Saturday, 31 October 2015

My creepy visit to Les Catacombs, Paris


It's Halloween! What better to celebrate the most wonderful time of the year (I was a witch in a former life, I swear) than with a nice, creepy blog post! We had been to Paris about 5 years prior and had no idea then that the catacombs beneath the city even existed. This time around I was researching some more unusual places to visit and when I read about this it went to the tippy top of my list.

We had to get the Metro out to the south of the city as the entrance is a little out of the way, but it was really easy to find - I would recommend going at the beginning or end of the day as we arrived at about half 11 and there was a considerable queue. As the entrance and walkway down underground are tiny it takes a while for people to be let in and out. It was quite a cheap attraction, about 8 euros each, as in France if you have ID to prove you're under 25 and live in the EU you get reduced or free entry to places like the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower. We just showed our passports everywhere we went.



I thought it would be claustrophobic so I wasn't sure how I would get on, but the ceilings are deceptively high down there and some of the outlets are cavernous. If it wasn't for the dark and damp (although it's also fairly well lit as you're not permitted to use flash photography) I wouldn't have known how far underground we were. I felt absolutely fine.

A bit of fun history for you: The catacombs were formerly a very old (as in pre-12th Century) disused mine. In the 1700s a series of cave-in incidents led to them being rediscovered. They run for many kilometers (about 300 I think) with various pockets being connected by 'roads' underground. By the time they were discovered, Paris had a huge problem with overflowing cemeteries, some of which had mounds metres high full of the dead because there was nowhere else for them to go. As people had to live so closely to improperly buried corpses there were huge problems with disease, and an overwhelming smell of decomposing bodies. Yummo.



The ossuaries within the catacombs hold the bones of around six million people, making it the largest grave in the world. The bones are not arranged as whole skeletons but certain bones are grouped together and packed in so that they are structurally sound. They are however 'sort of' categorised as every so often a plaque detailing a hospital name, month and year is seen which indicates when these people's bones were brought down there. The final lot of bones was interred in 1860, and 7 years later the catacombs were open to the public.


If you go down with a guide, they will tell you all kinds of horror stories, but I was getting the heebie jeebies so we went it alone. It's very quiet down there, and you're so far underground that you can see layers of sediment in the walls from millions of years ago. The walls of bones go back meters and the ceiling drips with limestoney water. Despite it having a kind of deserted feel though you can see from the various signs and plaques, as well as intricate patterns put into the bone arrangements, that this is actually a project that was undertaken with great care and respect.

I would highly recommend a trip to the catacombs to anyone with a bit of a morbid fascination, but I think anyone would enjoy it. There were little kids in there who didn't seem scared but were just so fascinated.

Have you ever been anywhere as creepy as Les Catacombs?


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Wednesday, 28 October 2015

15 blogging prompts to help you get over writer's block



It happens to the best of us. One day you wake up and the inspiration has left the building. Sometimes with blogging I feel like I've exhausted all my content ideas, but I know I just need to take a step back and wait for the next big idea to come. To help you get out of that blogging funk I've put together a list of 15 post prompts to suit everyone from beauty bloggers to creatives! I'll be trying out a few of these over the next couple of weeks and I can't wait to see what you guys come up with!

1. Make a list of 5 happy things that happened this week

2. Write a letter to your 16 year old self - what would you say?

3. Go out walking for the afternoon and see where you end up. Write about it.

4. Share your thoughts on the last book you read.

5. If you could have 5 fictional people over for dinner, from books, films or TV, who would you pick and why?

6. Talk about where you see yourself in 10 years time.

7. Give readers a tour of your home or bedroom through photos.

8. Do you have a travel bucket list?

9. Visit a royalty free stock image site like Unsplash, pick a random image and describe what you think might be happening or the feelings it gives you.

10. List the best pieces of advice anyone has ever given you.

11. Show readers how you've organised your makeup/clothes/books/stationery or something else in the home.

12. Share your fondest childhood memory.

13. Write about something that really annoys you.

14. Put together a playlist.

15. Tell readers about your favourite place, it could be anywhere!

Comment below with links to your posts so I can have a read! Do you have any ideas you can add to my list?
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Monday, 26 October 2015

Wishlisting

It's been a while since I featured any kind of wishlist on the blog - I'm trying to consciously buy a bit less and that includes clothes especially as we'll be moving in a couple of months and . That said, I do have my eye on a few non-clothing items that will probably be making their way to me in the post by the end of the month!


Illustrated Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone and Harry Potter colouring book - They saw me coming, didn't they? Not only has a beautifully illustrated version of The Philosopher's Stone but I've also really gotten into these stress release colouring books and there's a HP version available for pre-order. Gimme.


Canon EOS 700d - I've been researching cameras for a while now and after much deliberation I've decided on the Canon EOS 700d as the one for me. I need a camera that takes much crisper images than my now rather old bridge camera that just isn't cutting the mustard these days. I'll probably be using Christmas money to help pay for this one as it's a big purchase but I've waited 5 years to get a new camera so another two months will be bearable! 

