What to Do in and Around Orlando: When Not at The Parks

My recent trip to Florida felt like a bolt-on to my trip last year. If you’re new to Musings of A So Called Shutterbug, you may not be aware that last year, for my 10 year wedding anniversary, me and my Husband planned a dream two weeks in Orlando staying at Walt Disney World. We visited all the parks and also Universal Studios. It was a jam-packed holiday, but there were things in and around Orlando that we didn’t do because we wanted to make use of our park tickets 100% of the time.

So when we got the opportunity to go back to Florida and stay with friends for a week, this year, we snapped it up. As part of this trip we wanted to do all of the things we hadn’t had the chance to do last time. And I’m pleased to say we managed to tick everything the list.

Now, as much as this is a post about what to do OUTSIDE the parks, we DID visit the Magic Kingdom for one evening, for Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party. I haven’t planned a post about this event, but if you’d like to see one then please leave a comment.

Snow White Disneybound at Magic Kingdom

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We also managed to fit in both Universal Parks in one day, but again, that’s not why I’m here.

If you haven’t got the time or resources to visit the parks, or if that’s just not your thing, there’s LOTS to do (for basically no money) in and around Orlando. And I wanted to share with you, what we did!

EAT

You could spend a whole month in this area, and eat in a different and good place every meal time and never eat the same place twice. Whilst in Florida, we ate at Chick-Fil-A 3 times. You might not consider it good food, but we certainly did and I’ve been craving it ever since we got back.

Other places we ate were Smokey Bones, Egg City, Cracker Barrel (which is a big breakfast favourite of ours – you can even sit outside on the porch chairs and play checkers whilst you wait for your table!)

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Blaze Pizza at Disney Springs (and I’ll come back to Disney Springs in a bit) is epic

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And restaurant style food is also aplenty. We ate in some great ones but the best was Homecomin’, also in Disney Springs

The food here is amazing. I was able to try fried green tomatoes for the first time and oh my were they good.

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NBC Sports Grill at Universal’s City Walk (again, more about there in a bit) is great. We went there for Sunday football and not only is the atmosphere awesome, but the food is amazing too. We tried Wisconsin cheese curds there for the first time and I’ve been dreaming about them ever since!

Wisconsin Cheese Curds

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SHOPPING

So, other than getting fat, we like to go shopping when we’re away. One of our favourite past-times is going to local supermarkets and seeing what things they have that we don’t. We visited Target, Walmart and Publix as well as Walgreens and CVS. We spent a good hour and a half in the first Target we went to. I just love slowly browsing EVERYTHING (sorry to Sarah and Nick who we were with!)

This is aside from visiting the shopping malls, industrial parks like The Loop and one of the many outlet malls (Premium Outlet Mall is our choice) to have a good look.

One thing to remember is that even if you don’t have a part ticket you can still visit the bar and restaurant areas of the parks.

At Disney it’s Disney Springs, and has just been completely overhauled. It’s free to park here, and has shopping, restaurants, bars and entertainment. It also features the world’s largest Disney store which contains lots of the official Disney World parks merchandise, so even if you can’t visit the parks, you can get your merch on!

Disney Springs in Fall

The Universal Studios equivalent is called City Walk. The parking here isn’t free so you need to know you’re going to make a trip of it, but City Walk is open until the early hours so you can definitely make a whole night excursion if you wish. There’s a cinema, bars, restaurants and I think a bowling alley too. You can also visit the new Toothsome’s Chocolate Emporium, Blue Man Group theatre and Hard Rock Cafe from here, all without park entry.

Let’s also not forget the 192 and its tacky gift shops. I LOVE visiting these and this time around went to Orange World, and the Wizard Gift shop.

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The shop-fronts are tourist attractions themselves, and that’s even before you go inside to see what interesting things they’re stocking. Orange World also just happens to be direstly opposite my favourite Cracker Barrel for breakfast.

RESORT HOPPING

One of the things I was eager to do, was ride the monorail and see some of the resorts on the line, whilst we were staying off property this time. You can visit any of the Disney World resorts without having a room there, but just remember you cannot park there or use the pools. We parked up at the Ticket and Transportation Centre (this isn’t free but you pay once for the day and can park at any of the Disney car parks using your ticket), and hopped on the resort monorail to the Polynesian and the Grand Floridan hotels.

