Thursday, 28 November 2013

Arctic Monkeys @ Le Zenith: 07.11.13 (2)

Mardy Bum

Before we went. Blouse/wet-look leggings/blazer combo
The Strypes - support act

Arctic Monkeys @ Le Zenith: 07.11.13

So I recently had four days in Paris, the city of romance, moules and plenty of vin. While I was there, I got to see the Arctic Monkeys (again – I’d seen them at Wembley back in 2009). I was looking forward to it though, as it’d been a while since I’d seen a band live and it was a new venue in a different country to also tick off. I hadn’t really got into the latest album though, so wasn’t too sure how much I’d know.
They played at Le Zenith, a fairly large arena with capacity of 6,300 – seats and standing. The show was a sell-out and leaving was horrendous – so many people and the metro platforms were also heaving. Le Zenith de Paris was the first of the franchise and this particular venue has staged a wealth of musical acts, other events and even the MTV Music Awards. We sat down while having a drink and something to eat but stood for the main event – although I would have much rather sat out the way, but more about that later.
Back to the gig and the support act were The Strypes – an indie four piece from Ireland. For some reason, I had heard of them before, but I still can’t think where from or why. The 16-year-old me would have loved them, but I wasn’t a fan – it was just too shouty for my liking. Their set lasted about 30 minutes, but I was really impressed by the numbers that turned up to watch them. I’ve never seen so many people stand and watch a support act before and the venue was close to capacity way before Alex Turner and Co took to the stage. As you’d expect, there was a group right at the very front – I dread to think what time some of those people arrived!

‘Cause there’s this tune I found that makes me think of you somehow, and I play it on repeat...
The set began with Do I wanna know, which was quite predictable, before they went on to play a couple of classics and older numbers like Dancing Shoes. The set differed a lot from the last time I saw them play and numbers not often played were performed – like Reckless Serenade. The crowd were left waiting until about halfway through for Why do you only call me when you’re high and it was funny watching the French try and sing along – it was obviously in most cases, the only words they knew were the titles of the songs. Talking of high, the doormen and security clearly did a good job of searching everyone as they went in.
What came first – the chicken or the dickhead?
My favourite ever line from an Arctic Monkeys song and another the locals were not familiar with – although they did stand and sway their arms along to the chorus (as well as lighters). I bet you look good on the dance floor followed and everyone went mental – trying to get that bit closer to the stage. This of course meant a lot of pushing and shoving, which was actually more unbearable than usual. Piledriver Waltz was another song not often performed and the set concluded with Fluorescent Adolescent from Favourite Worst Nightmare before ending with I wanna be yours.
I go crazy 'cause here isn't where I wanna be...
The encore consisted of three songs – the first of which I hadn’t heard before in Snap out of it – but they ended with two crackers in Mardy Bum (which I had been waiting for all night – and probably dedicated to me given the face I was pulling after being battered black and blue by French boys!) and RU Mine – the perfect finale.
There were a couple of songs I was expecting (A Certain Romance) and hoping to hear (505 and When the Sun Goes Down), but as always, the Arctics put on a good show – and who’d have thought Alex had laryngitis?! The food and drink was expensive, but of course that’s to be expected. All in all, it was a really enjoyable night – despite some of the people – and I’ve currently had AM in my car all week!

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Graze: 24.07.13

In this box, I got:
·         Brilliant black forest (black forest brownie & cherry compote)
·         Habas tapas
·         Garden of England
·         Hot cross yum
Two of my favourite snacks, a former ‘like’ now discarded and a brand new treat I could not wait to get my little paws on. I’ve said so many times that Hot Cross Yum is one of my all-time favourites and definitely in my top 10 – find out here why! Sweet treats are my biggest weakness, so when I need a sugar hit, Garden of England is perfect – and it counts towards your five-a-day! I’ve also previously blogged about it. I used to like Habas Tapas with its mix of salt, chilli and crunch – I’ve had it so much, I think I’ve gone off it. I’m definitely not a savoury snacker!
Having previously sampled the Graze Brownie for the first time in my last box, I was so excited to try one of the little puds, so imagine how thrilled I was when I found via a sneaky peek (I just cannot wait!) that I was to receive the black forest pud. Similar to the brownie, effectively, it was just a chocolate cake, the cherry compote was much needed and there was just the right amount. I heated my little dessert for 20 seconds (10 more than recommended) and it was the perfect temperature – 10 seconds just doesn’t cut it. I also love that the little wooden spoon is included, making it ideal for work too. If all Graze puddings are as yummy as this, I need to try them all – at the same time, as soon as possible!
Don’t just take my word for it, try a mini pud for yourself – go to and enter code: LUCYW5XXP and not only do you get your first, fifth and tenth box free, you can choose what you want to try and can always cancel your order at any time!
Happy snacking

