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Self care, skin care, & nurturing Mother Nature.

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Trying to live a more minimal and conscious life in search of pure happiness and joy

January 30, 2017

Band Tees, Velvet, and Leather


Hello lovely people! Let's get positive about this week and ignore the fact that my photos are still coming out a little blurry/grainy due to the dark weather and just appreciate that it will be lighter mornings soon and longer days so fingers crossed the outfit photo quality picks back up again! The most annoying thing about this is that most of my more "winter time" outfits are my favourites because I'm all about the chunky cosy knits, the layering, and of course - the leather trousers. This outfit isn't something unique by any means, but it is a very typical "Amy" outfit. One of my favourite purchases this winter was this velvet blazer because boy oh boy, does it tie an outfit together. I loved it so much I got it in a steel blue grey shade too but surprisingly, the blush pink is my favourite of the two even though it's quite girly. Thrown on with a band tee and a pair of skinny jeans or leather trousers and it looks so effortlessly "cool" and "I'm with the band" that I'm more than happy to rock some pink.

Missguided Velvet Blazer (currently only £9!!) | Metallica T | New Look Pleather Trousers | Oh Hey Girl Store Belt |
Boohoo Fedora | Asos Bag (similar and similar) | Boohoo Boots (similar)



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January 27, 2017

Me and My Other Interests: Art



So it turns out I haven't blogged about one of my "other interests" since September and that is just shocking. Last year I started a mini-series all about my other interests that don't get as much coverage on NB for various reasons. As much as I love makeup and fashion, I also enjoy a wealth of other topics and activities that some people don't necessarily know about. So as it has been so long since my last post like this, and as I haven't mentioned this properly yet, I guess I better tell you all about how much I love to draw and paint.

So as you can imagine, drawing and art stuff started a really young age for me. I've always loved drawing and used to spend a lot of my time as a kid drawing or painting, tracing things, drawing with chalk all over my grandparent's back garden, using a crayon to rub over embossed things... Every opportunity to do something arty I would. I have such a clear memory of spending my weekends at my grandparents house and I had a The Little Mermaid big picture book that I absolutely adored. I would trace and trace and trace the scene when all of Ariel's sisters are in the clam shells and she's not there to sing the main part and every time I remember beating myself up that my tracing didn't look anywhere near as good as the image printed in the book. This kind of love hate relationship with art is something I've contended with from a young age it would seem.



I'm sure most people know that feeling of feeling a bit inadequate in something you enjoy doing. It's quite a difficult to get into a positive and carefree mindset - a one where you're not worried about your abilities and you just do something because you love it - and I guess that's why I don't share any doodles I usually do because well, I'm pretty self-critical. As I've grown older, I've spent less and less time on this hobby due to time constraints and also this feeling of it "not being good enough" which I realise myself is just ridiculous because the quality shouldn't be the focus at all. The focus should be how the activity makes you feel and art makes me feel at ease and like my time has been well spent.

Due to this I've went back to the drawing board (see what I did there?) and picked up my pencils and paints again. I've given up on perfecting what I'm doing - I tend to leave every single goddamn piece of art I attempt half done and I guess that's just the way things are always going to be. I'm also trying to not criticise myself too much. Who cares if I can't draw things symmetrical and that I can't draw hands for toffee, I'm trying and enjoying the process so that's the main thing.



Art is definitely something I'm making more time for in 2017. Far too often with these sorts of hobbies, they get put on the back burner and they become prioritised less and less which is what has been happening for me for the last few years. Mix that with a defeatist attitude and it's a recipe for disaster. It sets my anxiety levels ablaze when I try to create something because "I'm rubbish and out of practice" so it makes the enjoyment of it something I have to work hard to achieve. To counteract this I've been doing things like using adult colouring books much more and also just doing quick, freehand, not much purpose to them sketches here and there just to get those creative juices flowing. I'm hoping over the next year I can make more time for it because once upon a time, this was all I wanted to do all of the time and the spark is always there, I just need to throw a little fuel on it to get it burning bright again.

