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I'm not one to often watch TV or films, I'm far too fidgety and my mind always drifts to something else I should be doing. I need to practice mindfulness, I know. However, there are a good few films out there that have really captured my attention over time, you know those that stay with you afterwards and even possibly impact your perspective on IRL things?

My dad is a pro at turning the living room into a cinematic experience, so I love settling down to watch a good film at my parent's house. If you're looking for a good option, however, here's some advice from the pro himself - definitely, definitely go HD (4K preferably, which is about 4 times more detailed than original HD - I would not wanna be an actor in this day and age!), 'size is everything' so don't scrimp (personally I also wouldn't recommend going too large if you're working with a small space, you don't want the room to be 90% screen). and invest in a surround sound system. The Panasonic 4K TV range is a good place to go, as they look swish and stylish too with minimal frames.

Anyway, once you've got your viewing set-up sorted, I highly recommend having a watch of any of the below you haven't already seen:

1. Almost Famous 

Almost Famous is loosely based on the director, Cameron Crowe's experiences and the 70s rock band/groupie scene. The slightly geeky protagonist leaves his overprotective mother who wants him to become a lawyer, to tour with a rock band, and write about it for Rolling Stone magazine. Not only is this film hilarious and insightful, part of my love for it comes largely due to the inspiring 70s styling, which is just brilliant. Kate Hudson in this film is aesthetic goals.

ALMOST FAMOUS

2. The Boat That Rocked

I love any film related to rock music I think. Another brilliant, comedy-drama. I haven't watched this for a while now but it's one that, at the time I remember laughing at so hard and really enjoying the whole rock 'n roll vibe.

THE BOAT THAT ROCKED

3. The Shawshank Redemption

Until last year I had never seen this classic, I have now seen it a total of once, but it's a must for this list – and as you can see by the above, I don't just choose classics for classic's sake.

THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION

4.  Amanda Knox

I was reluctant to include a documentary on this list but honestly, this documentary about the Meredith Kercher murder is so fascinating. Primarily because Amanda Knox, who was imprisoned for four years for the murder of her housemate features as a speaker in the film. How the filmmakers got her to agree to it is beyond me, because even if she is innocent, it's all still very controversial. It's fascinating to hear her side of the story and the side of the authorities to the point where you can psychoanalyse their facial expressions and emotions.

AMANDA KNOX

5. Pulp Fiction

Gripping and a great soundtrack. There's not much more to say, it's a winner!

PULP FICTION

6. Django Unchained

While most films have me scrolling Insta half an hour in, this is a strong attention grabber – and holder. I thoroughly enjoyed Django, with its mix of drama, action and history, from start to finish. I'm actually craving watching it again soon TBH because I can't even fully remember it now, woops! I swear it is good though.


DJANGO UNCHAINED

7. The Lion King

Because nothing has ever affected my emotions as much as when Scar lets Mufasa fall into the path of the stampeding wildebeest.

THE LION KING ANIMATION

8. Boyhood

Because it was filmed over 12 years with the same cast and follows the story of growing up. The realest Bildungsroman.

BOYHOOD FILM

9. The Notebook

Cliché for a reason. I challenge you to watch The Notebook and not cry.


THE NOTEBOOK

10. The Big Lebowski

For the lols. The protagonist, a middle-aged guy, gets mistaken for a millionaire and all unravels from there in the most unlikely yet HILARIOUS fashion. A must-see for all.

THE BIG LEBOWSKI

Let me know what your favourite films are, I always love suggestions!x

My Top 10 Films



I'm going through a bit of a strange style phase at the moment. Whereas sometimes I know exactly what I want and what suits me when it comes to fashion and style, right now I'm a bit lost - nothing in the shops is really exciting me and I just can't seem to find anything I absolutely love or want to spend my money on.

In times like these, it's important to remember the classics. And invest in any you don't have if you have a need to spend money... At least this way you won't be wasting $$$$ on some bizarre trend that you don't really like and will only wear for one month.

