Sunday, 30 June 2013

HOLIDAY: A few days in my favourite place - part 1

Hi!
Earlier in the week Josh and I headed to our favouite city for a few days away. Liverpool has featured quite a lot on this blog and it's no secret that we've been quite a few times now! We did actually look at going somewhere different this year as we wanted to book something to celebrate the end of university (as it turns out we both found out what we'll graduate with whilst we were away which made the trip even more of a celebration!) however Liverpool just lured us back in.

On our first day there we headed to the docks for a wander around and a look in the Liverpool museum, we actually went there last year but it's free and quite interesting so we popped in for another look around. The afternoon was spent in the Cavern, for those not familiar with it, it's one of the first places The Beatles started performing oh and it's also underground hence the name. It's somewhat of a tradition (and a bucket list favourite) for fans of The Beatles who visit the Cavern to write their names on the walls, although you're very lucky if you can find a spot to write now! Two years ago Josh and I managed to find a pretty clear spot to write our names and last year when we visited we were pleased to see they were still there. Although I had everything crossed we'd still be able to see them this year I did have my doubts but to our surprise they're there. This definitely made me very happy. 





Sunny docks / In the Liverpool museum - this was sooo heavy / A Superlambanana / Little and large hand prints / The best place ever / So happy to see our names are still there
At night we headed to a restaurant on the docks that we've not been to before, it's called Revolution and I think there's a few branches dotted around the country. I'd definitely recommend it, the food was lovely, reasonably priced and if you needed more convincing it's also a vodka bar. Hello vodka cocktails (which are also two for one on weekdays!). Of course I had to sample a couple of cocktails, I had the Russian Bride (I think that was the name) and the Tennessee Mudshake both of which were very nice. We then headed back to the Cavern, it's such a good atmosphere in there at night. It gets very busy and quite warm but it's one of my favourite places ever.

 Tennessee Mudshake cocktail complete with an Oreo

I should also mention where we stayed, we always stay in Travelodge's in Liverpool as we'd rather save our money on doing stuff we enjoy rather than paying for expensive hotels and there's nothing wrong with Travelodge's at all. This year we stayed in one of the newer ones in Liverpool which we've not been to before and I have to say were very impressed. It's just opposite the docks and very modern. Oh and this was our view from our room so we definitely had nothing to complain about!
















The view from our room

The second part of my Liverpool photo diary will be up tomorrow. 

Saturday, 29 June 2013

Happy List #91

Hi!
Now I don't do a Happy List every week when I do write one I feel like I'm sitting down and having a good catchup with you! So what's been happening since the last Happy List? Well the top piece of news has to be I've been awarded the Bachelor of Arts with Honours Upper Second Class in Journalism and English. I'm sooo happy!
Another piece of exciting news is I launched a new blog, as I mentioned in this post it's not to replace Bits and Bobs but I'd love it if you could pop over and take a look at it.
Earlier in the week Josh and I also headed to our favourite place, Liverpool, for a few days. We've been quite a few times now but we still had an amazing time, I'll be doing some photo diary post on it next week. 
Lastly over the next few months the Happy List feature may become even less frequent as in two weeks I'm having to move home after three years of living with Josh for uni, obviously this isn't a very happy thing so I'm not sure I'm going to be able to keep up with the Happy Lists for a little while.

So back onto cheery things...

 Indoor picnic / White chocolate and raspberry cooler / The best place in Liverpool / Homemade chocolate mousse (recipe coming soon)
Having a Harry Potter movie day / Strawberry daiquiri cocktail / Homemade flapjack (recipe here) / The best pj's ever

What's been making you happy lately? Let me know!

Monday, 24 June 2013

A new venture...

Hi!
Just a little post today to introduce you to something I've been working on recently. You may notice that there is now an extra tab across the top of this blog that says Twist and Shout blog. Now to state the obvious, clicking this takes you to a new blog called - you guessed it - Twist and Shout!
Twist and Shout is a new blog I've set up and I've put a lot of hard work into it recently, but Bits and Bobs isn't going anywhere either. 