I guess the main person I have to thank for this is my mam. She was always drawing all sorts for me when I was younger and she was pretty damn talented. She drew every Disney character I could want drawn and when my little brother started to get into Kingdom Hearts well, boy oh boy was a jealous of some of the quick sketches she produced for him. Drawing has always been my crutch as it's what I feel, artistically, I can produce the best work from whereas painting - especially with anything other than watercolour - is what I struggle with the most. Give me some charcoal to smudge all over a piece of A1 and I'm all stations go but give me some acrylic paint and I'll botch it up somehow. So 2017 is the year of the acrylics and the year of my beloved Bob Ross.



Bob Ross is quite honestly the main reason I love art so much. He makes it such an easy creative outlet to enjoy and watching his shows makes me feel like I can create anything. It might sound bizarre to some people but I think he's such an encouraging soul that I don't really feel like a fuck up when I do fuck up now. I just try and rectify what mistakes I've made, try to alter it to take a new form, or just try to have the confidence and comfort to deal with the fact that sometimes ideas just need to be scraped and that is okay.

But it's not just Mr Ross who has inspired me. I love visiting art galleries and have a special place in my heart reserved for religious art and the kind of things you'd see in a 18th century German church. Give me a stained glass window with hidden symbolism or give me something that's supposed to represent Dante's Inferno and you have a winner with me. From Salvador Dali to James Jean, I love the mix of styles, the ideas behind it all and just the fact that all art gives a small snippet insight into another person's personality and imagination. Not to mention how much of a central part art plays in some of my other interests. Video games such as Final Fantasy and Dragon Age rely on exceptionally good and breathtaking artwork and it's probably no surprise to know my favourite artist is Yoshitaka Amano who basically made Final Fantasy what it is. I also really love graphic novels so again, some of my favourite artists contribute to that realm and the artwork of a comic or graphic novel is definitely one of the factors that draws me in. Art is everywhere in so many ways for me and appreciating it and making time for it just seems to shed such a positive light on my life as cheesy as it may sound.

So just to finish off this post, I'll give you a wee list of just some of my favourite artists of all time (in no particular order but you know Amano is my number one always): Yoshitaka Amano, Nicomi Nix Turner, David Stoupakis, Kris Kuksi, Christina Mrozik, Dan Hillier, Mark Ryden, Sin Eater Illustrations, Salvador Dali, Caitlin Hackett, Maskull Lasserre, Yuka Yamaguchi, El Curiot, Caitlin McCormack, Nick Sheehy, Charlie Immer, Richey Beckett, James Jean, J.A.W. Cooper, Liza Corbett, Estela Cuadro, Rose Ellen Swenson, Christopher Lovell, Sarah Benning, Joao Ruas, Esao Andrews, Joan Cornella, Jaz Helena, John Kenn Mortensen, Oana Befort, Nana Williams, Jeff Faerber, Samuel Humphreys, Julie Pond, Hellen Jo, Victoria Clare Gray, Jessica Weymouth, Andrea Dezso, Bill Crisafi, Tom Findlay, Robin Eisenberg, Louis Barquet...

So Bob Ross, mam, and every art gallery I've ever visited and the countless hours I've spent scrolling through some of my favourite pieces of art on Tumblr... I salute you.


- A.
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January 25, 2017

Lush: Joy to the World



Another Christmas has past so of course that means I have some more Lush treats to try. Matthew's mum & dad always get me some sort of Lush gift box each year as part of my gifts and this year was a nice small offering because let's be real - last year's gift box still hasn't fully emptied yet as we don't have a bathtub in the flat so that makes life kind of difficult when it comes to Lush products! I really love that I get one of these boxes from Matt's parents as they usually manage to pick something that includes Lush products that I haven't used before. It's always quite nice to see what surprises are included and try some things that I wouldn't necessarily pick up in store myself but this way I have discovered some lovely products that I will and have, purchased again. This year I was gifted the "Joy to the World" box so I'll give you a run down of the two products inside and what I think of the box in general.

So firstly, look at that packaging! It was a gorgeous box to receive for Christmas because it's incredibly festive but it is also quite minimal and elegant so would suit someone of any age. As I mentioned earlier, the box includes two items: a 120g bar of Santa's Postbox soap and a 45g tub of Dream Cream body lotion. I feel like both items compliment each other well and the soap definitely keeps the contents of the gift as festive as it's packaging.



