Wednesday, 30 November 2016

The Last Night by Cesca Major

It's not often that I do book reviews (partly because most of the books I read are on my Kindle so I can't get pretty photos of them!), but I decided that I would tell you all about one of my most recent reads that I was kindly sent - The Last Night by Cesca Major.

I love Kate Morton books, which are often set in the past and are a bit of a mystery with some romance thrown in, and the blurb of this book seemed to have a similar storyline, so I was sure that I would like it before I even picked it up.

The Last Night follows the story of Irina, a furniture restorer in a quiet coastal village, who one day is given a mysterious bureau to restore by an anonymous owner. As she begins to work on the bureau, she finds objects that unravel secrets from long ago, and the further she investigates, the weirder it gets. It also switches to a girl called Abigail from decades ago, who fell in love over one summer but could not know the terrible events that lay ahead of her, and how her life would change so completely. The book eventually links the two women in a twist that could not be predicted.

If I'm completely honest, it took me a while to get into this book. I did enjoy it all the way through, but it was a slower read than usual for me. And then around 100 pages from the end I really got into it, and couldn't put it down. I loved the ending and thought it was the best part of the novel - I was sad to finish it in the end and leave Irina and Abigail behind (anyone else get really attached to characters in a book?!).

This is definitely a book worth reading, even if you have to be a little bit patient to start with, and I am going to look into more of Cesca's novels to read in the future. The Last Night was very moving yet relatable, and I kept thinking about the story long after I put it down.
Anything's possible if you've got enough nerve.
                           - J.K. Rowling

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

The Woodbridge Inn, Coalport

The Woodbridge Inn, Coalport, Telford, TF8 7JF

I know, I know, yet another food post on PYT, but I actually think they're one of my favourite posts to write (they are certainly one of my favourite posts to photograph and eat...).

On Saturday evening my family and I went to The Woodbridge Inn to celebrate my sister's 21st birthday. The Woodbridge is situated in Coalport, which is just outside of Ironbridge, right next to the River Severn so it has a lovely view. As soon as we approached the pub we could see that it was decorated all Christmassy, with lots of wreathes and fairy lights on the outside - and the inside was even better, with lights everywhere and two huge Christmas trees. It is a typical old British countryside pub, which was built around 1785, and is the sort of place you go to if you want a more upmarket pub meal.

As it is the end of November, their Christmas menu is now running, which has two courses for £22.95 or three for £27.95. The Christmas menu actually looked better than the normal menu to me, so I decided to choose food from there. To start, I had the battered seabass. It was delicious, although my sister's starter of crispy squid salad looked amazing.

I then had the basil gnocchi with leeks and aubergine. It wasn't quite what I was expecting, but the sauce was amazing and you could tell that everything was homemade. I really enjoyed it.

And to finish, I of course had to go for the chocolate brownie. It was very sweet and was served with rum and raisin ice-cream - definitely only for those with a real sweet tooth.

The Woodbridge has a lovely cosy vibe and is the perfect place to visit if you have a special event to celebrate, or if you want a couple of drinks in a little corner by the fire. I wish I had got some photos of the actual pub because it really is so cosy. They also have loads of choices on the menu, so it shouldn't be hard to find something you like. Even my fussy little sister found her regular choice - fish and chips!
You're mad. Bonkers. Off your head... But I'll tell you a secret... All of the best people are.
                               - Alice in Wonderland

Monday, 28 November 2016

Mental health is fluctuating

Yesterday I had an extremely bad day mental health-wise. A couple of things knocked me and I did a complete 180 and just stopped functioning or thinking rationally.

I couldn't get out of bed, I couldn't move, I couldn't eat, I couldn't even stroke my dogs properly - I couldn't do anything but cry and sleep.

I couldn't think straight - all of my thoughts were about me being a horrible person, and wondering why anyone would ever want to spend any length of time with me. I was suicidal and hated myself again; I felt like I was back where I was 2 years ago. I was completely doubting myself and everyone around me.

