Viva Las Vegas

Are you thinking of visiting Sin City in 2019? I took a trip there for my 30th birthday in November and it was THE best way to celebrate! From ziplining across the strip to taking a day out to travel to the Canyon, we made the most of our trip and here’s how you can too.

Here are my Top Things to do when in Vegas:
 
1) Visit every hotel and I mean every hotel! Because each one is amazingly unique in its own way. From the rainforest in the mirage to the chocolate waterfall in the Bellagio, there are so many attractions to see inside each one. My faves were:

·        Bellagio – Botanical Gardens, chocolate fountain, beautiful casino. This hotel has it all and although I didn’t stay here I know that if I go again I will because it is just simply stunning and exactly how it looks in movies

·        Cosmopolitan – we stayed in this hotel and it is classically beautiful with many hidden gems including seats in the shape of high heels and artwork featuring some of the famous faces who have stayed there, not forgetting the 7 million faceted crystal chandelier which is surrounded by seats that you can sit in to enjoy a drink

·        Caesars Palace – This hotel makes you feel as if you’re in Greece, with Greek statues and opulent detail. Attached to this hotel is ‘The Forum Shops’ which you MUST visit if you love shopping and fashion as it houses some of the biggest designer names

·        The Venetian – Take a trip on a gondola whilst being serenaded as you cruise down the indoor canal past the hotel’s beautiful shops, sample delicious Italian cuisine and marvel at the detailed ceiling which takes inspiration from the Vatican. This is a simply stunning hotel and not one to be missed

2) Do a zipline down Fremont Street as you travel down the strip at lightening speed. There are two ways you can do the zipline, sitting upright or with your arms and legs stretched out which is called the ‘Zoomline.’ My boyfriend Sam and I opted to do the Zoomline which cost us $45. We were more than 10 stories (114 feet) high and whisked 1,750 feet all the way down the Fremont Street Experience and it was AMAZING. I felt like superman flying high above people down below who would all watch and think ‘gosh those people are crazy!’ Afterwards you get to take a look at photos that have been taken of you whilst on the ride and are given the chance to purchase which we did.

3) Visit the Grand Canyon. There are numerous ways you can do this depending on which part of the Canyon you want to see, e.g. South rim, West Rim etc. You can travel there by helicopter, by bus, buggy, transit or coach. There are numerous day trips available so have a look at the best deals.

We paid around £70 each for a 14-hour coach trip to the South Rim that also took us down Route 66 and made numerous stops, including one to the set of Cars in Seligman Arizona. We were also able to visit the Hoover Dam and get photos before we finally made it to the Canyon where we spent 3 hours and walked around 3 miles from the highest point down to a cute row of shops selling souvenirs before getting back on the coach and making the long journey back to our hotel on the strip.

4) Food – there are so many great places to eat in Vegas you will be spoilt for choice but my favourites by far have to be:

·        Prime at Bellagio – this was a special treat for my 30th birthday where we ate a beautiful prime rib steak with roasted vegetables, chips (because you just gotta) and peppercorn sauce. We also had the best view of the fountains which put on a beautiful display every 15 minutes. This is a once in a lifetime experience that you won’t forget!

·        Margaritaville – I think this is one of the funniest places I’ve ever eaten. Everything was quirky, from the décor to the waiters. The food was delicious and the Margaritas some of the most alcohol-fuelled that I’ve ever tasted! Amazing, 5 stars!

·        Pin Up Pizza – This cute takeaway pizza shop sells the BIGGEST slices of pizza I have ever seen. The service is super fast and along with your pizza you can also get a garlic dough ball and a drink all for under $10. Definitely one for when you’re on the go

·        Bellagio Patisserie – Yes I know I’ve put the Bellagio on my list twice but the patisserie was just SOOOO GOOD! I ordered the chocolatiest crepe in the world and it was delicious. Calorific but so worth it!

·        Cheesecake Factory – I’ve never been to a Cheesecake Factory before so made it my mission to go to this one in The Forum Shops and ordered the tiramisu cheesecake which was so HUGE I actually couldn’t eat it all so I had the rest of it for breakfast the next day…when in Vegas!


