of his speech if you're a big softy like me, I ended up sobbing my heart out into my mid-morning tea.

Thank you Edge. The WWE is so much poorer without you.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Things I'm loving this week: week 7, the birthday edit

So I'm another year older. Again. Ain't the passage of time a bitch? Still, thanks to everyone who sent cards, presents, texts, tweets and Facebook messages. Your thoughts are very sincerely appreciated. And it's scientific fact that my friends and family are the best in the world. Scientific fact.

This week I'm mostly insanely excited about: having a social life this weekend. I know, shocking, right?! But I'm so so so looking forward to helping my amigo Matty celebrate joining me in the 25 Club with a night out here in York. York may not have the best night life in the world, but it does have some lovely restaurants (we're going to Oscars) and bars (we're going to many, I imagine) and some so-shit-they're-good clubs. All in all it should be a classic night out. They usually are.

This week I'm mostly drinking from: novelty mugs that I got for my birthday. I have an official new favourite hangover tea mug in the shape of the gigantic Tigger mug I got from Lee. And the Kate Middleton and Prince William commemorative beauty I got from Matty is just too kitsch and fabulous for words. I think both are an excuse to go and buy some ridiculously expensive loose leaf tea from Betty's Tea Room too. Winning on many levels.

This week I'm mostly wearing: new socks. I have a bit of an obsession with socks. Anything that's patterned, loud or bearing an amusing cartoon of some kind will almost certainly find its way on to my feet. I own perhaps two sensibly coloured pairs. Life is too short for boring socks. I am, therefore, one of the few people in the world who is excited by receiving socks as presents. This birthday I got pink leopard print with bows, black with glittery cupcakes and cream with cats. My favourite comic book lettering and penguin print have yet to be topped in terms of awesomeness, but new additions to my collection are always welcome!

This week I'm mostly shopping: for stuff that's not out yet. Pre ordering is one of my favourite things about shopping online and, birthday money in hand, I've been doing a fair bit of it this week. First up are two new WWE t shirts John Cena's latest bright red (favourite colour alert) number and The Miz's new 'I'm Awesome' slogan baseball T. (And, yes, fellow WWE fans, I'm aware of the inconsistency of buying both!) I do love my WWE merchandise. Maybe it's because you can wear it over here and only a very select group of people get the references which is a nice change given the general ubiquitousness of slogan Ts. Consider me a geek if you must. I'm not saying you're wrong, I just don't care. I've also got a copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part 1 on its way, pre ordered from Amazon and scheduled to arrive two days before its official release. Amazon pre order is amazing for doing this - I heartily recommend it if you've not used it before.

Thursday, 31 March 2011

Things I'm loving this week: week 6

The last of these posts I'll write as a 24 year old. This displeases me.

This week I'm mostly going: back to Wales for the weekend. Hurrah. A multi-purpose trip for mother's day and an early birthday outing for my birthday (which is on Tuesday, a fact which, as mentioned, displeases me) and also some miscellaneous catching up with friends, family and Celt the dog. As a consequence...

This week I'm mostly eating: out. In a move that is good for neither my bank balance nor my waistline I'm eating out every day of my three day weekend, including a birthday meal with my parents at one of my favourite places to eat in the world: The Pant Yr Ochain in Gresford. Thankfully I'm not paying for that one. I'll also - hopefully - be indulging my ever more serious Nandos addiction for the second time in seven days. Epic.

This week I'm mostly forsaking sleep in favour of: WRESTLEMANIA!!!! The biggest event in the WWE calendar and all of my favourite wrestlers (AKA the ones I'd most like to sleep with) are on the card. And it's hosted by The Rock, which makes my inner child - and my inner 'The Mummy Returns' fan - jump up and down with glee. Only downside is having to watch on US time and thus doing a day of meetings in London on a questionable amount of sleep.

This week I'm mostly wearing: the Limited Collection nude lace top I bought in M&S whilst mother's day shopping. I have a bit of a thing about lace tops worn with a vest underneath - hinting at extreme sexiness without actually flashing much flesh. This nude version is super cute but the metalwork on the shoulders and the pockets keep it from being too cutesy. I'll also be reviving my beloved cobalt blue draped fit and flare dress that I bought (from somewhere..?) last year. It's super comfy, flattering and one of my favourite colours too. I'll be teaming both with my favourite (and increasingly knackered) purple satin ballet flats that I bought from Debenhams yonks ago. I'll cry when they finally wear out.

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Breaking the code of the quickstep?

So in my Dancing With The Stars post last week I said I wanted to see Team Cherico tackle ballroom. This week my wish came true and Chris and Cheryl had a quickstep...

As I've mentioned before, the quickstep is my absolute favourite dance out of the selection that Strictly-type shows tackle. I absolutely love it. I have to admit that I, like Len Goodman, was really fearful about Jericho taking it on. To be honest I thought he would suck at ballroom. Big time.