All Saints


1. Leather biker jacket

You probably have one already, but this has to be on the list. Personally, I have about 5 - a H&M one, a Zara one, a Topshop one and an All Saints one. All faux bar the latter which was a great investment as it has halted my constant purchasing of new faux versions. Ultimately I have probably saved money...

I'd highly recommend All Saints' Balfern jacket, with its relaxed shape, chunky hardware and super soft leather it can transform literally any outfit from standard to edgy and stylish. It looks great over wide leg jumpsuits, floral dresses and with jeans and a tee.

I've realised while creating this post that I do not have many outfit posts featuring my beloved Balfern. I am shocked and appalled and promise a change.

Topshop


2. Black jeans

A good pair of black jeans, either skinny or straight leg, will get you far (or at least from your desk to the pub). I like to pair them with baggy floral blouses and ankle boots for gigs, meals out, the pub etc, a nice shirt and flats for work and a big fur coat in winter.

However, I do I like to keep them up-to-date by investing in slight variants on the style over time, because let's face it, plain black jeans can get boring even if you style them in 789,327,389 different ways. For example, in 2014 I had simple black Topshop Joni jeans, then in 2015/16 I swapped them for the more on-trend ripped jeans, and now I have my eyes on these lace up beauties.

Zara

3. Ankle boots

I wear ankle boots every season, yep, including summer! I think they look just as good with thick tights or cropped jeans in winter as they do with bare legs and short hemlines in summer. They're comfy, they go with almost anything - what's not to love?!

I usually purchase mine from Topshop or ASOS, then wear them to the death. And sometimes beyond - my favourite 60s style boots from 2016 developed a rather large gap between the upper layer (not sure of the technical term) and the sole, meaning any slight puddle would lead to complete soaking of the foot - yet I wore them anyway. If I had any doubts as to the high levels of puddles in the UK I am no longer under any illusion.

I'm not even going to link you to an example of how I wear them because almost all of my outfit posts feature ankle boots so just browse the many styling options here if you wish!

Topshop


4. Breton striped top

This is possibly my favourite classic. Actually it's a difficult one to call, but it's close. The striped tee will always be on trend, always be incredibly versatile when it comes to styling (wear with dungarees, jeans and trainers, a floral skirt) and usually it will be super cheap too. Cost per wear will be incredible on this item.

Check out how I styled it here - this outfit made it on to Topshop's style gallery!

Jack Wills


5. The Trench Coat

I've been hunting for the perfect trench coat FOR AGES. It's the only one of the classics on this list that I haven't yet conquered, but having recently discovered Jack Wills' how to style a trench coat guide and incredible range of options (I just can't decide between the Dollyhill and the Duncombe), I don't think I'll be without one for very long.

Don't get me wrong, I have purchased trench coats before but for one reason or another they haven't been perfect, either too orange (I like a cool beige shade) or too wide-shouldered, or too long. So I think perhaps it's time to stop hunting for a cheaper option and invest in a decent, high quality trench.

If you have found the perfect trench coat, please do let me know!

Ray Ban

6. Classic sunglasses

Whether you prefer round metal Ray Bans, Aviators or oversized 70's style sunnies - invest in a style that suits you because sunglasses improve almost every outfit in my opinion.

Casio


7. A Casio watch

Yep, I'm an accessories fanatic, so I also think this watch is a must. I can't live without a watch and this one, which you can find online for under £20, is lightweight for a start, so you barely know you're wearing it (as opposed to my chunky DKNY watch which attacked my hand when changing gears in the car, often leaving visible marks – like seriously, going from 4th to 3rd was a nightmare of epic proportions for the back of my hand), it's digital, minimising confusion – which actually does often come with design-led watches, as proven by my mum's inability to tell the time when wearing her numberless, spangly Gucci thing. And it has alarm functions – none of which I have ever used purposefully, but nevertheless, I can assure you it has them! Plus it's been fashionable for years and the fact that they're still selling it in Urban is surely a sign that it's still cool.

