Monday, 18 May 2015

APOCALYPSE NOW PLAYLIST

In the past, I've raved a lot about one of my favourite running/work out apps - Zombies, Run! My love for this app has not deterred once and since re-joining the gym recently, I love it even more. It's so fun and motivational that I can't ever imagine going to the gym and not using it.

If you don't know the basis of it all, it's basically an ongoing story you listen to/participate in, in between your music tracks playing. As you run, you pick up supplies that can be used to improve your base and you discover more and more of the story, prompting you to continue working out regularly. In some instances, if you choose the option, you even have chances to outrun zombie hoards and the app requires you to speed up for 60 seconds or so.

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Although admittedly it's not as immersive using this app in the gym on a treadmill as opposed to running through a forest for example, it's still fun. There are sound effects to make it sound more real but lately I had the bright idea of creating an apocalypse inspired play list to listen to on my runs!

This is perfect timing too, as their latest update now includes external music support, something that previous versions did not have. For a long time, I was stuck with only using the app with music I already had on my phone which wasn't a lot. Now that I can use spotify alongside the app, it's much more fun.

I think this post is a lot different from a standard work out play list because, for a start, most peoples play lists would feature those upbeat tracks, the ones that are fast paced to motivate you to be faster/stronger/better etc. There's definitely a specific genre of work out music and this play list certainly does not fall into that category. Instead it features songs to help fit the mood - some in ways which I can't quite explain.

 

Though I mostly use it on shuffle, the first song just has to always be The Swarm by You Me At Six. Penned as the soundtrack for the roller coaster of the same name at Thorpe Park, if any song was ever to be the definitive anthem for the end of the world, it would without a doubt be this one. It starts with those typical apocalypse sounds - explosions, helicopters, things obviously falling from the sky. The lyrics are spot on too.

In regards of the songs, I have no idea what some of them are doing in there. For example, Shake It Out by Manchester Orchestra may not relate lyrically to a zombie apocalypse but the beat and overall feel of the song just makes me feel angst and makes me want to just, y'know, jump about and that.

Also, I found it incredibly hard to narrow down the one song to use by The Blackout. Pretty much every single one of their songs seem appropriate for the end of the world. Some of the songs are a little slower (perfect for when you need to rest or go down to a gentle jog) and some of them a little explicit but still pretty bloody awesome.

Also, the majority of this playlist will be used as the soundtrack when my zombie novel gets made into a film (because it totally will. Y'know, once I write it). So don't steal my ideas. I'm already feeling very uncomfortable with the idea of sharing some of my all time favourite sort-of-relatively-unknown songs. I don't feel like the world is ready for their awesomeness yet, not until it's featured in my zombie movie and then everyone can praise me for sharing such cool music with the world.

Anyway.

Make sure to let me know what you think - have I missed any must have apocalypse songs?!

Enjoy and have fun outrunning those zombies!


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Saturday, 16 May 2015

FUTURE ME | A SURPRISE FROM THE PAST

Recently, I was going through my emails and found a rather interesting one entitled 'A Surprise from the past'. Intrigued, I clicked onto it only to find it was an open letter to my future self, written back in 2009 when I was 19. Boy was I surprised! Not only did I forget that such a thing even existed, but I'd completely forgotten what had been written. I used to love stuff like this when I was that age and I know it sounds silly, but upon writing you do genuinely think you're going to remember what you wrote in a few years time or that the idea of receiving a message from your past self will cross your mind from time to time. But I had honestly 100% forgotten and it was such a lovely and pleasant surprise.

The letter/email was written back in my first year at university, falling hard for a boy and with high hopes for the future. I must admit, the main theme of the letter was about hopes for my future..not many of which I have fulfilled. I ask things like - have I found the one? Am I living with my fiance in a cosy flat? Have I put my university degree to good use?

The honest answer to all these things are no, I haven't. But, I'm getting there. I have put my degree to good use and still continue to, but not in the sense that 'I've made it'. I'm not engaged and I don't have my own place BUT I am happy at the pace in which my life is going. I am taking steps to sort my shit out, and reading this has reminded me to keep on with it all. I suppose I was a little disappointed to read all my un-achieved high hopes for myself to, if I'm going to be honest.

