Wednesday, 27 July 2016

A Trip To The Theatre | Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

It's becoming quite a regular occurrence now that myself and my friend Natalie plan a little day trip to a different city and go to see a theatre show. Back in January I took her to see Les Mis in London and we loved it so much that we decided it was time for another trip!
This time we travelled to Sheffield to go and see the show Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. This was a much shorter train journey with Sheffield being only 50 minutes away rather than 2 and a half hours like London was, so we had a lot more time to explore the city! We checked out a beautiful cathedral where people were just relaxing on the grass and enjoying the sunshine, before settling down in a little cafe across from the theatre for some lunch. Before we knew it it was 2pm and time to see the show! 
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is absolutely fantastic! Literally, I had a smile on my face the entire way through. It's an incredibly fun show and I actually found it a lot funnier than the film (although of course the film is still one of a kind). All of the actors were utterly amazing but the two that really stood out to me were the people playing Baron Bomburst's spies! They were absolutely hilarious from start to finish and brilliant singers. Of course Carrie Fletcher was amazing as well, that girl always is! I would honestly recommend going to see Chitty Chitty Bang Bang if you get the chance. It's an amazing show and it's made me fall in love with the theatre all over again. I can't wait to book my next show!

Do you enjoy going to the theatre? What's your favourite show?


Sunday, 24 July 2016

5 Easy Ways To Eat More Healthy

I am a sucker for junk food. Crisps, chocolate, cake... I want it all! But as much as I enjoy indulging in these foods, in the long run it's probably not the best food I can be giving my body. I decided I wanted to eat more healthy but knew I couldn't switch to a completely healthy diet straight away, so instead I decided to just change certain aspects of my eating habits until eventually I fall into a routine that is much better for me. I thought I would share with you guys some of the things I've been doing in order to eat a bit better and look after my body more!

Bread, rice, pasta... anything where you can switch to a 'wholewheat' version, do it! I used to think that wholewheat rice tasted really bland and didn't have as much flavour in it, but after making the switch and continuing to eat that every time we have a rice or pasta dish, I eventually became used to it and now I don't actually like any of the white products. Funny how that works!

Although dark chocolate isn't exactly healthy, it's much better to eat than milk and white chocolate! I am a complete chocolate face and I need my chocolate fix after meals so I switched to buying dark chocolate bars and I have a few squares with a cup of green tea after my evening meals. It satisfies my craving for a dessert without me over indulging and eating a whole share bag of cadbury's buttons...!

Smoothies are an amazing way to get goodness into you. My favourite smoothie to make is a mixed berry and banana smoothie which you can check out the blog post for HERE! There are quite a few fruits and vegetables out there that I don't like because of the texture, so I find that chucking them into my nutribullet and blending it together to make a smoothie that I like the flavour of is a great way of getting the benefits without having to munch away on food I don't like! Plus, drinking a smoothie full of blended fruit/veg is apparently a lot easier for our bodies to digest and get nutrients from than eating the food whole (correct me if I'm wrong!)

Myself and my mum try to meal plan on a monday evening all of the tea's we're going to eat during the week! Sometimes we do really well and eat a healthy cooked meal every night, other weeks we skip a day and end up buying something pre-cooked from the supermarket which is never the healthiest. Sitting down and working out what you want to eat for the week will help so much in getting good foods into you, rather than buying something in a rush on the day. Also this will definitely help to save money as well!

Every week pick a fruit or vegetable that you've never had before and try it out. There are so many foods out there that I just say I 'don't like' when in reality I've not actually tried most of them! This way you might discover an ingredient that you adore and you'll be able to create a more varied diet with the new foods you'll discover! 

How do you stay healthy? Do you have any tips on eating better?


Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Lush Tea Tree Toner Water

Lush Tea Tree toner water is a product that I've seen floating around the blogging and youtube world for a while now, with lots of people saying how helpful it is for problem skin. Given that I've been struggling with my skin for quite a few months now I am currently trying every product under the sun so of course I popped into my nearest Lush and picked up the smaller bottle to test out and see if it worked for me!
I've been using this product in between my cleanser and moisturiser every morning and night for around 2 months now and honestly... I could not sing its praises enough! Oh my goodness this product has been my absolute life saver. As you can see from the picture above, the minute I finished the first bottle I headed straight out and bought the larger one, which is now my staple product in my skincare routine. I spray the product directly on to a cotton pad and wipe this in circular motions all over my face but also focusing more on my problem areas, i.e. chin and cheeks!
It works by drying out and cleaning your problem areas and I honestly saw results over night. I woke up with my cystic jawline acne significantly reduced and as I've used this more and more my breakouts haven't been anywhere near as bad as they once were. I adore using this product and will probably never switch to another toner again! Plus Lush are completely cruelty free which is the best bonus to a product ever!
The only thing I will say is please don't purchase this product expecting to have flawless skin within a week. Problem skin just doesn't work like that and my skin is still far from where I want it to be, I still struggle with acne and large pores in my t-zone! This product won't cure your acne but hopefully it could help in reducing it and calming down large painful breakouts quickly. I started using this product in the week leading up to my sisters wedding and I managed to reduce most of my breakouts before the big day! It works brilliantly in reducing the amount of oil my skin produces over night to help prevent me waking up with brand new breakouts! 
If you have problem skin and haven't yet tried any products using tea tree then I would 100% recommend trying this product. With it being a toner water it doesn't have that incredibly strong tea tree smell and it just feels so fresh! 
As much as I love this product I don't want to promise that it will work for you as everybodys skin is different and what works for me might not work for you, but I would definitely recommend you try this out if you're struggling with acne. I was getting to the point where I had tried every product under the sun and nothing was working, until I found this! Just keep going, eventually you will find something that works for your skin and hopefully this product might be it! 

Have you tried out this product? Did it work for you?


Sunday, 17 July 2016

A Weekend In Lytham St Annes

A few weekends ago myself and my boyfriend travelled to Lytham St Annes for a weekend away with his family. Each year they all get together for the Lytham club day, which features a parade put on by all the schools, organisations, societies, churches etc within the town. It's honestly such a lovely weekend away and we always seem to end up with glorious weather! I thought it would be nice to share with you guys a little 'come with me' post and tell you a few things about the town!
We all woke up early and sat outside the house we were renting for the weekend to watch the parade go by. Luckily we chose a house that was right on the main street so it was so lovely to be able to sit with some deck chairs and watch everything from the comfort of the place we were staying. After the parade finishes we all take a walk along the front and through the town centre. Lytham is honestly one of the nicest places to visit. It's full of quaint and quirky little shops, mostly independent and family run and it just has such an amazing feeling of community! We all stopped off for an ice cream to devour whilst taking in the sea air and watching all the dogs run around in the sunshine!
After that it was time to retreat back to the house we were staying in and cook ourselves a barbecue! It was my first barbecue of the year and boy was it yummy. The weather stayed gorgeous all day and we were able to sit outside in the garden, happily enjoying the sun and ending the day with a nice bru and chit chat! If you're looking to explore any local towns or to visit more places in England I would definitely recommend heading to Lytham for a weekend. I wish I had taken some pictures of the town centre to show you guys just how beautiful it is but I was too busy enjoying it to remember to whip out my camera! It's honestly such a gorgeous place and I wish we could've stayed there for even longer. I can't wait for club day next year!


Wednesday, 13 July 2016

20 Things I Learnt In My First Year At University

Last september I finally started my degree doing an english language course at one of my local universities. I spent two gap years deciding what I wanted to do and I'm so happy that I'm finally on the right track. As my first year has now officially ended, I thought I would share some things I've learnt over the past year and give anybody starting university this september some knowledge/advice that will hopefully make them feel more calm about starting their degree! As someone who still lives at home, I can't really give any advice on halls/housemates/handling money and things like that, but most of these will apply to you regardless of whether you live at home or at uni and if you are planning to stay at home instead of living in halls, then all of these will apply to you! (Also I apologise for this being so long, I had too much to say!)

1. You will not be the only one, of anything, ever. I thought I would be the only person on my course who didn't live in halls... turns out almost everyone in my social group lives at home and the minority live in halls! There will always be someone in the same position as you.