As you can hopefully see, the soap is the show stopper so we'll talk about that first. This soap is super cute and is shaped just like the traditional Royal Mail red postboxes found across the UK. It has quite a citrus-y scent as it includes mandarin oil and satsuma juice but it also has a tiny hint of spice about it that keeps it incredibly Christmas worthy. To me, it smells like it has some cloves in there giving it a more mature and deep scent rather than just a citrus orange burst. Having tried lots of Lush soaps before I have to say that I really like this one. It seems to melt and layer up a lot easier than others I have tried and the little bit of glitter makes it kind of fun to use too! I was pleasantly surprised to see that it doesn't stain your shower and your whole life red as I've had some of their bright soaps in the past and boy oh boy, they can leave tough stains that only a lot of elbow grease can remove, but this one didn't do that so that was a nice added bonus. Obviously this is a product they only release around Christmas time but I'm hoping it will be something that they restock next Christmas as I actually think I'd repurchase it now that I've seen how lovely it is. The highlight of it definitely has to be it's smell as it keeps your bathroom smelling like Christmas when you're just storing it but using it really releases that clove smell and makes your bathroom and your skin smell absolutely divine.

And now for my favourite of the two - the Dream Cream. Dream Cream is an all year-round product from Lush and retails for £6.5O for a 100g tub. It's a really delicate and nice cream to use. I know "nice" always seems to be a bad word to use when describing products or people for some reason but this cream is just that - it's not got an overpowering smell, it really hydrates the skin and soaks into the body quickly and is just generally pleasant to use. I really like this cream for when my skin is particularly dry or when I've shaved my legs because it's a really good cream for sensitive skin as it doesn't irritate my post-shave skin which very rarely happens so this has been an excellent discovery for me. Like I said, it does have a scent to it but it's not very strong which is something that I'm not used to from Lush to be honest! It reminds me a lot of the Soap & Glory body milk that has oat milk and brown sugar in it that I love but the smell isn't as strong. If you find the Soap & Glory body milk too sickly sweet, this cream is a great alternative as it has a similar scent but it's really toned down. It includes oat milk (which is the majority of the scent in my opinion) and lavender oil which are both great for soothing and calming the skin (so perfect for post-shave skin stress!) and also cocoa butter and rose absolute which help restore the skin and keep it soft and conditioned. Like I said, this has been a great find for me and looking at the reviews of it online, people have said it's great for those who suffer from eczema and also good for tattoos?! So I'll definitely be testing it out on mine and I also might use it on my shoulders/chest/back where I often get "T-shirt acne" to see if it helps with the dryness of spots in those areas too.



Overall this was a lovely little gift to receive. The packaging is beautiful so anyone receiving it would be pleased and impressed by it, and the contents inside albeit a smaller option from Lush, are lovely to use and I'm so pleased that I've now tried Dream Cream as I will definitely be repurchasing it in the future.



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January 23, 2017

Buffalo Soldier

Photos: Grime and Glamour

Here's another outfit post shot by my wonderfully talented friend Christ over at Grime and Glamour. Unlike my granny jumper get-up in my last post featuring Chris' work, this outfit is much more me - as long as it's warm enough to wear it! I am falling in love with low cut shirts at the moment - I used to hate things low cut because I've got some junk in the boob department and I never like to look like I'm flaunting that, but with soft delicate triangle bras coming into fashion, I can wear something nice and pretty and make my boobs appear a little smaller and suited to these kinds of shirts. Low cut draped shirts with jeans always remind me of what guys in indie rock bands wear. Anything the likes of Mick Jagger, Matty Healy, or even Jimi Hendrix would suit is a-okay in my wardrobe.

Forever 21 Shirt | Missguided Bra | Asos Jeans | Asos Belt | Asos Fedora (similar) | Linzi Shoes Boots (similar)

- A.
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January 20, 2017

Goals for 2017



When it comes to new year's resolutions, everyone either thinks they're fantastic or they think they're the dumbest things on the planet. I'm somewhat in the middle myself because I'm a big believer in there never being a "right time" to do certain things and we shouldn't be conditioned to think there is yet... it's a new year... the best time to start afresh and hit that reset button (I'm a huge contradiction, I know). So with that being said, I do like to use each January as a starting point to see what I can achieve throughout the year. They're not necessarily resolutions; I'm not going to promise myself that I'm going to stop eating chocolate. I'm not going to start saying I won't be the same miserable tosspot on Twitter that I have always been. But I am going to set myself some goals that are attainable but will also be a stretch and a challenge. If you caught my 2016 Goals Review you will be well aware that my goals aren't always met but I can live with that - they're just something I may need to work on more long term but 2016 is dead in the water - what has 2017 got in store for me?!