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Oh to be a fresh faced student again - hopes were high and life was certainly much more simple back then!
I go on to tell myself that I'm happy, and to stick at love even when I think it's going down the drain. This made me happy. I spent a lot of the time regretting my last relationship when we broke up, because as it fell apart, we ended up departing on bad terms. It wasn't the most loveliest of relationships but this letter reminds me that I was happy too for half of it. I'd forgotten about the happier times and the fond memories. In a weird way, reading this made me feel like a bit of weight had been lifted off my shoulders. It reminded me that as much as I remember the bad stuff, there was good stuff too. I didn't entirely waste two years of my life with that one boy like I'd bitterly come to think.

Parts of the letter were bittersweet too. I remind myself to treat my family, to appreciate how amazing they were and all they'd done for me to help me get into university. I told myself I hoped I'd bought my mum and dad a new house or a new car (although nothing was ever wrong with the ones we had!) - aka, I told myself to treat them the way I always wished I could when I could afford to. I wanted to be successful and make them proud, to be able to use that money to buy them a holiday or a little holiday home by the beach. It makes me beyond heartbroken to know that I will no longer be able to treat my mum the way she deserved after such a tough life working so hard. I always told myself 'one day I'll be rich and I'll pay them back for everything'. Unfortunately that didn't happen and never will anymore. But, it still reminded me that I can still treat my dad and the rest of my family.

Finally, I praise myself for...simply being  myself. I tell myself never to lose that side of me, to never give up on love or trying my hardest in relationships. I tell myself that I always tried my best in relationships and to never give up that quality. And I haven't. I suppose that's something I'll always pride myself on. But I guess I did really need to hear my own advice, telling me to not give up. on someone, or something, or just love in general. Recently I had. But I won't anymore.

Reading a letter from myself was one of the best surprises and I think past me had some pretty wise words that I needed to hear. I'll soon be writing another letter to myself and would suggest this all as a great alternative way to taking a look at your life currently and seeing what changes you might want to make (or, if receiving a letter, which changes you'd hoped to make and whether you succeeded or not).

It was certainly eye opening for me!

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Sunday, 10 May 2015

BLOG GIVEAWAY | WIN A COPY OF WRECK THIS JOURNAL

To celebrate the (late) end of National Stationary Week (technically it was last week but in my defense this damn post didn't publish when it was supposed to and I've been far too busy to find the time to do so) I've decided to do a little giveaway to win a couple of books from my post about my favourite creative books.

The idea is essentially to get people to become more creative, to think outside of the box when filling blank pages and shying away from the idea of filling them with just words or doodles. The book that I feel represents this idea the most - and the book that first sparked my interest in these type of books - is Wreck This Journal and you can win a copy right here today!

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A warning found inside Wreck This Journal
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Of course stationary is a must which means it also ties in nicely with the end of world stationary week. Although the book suggests using oddball materials such as your dinner, dirt and the like, colourful pens and pencils are also a staple necessity to completing this journal.

As well as a brand spanking new copy of Wreck This Journal (which I hear is fun to complete even the second time around if you already have one), you can also win another book of your choice that is featured in the post. This means in addition, you can also blag yourself a copy of Map My Heart: My Love Life in Doodles, Q AND A A DAY: 5-Year Journal, What I Wore Today (a must have for fashion bloggers!), or Listography Journal: Your Life in Lists.

The entry rules are pretty simple - the necessary steps are to drop me a follow via GFC and let me know what other book you'd like to win and why. There are extra steps for extra entries into the giveaway if you'd like to participate but this isn't a necessity. The giveaway will run for one week from today and I will announce the winner at next Monday evening, via twitter (@Lady_Louise_). Enjoy and good luck!

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Monday, 4 May 2015

REVIEW // ALICE'S ADVENTURES UNDERGROUND

Last Saturday, I had the amazing opportunity to head down to the edgy location of The Vaults (aka a disused underground train station) to fall down the rabbit hole and explore the weird and wonderful world of Alice's Adventures Underground. 

