Friday, 14 November 2014

Light Up Longleat

Longleat is usually known for it's beautiful house, lovely gardens,  and of course, safari park, but from this weekend until Christmas, a few new additions have moved in. The Festival of Light is a breathtaking display of Chinese lanterns, the first of it's kind in Europe. I was lucky enough to go along to the launch night, which started in the Great Hall with champagne and canapes, before enjoying a stroll around the beautiful lanterns. Each one was hand made on-site, mostly from steel and silk, and illuminated after dark. I could probably talk forever about the display but instead, here's some photographs.


 Isn't it beautiful?  I think the flamingos are my favourite. If that in itself hasn't given you enough reason to visit Longleat this Christmas, then perhaps this can tempt you. Inside the courtyard is a 50ft Christmas tree, which SINGS. As I stood there in the cold with my friend Bryony, a cup of warm apply punch and Mark from Made in Chelsea to our side (well...kinda...) it really did feel like Christmas!

You can purchase tickets for The Festival of Light here.

Thursday, 13 November 2014

The Christmas Tag

Can you believe that it's only 6 weeks until the big day? This feeling of 'hasn't the year passed quickly' happens every year, but for some reason, it really seems like 2014 has flown by. It's been a year of travel and exploration, and I know 2015 is going to be so different. However, Christmas is still to come, and so I thought I'd take part in the Christmas tag which is doing it's rounds at the moment.
1. What is your favourite Christmas movie?
Elf is definitely my favourite, but I'm also excited to watch Love Actually later, which I always put on 6 weeks before the big day.

2. Do you open your presents on Christmas Eve or Christmas morning?
Christmas morning. But not until after breakfast, which is smoked salmon and scrambled eggs on toast, with a glass or two of Bucks Fizz

3. Do you have a favourite Christmas memory?
I wrote about one of my favourite Christmas memories here. But I think a couple of Christmases ago when my niece sort of understood what was happening and tried to help everyone unwrap their presents whilst we were all giggling will stick with me forever.

4. Favourite festive food?
ALL OF THE FOOD! From honey roasted peanuts, to brussel sprouts fried with bacon, cold turkey sandwiches and huge mince pies... Everything which hits the shelves this time of year is heavenly.

5. Favourite Christmas gift?
That's a tricky one... I have a few which are really memorable, but I think the one which stands out most was when Ash gave me an original Fairytale of New York record.
6. Favourite Christmas scent?
Mulled wine in the streets when I'm out Christmas shopping.

7. Do you have any Christmas Eve traditions?
In the 5 years that Ash and I have been together, we have gone to the pub on Christmas eve. Although, we never stay out too late, we manage to sink a few warmers which makes the walk home entertaining. We call our friends and leave them beautiful renditions of Fairytale of New York on their voice mails.

8. What tops your tree?
Santa! Our tree is a huge mismatch of things we've collected over the years.

9. As a kid what was the one (crazy, wild, extravagant) gift you always asked for but never received?
I always really really wanted a Robodog.. remember those?

10. What's the best part about Christmas for you?
Having time off work, spending loads of time with family and friends, and lazing around at home watching movies. It's the most wonderful time of the year!

I tag Charlotte & Molly.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Oh Manchester, So Much To Answer For

