Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Fall Out Boy || October 6th VIP.

I love going to gigs, and concerts. There's something really magical about being able to feel the music vibrating your sternum and the rasp left in your voice for days after singing along at the top of your lungs. It's no secret, my favourite band is Fall Out Boy, and there's nothing better than listening to them live.

So of course, I was online and checked out with tickets within minutes of the release for this tour. But it got better... VIP packages were released for the UK dates too. Luckily, my brother was on hand to snag them for me while I was at work. Well, lucky for him, he'd have been in a world of trouble if he missed out. ;)

But, that's when the fear set in. There's an old saying that goes 'never meet your heroes.' We'd probably get two seconds with them, I was going to hate my photo and be an awkward mess or not be able to get my words out, and they wouldn't like me.

I don't feel particularly lucky. I'm not the person who generally gets to bump into celebrities out and about. So can you imagine the shock I got when Pete Wentz casually wanders past me in a restaurant i've been to several times before? I don't think i've ever been so surprised in my life. My friend thought I was going to pass out from the shock, I was shaking pretty hard, not gonna lie. I surprised myself with how composed I was when I actually met them all the next day. I think if I hadn't have seen Pete the day before and got over the initial shock, I wouldn't have gotten through it!

I am pretty socially awkward at the best of times. I totally froze when I first saw them. But then my brain kicked in. Hugs all round! (Except poor Joe, recovering from back surgery. I think I curtseyed while I shook his hand. Awkward Ray, is awkward.) There was no way I could really convey to them exactly what Fall Out Boy has meant to me. Instead I took a ticket stub from 9 years ago, (I'd not long turned 14) the very first time I saw them perform live to show them. I wasn't too far from the front back then, which was awesome!

So I got to have a little chat with Joe and Patrick, while my friend was getting her hugs from Pete and Andy. Patrick thanked me for coming back to shows, and after telling him i'd always go back... I got another big hug! How am I still standing at this point? I do not know... By the way, Patrick gives great hugs! A big old squeeze like an old friend he's pleased to see.

So maybe I was a little awkward, and sure I hate the picture of me, but I hate all pictures of me. Everyone else looks great, darn them, and I look like i'm clinging to Patrick for dear life... But I met my heroes and you know what? It was more than I expected it to be. They were really chilled out and had a really nice energy, if that makes any sense.

Being VIP also meant that we got let onto the floor as the doors open, which meant we could either run to the front or take our pick of spots by the acoustic stage. As much fun as it would have been to get up at the front, my friend is a fragile flower who would never survive that. So we picked a nice spot at the barrier for the small stage. We had a great view of the main stage, and we're behind Pete, Patrick and Joe as they performed Immortals and Young Volcanoes.

We definitely plan on getting VIP tickets next time they tour the UK. I'm fairly certain they won't remember me, but I have every intention of doing what I didn't do this time. Give Joe a big hug and chat Andy's ear off about anything I possibly can!

See you next time! :)

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Monday, 26 October 2015

System Reset || My Apple Customer Service Experience.

Oh! Hello there. Hmm? Where have I been? Well, my beloved laptop has been on the fritz for a few months now, and it became difficult to write posts while it wasn't performing how it should. I had hoped that all the performance issues would go away with a new battery, so I booked an appointment at my local Apple Store Genius Bar.

Now they must have been busy bees lately, as every time I checked for at least a few months, I could never find an appointment! I suppose it must have been a busy time of year for them, with the Back to School/Uni crowd getting their tech in order for the new term.

I had called Customer Care before to get a quote for how much it would cost and how long it would take. The answer was a lot, and it could be a while. Eek! So when I finally got my appointment booked, I backed up my files and prepped to be without my right hand m'book for a few days.

My nearest Apple store is actually Birmingham, but it's always ridiculously busy there, and recently a new bus service has been added from my local area to Solihull Touchwood. It's a quieter store and i've visited them before when my charger broke. The service on that occasion was fab, they had a look at the broken charger, and grabbed me a new one, so I was happy enough to go back. I got a morning appointment, so we planned to head there first, then do a little shopping and be back in plenty of time for my shift at work that evening.

So when we got there (a little early),  I checked in and waited for my appointment slot. So when it was my turn, I explained what was up, and the Genius ran some diagnostic tests which seemed to confirm our suspicions. My battery was as dead as a doornail. I also got a few pointers keeping my desktop tidy. (I'm awful for dumping everything on my desktop, but I swear i'll behave from now on!) That was it, booked in for a new battery and should be back with me before the weekend was out.

