Broke in the Big Smoke

Life in London on a Budget

June 2016 NET Worth

Credit
Cash – £15.82
Santander – £3,069.17
Halifax C/A – £3,067.42
TSB- £1,074.45
Tesco – £1,032.97
Credit total – £8,259.83

Debts
Capital One C/C – £895.97
MBNA C/C – £3,235.84
Virgin Atlantic C/C – £2,467.45
Halifax C/C – £2,662.77
Loan from Mum – £4,000.00
Loan from Dad – £2,000.00
Debt total – (£15,262.03)

Net worth
£8,259.83 – £15,262.03 = –£7,002.20

Rum & Sugar, West India Quay

So as I mentioned in my last roundup post, a few weeks back, Jen, Victoria and I found ourselves in West India Quay in search of some food prior to a trip to the cinema. I was quite poorly at the time and didn’t have much of an appetite so was looking for something on the smaller side to snack on rather than a full meal. I’d read a review for Rum & Sugar on Connie Consumes blog a while back and suggested to the girls that we take a look at the menu – they were suitably impressed and the decision was made.
Rum and Sugar West India Quay Cocktail
As it was an absolutely glorious day we decided to sit outside and enjoy a bit of the sunshine while eating. With a name like Rum & Sugar it stands to reason that you’d assume they probably specialise in rum and you would be right. The bar stocks over 150 different kinds of rum and if you don’t know your light rum from your dark rum they even host tastings and masterclasses.

The cocktail list is similarly impressive but not being 100% I decided to give the alcohol a miss in favour of a virgin passion fruit mojito which was suitably refreshing. I do want to return to check out some of their sharing cocktails though as those bad boys look like serious fun!

Rum and Sugar West India Quay Flatlay Mac n Cheese

The menu is split into small and large plates so naturally with a smaller than usual appetite I opted for the former but there was a slight problem there as I wanted EVERYTHING on the menu, no lie. In the end I went for the mac & cheese with Camembert and garlic breadcrumbs while Victoria opted for the mini vegetable fajitas and Jen the crispy calamari with a side of cajun spiced fries.

The macaroni cheese came served in a tiny little skillet which was just the cutest presentation ever with a giant chunk of gooey Camembert right in the middle. It was creamy and crunchy (thanks to the addition of the breadcrumbs) and the perfect comfort food which was exactly what I needed at that moment. It wasn’t a big portion but as it’s very rich it was quite filling and due to my lack of appetite I wasn’t able to finish it all. I do think it was an absolute steal at just £6 though!

I also pinched a couple of Jen’s fries; thick cut chunky chips beautifully cooked so they were fluffy in the middle and crispy on the outside and with just the right amount of spice.

Rum and Sugar West India Quay Kiwi Eton Mess

Having failed to finish my savoury I was super happy to have room for a little bit of something sweet and split a portion of the kiwi and passion fruit eton mess with rose-water cream with Victoria. The dish had caught my attention as soon as I’d set eyes on it on the menu and boy oh boy did it not disappoint. Every single element of this dish worked together to create a taste explosion. The tartness of the kiwi offset by the sweetness of the cream and a light crispy meringue for a bit of texture.

Weeks later I still think about this dessert and how much I want to go back so I can have it again. I’m a regular at the Cineworld at West India Quay anyway so I can’t see that day being too far in my future and the best bit is that they even do a discount if you show them that you’re off to see a movie that same day! I call that a win!

BitBS Rating – ££
Rum & Sugar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Practicing Self-Care

The past few months have certainly changed my outlook on life to a degree. Health is something that we all take for granted until we no longer have it and when you’re at your lowest point you’d do anything to feel well again.

I’m currently on steroids to combat my current UC flare and the difference these tiny little pills have made in just a few short weeks is astounding. It’s not a long-term solution though, I won’t ever be cured of this disease but I also know, if I’m being 100% honest, that I don’t look after myself as well as I should.

I think we can all do with practicing a little more self-care in our lives.