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This meant I could get myself a wonderful Dole Whip at Pineapple Lanai at the Polynesian (they taste the best here anyway!)

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It was my first time seeing the Grand Floridan, and though it’s a little stuffy, I’m glad I went and had a look around.

The other thing we did was park up at Disney Springs and get on a resort bus (again, this is free and you don’t have to be staying at a resort to use these buses) You can get the bus to any resort of your choice. We wanted to visit the Boardwalk as we hadn’t before.

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We’re so glad we did, and we got there a few hours before sunset, so we were able to see it in both daylight and then at night after we’d eaten. The Boardwalk area is a lot quieter than other Disney restaurant areas. It has a few shops, restaurants and bars but comes to life at night with night clubs and lights aplenty.

WINTER PARK

Last time I was in Florida I wanted to visit Winter Park, but we just didn’t have the time. It’s north of Orlando and we wanted to know the trip would be worth it. I love the Rifle Paper Company, and new they had their flagship store and head office there, but didn’t know what else there was. I’m so glad we visited this time, because we managed to have breakfast, do some shopping, and have a good look around.

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Winter Park has a lovely ‘sleepy town’ feel but also feels like a hub of business. It’s rather trendy and I’d even go as far as to say it’s a little ‘hipster’.

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There are loads of restaurants and coffee shops. One coffee place I knew I wanted to visit was Foxtail Coffee, and try their nitro cold brew. I’d been following them for a while on instagram and really wanted to visit.

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BEACHES

And last but not least, you can’t visit Florida without going to one of their white sand beaches. We’re not beach day people, so we made a short visit to Clearwater on the morning of our flight out from Tampa airport.

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An absolutely stunning place. We visited on a chilly, and windy, morning but it would be nice to spend a little more time there next time we’re in Florida. It looked exactly like a postcard!

As you can see, as long as you have a car, you don’t have to spend a huge amount of money filling your time in Orlando and the surrounding areas. We’ve discovered loads of places this time around, and next time we visit I know we’ll be making a trip to these places again.

Orlando, you have my heart!

 

 

This Week I Have Been Mostly….

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I’m back! And this week I have been mostly recovering from much delayed jet lag!

We had an AMAZING time in Florida, so good that we’re already trying to work out how we can go back next year. (I accidentally wrote ‘next week’… wouldn’t that be grand?!)

I was back to work last week, and it’s Christmas in full swing for my job-role, so it was nice to get stuck back into it.

As you know, I don’t go for full blow-by-blow posts when I return from a trip, but I will be posting some Florida related posts in the coming weeks. A few hints and tips for things to do when you’re not visiting the parks every day, and also a post on some of the beauty products I picked up whilst I was away.

If you want to catch up on photos from the trip, head over to my instagram. I also did quite a bit of insta-live whilst I was away. If you missed those, make sure you’re following me, because I enjoyed it so much I might just do it again.

I’ve gotta say I didn’t do any filming for YouTube whilst I was away, because I’d much rather enjoy my holiday than feel like I’m ‘working’ it. In fact I didn’t touch my camera the whole trip – my iPhone was my camera and did the trick 100% of the time.

So, a little bit about the trip. We stayed with some friends whilst we were there, and had a list of things we wanted to do – and we did EVERYTHING on the list.

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I was very pleased that we managed to do everything we wanted to do, and still felt like we had down-time during the trip.

We ate some amazing food

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We got to go to the Magic Kingdom for Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party

Snow White Disneybound at Magic Kingdom

We went SHOPPING!

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Florida is a wonderful state, and I really do feel like Orlando is like a second home. It’s got a little bit of everything you’d want.

Anyhow, now I’m back, and Halloween is over. It’s Guy Fawkes night tonight, and that means tomorrow begins full-blown Christmas. It’s one of my favourite times of year, so bring on the glitter, lights, food and music. Bring on the festive films and festivities!

My Love of the Scary Movie and my Top 10!

It’s coming on Halloween, and if you follow me on Facebook or Twitter, you’ll already know I’ve been sharing some of my old OLD posts on a few of my favourite scary movies. And if you’ve followed me for a while, you’ll have seen some of my random mentions of scary films as and when I watch them.

