Tuesday 30 December 2014

Lifestyle: The Huawei £100 challenge.

A couple of weeks ago, Huawei got in touch with me with a proposal for their £100 blogger Christmas challenge, in which they were asking a few UK bloggers to capture the highlights of an exciting evening on a £100 budget with their brand new Huawei Ascend Y550 smartphone. Not one to turn down a good challenge, I accepted, and armed with £100*, my own Huawei smartphone* to take some snapshots of my outing and a date for the evening (not provided by Huawei) who is equally as bad at making decisions as I am, I hopped on a train to Liverpool for an evening of spontaneity.
Since Simon and I had already taken advantage of Liverpool's Ice Festival a couple of weeks prior, we did have a little trouble thinking of other activities that were weather appropriate for mid-December, so we played it safe with something that Liverpool definitely isn't short of- places to eat and drink. After loosening the seal on our budget with a coffee at Bold Street's Moroccan-style Kasbah café, we decided to stick to an international theme with a meal at Sapporo Teppanyaki; not the cheapest place to eat, setting us back around £50, but somewhere I would definitely recommend if you are looking for something a little bit different (or just happen to have £50 to blow).

Thinking we were still down with the kids, our next stop was one of Liverpool's top student hangouts, The Font, where in true student style we stretched the remainder of our budget as far as possible by purchasing a Font card for discounted drinks, which we lost count of over a few rather heated games of MarioKart, before kicking ass (not really) at The Font's weekly pub quiz.

Slightly tipsy, and with a little spare change left in our allowance, where better than to end our night than at Bar CaVa, where tequila shots are just £1 each and there is a huge array of flavours to suit everyone's taste and level of drunkness.

Thanks to Huawei for choosing me to be a part of this challenge- Check out my Instagram account (@francescassandra) over the next couple of days to see some of the snaps I took on my Ascend Y550 smartphone. Huawei have also been so generous as to offer one of my readers a device of their own, and all you have to do to be in with a chance of winning is share your £100 budget itinerary with us in the comments. A winner will be picked at random one week from now, on Tuesday, January 6, 2015 (!).

How would you spend a day out with £100?

Frances x

*DISCLOSURE: The device and the budget used for this campaign were kindly gifted to me by Huawei. All opinions expressed are still 100% honest and my own.
Wednesday 17 December 2014

Travel: Mocks #WhatsYourAdventure.

I like to think of myself as a bit of adventurer. Well, an adventurer in the making. Whilst my current  situation doesn't allow for me to do as much travelling as I would like to, I love exploring new places, researching exciting things to do abroad and you can bet your life I have a bucket list as long as my arm that I would love to start ticking off as I progress through life.
One place that I find I neglect, however, is the UK itself. Living here for your entire life means that you forget that places other than the streets you are familiar with exist and I hadn't even thought about the fact that I have never visited our Northernmost country in my 22 years, until Mocks contacted me asking if I fancied a Christmas adventure to Scotland's capital with Statesman Rail* as part of their #whatsyouradventure campaign.

Last Saturday, equipped with a pair of Mocks each, a polaroid camera to capture some moments (lots of snaps coming to my Instagram soon) plus a hamper of tea and biscuits to see us through the four-and-a-half hour train journey, my mum and I were welcomed upon the Statesman rail train at Warrington Bank Quay station. Admittedly I'm not brilliant at early starts, and after a wake-up call of 6AM I slept through most of the train journey, but woke up on time to witness the beauty of the hills and lakes from Cumbria upwards.

The only con about getting the Statesman Rail train to Edinburgh is that the long journey leaves you with under four hours to explore the city, and I hadn't quite anticipated how busy Edinburgh would be on a Saturday so close to Christmas, so our visit ended up feeling quite rushed. However, that didn't stop us from making the most of the time we had, taking a small hike up to Edinburgh Castle and enjoying the view overlooking the city of Edinburgh, checking out the tourist-y shops down the beautiful cobbled allies and consuming my weight in steak rolls, hot cider and nutella crepes in the German-style Christmas markets.
Thank you very much to Mocks for sending me on a Christmas adventure and inspiring me to go on more adventures in my own homeland. Edinburgh is a place that I would definitely like to visit again in the Summer when the weather is nicer and we have more time to explore everywhere that the city has to offer.
Have you been to Edinburgh?
Do you have any adventures planned in the new year?
Frances x
*DISCLOSURE: This trip was kindly planned and paid for by Mocks. All opinions expressed are 100% honest and my own.
Friday 12 December 2014

Personal: My Life Lately.

Hey, my lovelies!
Long time, no blog it seems- compared to the past few months where I had been managing to blast out 12-15 blog posts, this month I seem to have disappeared from the blogosphere completely, and it was only when a friend messaged me to check if I was still alive as I hadn't posted on Twitter or Instagram for a week that I thought I should check in and write a little post about where I have been.
At the end of last month, I got myself a new job to scrape in a bit of money which takes up four to five [often full] days of my week. Whilst I know so many bloggers who often balance full time jobs and manage to maintain their blogs perfectly well (kudos to you!), working full time hours whilst juggling my blog is something that is brand new to me, and whilst I fully intend on adjusting to a routine that allows me to do both, it is taking a little getting used to, especially since my days off are usually spent catching up with friends and taking part in festive activities (I haven't even found time to start my Christmas shopping yet- Eek!). That said, I haven't given up my blogger duties completely- Some of my spare time has been spent attending blogger events and organized trips for brand campaigns including an exciting trip to Edinburgh with Mocks and a very spontaneous day out in Liverpool, so I still have plenty to tell you all about when I find a moment to sit down with my laptop and sort through the hundreds of photos!
In the New Year- after the busy Christmas period has passed- regular blogging should resume, but for now I will try my best to write a blog post at every free opportunity I get. I will also try to do a better job of keeping my Instagram and Twitter accounts updated, so feel free to follow me over on those!
I hope you will all bear with me whilst I pull myself together, and I hope you are all having an amazingly festive December so far!
How do you balance your blog with work?
Frances xx
Friday 5 December 2014

Wishlist: Winter Coats.

Premium Bonded Trench Coat: Topshop, £110
Black and White Faux Fur Coat: Rare London, £56 £39.20
Knit Cape with Sleeves: ZARA, £79.99
Black Brushed Funnel Coat: New Look, £49.99, £25
Is it just me, or has the Autumn/Winter been surprisingly warmer than usual this year? It has only been the past few days that I have started to feel the bite of the cold air, and I have found myself zipping my scarf in to my coat instead of discarding all my layers due to that pesky winter sun. Outerwear is definitely my favourite piece of clothing in the Autumn/Winter months and I think it is important to find that perfect one (or seven, in my case); after all, it is the first part of your outfit that most people are going to see!
I like to have a few options in the cloakroom to suit every occasion. The pastel pink trend from early 2014 seems to be going strong and I love this ASOS number with its added faux fur collar which would give any outfit a unique and stylish finish without being over-the-top. For those who dare to be different, however, I have been loving some of the Story of Lola faux fur coats that have recently hit ASOS (or the cheaper alternative above- thanks, Rare London!) and seem to be taking the blogging world by storm. It is also always good to have a piece of outerwear in your wardrobe that will go with anything and look smart, which is why timeless trench coats are one of my go-to styles of outerwear, along with simple-cut black or white numbers (that Zara coat above, though <3) that will match anything.
Have you found your perfect winter coat?
Frances xx