Black foldover purse from River Island - I've had the same River Island purse for nearly two years and only now is it just starting to show real wear. I really can't fault the quality of their bags and purses, especially for the money. I also have two bags by them and I use them every day without fail and have never had them break on me despite stuffing them to the limit. This classic black purse looks like it'll do nicely as a replacement.


Maybelline Colour Tattoo 24hr Gel-Cream Eyeshadow - I see these used in tutorials all the time and while I usually hate the feeling of an eyeshadow cream I'm very tempted after seeing them in action. The shade 'Metallic Pomegranate' looks lush.

What are you lusting after lately?


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Saturday, 24 October 2015

How to have the ultimate cosy weekend


So I felt like a proper adult this year as I've managed to remember the clocks are going back tonight. With the extra hour in bed (read: extra hour to stay up scrolling Instagram in true zombie-like fashion), come darker evenings. I tend to go into hibernate mode this time of year and it takes a lot more effort to leave the house - I'll always stay in if I can - but there's more to do from the comfort of your sofa than just vegetate! Here are my fave cosy weekend activities, which can all be done whilst snuggled up with a blanket.

Whip out a box set - This one is pretty obvious, but TV gets so good around October and I don't need to tell you that Netflix is also there to amuse you. My favourite comfort watch though has to be my Harry Potter box set. Nothing like a trip to Hogwarts to make you feel warm and fuzzy inside.

Paint those nails - Every weekend I sit and give my nails a file and a coat of something. It makes me feel like I've got my shit together come Monday. Plus it's a great excuse not to move for half an hour because they need to dry! My most used this time of year is always Bordeaux by Essie as its the perfect wine shade.

Read, read, read - If you're not the binge-watching type or want to get back into reading, this time of year is perfect for unleashing your inner bookworm, Whether you're into magazines, novels, poetry or self-help there's something out there to keep everyone entertained.

Ditch the makeup - Whenever I have a busy weekend out and about my skin gets a bit congested and the spots start popping up. A cosy weekend at home is a chance to go makeup free, stick your hair in a top knot and slap on a face mask. My favourite at the moment is Lush's Cosmetic Warrior which smells really weird because it contains garlic and apparently eggs (what) but has such a calming effect and you sort of get used to it!

Keep the hot drinks flowing - We like to keep  constant flow of teas and hot chocolate on the go when having a cosy day. I'm a big fan of Options as they contain less sugar but still satisfy my sweet tooth!

What are your top tips for a cosy weekend?
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Monday, 19 October 2015

6 reasons Mondays are actually pretty awesome


Yep, you heard me - I don't hate Mondays! The first day of the week gets such a bad rap, but there are plenty of reasons to embrace it.

1. A clean slate - Whatever happened last week at work or school, it probably doesn't matter this week. Treat every Monday like it's the first and you'll feel the stress melting away! Pack your lunch, hit the gym and own it. Set your goals and intentions for the coming week and keep them in mind as the days progress.

2. You just had the weekend! - Weekends are awesome (unless you work through them, in which case I'm sorry!) but don't hate so much on poor ol' Monday. If anything you should be fresh-faced and raring to go after a good Sunday reset.

3. You've probably planned your outfit - I always start the week with the notion that I'll plan out all my outfits for work the night before, and while it rarely lasts beyond Tuesday it means that every Monday I feel like I've really got my shit together.

4. Your hair is probably clean and straight too - Every Monday everyone turns up to work smelling of shampoo and face masks. Beautiful.

5. You get to catch up on the goss - I can't lie, it's always fun to hear about what antics your colleagues got up to!

6. Even if the rest of week isn't all you want it to be, there's another weekend at the end of it - It's a fact of life that even if you love your job, sometimes a day or two off brings a sigh of relief. There's still nothing like getting home on a Friday night and spending the next 48 hours eating pizza in your pjs.

What do you love about Mondays?
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Thursday, 15 October 2015

4 tunes to add to your October playlist

I must admit I don't blog about music as much as I should. I spent most of this year in a state of obscene business, and so didn't keep up much with music at all - that's all changed thanks to a new job and I've been spending many an evening listening to Spotify playlists and our DAB radio. Here are the tunes I'm loving right now:


Nearly Forgot My Broken Heart, Chris Cornell - This man can do no wrong in my eyes. OK maybe that Bond theme song was a bit out of character and the haircut was a bad marketing decision, but I forgive you. Soundgarden are one of my favourite bands of all-time and Chris's voice is so luxurious I could listen to him all day, so his new solo material is getting some serious play in my household. It's much more chilled than a lot of stuff I listen to. Have a listen to the whole of 'Higher Truth' on Spotify and I'm sure I'll convert you.


Better Place, Saint Asonia - When I first heard 'Better Place' on a Spotify curated playlist I was hooked. So catchy, so punchy, slightly angry, so new but strangely familiar. That's when I looked the band up and realised it's a supergroup! I'm a big supergroup fan - they mostly produce some really good music, and these guys are no exception as members hail from bands like Staind and Three Days Grace. Adam Gontier's voice is so gritty but melodic and I'm slightly in love with these guys. Can you tell?


