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Catching up: With friends


From Ever Thine's photography exhibition 

Tea and cake, cake and tea

As I write I'm tucking into a chocolate cupcake balanced precariously on the edge of the sofa arm on my right (decorated with chocolate buttercream, sprinkles, and mini smarties - don't say I don't go all out when it comes to cupcake choices), a cup of tea - in a far more sturdy position - on my left (which I've been lifting slightly cack-handedly), and am being 'serenaded' by the sounds of pained screaming from the boy's laptop, upon which he is watching 2012 (I know, he's a little behind the times...). 

A frenzied week

This is the first night this week that the boy and I have had together (sign of the times when we're spending it on technology - I swear we're enjoying each other's company!), and the last we will have for the next couple. Though lacking routine, it seems that - even with barely-planned days - we're spending little time together. Of course, much of that is down to the ways of student life (as he is one who can spend hours in the library. Me, in Costa), but is also due to the boy packing a lot into his weekly calender (university, work, meeting with his public speaking group, Robin Hood Speakers, and a social life).

Ever Thine, on Tori's Tales

Spending time with friends

However, I can't really complain, because - whilst he's been popping in and out of his work uniform - I've been the lucky one, as a lot of my (abundance of) spare time has been spent doing nice things, like attending Lucy's (absolutely stunning) photography exhibition up in Sheffield (at the magical Moonko!), where I spent time admiring her beautiful work, meeting her super-lovely friends, and snacking on her homemade biscuits and cakes (which you can spy in the top image - she is nothing if not spectacular, that friend of mine!).

I also found myself meeting two other blog friends for the very first time, face-to-face, in the last week - on Saturday the super-sweet Georgia headed over to this town of mine, and accompanied me to Homemade, where we chatted over (huge chunks of) Victoria Sponge and cups of tea (I think you could say we put the world to rights), and on Wednesday I spent time with the gorgeous Annie over lunch (do you sense a theme? My days out always seem to feature food. Not that I'm complaining) at Broadway, nattering about this ever-glorious blogging world of ours, and the city we both share. 

Catching up: With friends, squirrel University Park campus, University of Nottingham


I've also found myself in the company of plenty'o uni friends of late - all who brighten my day quite substantially! - in lectures and seminars - of course - but also over coffee (it has to be said that we spend more time nursing cups of caffeine than we do anything else!), in the library, the Humanities building (aka the pain-in-the-ass-to-get-to-building), at the cinema (who has seen Gone Girl? What did you think?)....and every single moment spent with them has been pretty darn wonderful. The one thing that has got me through the past two years of my course is their company; they are among the best people I have ever met, and I am so grateful that I get to spend my days with them.

Philosophy gals (and Jon).....THANK YOU. You are all bloody fantastic! 

(oh, and in case you're wondering, this little squirrely looking fella - i.e. a squirrel - also kept me company this week, on University Park campus. Him and ALL his friends!)

And so, there we are - all caught up; me with friends, and you with me! 

What have you been up to lately? Who have you found yourself in the company of?

On routine, or not having one


There is something about having too much time that just doesn't work for me. 


Though I have a timetable - of sorts - to stick to, the fact that I have little outside of that timetable to 'restrict' my movements - even by the tiniest of motions - means that I often find myself unable to sit down and do anything - start anything - because I can convince myself into believing I can do said thing at any. other. time.

And so, a routine has yet to materialise, even though I'm now in the third week of my autumn semester. 

The other - rather funny, but also entirely frustrating - aspect of my current situation is that, without passion for what I am doing, I cannot seem to spark off a motivation within me to devise myself a routine, to make proper use of my abundance, even though I rather desperately need to. 

Thus, a battle within my mind ensues.

One between the voice that calmly states 'oh, you have plenty of time to get a move on', and the one that shrills 'what are you doing? Hurry up and get on with things'.

A routine would be key, I believe, for me to structure my day, but I have no idea how best to strike a balance

How do you go about arranging your day? 

For those of you without a 'traditional' working week, what works best for you?

Can you live without routine, or do you need to set boundaries? 

Let's talk - share your thoughts on routine below. 

Between Lenses - Mornings


Between Lenses, on Tori's Tales


This month's theme for Between Lenses - a beautiful photography-based collaboration between Of Trees and Hues and Tara Victoria - is 'Mornings'.