- Save save save: I'm a bit of a scrooge when it comes to spending my money yet at the same time, I seem to never have a penny to my name but all of the clothes... riddle me that (I'm looking at you Asos Premier). So although I want to save in general, I'm setting myself some mini targets such as not spending any money on clothing from now until my birthday at the end of March. Only a 3 month ban? I know, some of you will be reeling in horror that I think that that will be a difficult limit whilst some of you will feel my pain and think it's an impossible mission. I've already broken this mini goal once and almost about 5 times before I hit "publish" on this post but I'm determined to prove I can do it and that once was just a minor setback at the start of the year.

- Read more. At least 5 more: Okay so you might have guessed by my sporadic book club posts that I do love reading but yep, my reading is as sporadic as my blog posts about books. I used to be an avid reader and would happily spend many hours every week getting lost in all sorts of genres and styles but I just haven't had the time whilst teaching. I now realise what I actually mean is that it has been much easier to come home and just mindlessly veg out in front of the TV instead of picking up a book but I want that to change. I want to be back on the book bandwagon and want to finish at least 5 books this year. Again, some of you might scoff at how low that number is, others might think I'm crazy but I will make sure it is done and hopefully I smash the 5 target - I've already finished one which is amazing given that we're only half way through January so watch this space.



- Stop getting stuck in internet blackholes: This one kind of relates to reading and it's something I struggled to fully achieve last year even though it was a goal, but I really want to cut down the amount of hours I just spend aimlessly scrolling through social media and the internet in general. I have wasted literally hours in single sittings on clothing websites - just browsing, not buying - and easily even longer on the likes of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc... Now, I'm not saying I'm going to go on social media less because let's be real - I love Twitter and I like uploading photos too much to sack off the gram, but I want to make my time on there more worthwhile. Talk to people more. Get involved more. Use it more wisely and beneficial for me and possibly for my blog. We'll see how it goes with this one but one thing I will definitely be cutting out instantly is the endless Facebook scrolling because I can't stress enough how much I hate the site yet I can't seem to delete my account?

- Catch the creativity bug again: I feel like a bit of a broken record because a lot of this years goals are continuations from those in 2016 but that's because they're good goals and ones I'm definitely getting closer and closer to completely ticking off as 100% completed, finito. Over Christmas I started painting again and I want to keep it going for the rest of the year. I want to create more art. I want to get more creative with Northern Blood. I want to post more creative posts that set this little tiny space apart from others sometimes. I've got a lot of ideas buzzing around in my head but I've got to get them pinned down so 2017, I'm looking at you, kid.

- Be more Baddie Winkle: If you don't know who I am talking about then my friend, you are missing out. I've been following Baddie on social media for some time now and honestly, I love her. She has got to be hands down the coolest granny I ever did see and her general attitude is one I want to replicate in my own. She is the epitome of not giving two fucks what others think and I really need to adopt a bit of that mindset in my own life. I'm very much a person who is very good at acting like I don't care what others think but realistically, my anxiety makes me care too much about what every Tom Dick or Harry thinks and it's not good for my mental health. I'm trying to be more positive about myself and my abilities, my style, and just my general personality this year. Yeah, I might have a long way to go to accepting my good qualities and my hang ups, but I am making steps towards liking myself and that's all I can really carry on doing. Being a little more confident in everything I do will certainly help though.

- Get that wedding brain into gear: You might remember way back in August (or because I keep mentioning it because ha ha, I'm as shocked as the next guy that it has happened) I mentioned getting engaged to my best pal and favourite human, Matthew. Now, let's be real here. Since August our wedding planning has been "this look like a nice venue... HAHA how much?! No thanks" and that's it. We more or less gave up after that (I know, the romance would rival anyones). If we're honest though everything else in life has had to take priority - particularly or work commitments - so we genuinely haven't had any real time to sit and focus on wedding planning. We're both aiming to change that this year as we'd quite like to get married in 2018 so we need to get a wriggle on! We both know exactly what we want because we've weirdly talked about since we started dating more or less so 2017 is just the year we need to knuckle down, be adults and talk about savings and expenses, and finally get a date organised!