To get in the mood, a few weeks back we watched a movie called Trick ‘r Treat. I had never heard of it, but it was featuring as a scare zone at Orlando’s Universal Halloween Horror Nights, and the character Sam looked kinda cute for a scary sack headed ghoul, so we found it and watched it. For a movie that was released straight to DVD 2 years after it was finished, I was actually really impressed. It was scary enough, enjoyable and had a nice comic-book feel to it. I’d recommend it if you haven’t heard of it.

But I thought I’d share some of my favourites, whether they’ve been mentioned previously or not. And by favourites, I mean the ones that stuck with me, and I would watch more than once. Here’s my top 10 in order!

10: The Shining

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I’ve seen this film so many times, that I wouldn’t even call it a horror film now. It’s just a work of art. Scary, violent, messed up it is, but it’s visually incredible and Jack Nicholson is epic. I tried to read the book, but just like Joey, I put it in the metaphorical freezer years ago and never took it back out. Maybe I’ll go back to it one day. If you haven’t seen this, and you like scary films, this Halloween make it a must-see.

9: The Gallows

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This movie surprised me. As a big fan of found footage films, I was really surprised by how good this was. The scares were effective and there were enough twists and turns to keep me interested.

8: The Fog

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As a child growing up with a massive Hammer Horror fan (my Dad) I was exposed to some very bad, and then some very good scary films. John Carpenter’s The Fog (not the remake please) was one of them and I’m not ashamed to admit that the end brought me out in a cold sweat on more than one occasion. What I love about John Carpenter’s films was not just the ability to make a fricking fantastic horror film, but also how he composed and used the music almost as a character in itself. I just have to think about his films to hear the score in my mind. Having stood on the very shore that inspired this story, on a dark misty night not too long ago, I can honestly say this film is one that stays with you.

7: Halloween

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Another John Carpenter film, you can have Halloween films without Halloween itself, and it’s sequel (we don’t need to talk about the other sequels really) Adequately frightening and creepy, this is the paradigm of films about Halloween and is a great place to start if you’re wanting a classic scary movie fest this October 31st.

6: It Follows

This movie has such a retro feel, so much so that you’re never really sure when it’s set, but can only assume it’s present day based on some of the technology used. The music, costumes and sets are so ‘of an era’ – and this isn’t even mentioning the storyline. You can read my full review here, if you’d like to know more.

5: Ghost Watch

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Not strictly a film, but it’s made the list anyway. This BBC drama caused such a kerfuffle it was actually banned. Due to its style of filming and use of well-known presenters at the time, people actually thought this was a real event. Based on the Enfield Haunting (which was the inspiration for The Conjuring 2) Ghost Watch has inspired so many films after it (The Blair Witch Project to name one), is used as a case study in film schools and still has a cult following. I can honestly say it’s one of the scariest things I’ve ever seen, and the effects and technology used in it are so impressive for its time. Watch it, then research it to find out why it caused so much drama.

4: Grave Encounters

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I really bloody loved these films. There’s only two but I secrectly hope there’s a third. Again this is found footage, but it really pulls inspiration from other places (but not in a copycat type way) and offers scares and weirdness in a way I just liked. Read my full review here.

3: The Blair Witch Project

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You may have seen my recent review of this film and it’s sequel (I’m going to just forget that The Blair Witch Project: Book of Shadows ever happened) so you can head there for a full review. But this movie marked a change in scary films. Using found footage, which was never mainstream before, and also the brand new power of the internet, they created a cult following even before release. And the film didn’t disappoint. To this day I still get chills watching the last shot of The Blair Witch Project.

2: Paranormal Activity

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If you read my blog regularly, you’ll know I’m a fan of these films. I don’t understand why people trash them. Yes, the last one was VERY bad, but when you’ve invested in the others you kind of have to include it. The first one was epic and covered found-footage ground in a way that had never been done before. Some of the effects in the first 3 were pretty epic – gobsmacking in fact. Even the spin-off movie ‘The Marked Ones’ was REALLY good and towards the end literally made me gasp in the cinema when I realised what was happening. I guess I know the films really well, and I was pretty much the only one who realised what was going on, BUT still. I honestly think they’re worth the investment in time. And they made it to my number 2!