2. You will worry far too much. You will not have done as bad as you think on that assignment, you will not fail everything and you will always have someone, whether that be a friend or a lecturer, who will talk to you and calm you down!

3. If you live at home, don't worry, you will not be left out of everything. I'm quite lucky because most of my friends from uni still live at home so when we want to meet up, we all go for food in town or go for drinks in a bar somewhere. But if you are the only one of your friendship group who lives at home then make sure they know you're willing to travel to uni to go on that night out, or happy to make the journey to meet them for a day trip if that's what you want to do. Most people will assume you're coming anyway but if you feel like they're leaving you out because you don't live as close by, let them know! Also I can guarantee someone will let you crash at their halls so you don't have to travel all the way home.

4. You won't get along with everyone, and that's 100% okay. There are some people on my course who I absolutely adore but on the flip side there are also others who I will just never get on with. The great thing about uni is that the courses are so full of people that there will always be someone on your wavelength, even if it does include some people who you need to just do your best to avoid!

5. Some lecturers will be fantastic, others not so much. I feel like this always happens regardless of whether you're at school, college or university. You're not going to love every single teacher but hopefully the majority will be amazing!

6. No matter how organised you are, at some point in the year you will be doing an assignment the night before. You start off the year with all your notes organised by colour and every single assignment written a week in advance... you end the year desperately trying to find that piece of information you need in the mountain of mismatched sheets of paper and end up writing your assignment the night before/the day it's due. I only left an assignment until the deadline day ONCE and it was the worst day ever. I have never been so stressed in my life so please, if you leave an assignment until last minute, pull an all nighter and get it done the night before!

7. Plan your assignments! Plan what you're going to talk about, section it off into paragraphs, write how many words that paragraph is going to be and then write a paragraph a day. Planning my assignments helped so much and it makes them so much less scary if you're looking at a paragraph of 250 words to write that day rather than a full 2500 essay! 

8. You can still make friends, and damn good ones, without going on student nights to sweaty cramped bars. One of the things I was most scared about when starting uni was only being able to make friends if I went to disgusting sweaty student nights in the local bars. I am not a party person and I much prefer socialising by going out for a meal or bowling or something where I won't have drunk people spilling their alcohol all over me. If you're like me, don't worry, I can guarantee the people you meet will be more than happy to go out for food or do something that you want to do, all you have to do is ask them. And if they do want to go out on the student nights and you don't then simply say no to their invitation but arrange something else for a later date so you don't miss out on socialising.

9. I don't know if this applies to every single university, but first year doesn't count towards your degree. I did not know this when I started university. In some ways I'm glad because it gives you the chance to make mistakes and learn without it affecting your degree grade, but in other ways I'm really annoyed because I managed to achieve an overall grade of a first this year and it doesn't count towards my degree. Not happy!

10. Lecturers will make you do cliche things like introducing yourself to the class or pairing up with a random person to get to know each other. This was another thing I was dreading about starting university. I am the kind of 'sit in the back minding my own business in the corner' kind of person, so when I was asked by every single bloomin' lecturer to stand up and introduce myself, or introduce myself to the person next to me, I was a nervous wreck! 

11. This won't feel as nerve-wracking or scary if you bite the bullet and introduce yourself to someone, anyone, who is nearby. On my first day I was waiting outside the classroom on my own with one other girl. We were both stood there in silence and then I decided to just bite the bullet and break the ice with 'I hope we're at the right room', which she laughed and agreed with, and then I asked what her name was and told her my name. We then got chatting about where we were from and things like that and it made it so much easier when later on our lecturer said 'turn to the person next to you and learn 5 facts about them to read to the class', I already knew them! Also when I was walking to a lecture in the first week this girl ran up to me and said 'I remember you from the other day in the induction meeting, can I stay with you?', I of course said yes and she is now my closest friend I've made on the course. Honestly, it's so much easier if you just start up a random conversation with someone, everyone is just as nervous and eager to make friends as you are!