However, my bad days now are still 100 times better than my 'good days' 2 years ago. It just goes to show how fluctuating mental health is. I would say that I am recovered from my depression, but it is still ingrained in me and my coping mechanisms - so if something knocks me, I go back to that negative way of thinking (although this is becoming rarer as time passes). Yesterday was one of those moments that I just felt like I couldn't cope, so I referred back to my old days and perhaps found that easier than facing up to what I was upset about.

I am feeling much better today, if a little tender. I think I just need a couple of days to take it slowly and get back into my routine. If this was 2 years ago, today would have been an awful day too and I wouldn't be sat here being so positive.

I did feel a bit disappointed in myself last night for reverting back to my depression, but I do understand how fluctuating mental health can be, and I need to stop being so hard on myself. The things that I said and did yesterday were because I was feeling so low and so ill, and I need to stop blaming myself for that.

On a side note, shout out to my dog Bruce who came and sat with me for a few hours whilst I was in bed. I think he's one of the big reasons that I kept going yesterday - I think he knew that something wasn't quite right.

Here's to my family for being so supportive and incredible, and for being right there with me while I'm going through it all - I love you all so much <3<3<3
Keep shining, beautiful one. The world needs your light.

Saturday, 26 November 2016

Wintry Bridgnorth

Primark Leopard Print Coat

Leopard Print Coat - Primark
Dinosaur T-Shirt - Run & Fly
Leather Skirt - Primark
Boots - Republic (Old)
Choker Necklace - Primark

Today my parents, sister and I decided to visit Bridgnorth, a market town in Shropshire. I have written about Bridgnorth quite a few times on my blog as it is one of my favourite towns to visit when I am home - it has lots of high-street shops to look around such as Boots, Superdrug and Fat Face, but also has lots of little quirky independent shops that are great to find gifts in. My personal favourite is a shop called Tea & Roses. There are also quite a few cafes and restaurants to eat in.

Primark Leopard Print Coat

I have been wearing this Primark coat non-stop since I bought it - I am a lover of leopard print, and I really like how this one is a little bit different to standard leopard print, and almost looks vintage. I bought this dinosaur t-shirt in a vintage shop in Birmingham last weekend - there was also a pinafore with dinosaur print which was very cute! My choker actually has a mood stone on it which takes me back to my childhood (although apparently in these photos I was angry...).

We found these glasses in Tea & Roses; they had loads of lovely Christmas decorations. I could have spent hours looking round.

The high town of Bridgnorth has such a good view, and you can catch the funicular railway to the bottom if you want. Bridgnorth seemed very wintry today due to the cold weather and all of the Christmas lights being turned on - I am feeling soooo festive at the moment!

Bridgnorth Shropshire

Tonight we are going out for a meal to celebrate my sister's birthday. I am planning on eating alllll the food. I love spending time as a family so much.
Somewhere inside all of us is the power to change the world.
             - Roald Dahl

Thursday, 24 November 2016

Breakout Liverpool and Revolution

I have had such a good evening! It was my housemate's birthday over the weekend so this evening we decided to go to Breakout Liverpool to celebrate. If you've never heard of Breakout before, basically the gist is that you are locked in a room and you have to solve clues to try and break out in under 60 minutes. We were in the 'Sabotage' room, which is supposed to be one of the hardest - but we broke out in 51 minutes, with 9 minutes to spare!

Basically we had to go around the room looking for numbers that were codes for padlocks, which then opened cupboards and boxes that had more codes or clues in them to open other things. This continued until we eventually found the key to get us out of the room. It's really fun and I would definitely recommend it if you have a group of friends that could join in with you - it really helped our teamwork skills!

Revolution, 2 Temple St, Liverpool, L2 6PY

Afterwards we decided to go to a nearby Revolution bar for dinner. I have never really been to Revolution for food before, but I was actually really impressed.

The Cavern Quarter Revolution is one of the nicest ones in Liverpool, and is more of an eating place than a bar in the week. The menu is quite extensive, consisting of general pub grub such as burgers, pizzas and fish and chips. So of course we had to share a bowl of nachos to start.

