October Reading

Sorry this post is so late, I had planned to vlog about last months reads (or should I say read, I only managed to make my way through one book last month) but for some reason or another everything I filmed for it the audio went out of sync with the video which is very annoying! Anyway this months lonely book was The Death of a Poet by N Quentin Woolf which I was sent to review* after a mix up with the PR company. Not to look a gift horse (or free book) in the mouth I said I would read it anyway!

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I’m not really sure where to start with this book, it starts as a tale of an unhealthy relationship that descends into domestic violence and lies but from the unusual perspective of the man being the victim, unable to leave the relationship as he truly loves this woman. Then a major incident happens and the book moves to another story entirely, that of an English officer who fought in World War One and survived but paid his own price in his own way. I found this switch jarring and it took me out of the flow completely as it was unexpected and is probably the reason I read the first section in less than a week and then took a further four weeks to finish the rest of the novel. Everytime the narration switched I found myself struggling to get through these section which was disappointing but I adored the original storyline and so pushed through. I’m glad that I did as eventually the two storylines meet and it starts to make more sense as to why they have been linked together but unfortunately I was left feeling disappointed and confused at what I felt was a poor ending to an otherwise powerful story.

BOOKS READ THIS MONTH: 1
BOOKS READ SO FAR THIS YEAR: 28.5
BOOKS READ FOR 30 BY 30: 13

*Disclaimer: I was sent a copy by the publisher in exchange for a review.
The above opinions are still my own and not influenced by this in any way.

Budget Beauty: K West Spa

The first thing I like to do when I check in to a hotel room is find the guidebook and read it from cover to cover. A bit weird I know but I like to know what to expect when I visit a hotel and my visit to K West was no different. Reading that little booklet turned out to be a fabulous idea as that’s where I discovered that residents of the hotel could make use of the award-winning spa between 8pm and 10pm on weekdays for a mere £10. Given all the walking and sightseeing we had done over the previous few days I decided to treat myself and pop along.

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To start I was the only person there which was great as it meant I could flit from one experience room to the other with glee without looking like the complete child I am. The sauna and steam rooms were standard fare but I adored the hydrotherapy pool with the twinkly lights on the ceiling lulling me to relaxation. The snow paradise was also an experience and not quite as cold as I was anticipating. The biggest let down were the footspas as they were basically just sinks on the floor, no bubbles or massage functions and I’m disappointed in myself that I didn’t explore enough to discover the sun meadow.

The whole place was very clean and I was given flip-flops and a dressing gown upon entering to use. There were plenty of towels and it was nice to see that there was a variety of water jugs available with cucumber, lemon slices etc to keep you hydrated throughout. I stayed for about 90 minutes and a few other people came to peruse the facilities within this time too but it was extremely quiet which added to the calm of the spa. I do think that the prices for external visitors to the spa seem a bit steep; £25 if booked with a treatment or £50 if not but if you’re staying at the hotel mid-week I definitely recommend you pop along for a little relaxation spa style!

Review: K West Hotel, Shepherd’s Bush

As I mentioned in my Travelodge review they had wanted £90 for the night and I simply wasn’t willing to pay that for the level of accommodation that the Travelodge provide – they’re a cheap and cheerful place to stay and not worth that price tag in my opinion. After weeks of checking various hotel booking sites almost daily I was starting to thing I wasn’t going to find a reasonably priced luxury hotel for the date we wanted – any other night that week sure but that particular Wednesday? Nope. Very weird. Finally my luck came though and I was able to snag a Deluxe room with a king sized bed at the K West Hotel for less than £125, just £35 more than the Travelodge wanted through LateRooms.com. It was a little further away from Paddington than I had wanted but I was very excited to be able to stay at the K West Hotel as it’s one of the hotels I’ve showcased in my Heavenly Hotels feature. *spoiler alert* it did NOT disappoint!

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Upon arrival I was a little nervous as we’d booked a large double for the three of us reasoning that we could all fit on a king size bed but technically the room was only meant for two people. The receptionist who checked us in (I wished I’d got her name) was nothing but lovely, upgraded us to the next level of room for no extra charge even before I’d mentioned that there would be three of us staying and then proceeded to tell me that her daughter likes to snuggle up with her some nights too.

Our room was down a level from the reception which was the same level as the spa. The long, narrow corridor with no windows down there could be a bit of an issue if you’re claustrophobic but my mum didn’t have a problem with it at all thankfully. We got to our room and were absolutely astounded! I had definitely made the right choice with this hotel.