You regular readers probably know by now how much I love The Beatles and trips to Liverpool but it's also fair to say I'm a little bit in love with the Sixties in general. Recently I've been thinking about ways to fill my days as this whole been a graduate lark isn't easy. Now I love blogging and I love Bits and Bobs but I'm very happy with the direction this blog has taken and for the past few months I've been the happiest I've ever been with it. I love that it's quite a personal lifestyle blog and I don't want that to change. Which is why I've taken my new idea onto a separate blog. 

It's hard to explain what Twist and Shout is going to be when I don't fully know myself yet, lets just stick with the fact it is and is going to continue to be a Sixties inspired blog. A place to share my love of everything Sixties and the occasional delve into other vintage areas! It's very strange starting another blog, when I started Bits and Bobs I had no clue about blogging and that naivety allowed me to just jump in and do what I wanted and I'm very glad about that because it's meant I've never really been nervous about blogging or anything, it gave me a sort of bravery I probably wouldn't have had if I was to start blogging now knowing what I do. 

I'm not nervous to be launching Twist and Shout today, in fact it's very exciting and I can't wait to see where it goes but I am feeling very precious over, it's my new baby! I'm not going to be mentioning Twist and Shout constantly on this blog, in fact this is about as much detail as I'm going to go into about it. Of course there will be times it gets a little mention but I'm not going to be plugging it every two seconds. It has it's own separate Twitter, Pinterest, Bloglovin' and Facebook page so it is in a sense a brand new blog, the only difference is if you decide to pop over to Twist and Shout from here, you'll already know the writer!

I'd really appreciate it if you could take a little time to pop over to Twist and Shout and have a little look around, there's a welcome post already up, pages to read and social media area's to explore. You don't have to be a Sixties expert to enjoy the blog, I'm no expert, it's just a hobby! So it'd be great if you decided to join me and see where Twist and Shout goes.

I hope to see you over there!

P.S I'm going away for a few days tomorrow to my favourite city, Liverpool so there won't be anything new on here until the end of the week, however there will be a post going up on Twist and Shout on Wednesday.

Saturday, 22 June 2013

It's the little things #1

Hi!
Way back in December I did a list of all the little things I love about winter, it was a feature I hoped to carry on and I have a list of lots of little things I love however I need to find a way to set them out yet so that idea has sort of taken a back seat for the time being. However I thought it would be also good to just focus on one thing from my list occasionally so here it the first little things post!

To me there's no better way to spend a Saturday than having a movie day. Living right in the city centre it's not often that we go out other than for a walk on a Saturday as it's just sooo busy and annoying (I guess even after three years neither of us has adapted to that!) so Saturdays are usually spent in quite a lazy way. This Saturday (so today!) we've decided to have a movie day, the ultimate lazy day, relaxing in comfy clothes and watching a bunch of films. Perfection.
The last movie day we had was actually back at Christmas so of course a few festive films were thrown into the mix then as well. Today we were going to go for a variety of films again before deciding to watch the Harry Potter films instead. We watched the first one the other week so we're going to work through a few more today.
I've been working on a little something over the past few days which I will hopefully be revealing next week and whilst I'm enjoying it there's been times where it's stressed me out and given me a headache to I'm very much looking forwards to doing nothing but wishing I could've gone to Hogwarts and been a wizard today! (Anyone else really wish someone would buy them one of those Hogwarts letters you can get or is it just me?)


What little things do you enjoy when you're having a lazy day? Let me know!

Thursday, 20 June 2013

BEAUTY: Look Beauty Fresh Cheeks

Hi!
Despite the fact I don't wear makeup on a daily basis, I have a real weakness for pretty blushers. I own more blushers than any other makeup item and I can't get enough of cream blushers or coral blushers (seriously how many cream blushers is too many?!)
Anyway today's blush review is of two coral, cream blushers surprise surprise! I picked this up a while ago from Superdrug when all the Look Beauty face items were half price, which meant I got them for £2.50 each, bargain. However they are now back up to £5 each. There's three shades to choose from in the Fresh Cheeks range, Guava, Melon and Lychee and it's the first two I'll be showing you today.

Trust me these photo's don't do the blushers justice as they're much prettier in real life.