1: Scream

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This film was made for my generation, it was the first 18 film I ever watched and will always hold a special place in my heart. Unfortunately, parody films have pretty much ruined if for any generation afterwards, so there’s that. But I’m a staunch fan and will always be! I wrote a review of the first 3 films ahead of the 4th being released, back in 2011 which you can find here if you’d like to read it.

And that’s my top 10! Of course I have many many more I’d love to include, and I hope I find more in the years to come, which knock others off the list. But until then, if you’re looking for some scary film recommendations I’d go with this list!

Let me know if you have others in your top 10 or if you watch any of these on my recommendation, let me know what you think! Just don’t have nightmares!

 

 

The Blair Witch Project

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It’s been way too long since I wrote a good horror review and in the spirit of the Halloween season, I thought I’d write about one of my favourites, The Blair Witch Project. (This post does contain spoilers so if you don’t want to know about the films, then don’t read – then go watch them and come back!)

In 2017 it’s way too easy to take this film for granted, so I thought I’d school those of you who were too young to appreciate the rise of this film, at the time.

Ahead of its release in October 1999, a website appeared. This in the day when very few families even had a computer, let alone the internet, made for an exciting discovery. The website (which you can still visit today, albeit in a much pared down form) promoted a documentary about 3 film makers whose footage was found after their disappearance in the 1990s. The site took you to another other site that looked like a Burkittsville town site but was in fact part of the original one, which had small videos of interviews with towns people (some of which featured in the film), newspaper articles (fake of course) and allsorts of tidbits to immerse you into the story. I knew the site back to front, and everything was placed in there to lead you to the conclusion that this was a REAL documentary, and the film makers really were missing.

Of course the film came out in America way ahead of the UK, and reports of people having to leave the theatre part way through because of the found-footage style recording making them seasick, spread across the country.

I was sold! Finally seeing this at the cinema was a darn creepy experience but I was so impressed by the film style, of which hadn’t been seen in mainstream cinema before, and was so different from anything else I’d experienced.

The movie contains no score or sound effects. The actors had a basic storyline to follow, but their reactions to the scares they faced were, for the most part, genuine. Myrick and Sanchez, who made the film (and also The Blair Witch Project: Book of Shadows which we won’t mention again, and was more like a Marilyn Manson music video than an actual film) set up speakers in the woods and didn’t tell the actors. When they heard snapping branches, running or children playing around them, their reactions were real. Piles of rocks and twig things in the trees – they had no idea to expect them. They could only assume the sounds were part of the film making process, but in that environment, in the woods in the dark and in a tent – you can imagine how real it all felt. Even when one of the film makers went missing, the others had no clue that was going to happen.

The actual film’s a corker, so if you haven’t seen it and you’re a fan of an indie film, and a found footage one at that, I’d say give it a crack. Then don’t watch the sequel.

Now that’s done, you can move onto the 2016 Blair Witch.

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I was skeptical about this ‘sequel’. As such a fan of the original, I really didn’t want a repeat of Book of Shadows, but I was pleasantly surprised.

This film’s story starts with a guy who turns out to be the brother of Heather, the original film maker from the first film, who went missing. He receives tapes of the house she went missing in and is convinced he sees her reflection in a mirror. So sets up a team to go into the woods, find the house and see if she’s there. Sounds legit.

I won’t go into any more of the storyline, but I will discuss how this movie uplifts the first one. Firstly, obviously there have been changes in technology since the first movie, and changes in found footage style. There is use of a drone camera, head-worn cameras, GPS equipment. There’s an element of sound effects used, where there was none in the first, and you do actually see menacing ‘things’ in this film, where in the first it was mostly left to your imagination.

But at the bare bones of this, the 2016 Blair Witch is still raw, still about the relationship between the people and the woods, and still feeds on the fear of the viewer as well as the actors in it.

There are a few hard to watch parts in this, flashes of the original film and a supernatural element that wasn’t in the first. There’s also a suggestion of time shifting. But all of these just bring the story up to date. You can’t continue a story 20 years later and not expect some changes to be made.

All in all, these two films are great companions. They’re scary, play with your mind a bit and leave you adequately unnerved. And I wouldn’t want anything less.

I’m Going on my Hollibobs!

You’ll all know by now, that in a week I fly off to my second home, Orlando!

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I’m crazy excited, and I’ll be posting a lot of stuff on my instagram, so make sure you’re following me over there.