Well there was only one thing for that... Off for a Wagamama lunch. We went more or less straight there, and by the time we'd been seated and handed our menus, I had a missed call from Apple. This was no more than 10 minutes after leaving the store... But unfortunately, it wasn't good news. My new battery was in no problems, but it looked like my very old operating was pooped. As i'd already backed up my files, I had no problems with them loading a new one on.

But that didn't fix it either, and I got another call that my hard drive wouldn't mount the new operating system. (Or... something... like that. I dunno.) I'm kind of not surprised. My hard drive contained, every single file, from years worth of tech. Poor thing. So a new battery, a new operating system and a new hard drive later, at a grand total of less than I was expecting to pay for the battery alone, everything is as good as new! Well, about half of it is brand new! ;)

The technician taking care of my laptop got more than he bargained for when he decided he'd squeeze in my battery change, but he saw it through then and there so I could have my laptop back that day. Throughout the entire thing, the Apple customer service was fantastic, everyone was friendly and helpful. The only downside being, I still had to go to work afterwards!

See you next time! I have some more awesome things to tell you. Stay tuned! <3

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Saturday, 22 August 2015

The Making of Harry Potter Mini Haul.

Hi everyone! Today i'm going to show you the bits and bobs I bought at the Warner Brothers Studio Tour - The Making of Harry Potter. I posted about the tour yesterday, if you haven't seen it already you can read that here. Having just come back from Disneyland two days before my visit, I was pretty well behaved with my money. There was so much great stuff on offer, and there are a couple of things I really regret not picking up at the time. If anyone else is thinking of going and you want to bring me back a cauldron mug and a keyring, feel free!

When it comes to wizarding confectionery, I'd say the Chocolate Frog, is the most iconic. While not magical, you can pick up your very own from the gift shop for £7.95. It's a whopping 150g piece of chocolate in a pretty replica box, complete with a 3D famous wizard card. My friend and I both got Salazar Slytherin cards. The chocolate frog itself was pretty solid. I had to give it to my dad to break up, as I could not split it into smaller chunks at all. I have a pretty big gob, and I think even I would have had a hard time getting my teeth into it. Plus, there's something a little strange about trying to bite into one of these...

If amphibian choc isn't really your thing, but you still want a fix sweet fix, how about a Chocolate Wand (£3.95). They come in milk, dark and white chocolate varieties. Of course, being a white chocolate fiend, the choice was easy for me. Unlike the chocolate frog, the chocolate wand was really easy to bite through, and seemed a lot softer. These would make pretty nifty little gifts for Harry Potter fans. (Much easier to wrap than chocolate frogs too!) But if i'm being seriously honest... I kind of wished i'd gone for the Honeydukes chocolate bar instead...

I was really intrigued by the 'Exploding Bon Bons' (£7.95). Pretty much everything with white chocolate and popping candy is a good idea isn't it? These were meant to have an orange and pineapple flavour truffle centre, but to be honest, it just seemed like a hollow chocolate filled with popping candy. Don't get me wrong, i'm all for that! But... What is this truffle the website mentions? Or should I say... where is it? Despite that, I did enjoy these, but I wish they were bigger, and came in an unlimited supply. I think there was about 10 all together? Definitely need some more, but maybe if they were the giant variety that you spot throughout the tour. Yes please!

I picked up a Postcard (£0.95) for my scrapbook, I went for the really plain design, with the logo but there were some with different scenery on too. We also got a couple of freebies! As we went for my birthday, I heard they had badges so my mum went to the information desk to ask about them. They gave us a birthday badge and a tour 'Passport'.  About half way through the tour, there were some staff members giving out badges with the Hogwarts Express on them.

The Passport contains little activities and spots to collect stamps in different areas. (You need to press down really hard with these to get a good impression. My attempt was lame, so my dad took over.) This is a great little addition to keep small children occupied while you look at things, or parents... Or other family members. I wasn't 100% sure where my dad was most of the time as he'd wandered off with the passport to fill in the tasks.

Butterbeer is available at the backlot cafe too! It comes at three different price points, the lowest being £2.95, and going up if you want to add a souvenir cup, or the highest being a cute little tankard. I decided on just the souvenir cup, but I can't quite remember my reasoning anymore... Either way it was a good decision as I realllly, didn't like it. I really wanted to as well! Maybe it was just a bad batch. I wouldn't buy it again just in case, but i'd have a sip of yours just be be sure. ;)

Mum also bought some Bertie Botts Every Flavour Beans (£8.95) that we tried on the train home. These went down a treat! Well some of them did... Some of them, not so much. Earwax, anyone? How about vomit? No? Maybe grass would better suit your tastes...