 5) The High Roller at The LINQ – This is THE best way to see the whole of Vegas from 550-feet high! The Ferris wheel is currently the world’s tallest and takes around 30 minutes to reach the top and another 30 to come down again. We got on the wheel at around 4.50pm which was great because at 5pm the price goes up. I would advise anyone to go around this time because whilst we were up there the sun set and the sky turned so dark that we were able to see the strip both at sunset and all lit up in the dark, the perfect combination.

6) The Vegas sign – This is a MUST if you’re visiting Vegas. The 25-foot tall sign is located at Las Vegas Boulevard South and marks the start of the famous Las Vegas Strip. Sam and I were pleasantly surprised to see that people form an orderly queue for photos here and there’s even someone stood to the side of the sign willing to take your pic, although he does expect a tip so you can just take it yourself if you wish. If you’re a motorbike fan be sure to cross the road and visit the HUGE Harley Davidson motorbike shop which is full to bursting with the latest bikes and accessories – Sam was in his element!  

There really are so many more amazing things to see and do in Vegas, e.g. the Hard Rock Café for its HUGE portions, quirky souvenir shops along the strip, the terrifying rollercoaster at New York New York, the beautiful fountains at the Bellagio, real live flamingos at the Flamingo Hotel, the Eiffel Tower at the Paris Hotel, the blue beacon shining from the Luxor Hotel and the volcano outside the Mirage, but these really are my top 6 things to do and things that you simply CANNOT MISS if you go to Vegas!

My one piece of advice would be to plan, plan and plan some more because once you touch down in Vegas, you will not want to sleep as you will want to see EVERYTHING! So make the most of your trip and plan ahead. I actually purchased a handy travel guide from Blue Planet, which we took everywhere with us to make sure we didn’t miss anything.

Last but not least – enjoy yourself! Go to Vegas with an open mind and a lot of cash in your pockets and have fun!

If you have any more questions please just write in the comments below and I’ll do my best to answer them. 

Unusual Date Ideas for Valentine’s Day

Stressed out about the thought of trying to book a restaurant this Valentine’s Day? Struggling to find the perfect gift for your better half? Then why not buck the trend this year and instead of chocolates, teddy bears and a candlelight dinner why not celebrate with one of these unusual date ideas in the Midlands and Shropshire? 

We all know restaurants will be full to bursting on February 14th (and for a few days after) with loved-up couples sardined in together all ordering from a set menu so that the owners can make a quick buck out of this so-called ‘holiday.’ Now, I’m not anti-Valentine’s Day but I am anti ‘let’s declare our love for one another on social media with a romantic meal and buy each other needless gifts on this one day a year.’ 

My boyfriend Sam and I have NEVER bought each other a gift for Valentine’s Day, nor have we celebrated with a fancy meal (mainly because of his unsociable work hours) but 3 years on we’re still going strong, that’s not to say that people who do celebrate V-Day aren’t just as strong. So this year I thought, why not do something ‘Valentinesy’ and that’s when I came across these unusual date ideas. I don’t think I’m brave enough to try some of them but will definitely be looking to do a few throughout the year.

Ghetto Golf – The Custard Factory, Gibb St, Birmingham B9 4AA
Get into the swing of things with a round of golf – but not just any round of golf! Ghetto Golf at Birmingham’s Custard Factory combines all the fun of golf with cocktails, street food, neon lights and a DJ to keep the party going until the early hours. 

The holes are all themed and some examples include a basketball court with an emphasis on the Fresh Prince of Bel Air and an adults-only hole where players have to negotiate your way around sex toys.

For more information visit https://www.ghettogolf.co.uk/birmingham/

Pic from Ghetto Golf’s Facebook page: https://tinyurl.com/ycoybzm9

Llama Trekking – Old King Street Farm, Ewyas Harold, Hereford, HR2 0HBYes this is actually a thing and is the perfect date for llama lovers! A typical llama trek experience will lasts 2.5 hours and will start with calling the llamas into the penning area and feeding and grooming them before going on a walk through the beautiful South Herefordshire countryside. Please note: Llamas are not ridden but wear a halter and walk on a lead rope.