Look Beauty Fresh Cheeks Review
 Left: Melon / Right: Guava

Aside from being lovely colours I'm a big fan on these blushers. They're super soft and creamy and create a lovely glowing flush of colour. They last quite a long time too which is obviously a bonus.
Guava is a dusky natural pink with a hint of coral that with a light hand goes on quite sheer but it can be really built up. I'm really liking this one at the moment for a nice subtle hint of colour.
Melon is quite a bright coral colour and it quickly builds up so you really do need to be careful with this as you can easily stray into clown territory with it but again it's a beautiful summer colour.
I can't recommend this enough as they're they softest cream blushers I've used and if you can pick them up when they're on offer even better!
Oh a little side note, I'm not a huge fan of blushers that come with mirrors and brushers, these don't come with brushers but they do have a mirror on the back of the packaging. However you have to peel the shade name sticker off of it to get full use.

Look Beauty Fresh Cheeks Swatches
 Top: Melon / Bottom: Guava

What blushers are your favourite? Do you have any cream blushers recommendations? Let me know!

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

RECIPE: Sticky Flapjack

Hi!
Last week I decided to try another new recipe, so I cracked out my baking book looking for some inspiration and came across a flapjack recipe. Now many of the things I bake Josh doesn't eat, he's an extremely picky eater so doesn't like a lot of stuff and he's not really one for sweet stuff but flapjack he does like so I thought it was about time I made something he could enjoy too.
Now this isn't the most glamourous of things I've ever made, it's not a cute cupcake or a soft cookie with a surprise centre but it tastes pretty good and it's one of the quickest things I've ever made too.

I used brown sugar for my flapjack which gave it a dark colour and a deeper, more toffeeish flavour than usual. You can use white sugar though which I'm going to try next time I make it. Also for the oats, plain porridge oats will do fine (it's better to buy the one's just in a box not individual sachets) I picked plain Quaker Oats up from Poundland!

Flapjack recipe

Ingredients

150g Butter
175g Golden Syrup
175g of sugar (brown or white)
325g Porridge Oats

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 150c of Gas Mark 2. If your using a metal baking tin line it with baking paper if your using a silicone tin like me it'll be fine to just line it with some butter
2. Melt the butter in a pan then add the golden syrup and sugar and heat them gently. Once the sugar has dissolved and the butter is melted stir in the porridge oats.
3. Pack the mixture into the baking tin and squash down and bake for around 30-40 minutes. I prefer soft flapjack but if your prefer it crunchier perhaps use slightly smaller measurements so the mixture spreads thinner and goes crispier
4. Once baked, leave to cool then cut it up into individual portions. I made plain flapjacks but you can add fruit or chocolate chips to the mixture or drizzle chocolate over the top if you want to. 

And that's all there is to it! Super simple and super delicious!

P.S I know there's a lot of rumours about GFC going when Google Reader does so just incase you can follow me on Bloglovin here

Thursday, 13 June 2013

BOOKS: Mini Book Reviews #4

Hi!
I'm back with another 4 mini book reviews, if you want to look at the previous books I've reviewed take a look here. To look at all my book reviews in full head over to my other blog here. 
The four books I'll be reviewing today are: Wonder, Gone Girl, Toby's Room and The Grimm Legacy.

Wonder by R.J. Palacio
I actually read this book as part of my final project at uni so it wasn't one I chose to read for myself as it is a children's book. Don't dismiss this book on that point though because it's actually a beautifully written book that leans more towards Young Adult fiction. However I should point out that an adult version of this novel is coming out in August so it's going to be interesting to see what that one is like. Considering the topic is that of a child with a facial disfigurement and it follows his journey as he attends school for the first time aged 10 I expected it to be a little self righteous – a typical story of how someone overcomes adversity early on to go on an lead a perfect life – in all a little unoriginal. I couldn’t have been more surprised, what you get with Wonder is a simple, down to earth and real account of life when you look different to everyone else. 
Full review here.
 ★★★★★

 Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
I should have learnt by now not to buy hyped up books because they nearly always let me down and this one was no exception. I hated pretty much every character, so I didn’t really care what happened to them – they had no depth and no personality. You’re meant to feel sorry for Amy in her diary but I didn’t; I found her annoying and whiny, and the language used was pretty repetitive and quite unfitting for the novel. It was something I’d expect to see in an over-the-top American teen magazine. Perhaps the worst part of this novel was the ending, which was completely unbelievable and so far-fetched that I almost laughed at it. The novel is not particularly well written throughout; it only just scrapes being decent.
Full review here.
 ★☆☆☆☆