I was driving, so I had a Naked Sunset mocktail to drink, which had a mixture of mango and passionfruit purees, lime, pineapple and orange juice, and lemonade.

For my main I had the Bean Dreamin' burger, which had a sweet potato and bean burger, houmous, salsa and beetroot. And I added some feta to it. It wasn't the best burger I've ever eaten, but it was tasty and I did enjoy it.

I had some mac and cheese as a side, which was delicious - very cheesy and just the right amount.

And you can't go out for a meal without having a pudding really, can you? Especially if it's someone's birthday... So I went for the Nutella Fluffwich (bear with me).

The Nutella Fluffwich was essentially a sweet bread sandwich with Nutella and marshmallow fluff inside, with a blueberry sauce on the side. It was really good, but I can imagine it would get a little sickly after a while - not one for those that don't have a sweet tooth!

Revolution bars are a great place to eat if you want a fairly cheap but hearty meal. The food is standard pub food and there is an extensive cocktail menu that was very tempting. A lot of the cocktails are also 2 for 1 if you have a Revolution membership card (which you can get in any of the bars for a couple of pounds).
She was one of the rare ones, so effortlessly herself, and the world loved her for it.
                      - Atticus

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

High-functioning depression

When I look back, I now realise that I had what would be classified as 'high-functioning depression'.

I had all of the classical symptoms of depression such as low mood, suicidal thoughts, guilt and sleep disturbance, but I also was functioning completely normally. I was able to go about my day-to-day life and complete all of the tasks that were needed of me. I was able to smile and laugh and hang out with friends. And because of this, hardly anyone knew that I suffered from depression until I opened up on my blog. When in reality, I was getting home and crying every evening - sleeping a lot, self harming and generally hating myself.

Heck, 2 weeks after my suicide attempt I was in my 2nd year exams, and I got the highest marks possible in them. I had still managed to revise even whilst I was at my lowest point ever, and I felt like I wanted to die. I think having a goal to concentrate on was one of the main things that kept me going.

High-functioning depression may sound easier that normal depression, because sufferers are able to hide it and continue with their everyday life. However, it could be much more dangerous - high-functioning depressives find it easier to hide that they are struggling, and possibly aren't able to open up as much because of this. They may be in a high-flying job that they are performing well in, and feel that they couldn't tell anyone about their illness in case they were deemed too unwell to do their job. I know that I found it more difficult to tell people about my depression because I was a medical student - I honestly thought that it could be held against me and I could be seen to be 'unfit to practise'. I even asked my GP before I opened up to my medical school about the fact that I was struggling.

It could also be dangerous because people perhaps don't realise, or don't believe, that they have a mental illness, and therefore don't get help.

Because of this, I think I often doubted my diagnosis and that I was ill. How could I get out of bed and be a medical student, and still have depression? How could I laugh and smile, yet feel so dead inside? I had a lot of guilt surrounding my depression as I felt that I should be fine, and that I didn't deserve to be a medical student. I always had an inner battle over my fatigue and low mood, and wanting to be the best I can be.

I think the most important thing is that high-functioning depression is recognised by both medical professionals and lay people, so that sufferers can be helped as much as possible. All I needed was reassurance that my diagnosis was real, and that it wasn't my fault. Once I got over that hurdle, recovery was a lot easier.

All mental illnesses are real and they can be managed. Nobody should ever be made to feel inadequate or silly. And nobody should ever, ever be told to pull themselves together over a mental illness just because it can't be seen.
You don't have to be born beautiful to be wildly attractive.
                       - Diana Vreeland

Monday, 21 November 2016

6 things that have made me happy today #12

1) House meal
I live with 4 other girls, and we try and eat together as much as possible. This week my housemate Eva cooked for us - she made chicken kebabs and a Lithuanian pudding made up of chocolate and biscuits. It was delicious, and was lovely to sit down and catch up with each other.

2) Being cosy
This evening I snuggled in bed with a candle on and the rain outside, reading Christmas Under the Stars by Karen Swan. I felt so cosy and the book is one of the best I've read in a while - I was up until 4am the other night reading it as I couldn't put it down!