Due to being ill I’ve lost a considerable amount of weight – enough to drop from the obese BMI range into the merely overweight one and I’d like to continue this even further so that hopefully I return to the normal weight category again for the first time in a long time. I’ve been back tracking my food and drink using MyFitnessPal for the past  week – not dieting as such, more just monitoring my intake. I love to eat out so I’m never going to be a health freak but I’ve been drinking daily probiotic drinks and trying to eat more fruit & veg. It’s tricky though because I have to limit the amount of fibre that I eat.

Practicing Self Care

Exercise and I won’t ever be the best of friends but now that I actually have some strength and energy again I’m finding that I do want to fit more activity into my days. Be that walking, dancing or trying out something new. Tonight I’m off to a hot yoga class with some of the Bangarang girls and I still have some guest passes from the DW Fitness challenge I took part in last year so I’m looking forward to checking out their new London branch. (They’ve taken over the old LA Fitness gym at the Waldorf)

I’ve also been making sure to attend regular checkups for things like going for a smear and getting my eyes tested (my prescription has changed and I need to get new glasses *sigh*) These things can seem like such a bother at the time but they are so, so important and don’t actually take all that much time. So please, don’t put them off!

Got my nails did in this delicious summer colour today!

A photo posted by Leanne Fraser (@msleannefraser) on

And you know it’s not just about our insides either, our outsides deserve a little TLC every now and again too. Over the past week I’ve treated myself to a manicure, massage, facial and haircut and none of it was particularly expensive (I’ll be sharing my tips on saving money on beauty treatments with you soon) but the difference that these little things have made to how I feel about myself is amazing.

Lastly, and by no means least, surrounding yourself with friends and family can do wonders for your emotional state of mind. I recently popped home to Aberdeen just for the weekend so I could hang out with the fam and stock up on cuddles from my niece and great-nephews. Despite being there for less than 48 hours it was worth every second and I feel so much better for it.

Are you looking after number one enough? What are your favourite self-care activities?

The Tower of London

Today is officially the first day of Summer – although you wouldn’t know it looking at the weather. What the bleep is all this rain about eh? Anyway, back when the sun made its last appearance at the beginning of May my friend Jen and I spent a glorious day playing tourist and visiting the Tower of London. Despite living in London for three years and having visited the Tower on multiple occasions for various events this was my first ever trip to actually see the Tower itself and it did not disappoint.

Tower of London Crown Jewels
Tower of London Guard

Built in 1066 the tower is one of the most popular tourist attractions in London and despite arriving early it was already starting to get pretty busy. We decided to join one of the free Yeoman Warden guided tours and were led around several key areas of the site, including the chapel, by the legendary Yeoman Warden John Donald.

Tower of London Tree

I remember when I first found out that people actually lived behind the walls of the tower and the amount of service they need to have completed in order to earn this privilege but you can tell just how much the yeoman love their jobs from their interactions with the public and the stories that they tell. I thoroughly recommend joining one of these tours if you have the time.

Tower of London White Tower
Tower of London White Tower 2

The tower has an incredibly varied history from being used as a prison, an armory, home to the Royal Mint and of course keeper of the crown jewels. The main courtyard also plays host to some fun re-enactments should you have time to see them and the crown jewels are most definitely worth the wait. (Don’t worry the queue moves much faster than you think it will!) There is so much to see within its walls that Jen & I spent several solid hours taking it all in and could have stayed even longer if it wasn’t so hot!

Tower of London Canon
Tower of London Armour

Tickets are cheaper if you book online in advance from available via 365tickets.co.uk and are valid all day so you can pop out for lunch and come back – just make sure to get them stamped for re-entry before leaving. it’s also worth noting that there is no cash machine on site so make sure you bring some cash for ice-cream/drinks if it’s a hot day like ours was.

BitBS Rating – £££

*Disclaimer: 365tickets provided me tickets in exchange for a blog post and video.
The above opinions are still my own and not influenced by this in any way.

