Wednesday, 6 June 2018

What I Wore in Paris – Disneyland Paris Edition

What I Wore in Paris – Disneyland Paris Edition
Wednesday, 6 June 2018
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My lovely partner celebrated his 25thbirthday last week so naturally, I took it as an excuse to spoil him rotten (and book an exciting trip at the same time). I am very fortunate having Rich in my life and he does so much to make me happy so a lovely, romantic break away was the perfect way to return the favour. After umm-ing and ahh-ing over the location, my need to return to France took over and I booked a two night stay in central Paris with the hope that I could later convince Richard that Disneyland was the perfect day-trip to take. I didn’t have high hopes on that one but it’s funny how luck works in your way – a friend of mine had some spare tickets to the Disneyland parks that were due to expire this week so offered them to us to use! How could we say no to that stroke of luck? 


Getting to Disneyland from central Paris is pretty simple to do and can be done very cheaply as well. As we went to Paris for the weekend, we benefitted from buying the tickets jeune week-end metro passes, for people under the age of 26, which cost just under €9 each for unlimited day travel on the metro and RER trains. The train from central Paris to Disneyland is an RER train so was inclusive within the ticket- otherwise a single ticket costs €6,50! We hopped on the RER A Line from Châtelet-Les Halles to Marne-la-Vallée, the station that’s just a stone throw away from the Disneyland Parks. 



Dressing for the occasion was a must- I made sure to pack a Disney themed headband- and as the forecasts had predicted incredibly hot weather I had an important decision to make regarding my outfit for the day. I wanted something lightweight to keep me cool but also classy enough that I was covered up for the family-friendly theme park. I’m really loving wrap dresses at the moment so ordered a couple of beautiful ones on ASOS. The one I eventually went for was this classic striped wrap dress from Warehouse – very similar in style to my other Warehouse wrap dress, just much more vibrant in colour and completely the opposite of my normal style. It really has been a ‘new year, new me’ in terms of fashion choices! I paired the dress with a pair of slip on pumps, perfect for the inevitable miles of walking that we were bound to do. 

The outfit went down an absolute treat in the park and has had such a positive response from everyone that’s seen it so far! It covered up enough of my body that I didn’t feel self-conscious or awkward walking around without my jacket on but was loose enough that I didn’t melt in the 28 degree heat. It was the perfect rollercoaster riding outfit, without a doubt. 



It’s fair to say that we had an absolute ball at Disneyland – the rides were fantastic and the entire experience was magical beyond belief. The atmosphere at the place was remarkable – I imagine that Disneyland is the only place where grown adults can completely lose their inhibitions and let loose in such a child-like way. Walking around the parks was fantastic and there really was something for everyone. We rode ride after ride, had a little river ride through a fairytale wonderland and ate Bavarian hotdogs in Geppetto’s workshop.  I couldn’t imagine spending a better day with my other half – the first day in a magical Parisian adventure. 



What are your favourite things about Disneyland? Let me know in the comments! 


Friday, 1 June 2018

Goodreads: My June/July Reading List

Goodreads: My June/July Reading List
Friday, 1 June 2018
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It’s been a while since I did a post talking all about the books I’ve hauled recently and there’s good reason behind this. I’ve been on a self-imposed book ban and for the most part I’ve stuck to it- one of the benefits of being a book blogger are the dozens of books I receive on a monthly basis from publishing houses. It means that generally, I don’t have to buy books unless they’re ones I really, really want and for the most part I can get by reading the books I get in the post. Richard and I are flying over to Paris tomorrow morning and I’m super excited about this: however, pretty much all of the books on my to-read pile currently are hardbacked and the last thing I want to be doing on a weekend break is lugging around a heavy hardback in my backpack. 



I put in a teensy amazon order last night – and it actually WAS teensy, for once- and picked out a few books that have been on my radar for a while now. I tended towards Young Adult fiction this time despite the massive amounts of contemporary fiction in my basket at the time. I thought I’d share the two books that I chose, along with a few of the books I’ve been sent by publishers recently. 