There are a few places for food and drink on site. In the Lobby, before or after your tour you can visit the gift shop and stock up on sweets, or pop into Starbucks or the Studio Cafe. The Backlot Cafe about half way through the tour, which is also where you can find the Butterbeer bar. Maybe i'm a little cynical when it comes to eating out, but generally I don't expect a lot for the vegetarian options. Places usually offer the same type of thing, cheese sandwiches, and veggie burgers galore. Both are great, but it's always nice to try something new, isn't it?

I can't remember exactly what all the veggie options were, but I remember that I was pleasantly surprised with the choices on offer in the Studio Cafe. Sure there weren't many options, but on the days I went they were interesting. I think there was a bean burger, and another option for hot food, and a few different cold sandwiches and snacks. I had a roasted vegetable and hummus roll and some dipping veggies with a coke zero. It wasn't the cheapest, as could be expected at this type of attraction. I seem to recall it being around the £10 region for everything.

So remember, if you are visiting the Warner Brothers Studio Tour anytime soon, make sure to give your purse a pep talk, because you will want to buy everything! Oh, and grab me a cauldron mug. ;)

See you next time! :)

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Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Warner Brothers Studio Tour - The Making of Harry Potter.

A few months ago, we went to the Warner Brothers Studio Tour - The Making of Harry Potter for my birthday! It seems like forever ago now, so it's really about time I told you all about it! We travelled down by train, and actually found that for some trips, First Class tickets were cheaper! We had the entire carriage to ourselves on the way home, which gave us a perfect window for some Bertie Bott's tasting... More on that later!

The nearest train station is Watford Junction, and regular shuttle buses to the studios run frequently, and from practically outside the station doors! Go left from the station towards the bus stops, and look for the big Harry Potter poster! It takes about 15 minutes to get there and costs £2 for a return ticket. You will need to print an order confirmation of your tickets to use this service. But the experience starts the second you step aboard, as screens in the bus will show a short film to get you hyped up for the tour!

One of the great things about the tour is, after a short introduction from the staff, the rest of the tour is unguided. It means you are allowed as much time as you like to wander around each segment and make sure you've covered every inch of it before moving on. Which is really handy when you consider there is a lot to look at. Photography is allowed throughout the studio, with very few exceptions, so being able to wander at your own pace means plenty of time to snap whatever pictures you like without feeling rushed. The website estimates about three and a half hours to complete the tour, but you could easily spend all day there.

There are also plenty of photo-ops, so you can step into the world of Harry Potter yourself. Which of course, we all want. I have some pretty hilarious photos of my dad 'running' through the walls to Platform 9 and 3/4, and walking the carriages of the Hogwarts Express was one of my favourite parts of the entire trip. I don't want to give too much away, but i'm sure we all have at least one friend who has been and made their profile picture a snap of them at Privet Drive, so there's also that! The tour ends in a big, big way... How? Well, i'll let you find out for yourself...

At £33 a ticket for adults, it is quite a pricey tour. When you consider the time you can stay there, and all of the things you can see, it begins to feel like a bit of a bargain. I was a massive fan of the books growing up, and as a film student, for me the tour was worth every penny as it combined two of my most loved worlds. The studio often hosts extra events too, that are included with the cost of a standard tour ticket. Check out whats on, on the studio tour website!

There's also a really nice pub just outside the train station. When I visited, they offered a burger meal with a drink for £4.99. The veggie option was yum, and it was really great value. It's not many places you can grab dinner and drinks for four and still have change from a £20 note... Ok so it was only 4p, but it still counts, right? Check out this post to see the bits and bobs I picked up in the gift shop and the on-site cafes! 

See you next time!

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Tuesday, 18 August 2015

[Review] Imperial Leather Marshmallow & Fruit Salad.

Hello everyone!

I've got a bit of a bargain buy to share with you today, the Imperial Leather Sweets collection shower cremes. I've bought one of this style shower creme before, and I wasn't a huge fan. It was really runny and thin, and I didn't really like the smell either. I assumed these would be the same consistency, so really I only bought them because to A) see what they smelt like and B) because they were on offer.

