Saturday, 31 January 2015

Review - Light You Up: All We've Ever Known

Light You Up's debut album cover artwork, All We've Ever Known

     Pop punk, but not as you know it. Music genres have a tendency to be a bit too prescriptive sometimes, so it’s refreshing to come across a band who get called ‘pop punk’, but undoubtedly extend into the rock and alternative areas of the spectrum as well. All We've Ever Known is a strong debut album, full of memorable, radio-friendly tracks. There’s definitely talent behind the writing on this record.

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Films I'm Looking Forward To In 2015

     I recently wrote a post about the music I’m excited about this year, including new releases and artists I’ve only just discovered. This time around, we’re looking at films. I can be a pretty big geek about some things, so a few of these choices shouldn’t be too surprising…

Cinema screen and theatre chairs with 'Films in 2015' text
(Image source / text edited)

Avengers: Age of Ultron, UK release: 24/04
Definitely top of the list. The Marvel Cinematic Universe has churned out over ten films now, and I’ve seen and loved every single one thus far. The Avengers was a huge box office success, so I have high hopes of the sequel being just as good, if not better. While I’m a fan of Marvel’s humour, I’m also very intrigued about the darker tone of the new trailers for this one. I sense there’s going to a lot of tension and rifts between the Avengers. I’m also excited about the new additions, Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch.
Update: Review here

Ant-Man, UK release: 17/06
On a similar thread, Marvel second release of this year will be Ant-Man. Whenever they choose to introduce a new superhero into the MCU, I’m both excited about all the new possibilities this brings, but also minority worried about whether or not I’ll like them as much as I like the existing characters. However, Paul Rudd rarely disappoints, so I’m hoping Ant-Man will as good as its predecessors. I had similar feelings before seeing Guardians of the Galaxy, and that turned out to be excellent.
Update: Review here

Pitch Perfect 2, UK release: 15/05
The original film still ranks within my favourite films of all-time. I wasn’t sure it would at first; female collegiate a cappella group? But it won me over with it hilarious wit and stellar song arrangements. Anna Kendrick is also one of my favourite actresses ever (we’re in girl crush territory here guys!) so I get excited about anything she’s in. I’ll be interested to see how Elizabeth Banks fares as a director, but with any luck this film will be as good as the original.

Cinderella, UK release: 27/03
I don’t have long to wait for this one coming out. I was a huge fan of all the Disney animated classics as a child, so I’m interested to see how a live-action reboot fares. Cinderella wasn’t necessarily one of my favourites, as I’m a bit of a feminist and I don’t like the whole ‘damsel in distress’ scenario, but I’m hoping that this will be updated a bit, since it’s now 2015, without losing the nostalgic and fantastical elements that make a fairy tale. I also loved Lily James and Richard Madden in Downton Abbey and Game of Thrones respectively, so I’m keen to see more of them.

Pan, UK release: 17/07
Following on the fairy tale inspired trend, I got really excited for this after seeing the trailer. Peter Pan’s story has been told many times now, but I’m definitely intrigued to see a new take on the tale, this time showing how Peter wound up on Neverland himself. Blackbeard is also a new addition to the story, and I'm hoping we’ll also see how Pan and Hook become adversaries, when they seem to get along in the trailer. It looks to be full of adventure and fantasy, which are sure-fire ways to pique my interest.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens, UK release: 18/12
Last but not least! This is still shrouded in so much mystery, that I have no idea what to expect from it. However, having seen all the other Star Wars films, I will of course have to see this one too. Like many others, I prefer the original trilogy to the sequels (though I do like getting some of the backstory found in them), so hopefully this new instalment will not disappoint!
Update: review here

     I’m not just a blockbuster fan though! I usually find a few indie films each year that I like too, coming of age or romance stories, but I haven’t caught wind of any just yet that I’m excited for this year; hopefully they’ll come though!

Monday, 26 January 2015

Outfit of the Day - Simple Sophistication

     Neutral colours are almost a guaranteed way to make any outfit seem sophisticated and classy. These aren't particularly fancy items of clothing, but combined they make for a great smart-casual look. I don't often wear white, but I think it adds a bit of elegance here, and the peplum waist makes things a little dressier than a plain top would. My grey skinnies are like my best friend, in the world of jeans, and transitions from day to night very easily. I limited the jewellery to black and silver, with statement earring to compensate for no necklace, and the bracelet was a gift with Harry Potter themed charms (including a phoenix, goblet, lightning bolt, wolf, skull and many more!). My leather jacket is another firm favourite, ideal for adding a bit of edge for a night out.