Prices cost £45 for adults and £30 for children either with one llama each or sharing one llama between two people. The farm also offer party treks for families and friends.

For more information visit www.oldkingstreetfarm.co.uk/llamatrekking.html

Loaf Cookery School – 1421 Pershore Rd, Birmingham B30 2JL, England, UK
If cookery is more your thing then why not visit Loaf in Stirchley, Birmingham. This little hideaway community-supported bakery is a must for foodies. Not only can you purchase bread and other items, its cookery school also teaches you how to bake the perfect load as well as hot cross buns, butcher your own meat, make pasta and even prepare seafood.

Why not book onto a course with your loved one? For more information visit https://loafonline.co.uk/


Escape Live – 39 Henrietta St, Birmingham B19 3PS


See how you and your date fare when locked in a room, faced with a series of puzzles and clues in order to break out in under an hour.


Escape Live has venues in Birmingham, Coventry, Stratford-upon-Avon and Essex and offers several exhilarating experiences where teams of between two-6 players have to work together to escape in a limited time.

There are a number of escape rooms you can take on from a prison break to a casino heist all with the same aim: to find the door and make your way out of the room before it’s too late.

For more information and to book visit https://www.escapelive.co.uk

Photos courtesy of Escape Live Birmingham


Back to Back Houses – 50-54 Inge St, Birmingham B5 4TE
If you and your significant other a history buffs then this one’s for you. Step back in time and visit the last remaining court of Back-to-Back houses in the Midlands. Visitors can look around four houses with a shared courtyard on a guided tour as well as visit a 1930s sweet shop all whilst learning about the lives of people who helped shape Birmingham into the amazing city it is today.

The restoration of the Back-to-backs was carried our by the National Trust in partnership with Birmingham Conservation Trust. For more information visit https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/birmingham-back-to-backs

Pic taken from Birmingham Heritage Forum’s website: https://tinyurl.com/y9hykbu9

Go Ape – Birches Valley, Rugeley WS15 2UQ
If you’re more of a thrill seeker why not make like Tarzan and Jane and swing across Cannock Chase this Valentine’s Day?

This forest adventure will see you harnessed up as you swing through the trees and take on zip wires, thrilling heights and climbing ropes. This will definitely be a date to remember. Whilst you’re there why not book on to a Segway adventure together?

For more information visit https://goape.co.uk/days-out/midlands/cannock

Lane 7 – The Cube, Lane7 Level 6, Wharfside St, Birmingham B1 1RN
Finally if you just fancy a good old-fashioned game of bowling then why not visit Lane 7 – Birmingham’s first luxury bowling alley. The venue offers 9 lanes but also includes an incredible UV-lit private karaoke booth for up to 16 people as well as ping-pong tables and beer pong. There are several retro arcade games for people to play including Donkey Kong and Pac-Man.

For more information visit https://lane7.co.uk/birmingham/

Pic taken from Lane 7’s Facebook page: https://tinyurl.com/y82wg2hk

So why not do something different with your loved one this Valentine’s Day? I think I’ll definitely be trying out a bit of bowling, ghetto golf and bread baking!

Smear for Smear

Pic courtesy of https://www.jostrust.org.uk/

Every woman in the UK is invited to have their first smear test at the age of 25 and then again every 3 years thereafter. So why do nearly 5 million of us chose not to go and have this quick and simple, albeit slightly embarrassing test done?

One in three women are currently overdue for a smear test with the number of women attending screenings dropping to its lowest level since records began in 1995.

The stats are even scarier when you look at how many women are diagnosed with cervical cancer in the UK each year – 3,200 – and one in 3 women are dying from it! Experts predict this figure to rise by 40% over the next few years, which is bizarre because this is one of the only cancers that can be prevented through early screenings.

Did you know smear tests can actually STOP around 75% of cases from developing further?