I’ve scheduled a bunch of posts ahead of time, so keep checking back here for new articles. Halloween season hasn’t passed me by so there’s quite a bit of horror film chat about to occur (if you hadn’t already noticed on twitter!)

So whilst I’m away, please still comment on my blog posts and stuff and send me the love. I’ll reply to you when I can 🙂

Ahead of my flying off, I have a post coming up about what’s in my hand luggage, which was asked for by my followers on twitter, so keep an eye out for that.

See you on the other side!

Creating My Home Cinema aka Making the Most of a Scary Movie!

SPONSORED FEATURE IN PARTNERSHIP WITH PANASONIC

If you read my blog regularly you’ll know I’m a massive film buff. You might have seen I’ve already started to share some of my old horror movie posts, ahead of some new ones coming up, all in the name of October and Halloween. So when I was asked if I’d like to talk about the new Panasonic 4k TV range, I of course said yes!

The first TV in my bedroom was about 4 inches square, had an aerial you had to move around. If you watched it at the wrong angle everyone looked like they were in negative. I then upgraded to a little tube tv which also had an aerial so when Channel 5 came in, I had to get up and re-tune it every time I wanted to watch Sunset Beach.

I have a vivid memory of going to a friend’s house to watch a show I’d watched many, many times, and they had a widescreen TV (which we didn’t have in our home), but they’d not tweaked the settings so everything was set to widescreen – even full screen shows – so my favourite characters were stretched and looked so odd. I supposed they’d gotten used to it, but I was baffled by the idea that people would happily watch things in a way that was, let’s face it, just plain wrong!

Times have changed immensely since then. Not only are televisions so much lighter to carry and sleeker in design, but they’re also incredibly intuitive and even customisable. Not to mention with the addition of apps, YouTube has simply become just another TV station to me.

But when it comes to my film viewing experience, I’m a bit of a geek. If I’m going to watch a scary movie, it needs to be perfect – how can you expect to get the required scares if there’s glare on the screen, the sound isn’t perfect or there’s actually ghosting on your ghosts?

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When me and G-Man decided to upgrade our old Panasonic TV from 42″ to 50″ a few years ago, we did our research, and ended up sticking with the same brand. I say we, but to be honest Gary’s such an AV geek that he did most of it, and then said to me “we’re getting this one”. Which I was fine with!

One of the things I love about our TV is that the blacks are REALLY black. Meaning, and especially for horror films, that you’re seeing things as dark as they were intended when they were filmed. So if films like Paranormal Activity are your thing, you’re going to see the dark shapes and changes exactly as you would in the cinema, with no additional shading or shadowing that could possibly spoil your experience.

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Another majorly geeky thing we did with our TV as soon as we got it, was to set up our own personal picture settings profile. There are loads of suggested setting changes on places like AV Forums and YouTube, specific to your make and model of TV. These people have done all the hard work for you, so you can simply make the settings changes to the darkness, red, green and blues etc (and make sure you take off the default IFC setting which alters the frame rate you view things at and smooths the movement) and then apply this custom profile to each HDMI slot you use (so Sky, DVD player, console etc…) I know, after doing this, that I’m watching everything the way it was intended to be watched! It’s so important to me.

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It might seem like a lot of effort (and it is a little effort) but you’ll be so much happier with your viewing experience.  And wow, this is all without even beginning to mention the clarity of a 4k display and how bright and beautiful the colours are. I can’t wait for the new BBC Blue Planet series to begin, because the trailer looked breathtaking on our TV.

When buying a new TV it can be so overwhelming. There are so many brands, all offering special things and so many different prices. But when it’s all said and done, and you’re in your living room it’s just you and the TV – and you want the best viewing experience possible.

We’re made up with our TV and the little cinema we’ve created in our set up. We just need to get around to getting some kind of surround sound system set, and my horror film binge sessions will be that much more enthralling!

 

DISCLAIMER: Though this post is sponsored by Panasonic, this TV was paid for by me and my opinions and choices are honest and my own.

 

 

 

We Went To Disney World – the movie!

 

Okay, well it’s not a movie so much as the YouTube video I’ve been promising is now up!

It’s taken me a little while to get all the footage together, and in a way that got as much as I wanted in but without boring everyone!

And if you want to read about our trip, then you can read my blog ALL about it!