Outfit of white peplum top, grey skinny jeans & black heeled ankle boots

Outfit of black leather jacket, white peplum top, grey skinny jeans & black heeled ankle boots

Outfit jewellery details - silver knot ring and Harry Potter charm bracelet

Outfit jewellery details - black and silver teardrop cascade earrings and silver diamante crossed ring

Outfit shoe details - low heel black ankle boots, with grey skinny jeans

Outfit of white peplum top, grey skinny jeans & black heeled ankle boots

Top - New Look, Jeans - New Look, Jacket - TopShop
Shoes - H&M, Earrings - Forever 21, Bracelet & Rings - Gifts

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Review - Fall Out Boy: American Beauty/American Psycho

    If you’re looking for a band to produce the same record over and over again, you’ve come to the wrong place. Fall Out Boy’s latest offering, 'American Beauty/American Psycho’ (click for Amazon link), the follow up to the hugely successful ‘Save Rock and Roll’, is the most experimental record to come from the band. It’s unlike any other music out there at the moment, and it’s uniqueness allows it to excel.

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Review - Into the Woods

Movie poster for Disney's Into the Woods

     Mix together several classic fairytales and throw in a lot of singing, and you’ve basically got Into the Woods. I imagine there’ll be many people who don’t enjoy this film because of these two factors, but they were both aspects that appealed to me. I’m not always a musical fan, but the fantasy of the fairytale genre lends itself well to singing; just look at all those Disney films! However, while the story was originally a Broadway show, it’s not one that I’m particularly familiar with, so I was intrigued to see how all the fairytales interwove.

Monday, 19 January 2015

Outfit of the Day - Deck of Cards

     Regular readers will know that I love a skirt & boots combination, which is pretty practical in our wet, Scottish, winter weather right now. The cardigan is also super warm and cosy, since it's freezing here! The colours in this reminded me of a card deck, and I think it's bold and fun. Sometimes I wear another top under this one, to disguise the see-through stripes, but I opted not to this time; it's a matter of personal preference with tops in this style. The tights are a new purchase, as I felt I was a bit low on patterned ones, and I like that they add a bit of interest, since the skirt and top are relatively plain.

Outfit of black striped top, red skirt, patterned tights and black boots

Outfit of grey wool cardgian, black striped top, red skirt, patterned tights and black boots

Outfit jewellery details of blue bead bracelet, silver knot ring and leaf ring

Outfit details of patterned tights and black biker boots

Outfit of black striped top, red skirt, patterned tights and black boots

Top - LaRedoute, Cardigan - New Look, Skirt - Forever 21
Tights - Primark, Boots - Even & Odd
Bracelet & Knot ring - Gifts, Leaf ring - Forever 21

Saturday, 17 January 2015

     I am a feminist. This is a statement that has garnered a lot of criticism and judgement in recent years, conjuring images of angry women trying to oppress men. This not what a feminist is. A feminist believes in gender equality, and I think it’s absurd that we still do not have this in our modern society. Feminism has risen to the forefront of many people’s minds this year, in no small part thanks to Emma Watson’s inspiring UN speech. But one of my favourite things to appear recently is Caitlin Stasey’s new website,

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Music I'm Looking Forward To in 2015

    So yesterday, after getting lost in a bottomless pit of YouTube videos, then whipping out my bank card multiple, I found myself having pre-ordered four new albums. In light of that, I thought I’d share some of my findings, and the music I’m looking forward to in 2015.

2015 in Music | All Time Low on stage at Glasgow O2 Academy concert

Monday, 12 January 2015

Outfit of the Day - Among the Wildflowers

     Floral designs have been everywhere in recent years, but it's not a trend that I'm a huge fan of. There's some nice stuff out there, and it looks good on some people, but it's never really been for me. This dress is my exception though; I love the dark colour scheme, which falls in my usual spectrum, as I often kinds florals too cute and girly for me, so this gives it a touch more edge. It's also light and easy to move in. I paired it with the black flats to keep its delicate touch, but still countering that with dark colours in the tights and jewellery. The necklace is a little bolder than usual for me, but I think it sits well in the neckline of the dress.

Wildflowers | outfit of short black and purple floral dress, with black flat shoes, tights and jewellery

Wildflowers | outfit of short black and purple floral dress, with black flat shoes, tights and jewellery

Wildflowers | black heart choker necklace worn with black and purple floral dress

Wildflowers | jewellery details, including black heart necklace, purple moonstone chunky bracelet and silver knot ring
There's a few broken parts to this bracelet, which I usually hide better than this, oops!
Wildflowers | details of black flat shoes and tights, with black and purple floral dress

Wildflowers | outfit of short black and purple floral dress, with black flat shoes, tights and jewellery

Dress - Primark, Tights - Marks & Spencer
Shoes - H&M, Jewellery - Gifts

Saturday, 10 January 2015

Musings from a Car Journey

Open road lined with trees stretching towards sunset
     The world outside rushes past, a blaze of colours and scenery. The road stretches out ahead, mile after mile of black tar with no end in sight, and no idea about all of it possible destinations. Greenery rolls past, hills and fields and trees stretching out into the horizon. Soon it could change to towering skyscrapers and crowds of pedestrians, or majestic mountain peaks, or the sparkling turquoise waters at the coast. Endless possibilities are out there, as the road, and the car, goes on and on. Heading towards somewhere, someplace, someone…? Or nowhere and nothing at all?

