Friday, 22 June 2018

Top 5 must-see acts @ TRNSMT 2018 and looking after your skin at a festival

I've not heard much about TRNSMT Fest, which takes place in Glasgow across 2 weekends at the end of June and the beginning of July - but I thought I'd take a look and see which bands and artists might be worth seeing if you're heading up to the festival!

Hudson Taylor, Sunday 8th July // I absolutely love these lads, and their music is beautiful Irish folk that truly soothes the soul. They're definitely worth a watch - I'm yet to see them live, because I was in hospital when I was supposed to see them, but I just know they'd be amazing.

Wolf Alice, Saturday 30th June // female-fronted alt-rock? Check. I think it's really important to support female artists at festivals because they're so few and far between but this lot are amazing anyway, so you'd be daft to miss them.

James Bay, Friday 29th June // I love love love James' voice and his guitar playing, and I can imagine how chilled out yet still fun this set would be - sat on a picnic blanket with a beer in hand, surrounded by pals in the sunshine.

Jessie J, Friday 29th June // I'm living for Jessie J being on a few different festival line-ups this year - she's one of those artists that's so much fun to see live because she's clearly loving every second of it, and her songs themselves are both well-known and absolute bops. She also has a habit of giving a pretty deep speech while on stage; I think I've cried every time I've seen her...

Picture This, Friday 29th June // another Irish duo on the bill but this time it's pop, and it's glorious - perfect if you want a bit of a dance with your besties on a summers day.

As the title suggests I also wanted to have a chat about looking after your skin a festival; Amphora Aromatics sent me a festival survival kit* and it's got some great products in to make sure you're protecting your skin from the mud/sun/rain/alcohol/lack of sleep that comes alongside a festival. No matter how much fun you're having, it's definitely important to take your make up off (their green tea & aloe vera cleansing wipes are brill for this - they're not the wettest of wipes but they're gentle and they do get your make up off) and take care of your skin - AA do a lavender gel which is 'calming and multipurpose' which is great because it's antiseptic too, so if you do get any drunken cuts or scrapes you've got something to take care of them.

The kit also came with a frankincense and rose face toner which is a really lovely spritz to wake yourself up a bit after you've had those few precious hours of uncomfortable sleep crammed in a two man tent with three of your mates. It smells lush, too, which you probably won't after a couple of nights in a field. If you're the sort of person who wants to wash your hair at a festival (I'm not, because I'm lazy and hate queuing) then the zing fresh shampoo bar is perfect for you - it smells boss and won't take up too much room in your rucksack.

What bands would you go & see at TRNSMT? If you're going, have fun and stay safe!

Tuesday, 19 June 2018

A very nostalgic playlist

Last week, I was sat in my kitchen with Holly and we'd listened to my Spring playlist which is, in her words, 'not as a shit as I expected' - but I didn't fancy playing it through again, so I was clicking on various Spotify playlists to see if there were any good ones. They mostly have the same old rubbish on them, and we settled for the 00s playlist which started off okay and then got suddenly brilliant when '5 Years Time' by Noah & The Whale came on. And then all these memories came rushing back of Now That's What I Call Music! 71 which I had on CD, and I used to play it on my CD player and dance around my room to '5 Years Time', 'Take Back The City' by Snow Patrol and 'Cookie Jar' by Gym Class Heroes. I was about 12 and I used to straighten my fringe but not the rest of my hair, and I wore stripy paperclips on my school tie and fancied a boy who from year 11 just because he had a flying V guitar, and I was possibly the least cool person on the planet. Not much has changed but this whole moment got me thinking of other songs that remind me of being young, so here's a very nostalgic playlist for you...

The Mission District supporting Simple Plan in Liverpool, 2008
The songs span a whole range of genres because when I was little, I loved boybands and Atomic Kitten and then one day, Kerrang! was on the TV and I heard 1985 by Bowling For Soup for the first time which was probably some sort of awakening. Although as songs go it's not particularly "heavy", it's a lot heavier than anything Boyzone have ever put out and I wanted more, so I sat on the living room floor and watched Kerrang! for hours and discovered there was a lot more to music than cheesy pop. And this playlist has cheesy pop on it, but it also has 'emo' music and pop punk and prog rock - a mish mash of musical wonder that perfectly illustrates my youth. 

What songs remind you of being younger? What gigs did you go to in your teens?

Sunday, 17 June 2018

Funky festivals around the world

Festival season has well and truly arrived - we've already had Download and Parklife, and there's loads more UK festivals coming up throughout the rest of the summer. But what about festivals in other countries? I'm working with Destination2 to showcase some festivals around the world that are a little bit different to being drunk at 6am in your average field in the north of England...

Cairo Jazz Festival // I love Egypt and I love jazz and I think this would be so much fun - the festival hosts jazz musicians from all over the world and it looks like one big exciting party full of very cool and talented people. What more could you want? This one's in October so it's not too hot, either. Find out more here.

