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, so 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, and a good age range of people attended, which was nice 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, amazing feeling to hear that song live and this was swiftly followed by A Kind Of Magic, and I heard Those Were The Days Of Our Lives. It was during their set I think the heat got to me a bit and 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, and 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.

*contains an affiliate link.

Sunday, 15 April 2018

Dance Themed Stamped and Stencilled Card

Hi everyone,

Just catching up on some blogging, and I have a brand new card to share today. I've been looking forward to sharing this one, as it's my favourite of the 3 I have made using the music and dance themed stamp set from Creative Stamping Magazine.

The first idea for this card came from a Christmas themed idea in another magazine. I decided to take the layout idea from there, and then do some stamping and stencilling to create the finished card. You can see the original inspiration on my social media, but here's how I put together this card.

Items Used:

Creative Stencils - Stars *
Nuvo Crystal Drops Navy Blue *
Navy Blue Ribbon
White Card
Cosmic Shimmer Colour Cloud Blending Ink ( and applicator sponges/dabber.
Colouring Pencils
Memento Black Ink *
Acrylic Stamping Block
Scissor & Double Sided Tape
Foam Pads
Glitter Card
Music & Dance Themed Stamps (Creative Stamping Magazine).



How It's Made:
  • Stamp the dancing shoes stamp on a piece of white card, then colour the image and cut round the edge of the design.
  • Next, stamp your chosen sentiment (here I used 'Put On Your Dancing Shoes') on another piece of white card. Cut out the sentiment, using a corner punch to round the edges. Finish with some Nuvo Drops and leave to dry.
  • Cut out 4 equal size rectangles that will be placed next to each other on the top half of the card. Mine were roughly 7x3cm.
  • using the star stencil and colour cloud blending ink, decorate each rectangle of card, two in each colour. Decorate two panels as shown with a musical note stamp.
  • Mount the decorated pieces of card on the top half of your piece of glitter card.
  • Just below the stencilled pieces, wrap around the ribbon and securely fix on the back. Add a matching bow on the left hand side.
  • Fix the sentiment on the bottom left hand side with foam pads, then mount the dancing shoes image in the middle of the set of stencilled rectangles.
  • Mount the whole piece on to a white 6x6 card blank to finish.
The finished result is really striking and can easily be adapted to your choice of colours. The sentiment means it could be used as a card for many different occasions, from birthdays to party invites. I hope you enjoyed this post, and if you'd like to check out some of the items I used to make this card, please check out the affiliate links above.

The stars stencil was my first purchase from Craft Stash, and I was very pleased with the price and quality. I've also noticed they do a good range of Tonic Nuvo products, which could be hard to resist after trying some out on a previous design team!!

New Challenge: I got a really cool hand lettering book for Christmas and some pens from a competition win and present, so I am hoping to develop a new skill this year. Will post pictures on my progress when I have any, and if you fancy having a go, check out these really pretty packs of brush pens.

Monday, 9 April 2018

Alexis Gerred - Sweet Angel - Song Review & Crowd Funding Launch


Although Alexis Gerred has 10 years experience in the theatre, appearing in shows such as the Green Day musical American Idiot, and was more recently seen as a semi-finalist in the BBC hit show Let It Shine, he is untested as a singer-songwriter. So untested in fact, that very few people have heard any of his original music, until now.

 Alexis, perhaps in part, fuelled by the response he received after appearing on Let It Shine, has written a 10 track album. It's all ready to be recorded and released, with your help! The album has been launched via a crowd funding campaign on the Indiegogo platform, where you can pre-order a digital or physical copy of the album, along with other perks, to help offset some of the costs of release. But as an unknown in the songwriting sense, Alexis had to make a splash to launch the campaign, and he has done that with launch song 'Sweet Angel'.