Birkenstock


8. Birkenstocks

Okay, so they may not be fashionable forever, but I reckon they will be for a while because they are SO COMFY. This is like a skinny jean phenomena all over again. Except they're not actually that flattering, at least not for someone with skinny legs and large feet like me. Oh well.

These are all my personal favourites, but please let me know if there's anything you think I've missed! x


8 must-have investment pieces


Summer is my favourite of the seasons and it can be really easy to look good in summer - the sun gives out free tans and skin clearing help, you get more fresh air and look bright eyed (unless you have hayfever in which case you probs look like this - I feel ya)... HOWEVER side effects include dry skin, the requirement to bare a lot of your previously covered body and frizzy, frizzy hair. Monica in Barbados is me, and will be next week in Rhodes so stay tuned to lol at me.


1. Coconut oil

I have literally been living and breathing coconut oil recently. Having tried EVERYTHING to bring my combination, spot prone skin to clear, glowing beautifulness and spending $$$'s on products from Clarins, The Body Shop, Liz Earle, Lush, I have stumbled upon the incredible effects of a £3 tub of coconut oil and have been looking no further for weeks.

When my skin was super duper dry and my sample of Clinique's skin oil had diminished, I looked to home remedies as I couldn't afford to replace it. I ended up covering my face in this and waking up with it feeling so much smoother, fresher and clearer (although I did have my doubts that oil would make my spots worth, it seems to be doing the opposite!).

For summer when the sun dries your skin, I'd say coconut oil is a must, mix a bit up with your current evening moisturiser, cover your hair in it overnight, or even wear it during the day if you're an addict like me.

Coconut oil, £3 Tesco


2. Dove Summer Glow
Fancy some tanned, glowing and mega healthy looking skin? Look no further! This is a godsend. I have used it for years, simply popping it on morning and night a few days before I wanna look great. Be warned, it improves confidence by 98%.

Dove Summer Glow, £3.50 Amazon


3. Bondi Sands
For when you have left it too late for a build-up moisturiser and need a flawless, natural-looking Australian tan in minutes. Last minute nights out do not need to be tainted with pale leg sadness when you have this lil gem. Just make sure you have a fake tan glove - I keep forgetting to bring mine to my parents' to the dismay of my mum who has chucked around 3 tan-stained Primark socks. Soorrryy Andrea.

Bondi Sands Summer Bronze Wash Off, £9.99 Asos

4. Rock Rose by Clive Christian
I was kindly sent some samples of luxury interiors and perfume brand, Clive Christian's brand new range Noble VII, and as a result, inadvertently have a new summer perfume choice (or maybe life perfume choice if someone can afford to splash out £350 for me).

The range consists of two perfumes and the packaging reads 'The Richness of Rock Rose and deep sensuality of the Cosmos Flower unravel in these exotic yet unapologetically British perfumes'. My favourite is Rock Rose, which weirdly is the masculine scent of the pair with citrus, neroli and cocoa notes. Anyone else prefer masculine fragrances?

I'll definitely run Rock Rose down first, but Cosmos Flower won't last much longer. Both are beautifully crafted and, whereas with some perfumes you get a harsh strength, these are smooth and quite clearly very well crafted. The packaging is bloody beautiful too so if you're looking for perfume gift sets (I'm thinking a his and her wedding gift), they're the perfect luxury choice.

Rock Rose by Clive Christian, £350


5. John Freida's Frizz Ease Serum
It's a classic, I was even considering not including it as it's too obvious. If you don't have it go and buy it now!

My hair is unfortunately prone to flyaways and frizz because (according to an expert) I have 'thin hair' but 'a lot of it', which I assume is what leads to strands snapping and sticking up on end. This serum has saved me for years, especially in the heat and I literally couldn't live without it. I've tried multiple others including oils and gels and bladibla but I ALWAYS come back to this. No grease, just smooth, silkiness. Invest.