Make sure you head over to Trina and Tara's pages to see what they captured. Take time to explore the minute detailing that Trina has so delicately photographed, and sit a while with the message Tara shares - her words on how we start our day are well worth focusing on. 

For me, mornings have always meant routine (of sorts), but because I haven't settled into one as of yet - a new university timetable, that's a little all over the place, will do that to a gal - I don't have a typical morning of mine to share with you. 

Which is why I'm sharing an atypical one.  

Between Lenses, Mornings, Bamburgh beach, on Tori's Tales

Sun, sand, and the north east 

Last weekend, we (that'll be the boy, Eric, and I) took a trip up north (one I'll be sharing more of, soon).

I snapped this shot early(ish) Sunday morning - on Bamburgh beach - when the tide was out, the sun was just beginning to gain strength, and the only other people around were chilly-looking owners (bundled up, as we were, in wellies and scarves) of merrily-bounding dogs. 

In that moment

Our feet danced to the sound of the waves softly washing up on the sand. 

Our eyes tickled their crests on the shoreline. 

Our hands clasped as we welly-walked (my most favourite thing to do, EVER) along the golden grains

Mornings were made for moments like those. 

Share what 'Mornings' means to you, and join the Between Lenses blog hop

5 tips to help you through blogger's block


5 tips to help you through blogger's block, on Tori's Tales

What to do when the big bad blog blues strike!

You start the day ready and jazzed to kick things off; down goes your cuppa, bum perches on seat, fingers navigate the mouse to the 'new post' tab, and wait. For inspiration to strike. For words to come. You scroll through a few of your favourite bloggers sites. You check out pinterest, then twitter and facebook, too (because they come as a trio, don't they?)! A few thoughts appear - you head back across to the blank screen, to fill it's very white walls with tales, but the thoughts fail to work together well, so you continue to wait. You scroll some more. An hour flies by.

It's at this point you start to worry - what if you can't write this post today? What if the words don't materialise? What will you do?! You need to get something written otherwise you'll have wasted precious time. And so you try and force yourself to concentrate, but - of course - the old negative forces that are impatience and frustration appear, and - before you know it - feelings of fed-up-and-I-can't-be-bothered-ness arrive, none of which you're able to shake. 

Sound familiar? Then I've got 5 great tips to help you through your blogging block!

1. Change your environment

I'm not suggesting you book yourself a holiday – though the weekend trip I’ve arrived home from has left me feeling inspired and entirely ready-to-roll – I'm just suggesting that you move! Whether you give yourself a well-earned half an hour break and shift your arse across to the next room (or nearest seating apparatus), or you take yourself off to the local coffee shop (Trina’s option of choice), whack on some music for a boogie, pop on a pair of comfy shoes and walk to a local park, or snuggle down under the duvet for a couple’o nod's, it's up to you; anything is better than staying in the one spot and silently struggling to make those moments count for something other than, well, a whole lotta nothing! 

2. Give yourself a break

We all have a tendency to beat ourselves up when things aren't going our way. Can't organise your day? Gah, how stupid you must be!! Can't come up with a new post idea? Surely that means you're not good enough to be creating in the first place? As the saying goes, we are our own worst enemy, so the best thing we can do when things are a little tough, or when we're going through a blogging dry spell, is to allow ourselves time away without equating it to mean we are failing.

So I suggest that you quash that mean little voice inside your head that says 'why bother? If you can't do it now, you won't ever be able to' in any way that you can - busy yourself with a book, or an episode of your favourite tv show. Meet a friend for tea and cake. Go to the cinema to see that film you promised yourself you would (and yes, solo trips to the cinema can be fun!). Spoil yourself a little. For things to work out in the way we wish them to, we have to learn to see stepping away from something not as negative but as something positive for - even conducive to - our future endeavours. In stepping away - giving ourselves that break physically and mentally - we gain distance and perspective and, more often than not, start to crave to get back into it, which is exactly the position that we want to be in!

3. Indulge in a little self-love

Remember when you hit that first milestone, or when you wrote the first post that you felt came from a truly authentic place? Remember how excited you were the first time someone told you they loved what you created (and every subsequent time it has happened)? 

