Review: The Abbey Hotel, Redditch

Over the weekend I went away on a work trip to deliver some social media training with a colleague. It was a long old weekend, on Friday morning we drove up to Warrington (in total from Brighton to Warrington via Guildford it took about seven hours) and then when we arrived at our hotel we spent two hours running over our presentation. It was one of those evenings where I was so tired I felt sick and could barely keep my eyes open. We stayed at a Premier Inn, which was cheap and cheerful (the shower was amazing though!).

We delivered our first training session on Saturday morning in Warrington; and at lunchtime we then drove to south Birmingham for the afternoon’s training. When we finished at about 5pm we went on to our final hotel, the Abbey Hotel in Redditch. Set in the grounds of a golf course, it was a huge place. There were two restaurants on site, a bar and a health club with treatment rooms and a swimming pool (we tried to each have a beauty treatment following our long working weekend but it was closed by the time we got there, damn it!).

As we checked in at reception we were told that one of us had been given a room upgrade. I waited with baited breathe as she read out my name – YEESSSS! I had an executive suite and once I was given my keycard I practically ran all the way up to my room. Continue reading

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My favourite movie soundtrack: (500) Days of Summer

When Currys asked me to write about my favourite movie soundtrack I really had to give it some thought. There are loads of film soundtracks I like: Stand By Me, Wayne’s World, American Pie (it appeals to my teenage love of pop punk), About A Boy, Pulp Fiction, Trainspotting, Whip It, the list goes on. It was difficult to narrow it down.

So although I’ve decided to focus on (500) Days of Summer the soundtrack is not my definitive favourite, just one of many.

I think the thing about movie soundtracks is that they put you right back in the film. The right song, and the right soundtrack can really make a scene. Just consider ‘Stuck in the middle’ in Reservoir Dogs. I can’t listen to that song without thinking about the harrowing scene. It’s so powerful!

**FILM SPOILERS**

I’ve picked (500) Days of Summer because I love the film (and it makes me totally fall in love with Summer’s wardrobe whenever I watch it) and it’s not a typical love story – as the narrator points out at the start. It’s a feel-good movie (generally), sure, but it’s up and down and it doesn’t work out in the end.

Anyway, let’s look at some of my soundtrack highlights.

The first song’s a great start: ‘Us’ by Regina Spektor is uplifting but also sounds quite innocent and I love her voice.

Morrissey and The Smiths are obviously heavily focused on in the film because their music is a shared love of the two main characters. I love the scene in the elevator where Tom’s listening to ‘There is a light that never goes out’ through his headphones and Summer starts singing along to it. It’s actually the music that initially brings them together.

And it’s super cute when Tom’s drunk and sings ‘Here comes your man’ by Pixies at the work karaoke.

But hands down my favourite scene, which is hugely due credit to the song, is the scene directly after they sleep together for the first time. Tom leaves his apartment with a skip in his step to ‘You make my dreams’ by Daryl Hall and John Oates and it turns into an choreographed dance scene like you’d get in an 80s movie. Everyone dances together – and everyone is wearing blue. In fact, I love this scene so much I’ve mentioned it before on my blog, but dammit I’m mentioning it again and here’s the video of the scene once more:

What’s your favourite movie soundtrack?

This is an entry to a Currys competition.

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Vogue’s Fashion Night Out at Superdry

Last week I had the pleasure of attending Vogue’s Fashion Night Out at Superdry on Regent Street, London. I got a sneak peek at Superdry’s new autumn collection – and there are some gorgeous pieces in there!

superdry premium room

I normally think of the women’s clothing at Superdry as being quite sporty and I suppose quite masculine, but I was wrong. There’s a real urban feel to the collection but there’s also classicism and femininity.

superdry aw14 leather jackets

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The story of my home

What makes a house a home? I admit I’ve struggled to make my house really feel like mine (I say mine loosely as it’s rented so by ‘mine’ I mean feel as mine as possible!) on a tight budget. Because I really think it’s the little details that make it and it’s normally those little things that are neglected on a small budget in favour of more ‘essential’ items. I admit, lots of the things around our home are still things we inherited for free or bought because they were cheap (ie second hand furniture that isn’t our taste or Ikea stuff that ‘will do’). But it’s the trinkets, artwork, photos and personal bits that make my house feel like my home.

I definitely haven’t got my whole house to feel like home – it’s a work in progress – but I’m almost happy with the living room so I thought I’d focus on that for this blog post.

Living room fireplace

I love the fireplace area because I suppose it’s the statement wall. It’s what the sofa faces so it’s the wall we see most of the time. The main image is a print by Roy Lichtenstein. I got this from the Lichtenstein exhibition at the Tate last year and loved it – I couldn’t leave without bring home something with me. I love the style of his work and this seemed to match some of Rob’s tastes too. Above it you’ll see a pair of 3D glasses and a Hilly Valley town fair flag, both mementos from the recent Back to the Future Secret Cinema… Continue reading

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Review: Gluten-free food at Pizza Express

At the weekend Rob and I went to Pizza Express in Brighton. I’d heard really good things about the pizza bases there by fellow gluten-freers and Coeliacs so I was keen to try it out for myself.

When we got there we were greeted by a very friendly waiter – and that was something that was really noticeable actually. Not to skip to the end, but from the moment we arrived to the moment we left the staff were very personable and friendly – almost to the point where it felt like we were in a little local independent restaurant rather than a large chain. It was really nice.

As we sat down and were handed menus, I immediately asked for the gluten-free menu. I’d already checked out the menu online so had a good idea about what I’d pick for my main. The waiter then told me that actually there was just the one menu and that all the gluten-free options were clearly marked – AND that I could have any of the pizza toppings on a gluten-free base. The gluten-free online menu only offered the ‘Classic’ pizza toppings and now I also had the choice of all the ‘Romana’ toppings. It was music to my ears but also a choice I wasn’t prepared for. Needless to say it took me quite a while to order!

For starters I had the Risotto Fresco which was an oak-roasted salmon fillet in a creamy white wine risotto with rocket and lemon. It was delicious; I wolfed it down! The meal also came as a main and I questioned whether to change my order to get it again for my main course… but I had fancied a pizza for a while (plus eating the same thing for two sittings would be ridiculous, if not tasty).

Salmon risotto at Pizza Express

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