 Toby's Room by Pat Barker
Toby’s Room initially started off very well; it jumped right into the action and made me want to carry on reading. Sadly shortly after this it went a little bit down hill. I don’t want to give too much away, but I felt that an issue that first arose in the book was never properly explored: I assumed this would be the basis of the whole story, but it sort of took a back seat after a few pages and was quickly forgotten about, like it wasn’t important. Instead, the plot includes many different stories that didn’t really sustain my interest – it felt like the writer quickly got bored of her own storylines and moved onto something new. Toby’s Room could’ve and should’ve been a brilliant book; there was definitely potential there to write something much better than the average novel this turned out to be. It wasn’t the worst book I’ve read, but it certainly wasn’t the best, and it was the first time I felt as though the writer wasn’t really engaged with the book let alone the reader.
Full review here.
  ★★☆☆☆

 The Grimm Legacy by Polly Shulman
I was a little surprised by this book as it isn't really marketed as a young adult novel but I would say that it definitely is. It's an enjoyable read but it's on the quick and easy scale of things. The fantasy and fairytale element isn’t so simplistic or childish that it can’t be enjoyed by adults, but it may not be everyone’s cup of tea given that it comes across very strongly as being aimed at a younger audience. I can’t really find a fault with the book as it was engaging and maintained my interest throughout, but I wasn’t expecting it to be for young adults at first. If you’re after a quick but interesting story, than it’s still definitely worth giving The Grimm Legacy a read.
Full review here.
 ★★★★☆

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

ADVICE: Is a Journalism Degree worth the time and money?

Hi!
Following on from the post I did about whether university is worth it or not, which you can check out here I've decided to do a post on my specific degree, Journalism and English. It's going to be pretty similar in terms of layout to the last one where I'll give you a bit of background info then I've got Josh to offer his opinions again as we both did the same course. Again these are purely our opinions and experiences and we're not saying this will be/has been the same for everyone doing a Journalism course. 

Is a journalism degree worth it?

So onto why we chose to do a Journalism and English degree... well to be honest I'd never really considered journalism before, the year before I went to university I'd applied for a Sociology and Criminology course and was set to go until a few weeks before my A-Level results when I decided it just wasn't for me. After that I went back to college for a year and the natural progression from there just seemed to be university. At the time I was doing an extra AS Level in English Literature having previously done the full A-Level in English Language both of which I'd enjoyed so the sensible thing at the time seemed to be to apply for something English based and I suppose that's how I got to applying for Journalism and accepting a place on a Journalism and English course. 

For Josh it was very different, again like me he did three years at college, doing Music Pratice BTEC in his first two years as well as an English Literature and Language combined A-Level. Then in his third year he did Music Technology AS Level. So for him the jump to journalism was even more of a strange one whilst he has always enjoyed creative writing I think it's fair to say that the fact he gets bored of things easy so likes to try lots of different stuff and the fact I'd chosen that course were the reasons he chose to do that degree.

Before we move on to our opinions on the degree I should point out that the fact that neither of us have ever known what we want to do or the fact that in an ideal world a journalism degree wouldn't have been our first choice has not effected our opinions at all.

Lauren: To answer the title of this post is a journalism degree worth the time and money I'd have to say no. For me in the past three years I haven't learnt anything that wasn't common sense or that I couldn't have Googled and understood within 5 minutes. Actually I should change that slightly I haven't learnt anything to do with Journalism, English I have learnt new stuff but then again I'm not too sure when I'll ever need the International Phonetic Alphabet again. I feel a lot of the stuff that would have been useful and enjoyable wasn't shown to us, take InDesign for example, the computer programme used for making flyers and magazines which on just a couple of occasions we were expected to use without really been shown what to do. Only a small number of us were shown the basics which means I've left university with a basic knowledge of the programme and Josh has practically no knowledge of it. Looking past my hang-ups with the way my course was run I'd still say a journalism degree just isn't worth doing, our course cannot differ that much from other journalism courses so I still stand by the opinion that I wouldn't have learnt anything new on any journalism course. For three years I've hardly been in university (easily around the 6 hour mark every week) and when I was what I was been told was to me fairly pointless and I've listened to lecturer after lecturer lament at how journalism is on it's arse and now every job I look at wants tonnes of experience which translates to work for a year at various places without getting paid. I don't want a career in journalism enough to do that, I love writing but I just don't want a traditional journalism career so if I'd have known what I know now there's no way I'd have chosen the degree I did. If journalism is really what you want to do, if your extremely passionate about it and it's a career you've always considered than I'm in no place to tell you that you shouldn't do a degree in it but if it's just something you're considering then I'd tell you to seriously look into interning, gaining experience and working your way up without university instead in been in the position we are now at (almost) 22 and 24 years old and basically starting from scratch.
Despite all this there are a few things I have gained from the course which I will be covering in a separate post.