So far, these are my only goals for this year. I've tried to keep the list concise and do-able so I can hopefully achieve all of them before the year is out. Maybe more will be added as the year carries on. Maybe I'll extend and grow some of the ones already listed if I feel I can push them further... We'll just have to wait and see. What are your goals or plans for the next 12 months?


- A.
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January 18, 2017

BeautyUK Pin Up Palette



Happy Hump Day you lovely lot, this week's beauty post is a wee review of a new palette that has recently came into my possession. BeautyUK are an affordable UK makeup brand who I've been very keen to try but haven't had the chance to yet. That changed a couple of weeks ago when I managed to win this eyeshadow palette on their twitter page! The palette line comes in eight shade collections which range from neutral nudes, to cool tone greys and blues, to bright vibrant rainbow shades. This particular palette is No.2, "Pin Up" and it was definitely the most appealing to me so I was over the moon when I won it. These palettes retails for £5.49 so they're extremely affordable as you're getting eight shadows for just over a fiver. The Pin Up palette is a mix of four matte shades and four shimmers - one of which is more of a chunky glitter shadow than a shimmer - so let's see what I think of them.



Generally, I like these shadows. They're a little powdery and can be a little bit chalky, but when you begin to work with them, they do soften up and blend quite nicely. Usually cheap matte eyeshadows aren't that great but these ones are pretty good! I particularly like the peachy pale orange/tan shade in the bottom left of the palette as it creates a lovely warmth on the lid and is a great shade for using in the crease or as an all over shade for blending. The paler more milk chocolate brown shade is also beautiful in the crease or on the outer edge of the eye.

The shimmers are what really makes this palette amazing to use, though. There's a pale pink shade that has the finest shimmer of them all and is such a delicate shade it would look beautiful as a highlight on the high points of the face, too. The shiny gold coin shade is the star of the show though - just look at those swatches below! It is almost like gold foil and I was so impressed with the pigmentation of it. It's not patchy and glides onto the lid so easily with no drag. The gold shimmer in the pan (bottom right) is the oddest one for me in the palette but not for a bad reason. It's base colour is almost a dark brown/plum purple but has large chunks of gold glitter/shimmer running through it. Despite the glitter being chunky, it looks so lovely on the eye because it's such a unique and distinct shade that is almost iridescent depending on the angle you look at it.

First photo: shadows used dry, Second photo: shadows used wet

As you can probably see from the swatches above, the palest matte shade (the creamy shade in the top right of the palette) is a real dud. Even when applied wet, there's no real colour pay off unless you really layer and layer it but it's so powdery and chalky that layering it just won't work. Despite the dud, I think this palette is definitely worth its more than reasonable price tag. The shadows do have a lot of kickback when you stick your brush into them and the chunky glitter shade is definitely applied best with your trusty digits as oppose to a brush, but they do have great pigmentation both dry and wet. They do however also have some fall out when you apply them which is worth noting if you're using the dark brown shade so you don't end up with it all over your undereyes and nose!

The packaging is very basic and typical of an affordable drugstore style brand and you can tell the silver foil writing on the outside will wear off in no time, but it seems quite sturdy and you can't expect outstanding packaging for £5 really. Each shadow is a good size and as I said earlier, the fact that the palette includes eight shades which are a mix of mattes and shimmers, it is perfect for travelling or for those of you who might just be starting a collection. Now that I've tried out some BeautyUK products, I can honestly say I'm really impressed. For the price, this product is really impressive so I can't wait to try more from the brand. I'm particularly intrigued to try the Earth Child Eyeshadow Palette (that is only £3.99?!) and their Lips Matter liquid lipstick range too.



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January 16, 2017

Sunny Disposition


As you're probably reading this, I'm in bed, ill from work, loaded with a cold so it seemed extremely fitting to post an outfit that reflected my mood. This jumper has got to be the most snuggly thing I own and was an absolute steal of only 5 euros when I was in Italy back in July last year. It's such a relaxed oversized fit that it's comfy no matter what and it looks great with so many different cut and washes of denim. It seems as if the April showers have come a few months early as it has been non-stop raining for the last few days but I've got to be honest - I'm still kind of holding out for some snow because that would be great to get a couple of snow days across the UK, right?