John Freida's Frizz Ease Serum £6.99, Superdrug




Top 5 Summer Beauty Essentials

North East Fashion Blogger Photoshoot at Wynyard Hall
North East Fashion Blogger Photoshoot at Wynyard Hall
North East Fashion Blogger Photoshoot at Wynyard Hall
North East Fashion Blogger Photoshoot at Wynyard Hall
Dress: Topshop
Tights: Tesco
Boots: Topshop
Jacket: All Saints
Top: Urban Outfitters
Rings: Dixi & Rock 'n Rose
Sunglasses: Asos

I absolutely love this midi dress, while I usually avoid midi dresses because they tend to drown me, this Topshop one is a delight. The fit is body-skimming yet not too tight so very flattering, and the leg slit is perfect for showing off your fishnets and making it a bit more casual.

It's also so so versatile. I've worn it with a band tee over the top too, and got complimented on my 'skirt', and while this is a bit more of a relaxed look with the top underneath, I'm also excited to wear it as a normal dress with heels for an occasion (not sure which occasion yet, but it will happen!)

I'm loving the floral midi look so much now that I am tempted to get this too - and wear it with the feminist top because I feel like I'd be letting the female side down if I didn't jump on that bandwagon.

Anyway, in case you're wondering where this beautiful backdrop is, it's Wynyard Hall in Teesside - so pretty isn't it?! And the photos are by Charlie Müller, a photographer also based in the North East, this was our first shoot and I've got to say I am so pleased with the results! Check him out on Instagram, he does amaazing landscapes also.

We're looking for some other great places to shoot, so if you know of anywhere I'd love to hear!






OOTD: Summer Layers


I first discovered Blossoms thanks to Apple Music's recommended for you algorithm and I gotta say I love their 80s pop-cum-indie rock inspired tunes - well done Apple Inc.

Not only do I personally really enjoy their music but when I saw them at Leeds Festival last year I really got the feeling they were on the cusp of something quite big (as cliche as it sounds). You know how you can sometimes see up-and-comers and think hmm, decent but I'm not 100% convinced of your long-term success... Just me? Anyway, Blossoms was not at all like this, the atmosphere in the (largely younger than me) crowd was so full of excitement. This may be due to the build up from the 8,920,433 festivals they seemed to play last year, or their backing by Radio 1 but personally, I think their talent and cool/creative vibe that Manchester bands tend to exude makes for exactly what we need in music right now.

Fast forward a few months and I went to see them again at Newcastle's o2 Academy. The set was preeetty similar with similar banter in between songs (points for actually having banter - its so disappointing when bands just play song after song as if they just want to get it over with) and similar crowd-pleasing covers thrown in (Oasis etc).

I went with my friend Jenny who hadn't heard of them but recognised a few songs, and even she really, really enjoyed it. While some bands and songs you see live without having previously listened can just sound like noise (sorry music aficionados, maybe this is just me), Blossoms, with their upbeat melodies are always enjoyable I feel - on first hear and 500,889th.

PS anyone else gone through the trauma of taking a break from Apple Music for a while (or like me, gone to the dark side with Spotify) then returned to find ALL YOUR MUSIC AND PLAYLISTS HAVE GONE. And not only this but the recommendations have gone from Blossoms to country music?! I'm struggling to find good, new music now so recommendations from humans are welcome!

Review: Blossoms


Dungaree dress: Glamorous (similar here, but I love this one too... and this)
Breton striped top: H&M (similar here)
Boots: Topshop
Sunglasses: Asos (similar here, but these are goals)

As someone who tends to be mistaken for an under 18 as standard, I never know where to draw the line with youthful sartorial choices. I usually draw it around 'something fierce and edgy which hopefully indicates I am at least my real age'. And when I say fierce and edgy, I literally mean I wear a lot of black, leather and chunky boots (especially the above which I have become addicted too - I 100% promise I have outfit posts coming which do not feature these chunky dreamboats - dreamboots?)

However this outfit (which I know isn't very original in its styling - it's one of those turn up to work and find at least one colleague looking like your twin ensembles - this actually happened btw) makes me feel like a shorter and less cool Alexa Chung. I think I took this comparison so far that in photo no.1 I am channeling her presenter pose - don't I look like I'm just about to welcome guest no.1 to It's On with Sophie Spaldin? Or talk s*** on Freshly Squeezed (lol remember that gem?!)













