Friday, 28 December 2018

Winter Wonderland Preview Night 2018

I hate winter. I hate when it gets so cold that your entire body tenses for so long that it aches. And although I don't hate it, I dread Christmas, too - yay, working in retail! The only place that can make me feel even slightly festive is Winter Wonderland, an annual event in London's Hyde Park that is usually open from mid-November to 6th January. I first visited last year and had the best time, although it was so busy that I remember being disappointed that we didn't get to see or do everything.

This year I was lucky enough to attend the preview on the night before it opened to the public, which meant that the numbers were much, much lower and the queues were shorter. Entry is always free, but there are pre-bookable attractions that cost such as the ice rink, the immersive cinema, the Magical Ice Kingdom, ice sculpting workshops, and more. For that evening only, though, attractions and rides were free!
Sunday, 23 December 2018

Are London's New Year's Eve Fireworks Worth It?

New Year's Eve 2017 for me was spent in London, eagerly awaiting the fireworks display that I had only ever seen on TV. I was so excited to see them in real life, and at £10 a ticket it wasn't too steep, even though I can remember when it was free to attend. I mean, it's London; I'm surprised they don't charge the average price for a sandwich which seems to be about £30...

The display was awesome (click here to watch it) but I wouldn't go again.


For a start, it was recommended that we got there at 8pm due to the massive crowds... even though the actual display (obviously) wasn't for another four hours. There was music and food, but you couldn't really enjoy these unless you wanted to immediately lose your spot. Plus, you know, it was freezing cold.

The atmosphere was great, and it was an incredible place to welcome in 2018 with the London Eye lit up right in front of us, nostalgic music from the past year playing and that iconic 'mind the gap' part of the annual mash-up, but I simply don't feel the need to do it again. Once the display was over, it took us two hours to walk the very short distance to the nearest tube station, and by the time we got back to our hotel, we'd basically brought in the new year not by celebrating but by walking incredibly slowly and getting shoved about.

I'd say it is worth it. If you haven't done it before and you're thinking about it, go for it - but it's not something I feel the need to do again. I reckon this year I'll watch it snuggled up in front of the TV with a bunch of snacks. Can't go wrong with that, can you?

Have you been to London's NYE fireworks? What did you think?

Wednesday, 19 December 2018

Blowing Away The Cobwebs

Hey, it's been a while.

'New phone, who dis?' you reply.

Oh shit, yeah. Um, it's me, Amber. Formerly The Mile Long Bookshelf, that book blog I kept going for like a million years and then neglected.

...It was red? And grey? No? Cool, awkward.

Anyhoo, I'm back, and as you can see I've made a lot of changes - or perhaps 'completely overhauled the entire thing' would be better wording.
Sunday, 2 September 2018

28 Hours in Amsterdam

Less than a week after arriving home from Paris, Alex and I realised we had caught the travel bug and decided to book another trip. Fast forward to 29th August and we were back on the Eurostar, this time to Amsterdam. I've always wanted to go to Amsterdam, and being a fan of Eurostar and decidedly not a fan of planes, I was very happy when they finally opened up a London to Amsterdam route in May.

We originally booked to stay from 29th-31st, but something important came up for Alex on the 31st and then I got a GP appointment, so - not wanting to cancel the whole thing, hell no - we just cancelled the last day and got our money back for that. It ended up being fine, and I feel like I saw everything I wanted to see.

After an eight hour shift at work, four hours of sleep, and then eight hours of travelling, we made it to the AirBnB which was about 45 minutes from the centre of Amsterdam. Here it is if you want to have a nosy. It's a private room in a large house, with private access and a terrace. We didn't actually meet our hosts (which I don't care about to be honest because ew, socialising) but we couldn't fault the place at all. I mean, the bed was four-and-a-half Ambers in width. I measured.
Sunday, 12 August 2018

Amber Actually Reads Things?! | Emma Gannon, Holly Bourne and More

Having gone straight from annual leave into sick leave (sounds fun, it's not) I've been able to read much more than I have in recent months. Blogging in a much more relaxed way than ever before means that I've also been reading a broader range of books - where I used to mainly review books sent to me, I've had the opportunity to actually read the books I buy instead of them piling up next to my bookcase, unread. It's been... different. Here's what I picked up, and what I thought!

Monday, 6 August 2018

Paris in June

Last night, I realised that I never blogged about my trip to Paris in June. During my childhood and early adolescence, Paris topped my bucket list, and when I finally went for the first time in October 2017 with a couple of my friends, it was such an amazing time (you can read about that here!) A week after that trip, I somehow acquired a boyfriend (yeah, I don't know how either) and a few months later we booked our own trip to Paris. I wanted to go again, and he'd never been, so why not?

I decided to stay in an AirBnB because I'd had such a positive experience before. It makes for a much nicer experience to visit a home rather than a hotel room, and they're quite often cheaper, too. We actually ended up staying in a small apartment just a couple of streets away from where I stayed before - this wasn't intentional as you're not given the exact address until you've booked somewhere, but I did know it was in the same district. Montmartre is beautiful. It's not right in the centre, but I like that it's away from the tourist attractions yet only 20/30 minutes or so on the metro.
Saturday, 28 July 2018

Louise Pentland's 'Wilde About The Girl' Preview Party

On Thursday evening I had the pleasure of attending the preview party for Wilde About The Girl, Louise Pentland's second novel. Wilde Like Me, her first book, was a huge success, and having enjoyed Louise's online content for a few years, I knew I had to go - for that, and also who can resist that stunning coral cover?