H&M Jumper (similar) | Asos Belt | Levi Vintage Jeans via Oh Lover Vintage |
Poor Boy Vintage Saddle Bag via Asos Marketplace (similar) | Topshop Leather Clogs (similar)

- A.
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January 13, 2017

Favourite Photography Posts 2016

Happy Friday guys! I promise all these "2016 review" posts are finishing today, but I couldn't not mention my favourite photography posts from the past year. I love taking photos. It's something I try to make time for on a weekly basis and although I'm in no way a professional or even use professional equipment, I always pack my point and shoot into my bag and try to capture moments as much as I can. So because of that, I thought I'd share what my favourite photo posts of 2016 have been to take and to upload and write about.

Basilica di Santa Maria in Ara coeli Interior
Basilica di Santa Maria in Aracoeli

I thought I'd kick things off with one of my Rome travel posts. This trip to Basilica di Santa Maria in Aracoeli was possibly my most favourite part of my trip to Rome because it was spontaneous, unplanned, yet perfect. I love architecture and religious art and this church was so picturesque and gorgeous to look at it was the best thing to take lots of photographs of. As I mentioned in the post, it was just by chance that we paid it a visit and it was so quiet due to being at the top of the biggest staircase I've ever had the displeasure of climbing so it was just such a breathtaking experience to have (no pun intended).


Brian Griffiths Bill Murray Exhibition

Next up is one of my earliest posts from 2016 and although I wouldn't say it's my best photography, it was a trip to an art gallery so I was super happy to get photos whilst I was there. Brian Griffith's Bill Murray-themed exhibition was a dream come true for this Murray lover and although I didn't fully understand the style of art or what it represented, the gallery was pretty cool all the same. The Baltic art gallery in Newcastle also had a giant Bill Murray plastered on the side of the building for ages and I honestly think it improved the city for a wee bit.

Horse at Rainton Meadows
Rainton Meadows and Joe's Pond Nature Reserves

This posts photos were happy spur of the moment shots to be honest. This was a trip to a couple of nature reserves with one of my best friends and I hadn't planned on taking any photographs whilst we were there because the sky was so grey and overcast I thought we wouldn't be there for very long. However, the sun came out and so did the animals so naturally, I had to try and get some pictures of them in the sunshine.

St Catherine's Hill
St. James Hill Cemetery

By now, you guys might have realised that I really like graveyards/cemeteries. There's just something about them that is so peaceful and picturesque so I love taking photos in them when I get the chance. One of my favourite ones is a one I used to walk through every day to go to and from university and although it's often got a lot of human traffic passing through it, it's still a calm space and has amazing views across Winchester if you stand in the right spots. I have taken countless photos in St. James Hill Cemetery, but these are the first ones I've shared on NB.

Ostrich at Animals Inside Out
Gunther von Hagens' Animals Inside Out Exhibition

One of my most recent posts and definitely one of my most trickiest to photograph has to be my trip to the Animals Inside Out Exhibition at the Life Centre in Newcastle Upon Tyne. I loved this exhibition because it was so informative and a great chance to take some photos. As someone who doesn't have a DSLR and doesn't spend a lot of time doing "proper" photography, I realised I wish I had more time to learn because having a DSLR in this exhibit would have been amazing, but I think the photos I managed to get are still pretty good if I do say so myself.


Beamish Museum Part One and Part Two

Back in March I paid a visit to Beamish Museum with my mam and little brother for a day. Beamish Museum is an awesome place to have on my doorstep back at home but I don't visit it enough at all. So we decided as we were all free at the same time we'd spend the day there and oh my goodness, it was one of the coldest and most bleak days ever. We ended up leaving early and headed to the pub for some warm food and to sit by the open fire, but before that, I did get some photos I was happy with.


Why I love Winchester - Architecture

I feel like this post is a bit of a cheat post to include because it features photos from lots of different posts on my blog. However, that's exactly the reason why I should include this post here because it includes some of my favourite pictures of my home and possibly some of my best.


Newcastle - My Favourite City

If I'm including a post about Winchester then it's only right I include a post about Newcastle. This was one of my first posts of 2016 and although if I was to do a photography post of Newcastle again I would include more photos and a bit more detail, I did enjoy wandering around the day I took these and the weather and views were wonderful considering it was December!



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