two big glasses of gin embellished with fruit and mint

There are so many things I love about being a blogger, but the number of gin-based events it seems to entail is definitely a plus. Over the last few years, I’ve gone from being a naïve (non-disabled) 18-year-old student in the club, yelling my order for a G&T to make myself heard over the top of heavy dance tracks and sweaty lads yelling about their ladishness, whilst shotting cheeky Jägermeisters and throwing some seriously criminal shapes, to learning to appreciate the subtle differences in taste and textures, allowing me to smugly ask after my favourite gin when ordering in a bar and pretending like I’m classy.

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So here’s the thing. I’m the first one to stick my hand up in the air and declare myself a complete and utter loser, for multiple things in life, but in this case for being THAT person who would always choose a nice cup of tea over vodka shots. I’ll take the complete mickey out of myself for the joy I get from sitting down with a brew, a biscuit (or five), putting my feet up, and watching This Morning, and I’m more than aware that I’m probably old before my time.

But you know what? I stand by my belief that the humble tea and biscuit break is completely under-rated, and I can almost guarantee that I’m not alone in this. LET US ALL ENJOY TEA AND BISCUITS WITHOUT SOCIETAL JUDGEMENT.

In line with that, it just so happens that I am allergic to life. View Post

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It’s no secret that us chronically ill people spend a lot of time in bed, due to our conditions. Whilst not all of us are well enough to handle watching TV/films/videos, many of us do spend a good chunk of our rest and recovery time becoming emotionally invested in various programmes and channels. I’m always on the lookout for new recommendations, so I thought I’d share some of my current favourites and you can judge me on how bizarre/uncool most of them are. YAY!

TV

  • Friends (Comedy Central) – shocking, I know. I kind of like Friends, dunno if I’ve mentioned that already. Read my gushy FriendsFest post here; it features the Holiday Armadillo, for crying out loud.
  • Dance Moms (Lifetime) – I used to be a Die Hard Dance Moms Fan. Whilst I admit that the newer episodes have been nowhere near as entertaining as the earlier series, I’m still following S7 and at the time of writing, I’m legit excited for Chloe and Christi’s return. Why am I like this.
  • Grey’s Anatomy (ABC/NowTV) – Grey’s Anatomy is problematic for my emotional wellbeing, but is still one of THE best programmes I’ve ever discovered. I’ve actually had to suspend my watching at a crucial point in Season 6 (due to currently not being able to afford my NowTV subscription, liiiiiife), but I cannot wait to get back to it and continue having my heart surgically dissected into tiny little pieces.
  • Taskmaster (Dave) – I LOVE me some comedy, and the weekly Taskmaster shows usually include some of my favourite stand-up comics. Five comedians try to outdo each other on set tasks, and the results genuinely have me chuckling to myself almost every single week.
  • Cheer Squad (Netflix) – Dance Moms fans will enjoy this one; Cheer Squad follows an elite Canadian team called The Great White Sharks as they prepare for the World Championships, which they’ve won for the last two years. I watched all 12 episodes in 3 days and I regret nothing. Except for perhaps not taking up competitive cheerleading as a child and becoming a tumbling, bow-wearing national treasure.
  • Would I Lie To You (BBC) – Bit of a random one to end with, but my Dad absolutely adores this show and the more I watch it, the more I get into it. It’s a good old panel show where celebs and comedians try to guess whether the other team are telling the truth or lying about a situation they’re recalling, and it’ll have you playing along all the way through.

This is where I’d like to mention TVPlayer: a live TV streaming service I recently discovered, that allows you to watch your favourite channels anywhere. This has been IDEAL for me, especially since I can’t access some of my own favourite channels through my own TV license. I’ve been using the website to watch Lifetime, Dave, TLC and Comedy Central, as well as mainstream channels, in real time on my laptop, and I intend to try the app in the near future too. If you’d like to give it a go and get your Dance Moms fix (don’t even pretend you don’t need a Dance Moms fix), you can use my code ‘lifeofpippa’ (all lower case) for a TWO month free trial. To use the code you’ll need to sign up through the website here (rather than the app), but after that you’re all good. Let me know if you give it a go!

Films

To tell you the truth, I tend to really struggle with films, simply due to the length of them and my inadequate-at-best attention span. I’m the kind of person who finds a film they love and watches it over and over again instead of branching out to something new, and whilst there are many problems with that, I always enjoy the following…

  • The Hunger Games (2012) – I’m currently working my way through these movies again after recently introducing my parents to them; it’s been so interesting to see the reactions of people who watch the films without having read the books first (like I did). I’m a huge fan of this series, and the creativity of Suzanne Collins in first coming up with the concept still leaves me in awe every time I see the movies.
  • Little Miss Sunshine (2006) – This film gives me life. I don’t think I could adequately describe the plot in a way that does the movie justice, but it’s essentially a USA family’s road-trip from hell, to get their six year old to a national beauty pageant. When I can’t decide what I feel like watching, this is definitely my go-to film.
  • Ballet Shoes (2007) – The book Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfield, and her other novel Dancing Shoes, remain the books I’ve read more times than any other: I first read them when I was a little girl, and the rereads have to be in the hundreds by now. I can still remember first finding out that the BBC adaptation was going to take place, and sitting down to watch it on TV on Christmas Day 2007. I can’t put into words how much I love this book, and the film didn’t disappoint either: I loved that the film gave Garnie and Theo Dane the happier endings they deserved. I would absolutely LOVE to see Dancing Shoes turned into a film one day too.
  • Tangled (2014) – *braces myself for the fallout*… I have a confession: I’d never seen Tangled all the way through until a couple of days ago. PLEASE DON’T HATE ME; I’m mad at Past Pippa too. Tangled is absolutely glorious and now I can SO see why so many people told me I would love it. To me, it really marks a turning point for Disney and their representation of female princesses, and does so in such a hilarious and heart-warming way. I mean, that scene with the lanterns? Definitely just had hay-fever. Lots and lots of emotional hay-fever.