3) Food shopping
For some reason, I especially enjoyed doing my weekly food shop today. I think it's because all of the festive food is in the shops at the moment, and it's really making me excited for Christmas. I bought some Quorn scotch eggs for lunch, which are highly recommended.

4) I'm A Celebrity
I am loving I'm A Celeb this year - I especially love Scarlett, Joel and Larry. I think all of them have really clicked and that makes viewing so much better. Plus the trials are hilarious with the likes of Adam, who is ridiculously scared of spiders.

5) Secret Santa
My housemates and I all do Secret Santa for each other every year, and this evening we picked names out of a bowl for who to buy a present for. It brought it to home how close Christmas actually is - I better start my Christmas shopping!

6) NYX cosmetics
I am loving NYX cosmetics at the moment, especially after the #VeryDresses event last week. I bought a few things in Boots in Birmingham over the weekend, but have been looking at more this evening. I really want some of their glitter pigments, as they will be gorgeous for the festive season.
Difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations.

Sunday, 20 November 2016

Feeling Christmassy

I have had such a lovely, but busy, weekend.

On Friday I drove down to Shropshire with 4 of my friends from uni. That evening we watched one of my friends play a gig in a local pub, which was so nice as he was really good. His name is James Millerin and you can listen to him on Youtube here - his covers are amazing!

On Saturday we caught the train to Birmingham. The German Christmas market started late last week, so we spent the majority of the day looking around the stalls and eating. Mainly eating. The market has so many amazing smells coming from it - my favourite stall is definitely the garlic bread stall. It is ciabatta bread with garlic sauce and cheese melted on top - I literally almost cried when I tasted it. But I would also recommend the doughnut stalls and the Bailey's hot chocolate.

We did the same last year - you can see more photos of the Christmas market here.

After a shop we caught the train back home and my parents cooked us a 3 course meal of stuffed squashes, lasagne and chocolate trifle. My parents are so thoughtful and giving; they definitely helped make the weekend.

This morning we took the dogs for a walk in the countryside, and then had a full-blown Christmas dinner for lunch; crackers and pigs in blankets included. We all took turns to read our awful jokes (which made it feel exactly like Christmas Day), and wore our paper hats for the main and the Christmas pudding with brandy butter.

I am even more excited for Christmas now (if that is even possible), and can't wait to spend a couple of weeks with my family. It was so nice to spend time with them as well as my friends this weekend - I am so lucky to be surrounded by so many incredible, if slightly weird and funny, people!
You're so hard on yourself. Take a moment. Sit back. Marvel at your life: at the grief that softened you, at the heartache that wisened you, at the suffering that strengthened you. Despite everything, you still grow. Be proud of this.

Thursday, 17 November 2016

26 pieces you need from the #VeryDresses event

I've got to admit, Very is not a place that I tend to think to click on very often. I think I own one or two pieces from the website from years ago. However when I was invited to attend their #VeryDresses event on Tuesday evening, showcasing their Christmas party dresses, I was very intrigued.

If you're not familiar with Very, it is a British online retailer that was launched in 2009, that sells everything from clothes, to homeware, to toys, to beauty products. Very has its own branded products, V by Very, but also sells products from other brands such as River Island, Nike, Adidas, Calvin Klein, Jimmy Choo, and so many more. You can see the full list of their brands here (it's very extensive!).

Very also has the option of opening a credit account, so you buy now and pay later. At the moment they are giving up to 20% off your first credit order.

I was actually quite shocked at how much Very sells when I opened their website - if you're looking for some inspiration, or want something from a particular brand that is sold out, Very is definitely the place to check out!

As soon as we entered the huge bright room we were given either a glass of Prosecco or orange juice (I was driving so had to opt for orange juice, booo). The room had loads of Very's products on display, and we basically just went around having a look at everything on show. And the first thing I noticed was the glitter - alllll the glitter. It instantly made me feel so Christmassy!

I mean, just look at these gorgeous shoes... I would actually feel like a walking Christmas tree wearing them, especially if they were paired with some of the sequined dresses.