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The place was more like a suite than a hotel room with a separate sitting area, desk for working and the hugest of huge beds. The three of us were able to lie comfortably in it and not even touch each other. My niece thought the place was amazing and declared that she never wanted to stay in a Travelodge again, ha! The only tiniest disappointment, for my mum, was the bathroom…

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What could possibly be wrong with that bathroom you declare? It’s gorgeous! And I agree but my mum was desperate for a bath to ease her aching legs after all our sightseeing and there wasn’t one. Not the hotels fault though and that shower was a pretty amazing alternative. My favourite thing in the room was this little gadget on the bedside table though:

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This bad boy was home to not only two USB ports for charging electronic devices but also FOUR sockets! One of my biggest bugbears is not having somewhere near the bed to charge your phone at night so this was amazing.

There really isn’t anything I can fault about this hotel our room was valued at £460 per night on Booking.com so we paid just over a quarter of this price and I’ve not actually seen the rate on the official website go above £250/night which while expensive I still think is quite reasonable for West London. 90% of the time you can usually get a better deal via a third-party than direct with the site but they can have some good deals like the Love Sucks package they currently offer for just £109/night.

I would happily stay here again and again for the price we paid and I thoroughly recommend it to anyone looking for an affordable luxury hotel in the city!

Rooms: 5/5
4 of 5 starsService: 5/5
Value: 4/5

Overall: 4.6/5

The Weekend #11

Last weekend I took a little jaunt (my last until I go home for Christmas) to Ipswich to stay with my best frex Matt as between us we don’t have a weekend free together for the rest of the year. Given it was a last-minute (well for me) decision, and a Friday evening, meant that the train was too expensive so instead I hopped on the National Express coach from Victoria station. It would take a good deal longer (almost three times in fact) but it was also a quarter of the price at less than a tenner. It was a horrible journey. There were no sockets between the seats like I’ve had on previous NE coaches, the woman in front did NOT stop talking the entire journey and we ended up almost half an hour late in reaching our destination.

As he’s a model maker (and has lots of paints in his model making arsenal) I’d asked him to help me out with decoration/painting the Jayne gun I was working on last weekend, we’d also planned on heading to the cinema so we could see Interstellar in IMAX. Unfortunately I hadn’t counted on him being such a bloody perfectionist that the thing would take forever and a day to complete.

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After a lazy start to Saturday morning we got ready to start and he convinced me to cover my foam handle with a miracle material called plasticard only to discover that he was out of superglue. So we popped out for an emergency trip to the local craft shop Craftability. Ok so their website might be a little bit retro but oh my days it was like heaven in there! I could easily have spent hours (and hundreds of pounds) in that shop. In the end we came away with what we needed and also a few bits and pieces that I’m going to use to make Luna Lovegood jewellery.

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After what felt like a million hours work my gun went from this:

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to this:

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Not a huge amount different eh? The weird plastic glue that Matt uses gave me a headache and so by the time we settled down to watch the season finale of Doctor Who I was feeling a bit woozy and fell asleep mid-way through only to wake up to Matt yelling at the cyberBrig. It wasn’t a very good episode was it?

Sunday morning was spent painting and it was taking so long we decided to skip the cinema in favour of finishing it up before heading for tea at his parents house.

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Doesn’t look too shabby does it? There are a few bits I want to change/tidy up but I’m pretty happy with how it looks and I can’t wait to take it to a convention! It was quite late by the time I got the train home and I pretty much just crashed out when I got in but it was nice to have a more relaxing weekend than my usual running around! How was your weekend? Any exciting plans for this one?

Afternoon Tea Cruise, CityCruises

I really wanted to take my mum and niece for afternoon tea when they came to London. I love afternoon tea, it’s such a quintessentially British thing but it’s also pretty pricey, especially in London, and a lot of places charge the same price for children as they do for adults or only offer deals for even numbers of people. After a bit of investigation I discovered that CityCruises do an afternoon tea cruise and given that mums favourite thing about their first visit was the boat this seemed like a perfect compromise!

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We had a bit of transportation issues which meant we only just made it on time and my stomach had gotten itself in a bit of a tizz but we were soon sitting comfortably at our table and ready for our trip down the Thames. There was a lovely selection of people on the cruise; other families, couples, friends.

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Included in the price was your afternoon tea platter and unlimited tea/coffee, other drinks were optional at an additional cost and as you would expect given they have the monopoly on the supply slightly overpriced but not crazily so. My mum and I wanted to start with tea but my niece had wanted a cold drink. She doesn’t drink fizzy juice and there was only fresh orange on the menu so instead we asked for a glass of milk – which we were refused due to it not being on the menu… What? There’s a ton of milk on board due to the fact that people are going to require it for their hot drinks yet a child cannot get a glass despite the fact that you fail to cater for them in any other way… OK then. I had planned on treating my mother and myself to a glass of champagne but this totally changed my mind.DSCF1695

Anyway, on to the food! It was adequate, nothing to write home about and again nothing specially aimed for children. My niece wouldn’t eat any of the sandwiches as they all had one ingredient or another that she didn’t like. The scones were all fruit which meant both she and I had to pick out the raisins – blergh. The desserts were the only really nice thing about it and even they weren’t particularly exciting.

