Monday, 12 December 2011

Graduation Day

November 2010, after three years of hard work, perseverance and sacrifices, I walked across a stage in front of my fellow classmates and a couple of hundred strangers to shake an old man wearing a funny hat’s hand while another lady read out my name. That’s right, I graduated. 

Months of hard preparation built up to the big day; deliberating over what to wear, deciding on the kitten high or towering platform, and lastly, the big one, whether to top for a tousled curl or poker-straight locks. University was definitely a fantastic journey and I loved every minute of it. From the drunken nights and hungover mornings, to the evenings spent holed up in the library and struggling to prop my eyelids up in lectures. I certainly miss the days when all my brain had to contend with was what to wear for that night on the tiles, and whether to have beans or tuna on my jacket potato. University taught me life lessons, gave me great experiences, lots of highs and a few lows, piled on the pressure and armed me with valuable tools to face the working world with. 

A couple of weeks ago, Tom had his graduation. He made no secret of the fact that it was his second one and wasn’t modest about the fact that being in the limelight in front of hundreds was a walk in the park. Unfortunately there weren’t enough tickets for me to go into the actual ceremony, so after a few family snaps outside I had to buy myself a new skirt to cheer up following a goodbye at the doors. 

I met back up with the Dickson clan after the festivities and actually found myself a tad emotional looking at Tom all grown up! All in all it was a brilliant day, and I was a very proud girlfriend. In two years we’ll be doing it all again when Tom finishes his Masters, after which he now informs me he might fancy doing a PhD, which could take 20 years, so it looks like I’ll be approximately 45 years old before I settle down! 

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Two Years Later...

So this post may be slightly overdue (my anniversary was 19th November) but after surviving two years with Mr Dickson, I think it deserves a pat on the back and a blog post.

To celebrate our second anniversary, I managed to bag a free hotel stay in Banbury after writing a gushing review of the hotel for work. So after being delayed on the morning of our departure because Tom still had to buy me a card and have a sunbed (my concerns over my boyfriends sexuality continue to grow) we hopped on the train destined for the Oxfordshire town.  

We checked in after being driven to the hotel by a bumbling Asian taxi driver, who I’m convinced, had a wooden leg, and were delighted with our surroundings. Picturesque countryside, windy lanes and thatched roofed houses wrapped round the hotel in the quiet village of Wroxton. 

We were even lucky enough to be given a suite, so after setting out bags down and jumping on the bed, Tom made himself a cup of tea and told me not to look while he scribbled in my card. Who said romance was dead? Before the sun went down, I dragged Tom on a nice country walk to explore, and found a quaint little duck pond and a huge University that resembled Hogwarts complete with a dramatic mist that floated over the hills. Despite my wrong choice of footwear (wedges and muddy paths don’t mix) and sporadic moaning, we had a lovely time. 

Once back at the hotel, a quick nap and a dose of Come Dine with Me followed, and then we went down for dinner, which consisted of a meaty rump steak and a little tipple or five.

The food theme continued the next morning with a full English breakfast, so it was safe to say that the diet went out the window for the weekend. When it came to checking out, we were given a little surprise, not only was our room for the night free, the meal we had was on the house as well! For bargain-hunter Tom, I don’t think the weekend could’ve got any better.

We had a lovely weekend – here’s to the next two years, may the laughter and fun continue! 

Monday, 5 December 2011

The Clothes Show Live

This December, thousands of style-hungry youngters ventured to the NEC in Birmingham to get a taste of the style stakes at the Clothes Show Live. Dressed up to the nines and rocking the pouty I'm-too-cool-for-school look, young girls lapped up the bargains and strutted their stuff round the numerous clothing stalls on the hunt for the latest fashion must-haves.

I was lucky enough to go to the Show for work purposes and witness the event all expenses paid, so with the promise of Z-list celebs and more shopping than you can shake a stick at, I jumped at the chance to go. So after sharing my train with excitable teens chatting loudly about their shopping ideas and gossiping about what 'that boy text me last night', I made my way to the NEC ready to brave the crowds.

After a wild goose chase and walking what seemed like miles, I eventually found the press office and got my pass for the day. Rubbing shoulders with George Lamb was an early highlight and after tearing myself away from his luscious streaky-grey mane, I headed straight for the Sknitch area – a section dedicated to handmade clothes and sewing demonstrations – and got my crafty hat on ready to indulge. As expected the area wasn't overflowing with budding fashionistas, but there was a big enough crowd to realise that this is a worthwhile market to dip into. Various stalls had sewing machines with young people showing off their skills, and there was even a section devoted to knitting called Knitting Rocks, which certainly gave the pastime a quirky, modernised image. Oxfam had their own stand, which also promoted the idea of make-do-and-mend, as well as other University stalls that were encouraging passers-by to get involved and tap into their creative side. 

After a quick stop-over at the Diet Coke catwalk in association with Company magazine, which urged me not to opt for that extra chocolate treat, I heard a flutter of female screams and saw that Lucien guy from BB wondering around trying desperately to catch people's attention with his low cut top that provocatively showed off his well-toned man pecks. My brief celeb encounter made me secretly want more, so I kept my eyes peeled for the rest of the day. It paid off as well, as I came across Kieron Richardson who plays Ste in Hollyoaks and Zoe Birkett of Pop Idol fame, not exactly Barack Obama and Britney Spears (now that would've been good) but still a little slice of celebrity.

Next, I was escorted through the back door into the theatre to sit back and enjoy the big show of the day, The Fashion Show. The theme was A Night at the Department Store and included a performance from Alexandra Burke and Kimberley Wyatt, previously part of the Pussycat Dolls. I sat in the press area with other journalists and gave my best, not-impressed-by-minor-popstars impression, while I secretly tapped my toe to the catchy beat of Bad Boys.

Overall the catwalk show was brilliant; beautiful outfits, lively music, quirky backdrops and funky lighting, not to mention the hot dancers who liked to flash a bit of flesh, and obviously was met with no objection from me. The clothes were the perfect balance between high-street and high-end and showcased a fantastic combination of all the latest trends. So stick me in a room with a few hundred fanatical trendy teens, half naked eye candy and clothing to make even an anti-shopper make a purchase, and I’m a very happy bunny.