I went for my second smear test 2 years ago aged 28 and was shocked when the results came back ‘abnormal.’ I was invited to have a colposcopy where my gynaecologist looked at my results in more detail and determined that I had pre-cancerous cells, which if they hadn’t been caught early through my routine smear test, could have turned into cervical cancer.

I remember thinking ‘Thank God’ I went for my smear test! I was able to have the cells lasered off my cervix – not a pleasant experience but one that has potentially saved my life! And I had a follow-up smear test a few weeks later which came back normal.

Truth is ladies, we all have to have smear tests! Yes they are a little embarrassing – you’re sat under a blue sheet with your knik knaks off whilst (usually) a lady examines you. BUT she isn’t looking at whether you’ve been for a wax, she isn’t looking at your hairy legs or whether you’ve painted your toenails! She’s looking for any abnormalities, anything that doesn’t look quite right. Taking the swab doesn’t hurt. Yes it’s a little uncomfortable – I liken it to a period cramp but it’s over within seconds and before you know it, it’s time to put your knickers back on and carry on with your day.

So to mark this year’s #SmearforSmear campaign (21-27 Jan) PLEASE book and attend your smear appointments! You never know, this 10-minute appointment could save your life!

#cheersforsmears

Top 5 Life Lessons

If you could give your younger self some advice what would you say? I’ve often thought about this because I didn’t get to 30 without making some silly decisions and fretting over daft things. Now that I’ve reached 30 years old, here are my top 5 life lessons that I’ve learnt over the last few years. Please do add your life lessons or pieces of advice in the comments below!

Social Media

We’ve all done it, comparing ourselves to others on social media. Some users seem to have the most exciting lives, jetting off to exotic destinations, wearing the latest designer clothes, eating at the fanciest restaurants. It can make you feel like your life is really dull in comparison, especially if your Monday – Friday routine is to go to work and then come home, get in your pj’s and watch Netflix (at least that’s my routine!) But remember, people only share their best bits on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. They only show you what they want you to see so don’t compare, just enjoy yourself and if you want to post the occasional photo to social media showing people what you’ve been up to then do it, just don’t waste time putting your whole life on there trying to get likes!

Body Image

Be proud of those scars, those chunky bits, your little quirks, the things that make you different. Magazines are always telling us that we need to look a certain way and their airbrushed photos of celebs can make you feel really insecure about your own body, but only if you let them! Don’t follow the crowd with fillers and implants and don’t starve yourself to be skinny. Eat that burger, don’t worry about that pimple and embrace your cellulite because let’s be honest we all have it! And most importantly, love yourself for who you are and everyone else will love you too!

Life Plan

Don’t worry if you’re life isn’t going to plan like you thought it would. If you’re not married by the time you’re 25, if you haven’t had a baby by the time you’re 30, or if you don’t know what career path to go down that’s ok! Life has a funny way of working out so just enjoy it. Take the rough with the smooth and everything will fall into place. I’m a firm believer of what is meant to be will be.

Friends

Friends will come and go and that’s ok! I’ve got 2 best friends from high school that I met in year 7 and a handful of very close friends that I’ve made over the years, but like many people I drifted from those who I went to primary and senior school with. Although still friends on social media, I haven’t seen many of them for years and that’s ok! I used to worry about why we had lost touch but as I got older I realised people change and grow and that’s just a normal part of life. The most important friends are the ones I’ve got in my life right now and they’re the ones who are here to stay!

Finding the One

As little girls we all dreamed of finding our Prince Charming let’s be honest. But nobody told us we would have to kiss a lot of frogs before we found him! Boys will come and go, some will break your hearts, some hearts you will sadly break. Some you will never speak to again and others you will remain firm friends with. None of these boys will be ‘the one.’ But one thing’s for certain, you’ll know when you do meet ‘the one’ because suddenly everything just ‘feels right.’ I met my partner 3 years ago when I was 27 and couldn’t imagine life without him now. He’s kind, caring, considerate and makes me happy and came into my life when I least expected it. So if you haven’t found ‘the one’ yet please don’t panic, it doesn’t mean you won’t!
And that’s it, those are my top 5 pieces of advice that I would give my younger, spottier teenage/mid-20s self! What are yours? Please share them in the comments section below.