Benicàssim // You've probably heard of this one already, and it's one I've been dying to go to for years as there always seems to be a really interesting line up. Benicàssim is a region in Spain, and the festival takes place in July so it's hot hot hot - this year sees Travis Scott, The Killers, Pet Shop Boys and Liam Gallagher headlining but further down the line up there's some real gems: Hudson Taylor, Bob Moses, Wolf Alice. Find out more here.

Taste of Dubai // Music festivals are fun and all but who doesn't love food?! Taste of Dubai is three days long and is full of food and drink, as well as a bit of musical entertainment. There's celebrity chefs, the weather is pretty much guaranteed to be amazing, and you can get really involved in cooking and stuff. Find out more here.

Aleppo Photography Gathering // Something a bit different is this photography festival in Aleppo, Syria, which showcases both local and international photographers' work as well as hosting lectures, workshops and concerts. I can imagine how incredible it would be to see such beautiful photography and I think there would be a lot to learn. Find out more here.

Pol'and'Rock // This is a 3-day music festival in the west of Poland which has 4 stages, various genres (mostly rock, but jazz and pop too), and a lot of culture to boot. It's really focused on promoting lesser-known artists, which I love, but the line up this year also includes bands such as the Goo Goo Dolls and You Me At Six. Oh, also, the festival is FREE - it's organised by a charity and funded by donations. Find out more here.

So there you have it - some boss festivals outside of the UK. You can check prices to Dubai here if you're interested in Taste of Dubai, and have a look at where else Destination2 travel to in case there's anywhere that takes your fancy!

Friday, 15 June 2018

The Shark Club // book review

Sharks are my favourite animals - at least, they're joint top with bees. But I've loved sharks since I was tiny. And I love books, so a book about sharks was destined to be a winner for me. AND, this book just so happens to be written by the daughter of my number 1 favourite author ever, so I had high hopes for The Shark Club by Ann Kidd Taylor.

The book follows Maeve, who was bitten by a shark when she was little and is now a marine biologist - she's just arrived back at her grandmother's hotel in Florida following a research trip, and she throws herself back into life there until she realises her ex boyfriend is back in town and everything goes a bit crazy. Add to that the fleeting romance she had on the aforementioned research trip, as well as her troubled brother and a nasty shark-finning operation, life is far from simple for lovely Maeve.

Having said that, it's a fairly simple book to read; even though there's a lot going on, it's written in a way that just makes sense and it's easy to keep up with the story line. The descriptions and small details are wonderful, and the characters are written in a way that feels like you know them, and there are loads of shark facts which is obviously boss. There's also some twists in the plot that I really didn't see coming, and I like that in a book. I like that you think everything is great and you know exactly where it's going and then BAM almost like being bitten by a shark, something out of the blue changes the direction of the entire story.

All in all, this is an easy read but a lovely story about sharks, first love, and key lime pies, about growing up and literary quotes and blue skies. It's got romance, mystery, humour - and, I think, it's the sort of book you could read in a day on the beach with a cocktail in hand.

This wonderful book came out on paperback last week and I would definitely recommend it; thank you so much to Penguin for sending me a copy. If anyone has read this or does read it, let me know what you think!

Tuesday, 12 June 2018

My top 5 places to eat in Liverpool

Recently I've been going out for food a lot which basically has no downsides because I love food, and luckily Liverpool is jam-packed with restaurants and cafés and bars that serve food. So here's my top 5 places to eat in our lovely crazy city - let me know your recommendations too!

Para Ti
Para Ti // top of the list is my favourite tapas bar, which is tucked away at the bottom of Mathew Street up some steps, and honestly you'd probably miss it if you weren't looking for it. It's very authentically Spanish, and the food is just on another level - it's about £50 for 5 tapas dishes, cheesy garlic bread and two glasses of wine which is easily enough for two people because everything is huge. I would sooooo highly recommend this place if you're in town; the staff are lovely and the decor is gorgeous, too.

Mowgli // most people have been to or at least heard of Mowgli by now, but I had to include it; there's one on Bold Street and a newer/bigger one on Water Street. You get real personal interaction with the staff (no conveyer belt nonsense like some chains tend to have) and the food is absolutely stunning. It's fairly affordable, too - for two of us last time we had a main each, some rice/potatoes/bread and a drink each and it was just over thirty quid. They're popping up all over the country now so definitely check them out!

Il Forno
Il Forno // I've reviewed this place before (check that out here) but if you want somewhere a little bit special that does beautiful Italian food and fancy cocktails in a really pretty setting, this is the place for you. It's fairly pricy but for a birthday or anniversary, or just a Treat Yourself day, it's so very worth a wander up to Duke Street.

American Pizza Slice // for somewhere cheap, cheerful and relatively quick, this is the one. Their pizza is to die for and the deals are really good value. There's one on Bold Street and one near the Metquarter - they play good tunes, do decent beer and it's an all round good vibe.

Chaophraya // I'd never really eaten Thai food until I first went here a few years ago, but it was worth the wait - also they have fish swimming around and it's so beautiful decorated. They have a really good wine selection, too, if that's what you're into, and some very fancy puddings. Again it's a bit expensive but for something special, I wouldn't hesitate!

What's the best restaurant in YOUR city?