The book I’m currently reading isWhistle in the Dark by Emma Healy. Having read (and of course, loved) Elizabeth is Missingby Emma, I was over the moon to receive a copy of the book for review from the publishers. I was quick to get stuck into the book (although I did finish off my most recent read The Tatooist of Auschwitzbeforehand) and about 120 pages in I’m enjoying it – I am waiting for something big to happen at the moment but I’m sure that that will come soon enough. The story follows Jen, a mother whose 17 year old daughter vanishes seemingly without a trace until suddenly she is found- but nothing goes back to how it used to be. Lana can’t – or won’t- remember what has happened to her and is reluctant to discuss where she went for those hellish days of Jen’s life. However, her daughter is different now and she can’t quite put her finger on why or how this is the case. It’s fair to say that I am very intrigued to read on and find out all the answers. 


Another book I received in the post for review is Kismet by Luke Tredget. I’m not too sure that this one is my cup of tea – based around dating apps, Kismet is a love story, seemingly, and focuses on the inperfections in people and consequently their obsession in finding the perfect match. First of all, I am completely in favour of dating apps. As a person whose work life has completely overshadowed ANY possible chance of going out and meeting people, I understand the convenience of being able to meet and connect with people from home. As a nearly 25-year-old socially inept woman, the prospect of going out and striking up conversation with a potential suiter would absolutely terrify me. I am quite intrigued by this book and am planning on reading this book as soon as I’ve finished up with Whistle in the Dark. 


As most of my readers are probably aware by now, I am a teacher and consequently I spend a lot of my time reading Middle School age books, prior to sharing them with the children in my class. I recently received a copy of The Boy Who Grew Dragons by Andy Shepherd and I cannot wait to share it with the kids at work. I’ve been reading a chapter at a time whenever I have a chance so I’m already a fair way through the story without even knowing it, and it is absolutely hilarious and exactly the kind of story that my class are going to adore. The cover is absolutely beautiful as well – from the looks of things, I’ll definitely be adding the sequel which comes out later this year to my wishlist as well! 


The final book from my proof pile for this month’s to do list – not that I’m being at ALL ambitious here- is probably the one I’m most excited about and the only psychological thriller I’ve included! My love for thrillers knows no bounds and I would happily read nothing but thrillers if I had to, so going this long having not read one is definitely unlike me. I’m excited to be a part of the blog tour for How Far We Fall by Jane Shemilt and the book sounds exactly my cup of tea. I’ll be sharing my thoughts on this book on the blog on the 30thJune so be sure to check back then for a full review if you’re interested in this one! 


Onto books that I’ve actually purchased now. My Year 4 English class are using Grandpa Chatterji by Shamila Gavin as their class reader this half term so naturally I bought my own copy to read prior to planning. I was a little bit apprehensive about using this book within my lessons as it’s quite old fashioned – I’m pretty sure we might even have read it when I was at school – but having flicked through it I’m reassured that it’s of good quality and I’m excited to see what work the children in my class will produce using it. My Year 3 English class are focusing on Greek Mythology this half term so I’m going to be reading lots and lots of Greek Myths and stories based on them in the coming weeks as well! 



My final books in this little haul are The List by Siobhan Vivian and 13 Minutes by Sarah Pinborough. Both of these books have been on my radar, and consequently in my Amazon basket, for a good while now. They both fall into the Young Adult category what was just what I was looking for for my trip to Paris – quick and easy reads that don’t require all that much thought and that I’ll fly through. I’m on track with my Goodreads challenge as it stands but I’m conscious that there’s always time to fall way, way behind! 

What are you reading at the moment? Have you read any of the books on my list? Let me know in the comments! 



Thursday, 31 May 2018

Food: Alma De Cuba's Mixologist Cocktail Challenge

Food: Alma De Cuba's Mixologist Cocktail Challenge
Thursday, 31 May 2018
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One of the perks of being a blogger in Liverpool is that there is always something there to be explored. This week, I was fortunate enough to be invited along to a very exciting event at one of my favourite venues. Alma de Cuba is the basis of most of my ‘I have a full-time job now, I have my life put together!’ nights out with work-mates and pals alike, so being invited along not only to try out some brand new cocktails but also to be a judge for a cocktail challenge is probably one of my proudest moments. 