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Sweet treats: mars cornflake & special recipe rice krispie cakes

A couple of weeks ago I baked some tasty treats for the office at work and ever since, I have been meaning to blog the recipes, so after long last, here they are!
Mars cornflake cakes – makes 16
·       5 mars bars, chopped (I used 12 fun size mars)
·       100g butter
·       100g cornflakes (I added an extra handful halfway through the process)
·       50g plain chocolate (optional, for decoration – I used 4 mini mars chopped into quarters)
·       Line a tin with greaseproof paper or grease with butter and put aside
·       Melt the butter and mars bars in a bain-marie and stir until smooth. The mixture may look like it’s curdling and the nougat may cause lumps but persevere and use a whisk, if necessary
·       Remove from the heat and fold in the cornflakes, until fully coated in the chocolate mixture
·       Spoon into the tin, pressing down to form a smooth layer and leave to set
·       To decorate, either melt the chocolate and drizzle it over the top, or like me, top each piece with a slither of mars bar
·       Cut into squares and enjoy
Moreish rice krispie bites – makes 16
·       100g wrapped or slab toffee
·       100g marshmallows
·       100g butter
·       100g rice krispies
·       Line a tin with greaseproof paper or grease with butter and put aside
·       If you’re using slab toffee, place in a bag and bash with a rolling pin
·       Put the toffee, marshmallow and butter in a saucepan and gently melt
·       Remove from the heat and add the rice krispies, folding until fully covered
·       Spoon into the tin, pressing gently with the back of a spoon. Leave to set
·       Cut into squares and enjoy
Simple but incredibly tasty, happy baking!

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Restaurant review: GBK

Where we ate:
GBK, Westfield Stratford, London
When you think about it, GBK is to burgers what say Nando’s is to chicken. Once you’ve had a GBK burger though, they’ll never be the same again. A few Saturday’s back as part of daddy/daughter day, I took my dad to GBK en route to Barnet. He had never been before, but it’s somewhere Jake and I often go to when at Westfield – because it’s so convenient, almost like fast food made a thousand times better! You may have to go up to order your food, but what you do receive is fresh and incredibly tasty, it’s actually worth the (occasional) queuing.
What we drank:
Me – diet coke
Dad – large Budva
What we ate:
Me – avocado bacon burger (beef burger with avocado, bacon, mayo, relish and salad)
Dad – cheese burger (large beef burger with American cheese)
As you can see, the burgers are huge! Every time I go to GBK, I order something different, there’s just so much choice as well. For some reason I was craving avocado and hence went for the bacon avocado burger – last time I had chicken, but this time went for beef (I definitely preferred the chicken though). We didn’t even have room to share chips, but the chips are amazing!
I also love that the soft drinks are served in their bottles, there’s nothing better than an ice cold coca cola, in the glass bottle, with a straw. Is it me, or does it taste different from a can or plastic bottle?
For the health conscious (you can’t really be, if you’re frequenting a burger joint!), GBK serves up a naked burger, replacing the bun with salad and coleslaw. I don’t tend to eat bread much, but you can’t have a burger without a roll – come on! While you wait for your food, you’re also welcome to help yourself to as many monkey nuts as you like – they’re next to the condiments in a hessian bag, in a wooden crate, so you can’t miss them. A nice touch, I think – not that I had any.
Despite how busy Westfield gets, you’re never waiting too long for a table, or to order your food and the atmosphere is far from hectic. This time round, the restaurant was far from full, but there always plenty of staff on hand to ensure you’re enjoying your meal or if you want anything else. My dad really isn’t into that ‘fast food’ culture, but surprisingly, really enjoyed himself and I’m sure we’ll return!