The Other Side, Red Sun Rising - I can't believe I've never heard of these guys until recently, because Red Sun Rising are like the Soundgarden of their generation (sorry Soundgarden, like I said you'll always be my number 1 and I'm basing this statement on one debut album, but I'm placing bets!). They also have beautiful beards and hair but that's besides the point because it's about the music, don't you know. Anyway, one tune that's been getting a lot of airplay is 'The Other Side'. Check it out!


Don't Wake Me, Aranda - This band have been around for a little while now, but recently released a stonker of a single from their new album that is making the rounds and really putting them on the map. Aranda have also got a celebrity fan in the form of Kelly Clarkson, who has covered a couple of their songs. They are definitely rocky in roots, but also have some lovely ballad tunes in their back catalogue. 'Don't Wake Me' is the song that got me really excited - it's moody and catchy and perfect for this time of year.

What music are you loving this month?
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Tuesday, 13 October 2015

You can do anything if you put your mind to it (I promise)



The events of the last 3 or 4 months have been less than ideal for me, to say the least. I don't need to go into details (and if I did it would take me all day) but in a way I am actually grateful for the bad luck that came my way. In difficult times we find out who we really are.

I honestly thought I would struggle a lot more than I did with both situations, but I kept the wallowing and the panicking to a minimum and decided instead to dig deep and use all the energy I had to get things back on track. I have struggled since I was a teenager with my mental health - I've been medicated, had CBT, the lot - but this time around I knew how to deal without getting into a really bad place.

I feel like life is getting back to how it should be these last few weeks, which actually feels abnormal after what I've had to deal with this year, but I've come out with a stronger sense of who I am and what my strengths and best qualities are, and I've made some changes which look set to lead to even better things.

It's totally OK to feel down and to doubt yourself once in a while - it's part of being human. But don't ever let anyone tell you you're not good enough, don't ever let a situation dictate how you feel about yourself, and always believe that you have the power and the ability to achieve great things. You can do anything if you put your mind to it, I promise.

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Wednesday, 7 October 2015

6 awesome TV shows to watch this autumn



Autumn. Tis the season of endless cups of tea, dark evenings and blanket forts. What better way to supplement this cosiness than with a does of good telly. Here are my personal picks to keep you entertained:

1. Supernatural - So you may already know if you follow me on Twitter that I am a huge fan of Supernatural. Season 11 premiers in the US tonight, so if you're naughty and keep up with things on American time there's that. Season 10 however for those who are tracking behind with the UK will begin next Wednesday on E4. So much Winchester lovin'.

2. Downton Abbey - I have to admit I haven't kept up enough with the last couple of series, but Sundays won't be the same for many of us without Downton. The final series is already in full swing but you can catch up on ITV player in no time for a giggle and probably a few tears.

3. American Horror Story: Hotel - I have such a love-hate relationship with this show, and for good reason. American Horror Story is as gross and creepy as it is slick and cool. It's something I always want to watch but end up doing so with a pillow over my eyes. This season I'm intrigued by the casting of Lady Gaga, and the annual Evan Peters fix is of course catered for.

4. Peep Show - Cold, dark nights call for some comic relief, and so November will see Channel 4 airing the last ever series of Peep Show. This was one of the first 'grown-up' (a.k.a. slightly rude and sweary) comedy shows I ever watched, so it's going to be a nostalgic one for me! I'm not sure it's quite as funny these days as it was back in the earlier series, but Mitchell and Webb antics are always a good shout.

5. Luther - I'm so happy that Idris Elba agreed to come back for a mini-series of Luther. There is no exact date yet but we'll see our favourite emotionally unstable detective back on screens before the year is out. If you missed the original three series you simply have to go back and watch them (I think they're still available on Netflix).

6. Parks and Recreation - So technically Parks and Rec has sadly now finished after 7 seasons of hilarity, but luckily if like me you're still not totally over it, Dave is bringing Pawnee back to our living rooms. Season 5 will kick off this coming Monday (12th October) so be sure to tune in.

What are you looking forward to watching this autumn?
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Sunday, 4 October 2015

12 Autumn home buys under £20

Autumnal homewares are everything. This time of year I always find myself lusting after home ranges - dark colours, rustic metallics,serious cosy vibes. Before I know it I've racked up a massive basket total on Urban Outfitters and am sobbing silently as I click the 'leave page and abandon this beautiful, beautiful basket' button. 

But this year I've spied some more affordable brands jumping on the chic seasonal interiors bandwagon. The below are all from George at Asda, Wilkinsons (apaz they're called 'Wilko' officially now?!), and H&M Home, which are in my opinion the best places to nab a home-related bargain. I set myself a £20 max limit when searching for these as it's enough to get something pretty lush - or even a pair because, y'know, symmetry - without feeling like you've dented your bank balance massively for a pair of sodding cushions.


George at Asda
2. Copper vase, £5.00
4. Copper letter rack, £10.00


Wilko
7. White LED star, £15.00
9. Check cushion, £7.00


H&M Home
10. Metal bookend, £7.99
11. Metal leaf dish, £7.99
12. Tealight holder, £1.99

Have you found any bargain home pieces for autumn?


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© kelly anne rist

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