I don't generally like being wrong, but on this occasion I'm proper chuffed to be. The Cherico quickstep is, simply, ace. The footwork is great, the posture is fab and the music is proper quickstep music. He loses some points for not being in white tie and tails (and slightly creepy facial expressions), but still. I'm really, really impressed. The elimination show is tonight on US TV. If Cherico go, I'll be writing a sternly worded letter. Or something.

In other news, I finished reading Jericho's latest book - Undisputed - this week. It, too, is ace. I can't recommend it highly enough it you're even a casual fan of wrestling. You should absolutely read it if you got the reference in the title of this post. It's by turns hilarious and deeply touching and his writing style is froot*.

*In order to get this joke you must read the book. If that's not reason enough then I don't know what is.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Team Cherico make their Dancing With The Stars debut!

So this week we got to find out the answer to the question 'what happens when WWE and dancing collide on national television?'

Well, the answer seems to be 'good things' if Chris Jericho's first dance on Dancing With The Stars is anything to go by:

Ok so it's a cha cha cha and thus not a proper dance, but I still think this is pretty good, especially for a first dance. I kind of agree with the judges that it was a bit light on content but what there was is done perfectly competently and with the kind of personality most celebs that do these types of shows could only dream of *cough* Gavin Henson *cough*

I stand by my earlier assertion that Team Cherico are one of the couples to watch in this season and can't wait to see more. Jericho doing ballroom in particular intrigues me..!

Also, those muscular arms = hot. Trufax.

Things I'm loving this week: week 5, smelling Guilty

This week I'm mostly ecstatic about the return of: SPRING! How good has the weather been recently?! I am *loving* all this sunshine, it's amazing how much something simple like a bit of sunlight can affect your mood. Being in York in the spring is particularly gorgeous. I'm biased of course - it's scientific fact that York is the best place to live in the world - but look at this photo I snapped today across the road from our flat of the daffodils growing by the walls. It's so pretty!

Long may the lush weather continue!

This week I'm mostly smelling: Guilty. Which is to say, I've just started using a new perfume: Guilty by Gucci. It smells so good! I'm not one for the pretentious descriptions used in perfume ads, but Guilty smells really sexy and grown up. And, as ever with Gucci, has a really luxe bottle. I'm a bit obsessed with it, but am trying to use it sparingly so the bottle lasts longer. I somehow doubt this will work. It never does.

This week I'm mostly wearing: Converse. Nothing new there - I've lived in All Star hi-tops for about the past seven years. But this weekend I got a new pair, perhaps the best pair I've ever owned. The ultimate geek chic shoe: BATMAN CONVERSE! I got them from Schuh (best shoe shop ever) in Bristol and they were the last pair in my size in the shop. Naturally I had to buy them - fate dictated it. I adore them.

This week I'm mostly eating: Waitrose peri peri houmous. My middle class love affair with Waitrose is well documented and since one opened up two minutes from the flat I find it very difficult to not go there and spend all my money every day. Their peri peri houmous is amazing and properly brightens up my lunch break. It even manages to make wholemeal pitta breads taste interesting. Which takes some doing!

This week I'm mostly looking forward to: the clocks changing. Whilst I resent losing an hour of my Sunday morning lie in, the prospect of lighter evenings is very welcome. Especially if this gorgeous weather continues and we can actually go outside and enjoy them!

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Things I'm loving this week: week 4

Yes, I'm starting with politics this week. But don't worry. Frivolity returns very quickly.

This week I'm mostly agreeing with: Nick. You see what I did there?! It's very rare I talk shop on my blog but I thought Nick Clegg's speech to Lib Dem Conference over the weekend was one of the best I've heard him give. Check out the video.

Now for frivolity. And also Anton. Keep reading, I've saved him for the end.

This week I'm painting my nails with: MAC Soiree. It's a great bronze polish with a hint of glitter, and looks really classy. It also goes with pretty much everything I own which is useful. It'll always have good memories for me too - I bought it in the swanky department store in Dublin and wore it to go and see Puttin on the Ritz the first time. Good times.

This week I'm travelling to: Bristol to see a number of friends from Uni. I know very little about Bristol other than that it has a Harvey Nichols. And that'll do for me.

This week I'm mostly listening to: Nicole Scherzinger's new song 'Don't Hold Your Breath'. I'm obsessed with it. The lyrics describe my current 'love life' situation exactly. It's almost uncanny.

This week I'm mostly loving Twitter because: basically, Anton is great. Maybe I should just change the name of this blog to that. But he is great. Check out the following evidence. The first is his response to my complaining that my 2010 tour pen had run out and the second is, well, just funny.


See? He's great. The second one is slightly embarrassing given I was somewhat the worse for wear in the conference bar when I sent the original. Note to self: don't tag people in drunk tweets if you don't want them to see said tweets. Muppet. But seeing the reply really made me smile. A lot. Because he's great.