Marvel at your accomplishments.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with acknowledging all that you have achieved. Spend time reading back over the posts you really enjoyed putting together, or the one's that had some seriously good engagement. Maybe even re-read your very first post, just to see how far you've come! We all need a pat-on-the-back from time to time, and we shouldn't be afraid or ashamed to offer ourselves that; with a nod to the aforementioned talk of being one's own worst enemy, sometimes the one thing we need to hear from ourselves is a 'you did good'.

It pays to be kind to others, so why wouldn't it pay to be kind to yourself?! 

5 tips to help you through blogger's block, River Itchen

4. Share your struggles 

You are never alone. Blogging can be an isolating experience - even with all the connections one may have developed across the internet - and sometimes we can convince ourselves into believing we are the only one dealing with whatever problem we are currently struggling with. Let me tell you, this is never truly the case. Yes, our experiences are different because there are our own - and are specific to our situations - but others most definitely share, if not that exact same struggles, then variations of the same.

In reaching out you are helping both yourself and another work through the situation. Take Emma and I’s twitter-exchange; I came away feeling happier after chatting to her (and I’m sure Emma did so, too) because I knew I wasn't alone in tackling the problem of writer's block. Often the main reason I’m able to shake the worries off and get back down to blogging is because of the encouragement offered by others; indulge in the community and give yourself the chance to receive a little positive feedback - there’s nothing wrong in accepting praise from others, for it allows us to authentically praise another’s work. Accept kind words with open arms.

5. Accept that sometimes we all need time away 

We are all human, and we can only push ourselves to a certain point before our bodies and minds start to push back. Yes, not being able to come up with content sucks, and often a block happens at a time when we least need it to, but I'd say give in, because that's NOT the same as giving up. For a lot of people blogging is a full time job (even when it isn't officially so); it's not just the creating of content that takes time, but the being a part of a community (reading, commenting, sharing, communicating -all of it takes time, and sometimes a lot of effort, but it is key to the whole process) and so, for people to thrive in such an environment, down-time is necessary.

Oh, and one more thing - when you return to your space, try not to give in to the urge to be apologetic; none of us want to lose our readers, because it's you who makes our space on the internet extra special, but in apologising for taking time off, you suggest to others that doing so is wrong! However, REMEMBER THIS - if you wouldn't begrudge a fellow creative for taking time for themselves, then don't begrudge yourself the same!

Do you have any tips you'd like to share? What do you do to get yourself through a blog-block? 

Getting to know: Nottingham - vintage and antiques at Hopkinson


Vintage and Antiques at Hopkinson Nottingham

Introducing 'Getting to know'

I love learning about the places and spaces in which others live - call me nosey (because that's exactly what I am) but having been bitten by the travel bug, and not being in a position now to give in to it's needs (and scratch that itch), a lot of my sightseeing is done from the comfort of my sofa, which is why getting to take a peek at the areas you know well, or those you take trips to, or holiday in, (especially places I know it's quite possible I'll never have the opportunity to visit) means I can fulfil my 'armchair traveller' wishes every time you invite me to do so! 

This is where 'Getting to know' comes in. Today I will be introducing one particular store in Nottingham to you with the aim of you learning a little more about the city in which I live. In the future I'll also be talking about areas I've visited across the country (and, hopefully, at some point, across the world!) and the unique sights (sounds and smells) I've found.

However, I don't want this series to only be about my travels - and that's where YOU come in. I've decided that 'Getting to know' shall be a series in which I invite you all to be a part of. In doing so, I'm offering you a chance to share more about where you live, or the spots you visit, with a broader audience, all in aid of quenching our collecting thirst for knowledge about the vast and varied landscapes across the globe. 

Where shall we start?

Today's post is dedicated to a recent trip to Hopkinson, a local vintage store - it'd be fantastic if those of who you who have a nearby thrift, vintage, or secondhand store (or even one(s) further afield - maybe something you came across on your recent travels - I'm not counting the miles!) could tell us all about it; your experience shopping there, what you've found, why you visit....the list of possible details is endless!

