What to do in Liverpool during December

Hello? Is this thing on?

It’s me, Chanel, the girl who used to write on this blog quite a lot. Yep, that’s the one. Well I’m back and before you all think I’ve given up completely on blogging, I haven’t. In fact, I’m really inspired to take my blog to new levels in the new year, especially now I have a car and a bucket load of new found freedom!

At the start of the month, me and a few of my gal pals took a trip to Liverpool to get into the Christmas spirit and scope out the markets. We did Edinburgh in 2017, so it was only fair we tried a new city to see what they had to offer.

CHRISTMAS MARKETS

First thing I will say about Liverpool’s Christmas Market is…if you’re going specifically for the markets, choose a different city. Although, Liverpool does offer a handful of stalls and two mini bars, the scale of the market was tiny in comparison to Edinburgh, Manchester and London’s Winter Wonderland. However, if you live near the area it’s probably worth a pop in to see all the independent sellers for one-off gifts.

ACCOMODATION 

We found the most perfect little apartment on the docks of Liverpool to house the 5 of us during our stay and I couldn’t recommend it more. Located right next door to the Echo Arena (perfect if you’ve got a gig lined up) and a stones throw away from Albert Docks, the apartment had everything we needed and more. An amazingly charming host, Dave, who greeted us on arrival to show us about and the fridge stocked with essentials all for or own use. The tv even had Netflix if you decided on a cosy night in. I’ll leave the link here for anyone who’s searching for the perfect place to stay.

FOOD

As we were self catering we were searching all the time for great places to eat. However, Liverpool, especially in December gets VERY busy at night and you may want to reserve your table in advance to avoid any let downs. On the first night, we ate at a restaurant on the Albert Docks called What’s Cooking? which we all found did a fab range of foods to suit even the fussiest members of the group. The food was delicious and we all left feeling well fed and looked after!

We also ate breakfast at the cutest little cafe next to the Liverpool Lime Street station called Key Lime Coffee, which again served an assortment of meals from breakfast, brunch and lunch. If you have a chance, pop in and try their breakfast fully loaded omelette it’s the bee’s knees!

 

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Cocktails at What’s Cooking?

DRINK AND PARTY

As pretty much newbies to Liverpool, we really had no idea where to start looking for places to dance the night away. We had a few recommendations from friends and as Liverpool has so many options for clubs and bars we felt a tad overwhelmed.

On the first night, we decided to keep it lowkey and stick to bars rather than full on clubs. From the get-go we wanted to visit the Peaky Blinders bar. As fans of the show we were pretty excited about all the hype we’d seen online earlier in the year. However, if you’re going to go to the PB bar…don’t expect Cillian Murphy to be there to greet you with his finest G+T. The bar was ok, there was some live music which was good but the decor was a bit sparse if anything. It’s the type of place which felt like it had been rushed and not much thought had been put into it and really only for the purpose of making a bit of money of the back of a popular TV show. It was a completely different experience to the Breaking Bad bar I wrote about in July. Although, the area which the bar was set had quite a few novelty bars, including a Yellow Submarine which might be fun for someone looking to take their mates somewhere a bit different!

When we were all dolled up on the second night and ready for something a bit more dancey, we hit the city centre. We went to a tiny little tequila bar called Bar CaVa where they sell assorted and wacky flavours of tequila for only £1 a shot. The perfect place for pre drinking, and to prank your mates into drinking baked bean flavoured tequila (sorry for telling you it was passionfruit, Ellen).

A short stumble from Bar CaVa is Concert Square, a place we had all been told about from other friends who’d visited the city before. Here, you can choose between a number of different bars/clubs in the square and if you fancy a sit down, they have a huge outdoor seating area where you can hire shisha.

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Peaky Blinders Bar

THINGS TO DO

For the longest time, I wanted to go to the British Music Experience after I’d heard about the installment at The O2 in London. When I was searching for things to do in Liverpool, I seen the Experience had now moved to Liverpool and immediately notified my friends that I’d be going to see it whether they wanted to or not. To my suprise, they all wanted to come and we had the best time looking around the museum at the history of British music, admiring genuine costumes worn by the likes of Freddie Mercury and the Spice Girls. To top it all off, we even had a go at playing our own musical instruments and had a whirl in a recording booth. We sounded horrific but the Experience was great and I’d highly recommend it to anyone who has an interest in music.