I was veering between Iron Sun and Five To Five as ones to watch on Let It Shine, and picked out Alexis' voice, but had no idea what to expect from this debut song. 'Sweet Angel' has an energy to it that I instantly liked, and while I don't talk about it much on here, it would be the kind of music I'd turn to if I was having a bad day with my anxiety. The uptempo beat of the music, especially when the drums kick in, works well with the message in the lyrics, especially these key lines:

"I can see you falling, I see you falling deeper down, I'll show you how to fly with broken wings, sweet angel" (Alexis Gerred, Sweet Angel).

 How can that not make you smile and feel better inside? The vocals suit the track well, and display a different, softer side, to what can be a raw husky rock tone. On first listen I felt like I was waiting for the track to get going (having heard a soaring, upbeat, chorus as a tease), and there was the odd word sung that wasn't immediately clear, but as you can probably tell my critiques are only little things that I picked up on in 'review mode', and probably wouldn't even notice listening for fun.

It's catchy, the message (which you can find out more about on Indiegogo) comes across well, and I can imagine it will go down live, with Alexis up on-stage with band! In short, I really enjoyed this! If you'd like to find out more about the song, and the perks available if you pre-order, then visit this link - Alexis Gerred - Indiegogo Page.





Tuesday, 13 March 2018

Fairground Themed Stamping & Handmade Card Projects.

A crafter can never have too much stash right? according to my family you can, but I had a good sort out of all my paper craft products and my stamp collection was a bit lacking, and some of them were of a similar theme. Time for something new, so I ordered the Fairground Fun stamp set from the For The Love Of Stamps by Hunkydory.

This really appealed to me, as I have many happy memories of going to the fair when I was younger, and when it arrived I wasn't disappointed. I think I will get a lot of value from this set, as some of the individual images can be used on their own for different theme cards, there's possibilities to aim at different age groups, and create a fairground scene or two.

I have made a couple of cards so far, and found the stamps easy to work with and good quality. My favourite of the two cards I will share details for below. This is an invitation idea, and instead of using the card blank traditionally folded, I folded in and under, which you can hopefully see from the photo. There's a triangle shaped tube which helps the card stand up, and a panel which you can add all your party details on to. To make this card I used:

Design copyright These City Days 2018


White card stock
Patterned paper
Memento Ink Pad -Tuxedo Black *
Small round decorative stickers
Colouring pencils
Crystal glitter glue
Foam pads *
Double sided tape
Hunkydory Fairground Fun stamp set *

Thank you for dropping by and supporting my blog today, if you have any crafty questions, or have ideas for other lifestyle content you might like to see in a future post please let me know. I already have a few ideas planned, but would love to hear from you.

*Affiliate links to some of the products used to create this card.

Thursday, 15 February 2018

Daring Cardmakers - Home Themed Card Challenge

Hi everyone,

I hope everyone is well. Thanks so much to everyone who has commented or read my last post. I am fairly new to book reviews, but they are great fun to do. Last year I joined in with some of the challenges on the Daring Cardmaker's blog, and they are continuing this year so I had to have another go. It's great fun to see how everyone interprets a theme, which this time round is HOME.

Items used:

Nuvo Glitter Drops - Blue Lagoon
White card base
Blue patterned card
Colouring pencils
Black Ink Pad
Kraft Card
At Home Stamp (Kirstie Allsopp kit)
Mama Makes Mandala Mania Stamps




The inspiration for this card started off with the stamps; they were a cheeky purchase when I was a member of the Mama Makes design team. I'd cut a few out and coloured them but wasn't sure what to do with them, until I saw the Daring Cardmakers challenge. I thought it would be good to cut them in half and use them like curtains to frame a cut out window frame. I pieced together the rest of the card using items from my stash listed above, and decorated a bit with my new Nuvo Glitter Drops (highly recommend Nuvo, they have so many pretty colours, and very precise application).

Hope you have enjoy this blog, and do check out the Daring Cardmakers and see how everyone else has responded to the challenge. There is sure to be a variety of designs.

Friday, 9 February 2018

Elaine Everest - Christmas At Woolworths - Book Review

*Apologies for the lateness of this Christmas book review, it was released in the run up to Christmas, but I read a fair portion of it over the festive season. Im late posting, but it's never too late for a good book right?*

Christmas is probably one of my favourite times to head to the book shelves in the shops, so many novels out with a Christmas theme. I'm like a moth to a flame, I just want to buy and read them all. There's just something about festive novels that makes them so easy to read.