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Theatre: Deathtrap

Last year I found myself blogging about a trip to the local theatre to see The Hound of the Baskervilles. A fortnight ago, my parents took me out for the evening, returning to Queens Theatre in Hornchurch, we went to see Deathtrap – Ira Levin’s classic thriller-drama.
To quickly sum up: Sydney Bruhl is the central character and is a playwright who is fast running out of money and success, largely down to his age. Young writer Clifford Anderson arrives on the scene, hungry for success, with plenty of passion and ideas to make him a famous playwright – taking Sydney’s place. Much to Sydney’s dissatisfaction, Clifford has written an excellent play which is bound to be a massive hit and green with envy, Sydney begins to plot – with a ‘to kill or not kill’ dilemma.
The structure is a play within a play, with the characters acting out Deathtrap and this allows for many twists and surprises as the plot begins to thicken – just as you think you can predict what will happen, things suddenly change and tension is constantly heightened. Even if you’ve seen the play before, you can never ready yourself for the next scene – the gasps and shrieks from the audience spoke volumes, as everyone sat wondering ‘whodunnit’.
The set itself was very impressive and the show is played out in Sydney’s house in Connecticut, the walls laden with old movie posters from his early blockbusters, as well as an array of weapons: from hand guns, to a mace, which all add to the tension surrounding the potential violence of the protagonist. The Houdini handcuffs also displayed on the wall play a big part in the plot developing, as does the stove in the opposite corner of the room – used to destroy important documents such as the Deathtrap play.
The first half is incredibly dark, building up to the violent scenes but the act is made that bit lighter through character Helga Ten Dorp (Bibi Nerheim), who plays a psychic Dutch woman. She provides most of the comedy and her thoughts do eventually anticipate the action.
Matt Devitt who plays Sydney is incredible – from his facial expressions and mannerisms, to his portrayal of the main character as a man desperate and angry. He is strangely engrossing.
Prepare for two hours of pulse-racing, heart-stopping action, including several gun shots and screams, but enjoy and laugh at all the satirical comedy. The double bluffs and surprises are sure to keep you guessing until the very end and you definitely won’t leave disappointed.
Deathtrap ends on Saturday and tickets start from £16.50.

Monday, 11 November 2013

Nails: Ciaté Colourfoil Manicure

I blogged last month about the Ciaté products I had recently bought and have since tested the Colourfoil Manicure set. Like the rest of the nail art innovation kits, every small box contains all you will need and this set contained:
·         One pot of Ciaté nail polish
·         One tube of foil fix glue
·         Selection of foils enclosed in an envelope
·         Nail art wheel
As with the other kits, I can also recommend having a lot of time and patience, a clear space to work from (particularly as the foils get gummy and stick together) and a top coat polish on hand.
My nail polish in the kit came in a shade called cream soda, which I expected to be a creamy colour. The swatch on the website doesn’t really do justice to the colour you actually end up with – while applying, it looked a lilac and eventually dried a bold grey. Not the most exciting of shades, but it worked well with the shades in my kit.

After applying two coats, I waited for it to dry before moving on to the foils. My foil package was named wonderland and the shades I received were: Flash, Fizz, Feisty, Fling, Flirt and Frost. I love how they are all aptly named with alliterative titles – so cute.
Adding a layer of glue, I chose my first colour, an orange shade. You have to wait for the white adhesive to turn clear before you place the foil shiny side UP (yes, this tested my patience somewhat!), firmly press down and remove.
Et voila! No nail is ever the same which I love and the foils appear sporadically, allowing you to layer up. I went with two other colours, pink and green (Feisty, Fling and Flirt), because I was keen to experiment and go crazy with my combinations. Of course, you can use as many (or as few!) colours as you like.
My mistake was not adding a top coat, which on reflection was a textbook error – it’s a must to ensure the foils are sealed in place. I must admit I was in a hurry (packing for Paris) and it was a quick experiment which eventually took nearly an hour! I overdid the glue a bit as well, the end effect was gummy, tacky nails – not good. After 48 hours, the foils had all rubbed off (after I had picked the remains, another bad habit) and I was left with grey nails – but it did look good while it lasted. Next time, I’d definitely allow an extra hour.
You get five foils of each shade and I only used a quarter of each sheet, so they do last a long time, making the kit excellent value for money. I think a black base with gold and silver would look good and I might give that a go for my work Christmas party.
I’d rate this kit 9/10, because if it wasn’t for my impatience, my nails would have looked amazing!
The kit is available from the Ciaté website, ASOS or Selfridges, amongst other retailers.
Have you tried any of Ciaté products and if so, what’s your favourite?