OOTD: Dungaree Dress

Summer is fast approaching and I keep finding my mind wandering to travel. I've had some amaazing holidays over the last couple of years, last year I went to Budapest for a week, which included a spa party, a trip to the baths, and the incredible Sziget Festival, as well as a more relaxing, all inclusive week in Rhodes, and the year before I went to Split in Croatia where we visited the beautiful waterfalls and the island of Hvar which is filled with beautiful yachts, hotels and restaurants.

This year I have nothing booked. Please feel sorry for me. A couple of my friends are moving to Australia for a while in September, so the plan among my friends is to save and head there for New Year, and I will be booking somewhere with my parents and maybe my cousin too so it's not the end of the world but I would prefer to have something in place by April.

The difficulty comes in deciding where to go. The options with my parents are so far shaping up to be either a Greek island or Las Vegas (so similar, right?). Of course, I'm pro either of these but I also really want to go to A LOT of other places so I thought it would be fun to compile a top 5 - let me know yours too! I always find these things so interesting!


1. Miami
I just think Miami looks so pretty - like a little world of sun, pastel colours and palm trees. And the beach just looks AMAZING


2. Santorini
I mean, ideally I'd have a boyfriend for this one as it's supposedly full of couples what with being one of the most romantic destinations in the world (I think it's officially classed as this). My cousin and I were going to go but aren't sure it would be the best idea for two girls?! She wants me to find a boyfriend ASAP so we can do a double date hol... She may be waiting a while.


3. Atlantis
I'm not going to lie, I've wanted to stay here since seeing Mary-Kate & Ashley's Holiday in the Sun circa 2002. I am still waiting for my parents to take me, despite continuing to drop it into conversation continuously for 15 years.


4. Lake Garda
As my mum keeps reminding me when I mention my desire to go to LG, I have been there before. I'd like to point out that I was so young that I can't remember and also that it was a DAY TRIP. Do day trips even count?! Anyway, it just looks so beautiful and relaxing, it's probably perfect for a chilled getaway or a family holiday if you have kids, and although it sounds expensive - there are cheap options, Eurocamp do tents, lodges and holiday homes, which would solve the problem I have of going with my family but needing our own space.



5. San Francisco/Thailand
I couldn't stick to 5 lol. But both of the above I want to go to equally and actually couldn't decide between... I'd probably have to do a lot more research to sway one way or the other.

Thailand beach

Since I'm so indecisive, and a few of my destinations are on Route 66, I really want to include this Trek America trip as an option but I feel that may be cheating. It goes to Las Vegas, Miami, San Fran, LA, New York and Seattle - how amazing would this be?!



Wanderlust: top 5 destinations

Fishcakes  and bagel at Filmore & Union Low Petergate York
Filmore & Union Low Petergate York

I love day trips to York - it's such a pretty city! And the last two times I've visited, I've ate lunch at Filmore & Union. 

I only write reviews when I really, really love somewhere and I've got to say I really am a massive fan of this place! I love healthy food anyway (it always tastes better when it's good for you, doesn't it?!) and they do it so well. Plus the place itself is really chilled - it's located across two floors in one of the old buildings in Low Petergate and is filled with ornate mirrors and white tables. 

They also offer delicious teas, juices, infusions and vegan and gluten/dairy free desserts, which look amazing (you can kinda see them behind my head in the above photo)! Unfortunately I've been too full on both occasions to give them a go.

This time I went with my mum and she got the salmon bagel, while I opted for the slightly more expensive smoked haddock and sweet potato fishcakes, which come with a choice of two salads from the deli (the salads range from quinoa to lentils, broccoli & kale and courgetti), I chose the lentils and quinoa and the added extra of poached eggs. I thought I might as well go for it since I'd already ate here and knew how good it was! I'd highly recommend this dish, I got the salad plate last time (3 choices from the deli for £9) and it was good, but this was way more filling.


www.filmoreandunion.com


Review: Filmore & Union