Depart, Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park


Haunting sights and sounds will seduce you down a path punctuated by unexpected encounters as you weave through the space between life and death in this East End cemetery…

I’ve seen some wonderful promenade theatre performances since living in London, Romeo and Juliet and Nightwatchers at the Tower of London spring to mind in particular. So when the TheatreBloggers.co.uk team were looking for people to attend and review a promenade circus performance in Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park I was intrigued and registered my interest. Which is how at 8:30pm on a Friday evening I found myself entering a graveyard – where there is said to be more bodies buried than people currently alive in the Borough – eagerly anticipating what was to come.

My immediate thought upon entering the clearing was that there were an awful lot of people. Immersive theatre is definitely gaining traction and this was only the second ever performance of the show so word of mouth had not yet had time to travel. We were given different coloured bands upon entering which split the audience into three groups which would weave their way through the production in a different order for maximum exposure.

Depart Tower Hamlets Cemetery

The meaning behind Depart is left very much up to the audiences imagination as we were ushered from one set of performers to another. Acrobats dangling from trees, traversing high poles and spinning around in a giant hula hoop enthralled us with physical acts no human body should be capable of. The use of technology and lighting throughout was very clever and visually stunning as was the background noise of the hauntingly ethereal choir occasionally dressed up in haunting veils to add to the ambience.

However, it quickly became clear that there were far too many people in our group as we were rushed from one performance to the next sometimes passing and even merging with other groups. The earlier rainfall had ensured that it was muddy and slippery which didn’t help speed things along but I was most disappointed to be manhandled by one of the guides as they deemed I wasn’t moving quickly enough. The worst part of this was the fact that some of the performers were most definitely shortchanged on the time that they had with the audience.

This was criminal as the performances themselves were absolutely incredible as was proven at the very end with an exceptional finale sequence which had me stood open-mouthed for the most part and gasping out loud at the things these gymnasts could do. I appreciate that nightfall adds to the atmosphere of the show but perhaps starting the show a little earlier would allow people to move through the space much more freely and give ample time for each act to be enjoyed and savoured by all.

Depart is running at Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park until 26th June before touring Brighton, Hull and Blackpool in 2017. Some practical tips if you’re planning on attending; there are toilets available on site at the start if required and I’d recommend that you wear sensible boots or trainers that you don’t mind getting muddy and make sure that both your arms and legs are fully covered.

*Disclaimer: I attended this show for free in exchange for blogging about the event.
The above opinions are still my own and not influenced by this in any way.

The Pros and Cons of the S+ Sleep Tracker

Res+ SleepTracker 2
I love sleep. It’s a bit of a running joke amongst my friends that they pretty much know not to contact me after 10pm on a weeknight as it’s likely I’ll be tucked up in bed trying to catch some zzz’s. And while I could probably sleep for Scotland if it were an Olympic sport the quality of sleep that we get is actually way more important than the quantity (although getting enough sleep is still vital!) So when I was invited to test run the S+ by RedMed – the world’s first non-contact sleep tracking system – I jumped at the chance. Just how good a night’s sleep was I getting?

Before I start my review, it is important to say that the ResMed S+ is not a medical device and it is not approved for treating medical conditions. It is a lifestyle device, designed to help you track your sleep.

Res + Sleep Tracker 1

The bedside device uses a highly calibrated respiratory and bio-motion sensor to measure and analyse sleep stages. It records movements caused by the expansion and relaxation of the chest with breathing in and out, and overall body movements such as positional changes, arm twitches and shrugs. Each morning, the S+ app delivers sleep scores and sleep charts to a connected phone or tablet, and the S+ Sleep Mentor uses a software algorithm based on over two million nights of sleep data to deliver personalised feedback and suggestions to help users improve their sleep.

After downloading the app, entering a few personal details and answering a few questions about my sleeping patterns and lifestyle I was ready to go. The device works over Bluetooth and all you have to do to get it started is hit the sleep button. The app also has a couple of handy built-in features to help you drift off peacefully including Mind Clear where you can leave yourself written or voice memos for the following day so that you don’t forget and Relax to Sleep which plays soothing audio that synchronizes with your breathing before automatically fading out.