Yesterday, Ash turned 25! Normally, we go to London for the night to celebrate his birthday, but this year, we settled on a different city - Manchester. Ash supports United, so we bought tickets on the local supporters club coach up to Old Trafford on Saturday morning. It's pretty handy as it picks up 5 minutes from home. After 5 hours on the coach, we arrived in Salford at about 12.30pm, and bundled off to find some chips...our priorities were in check ;) Ash took me to a pub where blokes stood around in groups singing football chants and hitting bins as percussion... not exactly my idea of a good time, but sort of fascinating to watch! We had a couple of drinks, then headed to Old Trafford for Manchester United vs Crystal Palace.
As we walked up the stand to our seats, I remembered that I had emailed MU to ask for a birthday announcement on the scoreboard... so I dropped a hint to Ash and we sat with our eyes glued to the screen for the next few minutes. I was convinced that we'd either missed it because we had been at the pub for so long, or that they didn't have any spaces so it wouldn't go up. But then, there it was! I was pretty chuffed to be honest... ;)
The game itself was alright - Man U won 1-0 which is the main thing! And my new favourite, Juan Mata, scored the goal. We piled out of Old Trafford as the whistle blew, went back to the coach to collect our belongings, and used the ever reliable Google maps to find out hotel. We ended up walking about 2 miles through Salford. The traffic was gridlocked so a taxi would have cost a fortune and we wouldn't have got there any quicker. Luckily, it wasn't raining, so we enjoyed the walk and took in the local area. We arrived at the lovely Ainscow Hotel just after 6pm, and headed up to our room to freshen up before dinner.
I booked the hotel through Late Rooms for £99, and used Quidco for 10% cash back. It was such a bargain, as the booking included cocktail vouchers, Wifi and breakfast! The bar was lovely. I ordered a Rasberry Mojito, Ash went for a Butterscotch Old Fashioned. We chatted to the bartender, and booked a table on Ash's phone for Carluccio's in Spinningfields. Dinner was nice too. We talked over a bottle of wine, and then enjoyed the stroll back to the hotel to rest our tired feet with a rum and coke from the bar and Jonathan Ross on the telly.
 
The next morning, after a little lie in and a big old breakfast in the hotel restaurant, we walked about a mile to Salford Lads Club - somewhere famous with Smiths fans around the world. Ash really wanted to visit, and I'm glad we went. It was definitely a tick off our bucket list. After posing for a few photos, we headed back towards town and the Arndale Centre. I dragged Ash around Primark, we sipped on Christmas Starbucks, explored Affleck's, stopped in a few record shops and then went for lunch at the Hard Rock. If a city has a Hard Rock, I will always visit to buy a Hurricane glass for my collection!
Time passed quickly over lunch, and we found ourselves rushing back to the hotel to pick up our bags. We used Uber for the first time to get a cab to Piccadilly station and can highly recommend it. Within minutes of clicking 'Request a Car' on my iPhone, our driver turned up. And I loved that there was no exchanging of money or tips, as the payment details are all stored on the App. (Uber is currently only in London, Leeds and Manchester in the UK, but if you want to try then sign up using this link for £10 credit!)

We had a 3 hour train journey between us and Bristol, so we watched American Hustle, which I had downloaded on the Sky Go app before we left home. I don't know what we were expecting of Manchester, but the city certainly delighted us. I can sense another visit on the horizon very soon.

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Our Halloween

Ash and I are not huge fans of dressing up, so when we decide to do it, we go all in! We had two parties on Friday night and knew we wanted to dress as a pair, and eventually settled on zombie cheerleader for me and zombie American footballer for Ash. Both of our costumes were won on eBay auctions at the beginning of the month for a fraction of the price we would have paid if we bought them new. My costume consisted of a dress (with exposed rib!) and pom poms. Ash's was a top, trousers (with exposed thigh bone!) and a foam helmet... but unfortunately the helmet absolutely stank and was massive on his head so that stayed at home. I bought some long black socks with red striped tops from ASOS (£2.50, bargain!) and wore my black Vans to finish the costume.
On Friday morning before work, I made some liquid latex wounds on flat lunchbox lids from following a few different Youtube tutorials. So when I got home in the evening, they were ready to go! I don't think they would have dried fast enough for us to make whilst getting ready. I used red lipstick to enhance the bones on our shoulders, neck, and faces, and then blended it with a few different shades of black and brown matte eyeshadow, adding touches of green and purple to give it some bruising.
 Then I applied the wounds using a thin layer of liquid latex and a hairdryer to help them dry, then brushed them with purple and brown eyeshadow, before applying fake blood with a make up brush.

When we arrived at the first party, the reaction was pretty good! I'm chuffed with how we looked in the end. Although, I felt more dead the morning after than I looked the night before...
What did you dress up as this year?

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Intimate Summer Wedding

At the beginning of the Summer, I had the pleasure of photographing Debbie and Nick's wedding at Tracy Park. I've known Debbie for years, as she used to be in my sisters year at school and we'd walk to school together. She's now a travel agent, and helped us book our San Francisco and Vegas trip!

The wedding was very small, much smaller than anything I'd worked on before, but it was so intimate and felt really special. Congratulations Mr & Mrs Saunders!