Monday, 6 August 2018

Book Review - Wartime At Woolworths, Elaine Everest

Heat waves are wonderful things for helping you relax, switch off, and really lose yourself in a book, and that has basically been me recently, as I read, in record time for me, the latest instalment in the Woolworth's Girls series. Unfortunately I then got writers block when writing a review, so this has taken a while to get up, so sorry guys, but here is my thoughts.

Wartime At Woolworths picks up the action in 1943, with war still raging around the lives of the friends and family in Erith. The blurb on the back declares that the Woolworths Girls 'face their biggest challenge yet' and that certainly seems true.


The reality of wartime is that you never knew what was around the corner, and you can live life in fear of death and destruction. There's an unpredictability about it, but it takes a skilled writer to accurately portray that on the page and give the reader no sense of when something will happen and to who, and that's just what Elaine Everest did. She captured the mood perfectly and kept me engaged with no idea of what would happen next.

I also enjoyed the fact she had gradually built up insight into what life was like in the time period over this series of books, and here she adds details of day to day life in wartime. Grey bread, the sourcing of luxuries, re-using and making clothes, and above all the escapism that a trip to the cinema brings, were all covered throughout the book, this was a story where the small details were noticed.

Small details included the fact that someone could send a letter in the morning announcing their impending arrival, and have the letter arrive before they did, that same day. Not ashamed to say I was a bit mind blown by that idea, and how quick/different the postal must've been back then.

The characters and their attitudes to life back then bought some of comedy moments to life, including when Ruby, attending a wedding tells the newly arrived Alan "I'll join you when I've seen that Gwyneth's parents are settled. They're pretty decent folk considering their teetotal". I was equally laughing, and feeling like I'd stepped into an alternate universe.

Christmas Time At Woolworths didn't quite meet my expectations, but Wartime At Woolworths far exceeded them. Well done and I look forward to seeing what you write next.



Have you read this or any of the other Woolworths Girls books? why not tweet Elaine and let her know what you think. Her handle is @ElaineEverest.

Thank you to Ed Public Relations for gifting me this book to review. All opinions are my own.

Monday, 16 July 2018

Fake Festival Chelmsford - 7th July 2018

Saturday 7th July was a day of new things. It was the first time Fake Festivals had bought their touring tribute band festival to Chelmsford, and the first time I had been to one of their events. I'd bought an early bird ticket as soon as they went on sale - partly because I love day into evening events (never been one for clubbing until 2am) and I wanted to try something new. The other big draw was Flash- A Tribute To Queen, were performing.

I've not spoken much about the music I've grown up with on here before, but Queen definitely featured and I was pretty excited to hear a tribute to them for the first time.


The event ran from midday to 11pm - 6 bands with roughly 1hr 15 minutes each, and 30 minutes break in-between to reset. The festival area included a fenced off outside area with food vendors, glitter face painters (should've done that!), and some children's inflatables/play activities. The main festival tent had a fast serving bar at one end and the stage with full lighting set-up at the other.

I wasn't going to miss the football, and knew my festival stamina wouldn't last all day, especially as it was VERY hot and humid, so arrived ready for some live music just before the 4th act went on-stage. Sadly the night didn't go entirely to plan, as despite being well rested and hydrated I think the heat and bad sleep caught up with me. I didn't get to enjoy as much of the event as I'd like, in the way I'd like, but I am still very glad I went.

PRO'S:


A quick and easy ticket scan and security check, friendly staff, a good amount of outside space, and good quality sound, light and stage set-up. Although I didn't get to see as much of the event as I wanted, I still think the ticket price of £22.50 was pretty good value for 6 bands all doing just over an hours set, and the quality of the set-up.

Timetables were available beforehand as well so you knew exactly what to expect.

I wasn't too sure what the atmosphere would be like, especially after the football, but although a few people looked a bit worse for wear it stayed friendly. There were good age range of people there which was nice to see, and should be repeated more in Chelmsford.

CON'S:

The access to water wasn't ideal - there were no water standpipes you could fill your own bottle up from, drinking water at the bar came in a cup - not very practical in a crowd full of people wanting to jump around a bit, and the vendors outside were selling bottles for different prices outside. You also could only take in your own bottle on first entry. I think this could be improved for future events, especially when it's so hot.

Although I never felt squashed or too crowded in, it was a very hot day and there needed to be more ventilation in the tent. They should have fenced off all the event area so they could take the sides of the tent down and get some cooler air in. I think this, and previous tiredness, just caught up with me a bit and I decided to leave - during the band I really wanted to see.

But let's talk about the music, I know from other's experiences the quality of tribute acts can vary, A LOT at gigs, but what I saw and heard from Guns 2 Roses and Flash was outstanding. Guns 2 Roses did a good mix of full on rock and rock ballads, some songs I'd even forgotten were Guns and Roses and that I liked!

Flash - Queen Tribute Band
It was definitely a moment when Flash literally bounced on to the stage with the opening bars of One Vision. What an amazing feeling to hear that song live, and this was swiftly followed by A Kind Of Magic, and Those Were The Days Of Our Lives also featured in the set. It was during their set I went home, but the musicianship and atmosphere they created was great, and Italian frontman Claudio Desideri as Freddie was a find!! a bit of a lookalike, and a whole lot of voice!