Res+ Sleep Score

In the morning you’re presented with your sleep report including an overall sleep score out of 100. You can see at a glance when you were in each stage of sleep and for how long. Contributing factors to this score include environmental factors such as light and room temperature and every day you’ll be given a little recommendation for something you can do to improve your sleep for the following night. Mine usually consisted of saying I should do some exercise but up until the last week or two that really hasn’t been possible.

I’ve been using the S+ for a couple of months now and as with anything it has its pros and cons which I’ll share with you below so you can make up your own mind:

Pros

  • It’s a non contact device so you don’t have to wear anything on your wrist overnight to keep track
  • It’s super accurate – you can see exactly how much time you spend in each stage of sleep
  • The Mind Clear and Relax to sleep features are incredibly useful for busy minds
  • You’re provided clear, actionable steps each day towards getting a better nights sleep

Cons

  • You need to remember to actually switch it on. This is a problem for me as I often go to just lie down for a sec and end up falling asleep!
  • Price – at £129.95 it’s an investment and not something everyone can afford
  • Self fulfilling prophecy; if the app tells you you’ve had a bad night sleep you might just believe it even if you’re feeling well rested

If you’re interested in giving the S+ by ResMed a go you can get yours at mySleep.resmed.com,  Amazon and John Lewis.

*Disclaimer: I was sent a ResMed S+ device in exchange for a review.
The above opinions are still my own and not influenced by this in any way

Go Your Crohn Way

Almost 6 years ago after months of stomach pain, bloody diarrhoea and general run-down-ness I was finally diagnosed with Crohn’s disease after the doctors stuck a camera up my butt to see what the heck was going on inside of me. Last Wednesday, as I sat in a hospital waiting room awaiting my third go at this super fun activity, I finished reading Go Your Crohn Way: A Gutsy Guide to Living with Crohn’s Disease by the inimitable Kathleen Nicholls.

Go Your Crohn Way

I know that I usually post my book reviews in a monthly roundup but I hope that you’ll forgive me this once as today I want to talk about much more than just a book. Go Your Crohn Way is Kathleen’s IBD story and as well as reviewing it I also want to tell you a bit about my own along the way.

After my initial diagnosis I was, to put it simply, relieved. I’d been pawned off with the suggestion of IBS for months despite knowing that there was something a whole lot more going on with me. There was already a history of Crohn’s in my family and so it didn’t really come as a shock to me. For my family it was more so as I hadn’t really mentioned anything to the about the issues I’d been having as there were other things going on in my life that took precedence.

My Crohn’s disease was actually fairly mild and easily gotten under control with the use of foam enemas (sexy) for which I was thankful. I mostly tried to pretend that nothing was wrong and that I was just the same as everyone else. It wasn’t until months later that I actually decided to look for more information other than what I had read on the Crohn’s & Colitis UK website (an absolutely fantastic resource for any of you who may be interested) something a bit more personal. I started following a plethora of IBD bloggers who were much braver than I when it came to talking about their experiences and one of those was Crohnological Order written by Kathleen.

Kathleen’s blog (and twitter) have been a lifeline for me over the years. Her writing is real, poignant, upbeat and humorous. Her puns are ridiculous and her love for Jon Hamm knows no bounds. She proves that she is so much more than just her disease but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t a huge part of her. When she announced that her first book was due to be published I was so incredibly proud of her despite never having met in person and knew that I would probably break my book buying ban in order to get a copy (in the end I didn’t have to as I snagged a kindle copy thanks to the kind folks at NetGalley – yes I know I mention them a lot and no, I’m not sponsored by them).

For a book about something as serious as an incurable disease Go Your Crohn Way had me laughing out loud plenty as I read it on tubes and busses as part of my daily commute. Kathleen’s humour shines through on each and every page which makes the whole thing so much more digestible. IDB is a scary thing but this book is definitely not. It’s refreshingly accessible and I’d recommend it to anyone who’s been newly diagnosed or who has a loved one with the condition.