Josh: If you want a career in journalism - and 99% of the people that actually took our journalism degree want nothing more to do with it - then you're best off just going and trying to get experience at a local paper or something like that. Because experience is what employers look for. Not degrees or grades or anything like that, they don't care if you were the top of your class or if you got a first for everything, they care about if you can do the actual job. Its all well and good saying that in theory you're a genius and *this bit of paper* from university says so, but if you cant prove that you have the credentials and experience you have next to no chance. Why would they waste time, effort and money bringing a fresh-out-of-uni student up to speed when they could just get someone in that has been doing the job for years that would just get on with it. By all means go to university and do a journalism degree, go out, have fun, meet people, get the tip top marks in your class and a bit of paper that says so...but don't expect a job out of it. 

If you are doing or have done a Journalism degree I'd love to hear your opinions too. If you have any questions for us on this post or on uni in general please leave a comment.

Over the next few weeks I'm going to look at doing similar post on, tips and advice for uni along with what I learnt and something on what we'd like to have done at uni in an ideal world. So let me know if there's anything specific you'd like to see covered. 

Saturday, 8 June 2013

Happy List #90

 Hi!
Since the last Happy List quite a lot has happened although I've had to wait quite a long time to do a new Happy List as I had two weeks of being in uni everyday for my final module so nothing exciting  was happening then. Since the last list I've finished uni, found out I got a first my final project (sooo happy about that!), baked the most yummiest cookies ever (recipe here) and been to the zoo. It's fair to say I'm enjoying this free time I have before I have to be a proper grown up, although the less said about job hunting the better because it's so depressing! And how could I not mention the weather?! I'm loving this sunshine, it's nice to finally be able to dress in summer clothes and get a little bit of a tan. With the nice weather we've been spending a lot of time at a park near us watching all the baby ducks, geese and swans and occasionally feeding them! I love it around there at this time of year.

So on with the photo's...

 I bought Josh The Beatles Abbey Road Lego (yep we're just that geeky) / Fluffy little swans / Free ice lolly which was really nice / This stuff is so nice
 Pretty bright orange lilies / I finally found a bottle with my name on it / At the zoo (you can look at my zoo post here)

 I started off just feeding two ducks then a whole load of geese came over!

I'm hoping we'll be getting a lot more sunshine so I can include more sunny photo's on future Happy Lists.

Friday, 7 June 2013

DAYS OUT: A day at the zoo

Hi!
Yesterday Josh and I went to Dudley zoo and castle and it was a pretty amazing day out. Aside from the really warm weather meaning I could finally dress in summer clothes, there were lots of really cute animals to look at. I was really impressed with how close up you could get to some of the animals which was something I've not really experienced before. There were lemur and monkey walk through's where the animals were just running about free and you could walk right next to them, I nearly ended up bringing one of the little monkeys home with me as he climbed up my bag with picnic stuff in (luckily we'd already eaten so he couldn't steal any food) and started looking through my stuff! Again this was something I haven't experienced before so I really enjoyed that. We watched the sealions and penguins being fed and we climbed up the castle. Before leaving we headed to the little farm where you could pet all the animals so we found some goats and big cute and fluffy rabbits to stroke. 

I'd really recommend a day out at Dudley zoo, as you can easily spend the full day there and there's loads to do and look at. We took loads of photo's (150 to be precise!) so it was very hard to narrow them down for this post so there's still quite a few to look at.