The shoe selection was glorious - they sell brands such as Dune, Aldo and Kurt Geiger (these beauties below are KG, and they're reduced - you can find them here and thank me later).

The bag section was gorgeous too - I particularly liked this little blue prism bag with a pom-pom.

Arghhh, I just feel so Christmassy!!!

One brand that I didn't realise Very sells is NYX. I absolutely love NYX make-up - I love how many different colours and options they have. I especially fell in love with their glitter pots - they're more versatile than you would think. The girls from the Clayton Square Liverpool Boots counter were at the event, giving people make overs, and they both had glittery eyes, which were gorgeous.

They were also giving people glittery lips! Chloe and Danielle's looked amazing for Christmas time.

I opted to have some glitter eyeliner, which I will definitely try to recreate nearer Christmas.

And here's the most exciting bit - the clothes. I think I turned into a magpie that evening because I was literally drawn to everything sparkly and shiny. And there was a lot to choose from.

This star print playsuit was incredible. 

The buyers at Very have done such a good job for Christmas this year - there were so many items that I loved, but the sparkly and glittery things were definitely top for me...

...Right down to the sequinned wall.

If you have any special events coming up soon, or simply want to find something to wear for Christmas/New Year's/every day, definitely check out Very. I definitely will in the future! It would be the perfect place to buy Christmas presents from, too.

 As there was so much to choose from, I thought I would do a quick round-up of the 10 pieces you need* from the #VeryDresses event.

*Okay, want. But I do really, really need them... Santa?

Sequins are always huge during the winter months, and just make your party outfit a little more special. Very has loads of sequin dresses in right now. I love wearing sequins for day and night - I have a sequinned mini skirt that I just dress down with a sweater for the day. It's amazing how versatile they can be!

1) Motel Animal Sequin Deep Plunge Mini Dress - £55
2) Myleene Klass Wrap Sequin Maxi Dress - £100 (was £110)
3) So Fabulous Sequin Dress - £65
4) V by Very Sequin Wrap Front Dress - £32 (was £45)
5) V by Very All Over Sequin Dress - £120
6) Rare Cross Strap Sequin Wrap Dress - £42 (was £62)

Unless you've lived under a rock for the past couple of months, you'll know that embroidery is a massive trend right now - you can't go into a shop without seeing some embroidered flowers or stitched stars. Here are my picks of Very's embroidered range.

7) River Island Embroidered Double Layer Bodycon Dress - £95
8) River Island Embroidered Ankle Boot - £45
9) River Island Embroidered Slouch Bag - £35
10) Miss Selfridge Embroidered Gypsy Top - £40
11) Little Mistress Embroidered Floral Maxi Dress - £125
12) Glamorous Lace Up Embroidered Silver Biker Jacket - £85
13) Miss Selfridge Embroidered Skater Dress - £65
14) V by Very Star Embroidered Blouse with Pussybow Neck Tie - £32

Skirts are always my go-to for a night out. You can dress them up or down, depending on the type of top you pair with them.

15) Myleene Klass Metallic Pleated Skirt - £45
16) River Island Embroidered A-Line Denim Skirt - £40
17) Glamorous Tutu Skirt - £42
18) River Island Suedette Lace Hem Mini Skirt - £28
19) Glamorous Pleated Midi Skirt - £30
20) V by Very Metallic A-Line Mini Skirt - £25 (was £30)

Shoes just finish off an outfit, don't they?

21) V by Very Glitter Minimal Sandal - £25 (was £28)
22) River Island Jewel Embellished Trainer - £33 (was 48)
23) V by Very Imogen Velvet Over the Knee Boots - £40 (was £48)
24) River Island Platform Shoe - £50 (was £58)
25) V by Very Brixton Tie Up Pointed Flat Shoe - £12 (was £22)
26) Ted Baker Embellished Court Shoe - £150

Thank you very much, Very, for having me at one of the best events I've been to in a while!
Never love anybody who treats you like you're ordinary.
                     - Oscar Wilde