I actually no longer have Crohn’s disease. No I haven’t been cured of an incurable disease you idiots. After moving to London three years ago I was re-diagnosed with left-sided ulcerative colitis instead and prescribed Pentasa to keep me symptom free. UC and Crohn’s have a reputation as pooping diseases but they affect people in a multitude of ways – both physical and mental and both of which I’ve struggled with over the last few months.

It started on Easter weekend – I was visiting my friend Lauren in Southampton and I had a horrible sharp pain in the left hand side of my abdomen that ended up lasting for several days. It almost felt like trapped wind but “letting go” didn’t help in any way. I felt generally run down but I also had the family holiday to Tenerife coming up and I didn’t want it to be spoiled.

Once I was back in London things slowly deteriorated. My trips to the bathroom were getting more frequent, I was having accidents when I couldn’t get there quickly enough, my appetite more or less completely went (and if you know me then you know that there is very little I like more than a good meal) and I started to get more and more tired every day even when I did very little. I was pretty miserable.

Fatigue is absolutely the worst symptom in my opinion. It’s so much more than just being a bit tired and it can’t be fixed by simply getting a couple extra hours of sleep a night and yet it’s invisible and so difficult to explain to people who’ve never experienced it. For weeks almost all I did was get up, go to work then come home again and just lie in bed. Even keeping myself upright on a packed tube carriage on the way home was a challenge some days!

After two months it was time to admit defeat and that my medication was no longer maintaining my body in a state of remission. I almost cried with relief when I was granted an appointment at the Gastroenterology department just a few days after finally getting to see my GP. I was prescribed with my first ever course of oral steroids, booked in for a colonoscopy the following week and told that I would probably start to feel better by Sunday. I was completely sceptical that they would take effect that quickly but I was completely and utterly wrong. Just two days later I felt better than I had in months! Steroids are a beautiful thing people – although I’m continually paranoid about moonface! Obviously it’s not a long-term solution but I have to say I am so impressed with the care and support I’ve been given by the NHS and I am so thankful to live in a country with free health care. I can only hope that it stays that way in the future.

Obviously I’m not cured, I likely never will be, but I will admit that it’s given me quite the wakeup call. I feel reinvigorated and happier within myself than I have in ages. More determined than ever to make mine a life worth living and this is the same message that Go Your Crohn Way imparts, it’s just that sort of book.

P.S. In case it’s of interest here’s a couple more excellent IBD bloggers you should check out; Inflamed and Untamed and The Chronic Adventurer

 

April & May Roundup

I have a feeling that this is going to be a pretty long post so you might want to grab a cuppa. Things have been pretty quiet around these parts lately and I wanted to bring you all up to speed on what’s been going on.

This year has been really tough on me mentally. I’m not really sure why but I’ve spent most of 2016 so far feeling really down. Friends and family members alike commented that I didn’t seem happy and they were right. I don’t want to use the D word, I’ve never been diagnosed with depression and I wouldn’t want to minimise it by saying that I was suffering from it without getting a professional opinion but I definitely wasn’t myself.

After finding out I was being made redundant at the start of March things got steadily worse and with it so did my physical health. I have ulcerative colitis and it’s well known that stress can lead to a flare which, unfortunately, in my case it did.

Now I’m not the type of person to just sit around and let life get on top of them but for the last few months I’ve definitely had to slow down considerably which means I haven’t been up to as much exciting stuff as I usually would. (Although people still say to me that they don’t know how I can do so much all the time even when I feel like I’m doing next to nothing!) Here’s what I’ve been up to over the last couple of months.

April

I started off April with a fab bottomless brunch at The Hard Rock café with the utter babe that is Emma. I wasn’t 100% but the good food and better company kept me going and it was a super fun morning even if it was an earlier start than either of us would have liked!