The party was at the flagship Benefit Cosmetics store on London's Carnaby Street. As I waited for Google Maps to load on my phone outside the tube station, I was nearly abducted, dear reader. Yes, a random man decided to drag me away by the hand so we could 'talk', and then asked me to go to a nearby restaurant and sit with him. Funnily enough I decided against being trapped in a situation with this random dude, made my excuses, and walked away. I don't care if you 'get lonely sometimes', I would quite like to stay alive long enough to read this book I'm about to go and celebrate.

Wednesday, 18 July 2018

On Work, Unhappiness, and Big Dreams

I feel stuck. Can I tell you a story?

At some point last year, I decided to take the pressure off in regards to blogging. For roughly a decade before that, I'd been pushing myself to get all manner of 'content' out there regularly, including videos which took entire days to film and edit, and blog posts that took hours too. There wasn't much reward - I was making a bit of money, but not enough to survive, so I had to get a job. It ended up being a full-on, stressful job, and soon enough I was officially burned out. Work sucked all of the joy and creativity out of me. I was, and still am, a cog in a big machine. When I come home, it's not even that I'm exhausted, although I often am, but that the creative juices have simply gone.
Wednesday, 13 June 2018

An 'Old English Company' Haul

One of my favourite things to do is decorate. I love interior design and always have (although if you asked me to design your house, I don't think I could. Sims, though? Hell ya.) My room has been through a few phases over the years: pink and purple, then just purple, then completely mismatched and crap and annoying, then covered in High School Musical and Harry Potter posters simultaneously... and now? Just how I like it. So when Old English Company got in touch, I was like hello beautiful shop of my soul, where have you been all my life? LOOK AT THE PRETTIES.

Wednesday, 6 June 2018

A Health Update

Just over two years ago I raised £4,500 to do my A Levels at an online school, InterHigh. Some of you might be wondering... why? And some of you will know exactly what I'm talking about: my chronic anxiety and panic disorder, which forced me to leave the mainstream education environment at a crucial time. My old school had funded a place for me at InterHigh to do my IGCSEs, but once they were over, that was it - if I wanted to continue and work towards my A Levels, I'd have to pay. And I did. Came out of it in August 2017 with a string of As and a B.
Wednesday, 30 May 2018

WONDER WOMEN: Louise Pentland on Business, Motherhood, and Being 'Wilde'

Wonder Women is a series in which I interview the women who inspire me the most. These women are making waves in their careers and changing the world one step at a time - but most importantly, they're doing it for themselves.

I recently got the chance to interview Louise Pentland, who you may also know as Sprinkle of Glitter: author, blogger, YouTuber, businesswoman, UN global ambassador, fashion designer, mum - not necessarily in that order. Here she talks everything from business and motherhood to dodgy 80's sweatshirts and secret snogs in cupboards...

Monday, 19 March 2018

24 Hours in Edinburgh

On my list of 2018 goals, I said I wanted to return to Paris, as well as to see Edinburgh, Brighton, New York and Amsterdam for the first time. Paris and New York have been booked (I KNOW) and I went to Brighton in mid-February. Amsterdam... who knows when that'll happen. And Edinburgh happened this week!

We only went for one night, but that's alright - it was nice to get away from real life for a little while, and it means we have an excuse to come back. After a four-and-a-half hour train journey (which was fine, because we stocked up on Pringles, chocolate, biscuits and sandwiches like some kind of Enid Blyton novel) we got to the hotel at half two, and went straight out to Arthur's Seat. The weather wasn't amazing but the view was still incredible and I think we both made up for all the (glorious) crap we'd eaten. 76 floors, my phone tells me. 22,000 steps. 9 miles. It's all good in the hood.

Saturday, 20 January 2018

My Goals for 2018

A couple of readers asked what my goals were for 2018, and everyone knows I love a good old list, especially during the first weeks of a new year. They're like the blank pages of a new notebook: full of possibilities, dauntingly empty, and weirdly satisfying...
Saturday, 13 January 2018

My Week-Long Internship at Little Tiger Group

No rest for the wicked, I came back from Paris (read about that here!) and immediately began my week-long internship at Little Tiger Group in London. It comprises of four imprints: Little Tiger, Stripes, Caterpillar and 360 Degrees. I was travelling to and from London every day, and by the end of it I was completely knackered, with a new hatred of public transport but also a fun and well-rounded week of publishing experience under my belt.

On Monday, I got to the office for 10am and read through all the information I would need, looking over the safety paperwork and getting the log-in details for various things. I had a few emails from Beth waiting in my inbox, one of which was a list of Little Tiger children's books which had been nominated for a prize and needed mailing to the judges. I've heard a few publishing interns (and publishing people themselves) say that they find mailings really tedious, but I actually quite enjoyed it. I'm so used to being on the receiving end of them that it was nice to be the one putting the books into envelopes and popping their address labels on.

Saturday, 6 January 2018

It Only Happens in the Movies by Holly Bourne

Title: It Only Happens in the Movies
Author: Holly Bourne
Published by: Usborne
Publication date: 1st October 2017
Pages: 416
Genres: Young Adult/Contemporary/Romance
Format: Paperback
Source: Gift.

Audrey is over romance. Since her parents' relationship imploded her mother's been catatonic, so she takes a cinema job to get out of the house. But there she meets wannabe film-maker Harry. Nobody expects Audrey and Harry to fall in love as hard and fast as they do. But that doesn't mean things are easy. Because real love isn't like the movies...

The greatest love story ever told doesn't feature kissing in the snow or racing to airports. It features pain and confusion and hope and wonder and a ban on cheesy clich├ęs. Oh, and zombies... 

It's no secret that I wasn't around much in the latter half of 2017. I took a blogging break, and I failed my Goodreads challenge for the first time ever, reading only 28 books when my goal was 40. It Only Happens in the Movies is a book I've been consistently excited about since its publication was announced, but even though I received it for my birthday at the end of October, it was the end of December by the time I got round to reading it: one of three books I read between then and July... shock horror.