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But we weren’t on the cruise for the food specifically, we were there to enjoy each others company and the unique views that a cruise on the Thames has to offer. I let my little shutterbug loose with the camera (we even popped up to the top deck before it started to drizzle with rain) so the photos below are courtesy of her.

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I’m not entirely sure if I’d recommend the afternoon tea cruise from CityCruises or not. While the venue is unique it’s not cheap and I wasn’t very impressed with their service to be honest. You’d be better off paying for afternoon tea at a more upper class hotel and then hopping on the Thames Clipper for a soothing journey afterwards I think!

BitBS Rating – ££

Review: Travelodge, Kings Cross Royal Scot

While I have a thing for luxury hotels I don’t have the budget for them and with my family coming to England for a total of 5 nights we had to go for functionality over extravagance. Enter Travelodge, who have many hotels conveniently located across the city (and country) for a price that won’t break the bank. Being London however the prices still weren’t that cheap working out at £66 per night for the three nights were there. I point out refused to pay the £90 (!) they wanted for the Wednesday night and decided to risk finding a last minute deal for a swanky hotel near Paddington (ready for our journey to LegoLand the next day) for that night instead.

I’d stayed in this hotel once before as it’s one of the cheaper Travelodge’s in London town and is in a great location just a 10 minute walk from Kings Cross station. It seemed to take forever to get checked in which after the 7 hour train journey my mother and niece had endured wasn’t the best but eventually we were settled into our family room which had both a double and a small single camp style bed in it which didn’t leave us much room but was good enough for what we needed.

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Snuggled up for our first night hoping to get a good nights sleep before our first full day of sightseeing we were just dozing off as we were rudely snapped out of it by a loud alarm sounding noise. No one else in the hotel seemed to be evacuating so we weren’t sure what was going on and the noise gradually got quieter before starting up again. I legged it down to reception to be told that it was a fault with the plumbing and that as there was not an engineer available to take a look the best they could offer us was a move to another room in a different part of the hotel.

I went to go check it out before we moved all of our stuff and to my surprise there was only a double bed – how exactly did they expect the three of us to fit in one small double bed? So back again I went to reception, thoroughly tired and grumpy from being awoken so rudely and had to wait an age before I got anyones attention (there were a surprising amount of people checking in at 11pm on a Monday evening!) I was told that there weren’t any family rooms available which was why we’d been offered the one that we had but in the end they agreed to move us to two twin rooms just across the hall from each other and (thankfully) on the other side of the hotel as the plumbing issue. We spent both our first two nights in this set up with my niece sleeping in a room with my mum one night and with me the other.

Despite all the issues I was impressed with the way the staff at the Travelodge handled the issues. We were due to return on the Friday night so I was curious to see if we would end up having a similar problem or not.

I’m pleased to say that our second stay was the complete opposite of the first and we ended up staying in what I would call the Travelodges equivalent of a suite. It was obviously a wheelchair accessible room and there was about twice the space in this room than there had been in the very first one that we were offered.

Sadly while I wasn’t expecting luxury accommodations I did at least expect the wardrobe doors not to be falling off – the whole hotel is just a bit old and tired looking and would benefit from a bit of a makeover. For the price though, in Central London, you really can’t go wrong with this hotel as a base.

Rooms: 2/5
4 of 5 starsService: 3/5
Value: 4/5

Overall: 3/5

30 by 30: An Update

Another three months have flown by so it’s time for another update to my 30 by 30 project:

4. Visit 3 countries in Europe

So I have two out of these three covered for next year already! In February I’ll be spending a few days in Oslo with my friend Tony (and hopefully a few others too). Then in June Matt and I have tickets to see Taylor Swift play in Amsterdam so we’re making a weekend of it there too. Can you say EXCITED!!

5. Read 50 books

Up to 13 books having only read an additional three since my last update but I have so many books in my to read pile it’s more a case of finding time than anything else.

16. Party all night without stopping for sleep

I’m marking this one as a pass after not going to bed until 7am Sunday morning of Vampire Ball lol

18. Be more creative

I’m really enjoying my first go at prop making and hoping it gets me back in to doing other crafty things. The main issue with this one is space!

20. Get some proper cosplay photos

Was lucky enough to have some pretty amazing shots taken at my last two events of 2014 and I even set up a cosplay page to show them off.

26. Start Vlogging

Check. I’ve posted two so far and I have another couple in the works. Subscribe to my channel here.