Hard Rock Cafe Brunch

We were also meant to film some collab videos for our YouTube channels but due to some technical difficulties weren’t able to. I haven’t posted on either of my channels since the beginning of April but I’m hoping to rectify this very soon and I’d love it if you’d subscribe! (Broke in the Big Smoke channel, Not a Beauty Expert channel)

I finally get round to selling a bunch of stuff on eBay to raise a bit of extra cash for the not quite shopping ban (I’ll write up an update on how this is going soon – probably just after the 25th June) which is even more important with a redundancy looming.

Literally don't know what time or day it is #holiday

A photo posted by Leanne Fraser (@msleannefraser) on

I then had a week and a half off from work so that my mum, niece and I could go on vacation to Tenerife! My mum hadn’t been abroad in 25 years so I was determined to make it the best holiday ever. Sadly, there were a few mishaps over the course of the holiday and although the sunshine helped loads I still wasn’t 100% – regardless I think everyone had a good time overall! Highlights included a whale and dolphin watching boat trip (where I got sea sick lol) and of course the incredible Siam Park. I might write more about the trip in another post sometime soon if you’re interested?

On my return I got to experience the magnificent Such Stuff as Dreams are Made On and was super sad that the show had already sold out as I really wanted to see it again! It’s the first time since a Punchdrunk production that I’ve felt completely immersed in the performance – more shows like this please!

I got to see the London marathon in person for the first time and cheered for Childline at mile 9. Despite the cold and my knees practically giving up on me it was so much fun. The atmosphere really is as amazing as they say and even though I sadly missed all of my friends who were running thanks to the app having a meltdown it was worth every minute! Really want to do it again next year if I’m still in the city.

26th April also saw my third year anniversary of moving to London and I wrote a lil update for you on that here.

May

The start of May saw my health deteriorate even more and me try to pretend that it wasn’t happening while also being exhausted practically all the time. I tried to schedule in at least one thing a week that involved leaving the house/not going straight home and getting in to bed.

I did make it out to a fab networking event with other UK money bloggers that was hosted by the PR company Lansons which really gave me ideas for the direction I would like this blog to go towards in the future. I also got to meet the lovely Adam whom I share a mutual friend with in Cait which given she lives in Canada is pretty damn cool! (Being recognised by him was also super weird, my blog isn’t big enough to be recognised by anyone lol)

I discovered the best flipping takeaway in East London. If, like me, you live too far east to be cool then check out Noodle Street who deliver incredible dim sum, make incredible salt & pepper prawns AND know how to crisp a duck. Between us my flatmates and I have ordered from then 5 times since I discovered them a month ago, oops!

Gorgeous day for exploring the Tower! #nofilter #london

A photo posted by Leanne Fraser (@msleannefraser) on

On one of the sunniest days of the year Jen and I finally made it inside the Tower of London to actually see the Tower itself thanks to 365tickets. It was a wonderful day full of giggles, ice cream and history. I should have a both a blog post and YouTube video up for you by the end of this week!

After months of missed connections Michael and I were finally able to meet up for a fantastic dinner at Chi Kitchen which you can read all about here. We also met the fab Pearl Mackie at the stagedoor of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime where she signed this amazing picture my friend Mike drew of her (in case you didn’t know she’s gonna be the next Doctor Who companion).

On the 12th May I super quietly turned 30 with an M&S picnic in the park and my London bestie Jen. It was a gorgeous day and it was nice to just do whatever I wanted to do without any pressure.

My favourite television show Castle was cancelled and you know what? I’m not mad. I love the show but the last couple of seasons weren’t the best and I would actually have preferred it to have finished with a happy ever after at the end of season 6. I would however be totally open to a spin off featuring the amazing Molly Quinn and Toks Olagundoye as private investigators. They’re both amazing actors and I think it could be such a fun show.

I snuck in cinema trips to see both a preview of Me Before you (which I adored and plan on seeing again) as well as Captain America 2 which I also enjoyed but wanted to punch the new SpiderMan in the face. Sorry, not sorry.