12. The lecturers will over exaggerate some things. When I first started, my lecturers for each of my modules told me how the textbook they were showing us was going to be very important and we would need it for every lesson and I must go out and buy one as soon as possible! Of course I listened to them and I went and spent £60 on just three textbooks, only to be told 2 weeks in that actually they were just secondary reading options and the primary reading that you had to do each week was available online...! This annoyed me so much because I had essentially wasted £60 on books that I could have just got from the library as and when I needed them. If you can log online and look at the lecture plans for the module I highly recommend doing that! Then I would've known not to waste so much money on books I never even took out of the packaging. 

13. They will also be completely relaxed about things you're freaking out over, so don't worry. I had a lecturer that told us our assignment actually contained something we hadn't covered in the lessons but that we shouldn't worry about it! I then of course started freaking out because a) so was I supposed to ignore that question and only answer the others and b) what if I ignored the wrong question?! Turns out you just have to calm yourself down, do the best you can and trust that the lecturers know what their doing. I answered every question as best as I could and amazingly I managed to get a first on that coursework, so honestly, don't stress yourself out. If your lecturers aren't stressing, then you shouldn't be either! Just trust them!

14. Reference everything! Ahh referencing... something you will grow to hate when doing a university degree. Every lecturer at some point will drill into you the fact that any quote, paraphrase or any bit of information that you have read somewhere else, needs to be referenced in a certain way, otherwise you can be accused of plagiarism. I of course, being the professional stresser that I am, took this way too seriously and actually got comments on one of my assignments saying that 'I didn't need to reference common knowledge'. How do I know what's considered common knowledge and what isn't?! At the end of the day, it's better to over reference than to be accused of plagiarism!

15. Bring snacks from home. If you live at home and commute every day, bring snacks or a packed lunch! You will get hungry in your lectures and I can guarantee you'll have breaks that last 2 or more hours so make sure you bring some food! Continuously buying from the canteen shops will seriously hurt your bank balance and also isn't the healthiest option!

16. There will be people of so many different ages on your course. As I took two gap years I was under the impression that I would be older than everyone on my course, which for the majority I am, but there's also people of every age group there as well! I have a close friend who is 26 on my course and I'm sure there are some people in their late 30's/40's. I kind of love that about university, age really doesn't matter in your friendship groups!

17. Classrooms are so much nicer than lecture halls. I remember feeling like I hadn't had the 'proper university experience' because all of my lectures were in classrooms instead of lecture halls. Then I had a module that had every lecture in a lecture hall, and oh my goodness I hated it. You become so cramped because the benches have so much less room than tables and chairs and if you want to get out, your entire row has to stand up and move for you! It's got to the point now where I make all of my friends go in first and I make sure I'm sat on the end because if I'm not I just end up feeling trapped and claustrophobic! If you get classrooms, appreciate them!

18. Don't feel obliged to sign up for anything and everything, but on the flip side if something interests you, it can't hurt to go along! There will be so many groups, clubs, activities, sports and so much more available to you in university. Sometimes it can feel overwhelming and don't feel bad if you don't want to sign up for anything! I didn't and I still had an amazing first year. Although if you do like the sound of something, sign your name up and go along and if it turns out you don't like it then you don't have to go back again! I've heard lots of people say how much they love the extracurricular things that their universities offer so definitely take advantage if you want to!

19. Highlighters will become your best friend. When it's 2am and you're in the middle of writing your assignment, you will be so thankful that you highlighted that important piece of information hidden in a jumble of unnecessary text! Seriously, you will be given so much information from your lecturers, some of which won't be necessary and will just complicate things, so having highlighters present when you read through it can help so much at a later date when you need to skim read to find the important bits!

20. It will be over in the blink of an eye. I was so upset that I was starting university two years later than all my friends and on some level, I still kind of am. But after finishing first year and looking back at when I started thinking 'oh my goodness that's gone so quickly', all I can say is to just enjoy every second! Yes, university is about getting a decent degree, but it's also a huge part of your life so make sure you take the time to have fun and remember it with happiness because when it's over, you'll wonder where the time went!

I hope this has given anybody starting university this year a little insight into what it might be like. I know I would've liked some information about what to expect before I started so I hope this helps!

© SAMANTHA FRANCES. All rights reserved.