     Rain lashes against the windows, the wipers frantically battling against it, while the tyres splash happy through large pools of water. It’s rhythmical, patterned, constant. The hills drop away, flattening into vast open plains, beyond which, the sea shimmers in the distance, barely discernible through the thick clouds and heavy rain. Inside the car, it is warm and dry, a cocoon from the outside world, trundling on its way through it. A bubble of isolation, and life is placed on pause, while there is nothing but the road. 

     Hours could have passed, or merely minutes. Time loses meaning while the journey continues. The rain clears as the sun breaks through the clouds, beacons of bright light scattered across the land. It dips down into the horizon straight ahead, both blinding and breathtaking, sinking down to sleep for the night. Driving on, into the sunset, wondering what lies beyond it. The road never ends, stretching all across the country, providing access to all. Across the plains, down into the valleys, spiralling up mountainsides, connecting city to city. Nothing is undiscovered anymore; nothing unknown. But the road still means adventure. It means travel, exploration, freedom. The road can take us anywhere and everywhere. Everything has been seen before, but not through your eyes. People, life, the world, they’re always changing. Time rolls on faster than any car can keep up with. There’s always something new out there. Just keep following the road until you find it.

For more ‘Musings’ posts, click here.

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Wicked at the Edinburgh Playhouse

     We’re backtracking a week or so for today’s post; between Christmas and New Year some family members and I went up to Edinburgh for the day to see Wicked on its current run at the Playhouse. My sister and I got our tickets for Christmas, and it’s a musical my mum’s wanted to see for years. I only had a vague idea of the story, and ‘Defying Gravity’ was the only song I was familiar with, so I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. I definitely enjoyed it though!

Wicked the musical poster
     For those who have no clue, Wicked is the stories of the witches in The Wizard of Oz, so while it still ties in to the original story, you get a lot more background on the witches, and see the story from their point of view. I liked that it still made sense with the original, but also that you got to find out more about the land of Oz itself, and how certain things came to be. It’s certainly a good idea for a story to tell! The most important part is seeing the Wicked Witch of the West, Elphaba, in a more sympathetic light. The actress playing her was great, with a fantastic voice, and I certainly felt bad for Elphaba and understood her point of view; however, I didn’t find her the most likeable character around. Glinda seemed as if she would be superficial and possibly the ‘mean girl’, but I was pleasantly surprised by just how funny she was! Again, a superb actress, who managed to pull off the combination of ditzy, yet kind very well, making for a highly enjoyable character. The rest of the cast were great too, but it’s the leads that really shine in this musical.

Exterior of Edinburgh Playhouse theatre, showing Wicked the Musical

      One of my favourite parts of any theatre production though is the set and the costumes, which were spectacular! The clothing of Oz is so quirky and bizarre, and every costume is so intricately deigned and put together; I often found myself watching the chorus more than the leads to pick out the details in their costumes. The chorus were also a fantastic group of dancers, I’d like to add, and it’s such moments that make me wish I’d continued with dance more as a child! The set had so many complex parts and moving structures, it seemed amazing that someone had planned and constructed it all to move so seamlessly and look so effortless. Theatre may not be able to use the CGI and special effects of cinema, but it does an excellent job of replicating them in different ways. In terms of music, it had that classical musical style, nothing too unusual. I’m never a huge fan of songs interspersing the dialogue - I generally prefer them to be separated, as it makes things just a tad more believable, and makes the songs catchier - but there were some great numbers. ‘Defying Gravity’ didn’t disappoint, but I also liked ‘The Wizard and I’, ‘For Good’ and ‘Popular’.

Christmas tree & lights inside The Dome Restaurant in Edinburgh

Edinburgh Hogmanay 2014 Torchlight Procession along Princes Street

     After the show, we went to The Dome for dinner. I’d never been before, but it has a great reputation, especially at this time of year. The whole place is decked in millions of lights, with this huge tree in the middle. It doesn’t get much more festive than this place, and it feels slightly magical eating under all the lights. The food was superb as well. We then wandered down to Princes Street to watch the Torchlight Procession, the first part of the Hogmanay celebrations. I was a bit disappointed that we were too late to see the Up Helly Aa Vikings taking part, but it was still nice to watch. I couldn’t believe how many people there were! Thousands! The fireworks didn’t last as long as I’d thought they would, but the New Year ones the next day made up for it. All in all, a very nice family day out in Edinburgh!