I hope you like it. If you do, don’t forget to give it a thumbs up and subscribe if you want to see more!

Busy Doing Nothing & Hot 8 Brass Band

It’s been a little while since I’ve written, and that’s partially because not a huge amount has happened, and partially because I’ve been busy not being busy.

G-Man and I both came down with a cold that didn’t want to go away, so we’ve spent a lot of time catching up on TV, watching movies and having some much-needed down time. After such a busy summer it’s been great therapy.

Autumn is in full swing, the clocks have changed, the weather is getting more crisp – though as I write this it’s glorious sun and warm outside. Halloween is notoriously warm, and it usually gets really cold between then and Guy Fawkes Night. This year, however, our local firework display is tonight (the day after Halloween) and so it’s going to be a lovely mild one. It’s going to be nice not having to wrap up too warm to go and watch the display.

Traditionally Halloween is a night that I either avoid being in the house, or buy loads of sweets for Trick or Treaters who never show up. Last year I broke this tradition by going to see Lena Dunham speak after the release of her book. This year Gary and I travelled to Brighton for a gig.

New Year’s Eve 2014  I took a trip with my Mum to my Grandma’s and on the journey we listened to Radio 2. Craig Charles was playing his show, and during this he played a cover of Sexual Healing by the Hot 8 Brass Band. Look them up if you don’t know them, they’re really good. We found out a few months ago that they were playing a tour to celebrate 20 years of the band, and we grabbed tickets right away.

If you have a spare 5 minutes have a watch – it’s worth it.

We arrived in Brighton just in time to watch the sunset and then had a wander through the zombie-filled streets (it was Halloween after all), grabbed a bite to eat and then headed to Coalition, the venue for the gig.

imageThe band was amazing, so tight. It was so much fun and we danced the night away.

The drive home was really foggy but that added to the Halloween atmosphere. We woke this morning achy, tired and my ears were still muffled and ringing….. But it felt worth it. If you get the chance to listen to Hot 8 then do. You’ll not be able to sit still!

Back to Life

It was a busy and odd week last week since it was my first week back after moving. I’m doing all the same things as part of my normal routine, but from a different house, and a house that isn’t the way I want it yet. So it’s just a bit weird! Work has been fine and it’s nice to get back and have a giggle whilst doing serious work, of course. I also received Katy Perry’s new album ‘Prism’. It’s really rather good. Not a huge departure from the last one, but different enough and enjoyable. I recommend a listen! (Dark Horse is rather good!)

This weekend has been a busy and tiring but a lot of fun. The weekend started with a brisk run in the windy weather with Gary and Jen. This windy weather is being given weather warnings by the Met Office. It was a little hard to get my breath and my chest was burning. I’m only really used to running in humid and warm temperatures. Yes, it was still warm but how do you breathe when the wind is so dry? Tips please?

The run went well and we treated ourselves to fish and chips for dinner. At this point in time we don’t have a cooker (hopefully Monday!) So for about 3 weeks we’ve been living on ready meals and microwave dinners. Not ideal and I’m gagging for something crunchy! Chip shop chips are a little luxury at the moment.

Saturday morning we woke up late and put on our moving clothes – we had to go back to the old house and clean it. We’re handing the keys back on Friday so this was our last chance. Once in the house I felt totally overwhelmed by the amount we had to do. Yes, I do clean my house but after the moving of furniture and emptying of the house the job was huge. Things like cleaning the fridge and oven that you wouldn’t do too often, and also the garden which had started to over grow since we moved out, looked like a massive challenge. So I called in the cavalry. My friend Jen is a bit of a Monica – she adores cleaning. When she found out I had to clean the old house she offered to help and on Friday night after our run reminded me that she was free. So I called her and along she came with her box of tricks. And boy were we grateful!

Seriously, I was so impressed with her little tips and tricks on how to get stainless steel to a shine and glass without a smear. She should have her own tv show! She buzzed around the house singing to herself and seemingly getting a lot of satisfaction out of getting rid of the grime.

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Jen in my old shower

Jen, Gary and I whipped the house into shape, and whilst we finished it off, Gary went off and bought us some lunch. Eating lunch on our empty old living room floor, Jen got to hear a small taster of the noise from the neighbours who made our time in that house so miserable for the last few years. With Jen’s help we were done way faster than we should have been – epicness!