 




I love the photo of the meerkat watching over the castle and the one of the lemur sunbathing! It was so funny watching them do that as after one had done it they all started lining up and sunbathing! After seeing the big rabbit I'd really like one now too, but maybe a little one.

Monday, 3 June 2013

ADVICE: Is going to university worth it?

Hi!
I thought I'd do something a little different today and discuss university. Last week I finished my degree so I feel I'm somewhat experienced enough to talk about whether going to university is worth it or not. With the rise in fee's (which I managed to avoid thankfully) and a degree now not even guaranteeing you a job it can seem like university is just an expensive waste of time. For this post I've got Josh to offer his opinion too as we both went to the same university and did the same degree so I thought it would be good to get another opinion as well as mine. Obviously these are just our thoughts and opinions of our time at university and experiences differ person to person so we're not saying we these experiences are or are going to be the same for everyone. Also this is purely about university as a whole not our specific degree (although I will be doing a post on that next week).

Is going to university worth it?



So just a little background before we begin... We moved to Coventry from South Yorkshire in 2010 
 and decided to live together in student accommodation owned by a private company not the university, it's basically a studio apartment. We've lived in the same building and in the same room for our entire time at university so we haven't done the typical student thing of living in halls or a shared house. I went straight from college, although I did do an extra year at college rather than the average two, to university so I had no break from education. Josh also did three years at college but left in 2008 and had a couple of jobs over the two years between college and university. I was never 100% set on going to university or doing the degree I did and it was all sort of on a whim for me. I picked Coventry because the only university I really wanted to go to outright rejected my application (just so you know Liverpool John Moores uni I've never got over that rejection!) so again it was a bit of a whim, it was also the university that was the furthest away from home and if I was going to move I was going to do it properly. Josh received unconditional offers from all the university (not that I'm jealous or anything) but if we're being honest he only came to university because I did.

So on with whether we think going to uni is worth it...

Lauren: For me I'd 100% say it's been worth it. The university experience as a whole is one that I've really enjoyed. I haven't had the typical student experience of living in shared housing or getting drunk most nights but then again I'm not that sort of person. Instead coming to university allowed me to spend 3 years living with Josh and doing all the stuff we love to do. There's been times I've questioned whether uni is worth it as my degree wasn't that best ever but I honestly think it has, I've visited places I'd would never have visited if I hadn't moved here and truthfully I have had 3 pretty idyllic years. I didn't have a job whilst at uni so my spare time has been used for blogging, days out, TV series marathon's and movie days and I know that when I do have a job it's going to be a time I look back on with fond memories and be thankful that I had a time in my life where I could pretty much do what I wanted. Before coming to uni I went to college and worked in a pub restaurant on Friday and Saturday nights then all day Sunday's so I didn't really get to do much. Yes university is expensive and yes looking for a job afterwards is extremely difficult but I wouldn't change anything, being a student is just about one of the best things in the world and I'd do it all again in a heartbeat. If you have to opportunity to go to uni you should definitely do it, it's anexpensive life experience but one that's completely worth it.

Josh: Is uni worth it? Good question. Simple answer: no. It's been an experience, I've moved out, met new people, been to new places, so in that respect coming to uni has been great. But having the 'pleasure' of paying however-many-thousand pounds per year for three years to learn stuff I could have learnt for free from Google in 15 mins has really made actually coming to university not worth it. It's a rip off and now that fees have gone up it's even more of a rip off. And then getting a degree means nothing anyway as everyone is getting them, therefore devaluing them. THEN when you have one all the jobs don't really care about your degree anyway and just want you to have experience before they'll even consider you. So my message to college students looking to go to university is...forget uni! Get a job as soon as you can and work your way up from the bottom. Granted, while the people that go to uni will be out having fun while you're busy working away, by the time they finish university you'll be well up the ladder. The university student and their all but worthless degree will still have to start from the bottom! And don't get me started on all the debt you'll be in... It's been fun, and it's been an experience, but in no way shape or form would I recommend it.

If you have any question's for us or any future posts you would like to see about the topic of university please leave a comment. Also I'd love to hear whether other people think going to uni is worth it or not.

Next week Josh and I will be offering our opinions on the degree we did; Journalism and English.