There are only four different varieties from the Sweets collection that i've seen so far, and I picked up the Fruit Salad and Marshmallow ones. I'm not really a huge fan of the smell of marshmallow anyway, but my mum likes it so I picked this one up for her. The scent of the marshmallow one is really sweet, a bit too sickly for me, but it got a big thumbs up from the marshmallow fans in the house.

The Fruit Salad one on the other hand, i'm a huge fan of. Just as you would expect it smells sweet and fruity, and kind of juicy? I'm not even sure that makes sense! How can a shower gel smell juicy? I'm not quite sure myself...

I was rather pleased to find these were thicker than the last one I tried, so I don't know if the formula for the Sweets collection is different, if the formula has been changed across the range, or if I just picked up a dud. My skin is usually quite sensitive, but I recently got a little bit of a burn so it's even more sensitive than normal. I was a little worried about things making it worse, but it didn't sting which was a bonus! 

The packaging is really fun, bright and eye-catching so they look great on the bathroom shelf. Being so cute and cheerful makes them a great choice for gifting too. Everyone loves some good smellies for Birthdays and Christmas, right? The bottles are quite slim and compact, and each contains 250ml of product, making them quite a good size and easy to stash away in a case if you're off on your travels too.

The Sweets collection is currently half price in Tesco, so each bottle is only 79p! But grab them while you can as the offer ends soon. You can choose from Comforting Marshmallow , Mouthwatering Fruit Salad , Stimulating Spearmint and Uplifting Sherbert Lemon. Which do you think sounds best? I definitely think i'll be giving the Sherbert Lemon a go, and as for the Spearmint... I think I might pop a couple in my basket for my dad and brothers birthdays. At 79p each, I think it'd be rude not too! ;)

See you soon! :)

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Monday, 27 July 2015

[Review] Sims 4 for Mac.

So, just where have I been? Well... I thought it was a good idea to finally buy The Sims 4. Although it was released for Mac back in February, since then i've been telling myself i'd clean up my hard drive of all the clutter before getting the game. I still haven't, but I couldn't resist the lure anymore! I am just now emerging from that state of 'must build all the houses, must make all the sims.' You know, that period of time where you just can't turn the thing off?

Whether you buy the disk or digital copy, you have to download the games through Origin. The base game is a huge file and took me a whopping 7 hours to download. Yes, it may be time to see about getting fibre optic broadband. I had an expansion and a stuff pack to install as well, but thankfully that only took an extra hour. The other day we popped into Game to buy an extra stuff pack, and found out that we apparently can't buy the disks anymore whether for Mac or Windows...

Instead the product code would be sent to an e-mail address to be redeemed through Origin. First off, I don't agree with that at all, as I don't think players should be forced to connect to the internet to download their games. I'd much prefer to be able to install it via disk still. Second, the code took a few days to eventually arrive and my friend had to contact Game customer services to resolve it. Pain in the butt, if you ask me.

Create a Sim & Build Modes;

In Create A Sim mode, the old sliders are gone and we now get to drag and pull features to shape them. I'm still a little on the fence about this, but my sims have turned out quite nicely so far if I may say so myself, so I guess it works well! The base game offers much better items to dress your sims up in. That is usually one of my pet hates with Sims games, that I don't like the clothes, or the hairs. So I end up spending hours hunting for nice custom content, which in the end would slow my game down. I currently have next to no custom content installed on my game, just a few pairs of shoes, a couple of different hair styles and some tattoos. The base game content is a little lacking in these areas, so hopefully the future expansions are gonna add some goodies when they come out.

Build mode functions pretty much the same as it always did, and now comes with the option to change things like wall and roof heights, and to be able to place ready made rooms, and move them around with the hand tool. I'm not 100% sure whether or not some of these things were in the Sims 3, my old game won't load for some reason so I couldn't check. There is also the option now to place multiple items on surfaces and walls, so if you want to clutter up a desk or counter with all sorts of bits and bobs, you can! One thing that I find is really missing, is the option to re-colour things. Most items of clothing and furniture come in multiple colour ways anyway, but not everything is just right. The Sims 3 re-colour system would come in handy.

Game Play;

Back when details about The Sims 4 first started coming out, I remember people being pretty unhappy that hot tubs and the toddler life stage would be missing. Well hot tubs made a return in the 'Perfect Patio Stuff' pack, so i'm hoping for some sort of 'family life' pack or expansion that brings back the toddler stage. The 'open world' system from The Sims 3 is sort of back. Worlds have been separated into smaller areas, and sims can wander that entire area without loading screens, and travel between worlds is now an option and some of the scenery is soooo pretty!