Shopping. Shopping. Shopping. If there’s one place that’s an absolute gold mine for finding everything you need for Christmas it’s the sheer amount of shops available to browse in Liverpool.

Of course, there’s the typical tourist Beatles experiences such as the Cavern Club, which is well worth a look if you’ve never been, and the plethora of Beatles museums dotted around the city.

That’s all I have for you on Liverpool,

If you’ve never been then it’s definitely worth a visit and the locals are very welcoming and helpful if you need advice or directions!

Thanks for reading,

Chanel

 

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Top tips for passing your driving test

Hi,

I haven’t written anything for quite sometime now because I’ve hit a bit of a wall with blogging, which I’m sure every person who owns a blog has had and I hope to get over it as soon as possible. (Praying to the blog gods)

One thing that has happened in the last month is that I passed my driving test after 13 months of learning! I found driving a struggle for the longest time, gears and clutch control caused such an issue, and don’t even get me started on roundabouts.

Once I was feeling pretty confident in the car, my instructor was encouraging me to book my test and at least try it out. If he hadn’t have, I would probably still be happy driving around avoiding the fact I had to pass a test and settled for being a learner driver for the rest of time.

I passed my test on the first attempt after hours of stress and anxiousness, (which is completely normal, by the way so don’t worry) with only four minors.

Before I took my test, I had been searching on Google and Youtube for tips on how to pass. There’s a tonne of articles and videos but I find that the majority are created by instructors and car insurance companies and not by the people who have recently taken the test.

So here are my top tips for passing your practical driving test:

Tips

  • DON’T TAKE YOUR TEST UNTIL YOU FEEL READY

This tip sounds the most simple, ridiculous advice because most people feel ready by the time they take their test, but if the date is approaching just a little too quickly and you still don’t feel confident in yourself, then please consider scheduling. If you get into the car on test day and you feel completely out of your comfort zone then the chances are you’re not going to be at your best. You can alter the date up to 3 working days before your test date free of charge.

  • READ AND WATCH AS MANY TIP VIDEOS AS POSSIBLE

On the run up to my test, I religiously watched videos on Youtube on every driving skill I could think of. Reasons for gaining minors? Maneuver run throughs? Mock tests? You name it, I’ve most likely watched it. I’ll add a few links below of the channels I found most useful:

Go2 Driving School

Ashley Neal

Purple Driving – Helen Adams

  • DO ALL THE LESSONS 

If you have the time/funds then try and get as many lessons on the week running up to your test as possible. You should also have at least one hour before test just to iron out all your nerves and do some last minute practising. I done about 8 hours on the week of my test and I honestly think it was one of the main reasons I passed.

  • GET A GOOD NIGHT SLEEP + EAT

This is just a basic self care tip but please, please, please try and get a decent amount of sleep and eat a hearty meal, no matter how sick you feel, on test day. Firstly, your brain needs it. Simple as. You’ll perform better. Secondly, there’s nothing worse than being distracted by a rumbling stomach and driving on little sleep is dangerous in the first place. Have a bath the night before and an early night to make sure you’re in top form.

  • PREPARE WHAT YOU NEED IN ADVANCE

For your test, you’ll need to present the DVLA centre with suitable ID and your theory test certificate. I had a wild goose chase around my house trying to find my certificate the night before my test and it gave me the worst panic when I couldn’t find it. Thankfully, my dad found it in the letter rack so all was fine but I wish I’d sorted it all earlier on in the week to save from the extra stress. Plus, if you have lost or misplaced your certificate you need to give time to order another copy.

  • TAKE IT EASY AND DON’T OVERTHINK THINGS

This is probably the most difficult tip to follow because you’ll undoubtedly be nervous. However, keeping your cool means you’re likely to make less mistakes. If you make a mistake during test, put it behind you and carry on as it might not be a failable fault. Don’t let it snowball either, if you keep thinking of the mistake you’ll lose concentration and probably make a mistake again.

So there’s my tips for your driving test. Most importantly, try to enjoy it and don’t overly stress. If you fail, it is not the end of the world and you can do it again and again if needs be.

From my experience, the real learning to drive begins when you pass and have to learn how to drive independently in your own car…it’s,well, an experience.

Finally, I hope you gained something from this post and good luck!

Thanks for reading,

Chanel

 

 

 

 

The Reasons Why I Blog.

Hi,

It’s been a good few months since I sat down and wrote a blog post that was more on the chatty side rather than all planned out in my notebook. As this one is a little more personal I thought it would be better to do from the mind > fingers > blog post and speak a bit more from the heart.