Once we’d finished at the house Gary and I headed home for a sit down. I had about an hour relax before I had to hop it out of the house and over to Jen’s. We had some partying to do! Our friend Sarah had a birthday a few weeks ago and since she lives in London, we hadn’t had the chance to celebrate yet. Sarah travelled home for the weekend so we could party!

Jen cooked us a lovely dinner (I was gagging for an oven cooked meal!) of chicken pasta bake with loads of crunchy melted cheese on top. It was amazing!

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After dinner we had cocktails and watched The X-Factor and chatted, and had more cocktails. Then we headed to Pink Punters. I’d never been before, but Pinks is a very popular Gay, Lesbian, Transgender club very local to me. It’s an amazing place. It’s got an outside bar area with massive open fires and food. Inside the club there’s a couple of rooms and bars with strobes and lasers and the music ranges from current to older. There’s a professional photographer going around taking photos of people too, and last night there were an awful lot of zombies and corpse brides going around for Halloween. We had a great time dancing, but I’m old and boring so I only stayed about an hour and a half before I got Gary to collect me. I’d had a great time with Jen and Sarah though, they’s ma girlies 😀

Sarah & Jen with me at Pinks
Sarah & Jen with me at Pinks

I realised why I was feeling so tired this morning when I woke with a full-blown cold. Yay for me! Last night the clocks went back too so we got an extra hour in bed. After peeling myself off the mattress I managed to write the shopping list and head to the supermarket. Another week of eating ready meals? I hope not. I’m looking forward to cooking a roast dinner next week and there’s a chilli in one of Nigella’s cookery books I’m eager to make. Let me cook! The rest of the day I’ve been melted on the sofa. I actually fell back asleep as soon as I had finished eating my lunch. I must have needed it because now I’m feeling a little rested, but ache all over because of mowing the lawn and cleaning yesterday. I’m a delicate flower!

Next week it’s back to training and hopefully working on the house some more. Getting back into a routine in the new house, and clearing down the rubbish we’ve accumulated during the unpacking. I’m super excited about next Friday night – Halloween party with the Book Club, and yes I have my outfit sorted! Can’t wait!

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Seasons Change

My past week hasn’t been all that eventful. I’ve been working and getting used once more to customer’s ‘colourful’ statements. For example; “I have to return this coat because there’s not enough time in my day to do up the zip” or “The colour name of this sweater is really funny, because apples are green!” (red sweater which was called spiced apple) to which I said “Some are red though aren’t they” and got a really blank look.

Other than this I have been spending a lot of time trying to think up good healthy meals that are hearty and warming, whilst thinking about G Man and my dietary needs. I have made a couple of successful concoctions of late, but what I really have my eye on is a slow cooker. I love the idea of starting something off in the morning and having a lovely meal ready for me when I get in at night. A lot of the recipes I have seen are American and have odd ingredients that I have no idea what they are, but I’m sure I can muddle through! So I’ve done some research and found one I like – I’m really surprised by how cheaply priced they are! I’m hoping to get one next month and start using it for those long shifts at work! If anyone has any really good and healthy tried and tested recipes to recommend then shoot me a comment!

Last week was Halloween and usually we open our doors to the droves of mini beggars pinching our sweets, but this year was cold and wet and we decided to go out for dinner instead. We went to our favourite Chinese restaurant, The Tai Pan in Milton Keynes, and had a lovely meal followed by a trip out afterwards to get desert to eat at home. It was a really good evening and the food was great as usual.

We also took a pass on Guy Fawkes Night this year. We live very close to Bletchley Park and they have an annual Blitz Night with fireworks and a fair. Normally we skip down the path and watch the fireworks for free from the bottom of our estate, but again this year was way too cold and wet to try that. The previous night we’d seen a really good display from the window in our living room, and we didn’t even need to move from our sofa to watch!

One season that we’re not going to rain check this year, however, is Christmas! We’re ready to dive in feet first and at the moment I’m just finding it hard not to go in too fast with the movies, music and food. This year we’ve decided to buy new decorations for our tree and I can’t wait to get choosing! I’ve already bought a few Christmas gifts and speaking to customers about Christmas I’m learning that I’m a bit late on the start – some of my customers have done all their shopping already! I’m not that eager, but I still can’t wait to get going 🙂