I had an absolutely amazing evening with the Bangarang girls at Emma’s house and even though I was super overwhelmed to start with (I’d literally only spent time with people one on one for weeks by this point) it was one of the best nights I’ve had in a long time. They are genuinely some of the most loving, inspirational, supportive ladies I’ve ever known – Charlie even skyped in from New Zealand! (If you’re not following her adventures then you really should be) Thank you all for being such babes xo

Unfortunately, all that fun left me with hardly any spoons and I paid for it the following day which meant I was a pretty shitty host to Victoria who had popped to London to hang out for the weekend. After a morning chilling out in the flat we (plus Jen) grabbed some nibbles from Rum & Sugar at West India Quay (review coming soon because damn that food was epic especially dessert!) before catching the latest X-Men moving at the cinema.

Now I’m a HUGE fan of the new X-Men franchise with X-Men: First Class being one of my favourite movies of all time but I wasn’t really feeling Apocalypse. I definitely dozed through the first 40 minutes or so and I didn’t feel like I even missed anything of importance to the plot during that time.

After the show Victoria and I headed in to central so we could have a go on the London Eye again courtesy of 365tickets. I’ve only done it once years ago before I actually moved to London so it was cool to have another nosy even if the weather wasn’t the nicest. Oh and getting evacuated from Waterloo station just as we arrived was also a bit of an experience lol

Heliot steakhouse eggs royale

Sunday was brunch day (now a tradition whenever Victoria visits) and we were able to get a stonking good deal via Brunch.London for the Heliot Steak House (housed within the Hippodrome Casino near Leicester Square) where we could choose two items from their brunch menu paired with a cocktail for just £11.95! No that’s not a typo it was seriously that cheap. It was way too much food for me (my appetite has been really low recently – I miss enjoying food!) but I’ll fill you in on everything in another post though OK? And apologies Victoria for being such a horrible host that weekend – I’ll make it up to you next time!

I then deliberately had a VERY chill week as I knew the last weekend of the month was going to be hardcore with it being MCM Comic Con at the Excel and also having a ticket for Busted for the Saturday night. Comic Con was fun as always but also super overwhelming this year! As you probably know if you follow me on social media I’ve really become interested in YouTube this year and also gaming again so there was literally TOO much that I wanted to see and do while there that I didn’t even cosplay this time around. I wasn’t going to but I think I’ll write a whole post on the event as this one is already so damn long!

Busted O2 Arena May 2016

I do however want to say how freaking happy I am that I made the decision to go to see Busted on my own. I was in two minds about it as tickets were £55 and I’m not much of a music person but it was THE most incredible gig. I got to see one of my favourite YouTubers absolutely own an arena when the tech let her down, I was flooded with memories thanks to Wheatus and to top it all off Busted totally ROCKED. I have a very eclectic “taste” in music so I loved every second of it and I even treated myself to a ticket to see Wheatus headline their own gig at Brooklyn bowl but more of that later.

Oh and also just to finish off this post as I started – to top the month off I was able to secure a doctor’s appointment which has set the ball rolling on getting myself back to normal so hooray for that! I promise it won’t be so long until my next blog post guys – as you can see I have a lot to tell you about. And if you made it this far… *high five*

May Reading

After struggling with my reading mojo in April I started the month off with an easy read in the form of Ultimate Storm which like the Nikki Heat novels are tie ins with the TV show Castle. This omnibus is actually three stories in one; A Brewing Storm, A Raging Storm and A Bloody Storm which were originally published as short eBooks but have been combined into one longer novel for the paperback version. This makes complete sense as the three together combine to make one complete story but it did mean there was quite a lot of recapping and setting the scene which wasn’t necessary. Like the Nikki Heat books the Storm series isn’t going to be winning any literary prizes any time soon and there were a few inconsistencies that I noticed which bugged me a little. The quality of writing is also lower than it’s twin but for a fun, light-hearted read you can’t really go wrong.