I’m currently toying with the idea of giving the DisneyLife streaming service a go, so I can get watching ALL the Disney films ahead of my upcoming trip to Disneyland Paris next month. Have any of you guys tried it/would you recommend it? Please do let me know!

And finally, YouTube:

It’s only recently that I’ve really cottoned on to the whole YouTube hype and properly started watching YouTubers, but it didn’t take long for me to fall into the black hole of morning routines/What I Eat In A Day vlogs. Seriously, this stuff SHOULDN’T be as engaging as it is. I hold my housemate Polly 99% responsible for my borderline addiction as she introduced me into this world, but I can’t be mad about it: YouTube videos are ideal for the brainfoggy days where your attention span isn’t cut out for a full length movie/TV episode, but you still need a distraction from life. Here are my current faves:

  • ItsWayPastMyBedtime – Here’s the thing. I only discovered the absolutely glorious bundle of joy that is Carrie Hope Fletcher AFTER booking my The Addams Family tickets. But now I’ve become irrevocably hooked on Carrie’s YouTube channel, I’m even more excited to see it next month. Her Watch Me, Wednesday series is an absolute DREAM for a chronically ill theatre fanatic like me, and I’ve been consumed with absolute adoration for Carrie, and Oliver, and the rest of the cast too, after discovering these videos. I’m currently powering through her videos at what’s probably seen as a socially unacceptable rate, but I just can’t get enough of Carrie.
  • Lucy Moon – Lucy is currently my go-to breakfast time YouTuber. She has the loveliest, calmest voice and general video aesthetic, and her content really gets you thinking about all kinds of things in the world, without being overly-preachy. That’s exactly the kind of thing I like to pair with a nice cup of tea first thing, and her videos always get my day going on the right foot.
  • Hannah Witton – I’m still quite new to Hannah’s videos, but I’m already a huge fan of The Hormone Diaries. Not only does she take taboo subjects and fling them out there into the open with such insight and humour, she definitely motivates me to become more organised, mindful, and generally a better human being.
  • Lucy Vallely – Here is a 16 year old who is already 10x the person I can ever hope to be. She’s the most incredibly emotive dancer (if you’re a fellow dancer, PLEASE watch her recent solos on YouTube and discuss them in depth with me because they are ART and I am NOT WORTHY of such majesty), as well as a vintage fashion blogger and sustainable living adovcate. Her dance competition/convention vlogs are absolutely everything, and I hope with everything in me that there’s more of them in the future. If I can’t dance myself, living vicariously through gifted teenage YouTubers on the other side of the planet is definitely the next best thing.

I’m not a huge fan of beauty/fashion channels, but if you have any recommendations of quirky/lifestyle/unique YouTubers (especially vloggers) who you think I might enjoy, I’d love to hear them!

So there we have it. If any of my favourites are also your favourites, do let me know so we can have a proper natter about it. And do let me know if you decide to give TVPlayer a go too… Huge Friends marathon, anybody? I’LL GET THE POPCORN.

Many thanks to the TVPlayer team for collaborating with me on this post. Don’t forget to try out their streaming service and claim your 2 month free trial by entering the code ‘lifeofpippa’ here!

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A couple of months ago, I had a glorious evening trying out The Botanist’s new summer menu, so I was delighted to be invited back to join in with their gin workshop. I immediately knew this would be right up my pal/former housemate Polly’s street, and we both walked into the event expecting all good things, but not really knowing what the evening would entail.

I think it’s safe to say we underestimated just how much gin would be sent our way: imagine a makeshift production line of eager bloggers sat with their cameras poised along a lengthy table, where every ten or so minutes a different type of gin would be passed down along the line until we each had our own samplers. We were talked through each of the gins by the knowledgeable staff member leading the workshop, taught how to take full advantage of the smell and taste of them (apparently not everyone’s automatic response is ‘shots shot shots, down it fresherrrrr’, who knew?) , and advised on how best to serve and garnish them with the embellishments provided. Essentially, it was an evening of drinking gin and taking cute Instagram photos… exactly my kind of event. It got to a point where we were utterly surrounded by cute canapés and half full glasses of alcohol, with a constant stream of more heading down the makeshift blogger production line towards us. 10/10 would recommend.

If I tried to list the various types of gin and their qualities, I definitely wouldn’t do them justice. Instead, let me direct you to The Botanist’s drinks menu, where you can browse their selection for yourselves. During the event, we learned some really interesting things about the history of gin, and I really liked that it wasn’t an information overload: it was just the right balance of facts and, well… drinking. I have to admit that in the past, I’ve panicked when ordering a G&T and they’ve asked what gin I would like. Now, I can smugly say that I’ll have a Brockmans please: the sweeter, more fruity taste of this one was definitely my fave, and I’ll be looking out for it again on my next visit.

A huge thank you again to The Botanist team for another fab evening that gave me gorgeous and much-needed Instagram content (seriously, have you SEEN that place?!), lovely new blogger friends, wonderful food and drink, and actual knowledge about all things gin-related. I’ll definitely be back soon!

Find out more about The Botanist and find your local branch here.

If you liked this post, you might also like this one: Summer Cocktails With The Botanist, York!

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