Two parts of two band sets wasn't exactly what I had in mind when I bought my Fake Festival ticket, but I still made some memories, tried something new, despite some anxiety and the heat. I would be more than happy to see either band again. Would I try another Fake Festival again? For sure, just be nice if it wasn't so crazy hot.

Find out more on the links below:
Fake Festivals
Flash- A Queen Tribute
Guns 2 Roses

ALSO I have a video of Flash performing 'One Vision' on my Youtube Channel, please do check it out, and there's some more photo's over on Instagram.

Friday, 15 June 2018

4 Ways To Help Care For Dry Hair


Hair, I love it and hate it, sometimes miss how it used to be, and often get annoyed at its weather beaten state in winter. Now I'm a reluctant 30 something with thick, sometimes dry and frizzy, brown hair. I’m not great at styling it, but have discovered some things that have made a difference when looking after it, so I thought I’d do a post on 4 of them.

1. Upgrading My Hair Dryer

Years ago I used to have a basic, just does the job hair dryer, and got to the point where I needed something better that would really look after my hair. I was given an ionic hair dryer as a present, and instantly noticed the difference. The technology really did help smooth out my hair when drying, but now there’s a new kid on the block I am excited about. Nanoe technology claims to retain around 1,000 times more moisture than regular hairdryers, and products often come with 3 attachments, including a quick dry nozzle which I’d love to try – it emits strong and weak air flows to help look after your hair and leave it healthy and shiny. Hopefully I will have the chance to upgrade my hair dryer soon, I have spotted a rose gold version that is so pretty - a hair dryer can be pretty as well as practical right?



2. Hair Dye With Extras

I dye my hair fairly regularly, and there’s nothing like the feeling of freshly dyed hair. I normally have extra conditioner left over as well which is always a bonus. I normally choose product with added extra nourishment, whether that be extra conditioning ingredients, or natural oils. My new favourite is the Schwarzkopf Colour Expert with OmegaPLEX technology. I've only tried it once, but will definitely be using it again. It was easy to apply, my hair felt nicer even when I was applying the dye and rinsing afterwards, and the condition of my hair stayed nicer for longer afterwards.

The box comes with anti-breakage serum which goes in the developer bottle with the colour crème, an after treatment repair sealer to help seal the colour, and a repair reviver which you use after 3 weeks. I'm really impressed, and they have additional products you can order, so I have a tube of colour sealer treatment rinse off to use as well!

3. New Shampoo

Mum drummed it into me from an early age that it's not good to keep using the same shampoo all the time, and that my hair would build up a tolerance to it, this has been dismissed in hair care circles as a myth, but there is still good reason to change up your brand and try new things. This article looks at reasons to change your hair products, such as diet, and changes in the climate/weather, while another about hair rules you should break points to the reasons why your shampoo isn't performing. There's useful advise about how your shampoo may be drying your hair out or coating it with product - neither of which is ideal.

My recent find is a set a hair care products from the Organic Shop. They are soil association rated as natural and free of SLS, SLES and Parabens. I was lucky enough to be sent a set for review, so will be covering those in a separate post, but so far so good, they are doing what they promised and my hair feels better for it. Look out for the review in a future post.



4. Serum and Heat Protect Spray

These are two must-haves in my box of hair care products, and ones I use quite a lot. The heat protect spray is for when I straighten either just after washing, while the serum helps me keep control of flyaway hairs and smooth strands out between washing and straightening. A straightener does wonderful things, but I try not to over do it, and don't want heat damage, so protection, and a serum helps keep things in check.

According to some fun hair facts that I looked up, the average human sheds 50-150 strands of hair in a day (see, it's not just me that sheds mum!), but it's important to find what works for your hair, and look after all the strands left on your head. So what works for you? if you have any tips or favourite products we may not have heard of? let me know in the comments below.

* This post was written in collaboration with Panasonic.

Monday, 11 June 2018

Daring Cardmakers Tropical Themed Card Challenge

Hello Everyone,

Summer has officially arrived, the weather is pretty consistently good, it's my birthday this week (less said about that the better - reluctant 30 something), and I have a gig to look forward to in July, and am tempted by another in August. Meantime I have a few blogs I'm working on in drafts, but have had a bit of writers block, so instead have uploaded my entry into the Daring Cardmakers Challenge for this week.

I've really enjoyed joining in with the themes when I can, and seeing how other people have portrayed them. This weeks theme is Tropical which is close to my heart, it always reminds me of my favourite tropical holiday to the Polynesian Resort at Disney World; I love that place so much!

Copyright These City Days 2018


To make this card I used elements from a recent Hunkydory members kit, which is possibly one of my favourites they have produced. I absolutely love the colours and the different birds in the toppers, and had a lot of fun creating this flamingo card. I teamed the flamingo topper and a 'let's celebrate' sentiment with some DCWV cardstock and silver holographic card to add a touch of sparkle. It was fun playing around with the layout and choosing stash items to match, and I am really pleased with the end result.

There's some really pretty inspiration from the Daring Cardmakers Blog Design Team over on this post, and you can also follow along with the other challenge entries. If you are keen on card making, then why not keep your eyes open for a new challenge each Friday.

Don't forget you can also follow These City Days on Instagram for more crafty posts, local lifestyle pics, and teasers of forthcoming reviews and posts.

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Book Review - Wartime At Woolworths, Elaine Everest