Netflix & Chill – Literally

Over Christmas I watched a lot TV shows on Netflix – some good, some not so good, so here’s my round-up of watch to watch if, like me you’re broke and having to spend time indoors until pay day!

You

This series had me addicted just like most people I know who have watched it. How can Dan Humphrey from Gossip Girl turn into such an evil, vindictive psychopath in You?!

Penn Badgley plays the role of Joe Goldberg amazingly well, so much so that at times you love him and then you hate yourself for loving him because…well like I’ve said, he’s a psychopath. If you haven’t watched the show yet, here’s a short synopsis of what you’re in for.

Penn plays Joe, a bookstore manager in New York who sees a pretty young woman in his store one day and decides to stalk her and her friends, watch her incessantly and steal her cell phone, amongst many other things, all in a bid to make her fall in love with him. Does it work? You’ll have to watch it to find out but be quick because rumour has it there’s a second season on the way.

Black Mirror: Bandersnatch

I was really excited to watch Black Mirror: Bandersnatch especially because it’s interactive and you get to make choices over what the main character does.

In short, Bandersnatch tells the story of a young programmer who in 1984, begins to question reality as he adapts a dark fantasy novel into a video game. Sounds cool right? Yeah I thought so too until I had to watch scene after scene after scene again and again and again because of making the wrong choice.

There are multiple endings to the story and you get to see them depending on the choices you make. Some – like which breakfast cereal Stefan should choose – are insignificant, whereas others really are life and death decisions! However, each time you make a wrong decision you are forced to re-watch scenes that you’ve already seen. Be warned you could be watching for 1 hour or 5 so choose wisely.

Dumplin’

This is a really feel good film for any gal who loves Dolly Parton…and yes I am one of those ‘gals.’

Dumplin’ follows the story of the plus-size teenage daughter of a former beauty queen (Jennifer Aniston) who signs up for her mum’s pageant as a protest that escalates when other contestants follow in her footsteps, revolutionising the pageant and their small Texas town.

Australian actress Danielle Macdonald is hilarious as Dumplin’ and you’re rooting for her throughout the whole film! This is a must-watch on a gloomy January day to bring out some sunshine.

Suits

Finally, Suits! I started watching Suits over the festive break and instantly became hooked.

The show which made Meghan Markle sparkle follows the lives of a group of lawyers at a top Manhattan law firm as they battle (sometimes against one another) to win their bosses approval as well as their cases.

The hit drama introduces us to Mike Ross who isn’t a lawyer but finds himself acting as one in a world full of people out to get what they want, even if that means stepping on others to get there.

There are 9 series in total. I’m currently on Season 3 and I’m hopeful I’ll make it to the end as it’s really enjoyable with just the right amount of wit, intellect and bitchyness!

Turning 30

From turning Sweet Sixteen to recently entering my Dirty Thirties, the last decade and a half has flashed by me in the blink of an eye.

When I turned 16 I remember spending the day with my Mum, going shopping and then to the cinema to watch Bridget Jones before having a KFC treat for dinner.

For my eighteenth I celebrated becoming an adult with a party at a local Italian restaurant with the whole of my school’s sixth form invited – 40+ 17 and 18-year-olds practically taking over the whole downstairs floor – it was a lot of fun!

And when I turned 21 I held a big bash at our city’s football ground. Everyone wore black and white whilst I wore a multi-coloured Matthew Williamson number. It was a fabulous night full of dancing, partying and laughter. Back then the thought of turning 30 seemed so far away, but how quick it soon come round.