Sims can take pictures and selfies, which can be used as decorations. On the one hand, I do love that... But on the other, there is no control over a sims pose, and there are only a few options. If there was a wider range of poses, or at least the ability to choose the poses a sim takes before a picture.
The option to put them on display is a nice touch too, but they can only be placed on walls. But, sometimes, you just want to put a nice selfie on the dresser, what's so wrong with that!? Hopefully the option to sit them on desks or shelves will be added soon.

Get to Work;
This expansion pack gives us three playable careers, 'Detective', 'Scientist' and 'Doctor'. While it isn't a completely new concept, as 'professions' in The Sims 3 Ambitions expansion were playable, and the career paths are similar... I still think it's a good change to be able to actively play through a sim work day. I haven't played the doctor route yet, but I have had sims visit the hospital and it looks like it is gonna be pretty fun. I'd love to see them bring back the firefighter, and maybe ghost hunter careers in future expansions. Fingers crossed!

Overall, I feel Sims 4 is a really strong addition to the franchise, and even though I don't like having to download through Origin, i'm still looking forward to getting more expansion packs. The buzz about the internet has pointed out hints to Pets being a future expansion pack, but who knows what will come next! (I do kind of hope it is Pets though...) So far i've had great fun playing and making strange sims, and having a giggle at the goofy facial expressions they keep making. Like this one...

Custom Content : Necklace | Nails
So who out there is a fellow Simmer? Are you loving Sims 4 or have you been put off by the new pesky download system? Let me know, i'd love to hear what your crazy sim stories are.

See ya next time!

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Friday, 10 July 2015

[Foodie] Ham Holy Burger.

Hello everyone! 

I'm back again with another foodie post!
I was wandering up and down Oxford Street a few weeks ago doing a little shopping, when tummies began grumbling a little. As we were already in John Lewis, we thought we'd check out their restaurants on the third floor before making a decision where to go. On offer was italian food at Rossopomodoro or burgers and fries at Ham. Now, you know me, I'm not one to turn down the chance to try a new veggie burger, and i'd never seen a Ham restaurant before so we decided to give it a try.

Something I have never, ever seen in a restaurant... Was waiters handing out iPads for customers to play with while they wait. I can see this coming in very handy if it's really busy and the wait times get a little longer... But the wait for the food didn't feel all that long to us at all. Or maybe it was and they had just successfully distracted us with Candy Crush. I think the whole building has free wi-fi too, so you can use the iPad for a little browsing while you wait.

The cute thing about ham is that it has a pretty small and concise menu. (Which you can see online, here.) As a veggie, my choice was pretty easy. The Garden Burger! This one had aubergine, courgette portobello mushroom, tomatoes, cheese, basil and lettuce.  It was under the 'special gourmet' section of the menu, and was actually one of the lower priced options at £10.

Everything in this burger tasted really fresh, and was bursting with flavours. The batch (bap/bread roll/balm cake/whatever you call it!) was awesome too as it was very light and soft. Pretty much anything with mushrooms in is a winner for me, but the addition of basil was different and awesome! I give Remy fresh basil at home and the smell is a-maaaaaaaa-zing. I may have to start pinching a bit and popping it in my burgers. ;)

With burgers, we each had a portion of 'French Fries' for £4, and shared the two little tips that came with them. The fries were great, light and fluffy on the inside, a little crunchy on the outside. Whacking on a teensy little bit of salt was enough to make it just perfect.

Adding on a diet coke for £2.80, that brings it to a grand total of £16.80. Personally I don't think it was too bad price wise. The portion of fries was generous, the burger was great and we were in John Lewis on Oxford Street! I think you expect to pay a little more in London locations like that anyway. A lady next to us ordered a salad, and it was pretty impressive. By that, I mean it was huge!

If you have non-veggie friends like I do, don't worry! My friend assures me that her meal was also really fresh and tasty. She said her burger was cooked a little pink for her liking, but she still enjoyed it. So if you like your meat cooked a certain way, be sure to ask for it and i'm fairly certain you'll get it.

So, the down side? There is currently just the one branch in the UK! Which is a big sad face as I did really enjoy my meal and the whole set up. Next time i'm in London, i'm probably going to be planning to pop here for my lunch. I certainly think you should consider it to!

Oxford Circus is the nearest tube station, head towards John Lewis and up to the third floor. You can't miss it! You can check out their website here for more information.

See you soon!

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