When I heard that Elaine Everest had plans to release a new novel, and a follow up to The Woolworths Girls, I was excited to read how the story had progressed. I was expecting good things after enjoying the previous novel, the review of which you can read here.


Readers pick up the story in Wartime, with Maisie, Freda and Sarah all with husbands or family members off fighting, or involved in the war effort. This time round there is a greater focus on friends and relations, so you get to know more about stalwart of Woolworths, Betty Billington, Sarah's grandmother Ruby, and her neighbour, including the ever present, but slightly irritating Vera, and the furry ever faithful Nelson.

I won't give too many spoilers away, but you may find a few love stories focused around Mike and Bob Jackson, and new additions Gwyneth and Douglas. It's the seamless introduction of new characters, and giving more prominence to those we didn't see much of in the first novel, that adds some humour and interest to the story. It's not just that though, it's the sense of warmth within when the characters bloom, and grow in confidence as the story unfolds, it's something you can relate to in every era.

Favourite moments include Freda standing up to those who commented on her age and sex when she started wartime work with the fire service, and when she was a fish out of water at a dance with US servicemen, and brash, more sophisticated women.

My only slight disappointment was that the novel was not quite what I expected from the title. I just couldn't help looking for references to Christmas, either in Woolworth's, or in the lives of the characters despite the war. When things did feel more festive, it seemed a little rushed. That being said, 'Christmas At Woolworths' did end on a high note, with a powerful sense of the importance of family, friends, community, and being grateful for what you have, and that is how it should be.

Another interesting read, from an author who has found her stride, and has already gathered pace towards her next Woolworth's Girls release. Keep an eye out in May, and find out more here.

In the meantime, look at my current reading pile, added to at Christmas with a competition win, a Robbie William biography and the Blue Planet 2 book. What shall I read next?




Thursday, 18 January 2018

Optiat Mouthwatering Mandarin Feel Great Coffee Scrub - Review

Hello and Happy 2018!

It seems so bizarre to be wishing you all a Happy New Year, this festive season has gone so quick. Normally by this stage I would have watched a fair amount of Christmas TV and eaten lots of party food, and oddly neither has happened, but I am sticking to one post Christmas tradition, catching up on some blog posts. Today I am reviewing a scrub I got sent a while back from a brand called Optiat.



This was one of two scrubs I was sent when there was a lot of attention given to plastic microbeads, their dangers, and what was being done to prevent the sale of products containing them. Optiat have produced a mandarin flavoured coffee scrub, with Arabica coffee grounds and orange essential oils among their ingredients.

First impressions were that it was a fairly decent sized tube, though the smell was a bit confusing. I expecting either the orange or coffee to over power, and what I got was a balanced mix of the two, which was a bit odd. I wasn't an offensive scent in any way, but I don't think it was something that would attract me if I tried the product out in a shop.

The scrub is quite thick in texture, and comes out quite lumpy as well, because of the nature of the ingredients It was also a bit crumbly in my hands and fell off my face a few times, so it wasn't the easiest to apply.

Some exfoliating scrubs I have used in the past have been very subtle and smooth, in fact they've not really felt like a scrub, this one has more of a coarse texture, so you'll definitely get full a exfoliation treatment.



I have used it a good few times now to give it a proper test, but I don't think it's quite right for my skin type, and although my skin felt nice afterwards, I didn't enjoy applying it. It's a bit too clumpy and thick for me, and half a tube is already gone, so I don't think I'd get much mileage for my money compared to other products I have tried.

It was interesting to try, but not for me I am afraid, but I did fair much better with the other scrub I was sent in the same package, so keep an eye out for that review soon. I've also noticed Optiat do a range of face masks so I will be checking out the credentials on those very soon. Check out the full Optiat product range here.

* This product was gifted for review purposes, but all opinions are my own.




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Fake Festival Chelmsford - 7th July 2018