Monday, 5 January 2015

2015: Looking Forward

2015 text on New Year fireworks background from Edinburgh Hogmanay

     Ok, so I may be a couple days late, but it’s time to think about what I want from this year. A lot of people complain about celebrating New Year, as it’s just another day really, and you can change your life any time you want. While I understand this, I do think New Year is good at making us pause and consider where our life is. We celebrate having made it through another year, then consider what’s coming next. As mentioned here, my resolutions from last year went ok, but I’m not making any this year; rather, I’m just going to discuss goals and what I hope to achieve this year.

     Writing - First up, as regular readers may have guessed, writing is very important to me. Last year’s resolution was to blog more, which I did pretty successfully. This year, I want to continue on that streak, and three posts per week seems to be a good routine for me. Beyond that though, I’d like to gain more experience or be published by other organisations. My MuggleNet position is a good start in that respect, but I don’t want to only write about Harry Potter forever. I’m looking out for internships and guest spots and competitions and the like. I’d also like to get back to my fiction sometimes. I’ve had the same novel idea churning away for years now, and have yet to get beyond the first couple of chapters (partially because I keep making changes…).

     Health - I know this is a generic resolution, and one that I tried last year, with mixed results, but I do need to get in better shape. I lost a little weight last year, but my fitness is atrocious. I don’t have specific targets for this, but I’m hoping to go out walking more and get back into yoga, and cut down on the amount of pizza and chocolate I’ve been eating lately. I hate exercise, and my weight has never concerned me, but I know that I should be leading a healthier lifestyle.

     Reading - This isn’t something I thought would ever be on a list of goals for me. When I was younger I devoured books, and I still have shelves upon shelves full of them. However, in recent years my reading has decline dramatically. Mostly I attribute this to how much reading I have to do for university, which is a hefty load, so when I finish and have time to myself, I don’t want to pick up another book, and instead turn to TV and film, which the internet gives us remarkable access to. However, this year I want to make an effort to read more again in my spare time, particularly once I finish the semester.

     Travel - This has been at the forefront of my mind for years now. 2014 was probably my most exciting year for travel so far, and I want to keep that up in 2015. Hopefully I’ll venture outside of Europe this time! So far my only definite plans include a weekend in Copenhagen for my friend’s birthday, but I’m hoping to get more than just that into this year! (I was just researching Central America before sitting down to write this…) I really want to travel a lot now, while I’m young and don’t have relationship or work commitments tying me down. I know I’ll want to settle down one day, but this is certainly not the year for it! I want to adventure and see the world before I get to all of that. And speaking of commitments…

     Graduation - Argh, that word has been freaking me out for years, and this year is when it’s actually going to happen. I only have one more semester at university and I’ll be - ugh - graduating this summer. It’s a pretty monumental moment in my life, because up until now I’ve always known what came next, school then university. But now, I have no clue what my life will involve after May. I have a couple of ideas starting to form though… My lack of commitments after May make it an ideal time to travel! I’ve been looking into teaching English abroad, as a way to earn money and see the world at the same time. I don’t want to live abroad forever, and I’m pretty sure I’ll settle back in the UK (with any luck doing a job involving writing!), but a few years travelling and teaching sounds pretty appealing right now. And of course, it would make great material for this blog! No definite plans yet, but fingers crossed…

     Opportunities & the Unknown - I want to take more opportunities this year and try new things. Too often in the past I’ve turned things down out of fear or uncertainty, but in the past few years I’ve become more confident and independent, so I think I can push myself into trying more new things now. I especially want to get better at doing things alone, rather than missing out because no one else wants to. I got better at this last year in France, when I didn’t have my friends around to ask to do things with me, but haven’t done so well on this since I’ve been back and actually around my friends again.

     Other things I’m looking forward to this year (which you’ll no doubt hear about on here!) include several concerts in the next few months, another family wedding over the summer, the trip to Copenhagen and my 21st birthday. The last months of university are looking pretty busy; it’s the latter half of the year that’s dauntingly empty. I’m kind of excited though. As good as university has been, I’m looking forward to new adventures and challenges. I have no idea where I’ll be this time next year - hopefully travel and writing will feature in somehow! - and that both terrifies and excites me. So while I do have some goals this year, I certainly don’t have much in the way of concrete plans. As always, I’m still just muddling through life!

Saturday, 3 January 2015

Edinburgh Hogmanay Street Party

     Happy New Year everyone! I hope 2015 treats you all well. My last post was a look back at 2014, and there will be one soon where I look forward into 2015, but for today I want to share with you how I spent New Year’s Eve. It’s not an occasion that I usually get particularly excited about, as I don’t think anyone’s night ever lives up to the hype they put on it. However, New Year’s Eve - or Hogmanay as we call it - has long been a big deal in Scotland, bigger than Christmas for many, so I thought I’d finally give the Edinburgh Street Party a go.

9pm fireworks at Edinburgh Hogmanay Street Party 2014
9pm Fireworks
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