Monday, 4 November 2013

Payday splurge*: Boohoo

*I say splurge – I spent under £50 and got free delivery!
Boohoo is to casual everyday clothes, what AX Paris is to dresses and Ciaté is to nail varnish – I love it. I’ve never had any problems, barring one incident with a bralet, and everything is always so affordable – and good quality, considering the prices. When it comes to work clothes, I’m definitely a dress/skirt kinda girl; the only trousers I ever wear are leggings (it’s so difficult being a size 10 with a big bum!). I found myself wearing the same things over and over again for work, so bought a few bits on Boohoo, which I’m now going to blog about.
Lydia Dogtooth Skater Dress
£12 (was £18)
I would never dream of wearing a colour as daring as lime green, but I loved the contrast between that and the black in this classic dogtooth pattern. The dress is so comfy and perfect for a day in the office – adding a pop of colour to a usually drab outfit. I’m really not keen on the belt, which as you’d expect is quite cheap looking. I wear my own though, so this isn’t too much of a problem. The material doesn’t get creased either, which is always a plus, as a lot of my clothes go from desk, to chair, to floor! I also received a couple of compliments from my colleagues, which is lovely.
Julia Box Pleat Sleeveless Skater Dress
You may see a pattern emerging, but I’m loving the skater style skirts at the minute. I chose this dress because of the bold block colour – it’s available in a number of shades and I’m already considering adding to my collection and only £12, it’d be rude not to. If you’re wondering, ‘mustard’ is next on my list. I’ve never been one for reds and purples but since dying my hair darker, I’ve found I’ve been wearing a lot more dark colours and rusts. I chose this in berry and it’s a beautiful colour and fit. Again, it’s got one of the not-so-good belts, but I have so many, I often jazz it up with a different one.
Carmel Georgette and Lace Sleeveless Blouse
£10 (was £18)
Jessica Scuba Skater Skirt
Again, another bright colour with this purchase – a neon pink blouse with cute lace detail around the neck and shoulders. I was tempted by the blue but thought a white skirt is never a good idea. Once I’d decided on the blouse I knew I wanted a new black skirt to go with it – I have so many in my wardrobe, but you can never have too many staples, particularly in a colour like black. I wore the blouse tucked into the skirt, high-waisted style and the elasticated band in perfect for wearing either around your waist or around your hips. When you’re in an office where black is often a predominant colours, it’s always nice to wear a brighter colour and a couple of people commented on the vibrancy of the blouse.
Because of the prices, it’s so easy to stock up on necessities and other basic items and you don’t feel as bad when things get ripped or torn – not that I’ve had any problems. With payday just around the corner, a new bag is next on my agenda and I’m really struggling with what to get, suggestions would be most welcome.
What colours and trends are you currently loving?

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Sunday Snapshots #19

The nights are getting darker and I’m starting to consider the dreaded ‘C’ shopping. Got so much to look forward to in November...

On Monday I took some easy baking into work. I decided on cornflake and rice krispie cakes, as let’s be honest, everyone loves them! We have a snack desk which is constantly in large supply, it’s a wonder I’m not obese! The cakes went down well which was nice, I’m trying to work out what to make next. I’m going to be baking my snickerdoodles nearer to Christmas – and you can find that recipe here.
Also on Monday, our front garden was hit by the storm. To be honest, it could have been a lot worse and the rest of Brentwood was also badly affected. This little tree went down and by the time I got home from work, it had already been taken down to the tip. My journey to work was surprisingly okay though. I hate storms.
I planned to wear my new blouse and skirt from Boohoo this week as I hadn’t yet tried them on. Because of this, I painted my nails to match my outfit – going with black (as it goes with everything) and then an accent nail with this beautiful neon pink by BarryM. I love the crackle effect which almost resembles snakeskin although I managed to smudge both nails and couldn’t be bothered to redo them. I really want to try my colourfoil manicure this week if I have time.
Friday night my parents and I went to the local theatre to watch Deathtrap, based on Ira Levin’s play. We often go to the Queens Theatre around this time of the year and it never disappoints. Last year we went to see ‘The Hound of the Baskervilles’ and there’s often a thriller on for the Halloween/autumn season. We arrived early enough to have a drink in the bar and I went for the themed cocktail which contained vodka, crème de cassis, pomegranate juice and soda water – it was this rather gory colour but was delicious. It was a good night and I’ll be blogging about the play soon.
This weekend was my best friend’s engagement party. She lives in Shropshire and I’d not seen her since her surprise 21st in September 2011, so understandably, was really looking forward. She hadn’t met Jake yet and I hadn’t met Heather so it was a lovely occasion. We got the train from Euston on the Saturday and had a hotel room booked for the night, before coming home this afternoon. It was nice to have everyone together for such a special evening – although I may have had too much wine...
I hope you all had a good weekend and weren’t too badly affected by the storms earlier in the week!