I’ve been reflecting lately on the beginnings of my adventures into the blogging world and although it’s not even been one whole year since I began this blog and started taking it seriously, I feel really proud that I’ve kept it going and still love posting.

From the get go, this blog was for me to use as not only a hobby to keep myself busy but as a diary, where I can share my life experiences and have a place to look back on my emotions during that time and how I’ve grown since.

If you’ve followed my blog over the year, you’ll have seen how I have brushed upon my life as a university graduate to becoming a carer for my Mam (I wrote about it here). It’s not been easy, that’s for sure.

To put it straight, I don’t work. Not because I don’t want to. I’d love to be settled in the PR industry by now, which has been my dream since I was in school, but unfortunately for now my career pursuit is placed on hold whilst I look after my Mam. A job nobody truly wants to be faced with but also a role I’d never turn down in a million years.

It can be unbelievably disheartening, seeing all your friends becoming successful and earning proper adult wages but having this small space on the internet to call my own has truly helped to keep my mind focused and my toes in the writing world.

Even more so, the opportunities and support from not only local bloggers but from the online community has been incredible and it’s so nice to be apart of something so positive and uplifting. It can truly be a light in dark times!

I’d love to hear some other stories about why bloggers have created their blogs and what keeps them going. I’m tagging:

Please join in if you’d like to share your blogging story!

Thanks for reading,

Chanel

 

giffgaff gameplan: Lifegoals Workshop Event

Happy Friday,

I hope you’re all well!

Firstly, before I get into this weeks post, I am THRILLED to announce that after almost three months of being locked out of my Twitter account, I have regained access! (*cue the audience cheers*) Hopefully, this means I’ll be more motivated to get back into the full swing of blogging without feeling completely out of the bloggers loop, like I have been these past months.

Yesterday, I was very kindly invited to another North East blogging event, this time ran by the lovely people of giffgaff: gameplan, at the Hilton Gateshead and I thought I’d give you a little run down of how it went!

You probably know giffgaff as the popular mobile network. However the company have started on another venture into the world of personal financing! The network have launched a saving money website, which allows you to compare energy prices, car insurance, loans and credit card providers. The site also offers a free credit report so you can be on your way to building your dreams and budgeting to keep on top of it all! You can find giffgaff:gameplan website here.

The event revolved around finances and money management, a topic which I think most of us tend to just assume we know enough about to breeze by in life. However, since finishing university and being shoved into the real world, I’ve found that I need to know a lot more than just the basics of how to understand financing. It’s all so adult.

Upon arrival to the event, we were welcomed warmly with a glass of wine and had time to mingle and enjoy the view of the Tyne Bridge before being ushered into our workshops.

WORKSHOP ONE: Everyday Savings

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Eileen Adamson of Yourmoneysorted.co.uk

The first workshop was based on ‘Everyday Savings’ and was ran by the charming Eileen Adamson of Your Money Sorted. Eileen talked about ways of saving on interest through paying just that little more than the minimum on credit cards paybacks and mortgages, meaning you are not only saving yourself a nice bit of money to spend how you like but can pay it off even earlier! I honestly would never even think to pay back more than the minimum, I sort of just go with the flow but I’ll 100% be taking Eileen’s advice on board.

We then enjoyed some interactive activities, including spending habits bingo, Jenga (which encouraged us to mingle and feel more comfortable discussing money), scheduling a meal plan for the month to aid in stopping the need to buy more than the essentials, which I am very guilty of! We then shared websites and apps that would help to both make money and save money, including Plum and Chip, two apps that work with your bank to save a small amount from your current account and build up savings.

By the end of the workshop, I really felt like I’d not only learned new ways to save and find great deals but also felt more confident about discussing money around my peers. I’ve always sort of shied away from the topic completely, when, like Eileen said, we don’t talk about money enough and it should be a more comfortable social discussion. Hey, with my new found confidence I might even try haggling!

buffetWe then stopped for a little buffet break and enjoyed some of the food that Hilton had to offer. This is always the part of any event where I feel like I’ve been so lucky with the opportunities my blog has given me, especially with not even having it a whole year yet! I had a lovely little chat with Yasmina, Kate and Becka about all things rom coms and snacks before making my way to the last workshop of the night.