Those that know me well will know that I am not a big drinker: I’m normally far too sleepy to get too involved with a bev and nights out occur less and less frequently now that responsibility has hit. In spite of this, I was up for a good old fashioned taste-test of some delicious cocktails and of course, took my partner in crime along with me for the ride. I’ve been to Alma de Cuba for review before nowso my expectations were quite high – and rightly so. 


The premise of the night was simple enough: Alma’s talented bartenders would take centre stage and present their very own summer cocktails using specific spirits and mixers- the event was sponsored and the challenge set by Huyton-based Halewood Wines and Spirits. Competitors were asked to use gin and vodka from Whitley Neillor else premium Dead Man’s Fingers rum. Mixers should be incorporated- more specifically, those sanctioned by Lamb & Watt, made with Lake District spring water. There were prizes for the successful mixologists, including a stay in a prestigious Liverpool hotel for the night. The stage was set and the competitors were ready, but who would be crowned the Alma ultimate mixologist? I, for one, was excited to find out. 

Settled down at the bar with a pen in hand to judge, we were considering each cocktail in five ways: how humorous the mixologist’s presentation was, the story behind the cocktail, the taste (of course!), the look of the cocktail and how original the cocktail was. Each category was marked out of 5 giving each cocktail an overall score out of 25. Simple? Simple. 


Choosing a winner was a little bit less simple – the cocktails were all fantastic. Made with a range of ingredients including (although not limited to) egg whites, blood red orange gin, marmalade, grenadine, star anise and garden peas (!!!), no two cocktails were the same and it was fantastic to be able to see how experimentation can go really right (or really wrong). I could spend all day detailing the information behind all of the cocktails so I’ll just stick to my personal favourites and the winners so as to keep this post as focused as possible! One of my favourite cocktails of the night wasn’t actually one of the winning concoctions, funnily enough. My favourite thing to drink when I need something refreshing is ginger ale (the non-alcoholic kind, although I do love a Crabbies!) so the cocktail created by Jonathan, the Mora Star was one of my clear favourites. Made with a combination of Blood Orange Whitley Neill gin, ginger and Lamb and Watt Ginger Ale, the cocktail not only stuck to the brief but did so in a charming and inventive way. 




The top three cocktails were all showstoppers and it was difficult to decide between the three of them for sure, although I would argue that the overall winner was the best by a mile. Flowergirlcreated by Ste, combined Elderflower gin, prosecco and Basil tonic to produce a sharp and refreshing drink. 


2ndplaced Rosemary’s Ruibarbo, Gareth’s masterpiece, was definitely one of the nicest ‘fruity’ cocktails that I’ve tasted in a long time and Whitley Neill have definitely got a new fan of quince gin – I love quince jelly with my cheese but was blissfully unaware that there were other uses for quince flavourings! Rosemary’s Ruibarbo combined the aforementioned quince gin with pineapple and lemon juice and was topped delicately with raspberries. 


Last but definitely not least – the winner. Rhubarb Stilt Skin, humorously named, definitely had the last laugh as it romped away with the title. The mixture of rhubarb and ginger gin with marmalade, egg whites and pineapple and grapefruit juice left little to the imagination and much to be desired. A clear and fair winner, and my favourite of the night by a clear mile. 

I’d like to extend my thank yours to Georgie, who invited me over to the event, to Gemma who played a massive part in seeing the event through and finally to Haywood Wines & Spirits group who not only contributed the spirits for the evening but put together beautiful goody bags with our own little gin tasters to take home with us! The event was a huge success and we had a ball – I can’t wait to recreate some of these winning cocktails at home. I believe that the winning cocktails will be available to try on the Alma de Cubacocktail menu for a limited time so if you fancy seeing what all the fuss is about I recommend getting your butt down to Seel Street to try it out for yourself. 


(* I was invited along to this event by the organisers and was free to taste the cocktails as I so wished. Any and all opinions remain my own.)