Les Enfants Terribles presents...well, I'm not sure how to describe it actually because it wasn't exactly just a play or a show, but whatever it was, it's been over three years in the making! I suppose if I had to liken it to anything, I would say it would have the whimsical fun factor of Slava's Snowshow, with the premise of the London Dungeons (in that it involved exploring a whole other world, moving from room to room to witness smaller and shorter performances that involve the audience). And, with just the right amount of crazy, it felt like being in an episode of The Mighty Boosh.

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It was a birthday present from my sister, someone who always picks things that are right up my street! So we headed into London fairly early. Whilst she went off to get her hair done, I went for my own mooch around Spitalfields market to do a spot of shopping, before we re-united and, after getting lost many times trying to find the location, finally found ourselves ready to submit to this whole other world.

There's not really too much I can say about it all without ruining the surprise for everyone else - I certainly didn't know what to expect in the slightest but was blown away. The whole thing from start to finish was just so magnificent and I found it astonishing just how much the cast, crew and set designers had paid attention to detail. You would have never have guessed that it took place actually underground because it really does feel like you've entered another world. For example, at the very, very beginning as you find yourself introduced to it all, we ended up having to walk through a small walkway, decorated with books, I guess to represent entering the book. Not one thing looked out of place in the hallway. Loose books scattered across the floor, random trinkets hung from the ceiling and it really was put together so well. 

The rest of the show did not fail to disappoint and at parts I found myself thinking how smart these people were to really bring the book to life. I mean you'd never imagine how to make a 'Drink Me' potion shrink you and then lead you through a smaller door...but, they did it. And it worked. You'll find yourself more than likely to be separated from whoever you arrived with in this show as you end up in smaller intimate groups (reflecting the four suits in a deck of cards), although at points the groups will crisscross in various ways.

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Me re-creating my suits special move!
One thing that stuck out for me in particular was the slightly dark and oddball Mad Hatter's Tea Party, coinciding with the brief interval. The show still continues as you take a break to sip yummy cocktails from vintage crockery against a backdrop of what looks like a giant tea party ruined by a storm. Damp books layer the table, wet stones and pebbles cover surfaces and spill out of disused teacups and there's even a rusty old bathtub slap bang in the middle of the giant table! This is used throughout when The Mad Hatter and others continue the riffraff by climbing over audience members to stomp along the table and more.

Depending on your choices throughout, you will end up on a different journey from others and no matter how many times you go, no experience will be the same. Afterwards, me and my sister shared stories and discussed what each other had been up to - she'd seen things I hadn't, whereas I had participated in places she hadn't gone. Despite only being a 90 minute show overall - followed by an excellent after party - it seemed like much longer and like we really had fallen down the rabbit hole for a whole night of fun. It definitely seemed weird returning to normality afterwards and we are already considering going again later in the year to experience it a little differently.

There are various oddball characters and up to 33 individual and impressive sets (which only a small handful you will experience during your journey, which is why I think a second visit is a must!) which reflects the traditional Alice In Wonderland story throughout. Little makes sense as everyone experiences different parts of the story and will have to piece it all together at the end, but this is a fun and unique way to get a real feel of this quirky underground world. And although you may catch glimpses of her throughout, our heroine is barely seen - though her absence isn't noticeable with so much going on.

It's clear to see - Alice is not the star of this story - you are.

Alice's Adventure's Underground runs until the end of August and you can book tickets here.

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Thursday, 30 April 2015

#NATSTAT WEEK | WORLD STATIONARY DAY

Happy World Stationary Day everyone! Let's just take a moment to praise all things that are beautiful and amazing about stationary - colourful pencils, smooth gliding pens, bold and bright highlighters, scent gel pens we were all obsessed with as teenagers and beautiful, white crisp paper just ready and waiting to be written on (or drawn on and whatever else).

Since today is a day that kind of includes all types of stationary, I thought I'd do a little post of one of some things that tend to include the use of it all and that's creative and do-it-yourself books. I absolutely love how popular these books are nowadays, from books prompting you to fill in lists and lists of the most bonkers subjects, to the more creative ones that require you to get really artistic. 

The thing about these types of books are that everyone loves them. If you're really quirky like me, you'll adore them. If not? It's still a fun way for ANYONE to get more creative and think outside of the box. These are the types of books that don't require neat hand writing using your favourite pen (although if this is what you like to do then by all means go for it!) but they ask you to be a bit unconventional and use more then just colouring pencils and the like. Plus, they make excellent gifts too.

