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Saturday, 10 October 2015

The Blonde has moved - please come and follow me here !


Sunday, 9 August 2015

In a months time, I will be hopping in a taxi to Hamad International airport, and boarding a flight back to England - this time, on a one-way ticket. My Arabian adventures have almost come to an end, after what will have been two years and one month of riding this intense rollercoaster of emotions.

Two years and one month of incredible ups, and desperately painful downs, forging lifelong friendships with some truly special girls, and eating amazing food in the finest restaurants I will ever dine at. I developed the best tan of my life, learnt to accept myself without makeup because sometimes it's just too damn hot to wear it, and developed a newfound love for red wine, sushi and English breakfast tea. I fell madly in love, but unfortunately my relationship, like my time in Doha, has come to an end. I've faced so many personal challenges in just two short years (and one month!) but the experiences, both positive and negative, have only served to shape me and make me a stronger person...with a lot of support from the people I am so, so lucky to call my family and friends.

So what's next?

Once my belongings are boxed up & shipped, and my notice period at work is finished, and I touch down in London town...there is no real plan at the time of writing. The one thing I do know, is that everything I do going forward will be with inner happiness and well-being in mind. If there is one thing I have learnt from the Doha experience, it's that life is precious and life is short, so if ever there was a time to take care of myself and work out what truly makes me happy, that time is now.

It's time to start a whole new chapter of my life, which includes starting afresh with this blog.

This will be my last post on The Blonde from Doha, but I'll be back. For those of you who have followed my adventures in Doha, thanks so much for reading, and I hope you'll stick around for what comes next.

Farewell....for now :)


Sunday, 5 July 2015

Last week, I unleashed my inner geek on a bigger scale than usual.

I took my daddy-o to the Warner Bros studios at Leavesden (which it transpires is ridiculously close to my family home, I didn't even realise!) for the Harry Potter studio tour.

It was so busy when we arrived, with visitors from what sounded like all over the globe, eager to see the real magic behind the making of Harry Potter.

I'm not a massive Harry Potter geek (at least, I didn't rush to buy a novelty wand or Every Flavour Beans from the shop!) but I really enjoyed the books and the films, so I was really looking forward to seeing how the ideas of JK Rowling came to life on the big screen.

The set up of the Warner Bros studios are essentially a collective of 'warehouses' which are home to all of the original sets and props used in the movies. From the Great Hall, to Dumbledores office, to Hagrids Cabin, the Potions classroom, the Dursleys home in Privet Drive, to the Hogwards Express itself (a recent addition to the tour, I believe) the tour has it all.

You can even buy Butter Beer halfway round the tour, although if Cream Soda isn't your thing, I'd give it a miss!

Without further ado, here are some of the many, many pictures I took on the day!

Dead Dobby!! *sad face*

What is really striking is the sheer volume of detail and effort that goes in to making every single prop and set, and that is before the camera is even rolling. From sketches, to oil paintings, to cardboard models of sets, to individual hand written labels for potion bottles, costumes...the list really is endless. As a really nice touch, the tour finishes with a room full of wands marked with the names of every single member of the crew who worked on the movies.

The real highlight for me is the model of Hogwarts that was used when filming all of the panoramic views of the castle in the movie. It was so detailed and really just blew us away.

Young or old, the Warner Bros Studio Tour - The Making of Harry Potter is a really amazing way to spend a couple of hours. The tour itself is very relaxed - you book a time slot but the tours go in every ten minutes so it doesn't matter if you are early. Once you're in, you do the tour at your own pace. It isn't guided, but there is information everywhere so you always know what it is you're looking at - even the most diehard of Harry Potter fans will probably learn something new from the tour!

I highly, highly recommend this. Details for the tour can be found here.

Would you like to visit the Warner Bros Studio Tour?


Wednesday, 1 July 2015

One day last week, my parents and I took a drive to the seaside town of Brighton. Exploring new (to me, at least!) parts of the UK is something that I'm really keen to do when I move back to England this year, so I was really happy when my mum suggested that we spend the day in Brighton.

What better way to start the day than with breakfast on the seafront?!

We took a tour around the Royal Pavilion, an exotic seaside palace, formerly home to George IV. Steeped in history and beautifully restored, it was so interesting to walk through the bedrooms, kitchen, ballroom and music room that were once home to British royalty, as well as being used as a military hospital during the first World War.

Full of newfound historical knowledge, we explored the Lanes, tiny narrow streets lined with tiny independent shops largely selling jewellery. We also discovered an excellent sweet shop selling delicious homemade fudge - the salted caramel fudge was amazing!

We took up residence on deck chairs on the beach to enjoy the last of the afternoon sun (for my parents anyway, I was absolutely freezing as I had yet to acclimatise!) but before we knew it the sun had gone behind the clouds and refused to return, so we retreated to the car for a much anticipated fish and chip tea before heading home after a lovely day at the coast.

Have you visited Brighton?


Wednesday, 24 June 2015

I've always taken great pleasure in going to the supermarket, especially Tesco. That might sound odd to some (and maybe it is!), but there is something very satisfying about knowing that you can walk in to the supermarket and you are pretty much guaranteed to always find what you want.

Today I went in for one item and came out with a few extras, as is always the way, so I thought I'd share todays purchases in a bit of a mini haul.

I have had my eye on a smoothie maker for a little while now, particularly after my brother was gifted a Nutribullet for his birthday and became addicted to knocking up healthy drinks for himself and my sister in law. At upwards of £70, I just wasn't sure if I could justify the price tag for the Nutribullet, so I conducted a little bit of research online and stumbled across the Breville Blend-Active. Very similar in terms of concept, but a fraction of the cost at just £30. I read a few comparisons between the two appliances online, and then put the feelers out on Facebook where more friends than I expected recommended the Blend-Active, so I took the plunge and made the purchase, along with ingredients to whizz up some delicious smoothies this week in a bid to balance out all of the naughty food I have been eating so far this holiday...

I was in the market for a new phone case - mine had huge chunks missing and would have been hopeless at protecting my beloved iPhone in the likely event that I should drop it on a hard surface - so when I spotted this cute silver polka dot phone case at the bargain price of £6, I had to add it to my basket. I remember once paying £20 for a phone case when I first bought my iPhone - what was I thinking?! It comes in gold too for those with the gold iPhone :)

I definitely wasn't in the market for a new candle but when I smelt this it practically jumped in to my shopping basket - it smells amazing! 

This final purchase was actually from Boots but I thought I'd add it in here - I'm actually so disappointed with this polish, so much so that I am going to have to take it back! The consistency is horrendous - thick, gloopy and sticky to the point where it makes application impossible, which is so unlike the Barry M Gelly paints which have always been my favourite polishes. Not only that, but the bristles are loose on the brush so for each application, a bristle would trail behind on my nail, streaking the polish. Back to Boots it goes!

Quite a refrained shopping trip so far this holiday, I think because I know that I will be moving back to England in September so I don't have my usual frantic need to buy anything and everything whilst I'm let loose in decent shops! 

I have a few makeup items left to purchase so I'll also do a mini beauty haul once I have these :)