Hopkinson, Nottingham

Hopkinson, 21 Station Street, Nottingham 

There's something about vintage stores - ones filled with bric-a-brac, trinkets, and knick-knacks - that draws me to them like that one dozy moth who just can't keep away from a (very hot, and incredibly bright) flickering flame. It's a desire that arises due to one's inherent nosiness (what did I tell you?!), birthed from a thirst for knowledge of the unknown past (that is - everyone else's), for there's nothing quite like browsing through items you'd never before lend a second thought to (think large seashells, random china ornaments, or framed plates) to stir one's imagination; I'm good at inventing background storiTes at the best of times (ask Moom - she'd know, because she's even better at it!), but hand me a stack of old black and white polaroids and I'll have created a life story for those captured within the four walls of their white frames quicker than you can say 'musty smell'. 

Hopkinson is a (very) local fascinating find - originally home to an engineers merchants, the prior owner (that would be Mr Hopkinson himself) sold engineering-related goods to 'factories, collieries, and textile mills'. Nowadays it's 4 floors boasts vintage clothing, home-wares, accessories, toys, paintings, records, books, childhood memorabilia plus plenty more. It's second floor boasts 'The Little Vintage Beauty Parlour', with treatments available for those attending prom or their leavers ball, vintage makeovers and hairstyles for those who want something a little different, bridal hair and make up, and even a 'Vintage pamper, tea and cake' package! There's even a space at the top available for hire (as an art gallery and event space, which has previously housed work from local artists, including NTU students - 3 of it's Fine Art students designed and built the space - as well as those from further afield; a February display of neon art  - as part of the 'Scene this?' exhibition, part 1 entitled Mercury & Electric Shocks - featured pieces from Tracy Emin and Sarah Lucas!) and an all-important 'Tea Bar' (for all your tea and sweet-treat-needs!). 

Much of Hopkinson's charm is down to it's ability to provide studio spaces to hire on it's first and second floors, offering local artists and small business owners the opportunity to display their work. As someone who is a keen to promote shopping independent, it's incredibly encouraging to see such support for independents, especially from somewhere so unique in the city. From what I've heard, it's waiting list is ever-buzzing, so if you're local, and looking to be a part of something special, make sure you contact them asap! 

Vintage and Antiques at Hopkinson Nottingham first floor
Vintage and Antiques at Hopkinson Nottingham first floor clothing
Vintage and Antiques at Hopkinson Nottingham basement
Vintage and Antiques at Hopkinson Nottingham basement Lady Diana
Vintage and Antiques at Hopkinson Nottingham basement film photos
Vintage and Antiques at Hopkinson Nottingham first floor tea bar
Vintage and Antiques at Hopkinson Nottingham stair mirrors and paintings
Vintage and Antiques at Hopkinson Nottingham second floor sewing room.jpg
Vintage and Antiques at Hopkinson Nottingham second floor sewing scraps
Vintage and Antiques at Hopkinson Nottingham top floor chandelier

"this time next year we'll be millionaires"

(toot your metaphorical horn if you know where that quote is from!)

Unfortunately I cannot profess to be a good, or particularly enthused, vintage 'shopper' - a couple of pieces bought on Etsy came to me stained, leaving me feeling very frustrated, and the one other piece I bought (a dress worn to a wedding last year) was purchased from a vintage store here in Nottingham that no longer is around (which is a shame, because they really did have some beauties) - so it isn't often that I enter a store with the intention to buy (if only I had Megan's skills - she is quite the thrift store shopper), but if there's one haunt that could change my shopping 'ways', Hopkinson would most definitely be it; it would take days for me to hunt through everything they have on offer (and what fun-filled days they would be!) thanks to their vast stock - it really is the perfect place for a vintage-finds-fiend. Never have I come across somewhere packed so full of fantastic goodies that I've lost track of time just taking the sheer volume of stuff on offer in! Nor, come to think of it, has somewhere taken my fancy so strongly that I'd be happy to visit again - every week - just to find out more about what they have 'in store' for their customers. Not only that, but the building itself is one of the most eye-catching in the city, and is a pleasure to saunter in to! 

So, if you're looking to be transported back to bygone eras full of nipped-in-at-the-waist dresses, roller boots, 'proper' alarm clocks, and Kate Bush records, then Hopkinson is most definitely the one for you! 

Now, let's all laugh at my inability to focus my lens on my face in this mirror. Har-de-har. 

Now, tell me...

Do you like to shop vintage?

Have you ever come across a bloody good vintage bargain you just couldn't say no to?