When I turned 29 last year, I realised there were still so many things on my bucket list that I hadn’t ticked off and had a bit of a panic. Although I’ve been to and seen so many wonderful places (New York, Edinburgh, Santorini and Dublin to name but a few) and had some amazing experiences (snorkelling in the Med, singing and acting on stage and creating a viral video for the charity I work for) there was still so much I hadn’t achieved. As a result, I decided to write out a list of 12 things I wanted to do before I reached 30 – ticking off one thing a month. So that’s what I’ve been doing over the last 12 months and here’s what I’ve managed to tick off so far:

January – Enjoy a real American breakfast. Waffles, Pancakes, Syrup, the works! Thanks to Ed’s Diner in the Bullring this was the first item ticked off the list.

February – Visit the Tower of London. An amazing place with so much history right on my doorstep and yet I had never visited, until Feb that is. I would definitely recommend to anyone who loves history.

March – Doggy photoshoot. I have always wanted to have a photoshoot for my 18-month old Cockapoo Daisy so for her 1st birthday that’s what I did at Emotion Studios in Bridgnorth. A fab experience and as the pics show, Daisy was the perfect model…although I may be a little biased!

April – Go to the Grand National. This was a fab day to get dressed up, bet on the horses and enjoy a lovely meal out. What’s more, I won £130 after picking the winning horse!

May – Send a message in a bottle. My partner, his two children and I visit Weymouth every Whit Week, so together we wrote a note, drew some pictures and created an email address which we put inside a bottle before launching it in to the sea. So far we haven’t received a message from anybody to say they’ve found it but we’re hopeful.

June – Go strawberry picking. Yes, in all of my 29 years I had never been strawberry picking and neither had my best friend Sinead, so together we visited Essington Fruit Farm and picked a punnet full which we enjoyed with their delicious clotted cream afterwards.

July – Visit Buckingham Palace. This was a treat for both me and my Mum. Unbeknownst to us, we would be travelling to London on the hottest day of the year July 26th when temperatures soared to a whopping 36.7C!! We enjoyed a tour of the palace, the state rooms (which unfortunately don’t have air conditioning) and its gardens but my God did we need a cool shower when we got home.

August – Go to a drive in cinema à la Grease. This is something I’ve always wanted to do ever since I watched Grease where they pull up in the car park in their vintage 1950s cars to watch a movie. Sadly we didn’t have the open-top roof but my partner and I still enjoyed watching The Greatest Showman at Beacon Park in Lichfield from the comfort of his car.

September – Buy a pair of Louboutin’s. For as long as I can remember I have wanted my very own pair of Christian Louboutin heels. This year I have been putting away £50 each month in order to buy my first ever pair. I got the ‘So Kate 120’ Black Suede Heels and so far I’ve worn them once…because they are the most UNCOMFORTABLE shoes to walk in and they must have been made by someone who hates feet and wants them to suffer! Although I thing of beauty, I will probably wear them for special occasions only when I don’t want to feel my feet!

October – Treat yourself. How often do you browse Asos, Missguided, Topshop and the like, add items of clothing to your basket just to see how much it all costs and then exit the website? I do this ALL THE TIME! So for the month of October I decided to treat myself and went on a bit of a splurge buying everything I put into my basket. October was an expensive month…

November – Celebrate your 30th in Vegas baby! I didn’t want a big party or a family meal, I wanted to turn 30 disgracefully in Sin City so that’s what I did. My boyfriend and I stayed at the Cosmopolitan with our hotel room overlooking the Bellagio fountains. We had the most amazing time visiting all of the different hotels, going on a gondola ride at the Venetian, seeing flamingos at the Flamingo Hotel, visiting the Vegas sign and spending a whole day in the Grand Canyon. On my actual birthday I was treated to a meal at the Bellagio with a view of the fountains which put on a display every 15 minutes. It was the perfect way to celebrate, although I’m not sure Sam would agree after picking up the $300 bill but I was more than happy!

December – so that brings us to December, and although my birthday has been and gone, I still have one month left to celebrate…after all I did say I was going to do 12 months’ worth of celebrations. So what do I have planned for this month? Start a blog! I’ve always wanted to start a blog but have never taken the plunge, so here I am finally doing it and I’m looking forward to seeing where it will take me!