WORKSHOP TWO: Bad Credit/Credit Score Advice

badcredit
Karyn Fleeting of Miss Thrifty

The second workshop was ran by the expert of credit, Karyn Fleeting of The Miss Thrifty Blog. If I’m being completely truthful, I went into this workshop only know the bare minimum about credit and most of my knowledge came from passing conversations with friends. Being only 22, I thought that credit would only affect me when I get a little bit older but Karyn has put me in a much better relationship with understanding that credit should be given more attention, no matter what age.

Karyn talked us through how to check our credit score, using Experian, Equifax and CallCredit, what each rating would mean for future referencing and the importance of a high credit score when applying for a loan or a mortgage. Karyn then went on to advise us on how to inflate our credit score through paying bills on time and avoiding payday loans, before demonstrating how to repair a credit score if it’s all looking a bit downhill, with a credit rebuild card and a smidge of patience.

As I said previously, I had such a small amount of understanding on what credit truly was and how it would affect the way I spend, loan and prepare for my future. Thankfully, after Karyn’s incredibly helpful workshop, I’ll now be more wary of my credit score and keep top tip on making sure it’s as high as possible. I even checked my score as soon as I got back to the house! Keen bean.

missthrifty

To round up the event, I had a great evening and loved being in the company of other bloggers once more. It’s so nice to feel part of your local blogging community and put real life faces to blog names!

Thanks to the workshop speakers, giffgaff:gameplan, Jennie and Alice for organising the event and inviting me and the staff at the Hilton Gateshead for making us all feel very welcome.

Cheers for reading,

Chanel

x

 

 

 

 

 

Ariana Grande: ‘Sweetener’ Album Review

Hello,

It’s been a while since I posted an album review and I’m beside myself with excitement to be returning with a hugely anticipated record, Sweetener, by pop princess, Ariana Grande.

Released on 17th August 2018, Sweetener, Ariana’s fourth studio album has been long awaited since her last record, Dangerous Woman, which dropped in 2016 and gained mass global success.

Tracks from Sweetener that we have already been blessed with include No Tears Left To Cry, God is a Woman and duet with Nicki Minaj, The Light is Coming which have all done fantastically in the UK and US charts.

As always, a disclaimer before I begin. I am no music expert nor do I know anything about the technicality of it. I am simply a music listener and lover and all of what you’re about to read is completely my own personal opinion.

The album has 15 tracks, including collaborations with Pharrell, Missy Elliott and of course, Nicki Minaj. The record collectively adds up to 48 minutes.

THE REVIEW:

Track 1 – ‘raindrops (an angel cried)’:

Ariana starts the record with an acoustic intro. It’s very ‘Over the Rainbow’-esque, which I know Ariana is a huge fan of. However, she wastes no time in showing off her angelic vocal range. The perfect way to open an album.

Track 2 – ‘blazed’ ft. Pharrell Williams:

Instantly, Ariana brings out the vocal layering she’s became so well known for! No one harmonises with Ariana Grande as good as…well, Ariana Grande. I think this tracks is quite influenced by soul and Motown, picking up from the melody and the vocal choices. From the first beat of the song, you can already tell Pharrell has had his clever little fingertips all over this track and in true Pharrell nature, produces a very catch track and chorus.

Track 3 – ‘the light is coming’ ft. Nicki Minaj: 

I’m not going to talk too much about this track as I’m guessing the majority of people have heard it already. When I first heard the song, I wasn’t keen at all. I loved Nicki’s addition to the track and thought her vocals really added something to what otherwise was quite a meh song for me. However, the more I’ve listened to it the more I’ve began to like it. I just wish Nicki had maybe another short verse to break up the song a bit more.

Track 4 – ‘R.E.M’:

If I didn’t already know that R.E.M was a reworked Beyonce track, I would have picked up on it within seconds of listening. It’s nice to see Ariana exploring more of an RnB sound on her album as her voice is compatible with the melodies typically used in rhythm and blues music. For Ariana, this track lets her play about with similar styles of vocal arrangement that her musical inspirations, Beyonce, Whitney, Mariah etc are familiar with. It would be amazing if, for a special release, Beyonce could do a short feature of the song.

Track 5 – ‘God is a woman’:

Nothing but scalding hot tea from the queen that is Ariana Grande. We’ve been blessed, God is truly a WOMAN. I’m obsessed with this song, from the high head voice to the RnB beat, it’s a masterpiece. I can’t not mention the music video too, a work of art and the quote from Madonna snatched wigssss.