29. Spend the day at a spa

Not only did I enjoy my time at the K West Spa but I recently got a bargain of a deal on LastMinute.com for a spa day for just £18 that I intend to use to relax a bit before Christmas.

I’ve also been looking into starting dance classes in the New Year to help my body positivity, I know that I need to eat better and tone up but day-to-day life is just exhausting enough as it is right now. I’d mentioned to my friend Tony about visiting all the streets on the monopoly board as well and he seemed keen on doing that too so hopefully we can arrange that for in the new year too.

The Weekend #10

I finally had a fairly quiet weekend scheduled so I decided not to vlog as planned and instead take it as it comes. I was really looking forward to a lie in on the Saturday morning but unfortunately my flatmates cat had different ideas and sat meowing outside my bedroom door from about 7am. FML! Wide awake I decided to move the TV from my room to the lounge so I could watch some of the food network while blogging (ha!). Unfortunately when my other flatmate moved out he also took the aerial cable with him so that was a no go, instead I decided to start watching Deep Space 9 from the beginning as it’s one of the few DVDs I actually have here in London.

My friend Tony was in Barking which isn’t too far from where I live for a Doctor Who signing and we’d arranged to meet up afterwards and pop to Heathrow to see some other friends who were there for the Hallowhedon convention. He’d parked at Richmond for the day and not wanting to get caught up in the rugby traffic we decided to try to stagedoor Speed the Plow at the Playhouse theatre – not for Lindsay Lohan but for Richard Schiff (who was in Jurassic Park apparently). Sadly after hanging around outside for a few hours we were advised by, a very surprised that we weren’t waiting for Lohan security guard, that Richard had in fact been off sick all that week and wasn’t due back until Monday. Lohan also appeared to be a no-show with her still not having turned up by 2pm (an hour before the matinée show was due to start) and we decided to call it a day and head to the airport.

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We went to The Pheasant which I’ve written about before – I’ve been a few times at various cons and I have never had a meal I didn’t like. This time round I had the humongous chicken and mushroom pie which I couldn’t finish but still made room about an hour or so later for pudding – naturally. After we’d eaten some friends turned up as the convention panels had finished for the day and we spent a really enjoyable time just hanging out with them and sharing stories. There were still some friends we knew were around but hadn’t seen so we headed back to the con hotel for a while before heading home to make sure I didn’t miss the last tube. All in all Tony put up with me for about 10 hours straight which he really must be commended for lol. I really wanted to stay and I think if I’d have had my phone charger with me I may just have done so as Hotel Tonight had an offer at the hotel for just £62.

The next day I was pretty glad I hadn’t stayed though and had a thoroughly enjoyable day chilling on the sofa and making a start on my first cosplay prop; Jayne’s gun Vera from Firefly.

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This is my first foray in to prop making and I’m pretty happy with the progress that I’ve made so far. I still need to figure out what to make the scope out of and when I go to visit Matt next weekend I’ll be doing some of the detailing/paint work. My femme Jayne is really my only current cosplay that I don’t have any decent pictures of so I’m excited to have a prop to work with, I just pose better with props y’know? How was your weekend? Any exciting plans for this one?

Leanne Power Cosplay

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So once again I’m starting a post with an apology for being absolutely crap at blogging but I’ve had an incredibly busy couple of weeks with my mum and niece visiting and then two conventions two weekends in a row. To say I’m exhausted is an understatement but October was a freaking awesome! It’s not even that I’ve not been spending time online in between but I’ve been working at getting my other blog Blonde Geek with Social Skills back up and running and I’m almost there.

I’ve also finally set up a cosplay page on Facebook to allow me to share some of the great pictures I had taken at the recent events which means I can tick off another of my 30 by 30 list!

20. Get some proper cosplay photos

I’m really pleased with the pictures I’ve got up there at the moment in particular the Tinkerbell ones and the Harley Quinn’s with the gorgeous Aretsaya Cosplay as Poison Ivy – go take a looksie! I’m currently working on making a gun to go with my fem Jayne cosplay which is the first proper prop I’ve ever worked on so it’s nice to have a place where I can share my progress and get tips for other people. I’ve also got a Pinterest board with cosplay ideas for next year or so and links to helpful tutorials. I just need to figure out how to split my time so I can do both cosplay and blogging justice without one of the other suffering!

November 2014 NET Worth

Credit
Cash – £7.80
Santander 123 C/A – £1,368.39
Co-operative C/A – £2,228.06
EasyCash – £1.00
Credit total – £3,605.25

Debts
Capital One C/C – £901.28
Creation C/C – £755.63
MBNA C/C – £3,189.13
MBNA C/C 2 – £3,956.13
Debt total – (£8,802.17)

Net worth
£3,605.25 – £8,802.17 = -£5,196.92