Here are some of my favourites, one or two which I already own and the rest being on my wishlist!

WRECK THIS JOURNAL (Keri Smith) is one of my all time favourites and is also the first 'creative' book I ever owned. It's not really a book to be honest - more so an art piece, by the time you're finished with it anyway. Prompts vary from creating a drawing by using pieces of your hair, to filling a page with simply good thoughts. I must admit, at first it's hard to get past the pressure of wanting to make something pretty and stunning but once you do, it's a hell of a lot of fun. The success of this book has lead to a few more 'sequels' being published - each one is entirely different, but continues with the same theme as the first - creating art out of destruction via prompts. It also wills you to use a wide variety of different tools to fill in the pages, from your dinner (yes, I know) to dirt. 

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A few of my 'Wreck This Journal' pages
MAP MY HEART: MY LOVE LIFE IN DOODLES (Dominic Evans) is a real fun way to get over a past relationship or just pay homeage to any relationships/dates in book form. I suppose it's also pretty ideal for when you're feeling fed up with your love life, but I think even if you're happy single or taken this book could still be a lot of fun. It's a mixture of drawing and writing prompts but unlike Wreck This Journal, this is a lot more personal and focuses on YOU, your thoughts, what you want in a relationship etc. It's kind of like therapy in book form and pushes you to take a long hard (but fun!) look at your love life and will probably help you evaluate it a little too. If you're angry at someone or struggling to get over a relationship, this will be a way to let out some of that frustration without actually doing anything a little crazy (we all go a little crazy after a bad break up).

Q AND A DAY: 5-YEAR JOURNAL (Potter Style) is another one more focused on you and your life. This one is probably a little similar to Listography Journal: Your Life in Lists but is probably more family friendly and is a lot longer. This is without a doubt one you would keep for the rest of your life, but it is a bit of a commitment! The idea is that each page hosts a new question and offers space for five different answers - one per year. This is a book that will continue to get better as time goes on because once a day you'll be able to re-read answers from past years, add a complete new one and see how they vary over the years. I've actually given a couple of copies of this as a gift for friends and family in the past and I think even when some of the other books featured on this post are a bit quirky, this is a standard traditional one that everyone would love - even your nan!

WHAT I WORE TODAY (Gemma Corell) is the type of creative book that was made just for us fashion bloggers (probably). As a whole, the general theme is sketching your daily outfits and although in all honesty I don't see what the benefit of this is (I'd love to incorporate the drawings into my outfit posts somehow), it still is a lot of fun. Each one has different prompts alongside though, like mini sketches on how to glam up the outfit from day to night or creating a playlist. It's a fun and alternative way to keep note of your wardrobe I guess. Other parts of the book ask you to get creative with designing different hats or hairstyle and the book is divided by the four seasons too. I picked this up in the quirky aisle of TK Maxx and to this day it's still one of my favourite buys from there.

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LISTOGRAPHY JOURNAL: YOUR LIFE IN LISTS (Lisa Nola) is a super cute list based book (obviously) which when filled in, can be used overall as a type of autobiography. This is creative in a different way because although it's just making lists, the subjects are completely varied and get you thinking. It's the type of book that's fun to fill out and even more fun to flick through and read back in years to come. Although the author has gone on to release books that are more subject specific such as a travel one, a music one etc, but this one is a more varied one. Although it's very cute and one you'd like to keep for years and years, there are some list prompts inside that you'd probably want to keep for yourself, such as 'top places I've had sex'! So although still fun, maybe this isn't one to show to the future grandkids one day!

So there we have it - five fab books that I think really call on your creative side and are a lot of fun using various different stationary. I think with some of these you need to have a little kit aside of coloured pens and pencils, a ruler and a rubber, paint and more. These are all the perfect way to spend a rainy afternoon and can easily be dipped in and out of anytime. 

I also found it interesting that a few of these books were listed in some real interesting categories on Amazon, such as self help books and medical counselling & therapy! It just goes to show that even though they are a lot of fun, they're also very very good for you ;)

What do you think? Do you have any creative books like these?

Find out more about National Stationary Week by using the hashtag #natstatweek now!

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