Track 6 – ‘sweetener’:

It’s time for the title track. If I had to pick out a track on the album that was most similar to her debut album, Yours Truly. However, as expected out of a woman who has grown up and found her musical identity, the lyrics are more mature. Sticking with the typical Ariana piano led melody we all know and love, a synth flair gives it that 80s/90s flair that brings in just a flavour of Mariah. I love this track and the positivity of the lyrics. A perfect fit for a title track.

Track 7 – ‘successful’:

If you ever needed a song to be motivated by, it’s this one. Ariana talks about how successful she is and rightly so, she’s a star that’s had to battle the menaces of fame to come out the other end. It’s great to hear a woman singing about her successfulness rather than having it shoved in our face by male artists and their nine layers of gold chains for once! Once again, Ariana’s vocals sound outstanding playing alongside an angelic lulling piano with a soul/funk beat, a sound that’s became so staple to her vocal identity.

Track 8 – ‘everytime’:

For me, everytime, is the most typical current style for pop music right now. The heavy beat is used alot by the likes of Katy Perry and Taylor Swift and that’s simply because, it works. Its gives some dimension to a song, being able to build up the rhythm. This track is super easy listening. Just one thing, I would love maybe a rap feature on this, perhaps Chance or Quavo?

Track 9 – ‘breathin”:

This track completely sums up to me, who Ariana is as an artist right now. One of my favourites on the album on the first listen with sweet lyrics, a catchy pop beat and insane vocals. ‘breathin’ lets us have a little insight into Ariana’s struggles and her lows, which carries nicely onto the next track where she picks herself up again.

Track 10 – ‘no tears left to cry’:

When Ariana first released this song, I was fully expecting a sad song that maybe gave insight into how Grande was coping with the dreadful Manchester attacks in 2017. Instead, we got a BOP. I’m not joking when I say I played this song for at least one entire week without listening to a single other song. The dancey pop had me dancing about and attempting the high notes at every turn. I really think it’s such a brave move to release such an upbeat song after attacks but it’s done exactly what Grande wanted and brought positivity and optimism.

Track 11 – ‘borderline’ ft. Missy Elliott:

Yeeeeees, come through Fergalicious vibes! This track reminds me of old style Fergie, who I love and miss, come back girl! You can really hear the RnB direction Ariana seems to be steering in clearly on this mellow dance track. Missy feature is nice, short but sweet, which is the premise of the album itself.

Track 12 – ‘better off’:

I love how on this album, Ariana stays completely true to who shes is. You can hear the tracks that could fit into her previous releases and how she’s grown in ability since. I think better off sounds like it’s been plucked straight off of My Everything, which perhaps is comparing her feelings to the person who influenced the second album, to how she sees them now. It’s a easy listening break up song, where Ariana talks about wanting to feel free and wild once again.

Track 13 – ‘goodnight n go’:

This track, played straight after better off, to me shows a sequence of Ariana trying to think about herself and her goals but being unable to ignore her feelings for someone. Comparing to the lyrics in better off, Ariana seems to have found someone who let’s her be young, free and does not dim her shine. Yas, gal! This track is such a sweet love song, which brings us onto the next song.

Track 14 – ‘pete davidson’:

When I first heard Ariana was dedicating a song on her album to her fiance, Pete Davidson, I was concerned. Such a big decision. However, after hearing the track and Ariana referring to Pete as her ‘soulmate’, I thought why the hell not! Why shouldn’t she be singing about her love for her man. The track, which includes a beautiful violin led outro, is again short and sweet but fitting to the structure of the album.

Track 15 – ‘get well soon’:

Ariana bringing back in the broadway/jazz influences with heavy piano, my favourite. I love the way she sounds on this track, it’s really fresh in the current musical climate, although using classic styles. Her harmonies and ad-libs are just incredible as per usual. She’s ending her album on a bang, definitely not a fizzle.

FINAL THOUGHTS:

Without a doubt, Sweetener is set to top charts. Ariana has outdone herself once again, keeping true to her musical identity but trying new little flairs to keep her fans hot on their toes. The album has a lot of shorter tracks, which fits in with the purpose of the record, shedding light and positivity, especially after the horrific events of 2017. This is an album both, Ariana, herself and the fans really needed.

The record bursts with happiness and it’s great to see that Ariana is content in her life and it really shows through her music. I can’t wait for tour, I’ll definitely be buying tickets!

 

To view my previous post, click here.

Thanks for reading,

Chanel

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