Next was a very quick read in the form of short story Christmas With Billy and Me by Giovanna Fletcher. You’re probably thinking “A Christmas book in May? What’s that all about?” well, the follow up to Billy and Me which I read earlier this year was being released at the beginning of June and NetGalley were looking for people to review it so of course I jumped at the chance but there was no way I could read the sequel without reading this novella that was set in between the other two could I?

The book centers around Sophie and Billy’s first Christmas together in Rosefont Hill and helping to plan a surprise proposal for a secret stranger. It’s a lovely little story with just the right amount of Christmas magic and mystery to keep you interesting in the identity of the secret proposer!
So of course that means read number three for the month was Always With Love* also by Giovanna Fletcher. After spending Christmas with her family in the UK Sophie surprises Billy with a trip to LA to spend the New Year with his own where he is lured back in to the clutches of Hollywood which puts a strain on their relationship. Meeting Billy’s crazy family gave this book a fresh perspective from the previous one and some of the family drama that ensues is far too familiar.

Gi writes Sophie’s reaction to her new found fame (so simply because of whom she happens to be dating) so convincingly that I wonder if this stems from her own relationship (with Tom Fletcher of McFly/McBusted fame) which makes me a little sad.  Sophie’s and Billy’s love isn’t portrayed as perfect and I think that’s what makes them so relatable as characters. It’s safe to say Giovanna has fast become one of my favourite authors and I’m kinda sad that I’ve almost read all the books that she’s published already!
I only listened to one audiobook this month which was The Girl With All The Gifts by M.R Carey and oh boy was this a goodie!! I remember Joss Whedon tweeting about this book a long, long time ago and put it to the back of my mind as one to pick up at some point or another. I’m not 100% sure what made me decide to listen to this particular book over the many others in my audible library but I am so glad that I did as despite all the really good reads I’ve enjoyed this month this one was by far the best of the bunch. It’s a zombie story but not in the traditional sense as it’s more about what it means to be human rather than the end of the world and the relationship between Melanie and Miss Justineau is incredibly touching. The wonderful Finty Williams was such a perfect narrator for this story too that I immediately purchased Carey’s second novel Fellside using an audible credit and I can’t wait to listen.
Sometimes when you finish a book you just just want to read more about the characters. Others – like in the case of Always With Love – you get more from them without ever really realising that you wanted it in the first place and then other times still you get sequels that you thought you wanted but when they arrive you realise that actually you didn’t really need it after all. That’s how I felt about After You* which the amazing team at Penguin kindly sent me a copy of after gushing about its prequel on Twitter. Me Before You is one of the best books I have ever read and I was heartbroken when it came to an end. I decided to wait until after I had seen the movie adaption before reading the sequel and I’m glad that I did as I think it would have impaired my judgement.

After You is a very good book. I thought the story was incredible actually but I didn’t feel as though this was how Lou’s story was meant to continue. I didn’t feel that her reactions to things were indicative of the Lou we grew to know and love in Me Before You and for this reason I struggled with it. While I completely related to the Lou who was a little bit lost in the world I found Lily to be an unlikable spoiled brat. It was also a really nice insight into life after loss not only for Lou but the other members of the Moving On support group. I think if this had been a standalone novel I would have loved it a whole lot more but as a sequel it just didn’t hit the mark for me.

BOOKS READ THIS MONTH: 5
BOOKS READ SO FAR THIS YEAR: 19
BOOKS READ FOR POPSUGAR READING CHALLENGE: 12

*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.

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If you buy the books through the links on this page,
I’ll earn a tiny commission to put towards even more books in the future!

May 2016 NET Worth

Credit
Cash – £1.21
PayPal – £36.04
Santander – £969.63
Halifax C/A – £5,086.96
TSB- £284.57
Tesco – £885.83
Credit total – £7,264.34

Debts
Capital One C/C – £318.99
MBNA C/C – £3,268.52
Virgin Atlantic C/C – £2,492.42
Halifax C/C – £2,689.67
Loan from Mum – £4,000.00
Loan from Dad – £2,000.00
Debt total – (£14,769.60)

Net worth
£7,264.34 – £14,769.60 = –£7,505.26

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